FANNY'S LITTLE FRIENDS.
BY THE AUTHOR OF
WITH ORIGINAL DESIGNS BY FRED M. COFFIN.
AUBURN AND BUFFALO: MILLER, ORTON & MULLIGAN. 1854.
Published first in England by International Arrangement with the American Proprietors, and entered at Stationers' Hall.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-three, by DERBY AND MILLER, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Northern District of New-York.
STEREOTYPED BY DERBY AND MILLER, AUBURN.
TO MY LITTLE DAUGHTER THESE "Little Ferns" ARE AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED
"They reckon not by months, and years Where she hath gone to dwell."
Aunt Fanny has written you some stories, which she hopes will please and divert you. She would rather have come to you, and told them, that she might have seen your bright faces; but as that could not be, she sends her little book instead. Perhaps you will sometime come and see her, and then won't we have a nice time telling stories?
Where do I live?
Won't you tell—certain true? Won't you tell Susy, or Mary, or Hatty, or Sammy, or Tommy, or even your pet Uncle Charley?
Oh, I can't tell!
"If I tell it to one, she will tell it to two, And the next cup of tea, they will plot what they'll do; So I'll tell nobody, I'll tell nobody, I'll tell nobody; no—not I!"
WHERE IS LITTLE NELLY? 11
LITTLE GEORGE'S STORY 14
MATTY AND MABEL; OR WHO IS RICH!—WHO IS POOR! 16
THE BABY'S COMPLAINT 20
LITTLE FLOY; OR, TEARS AND SMILES 22
THE LAKE TRIP; OR, GOING A FISHING 27
"MILK FOR BABES" 30
THE LITTLE "MORNING GLORY" 33
THE CHARITY ORPHANS 35
DON'T GET ANGRY 37
"LITTLE BENNY" 42
A RAP ON SOMEBODY'S KNUCKLES 43
LITTLE FREDDY'S MUSINGS 45
ONLY A PENNY 47
A LITTLE BOY WITH A BIG HEART 52
MAY MORNING 56
THE LITTLE DANDELION MERCHANT 59
WALTER WILLET 61
CHILDREN, DID YOU EVER HEAR OF MR. "THEY SAY!" 66
THE LITTLE MARTYR 69
SELFISH MATTHEW 75
CITY CHILDREN 78
ROSALIE AND HETTY 81
THE CRYSTAL PALACE 84
KIZZY KRINGLE'S STORY 89
NEW-YORK IN SHADOW 94
HATTY'S MISTAKE 100
TOM, THE TAILOR 108
BETSEY'S DREAM 114
SCOTT FARM 119
A TRUE STORY 126
THE LITTLE EMIGRANTS 131
ALL ABOUT THE DOLANS 136
FRONTIER LIFE; OR, MITTY MOORE 141
UNCLE JOLLY 151
A PEEP UNDER GROUND—THE RAFFERTYS AND THE ROURKES 157
"BALD EAGLE;" OR, THE LITTLE CAPTIVES 162
A STREET SCENE 171
LETTER FROM TOM GRIMALKIN TO HIS MOTHER 177
WHAT CAME OF AN OMNIBUS RIDE, AND "ONE PULL TO THE RIGHT!" 180
LITTLE GERTRUDE'S PARTY 188
FERN MUSINGS 195
CRAZY TIM 200
CICELY HUNT; OR, THE LAME GIRL 206
THE LITTLE TAMBOURINE PLAYER 214
THE BROKER'S WINDOW BY GASLIGHT 223
BLACK CHLOE 229
A PEEP FROM MY WINDOW 235
THE BOY PEDLAR 239
THE NEW COOK 242
FRONTIER STORIES 260
A PEEP THROUGH MY QUIZZING GLASS 268
THE ENGLISH EMIGRANTS 276
NEW-YORK SUNDAY 282
THE BOY WHO LIKED NATURAL HISTORY 288
KNUD IVERSON 292
CHILDREN IN 1853 296
LITTLE NELLY FRONTISPIECE.
ONLY A PENNY 47
HATTY'S MISTAKE 100
UNCLE JOLLY 151
CRAZY TIM 200
WHERE IS LITTLE NELLY?
She is not in the garden; I have searched under every bush and tree. She is not asleep in the summer-house, or in the old barn. She is not feeding the speckled chickens, or gathering buttercups in the meadows. Her little dog Fidele is weary waiting for her, and her sweet-voiced canary has forgotten to sing. Has anybody seen my little Nelly? She had eyes blue as the summer heavens, hair like woven sunbeams, teeth like seed pearls, and a voice soft as the wind sighing through the river willows.
Nelly is not down by the river? No; she never goes where I bid her not. She is not at the neighbors? No; for she is as shy as a wood-pigeon. Where can my little pet be? There is her doll—(Fenella she called it, because it was so tiny,)—she made its dress with her own slender fingers, laughing the while, because she was so awkward a little dress-maker. There is her straw hat,—she made that oak-leaf wreath about the crown one bright summer day, as we sat on the soft moss in the cool fragrant wood. Nelly liked the woods. She liked to lie with her ear to the ground and make believe hear the fairies talk; she liked to look up in the tall trees, and see the bright-winged oriole dart through the branches; she liked to watch the clouds, and fancy that in their queer shapes she saw cities, and temples, and chariots, and people; she liked to see the lightning play; she liked the bright rainbows. She liked to gather the sweet wild flowers, that breathe out their little day of sweetness in some sheltered nook; she liked the cunning little squirrel, peeping slily from some mossy tree-trunk; she liked to see the bright sun wrap himself in his golden mantle, and sink behind the hills; she liked the first little silver star that stole softly out on the dark, blue sky; she liked the last faint note of the little bird, as it folded its soft wings to sleep; she liked to lay her cheek to mine, as her eyes filled with happy tears, because God had made the world so very fair.
Where is our Nelly?
She is not talking with Papa?—no; he can't find her either. He wants to see her trip down the gravel walk to meet him when business hours are over, and he has nothing to do but to come home and love us. He wants her to ramble with; he wants that little velvet cheek to kiss when he wakes each morning.
Where is Nelly?
I am sure she loved Papa. It was she who ran to warm his slippers when his horse's feet came prancing down the avenue. It was she who wheeled the arm-chair to its nice, snug corner; it was she who ran for the dressing-gown; it was she who tucked in the pockets a sly bit of candy, that she had hoarded all day for "poor, tired Papa." It was she who laid her soft hand upon his throbbing temples, when those long, ugly rows of figures at the counting-room, had given him such a cruel headache. It was she who kneeled beside her bed and taught herself this little prayer. "Please, God, let me die before my Papa."
Where is Nelly?
My dear little pets, the flowers shed dewy tears over her bright, young head long time ago. God did "let her go before Papa," and then ... he took Papa, too. Here is a lock of raven hair, and a long, golden ringlet—all that is left of Nelly and Papa—but in that blessed land, where tears are wiped away, Aunt Fanny knows her "lost are found."
LITTLE GEORGE'S STORY.
My Aunt Libby patted me on the head the other day and said, "George, my boy, this is the happiest part of your life." I guess my Aunt Libby don't know much. I guess she never worked a week to make a kite, and the first time she went to fly it got the tail hitched in a tall tree, whose owner wouldn't let her climb up to disentangle it. I guess she never broke one of the runners of her sled some Saturday afternoon, when it was "prime" coasting. I guess she never had to give her biggest marbles to a great lubberly boy, because he would thrash her if she didn't. I guess she never had a "hockey stick" play round her ankles in recess, because she got above a fellow in the class. I guess she never had him twitch off her best cap, and toss it in a mud-puddle. I guess she never had to give her humming-top to quiet the baby, and had the paint all sucked off. I guess she never saved up all her coppers a whole winter to buy a trumpet, and then was told she must not blow it, because it would make a noise.
No—I guess my Aunt Libby don't know much; little boys have troubles as well as grown people,—all the difference is they daren't complain. Now, I never had a "bran new" jacket and trowsers in my life—never,—and I don't believe I ever shall; for my two brothers have shot up like Jack's bean-stalk, and left all their out-grown clothes "to be made over for George;" and that cross old tailoress keeps me from bat and ball, an hour on the stretch, while she laps over, and nips in, and tucks up, and cuts off their great baggy clothes for me. And when she puts me out the door, she's sure to say—"Good bye, little Tom Thumb." Then when I go to my uncle's to dine, he always puts the big dictionary in a chair, to hoist me up high enough to reach my knife and fork; and if there is a dwarf apple or potatoe on the table, it is always laid on my plate. If I go to the play-ground to have a game of ball, the fellows all say—Get out of the way, little chap, or we shall knock you into a cocked hat. I don't think I've grown a bit these two years. I know I haven't, by the mark on the wall—(and I stand up to measure every chance I get.) When visitors come to the house and ask me my age, and I tell them that I am nine years old, they say, Tut, tut! little boys shouldn't tell fibs. My brother Hal has got his first long-tailed coat already; I am really afraid I never shall have anything but a jacket. I go to bed early, and have left off eating candy, and sweet-meats. I haven't put my fingers in the sugar-bowl this many a day. I eat meat like my father, and I stretch up my neck till it aches,—still I'm "little George," and "nothing shorter;" or, rather, I'm shorter than nothing. Oh, my Aunt Libby don't know much. How should she? She never was a boy!
MATTY AND MABEL;
WHO IS RICH?—WHO IS POOR?
There, Puss! said little Matty, you may have my dinner if you want it. I'm tired of bread and milk. I'm tired of this old brown house. I'm tired of that old barn, with its red eaves. I'm tired of the garden, with its rows of lilacs, its sun-flowers, and its beds of catnip and penny-royal. I'm tired of the old well, with its pole balancing in the air. I'm tired of the meadow, where the cows feed, and the hens are always picking up grass-hoppers. I wish I was a grass-hopper! I ain't happy. I am tired of this brown stuff dress, and these thick leather shoes, and my old sun-bonnet. There comes a nice carriage,—how smooth and shiny the horses are; how bright the silver-mounted harness glitters; how smart the coachman looks, in his white gloves. How nice it must be to be rich, and ride in a carriage; oh! there's a little girl in it, no older than I, and all alone, too!—a RICH little girl, with a pretty rose-colored bonnet, and a silk dress, and cream-colored kid gloves. See—she has beautiful curling hair, and when she puts her pretty face out the carriage window, and tells the coachman to go here, and to go there, he minds her just as if she were a grown lady. Why did God make her rich, and me poor? Why did he let her ride in a carriage, and me go barefoot? Why did he clothe her like a butterfly, and me like a caterpillar?
* * *
Matty, come here. Climb into my lap,—lay your head upon my shoulder,—so. Now listen. You are well and strong, Matty?—yes. You have enough to eat and drink?—yes. You have a kind father and mother?—yes. You have a crowing little dimpled baby brother?—yes. You can jump, and leap, and climb fences, and run up trees like a squirrel?—yes.
Well; the little girl with the rose-colored bonnet, whom you saw riding in the carriage, is a poor little cripple. You saw her fine dress and pretty pale face, but you didn't see her little shrunken foot, dangling helplessly beneath the silken robe. You saw the white gloved coachman, and the silver-mounted harness, and the soft, velvet cushions, but you didn't see the tear in their little owner's soft, dark eyes, as she spied you at the cottage door, rosy and light-footed, free to ramble 'mid the fields and flowers. You didn't know that her little heart was aching for somebody to love her. You didn't know that her mamma loved her diamonds, and silks, and satins better than her own little girl. You didn't know that when her little crippled limb pained her, and her heart ached, that she had "no nice place to cry." You didn't know that through the long, weary day, her mamma never took her gently on her lap,—or kissed her pale face,—or read her pretty stories, to charm her pain away,—or told her of that happy home, where none shall say, I'm sick. You didn't know that she never went to her little bed at night, to smooth her pillow, or put aside the ringlets from the flushed cheek, or kneel by the little bed, and ask the dear All Father to heal and bless her child. You didn't know that she danced till the stars grew pale, while poor little Mabel tossed restlessly from side to side, longing for a cool draught for her parched lip.
"You won't be naughty any more?"—that's a darling. And now remember, my dear little Matty, that money is not happiness;—that fine clothes and fine carriages are not happiness;—and that even this bright, beautiful world, with its birds, its flowers, and its sunshine, is dark without a loving heart to rest upon. Thank God for kind parents and a happy home, 'Tis you who are rich, Matty; pray for poor Mabel.
THE BABY'S COMPLAINT.
Now, I suppose you think, because you never see me do anything but feed and sleep, that I have a very nice time of it. Let me tell you that you are mistaken, and that I am tormented half to death, although I never say anything about it. How should you like every morning to have your nose washed up, instead of down? How should you like to have a pin put through your dress into your skin, and have to bear it all day till your clothes were taken off at night? How should you like to be held so near the fire that your eyes were half scorched out of your head, while your nurse was reading a novel? How should you like to have a great fly light on your nose, and not know how to take aim at him, with your little, fat, useless fingers? How should you like to be left alone in the room to take a nap, and have a great pussy jump into your cradle, and sit staring at you with her great green eyes, till you were all of a tremble? How should you like to reach out your hand for the pretty bright candle, and find out that it was way across the room, instead of close by? How should you like to tire yourself out crawling way across the carpet, to pick up a pretty button or pin, and have it snatched away, as soon as you begin to enjoy it? I tell you it is enough to ruin any baby's temper. How should you like to have your mamma stay at a party till you were as hungry as a little cub, and be left to the mercy of a nurse, who trotted you up and down till every bone in your body ached? How should you like, when your mamma dressed you up all pretty to take the nice, fresh air, to spend the afternoon with your nurse in some smoky kitchen, while she gossipped with one of her cronies? How should you like to submit to have your toes tickled by all the little children who insisted upon "seeing the baby's feet?" How should you like to have a dreadful pain under your apron, and have everybody call you "a little cross thing," when you couldn't speak to tell what was the matter with you? How should you like to crawl to the top stair, (just to look about a little,) and pitch heels over head from the top to the bottom?
Oh, I can tell you it is no joke to be a baby! Such a thinking as we keep up; and if we try to find out anything, we are sure to get our brains knocked out in the attempt. It is very trying to a sensible baby, who is in a hurry to know everything, and can't wait to grow up.
TEARS AND SMILES.
It was a very hot morning in August, when little Floy stopped to look in at a city fruiterer's window. There were bright golden apples, nice juicy pears, plump bunches of grapes, luscious plums and peaches, and mammoth melons. In truth, it was a very tempting show, to a little girl, who lived on dry bread and milk, and sometimes had not enough of that. It was not, however, of herself that Floy was thinking, as the tears started to her large blue eyes, and she pushed back her faded sun-bonnet, and looked wistfully at the "forbidden fruit."
Floy once lived in a beautiful house in the country, with her papa and mamma. Grand old trees stood guard round the house, like so many sentinels, and many a little bird slept every night in the shadow of their drooping branches. Near the house was a pretty pond, with snow-white ducks, sailing lazily about, and two little spaniels—named Flash and Dash—who were as full of mischief as little magpies. Then there were three horses in the stable, and two cows, and hens and chickens, and a bearded nanny-goat, besides a little pink-eyed rabbit, who darted about the lawn, with a blue ribbon around his snowy neck. The trees in the orchard drooped to the ground with loads of rosy apples, and long-necked pears, and tempting plums and peaches; the garden bushes were laden with gooseberries raspberries, and currants, (red and white,) while under the broad green leaves the red ripe strawberry nestled.
Those were happy days for little Floy. How she rode the horses to the spring, using their manes for a bridle!—how she ran through the fields, and garlanded herself like a little May Queen!—how she sprang at night to meet Papa, who tossed her way up high above his dear curly head!
* * *
Now, though it was sultry midsummer, Floy lived in the hot, stifled city, up four pairs of stairs, in a room looking out on dingy brick walls, and gloomy black sheds. Her mamma was dressed in black, and looked very sad, and very tired; bending all day over that tiresome writing desk. Sometimes she looked up and smiled at Floy; and then Floy wished she had not smiled at all—it was so unlike the old smile her face used to wear in dear papa's life-time. Floy became very tired of that close room. There were no pretty pictures on the walls, like those in Floy's house in the country; the chairs were hard and uncomfortable, and little Floy had nothing to amuse her. Mamma couldn't spare time to walk much, and Floy was not allowed to play on the sidewalk, lest she might hear naughty words, and play with naughty children. Mamma's pen went scratch—scratch—scratch—from sunrise till sunset,—save when she took a turn across the floor to get rid of an ugly pain in her shoulders, from constant stooping. Floy was weary of counting the bricks on the opposite wall,—weary of seeing the milkman stop at seven o'clock, and the baker at nine,—weary of hearing the shrill voice of Mrs. Walker, (below stairs,) of whom mamma hired her room. Still Floy never complained; but sometimes when she could bear the monotonous, dull stillness no longer, she would slide her little hand round her mamma's waist, and say, "Please, Mamma, put up that ugly pen, and take me on your lap."
Floy was always sorry when Christmas, and New Year, and Thanksgiving came round; because it made mamma's eyes so red and swollen, and because she was such a little girl that she couldn't tell how to comfort her. She longed to grow up a big lady, that she might earn some money, so that mamma needn't work so hard; and it puzzled her very much to know what had become of mamma's old friends, who used to ride out so often to their pretty country house, in papa's lifetime, to eat strawberries, and to drink tea. She was quite sure she had met some of them once or twice, when mamma had taken her out to church—but somehow they didn't seem to see either mamma or Floy.
Floy was very careful of her two dresses, for fear they would get soiled, (ever since she woke one night, and found mamma washing them out, when she was hardly able to hold her head up.) She was afraid, too, that mamma often wanted the bread and milk she made Floy eat; and only said "she wasn't hungry," because there wasn't enough for her, and Floy, too.
Well, my dear children, it was the thought of all these things that sent the warm tears to Floy's bright eyes, as she looked in at the fruiterer's window that hot August morning.
* * *
Two years have gone by. It is August again. The sky is cloudless—the birds are singing—and little Floy's tears are all dried up. Her cheeks are plump and rosy; she has plenty to eat now; and another pair of shoes, when she has danced her toes out of those she has on. And mamma?—why, she can sit whole hours with her hands folded, if she likes, and go to sleep whenever she feels tired; for she has earned plenty of money for herself, and little Floy, too. Floy is glad of this, because mamma smiles now, and looks happier—and because all her old friends, who forgot all about her when she was poor, are so delighted now whenever they meet her. Floy thinks it is very nice all round. Dear, innocent little Floy!
THE LAKE TRIP;
GOING A FISHING.
Oh! Aunty, it has done raining! The sun is shining so brightly; we are going to the Lake to fish—Papa says so—you and Papa, and Bell, and Harry, and Emma, and Agnes, and our dog Bruno.
Of course, Aunty, who was always on hand for such trips, wasn't five minutes springing to her feet, and in less than half an hour Pat stood at the door with the carriage, (that somehow or other always held as many as wanted to go, whether it were five, or forty-five;) "Papa" twisting the reins over hats and bonnets with the dexterity of a Jehu; jolt—jolt—on we go, over pebble stones—over plank roads—past cottages—past farms—up hill and down, till we reach "the Lake."
Shall I tell you how we tip-toed into the little egg-shell boats? How, after a great deal of talk, we all were seated to our minds—how each one had a great fishing rod put into our hands—how Aunty, (who never fished before,) got laughed at for refusing to stick the cruel hook into the quivering little minnows used for "bait"—and how, when they fixed it for her, she forgot all about moving it round, so beautiful was the "blue above, and the blue below," until a great fish twitched at her line, telling her to leave off dreaming and mind her business—and how it made her feel so bad to see them tear the hook from the mouth of the poor fish she was so UN-lucky as to catch, that she coaxed them to put her ashore, telling them it was pleasure not pain she came after—and how they laughed and floated off down the Lake, leaving her on a green moss patch, under a big tree—and how she rambled all along shore gathering the tiniest little shells that ever a wave tossed up—and how she took off her shoes and stockings and dipped her feet in the cool water, and listened to the bees' drowsy hum from the old tree trunk close by, and watched the busy ant stagger home, under the weight of his well earned morsel—and how she made a bridge of stones over a little streamlet to pluck some crimson lobelias, growing on the other side, and some delicate, bell-shaped flowers, fit only for a fairy's bridal wreath,—and how she wandered till sunset came on, and the Lake's pure breast was all a-glow, and then, how she lay under that old tree, listening to the plashing waves, and watching the little birds, dipping their golden wings into the rippling waters, then soaring aloft to the rosy tinted clouds? Shall I tell you how the grand old hills, forest crowned, stretched off into the dim distance—and how sweet the music of childhood's ringing laugh, heard from the far-off shore—or how Aunty thought 'twas such a pity that sin, and tears, and sorrow, should ever blight so fair a world?
But Aunty mustn't make you sad; here come the children leaping from the boat; they've "caught few fish," but a great deal of sunshine, (judging from their happy faces.) God bless the little voyagers, all; the laughing Agnes, the pensive Emma, the dove-eyed, tender-hearted Mary, the rosy Bell, the fearless Harry. In the green pastures by the still waters, may the dear Shepherd fold them.
"MILK FOR BABES."
Once in a while I have a way of thinking!—and to-day it struck me that children should have a minister of their own. Yes, a child's minister! For amid the "strong meat" for older disciples, the "milk for babes" spoken of by the infant, loving Saviour, seems to be, strangely enough, forgotten.
Yes, I remember the "Sabbath Schools;" and God bless and prosper them—as far as they go. But—there's your little Charles—he says to you on Saturday night,—"Mother, what day is it to-morrow?" "Sunday, my pet." "Oh, I'm so sorry, I'm so tired Sundays."
Poor Charley! he goes to church because he is bid—and often when he gets there, has the most uncomfortable seat in the pew—used as a sort of human wedge, to fill up some triangular corner. From one year's end to another, he hears nothing from that pulpit he can understand. It is all Greek and Latin to him, those big words, and rhetorical flourishes, and theological nuts, thrown out for "wisdom-teeth" to crack. So he counts the buttons on his jacket, and the bows on his mother's bonnet, and he wonders how the feathers in that lady's hat before him can be higher than the pulpit or the minister; (for he can't see either.) And then he wonders, if the chandelier should fall, if he couldn't have one of those sparkling glass drops,—and then he wonders if Betty will give the baby his humming top to play with before he gets home—and whether his mother will have apple dumplings for dinner? And then he explores his Sunday pocket for the absent string and marble, and then his little toes get so fidgety that he can't stand it, and he says out loud, "hi—ho—hum!" and then he gets a very red ear from his father, for disturbing his comfortable nap in particular, and the rest of the congregation generally.
Yes, I'd have a church for children, if I could only find a minister who knew enough to preach to them! You needn't smile! It needs a very long head to talk to a child. It is much easier to talk to older people whose brains are so cobwebbed with "isms" and "ologies," that you can make them lose themselves when they get troublesome; but that straight-forward, childish, far-reaching question! and the next—and the next! That clear, penetrating, searching, yet innocent and trusting eye! How will you meet them? You'll be astonished to find how often you'll be cornered by that little child—how many difficulties he will raise, that will require all your keenest wits to clear away. Oh, you must get off your clerical stilts, and drop your metaphors and musty folios, and call everything by its right name when you talk to children.
Yes, I repeat it. Children should have a minister. Not a gentleman in a stiff neck-cloth and black coat, who says solemnly, in a sepulchral voice, (once a year, on his parochial visit,)—"S-a-m-u-e-l—my— boy—how—do—you—do?" but a genial, warm-hearted, loving, spiritual father, who is neither wiser, nor greater, nor better than he who took little children in his arms and said, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven."
THE LITTLE "MORNING GLORY."
Dear little pet! She was going a journey in the cars with mamma; and her little curly head could not stay on the pillow, for thinking of it. She was awake by the dawn, and had been trying to rouse mamma for an hour. She had told her joy in lisping accents to "Dolly," whose stoical indifference was very provoking, especially when she knew she was going to see "her dear, white-haired old grand-papa," who had never yet looked upon her sweet face; although pen and ink had long since heralded her polite perfections. Yes, little pet must look her prettiest, for grand-papa's eyes are not so dim, that the sight of a pretty face doesn't cheer him like a ray of glad sunlight; so the glossy waves of golden hair are nicely combed, and the bright dress put on, to heighten, by contrast, the dimpled fairness of the neck and shoulders; then, the little white apron, to keep all tidy; then the Cinderella boots, neatly laced. I can see you, little pet! I wish I had you in my arms this minute!
Good bye! How the little curls shake! What a nice seat our tiny voyager has, by that pleasant open window, upon mamma's knee! How wonderfully fast the trees and houses and fences fly past! Was there ever anything like it? And how it makes her eyes wink, when the cars dash under the dark bridges, and how like the ringing of silver bells that little musical laugh is, when they dart out again into the fair sunlight. How cows, and horses, and sheep, all run at that horrid whistle. Little pet feels as though she was most a woman, to be traveling about, seeing so many fine things. On they dash!—it half takes her breath away—but she is not afraid; no, indeed! What little darling ever could be afraid, when its hand was in mamma's love clasp?
Alas! poor little pet!
Grand-papa's eye grow weary watching for you, at the little cottage window. Grand-mamma says, "the cakes will be quite spoiled;" and she "knits to her seam needle," and then moves about the sitting-room uneasily; now and then stopping to pat the little Kitty, that is to be pet's play-fellow. And now lame Tim has driven the cows home; and the dew is falling, the stars are creeping out, and the little crickets and frogs have commenced their evening concert, and still little pet hasn't come! Where is the little stray waif?
Listen! Among the "unrecognized dead" by the late RAILROAD ACCIDENT, was a female child, about three years of age; fair complexion and hair; had on a red dress, green sack, white apron, linen gaiters, tipped with patent leather, and white woolen stockings.
Poor little pet! Poor old grand-papa! Go comfort him; tell him it was a "shocking accident," but then "nobody was to blame;" and offer him a healing plaster for his great grief, in the shape of "damage" money.
THE CHARITY ORPHANS.
"Pleasant sight, is it not?" said my friend, glancing complacently at a long procession of little charity children, who were passing, two and two—two and two—with closely cropped heads, little close-fitting sun-bonnets and dark dresses; "pleasant sight, is it not, Fanny?" Yes—no—no, said I, courageously, it gives me the heart-ache. Oh, I see as you do, that their clothes are clean and whole, and that they are drilled like a little regiment of soldiers, (heads up,) but I long to see them step out of those prim ranks, and shout and scamper. I long to stuff their little pockets full of anything—everything, that other little pets have. I want to get them round me, and tell them some comical stories to take the care-worn look out of their anxious little faces. I want to see them twist their little heads round when they hear a noise, instead of keeping them straight forward as if they were "on duty." I want to know if anybody tucks them up comfortably when they go to bed, and gives them a good-night kiss. I want to know if they get a beaming smile, and a kind word in the morning. I want to know who soothes them when they are in pain; and if they dare say so, when they feel lonely, and have the heart-ache. I want to see the tear roll freely down the cheek, (instead of being wiped slyly away,) when they see happy little ones trip gaily past, hand in hand, with a kind father, or mother. I want to know if "Thanksgiving" and "Christmas" and "New Year's" and "Home" are anything but empty sounds in their orphan ears.
I know their present state is better than vicious poverty, and so I try to say with my friend, "it is a pleasant sight;" but the words die on my lip; for full well I know it takes something more than food, shelter and clothing, to make a child happy. Its little heart, like a delicate vine, will throw out its tendrils for something to lean on—something to cling to; and so I can only say again, the sight of those charity orphans gives me the heart-ache.
DON'T GET ANGRY.
"I hate you," Aunt Fanny, said a little boy, pouting and snapping his boots with the little riding whip in his hand; you laughed to-day at dinner, when I burned my mouth with my soup, and I never shall love you again—never!—said the little passionate boy.
Now, Harry, what a pity!—and my pocket handkerchiefs all in the wash, too! That's right—laugh;—now I'll tell you a story.
I've been to the State Prison to-day, and I almost wish I hadn't gone—such a sick feeling came over me when I saw those poor prisoners. Oh, Harry! how pale and miserable they looked, in those ugly, striped clothes, with their heads closely shaven, working away at their different trades, with a stout man watching them so sharply, to see that they didn't speak to each other; and some of them very young, too. Oh, it was very sad. I almost felt afraid to look at them, for fear it would hurt their feelings, and I longed to tell them that my heart was full of pity, and not to get discouraged, and not to despair.
Such little, close cells as they sleep in at night,—it almost stifled me to think of it,—and so dismal and cheerless, too, with an iron door to bolt them in. On Sunday they stay in their cells nearly all day, and some of the cells are so dark that they cannot see even to read the Bible allowed them: and there they lie, thinking over, and over, and over, their own sad thoughts. So you can't wonder that they dread Sunday very much, and are very glad to be put to hard work again on Monday, to get rid of thinking.
Then we saw them march into dinner—just like soldiers, in single file, with a guard close beside them, that they should not run away. I suppose they were very glad to eat what was laid on those wooden plates, but you or I would have gone hungry a long while first. In fact, I think, Harry, that PRISON food would choke me any how, though it were roast turkey or plum pudding. I'm quite sure my gypsey throat would refuse to swallow it.
Then we went into the Hospital for the sick prisoners. It is hard to be sick in one's own home, even, with kind friends around; but to be sick in a prison!—to lie on such a narrow bed that you cannot toss about,—to bear, (beside your own pain and misery,) the moanings of your sick companions,—to see through the grated windows the bright, blue sky, the far off hills, and the silver streams threading the green meadows,—to be shut in from the fresh breeze, that would bring you life and health,—to pine and waste away, and think to die, without one dear hand to press yours lovingly—oh, Harry!
One of the sick prisoners had a little squirrel. The squirrel was a prisoner, too. He was in a cage—but then sometimes he was let out; and to please me, the door was opened for him. Didn't he jump? poor squirrel! He had no soul—so he wasn't as miserable as his sick keeper; but I'm mistaken if he wouldn't have liked a nut to crack, of his own finding in some leafy wood, where the green moss lies thickly cushioned, and the old trees serve him for ladders!
On a bench in the Hospital was seated a poor, sick black-boy. "Pompey's" mother was a very foolish mother. She had always let him have his own way. If he cried for anything he always got it, and when he was angry and struck people, she never punished him for it; so Pompey grew up a very bad boy, because his mother never taught him to govern his temper. So one day he got very angry, and did something that sent him to the State Prison, where I saw him. And he grew sick staying so long in doors, and now he was in a consumption—all wasted away—with such hollow cheeks, that it made the tears come to my eyes to look at him. Oh how glad I was when the keeper told me that next Sunday his time would be up, so that he could go out if he liked. The keeper said, "He had better stay there, because they could take good care of him, and he had no friends." I guess the keeper didn't think that poor Pompey had rather crawl on his hands and knees out to the green fields, and die alone, with the sweet, fresh air fanning his poor temples, than to stay with all the doctors in the world in that tomb of a prison.
Harry! I wanted so much to go and shake hands with Pompey, and tell him how happy it made me to know that he was going to get out next Sunday, and that I hoped the sun would shine just as bright as ever it could, and all the flowers blossom out on purpose for him to see; and then I hoped that when his heart was so full of gladness he would feel like praying; and then I hoped no cruel, hard-hearted person would point at him and say, "That is a State Prison boy," and so make his heart all hard and wicked again, just as he was trying to be good.
* * *
And now, Harry, shake hands with me, and "make up." You know if poor Pompey hadn't got so angry, he wouldn't have been in prison; and as for Aunt Fanny, she must learn to be as polite as a French woman, and never laugh again when you burn your mouth with a "hasty plate of soup."
So the simple head-stone said. Why did my eyes fill? I never saw the little creature. I never looked in his laughing eye, or heard his merry shout, or listened for his tripping tread; I never pillowed his little head, or bore his little form, or smoothed his silky locks, or laved his dimpled limbs, or fed his cherry lips with dainty bits, or kissed his rosy cheek as he lay sleeping.
I did not see his eye grow dim; or his little hand droop powerless; or the dew of agony gather on his pale forehead; I stood not with clasped hands and suspended breath, and watched the look that comes but once, flit over his cherub face. And yet, "little Benny," my tears are falling; for, somewhere, I know there's an empty crib, a vacant chair, useless robes and toys, a desolate hearth-stone, and a weeping mother.
It was all her full heart could utter; and it was enough. It tells the whole story.
A RAP ON SOMEBODY'S KNUCKLES.
It is very strange my teacher never says a kind word to me. I am quite sure I say my lessons well. I haven't had an "error" since I came to school six months ago. I haven't been "delinquent" or "tardy." I have never broken a rule. Now there's Harry Gray, that fat boy yonder, with the dull eyes and frilled shirt-collar, who never can say his lesson without some fellow prompts him. He comes in half an hour after school begins, and goes home an hour before it is done, and eats pea-nuts all the time he stays; he has all the medals, and the master is always patting him on the head, and smiling at him, and asking him "if the room is warm enough," and all that; I don't see through it.
My dear, honest, conscientious, unsophisticated little Moses! if you only knew what a rich man Harry Gray's father was; what nice old wine he keeps in his cellar; how easy his carriage cushions are; what nice nectarines and grapes ripen in his hot house; and how much "the master" is comforted in his inner and outer man thereby, you'd understand how the son of such a nabob couldn't be anything but an embryo "Clay," or "Calhoun," or "Webster,"—though he didn't know "B from a buzzard."
Are you aware, my boy, that your clothes, though clean and neat, are threadbare and patched?—that your mother is a poor widow, whom nobody knows?—that no "servant man" ever brought your satchel to school for you?—that you have positively been seen carrying a loaf of bread home from the grocer's?—and that "New Year's day" passed by, without your appropriating any of your mother's hard earnings to make "a present" to your disinterested and discriminating teacher? How can you be anything but the dullest and stupidest boy in the school? It is a marvel to me that "the master" condescends to hear you recite at all.
Stay a bit, Moses; don't cry; hold on a while. If your forehead tells the truth, you'll be President of the United States by and by. Then, "the master" (quite oblivious of Harry Gray,) will go strutting round, telling all creation and his cousin, that he had the honor of first teaching your "young ideas how to shoot!"
Won't that be fun? Oh, I tell you, Moses! Fanny has seen some strange specimens of human nature. Still she tells you, (with tears in her eyes,) that the Master above is the "friend of the friendless;" and you must believe it too, my little darling, and wait, and trust.
LITTLE FREDDY'S MUSINGS.
Wish my mamma would please keep me warm. My little bare legs are very cold with these lace ruffles; they are not half as nice as black Jim's woolen stockings. Wish I had a little pair of warm rubbers. Wish I had a long-sleeved apron, for my bare neck and arms. Wish I might push my curls out of my eyes, or have them cut off. Wish my dress would stay up on my shoulders, and that it was not too nice for me to get on the floor to play ninepins. Wish my mamma would go to walk with me sometimes, instead of Betty. Wish she would let me lay my cheek to hers, (if I would not tumble her curls, or her collar.) Wish she would not promise me something "very nice," and then forget all about it. Wish she would answer my questions, and not always say, "Don't bore me, Freddy!" Wish when we go out in the country, she wouldn't make me wear my gloves, lest I should "tan my hands." Wish she would not tell me that all the pretty flowers will "poison me." Wish I could tumble on the hay, and go into the barn and see how Dobbin eats his supper. Wish I was one of those little frisky pigs. Wish I could make pretty dirt pies. Wish there was not a bit of lace, or satin, or silk, in the world. Wish I knew what makes mamma look so smiling at Aunt Emma's children, (who come here in their papa's carriage,) and so very cross at my poor little cousins, whose mother works so hard and cries so much. Wish I knew what makes the clouds stay up in the sky, and where the stars go in the day time. Wish I could go over on that high hill, where the bright sun is going down, and just touch it with my finger. Wish I didn't keep thinking of things which puzzle me, when nobody will stop to tell me the reason for anything. If I ask Betty, she says, "Don't be a fool, Master Freddy!" I wonder if I am a fool? I wonder if Betty knows much herself? I wonder why my mamma don't love her own little boy? I wonder when I'm grown a man, if I shall have to look so nice all the time, and be so tired of doing nothing?
ONLY A PENNY.
Now I am going to tell you a story about little Clara. Those of you who live in the city will understand it; but some of my little readers may live in the country, (or at least I hope they do,) where a beggar is seldom seen; or if he is, can always get of the good, nice, kind-hearted farmer, a bowl of milk, a fresh bit of bread, and liberty to sleep in the barn on the sweet-scented hay; therefore, it will be hard for you to believe that there is anybody in the wide world with enough to eat, and drink, and wear, who does not care whether a poor fellow creature starves or not; or whether he lives or dies.
But listen to my story.
One bright, sunny morning I was walking in Broadway, (New-York,) looking at the ladies who passed, in their gay clothes—as fine as peacocks, and just about as silly—gazing at the pretty shop windows, full of silks, and satins, and ribbons, looking very much as if a rainbow had been shivered there—looking at the rich people's little children, with their silken hose, and plumed hats, and velvet tunics, tip-toeing so carefully along, and looking so frightened lest somebody should soil their nice clothes—when a little, plaintive voice struck upon my ear—
"Please give me a penny, Madam—only a penny—to buy a loaf of bread?"
I turned my head: there stood a little girl of six years,—so filthy, dirty—so ragged, that she scarcely looked like a human being. Her skin was coated with dust; her pretty curly locks were one tangled mass; her dress was fluttering in strings around her bare legs and shoeless feet—and the little hand she held out to me for "a penny," so bony that it looked like a skeleton's. She looked so very hungry, I wouldn't make her talk till I had given her something to eat; so I took her to a baker's, and bought her some bread and cakes; and it would have made you cry (you, who were never hungry in your life,) to see her swallow it so greedily, just like a little animal.
Then I asked her name, and found out 'twas "Clara;" that she had no papa; that while he lived he was very cruel, and used to beat her and her mother; and that now her mother was cruel too, and drank rum; that she sent little Clara out each morning to beg,—or if she couldn't beg, to steal,—but at any rate to bring home something, "unless she wanted a beating."
Poor little Clara!—all alone threading her way through the great, wicked city—knocked and jostled about,—so hungry—so tired—so frightened! Clara was afraid to steal, (not because God saw her—for she didn't know anything about Him,) but for fear of policemen and prisons—so she wandered about, hour after hour, saying pitifully to the careless crowd, "Only a penny—please give me a penny to buy a loaf of bread!"
Yes—Clara's mother was very cruel; but God forbid, my little innocent children, that you should ever know how hunger, and thirst, and misery, may sometimes turn even that holy thing—a mother's love—to bitterness.
Poor Clara! she had never known a better home than the filthy, dark cellar, where poor people in cities huddle together like hunted cattle; her little feet had never pressed the soft, green meadows; her little fingers had never plucked the sweet wild-flowers; her little eyes had never seen the bright, blue sky, save between dark brick walls. Her little head often pained her. She was foot-weary and heart-sore; and what was worse than all, she had never heard of heaven, "where the weary rest." Wasn't it very pitiful?
Well, little Clara kissed my hand when she had eaten enough—(it was so odd for Clara to have enough)—and her sunken eyes grew bright, and she said—"Now I shall not be beaten, because I've something left to carry home;" so she told me where she lived, and I bade her good bye, and told her I would come and see her mother to-morrow.
The next day I started again to find little Clara's mother. I was very happy going along, because I meant, if I could, to get her away from her cruel mother; to make her clean and neat; to teach her how to read and spell, and show to her that the world was not all darkness—not all sin, and tears, and sorrow; and to tell her of that kind God who loves everything that He has made. So as I told you I was very happy,—the sun looked so bright to me—the sky so fair,—and I could scarcely make my feet go fast enough.
Turning a corner suddenly, I met a man bearing a child's coffin. I cannot tell you why I stood still—why my heart sank like lead—why I could not let him pass, till I asked him what little form he was bearing away,—or why my heart told me, before he answered, that it was my poor little Clara.
Yes—it was she! I was too late—she was in the little coffin! No hearse—no mourners—no tolling bell! Borne along—unnoticed—uncared for—through the busy, crowded, noisy, streets. But, dear children, kind Angels looked pitying down, and Clara "hungers no more—nor thirsts anymore—neither shall the sun light on her, nor any heat."
A LITTLE BOY WITH A BIG HEART.
Such a rich man as little Georgey's father was; so many houses, and shops, and farms as he owned; so many horses and carriages; such a big house as he lived in, by the Park, and so many servants as he had in it,—but he loved little Georgey better than any of them, and bought him toys enough to fill a shop, live animals enough to stock a menagerie, and jackets and trousers enough to clothe half the boys in New-York.
Georgey was a pretty boy; he had a broad, noble forehead, large, dark, loving eyes, and a form as straight and lithe as a little Indian's. His mother was very proud of him,—not because he was good, but because he was pretty. She was a very foolish woman, and talked to him a great deal about his fine clothes, and his curling hair; but for all that she didn't make out to spoil Georgey. He didn't care an old marble, not he, for all the fine clothes in Christendom; and would have been glad to have had every curl on his merry little head clipped off.
Georgey had no brothers or sisters. He was so sorry for that—he would rather have had such a playmate than all the toys his father bought him. His little heart was brim full of love, and his birds, and rabbits, and ponies were well enough, but they couldn't say, "Georgey, I love you;" neither could he make them understand what he was thinking about; so he wearied of them, and would often linger in the street, and look after the little groups of children so wistfully, that I quite pitied him. I used to think that, with all his money, he wasn't half as happy as little Pat and Neil Connor, two little Irish brothers who played hop-scotch every day under my window.
* * *
It was a very cold day in January. Jack Frost had been out all day on a frolic, and was still busily at work. He had drawn all sorts of pictures on the window panes, such as beautiful trees and flowers, and great towering castles, and tall-masted ships, and church spires, and little cottages, (so oddly shaped); beside birds that "Audubon" never dreamed of, and animals that Noah never huddled into the ark. Then he festooned all the eaves, the fences, and trees, and bushes with crystal drops, which sparkled and glittered in the sunbeams like royal diamonds—then he hung icicles on the poor old horses' noses, and tripped up the heels of precise old bachelors, and sent the old maids spinning round on the sidewalks, till they were perfectly ashamed of themselves; and then he got into the houses, and burst and cracked all the water pitchers, and choked up the steady old pump, so that it might as well have been without a nose as with one, and pinched the cheeks of the little girls till they were as red as a pulpit cushion, blew right through the key hole on grandpa's poor, rheumatic old back, and ran round the street corner, tearing open folks' cloaks, and shawls, and furred wrappers, till they shook as if they had an ague fit. I verily believe he'd just as quick trip up our minister's heels as yours or mine! Oh, he is a graceless rogue—that Jack Frost! and many's the time he's tipped Aunt Fanny's venerable nose with indigo.
Georgey didn't care a penny whistle for the fellow, all muffled up to the chin in his little wadded velvet sack, with a rich cashmere scarf of his mother's wound about his neck, and a velvet cap crushed down over his bright, curly head.
How the sleighs did fly past! with their gaily fringed buffaloes, and prancing horses necklaced with little tinkling bells. How merry the pretty ladies peeped from out their gay worsted hoods! Oh! it was a pretty sight,—Georgey liked it—everybody moved so briskly, and seemed so happy!
What ails Georgey now? He has crossed the street, stopped short, and the bright color flushes his cheeks, till he looks quite beautiful. Ah! he has spied a little apple girl, seated upon the icy pavement. The wind is making merry with her thin rags,—her little toes peep, blue and benumbed, from out her half-worn shoes,—and she is blowing on her stiffened fingers, vainly trying to keep them warm.
Georgey looked down at his nice warm coat, and then at Kate's thin cotton gown. Georgey never was cold in his life, never hungry. His eyes fill—his little breast heaves. Then quickly untwisting the thick, warm scarf from his little throat, he throws it round her shivering form and says, with a glad smile, That will warm you!—and bounds out of sight before she can thank him. Old Mr. Prince stands by, wiping his eyes, and says, "God bless the boy!—that's worth a dozen sermons; I'll send a load of wood to little Kate's mother."
Oh, May is a coquette! Don't trust her. She will smile on you one minute, and frown on you the next—toss you flowers with one hand, and hail stones with the other. I know her. Many's the time she has coaxed me out of a good, warm bed, wheedled me into the fields in a white dress and thin shoes, and then sent me home wet as a drowned kitten, with a snapping headache, to a cold breakfast.
Yes—I used to "go a-Maying."
Such a watching of the clouds and weather-cock the night before; such a fixing of sashes, and wreaths, and hats, and dresses; so many charges to Betty, the cook, to wake us up by daylight; such a wondering how mother and father could lie a-bed of a May morning;—such a tossing, and twisting, and turning, the night before; such a putting aside of muslin curtains, to see if it wasn't "most daylight;" such surprise when Aunt Esther came creeping up stairs, shading her night-lamp and saying, "it was only ten o'clock!" Such broken slumbers as we had—such funny dreams—and such a galvanic jump out of bed the next morning, when Betty gave us one of her pump-handle shakes. Then such a time washing, and combing, and dressing! such long faces when a great thumping rain drop fell upon the window! such a consultation as to the expediency of wearing our "best clothes;" such clapping of hands when the sun finally shone out again; such fears lest Anna Maria and Sarah Sophia's mother wouldn't let them come to meet us as they promised. Such a tip-toeing over wet sidewalks, out into the country; such a talk after we got off the brick pavements, as to which was the prettiest road; such a wondering what had become of all the flowers; such regrets that we didn't think to fill our pockets with crackers; such a picking out of pebble stones from thin shoes; such a drawing up of thin shawls over shivering shoulders; such a dismay when a great black cloud emptied itself down on our "best clothes;" such congratulations when our good-natured, rosy-faced, merry milkman meeting us, stowed and wedged us away amid his milk-cans, to bring us safely back to the city. Such a creeping in the back way, lest "that torment of a Tom" should laugh at us; such a coaxing of Betty to cook us a good, hot breakfast; and such a gaping and yawning in school for a week after.
Oh! you know all about it,—everybody knows that it is just as sure to rain on a May morning, as it is to thaw when your schoolmaster attempts to treat himself and you to a sleigh-ride on your hoarded ninepences!
So take my advice and turn your back on May—she is a fickle little gypsey. Ask the first Irishman you meet if June isn't the month to go a-Maying?—June, with her light, green robe, and violet-slippered feet, and sweet, warm breath, and rose-garlanded hair? ah, June is the month to go a-Maying! Pat will tell you so.
THE LITTLE DANDELION MERCHANT.
Tattered straw hat, buttonless jacket, and shoeless feet. That is a large basket for so young a lad as Jemmy to carry. He brushed the dew from the grass this morning by daylight; his stock in trade consisting of only a jack-knife and that basket; but "Uncle Sam" owns the dandelions, and Jim is a Yankee, (born with a trading bump,) and ninepence a basket is something to think of. To be sure he has cut his bare feet with a stone, but that's a trifle. See, he is on his way to the big house yonder, for the old housekeeper and her mistress have both a tooth for dandelions. Jemmy swings the tattered part of his hat round behind, and using a patch of grass for a mat, steps lightly up the avenue.
How still and mirror-like the little pond looks. How gracefully the long willow-tips bend to kiss the surface; how lazily the little gold fish float beneath. There is not air enough to shake the perfume from out the locust blossoms, and old Bruno has crawled into the shade, although the sun is not two hours high.
What a fine old house! and how many dandelions somebody must have dug to buy it!—Jemmy's arithmetic couldn't compute it; and that fine statue, too, on the brink of the pond, with its finger on its lip; (it's no use, is it Jemmy?) the birds won't "hush" for the daintiest bit of marble ever sculptured; nested to their minds; no taxes to pay;—nothing to do but warble. May no sportsman's gun send them quivering through the branches.
Now Jemmy has reached the kitchen door, and gives a modest rap. Smart "Tim," the footman, opens it, and with one application of his aristocratic toe, sends the dandelion basket spinning down the avenue! Jemmy's Yankee blood is up; his dark eyes flash lightning, he clenches his brown fist, sets his ivory teeth together, and brings his little bare foot down on the gravel-walk, with an emphasis; but he sees it is no use, he is no match for the pampered footman; and great rebellious tears gather in his eyes, as he picks up his scattered treasures, saying,—"Ninepence would have bought my book."
"Would it, Jemmy? Well—here it is—'the fairies' have sent it you."
What a pretty picture he makes, as he pushes back his thick locks, and flashes those great, dark, Italian eyes—it is worth a hundred ninepences to see such a beaming face.
After all, dear reader, one need not be a "Rothschild," to make a fellow creature glad. Happiness is a cheaper thing than we are apt to think.
Did you ever live in a hotel? I dare say you may have, (some time or other, when you have been on a journey.) Perhaps your home is in a hotel. I hope not; because a good, cozy, quiet house of one's own, away from noise and bustle, is so much better for little children—and grown people too.
Walter lived in a hotel, with his father and mother and two little sisters. Walter was very tired of it. His mother never staid in the nursery; she was always down in the drawing-room, talking to finely-dressed ladies; and, when his father came home from the store, he never played with his little boy, but went into the gentlemen's room, to smoke cigars.
The nursery was very small, and Walter's two little sisters cried a great deal—sometimes from pain, and sometimes because Betty, the nurse, got cross and shook them roughly, and took no pains to amuse them when their mother staid away such a long, long while. So, little Walter didn't fancy staying in the nursery much, and as he was not allowed to go into the drawing-room, for fear his shirt-collar might be tumbled, or his jacket on awry, or his boots have a mud speck on them, the poor child had nothing left to do but wander round the hall and lobbies, and see the chambermaids sweep the rooms, and hear the waiters swear at each other, and watch the stages and trunks and passengers come and go.
When Walter wearied of this, he'd creep into the "bar-room," and watch the clerk pour out brandy, and wine and whiskey for the gentlemen to drink. Walter liked to see them drink it, because it made them laugh so hard, and clap each other on the back, and tell such funny stories; and then, sometimes, they would call to him and feed him with the sugar and brandy in the bottom of the tumbler; and Walter thought it very sweet and nice, and made up his mind that when he grew to be a man, he'd have just as much brandy as ever he could drink.
Walter's mamma didn't think, as she sat there in the drawing-room, dressed like a French doll, that her little curly headed Walter was learning how to be a drunkard; no, she was a careless young mamma, and didn't think, (perhaps she didn't know,) how closely little children must be watched, to make them grow good men and women.
Sometimes Walter went down to peep into the kitchen. There is always a great deal going on in a hotel kitchen,—so many turkeys and chickens and birds and fish to fix for dinner. Walter liked to see them roast a little pig whole, and then put an ear of corn in his mouth and lay him on a plate—or make a lobster salad look like a turtle, or a boiled ham like a pork-upine! Then Pietro, the cook, was worth looking at, himself. He was a great six-footer of an Italian; with eyes—(my senses, how big and how black they were!) Walter thought he must look like the robbers that his uncle John, who had been across the seas, used to tell about. Then, Pietro had such big, fierce whiskers, too, and always wore a bright scarlet cap, with a long gilt tassel, and altogether, for a cook, he looked very picturesque—(Aunt Fanny knows that's a long word, but you must look it out in the dictionary.) When Pietro got angry with any of the waiters, I promise you he'd make his frying-pan fly across the kitchen as if it were bewitched, and then poor little Walter would fly up stairs as fast as his little fat legs could carry him.
But Pietro was not always cross, for all he looked as though he had been fed on thunder; no—he often tossed Walter a bunch of raisins, or a rosy apple; and it was quite beautiful when he did smile, to see his white teeth glitter. Sometimes, when he was waiting for some dish to cook, he would take Walter on his knee, and tell him of his own beautiful bright Italy, where the skies were as soft and blue as Walter's eyes, and where (if we might believe Pietro) one might dance and sing and eat grapes forever, without working for them; but when Walter looked up innocently and said, "then why didn't you stay there, Pietro?" Pietro would drop him as if he had been a red-hot potatoe, and hiss something in Italian from between his teeth, that poor little Walter could not begin to understand; but as he was a pretty sensible little boy, he always took himself off till Pietro felt better natured, and asked him no more questions.
One rainy day Walter had wandered all over the hotel, trying to get amused. The nurse had a friend call to see her, and she had given his little sisters all Walter's playthings, to keep them quiet, that they need not trouble her; and Walter's mamma told him, when he put his little head into the drawing-room, that "she didn't care what he did, if he didn't bother her;" so the poor little fellow was quite at his wits' ends to know what to do with himself. Finally it struck him that it would be fine fun to "play fish." So he went to one of his mother's drawers and got a long string, on the end of which he fastened a crooked pin; then he went way up—up—up—so many flights of stairs, to the very highest entry he could find, way to the top of the house; from there the stair-case wound round, and round, and round, like a cork-screw, down into the front entry, far enough to make you dizzy to look over.
Well, Walter let down his line, and then he reached over his little curly head to see how far it went. Poor, merry, bright-eyed little Walter!—how can I tell the rest? Over he went, beating and bruising his little head—down—down—till he reached the marble floor in the lower entry, where he was taken up—dead!
His young mamma cried very hard,—but that didn't bring back her poor, neglected little boy; but it made her a better mother. She loves to stay in the nursery now, with Walter's little sisters nestled in her lap; and sometimes when they smile, she will part the sunny curls from their little foreheads, and the tears will fall like rain drops on their rosy faces, as she remembers her poor, darling, mangled, little Walter.
CHILDREN, DID YOU EVER HEAR OF MR. "THEY SAY?"
I shan't ask you if you ever saw him, because I know that, like other cowards, he generally skulks out of sight; but I'm very sure if you could get a peep at him, you would find that he had a "cloven foot." But if I can't tell you who Mr. "They Say" is, I can tell you what he is.
It quite drives him frantic to see any person happier than himself, or more fortunate; and as sure as any one gets more love, or more money, than he has, he will knit his ugly brows to contrive somehow to give them the heart-ache. Sometimes he will do it in one way, and sometimes in another; sometimes he will do it by shrugging his shoulders, shaking his head, and looking as if he could say something dreadful bad about a person, if he only had a mind to. He has made many a poor woman, who had no brave arm to strike the coward down, weep her bright eyes dim, till she longed to lay her aching head with the silent company in the quiet church-yard.
You'd suppose that nobody who owned a heart, would ever choose the society of such a wicked villain. You'd suppose nobody who loved God, would ever listen to him, or repeat his false sayings; but, alas! people are so fond of hearing "something new," that they can't make up their minds to turn their backs upon him; so they sit, and smile, and listen, till he has nothing more to tell, and then they draw down their faces, and tell him he "ought not to talk so!"—just as if Mr. "They Say" didn't see that they were perfectly delighted with him? Certainly, he goes off laughing in his sleeve to think they suppose him such a fool.
Mr. "They Say" is a very great traveler. It is astonishing how much ground he can get over without the help of steamboats, cars, stages, or telegraph wires. He may be found in a thousand places at once—in every little village in the United States—in every house and shop and hotel and office. Editors are very fond of Mr. "They Say." They always give him the best chair in the office, for he is an amazing help to them. In fact, it is Aunt Fanny's opinion, that their newspapers would die a natural death without him. To be sure, he sometimes gets them into shocking scrapes with his big fibs; but they know how to twist and turn out of it.
Yes, Mr. "They Say" is a cowardly liar! He couldn't look an honest man straight in the eye, any more than he could face a cannon ball. He would turn as pale as a snow-wreath, and melt into nothing just about as quick.
Oh! Aunt Fanny knows all about him. So when he comes on her track, she looks straight at her inkstand, and minds her own business. She knows that nothing plagues the old fellow like being treated with perfect indifference. That's the way to kill him off!
THE LITTLE MARTYR.
How brightly the silver moon shines in that little bow window! Let us peep in. What do you see? A little girl lies there sleeping. She is very fair—tears are upon her cheeks—she sighs heavily, and clasps a letter tightly to her little bosom.
She is young to know sorrow. Life's morning should be all sunshine;—clouds come at its noon and eve.
* * *
Listen! some one glides gently into Nettie's room. It is a very old lady, but her form is drawn up as straight as your own, though her face is seamed with wrinkles and her hand trembles with age. She is stern and hard-featured. Should you meet her anywhere you would feel a chill come over you, as if the bright sun were clouded. You never would dare to lay your head upon her lap, and you would not think of kissing her, any more than you would a stone post.
See! she creeps up to Nettie's bed, and a heavy frown gathers on her wrinkled face as she spies the letter on her bosom. Now she draws it from between the child's fingers, reads it, mutters something between her closed teeth, and then burns it to cinders in the candle; then she shakes her head, and frowning darkly at little Nettie, glides, spectre-like, out of the room.
* * *
The same bright moon shines in at a window in the city. It is past midnight, but a lady sits there, toiling, toiling, toiling, though her lids long ago drooped heavily, and the candle is nearly burned to the socket. Why does she toil? Why does she sigh? Why does she get up and walk the floor as if afraid that sleep may overtake her?
Ah! a mother's love never dies out. That lady is Nettie's mother. She has something to work for;—she is trying to earn money enough (cent by cent) to bring home, and clothe and feed that poor little weeping, home-sick Nettie, who cried herself to sleep, with her mother's letter hugged to her bosom.
The old lady whom you saw burning Nettie's letter, was her grandmother. She was very jealous of Nettie's mother, because her son (Nettie's father,) loved her so well; and after he died she revenged herself upon her, by giving her all the pain she could. She promised if Nettie would come and live with her to be kind to her; and as Nettie's mother and little sister Ida hadn't enough to eat, Nettie had to go and live with the old lady. She cried very hard, and her mother cried too, and so did Nettie's little sister Ida; but the old lady promised that Nettie should come often and see them, and that they should come and see her. But she only said so to get Nettie away. After she got her she was very unkind to her, and used to tell her that her mother "was a foolish woman—not fit to bring her up"—and when Nettie got up to leave the room, because she couldn't bear to hear her talk against her dear mother, the old lady would shake her, and bring her back, and sit her down on the chair so hard as to make her cry with pain, and then force her to hear all she had to say.
You may be sure that all this made poor little Nettie feel very miserable. She had nothing to amuse her; she wasn't allowed to drive hoop, because it was "boy's play;" she wasn't allowed to go to walk, for fear she would "wear her shoes out;" she wasn't allowed to read story-books, for fear she "wouldn't study;" she wasn't allowed to play with dolls, because "it was silly;" she mustn't go visiting, because "it wasn't proper;" she mustn't have a playmate come to see her, because "it made a disturbance;" she couldn't have a kitten, because "animals were a nuisance;" she mustn't talk to her grandmother, because "little girls must be seen and not heard." So she sat there, like a little automaton, and watched the clock tick, and counted the times her grandmother put on and took off her spectacles, and thought of her mother and little sister till she bit her finger nails so that they bled.
Once in a great while, when Nettie had worried her self nearly sick, she got leave to go and see her mother. Then her grandmother always put on her worst clothes, to try to make her ashamed to go, and when she found that Nettie didn't care for her clothes, if she could only see her mother, she scolded and fretted and worried her, and gave her so many charges to come home at a particular hour, else she should be punished, that poor Nettie didn't enjoy her visit at all, but would start and turn pale every time she heard a clock strike, and get so nervous as to bring on a bad headache; and then, when she got home, the old lady would say that it was just like her mother to make her sick, and that she shouldn't go again.
Perhaps you'll ask if Nettie's mother never went to see her. You know it costs money to go in the cars, and Nettie's mother had no money, though she tried hard to earn it. Once in a while she could save up cents enough to carry her there; but she always had to carry something in her pocket for little Ida and herself to eat, for the old lady wouldn't offer them even a glass of water, because she didn't want them to come and see Nettie.
When they got there poor little Nettie would meet them at the door, with a troubled, frightened look upon her face; and without speaking a word, would lead them through the entry by the hand into her own little room; then she'd close the door, and after looking timidly about the room, jump into her mother's lap and kiss her hands and face, and cry and laugh, and hug little Ida; and Ida and her mother would cry too, and then Nettie would ask, sobbing, "if her mother hadn't earned money enough yet to take her away," and say that she'd rather starve with her mother, than live there, she was so wretched. And Nettie's mother would kiss her, and soothe her, and tell her how late she sat up toiling to get money; and then Nettie would cry for fear her mother would get sick, and then they'd all kiss each other, and almost wish that God would let them die (then) just as they were—together.
* * *
Again the silver harvest-moon shines down upon the silent city. Through a curtained window its rays fall softly upon a bed, where lies a lady sleeping. See! she smiles! What! Nettie's mother smile? Ah, yes; for Nettie's golden head is pillowed on her breast. Nettie's loving arms are twined about her neck. God is good;—the "barrel of meal" does not fail, nor the "cruse of oil." Well may Nettie's mother smile, now that all she craves on earth is in her clasping arms.
Such a selfish boy as Matthew was! You wouldn't have given a fig to play with him. He had carpenters' tools and books, and chequers and chess, and drawing materials, and balls and kites, and little ships and skates, and snow-shovels and sleds. Oh! I couldn't tell you all he had, if I talked a week.
Well, if you went in of a Saturday afternoon to play with him, he'd watch all these things as closely as a cat would a mouse; and if you went within shooting distance of them, he'd sing out,—"D-o-n-'t; t-h-a-t-'s m-i-n-e!" Of course it wasn't much fun to go and see him. You'd got to play everything he wanted, or he'd pout and say he wouldn't play at all. He had slices of cake, that he had hoarded up till they were as hard as his heart; and cents, and dimes, and half dimes, that he used to handle and jingle and count over, like any little miser. All the beggars in the world couldn't have coaxed one out of his pocket had they been starving to death.
Then Matthew was such a cry-baby. I love a brave boy. He'd go screaming to his mother if he got a scratch, as if a wild tiger were after him; and if you said anything to him about it, he'd pout, and stick out his lips so far that you might have hung your hat on 'em! It was like drawing teeth to get him to go across the room to hand you a newspaper. He ought to have had a little world all to himself, hadn't he?
Well, I used to pity him—there was nothing child-like about him. He always seemed to me like a little wizzled-up, miserly old man. He never tossed his cap up in the air, and laughed a good hearty laugh; he never sprang or ran, or climbed or shouted; no—he crawled round as if he had lead weights on his heels, and talked without scarce moving his lips, and wore a face as long as the horse's in your father's barn. Such a boy as he was! Had he been mine I should have tried to get some life into him somehow.
When his mother was told of his faults, she'd say, "Oh, he'll out-grow them by and by." I knew better. I knew that his selfishness would grow as fast as he did; and that when he came to be a man, he would be unfeeling to the poor, and make hard bargains with them, and wring the last penny out of their poor, threadbare pockets.
Poor Matthew! he'll never be happy; no—he never'll know the luxury of making a sad face bright, or of drying up the tear of the despairing; and when he dies he can't carry his money with him—he has got to leave it at the tomb door,—and who, do you suppose, will come there to mourn for him?
Oh, dear children, be generous—if you haven't but half a stick of candy, give somebody a bite of it. Perhaps some child will say "But I haven't anything to give." That's a mistake; that boy or girl isn't living who has nothing to give. Give your sympathy—give pleasant words and beaming smiles to the sad and weary-hearted. If a little child goes to your school who is poorly clad, patched, darned; nay, even ragged;—if the tear starts to his eye when your schoolmates laugh, and shun, and refuse to play with him—just you go right up and put your arms round his neck; ask him to play with you. Love him;—love sometimes is meat and drink and clothing. You can all love the sad and sorrowful. Then never say you have "nothing to give."
I wonder where all the little children are? I can't find any here in New-York. There are plenty of young gentlemen and ladies, with little high-heeled boots, and ruffled shirts, who step gingerly, carry perfumed handkerchiefs, use big words, talk about parties, but who would be quite at a loss how to use a hoop or a jump rope—little pale, candy-fed creatures, with lustreless eyes, flabby limbs, and no more life than a toad imbedded in a rock,—little tailor and milliner "lay figures," stiff, fine and artificial.
No; there are no little children here. I'm very sorry;—I love little children. I used to know some once, with broad, full chests; plump, round limbs; feet that knew how to run, and hands that could venture to go through an entry without drawing on a kid glove,—blithe, merry little children, who got up and went to bed with the sun; who fed on fresh, new milk, and stepped on daisies, and knew more about butter-cups and clover blossoms, than parties and fashions,—little guileless children, who danced and jumped and laughed for the same reason the birds sing—because they couldn't help it,—who didn't care any more than the birds, whether their plumage was red, green, yellow or brown, so that they could dart and skim and hop where they liked, warble when they had a mind, and fold their wings where they pleased, when weary. But these little city hot-house plants, shivering, shrinking, drooping—I had almost said dying, every time the wind blows—it quite makes my heart ache.
I think I must go hunt up their mammas, and beg them to give their little sensitive plants more air and sunshine, to make them hardy. Dear me! the mammas here are never at home. Some are in the great ladies' saloon (bright with gilding and mirrors,) in Broadway, sipping red "cordial," eating sugared wine drops and French cakes, and chattering with the gentlemen; some are at Madam Modeste's, planning a new ball dress, and talking about feathers and fashions; some are looking at a set of diamonds at the jewellers; and some are still in bed, although it is high noon, because they danced themselves so weary last night. So, poor little things, I suppose you must stay in your heated nurseries, bleaching like potato sprouts in a dark cellar, till Molly or Betty think best to let you out. Well, Aunt Fanny would be so glad to tie a little sun-bonnet on your head, put on a dress loose enough to run in, and take you off into the country a while. She'd show you little cups and saucers, made of acorns, that would beat all they have in the Broadway toy-shops, (and cost you nothing, either); and soft, green seats of moss, embroidered with little golden flowers, much handsomer than any the upholsterer could put in your mamma's drawing room, (and which never fade in the sunlight); then she'd show you a pretty picture of bright green fields, where a silver stream goes dancing through, where little fish dart beneath, where the heated cattle come to drink, and the little birds dip their wings, then are off and away!
Oh, such merry times as we'd have! I know where the purple geranium grows; where the bright scarlet columbine blushes, and where the pale wax plant hides under its glossy green leaf. I know where the blue eyed anemone blossoms; I know where the bright lobelia nods its royal scarlet head; (I know how to pull off my shoes and wade in after it, too); and I know how to make a wreath of it for your pretty little head. Oh, I know how to make your eyes shine—and your little heart happy. So tie on your sun-bonnet, and come with me,—the more the merrier. I don't believe your mammas will ever know you, when I bring you back.
ROSALIE AND BETTY.
Everybody called Rosalie a beauty. Everybody was right. Her cheeks looked like a ripe peach; her hair waved over as fair a forehead as ever a zephyr kissed; her eyes and mouth were as perfect as eyes and mouth could be; no violet was softer or bluer than the one, no rose-bud sweeter than the other. All colors became Rosalie, and whatever she did was gracefully done.
Yes, everybody thought Rosalie was "a beauty." Rosalie thought so herself. So, she took no pains to be good, or amiable, or obliging. She never cared about learning anything, for she said to herself, I can afford to have my own way; I can afford to be a dunce if I like; I shall be always sought and admired for my pretty face.
So, Rosalie dressed as tastefully as she and the dress-maker knew how, and looked up to show her fine eyes, and down to show her long eye-lashes, and held up her dress and hopped over little imaginary puddles, to show her pretty feet; and smiled to show her white teeth; and danced to show her fine form—and was as brilliant and as brainless as a butterfly.
Now, I suppose you think that Rosalie was very happy. Not at all! She was in a perfect fidget lest she should not get all the admiration she wanted. She was torturing herself all the while, for fear some prettier face would come along, and eclipse hers. If she went to a party and every person in the room (but one) admired her, she would fret herself sick, because that one didn't bow down and worship her.
Never having studied or read anything, Rosalie could talk nothing but nonsense; so, everybody who conversed with her, talked nonsense, too, and paid her silly compliments, and made her believe that all she needed to make her quite an angel was a pair of wings; and then she would hold her pretty head on one side, and simper; and they would go away laughing in their sleeves, and saying, "What a vain little fool Rosalie is!"
Now, Rosalie's cousin Hetty was as plain as a chestnut-bur. She had not a single pretty feature in her face. Nobody ever thought of calling Hetty a beauty, and she knew it! She was used to being overlooked; but she didn't go whining round and making herself unhappy about it,—not she. She just put her mind on something else. She studied, and read books, and learned a great many useful things; so, she had a great deal in her mind to think of, and went singing about as happy as could be, without minding whether anybody noticed her or not.
So she grew up sweet-tempered, amiable, generous and happy. When she went into company, strangers would say, "What a plain little body Hetty is." If they could not find anybody else to talk to, they'd go speak to her. Then Hetty would look up at them with one of her quiet smiles, and commence talking. She would say a great many very sensible things, and some queer ones, and they would listen—and listen—and listen—and by and by look at their watch and wonder what had made time fly so; and then go home, wondering to themselves how they could ever call such an agreeable girl as Hetty "homely."
So you see, everybody learned to love her when they found out what a beautiful soul she had; and while Rosalie was pining and fretting herself sick because her beauty was fading, and her admirers were dropping off one by one, to flatter prettier faces, Hetty went quietly on her way, winning hearts and——keeping them, too.
THE CRYSTAL PALACE.
How many of my little readers have seen the Crystal Palace, in New-York? Those of you who have, can skip these pages, while I talk to some of your little bright-eyed country cousins, who have never been there.
You know, my dear little daisies, that poor city children, who have to walk on brick pavements, and breathe bad air, ought to have something by way of a sugar plum, now and then, to make up for it. So, you mustn't pout because they have seen the Crystal Palace, and you have not.
You know John Bull got up a Crystal Palace in England, some time since, to which people of all nations sent articles of their own making,—not to sell, but to show the great crowd who came to look at them what they could do when they tried. It was a grand thing, because it made them anxious to finish off everything in the best possible manner; and as many of the articles were very useful, it did a great deal of good. Then, it brought thousands of people to see it, and that made Adam's sons and daughters better acquainted, and more sociable, and happier; so, it was a very excellent thing on that account.
Well, you know that we Americans are a very smart people, (ask your grandfather if we are not,) and we made up our minds that we would show John Bull, and Sandy, and Pat, a Crystal Palace of our own; and when an American says he will do a thing—it is done!
So, I was not at all astonished at what I saw last night;—such a beautiful building,—such a splendid glass roof—such a blaze of light, (for it was evening) my eyes were almost put out! I couldn't begin to tell you all the pretty things there were in it, but if you wish to know what I wanted more than anything else, it was a little marble statue (I suppose you would call it "an image") of a sleeping child. It had the prettiest, plumpest little dimpled limbs, you ever saw, and such an innocent little cherub face; I wanted to catch it up and run away with it.
There were a great many very beautiful statues there, some of which would have made you cuddle very close up to your mother, and hold her hand very tight; for instance, one statue representing a dead mother with a live baby lying on her breast, and a great, strong eagle fastening its claws in the little baby to carry it off. And then, there was a statue of an enormous bear, giving a poor man such a hugging—squeezing the very life out of him; he wouldn't have had to squeeze you at all to kill you, for the very sight of such a grizzly monster would have scared you to death in an instant.