These, you know, are only crumbs, and crumbs which show Irving's "warm heart" more, perhaps, than his "fine brain."
To learn of his literary talent and well-deserved fame, of his rich fancy and his wonderful ability for story-telling, you can better afford to wait than to miss knowing how healthy, happy, and truly lovable was this man's nature. Now, with only one of the many sober, earnest thoughts, we must lay aside his books.
"If thou art a child, and hast ever added a sorrow to the soul, or a furrow to the silvered brow of an affectionate parent; if thou art a friend and hast ever wronged in thought, or word, or deed, the spirit that generously confided in thee, then be sure that every unkind look, every ungracious word, every ungentle action, will come thronging back upon thy memory."
THE BOY IN THE BOX.
BY HELEN C. BARNARD.
"You haven't any more ambition than a snail, Joe Somerby!" said energetic Mrs. Somerby to her husband, as, with sleeves rolled to the elbow, she scoured the kitchen paint.
Joe, who was smoking behind the stove, slowly removed his pipe to reply:
"Wal, if I haint, I haint; and that's the end on 't!"
"What would become of us if I was easy, too?" continued his spicy partner. "Why can't you have a little grit?"
Joe puffed away silently.
"Now, you pretend to carry on the rag business, you spend all your money a-buying and a-storing of 'em away; the back room's full, the attic's full, the barn's full,—I can't stir hand or foot for them rags! Why on earth don't you sell 'em?"
"Waiting for 'em to rise, marm!"
"Always a-waiting!" retorted Mrs. Somerby, thrusting her scrubbing-brush and pail into a closet, and slamming the door upon her finger. "Before you get through, the chance goes by. Joe," in a coaxing tone, "I've had a presentiment."
Joe evinced no interest, but removed his pipe to say:
"Now, wife, don't get uneasy. Let's be comfortable."
"Yes, I feel a presentiment about those rags;" the little woman whisked into a chair beside her lord. "They say the paper manufacturers are giving a big price now, husband. Why can't you take a load to the city to-day? I've been thinking of it all the morning."
"I'll do my own thinking, marm," said Joe, with dignity. He rose, however, and laid his pipe away.
Mrs. Somerby said no more, sure that she had roused him from his torpid condition. She wound Joe up to the starting-point, just as she did her kitchen-clock, and he kept upon his course as steadily as that ancient time-piece. She was just the wife for ease-loving Joe, whom her brisk ways never wounded, for he knew her heart was full of tenderness for him.
An hour later Joe drove into the yard. Mrs. Somerby flew out with a lump of sugar for a jaded-looking horse, bought by Joe to speculate upon, and who ate everything he could get, including his bedding, and never grew fat.
"I'll make a trotter of him in a month, and sell him to some of the grandees!" Joe said, but his system failed or the material was poor,—old Jack slouched along as if each step was likely to be his last. But despite this, Jack had become very dear to the childless couple, and they were as blind as doating parents to his defects.
"Bless his heart!" cried Mrs. Somerby, as Jack whinnied at her approach, and thrust his ugly nose into her hand.
Mr. Somerby felt of Jack's ribs with a professional air, and said:
"I'm trying a new system with this 'ere beast; I think he's picking up a grain."
"He'll pick up the grain, no doubt," playfully retorted his wife. "Now then, I'll help you off. Those paper men'll have all they want if you're not on hand. I'm glad I put you up to sorting the stuff last week."
"You'll 'put me up' till I'm clean gone," said Joe, winking to himself, as he followed his lively wife. "Let them bags alone, marm. You can be putting me up a big lunch."
"It's all ready, under the wagon-seat. By good rights, Joe, you'd ought to have a boy to help you."
"It isn't a woman's work, I know," said he, kindly. "You just sit here and look on."
Joe swung her up on a bale as if she had been a child. Inspired by her bright eyes he worked with a will. The wagon was soon loaded. Mrs. Joe ran for his overcoat and best hat, gave him a wifely kiss, and watched him depart from the low brown door-way.
"She's the best bargain I ever made," thought Joe, as he jogged toward the city. "I'm not quite up to her time, I know," continued he, and there was a tender look in his sleepy eyes. "Howsomedever, I'll make a lucky hit yet!"
The prospect was so cheering that Joe actually snapped the whip at the "trotter" who was meditating with his head between his knees. Jack, however, did not increase his gait, but plodded on. It was bitter cold, and Joe had to exercise himself to keep warm. It was afternoon when the laden cart entered the city. Hungry Jack had stopped twice, and gazed around at his master in dumb reproach. Joe was hungry, too; so he hurried into a square, in the business part of the city, covered his pet with an old quilt, and giving him his food, went to dispose of his cargo. But Joe's purchasers had gone to dinner, so he returned, mounted the cart, and began upon his own lunch.
"Now, if they don't want my stuff, my wife's 'presentiment' 's gone up," said the elegant Joe, "and I've had this cold trip for nothing."
Just here a remarkable event occurred. Jack suddenly threw up his meditative head, shied, and stood upon his hind-legs.
"Hey there!" cried his master, delighted at this token of life. "Yer a trotter, after all?"
"Yer old nag scart, mister?" asked several small boys, who hovered about.
"He's a leetle lively!" said Joe, proudly. "Keep clear of his heels, boys."
Jack subsided, but eyed a pile of boxes in a court on the left.
"What ails ye, Jack?"
"It's the hermit ails him!" cried one, pointing toward a huge box from one side of which somebody's head and shoulders protruded.
"Quit scaring my horse!" cried Joe.
The face was startlingly pale, and the eyes had a troubled, eager look—the look of anxious care; but Joe knew their owner was a boy, although he quickly disappeared in the box. Mr. Somerby resumed his lunch, but kept the reins in case Jack should be startled when the boy came out. But he did not appear; there was no sign of life in the box. Joe thought he was either up to some more mischief or afraid; the latter seemed most likely, as he recalled the white, still face.
Joe got down from his cart and quietly peeped in. He was somewhat astonished at first, for the boy was on his knees. The sight stirred his sympathies strangely. The pallid lips were moving; soon, low words came forth:
"I don't know how to speak to you, dear Lord; but please help me. Mother prayed to you, and you helped her. Oh! help me, I pray, for Jesus' sake. Amen."
The listener drew back to brush the tears from his eyes.
"'Minds me o' Parson Willoughby's sermon—'Help, Lord, or I perish!' I wish my wife was here. I declare I do. The little chap must be in trouble!"
Joe peeped in again. The boy did not see him as he was partly turned from the opening. He threaded a rusty needle, and proceeded to patch his coat. Joe could see the anxious puckers in his face as he bent over the task.
"I do wish she was here!" Joe cried, aloud.
The boy turned quickly.
"Why don't you go home, lad? You'll freeze to death here."
"This is my home."
"Sho! Do you mean to say you live here?"
"Yes." The lad hesitated, then asked, "Are you from the country, sir?"
"Wal, yes, I be. Though folks don't generally mistrust it when I'm slicked up. But I don't stand no quizzing."
The boy appeared surprised at this sudden outburst, and said, with a frank, manly air that appeased Joe:
"I thought if you lived a long way off I wouldn't mind answering your questions. I'm English, and my name's John Harper. I don't mix with the street boys, so they call me the hermit!"
"Don't you 'mix' with your own folks, neither!"
"They were lost at sea in our passage to this country," was the low reply. "Sometimes I wish I'd died with them, and not been saved for such a miserable life. Can't get work, though I've tried hard enough, and I'd rather starve than beg. I can't beg!" he cried, despairingly. "I'm ordered off for a vagrant if I warm myself in the depots, and I don't suppose the city o' Boston'll let me stay here long."
"Don't get down at the mouth—don't!" said honest Joe, in a choking voice, as the extent of this misery dawned upon him.
"There, you know all," said the boy, bitterly. "I scared your horse, or I wouldn't tell so much. Besides, you look kinder than the men I meet. Perhaps they're not so hard on such as me where you live?"
But Joe had gone, his face twitching with suppressed emotion.
"I'll take the hunger out o' them eyes, anyhow!" He grasped the six-quart lunch pail, and, hastening back, cried, as he brandished it about the lad's head, "Just you help a feller eat that, old chap. My wife 'ud rave at me if I brought any of it home. Help ye'self!"
Hunger got the better of John Harper's pride. He ate gladly. There wasn't a crumb left when he returned the pail. The light of hope began to dawn in his sad eyes,—who could be brave while famishing!
Meantime, Joe had been puzzling his wits and wishing his wife was there to devise some plan for the wayfarer.
"I wonder if you'd mind my horse a spell, while I go about my business?"
So the pale hermit crept out of his box, and mounted the wagon, well protected by an extra coat that comfort-loving Joe always carried.
"He'll think he's earned it, if I give him money," was Joe's kind thought. "He's proud, and don't want no favors. I'll give the lad a lift, and then—"
After "the lift," what was before the homeless boy? Somehow he had crept into Joe's sympathies wonderfully. He couldn't bear to look forward to the hour when Jack and he must leave him to his fate. A chance word from the paper manufacturer put a new idea into Joe's brain. He bought all the cargo at a good price, and engaged the stock at home.
"I'll bring it in soon," said Joe, putting his purse in a safe place. "I don't keep no help to sort my stuff, or I'd be on hand to-morrow."
"Ah," said the bland dealer, little thinking what a train of events he was starting. "You are doing a good business; why don't you keep a boy? I know one who is faithful and needy!"
"Yes, yes, he's in my cart, done up in my coat!" cried Joe, suddenly. He beamed upon the bewildered dealer, and rushed for the door, almost crazy with the new idea.
"My wife said I'd ought to have a boy, too," he thought, almost running toward the spot where he had left the cart, Jack, and the solitary figure in the great coat. Joe grasped the boy. "I've got a plan for you, John Harper. I want a boy to help me; the dealer says so, my wife says so, and I say so. You must go home with me to-night. We'll carry this load to the store-house; then pitch in your baggage and start for a better place than this, my lad!"
It was, indeed, "a better place" for "the boy in the box,"—a place where he found rest and food and shelter. After a little, he grew into the hearts of the childless couple that they called him their own. John went to school winters, and helped Mr. Somerby summers, and got ahead so fast in his happy surroundings that ambitious Mrs. Somerby had him educated. He is now a prosperous merchant, and a text for old Joe to enlarge upon when his wife gets too spicy.
"You wan't nowheres around when I found our John," he often says, "and he's the best bargain I ever made, next to you!"
THE COCK AND THE SUN.
A cock sees the sun as he climbs up the east; "Good-morning, Sir Sun, it's high time you appear; I've been calling you up for an hour at least; I'm ashamed of your slowness at this time of year!"
The sun, as he quietly rose into view, Looked down on the cock with a show of fine scorn; "You may not be aware, my young friend, but it's true, That I rose once or twice before you, sir, were born!"
THE LONDON CHICK-WEED MAN.
BY ALEXANDER WAINWRIGHT.
Birds and flowers do much to enliven the dusky house-windows of the London streets, and both are attended to with great care. The birds are treated to some luxuries which our American pets scarcely know of at all, in their domestic state, and among these are two small plants called chick-weed and groundsel, which grow abundantly along the hedges and in the fields on the outskirts of the smoky city. Both chick-weed and groundsel are insignificant little things, but the epicurean lark, canary, or goldfinch finds in it a most agreeable and beneficial article of diet, quite as much superior to other green stuff as—in the minds of some boys and girls—ice-cream and sponge-cake are superior to roast-beef and potatoes.
On Sunday afternoons and holidays, the lanes where the groundsel and chick-weed grow are frequented by the citizens of the laboring class, who, although the city is quite near and its smoke blackens the leaves, call this the country and enjoy it as such. It is a pretty sight to see them, when they are well behaved; and should one notice the boys and girls, many of them would be found hunting under the hawthorn hedge-rows for chick-weed and groundsel to be taken home for the pet birds.
But all the birds of London do not depend on the industry of their owners for these luxuries. Some men make a trade of gathering and selling the plants, and the picture which is opposite this page will give the reader a good idea of how they look. Their business has one decided advantage. It needs no capital or tools, and a strong pair of legs and a knife are all that its followers really want. Perhaps it is on this account that the groundsel and chick-weed sellers are all very poor, and the raggedness of some is pitiable in the extreme, as the picture shows. Their shoes are shockingly dilapidated, owing to their long daily marches into the country, and the rest of their clothes are nearly as bad.
The one that we have illustrated is a fair example, but despite his poverty-stricken appearance, his torn, loose sleeves and useless boots, he is not at all repulsive. His face tells of want and toil; he has slung a shabby old basket over his shoulders, in which he carries his load, and, with a bunch in his hand, he saunters along the street, proclaiming his trade, "Grun-sel, grun-sel, grun-sel!" Besides the groundsel and the chick-weed, he has small pieces of turf for sale, of which larks are very fond.
The birds in their cages at the open windows chirp and put their pretty little heads aside when they hear him coming; they know perfectly well who he is and what he brings, and their twitter shapes itself into a greeting. The old raven perched on the edge of the basket feels like a superior being, and wonders why other birds make such a fuss over a little green stuff, but that is only because he has coarser tastes.
BY SARGENT FLINT.
Johnny was in disgrace. "Drandma" had set him down uncomfortably hard in his little wooden chair by the fire-place, and told him not to move one inch right or left till she came back; she also told him to think over how naughty he had been all day; but some way it seemed easier just then to think of his grandma's short-comings.
He looked through his tears at the candle in the tall silver candlestick, and by half shutting his eyes he could make three candles, and by blinking a little he could see pretty colors; but amusement tends to dry tears, and Johnny wanted to cry.
He caught the old cat and watched his tears slide off her smooth fur, but when he held her head on one side and let a large round tear run into her ear, she left him in indignation. Then he looked out of the window. The snow was falling fast, as it had been all day.
"Drandma!" he called, but the old lady was busy in the next room, and could not, or would not hear him, so he walked to the door and said: "Drandma, may I sweep a path for drandpa?"
This time "drandma" did hear and see him too. He was brought back and reseated, with marks of flour here and there on his little checked apron.
We must not blame grandma too much; it was a very long time since she was a child, and Johnny, to use her own words, "had almost worn her soul out of her."
When Johnny's mother died, his home was in New York, and while Johnny sat in his little chair by the fire-place, he was thinking of New York, wondering if he ever should see it again,—the great stores with their bright windows,—and, above all, hear the never-ending bustle and hum that would drown the noise of twenty great clocks like grandpa's. Then he thought how he had been deluded in coming to Plowfield; stories of bright green fields, butterflies, hay-carts piled high with hay, and 'way up on the top a little boy named Johnny.
A horse would be there, a cow (wrongly supposed by city people to mean always a plentiful supply of milk), and a blue checked apron; but no one mentioned the apron, and no one said that winter came in Plowfield; not that they meant to deceive Johnny—they couldn't remember everything, but it came all the same, and the bright green fields were brown and bare; then Johnny didn't like them at all, and when the snow came, grandma said if he went out he'd have the croup.
The butterflies forgot Johnny.
He did have one ride on the hay, but grandpa didn't have much hay.
The horse was not such a great comfort after all; he never drove except taking hold of what reins grandpa didn't use, and the cow—yes, Johnny did like the cow—she was a very good cow, but, if Johnny could have expressed himself, he would have said that she was a little monotonous.
Johnny couldn't remember his mother, which was fortunate then, or he would have cried for her. He saw his father only once a month; he was making money very fast in the dingy little office away down town in New York, and spending it almost as fast in a house away up town for Johnny's new mamma, and, with Plowfield so far away, it was no wonder Johnny's father was always on the move. He ought to have been there that very day; the heavy snow perhaps had prevented; that was one reason why Johnny had been so naughty.
He sat quite still after he was brought back. He was too indignant to cry; he felt as if there was no such thing as justice or generosity in grandmothers.
After a while he felt that he had thought of something that would do justice to his feelings.
"Drandma," he cried, "I wish I'd smashed the bowl to-day when I spilt the cream!"
Grandma didn't say anything for fear Johnny would know she was laughing.
He grew more and more indignant; he never in his life had felt so naughty. He thought of all the rebellious things he had ever heard of, and making a few choice selections, mentioned them to his grandmother, and she, laughing, stored them away, to tell grandpa, consoling herself with the idea that if he was bad he wasn't stupid.
Suddenly, among other brilliant ideas, came the thought that sometimes boys ran away; Mike's boy Jerry ran away (Mike was the man who worked for grandpa), and he didn't have any money, and Johnny had fifteen cents; besides, when he got on the cars he could tell the conductor to charge it to his father; of course, he knew his father; he came from New York every month.
He listened till he heard grandma go to the shed for wood, and before she came back her small grandson was some distance from the house in the deep snow, putting on his coat and tying his comforter over his ears.
As he looked back and saw the shadow of grandma as she put down the wood, he said: "I guess I'll make her cry pretty soon."
After the wood, grandma seemed to find quite a number of things either to take up or put down, so for a little while Johnny was forgotten. Did you ever notice that grandmothers, and mothers too, are always begging for a little quiet, yet, if they ever get a bit, nothing seems to make them more uneasy?
Grandma thought Johnny was unusually still—she thought, "and is asleep on the lounge." So she was not alarmed when she saw the little empty chair, but when no Johnny appeared on the lounge or anywhere in the room, she felt worried.
"Johnny!" she called all through the house and wood-shed. Then she missed the little coat, cap, and comforter.
"If he has gone to meet his grandpa, he'll freeze to death. Oh, why didn't I amuse him till his grandpa came," she thought. She opened the door and tried to call, but a cloud of snow beat her back. Wrapping herself comfortably, she started down the white road she thought Johnny had taken.
She called and called his name, and in her excitement expected every moment to find him frozen. She promised the wind and snow that, if they would only spare her Johnny, her dead daughter's baby, that in place of his impatient old grandma there should be one as patient as Job!
She had nearly reached the depot. She heard the evening train, she saw the glare of the great lamp on the engine though the glass that covered it was half hidden by the blinding snow. She heard a sleigh coming toward her, and said to herself, "No matter who it is, I will stop him, and he shall help me." The bells came nearer and nearer, and the sleigh stopped. "Where are you going, my good woman? It is a rough night, isn't it, for a woman to be out?"
Any other time, how grandma would have laughed!—grandpa didn't know his own wife!
"Take her in, father," said another voice. Poor grandma! It was Johnny's father who spoke.
"Oh, Johnny's lost!" she cried, as she tottered into the sleigh. "He will freeze before we can find him."
The old lady was taken home, and grandpa and Johnny's father started off, quite naturally in the wrong direction, for Johnny.
* * * * *
For a while, Johnny went on manfully; but soon his little fingers and toes began to beg him to go back. He refused to notice their petition, and wished grandma could see him, as the wind whirled him round and round and almost buried him in the snow. He thought he had gone about ten miles, when he heard bells. He turned to one side for the sleigh to pass, when he heard a voice he knew.
"Oh, Jerry," he cried, "please take me in!"
Jerry stopped, and asked, "Who are ye?"
"I'm Johnny," said our small hero, quite meekly.
"And where may ye be bound to, Johnny?" said Jerry.
"To the depot. I'm going to New York," said Johnny, who thought this a mild way to tell Jerry he was running away.
"This road niver took any one to the depot, Jacky. If I hadn't come this way, yer'd been froze stiff in the mornin'."
Here Jerry rolled his eyes in a dreadful manner, and trembled like one terribly frightened. Johnny would have cried hard, but he remembered how brave Jerry was when he ran away, so he winked hard to keep back the tears, and said:
"Do you think I shall 'froze' now, Jerry?"
Jerry thought not, if he minded him. So he lifted him into the sleigh, and they drove on.
"Is this the depot?" asked Johnny, when they stopped.
"Ye be hard on the depot. This is my house." said Jerry.
As he opened the door, his mother said, "I've looked afther yez since the dark, and what have ye there?" as she saw Johnny.
Mike, Jerry's father, sat by the stove, and there was a baby on the floor. Johnny thought he never had seen such a funny place.
He liked the baby best, although its yellow flannel night-dress was dirty; but it wasn't quite his idea of a baby.
"What shall we do wid him, Mike?" said the lady of the house, as she saw Johnny's head bobbing and his eyes closing.
"I thought ye'd kape him here till the next train for New York," said Jerry, laughing.
Mike laid down his pipe, and began to put on his coat.
"Is it to go out again that yez will, this arful night, Mike?" said Maggie.
"Lay him out on the bed; lave him to slape here to-night, Maggie. I'll go and make it aisy wid the old folks," said Mike.
He found grandma sitting before the fire-place. Bottles of all sizes stood on the table, and blankets hung on chairs by the fire. The old lady's face was pale, and Mike afterward told Maggie, "The hands of her shook like a lafe, and she had the same look on her that she had when they tould her Johnny's mother was dead. And when I tould her the boy was safe wid yez here—Ah, Maggie, she's a leddy!" said Mike, lowering his voice.
"Well, what did she say?" said Maggie.
"She said I betther sit down an' ate some supper, to warm meself," said Mike.
Poor grandma! She declared afterward she didn't know Mike was such a good-looking man, and so kind-hearted, too. But she didn't keep him long to praise him, but hurried him off to find grandpa.
Mike found the brilliant pair, going over and over the same ground. You need not laugh, little reader; that's just what your father would do, if you were lost.
Five minutes after they had learned where Johnny was, they were standing over him in Mike's house—standing over him, and the baby in the yellow flannel night-dress, for they were both in one bed, and Johnny's father saw them about as clearly as Johnny had seen the candle.
The family were thanked individually and collectively, from Mike down to the baby, who, when Johnny left, was covered with sweetmeats and toys, brought from New York to Johnny.
The next morning, at breakfast, Johnny learned many things, among them that it was very wrong to run away, and he must be punished, and grandma should decide how severely.
"I will punish him myself," said grandma, "by removing all temptation to do so again."
Johnny is too young now to appreciate his pleasant sentence, but in after years, when his sins are heavier, he will miss his gentle judge.
He was to leave Plowfield the next day for New York; but he was to come back again with the summer, and many were the promises he made of good behavior.
When the time came for him to go, he clung so to his grandma that his father said:
"You need not go, Johnny, if you would rather stay."
"No," said Johnny, "I want to go; but why don't they have drandmas and fathers live in the same house?"
At last, he was all tucked in the sleigh, and grandpa had started.
"Stop! wait!" said Johnny, "I forgot something."
He jumped out of the sleigh, ran back to grandma, clasped his arms around her neck, and whispered in her ear:
"I'm sorry, drandma, 'cause I spilt the cream, and I'm awfil glad I didn't smash the bowl."
A MONUMENT WITH A STORY.
BY FANNIE ROPER FEUDGE.
Many times have I heard English people say, as if they really pitied us: "Your country has no monuments yet; but then she is so young—only two hundred years old—and, of course, cannot be expected to have either monuments or a history." Yet we have some monuments, and a chapter or two of history, that the mother-country does not too fondly or frequently remember. But I am not going to write now of the Bunker Hill Monument, nor of the achievement at New Orleans, nor of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. I want to tell of another land nearer its infancy than ours, with a history scarcely three-quarters of a century old, but with one monument, at least, that is well worth seeing, and that cannot be thought of without emotions of loving admiration and reverence. The memorial is of bronze, and tells a story of privation and suffering, but of glorious heroism, and victory even in death.
Everybody knows something of the great island, Australia, the largest in the world, reckoned by some geographers as the fifth continent. I might almost have said its age is less than one-quarter of a century, instead of three. It was visited by the great adventurer, William Dampier, about the year 1690, and again, eighty years after, by Cook, on his first voyage around the world. It is only within the present generation that we have come to know it well. England's penal colony there, and Cook's stories of the marvelous beauty and fertility of the land, were never wholly forgotten; but almost nothing was done in the way of exploration, especially of the interior, and the world remained ignorant of both its extent and its resources until 1860, in August of which year two brave-hearted young men, by name Burke and Wills, determined to find out all that they could of the unknown central regions. It is in memory of these men that Australia's first monument has been erected. Let me tell you their story.
Burke was in the prime of life, a strong, brave man, who delighted in daring and even dangerous exploits. Wills, an astronomer, was younger, and not so ardent, but prudent, wise, sagacious, and thus well fitted to be the companion of the adventurous Burke. Their object was to trace a course from south to north of Australia, and explore the interior, where hitherto no European had set foot.
Fifteen hardy adventurers were induced to form the little company; twenty-seven camels were imported from India, for carrying the tents, provisions and implements needed upon such a journey, a fifteen-months' supply of provisions was laid in, and large vessels were provided for holding ample stores of water, whenever the route should lie through arid regions.
Thus burdened with baggage and equipments, the explorers started out. Their progress was necessarily slow, but the greatest difficulty with which the leaders had to contend was a spirit of envy and discontent among their followers. This led to an entire change in Burke's plans, and perhaps also to the sad catastrophe which ended them.
Instead of keeping his men together, as at first intended, he divided the company into three squads. Assigning the command of two of these to Lieutenants Wright and Brahe, and leaving them behind at an early stage of the journey, together with most of the baggage and provisions, Burke took Wills, with two others of the most resolute of his company, and pushed boldly forward, determined to reach the northern coast if possible, but, at any rate, not to return unless the want of water and provisions should compel him.
A place called Cooper's Creek, about the center of the Australian continent, was to serve as a rendezvous for the entire company; one of the squads was directed to remain at this point for three months, and longer if practicable; another squad was told to rest a while at Menindie, and then join the first; while Burke, Wills, Gray and King were to prosecute their journey northward, do their utmost to accomplish the main object of the expedition, and return to Cooper's Creek. Had this plan been faithfully executed, all might have gone well. But hardly had Burke taken his departure when quarrels for pre-eminence broke out among the men he had left behind; then sickness and death thinned the ranks and disheartened the survivors, and they failed to carry out the programme Burke had laid down. Wright stayed at Menindie until the last of January before setting out for the rendezvous; while Brahe, who had charge of most of the provisions, instead of remaining for three months at Cooper's Creek, deserted that post long before the time arranged, and left behind neither water nor provisions.
In two months Burke and his companions reached the borders of the Gulf of Carpentaria, at the extreme north of the continent, having solved the problem, and found a pathway to the North Pacific. Then, worn and weary, they set out to return. Their forward march had been exhausting, as the frequent attacks of bands of savage natives and the many deadly serpents had made it dangerous to halt for rest either by day or night. The heat, too, was excessive, and sometimes for days together the travelers were almost without water, while but sparing use could be made of the few provisions they had been able to carry. Feeling sure of relief at Cooper's Creek, however, and jubilant at their success, the four almost starving men turned about and pressed bravely on, but they arrived only to find the post deserted, and neither water nor provisions left to fill their pressing need.
In utter dismay, they sat down to consider what could be done, when one of the party happened to see the word "dig" cut on the bark of a tree, and digging below it, they found a casket containing a letter from Brahe, which showed that he had left the post that very morning, and that our travelers had arrived just seven hours too late!
Imagine, if you can, how terribly tantalizing was this news, and how hard it must have seemed to these heroic men, after having suffered so much, braved so many dangers, and tasted the first sweets of success, to die of starvation just at the time when they had hoped relief would be at hand—to be so nearly saved, and to miss the certainty of rescue by only a few hours! Eagerly they searched in every direction for some trace of their comrades, and called loudly their names, but the echo of their own voices was the only answer. As a last effort for relief, they attempted to reach Mount Despair, a cattle station one hundred and fifty leagues away, but they finally gave up in complete discouragement, when one more day's march might have brought them to the summit and saved their lives.
For several weeks these brave fellows fought off their terrible fate, sometimes hoping, oftener despairing, and at last, one after another, they lay down far apart in the dreary solitude of the wilderness, to die of starvation.
All this and more was learned by Captain Howitt, who commanded an expedition of search sent out from Melbourne, some nine months after the departure of Burke and his company, not a word of news having been received concerning them, and many fears being felt for the safety of the little band. On Howitt's arrival at Cooper's Creek he, too, found the word "dig," where the four despairing men had seen it; and beneath the tree was buried, not only the paper left by Brahe, but Burke's journal, giving the details of the journey to the coast, discoveries made, and the terrible last scenes.
At every step of Burke's pathway new objects of interest had elicited his surprise and admiration. Not only were there fertile plains and beautiful, flower-dotted prairies, but lagoons of salt water, hills of red sand, and vast mounds that seemed to tell of a time when the region was thickly populated, though now it was all but untrod by man. A range of lofty mountains, discovered by Burke in the north, he called the Standish Mountains, and a lovely valley outspread at their foot he named the Land of Promise.
But alas! Great portions of Burke's journey had to be made through rugged and barren regions, destitute of water, and with nothing that could serve as food for man or beast. Driven to extremities by hunger, the pioneers devoured the venomous reptiles they killed, and on one occasion Burke came near dying from the poison of a snake he had eaten. All their horses were killed for food, and all their camels but two. Perhaps these also went at a later day, for toward the last the records in the journal became short, and were written at long intervals.
Once the party was obliged to halt with poor Gray, and wait till he had breathed his last, when the three mourning survivors went on in silence without their comrade.
A letter from young Wills, addressed to his father, is dated June 29th. The words are few, but they are full of meaning.
"My death here, within a few hours, is certain, but my soul is calm," he wrote.
The next day he died, as was supposed by the last record; though the precise time could not be known, as he had gone forth alone to make one more search for relief, and had met his solitary fate calmly, as a hero should. Howitt, after long search, found the remains of his friend stretched on the sand, and nearly covered with leaves.
The closing sentence in Burke's journal is dated one day earlier than young Wills's letter. It runs:
"We have gained the shores of the ocean, but we have been aband—"
It is not, of course, known why the last word was never finished. It may have been that he felt too keenly the cruelty of his companions' desertion of him to bring himself to write the word; or perhaps the death agony overtook him before he could finish it. At any rate, it speaks a whole crushing world of reproach to those whose disregard of duty cost their noble leader's life. It has its lessons for us all.
Burke's skeleton also was found, covered with leaves and boughs that had been placed there, it is supposed, by the pitying natives, who found the dead hero where, in bitter loneliness, he heaved his dying sigh, unflinching to the last.
Howitt wrapped the remains in the flag of his country, and left them in their resting-place. Then he returned to Melbourne, and made preparations for their removal and subsequent burial. They rest now in that beautiful city near the sea, beneath the great bronze monument. There are two figures, rather larger than life, Burke standing, Wills in a sitting posture. On the pedestal are three bass-reliefs, one showing the return to Cooper's Creek, another the death of Burke, and the third the finding of his remains. This is a fitting tribute to the memory of the brave explorers, but a far nobler and more enduring memorial exists in the rapid growth and present prosperous condition of that vast island, results that are largely the fruit of their labors and devotion.
King survived, but he was wasted almost to a skeleton, and it was months before he could tell the story of suffering he alone knew.
BY MARY C. BARTLETT.
"If I had a fortune," quoth bright little Win, "I'd spend it in Sunday-schools. Then, don't you see, Wicked boys would be taught that to steal is a sin, And would leave all our apples for you and for me."
"If I had a fortune," quoth twin-brother Will, "I'd spend it in fruit-orchards. Then, don't you see, Wicked boys should all pick till they'd eaten their fill, And they wouldn't want apples from you or from me."
A HORSE AT SEA.
His name is Charley. A common name for a horse, and yet he was a most uncommon horse, of a sweet and cheerful disposition, and celebrated for his travels over the sea. This is his portrait, taken the day before he left America, for the benefit of sorrowing friends. He looks as if he thought he was going abroad. There is something in his eye and the expressive flirt of his tail that seems to suggest strange doings. Charley is going to Scotland, over the sea, and he is having his feet cared for by the Doctor. He stands very steady now, even on three legs. When he afterward went aboard the good steamship "California" it was as much as he could do to keep steady on all four.
Poor Charley! He was dreadfully sick on the voyage. He had a fine state-room, but the motion of the ship was too much for his nerves, and he was very ill. So they had to bring him, bed and all, on deck. The steamer was rolling from side to side, for the waves ran high, and the tall masts swayed this way and that with a slow and solemn motion. Poor Charley didn't appreciate the beauty of the sea, and thought the whole voyage a most unhappy experience. Then he had to be hoisted out of the hatchway in a most undignified manner. The frontispiece shows you how this was done. They put him in his box and put a rope round it and fastened the rope to the donkey engine, a little steam-engine which is used for hoisting and such purposes. How humiliating for a horse to be dragged aloft by a donkey engine! The captain stood near to give the signal when the steamer rested for a moment on a level keel. The donkey engine puffed, and the sailors stood ready to steer the patient upward, just as you see in the picture.
Charley grew very serious as he rose higher and higher, but a man held him by the head and whispered comfort in his ear. At last, he reached the deck in safety, and they gave him a place in a breezy nook beside some other four-footed passengers, and he immediately recovered.
TIDY AND VIOLET; OR, THE TWO DONKEYS.
There was once a little boy who was not very strong, and it was thought right that he should be a great deal in the open air, and therefore it was also thought right that he should have a donkey.
The plan was for this little boy to take long rides, and for his mamma to ride on another donkey, and for his papa to walk by the side of both.
The two donkeys that were procured for this purpose had belonged to poor people, and had lived hard lives lately, out upon the common, because the poor people had no employment for them, and so could get no money to give the donkeys better food. They were glad, therefore, when the gentleman said that he wanted to buy a donkey for his little boy, and that he would try these two for a time, and then take the one he liked best.
So the gentleman and the lady and the boy took their excursion day after day with the two donkeys.
Now, one of these was a thin-looking white donkey, and the other was a stout black donkey; and one was called "Violet" and the other "Tidy."
The little boy liked the black donkey best, because he was bigger and handsomer, "I like Tidy," he said; "dear papa, I like Tidy."
"Stop!" said his papa. "Let us wait a bit; let us try them a little longer."
The party did not go out every day; sometimes the gentleman and lady were engaged, and the donkeys remained idly in the gentleman's field.
And then, when they had done eating, they used sometimes to talk.
"Is not this happiness?" said the meek white donkey. "Instead of the dry grass of the common, to have this rich, green, juicy grass, and this clear stream of water, and these shady trees; and then, instead of doing hard work and being beaten, to go out only now and then with a kind lady and gentleman, and a dear little boy, for a quiet walk:—is it not a happy change, Tidy?"
"Yes," said Tidy, flinging his hind-legs high in the air.
"Oh!" said Violet, "I hope you will not do that when the young gentleman is on your back."
"Why not?" said Tidy.
"Because," said Violet, "you may throw him off, and perhaps kill him; and consider how cruel that would be, after all his kindness to us."
"Oh," said Tidy, "people always call us donkeys stupid and lazy and slow, and they praise the horse for being spirited and lively; and so the horses get corn and hay and everything that is good, and we get nothing but grass. But I intend to be lively and spirited and get corn."
"Take care what you do, Tidy," said Violet. "The gentleman wishes to buy a quiet donkey, to carry his little boy gently. If we do not behave ourselves well, he surely will send us back to the common."
But Tidy was foolish and proud, and, the next time he went out, he began to frisk about very gayly.
"I fear," said the gentleman, "that the good grass has spoiled Tidy."
Tidy heard this, but, like other young and foolish things, he would not learn. Soon, the little dog Grip passed by, and Tidy laid his ears back on his neck and rushed at Grip to bite him.
"Really," said the gentleman, "Tidy is getting quite vicious. When we get home, we will send Tidy away, and we will keep Violet."
Tidy, as you may believe, was sorry enough then. But it was too late. He was sent away to the bare common. But Violet still lives in the gentleman's field, eats nice grass, goes easy journeys, and is plump and happy.
Poets have a great deal to answer for, and they should be careful what they say, for they've no idea what an influence they have. Now, I'm told that about one hundred and fifty years ago, one by the name of Thomson (Thomson without a p) sang:
"Hail, gentle Spring! Ethereal mildness, hail!"
and made no end of trouble, of course. March being the first spring month, was the first to hear the command, and so, ever since, she has been trying her best to hail. Failing in this, as she nearly always does, her only recourse is to blow; and blow she does, with a will. So don't blame her, my chicks, if she deals roughly with you this year, blows your hair into your eyes, and nearly takes you off your feet. It's all the fault of that poet Thomson.
I suppose if he had sung to our great American cataract, he would have told it to trickle, or drip, or something of that sort; and then what would have become of all the wedding tours? Mrs. Sigourney, my birds tell me, was a poet of the right sort. She sang, "Roll on, Niagara!"—and it has rolled on ever since.
Talking of fluids, here's a letter telling
HOW CHERRY PLAYED WITH WATER.
A good friend sends Jack this true horse-story:
At my summer home, the very coolest and pleasantest spot to be found on a hot day is a grassy knoll, shaded by a great tree. Close by is the horse-trough, which is supplied with water from the well a few rods off. One sultry day, my little boy and I went to play under the shade of this tree. The trough was full of clean, sparkling water, and I lingered there even after the two horses, "Cherry" and "Dash," had been brought out and tied to the tree; for they, too, had found their house uncomfortable, and had begged with their expressive eyes to be taken out-of-doors.
Now, the water in the trough looked very tempting, and soon my boy Willy put his little hand in, and then rolling up his sleeve, plunged in his arm and began to splash the water, throwing it around, wetting us all, horses included. We left the tree, and were going into the house, when we heard a loud thumping, and splashing; turning round, we saw Cherry, with his fore-leg in the trough, knocking his great iron shoe against the side of it, sending the water flying in all directions, and making the water in the trough all black and muddy. Now, these horses had drunk from this trough three times a day for two months, and spent many a morning under that very tree, and it had never occurred to either of them to play such a trick until they had seen Willy do it.
Willy was so much pleased that he gave Cherry several lumps of sugar to reward him for his naughtiness; but James, the coachman, took a different view, and gave him a sound scolding, and I am afraid whipped him; although I protested that Willy was more to blame than poor Cherry, who had only imitated his little master.
Another enemy to my friends the birds! This time it's a spider. He lives near the Amazon River, they tell me, builds a strong web across a deep hole in a tree, and waits at the back of the hole until a bird or a lizard is caught in the meshes. Then out he pounces, and kills his prey by poison. And yet this dreadful creature has a body only an inch and a half in length!
Then there's a spider named Kara-Kurt, who lives in Turkestan; and, though he is no bigger than a finger-nail, he can jump several feet. He hides in the grass, and his bite is poisonous; but I'm glad to say he doesn't kill birds.
In the same country is a long-legged spider, who has long hair and a body as big as a hen's egg. When he walks he seems as large as a man's double fists. What a fellow to meet on a narrow pathway! I think most people would be polite enough to let him have the whole of the walk. Little Miss Muffett would have been scared out of her senses if such a huge spider had "sat down beside her."
The Little Schoolma'am says Thomson didn't say "Hail, gentle Spring!" He said, "Come, gentle Spring!" Dear, dear! I beg his pardon. But, like as not, some other poet said it, if Thomson didn't. Or perhaps they've sung so much about Spring that March, taking it all to herself, thinks she may as well blow her own trumpet, too.
Poor March! In old times she used to be the first month of the year,—and now she is only the third. May be, that is what troubles her. Nobody likes to be put back in that way.
Deacon Green was talking about parrots the other day. He said he once knew a parrot that was not as polite as "Pippity," the one mentioned in a story called "Tower-Mountain." The parrot that he knew would swear whenever he opened his bill. It had been taught by the sailors on board the ship in which it had come from South America. When the deacon knew it, it belonged to the widow of a very strict minister. It had been brought to her by her nephew, a midshipman, as a Christmas present. It was lucky for him, just then, that the old lady was stone deaf. She was very cross with the neighbors when they told her what wicked words the bird used. It was a great pet, and she would not believe anything bad about it. But at last it swore at a visitor who was a bishop, and soon after, it was no more.
Since the Deacon told that story I have had a paragram about another parrot; one that lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, five years ago. This one could laugh, weep, sing songs, make a noise like "smacking the lips," and talk. His talking was not merely by rote; he would speak at the right times, and say what was just right to be said then and there. He spoke the words plainly, bowed, nodded, shook his head, winked, rolled from side to side, or made other motions suited to the sense of what he was saying. His voice was full and clear, and he could pitch it high or low, and make it seem joyful or sad. Many curious tales, are told of him, but the most remarkable thing about him is that he actually lived and really did the things named.
That's what the paragram says. Stop—let me think a moment. May be that parrot himself sent it? But no; he wasn't smart enough for that; I remember, now, the signature was "Chambers."
THE WRITING OF THE PULSE.
Did you ever hear of a sphygmograph? Of course not. Well, in its present improved state, it is something new and very wonderful. It takes its name from two Greek words, sphugmos, the pulse, and grapho, I describe. It is an implement to be used by physicians, and forces the patient's pulse to tell its own story, or, in other words, make a full confession of all its ups and downs and irregularities. Not only make a confession, my beloveds, but actually write it down in plain black and white!
So you see that a man's pulse in Maine may write a letter to a physician in Mexico, telling him just what it's about, and precisely in what manner its owner's heart beats—how fast or slow, and, in fact, ever so much more.
Now, isn't that queer? Should you like to see some specimens of pulse-writing? Here they are:
No. 1, according to the doctors, writes that he is the pulse of a strong, healthy boy, and that his owner is getting on admirably. No. 2 writes that his proprietor has trouble with his heart. No. 3 tells a sad story of typhoid fever; and No. 4 says that his owner is dying.
I am only a Jack-in-the-Pulpit, you know, quite dependent upon what the birds and other bipeds tell me, so you cannot expect a full description and explanation of the sphygmograph here. Ask your papas and friends about it.
There's a great deal going on in the world that you and I know very little about; but such things as the sphygmograph give us a hint of the achievements of science in its efforts to help God's children out of their many ills and pains.
The deacon says that, wonderful as the sphygmograph is, the pulse itself is more wonderful still—a fact which no good ST. NICHOLAS child will deny.
A PERUVIAN BONANZA.
You've heard, I suppose, that they expect soon to open up a new and wonderfully rich deposit of silver in the mines of Peru? No! Well, then, it's high time you were warned about it. Take your Jack's advice, my youngsters, and be very careful about things. Why, if they go on finding big bonanzas in this reckless way, silver will be too cheap for use as money! And then what will they do? They'll have to use something in place of it, of course; but there's no telling what it will be. Only think, they might choose double-almonds, or something of that kind!
But don't allow yourselves to be cast down about it, my dears. Try to keep up your spirits, and remember that, if the worst comes to the worst, good children will never be so plenty that people will cease to appreciate a good child. That's a bit of solid comfort for you, any way.
LUMBER AND TIMBER.
Which of you can state the exact distinction, if there is any, between lumber and timber, without consulting the dictionary?
QUEER NAMES FOR TOWNS.
Now, what am I to do with this? If the Little Schoolma'am sees it, she may want to give the boys and girls of the Red School-house a new sort of geography lesson, or perhaps a spelling task to her dictation. That would be a little hard on them: so perhaps I'd better turn over the letter to you just as it is, my chicks.
DEAR JACK-IN-THE-PULPIT: Here are the names of some towns in the United States. They are so funny that I send them to you, and I hope you will like it. Do you think the Little Schoolma'am would know where all these places are?
Toby Guzzle, Ouray, Kickapoo, T.B., Ono, O.Z., Doe Gully Run, Omio, Nippenose, Eau Gallie, Need More, Kandiyohi, Nobob, Cob Moo Sa, We Wo Ka, Ty Ty, Osakis, Why Not, Happy Jack, U Bet, Choptack, Fussville, Good Thunder's Ford, Apopka, Burnt Ordinary, Crum Elbow, Busti, Cheektowaga, Yuba Dam, Dycusburgh, Chuckatuck, Ni Wot, Buck Snort, What Cheer, Forks of Little Sandy, Towash, Sopchoppy, Thiry Daems, Vicar's Switch, Omph Ghent, Peculiar.
I have found a great many more, but these are the queerest I could pick out.—Yours truly,
ANSWERS TO RIDDLES.
Here are two answers, out of the three, to the riddles I gave you last month: TOBACCO, and CARES (Caress). The archbishop's puzzle has been too much for you, I'm afraid, my dears. I'll give you until next month. Then we'll see.
DEAR ST. NICHOLAS: Not long ago I read in your delightful magazine a poem, entitled "Red Riding Hood," by John G. Whittier. It recalled to me some visits which I made to the great and good poet, my friend of many years.
My acquaintance with him began when I was a school-girl in Salem. Then he lived in Amesbury, on the "shining Merrimack," as he calls it, with his sister, a most beautiful and lovable person.
I remember distinctly my first visit to them. The little white house, with green blinds, on Friend street, looked very quiet and home-like, and when I received the warm welcome of the poet and his sister I felt that peace dwelt there. At one side of the house there was a little vine-wreathed porch, upon which opened the glass-door of the "garden room," the poet's favorite sitting room, the windows of which looked out upon a pleasant, old-fashioned garden. Against the walls were books and some pictures, among which were "Whittier's Birthplace in Haverhill," and "The Barefoot Boy," the latter illustrating the sweet little poem of that name.
In the parlor hung a picture of the loved and cherished mother, who had died some years before, a lovely, aged face, full of strength and sweet repose. In a case were some specimens of the bird referred to in "The Cry of a Lost Soul," a poem which so pleased the Emperor of Brazil that he sent these birds to the poet.
At the head of the staircase hung a pictured cluster of pansies, painted by a lady, a friend of the poet. He called my attention to their wonderful resemblance to human faces. In the chamber assigned to me hung a large portrait of Whittier, painted in his youth. It was just as I had heard him described in my childhood. There were the clustering curls, the smooth brow, the brilliant dark eyes, the firm, resolute mouth.
We spent a very pleasant evening in the little garden room, in quiet, cheerful conversation. The poet and his sister talked of their life on the old farm, which Whittier has described in "Snow Bound," and he showed me a quaint old book written by Thomas Elwood, a friend of Milton. It was the only book of poetry that Whittier had been able to get to read when a boy.
Like all distinguished writers, Whittier has a large number of letters from persons whom he does not know, and many strangers go to see him. Miss Whittier said that one evening the bell rang, and Whittier went to the door. A young man in officer's uniform stood there. "Is this Mr. Whittier?" he asked. "Yes," was the answer. "I only wanted to shake hands with you, sir," and grasping the poet's hand he shook it warmly, and hastened away.
Some years after my first visit a great sorrow befell Whittier in the loss of his sister. After that, a niece kept house for him. She is now married, and he spends most of his time with some cousins at "Oak Knoll," a delightful place near Danvers. It was there that I last had the pleasure of seeing him, one golden day in October. The house is situated on an eminence, surrounded by fine trees, which were then clad in their richest robes of crimson and bronze and gold. Through the glowing leaves we caught glimpses of the deep blue sky and the distant hills. We had a pleasant walk through the orchard, in which lay heaps of rosy apples, and across fields and meadows, where we gathered grasses and wild flowers. And we saw the pigs and cows and horses, and had the company of three splendid dogs, great favorites of the host. We had also for a companion a dear, bright little girl, a cousin of the poet. She is the "little lass," the "Red Riding Hood" of his poem.
After a most enjoyable day I came away reluctantly, but happy at leaving my friend in such a pleasant home, and among the charming and refreshing country scenes that he loves so well.—Yours truly,
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AGNES'S MOTHER, whose letter was printed in the "Letter-Box" for January last, will oblige the Editors by sending them Agnes's address.
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DEAR ST. NICHOLAS: Last summer, we stayed a week on Prudence Island, in Narragansett Bay, where the blackberries sprinkle thickly the ground, and mosquitoes, in some parts of the island, sprinkle thickly the air. Prudence, Patience, Hope, and Despair are four islands near together; they were named by the owner after his daughters. Prudence has some twelve or fifteen houses; but in Revolutionary times there were, it is said, seventy families on the island. The British set fire to everything, and the island was devastated. One old hornbeam-tree is pointed out as the only tree that escaped destruction. The wood of this kind of tree is so hard that it does not burn easily. This tree is sometimes called "iron wood," and "lever wood," as the wood is used to make levers. This old tree has all its branches at the top, umbrella-wise, as if the lower branches had been destroyed in some way, for it is not the nature of the tree to grow in this fashion. I could barely reach one little twig of pale, discolored leaves, to bring home as a memento. Prudence is the largest of the four islands, Patience, next in size, lies a little north of it. Hope, on the west side, is a picturesque mass of rock; and Despair lies just north of Hope, a solid rock, nearly or quite covered at high tide.
ADDY L. FARNUM.
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DEAR ST. NICHOLAS: I have a question to ask you, and if you will answer it you will greatly oblige me. This is the question: May leaves be of any size to make a folio or quarto?—Yours truly, K.
A sheet of paper of any size, folded in two equal parts, makes two leaves of folio size; folded evenly once more, four leaves of quarto size. But book-publishers use these words arbitrarily. With them a sheet about 19 by 24 inches is supposed to be the proper size, unless otherwise specified. A folio leaf is, consequently, about 12 by 19 inches; a quarto leaf, about 9 by 12 inches: an octavo leaf, about 6 by 9 inches.
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Fordham, N. Y.
DEAR ST. NICHOLAS: I have a Polish rooster, I wonder if you have ever seen one? If not, I will describe it. It has a very large top-knot, very much larger than a duck's, although it is not at all like it.
WILLIE A. RICHARDSON.
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Here is a letter that was sent to Santa Claus, last Christmas:
MR. SANTA CLAUSES, NEW YORK CITY.
I don't know your number, but I gest you will get it.
MY DEAR OLD SANTA CLAUSES: I know you are awful poor for Mama sed so but I do want so Many things and when I Commence to Writting to you I feel like crying. Cause you know my papa is dead and mama is auful poor to but I do want a Dolly so bad not like they give of the Christmas tree but a real Dolly that open and shut it eyes but O I want so many other things but I wont ask for them for you will Think I am auful selfage and want to Take evythink from others little Girls but when you ben all around if you have one picture Book left pleas send it to me. Dear Santa Clauses plese don't forget me because I live in Perth Amboy.
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New York City.
DEAR ST. NICHOLAS: I am reading a history of the late Civil War, and often come across names of different parts of an army. I would like to ask you two questions:
1. How many men usually are there in a corps, division, brigade, and company?
2. How many guns are there in a field-battery?
If you will answer these, you will greatly oblige your friend and reader,
In the United States service, the "company," in time of war, contains 98 non-commissioned officers and privates, and 3 officers; total, 101. The regiment consists of ten companies. A brigade usually consists of four regiments, and, if the ranks are full, should contain about 4,000 men. It sometimes happens that five or six regiments may be comprised in one brigade. A division contains usually three, sometimes four, brigades, and with full ranks would number from 12,000 to 15,000 men. A corps contains three divisions, and should number, say, 45,000 men. In actual conflict, these figures will, of course, widely vary; regiments being reduced by losses to, perhaps, an average of 300 men each, and the brigades, divisions, etc., to numbers correspondingly smaller. A field-battery has either four or six guns, in the United States service usually the latter number, and from 150 to 250 men. The English and French Armies are not very dissimilar from our own in the matter of organization; but in the German army the company contains 250 men, and the regiment 3,000, and they have but two regiments in a brigade.
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DEAR ST. NICHOLAS: I want to tell you What a nice time I had on vacation. I enjoyed the holidays so much that it makes me happy to tell everybody. Our Sunday-school gave a treat on Christmas night, and the church was very handsomely decorated. Above the center, in amongst the evergreen wreaths, was a shining star made by jets of gas. The pastor, Mr. Vincent, said this was to represent the Star of Bethlehem. Then the large Christmas-tree was loaded with gifts, and when lighted up I pretty near thought I was going to see Aladdin's wonderful lamp and Cinderella from fairy-land. I am sure every one felt happy, and we sang the Christmas carols louder than ever, so loudly that the church trembled. But may be it was the organ made it tremble.
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MR. EDWIN HODDER, the author of the new serial, "Drifted into Port," which begins in this number, is an English gentleman, and he wrote this story, not only to tell the adventures of his heroes and his heroines, but to give American boys and girls an idea of life at an English school. We think that the doings of Howard, Digby, Madelaine, and the rest, will be greatly interesting to our readers, especially as these young people leave the school after a while, and have adventures of a novel kind in some romantic, sea-girt islands.
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BESSIE G.—Your letter is not such a one as we are apt to answer in the "Letter-Box." But the best possible message we can send you, and one that you will understand, and apply to your own case, is a beautiful little poem which will interest all readers. We shall give it to you entire. We take it from a treasured old newspaper slip, and regret that we do not know the author's name.
A nightingale made a mistake; She sang a few notes out of tune, Her heart was ready to break, And she hid from the moon. She wrung her claws, poor thing, But was far too proud to speak. She tucked her head under her wing, And pretended to be asleep.
A lark, arm-in-arm with a thrush, Came sauntering up to the place; The nightingale felt herself blush, Though feathers hid her face. She knew they had heard her song, She FELT them snicker and sneer, She thought this life was too long, And wished she could skip a year.
"O nightingale!" cooed a dove, "O nightingale, what's the use, You bird of beauty and love, Why behave like a goose? Don't skulk away from our sight, Like a common, contemptible fowl: You bird of joy and delight, Why behave like an owl?
"Only think of all you have done; Only think of all you can do; A false note is really fun, From such a bird as you! Lift up your proud little crest; Open your musical beak; Other birds have to do their best, You need only SPEAK."
The nightingale shyly took Her head from under her wing, And, giving the dove a look, Straightway began to sing. There was never a bird could pass; The night was divinely calm; And the people stood on the grass To hear that wonderful psalm!
The nightingale did not care, She only sang to the skies; Her song ascended there, And there she fixed her eyes. The people that stood below She knew but little about; And this story's a moral, I know, If you'll try to find it out!
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DEAR ST. NICHOLAS: "Little Joanna" is only three years and a half old, but her father and mother take the ST. NICHOLAS for her; and although she is so very young, she enjoys it as much as the older ones. She liked the little poem called "Cricket on the Hearth," and has learned to repeat some of it. In the December number she liked the poem about the tea-kettle; she cries every time she hears about poor "Little Tweet," and laughs at the "Magician and his Bee," and at Polly's stopping the horses with the big green umbrella. But she laughs the hardest at the picture of the little girl who was so afraid of the turtle, and Edna, the kitchen-girl, told her if the turtle should get hold of the little girl's toe, he wouldn't let go till it thundered. After "Little Joanna" has seen the pictures and heard the stories she can understand, her mamma sends the ST. NICHOLAS to some little cousins in Massachusetts, who in their turn forward it to some more cousins in far away Iowa. So we all feel the ST. NICHOLAS merits the heartiest welcome of any magazine.—Yours,
"LITTLE JOANNA'S" AUNTIE.
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DEAR ST. NICHOLAS: I like your "Letter-Box" so much, and I always read it first. My brother and I fight which shall read ST. NICHOLAS first. He always speaks for it the month before. Then sister reads it out loud to keep us quiet. I wish we had had more of the Pattikins. I liked them real well.
The biggest thing in Dayton is the Soldiers' Home, three miles from town. It is the largest of all the Homes, though they have a small one at Milwaukee, Wis., and several others. They have three thousand disabled soldiers here, and a big hospital, a church built of stone, barracks, stores, dining-room, library, and everything just like a little town. Then lovely lawns, gardens, lakes, fountains, rustic bridges, etc. Lots of people say it is much prettier than Central Park, and I think so, too. The soldiers have most all of them lost their legs or arms, and some both. Lots of blind ones lost their sight in battle, from the powder. They get tipsy, too,—I guess because they get tired and feel sick. Nobody cares, only they get locked up and fined. Papa says he don't believe blue ribbon will keep them sober. Everybody wears blue ribbon here, but I don't, because I don't want to get tipsy anyhow.
General Butler is the big boss of the Home. He comes every fall, and walks around. They always have an arch for him. Colonel Brown is Governor. He only has one arm, and was in Libby Prison. I wish the boys and girls could all come and spend the day here. They have a big deer-park, and lots of animals of all kinds, as good as a show, and a splendid band that gives concerts, and they have dress parades by the Brown Guards. I asked Papa how much it cost to run it a year, and he wrote down for me, so I would not forget, $360,740.81, last year. Hope you will find room to publish this. Harry says you wont. Harry is my brother.—Your friend,
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DEAR ST. NICHOLAS: I have read a great many letters in your ST. NICHOLAS, and I always like to read them, for they are so funny. So I thought I would write you a letter and tell you about my poor little cat. It was given me when two weeks old, and I only had it a month before it died—and, do you believe, I saw it die! It was taken sick, and I cried awful. I don't know what was the matter with it, but I think it had the colic, for it lay as quiet as a mouse; and then it died. Oh, how sorry I was! My friend got a little box and buried it right under my window, so I could often think of it. So I hope you will all wish me better luck with my cats. Be sure and give my love to Jack.—From your little friend,
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San Francisco, Cal.
DEAR ST. NICHOLAS: I have often read in the "Letter-Box" some other little stories which boys and girls have written.
I will now write about the wire-cable railroads of this city. The first one constructed was on Clay street, between Kearney street and Leavenworth street. The road has now been continued out to Van Ness avenue.
The second was constructed by the Sutter Street R.R. Company from Sansom street to Larkin street, a distance of one mile.
The best of all the railroads in the city is on California street, between Kearney and Fillmore streets, a distance of two miles. It is considered the best built wire-cable road in the United States, and is owned by the great railroad king of California, Leland Stanford.
I have a little railroad track seven and a half feet long, with fifteen feet of string, which I call a cable. The invention of the gripping attachment is my own.
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DEAR ST. NICHOLAS: Will you please, for a few moments, imagine yourself blind, deaf and dumb, so that you may have a fair idea of the boy about whom I want to tell you?
His name is James Caton. He is fifteen years old and lives in the Deaf Mute Institution, on the Hudson River, near New York. He was born deaf and dumb, and two years ago a severe sickness left him blind. Before this he had learned to read and write, and talk with his fingers. He uses a pencil and his fingers to ask for what he wants, and tell you how he feels. People can talk to him by spelling words with their fingers against the palm of his hand, and he is so bright and quick that they cannot spell too fast for him. He is fond of his lessons, but sometimes, in adding a long column of figures, he makes mistakes that vex him sadly. Only think how hard it must be to add twenty or thirty large numbers that you cannot see! But when James finds his temper rising he puts it right down, calls back his patience, and goes to work more strenuously than ever. One day, his teacher, a lady, told him the Bible story of Cain, who killed his brother and became a wanderer. Some time after, she asked him "Who was Cain?" and he answered, "Cain was a tramp!" She takes pains to tell him about the great events of the day, such as the dreadful war between Russia and Turkey, and he understands this so well that he can describe it with wonderful effect. He stands out on the floor like an orator, and with the most graceful, animated and expressive signs and gestures, gives the positions of the armies, their meeting, the beating of the drums, the waving of the flags, and the firing of the cannon. Watching him, one can see the battle-field and all its pomp and horror.
James was in the country during the summer, and there he lay on the soft grass, smelled the sweet flowers, and tried to remember their forms and colors. He leaned against the strong tree trunks and measured them with his arms, and the sweet, cool breezes from the river came to refresh and strengthen him.
James has a chum, Charles McCormick, who is almost as badly off as himself—perhaps you will think him worse off. He was born deaf and dumb, and when three years old he fell on the railroad track and the cars cut off both his arms! These two boys love each other dearly. They go into the woods together to gather flowers. Charles goes first because he has the eyes, and when he finds the flowers he stoops down and touches them with the stump of his arm, while James passes his hand down his friend's shoulder and picks them! So they do together what neither could do alone, and both are as happy as birds!—Your friend,
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DEAR ST. NICHOLAS: I am eleven years old, and this is the first time I have ever written to you, so I am going to tell you about my dear little squirrel, "Bob." He is beautifully soft, and his back and head are gray, but his legs and tail are red; he has four long teeth, and he bites very much, if we vex him. He eats nuts and fruit, and he is very fond of bread and milk. When we had him first, he used to run up the curtains and bite them all into holes. Every Sunday he would be brought downstairs while we were at dinner, and papa would give him nuts; but he got so cross that papa would not let him come down again. In the summer, we brought out his cage into the garden; but one Sunday papa opened the cage door, and out jumped Bob. He ran to the wall (which was all covered with ivy), and began to climb it; but papa caught him by his hind-leg and stopped him, and he gave papa such a bite on his hand. So I would not let him go out again. Last summer, mamma took us all down to Wales; but it was too far to take Bob, so we left him to my governess, who took him home with her. But one unlucky day she let him out in the conservatory, and did not shut the window; so he got a chance and ran away out into the road, and he did not come back. She offered a reward, and two days afterward he was found outside the window of an empty house. Soon after that we all came home, and I was very glad to see Bob again, naughty as he was. There is a very funny thing which I ought to have told about first; it is that my Bob was brought up by a cat, and not in the woods at all. I do not think there is anything more to tell you about him.—I am your little reader,
LAURA B. LEWIS.
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HOW TO MAKE A FAIRY FOREST.
In the first place, you must live in the country, where you can find that early spring flower, the blood-root or sanguinaria. Wherever it grows it generally is seen in great abundance—flowering in the Middle States about the first of April. The roots are tuberous, resembling Madeira vines, and they do not penetrate very deeply into the earth. Therefore, when the ground is not frozen on its surface, these tubers can be quite easily procured. In the latter part of March, after removing a layer of dead leaves, or a light covering of leaf mold, the plants may be found, and, at that time will have large brown or greenish brown buds in great abundance, all very neatly wrapped up in conical rolls. A basket should be carefully filled with these tubers, without shaking all the earth from them, and some of the flakiest and greenest pieces of moss that can be found adhering to the rocks must also be put into the basket.
When you reach home, take a large dish or pan and dispose these tubers upon it, first having sprinkled it ever so lightly with the earth found in the bottom of the basket. Place the roots quite close together, taking care to keep the large, pointed, live-looking buds on the top, pack them closely; side by side, until the dish is full, then lay your bits of moss daintily over them, or between them when the beds are large, set them in the sweet spring sunshine, in a south or east window, sprinkle them daily with slightly tepid water, and on some fine morning you will find a little bed of pure white flowers, that will tell you a tale of the woods which will charm your young souls.
Sanguinaria treated in this way will generally so far anticipate its natural time of flowering as to present you the smiling, perfumed faces of its blossoms while the fields may yet be covered with snow.
But this is not the end. After these snowy blossoms have performed their mission of beauty, they will drop off upon the carpet of moss, and, in a short time, will be succeeded by the leaves of the plant, which are large and irregular, but very beautiful, and each leaf is supported by a stem which comes directly from the ground, giving the impression of a miniature tree. A large dish of these little trees springing from the moss makes the Fairy Forest, and an imaginative girl, or possibly boy, well steeped in fairy lore, may imagine many wonderful things to happen herein.
If you have little friends; or relatives who live in the city and cannot go into the woods to look for the sanguinaria, you can easily pack a pasteboard box full of the roots and moss, and send it to them by express, or, if it is not too heavy, by mail.
A COMMON ADAGE.
1. MY 26 39 66 55 40 48 44 11 12 is a poet of ancient Greece.
2. My 25 24 33 8 42 is a poet of ancient Italy.
3. My 69 36 14 50 18 3 41 is a poet of England.
4. My 22 58 65 37 9 by 59 21 53 23 47 28 is a German poem.
5. My 47 62 64 38 is a historian of England.
6. My 30 46 54 48 15 32 is a popular American writer.
7. My 34 7 46 57 41 50 70 is a Scottish writer.
8. My 6 13 67 16 1 17 68 63 5 52 is an English poet.
9. My 47 24 2 23 10 68 63 43 4 is an American writer of fiction.
10. My 49 41 19 56 35 is an eminent geologist.
11. My 16 24 27 41 is a scientist of England.
12. My 45 61 60 67 37 13 31 is one of America's living writers.
13. My 61 7 20 29 is another American writer.
The whole is an extract of two lines (seventy letters) from a noted English poem.
In each of the following sentences fill the blank or blanks in the first part with words whose letters, when transposed, will suitably fill the remaining blank or blanks.
1. —— —— —— words with a man in a ——. 2. Did you see the tiger —— on me with his —— eyes? 3. McDonald said: "—— —— ragged —— remind you of Scotland." 4. The knots may be —— more easily than ——. 5. —— —— told me an —— which amused all in his tent. 6. I hung the —— on the —— round of the rack. 7. The witness is of small value if he can —— —— information that is more —— than this. 8. The —— —— as they look over the precipices in their steep ——.
1. Reverse a color, and give a poet. 2. Reverse a musical pipe, and give an animal. 3. Reverse an entrance, and give a measure of surface. 4. Reverse an inclosure, and give a vehicle. 5. Reverse part of a ship, and give an edible plant. 6. Reverse a noose, and give a small pond. 7. Reverse a kind of rail, and give a place of public sale. 8. Reverse sentence passed, and give temper of mind. 9. Reverse a portion, and give an igneous rock. 10. Reverse an apartment, and give an upland.
The first and ninth words, together, make vegetables that grow in the second upon the third in the fourth; the eighth, a girl, after performing the fifth upon the first and ninth in the fourth, pulling the second the while, did the sixth to get them into the house; here the eighth soon had them upon the seventh, cooking for dinner.
Perpendicular, heavy; horizontal, picking.
CURTAILMENTS AND BEHEADINGS.
To the name of a gifted man, Affix a letter, if you can, And find his avocation.
Curtail a piece of work he did, You'll find a word that now is hid,— A madman's occupation.
Behead another, you will find Measures of a certain kind Used by the English nation.
EASY NUMERICAL ENIGMA.
The whole, composed of fourteen letters, names the hero of a well-known book. The 1 7 3 4 8 is a singing-bird of America. The 9 10 2 6 12 is a religious emblem. The 13 11 5 9 14 is an Oriental animal.
PICTORIAL ANAGRAM PROVERB-PUZZLE.
The answer is a proverb of five words. Each numeral beneath the pictures represents a letter in the word of the proverb indicated by that numeral,—4 showing that the letter it designates belongs to the fourth word of the proverb, 3 to the third word, and so on.
Find a word that describes each picture and contains as many letters as there are numerals beneath the picture itself. This is the first process.
Then put down, some distance apart, the figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, to correspond with the words of the proverb. Group beneath figure 4 all the letters designated by the numeral 4 in the numbering beneath the pictures (since, as already stated, all the letters there designated by the numeral 4 belong to the fourth word of the proverb). You will thus have in a group all the letters that the fourth word contains, and you then will have only to transpose those letters in order to form the word itself. Follow the same process of grouping and transposition in forming each of the remaining words of the proverb. Of course, the transposition need not be begun until all the letters are set apart in their proper groups.
AN OLD MAXIM.
BEHEADED AND CURTAILED.
—IGH— —are— —pea—. —rea— —ne— —r— —um—.
1. Join ease and an ornament, by a vowel, and make recovering—thus: rest-o-ring (restoring). 2. Join pleasant to the taste to a boy's nickname, by a vowel, and make honeyed. 3. Join to bury to a bite of an insect, by a vowel, and make what pleasant stories are.
ACROSS: 1. Portion of an ode. 2. A musical drama. 3. Soon. 4. Marked. 5. Flowers.
DOWN: 1. In a cave. 2. A river. 3. To unclose. 4. The second dignitary of a diocese. 5. A mistake. 6. High. 7. An affirmative. 8. A prefix. 9. In a shop.
DOUBLE CROSS-WORD ACROSTIC.
Brothers are we, alike in form and mien, Sometimes apart, but oft together seen. One labors on, and toils beneath his load; The other idly follows on the road. One parts the sleeping infant's rosy lips; The other veils the sun in dark eclipse. One rises on the breath of morn, with scent Of leaf and flower in fragrant incense blent; The other's wavering aspiration dies And falls where still the murky shadow lies. At hospitable boards my first attends, And greets well pleased the social group of friends; But if my second his grim face shall show, How dire the maledictions sent below! Yet there are those who deem his presence blest, A fitting joy to crown the social feast, And make for him a quiet, calm retreat, Where friends with friends in loving concourse meet.