OUR YOUNG FOLKS.
An Illustrated Magazine
FOR BOYS AND GIRLS.
VOL. I. FEBRUARY, 1865. NO. II.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by TICKNOR AND FIELDS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
Who of my young friends have read the sorrowful story of "Enoch Arden," so sweetly and simply told by the great English poet? It is the story of a man who went to sea, leaving behind a sweet young wife and little daughter. He was cast away on a desert island, where he remained several years, when he was discovered, and taken off by a passing vessel. Coming back to his native town, he found his wife married to an old playmate,—a good man, rich and honored, and with whom she was living happily. The poor man, unwilling to cause her pain and perplexity, resolved not to make himself known to her, and lived and died alone. The poem has reminded me of a very similar story of my own New England neighborhood, which I have often heard, and which I will try to tell, not in poetry, like Alfred Tennyson's, but in my own poor prose. I can assure my readers that in its main particulars it is a true tale.
One bright summer morning, more than threescore years ago, David Matson, with his young wife and his two healthy, barefooted boys, stood on the bank of the river near their dwelling. They were waiting there for Pelatiah Curtis to come round the Point with his wherry, and take the husband and father to the Port, a few miles below. The Lively Turtle was about to sail on a voyage to Spain, and David was to go in her as mate. They stood there in the level morning sunshine talking cheerfully; but had you been near enough, you could have seen tears in Anna Matson's blue eyes, for she loved her husband, and knew there was always danger on the sea. And David's bluff, cheery voice trembled a little now and then, for the honest sailor loved his snug home on the Merrimack, with the dear wife and her pretty boys. But presently the wherry came alongside, and David was just stepping into it, when he turned back to kiss his wife and children once more.
"In with you, man," said Pelatiah Curtis. "There's no time for kissing and such fooleries when the tide serves."
And so they parted. Anna and the boys went back to their home, and David to the Port, whence he sailed off in the Lively Turtle. And months passed, autumn followed the summer, and winter the autumn, and then spring came, and anon it was summer on the river-side, and he did not come back. And another year passed, and then the old sailors and fishermen shook their heads solemnly, and said that the Lively Turtle was a lost ship, and would never come back to port. And poor Anna had her bombazine gown dyed black, and her straw bonnet trimmed in mourning ribbons, and thenceforth she was known only as the Widow Matson.
And how was it all this time with David himself?
Now you must know that the Mohammedan people of Algiers and Tripoli, and Mogadore and Sallee, on the Barbary coast, had for a long time been in the habit of fitting out galleys and armed boats to seize upon the merchant-vessels of Christian nations, and make slaves of their crews and passengers, just as men calling themselves Christians in America were sending vessels to Africa to catch black slaves for their plantations. The Lively Turtle fell into the hands of one of these roving sea-robbers, and the crew were taken to Algiers, and sold in the market-place as slaves, poor David Matson among the rest.
When a boy he had learned the trade of a ship-carpenter with his father on the Merrimack; and now he was set at work in the dock-yards. His master, who was naturally a kind man, did not overwork him. He had daily his three loaves of bread, and when his clothing was worn out, its place was supplied by the coarse cloth of wool and camel's hair woven by the Berber women. Three hours before sunset he was released from work, and Friday, which is the Mohammedan Sabbath, was a day of entire rest. Once a year, at the season called Ramadan, he was left at leisure for a whole week. So time went on,—days, weeks, months, and years. His dark hair became gray. He still dreamed of his old home on the Merrimack, and of his good Anna and the boys. He wondered whether they yet lived, what they thought of him, and what they were doing. The hope of ever seeing them again grew fainter and fainter, and at last nearly died out; and he resigned himself to his fate as a slave for life.
But one day a handsome middle-aged gentleman, in the dress of one of his own countrymen, attended by a great officer of the Dey, entered the ship-yard, and called up before him the American captives. The stranger was none other than Joel Barlow, Commissioner of the United States to procure the liberation of slaves belonging to that government. He took the men by the hand as they came up, and told them they were free. As you might expect, the poor fellows were very grateful; some laughed, some wept for joy, some shouted and sang, and threw up their caps, while others, with David Matson among them, knelt down on the chips, and thanked God for the great deliverance.
"This is a very affecting scene," said the Commissioner, wiping his eyes. "I must keep the impression of it for my Columbiad";—and drawing out his tablet, he proceeded to write on the spot an apostrophe to Freedom, which afterwards found a place in his great epic.
David Matson had saved a little money during his captivity, by odd jobs and work on holidays. He got a passage to Malaga, where he bought a nice shawl for his wife and a watch for each of his boys. He then went to the quay, where an American ship was lying just ready to sail for Boston.
Almost the first man he saw on board was Pelatiah Curtis, who had rowed him down to the port seven years before. He found that his old neighbor did not know him, so changed was he with his long beard and Moorish dress, whereupon, without telling his name, he began to put questions about his old home, and finally asked him if he knew a Mrs. Matson.
"I rather think I do," said Pelatiah; "she's my wife."
"Your wife!" cried the other. "She is mine before God and man. I am David Matson, and she is the mother of my children."
"And mine too!" said Pelatiah. "I left her with a baby in her arms. If you are David Matson, your right to her is outlawed; at any rate she is mine, and I am not the man to give her up."
"God is great!" said poor David Matson, unconsciously repeating the familiar words of Moslem submission. "His will be done. I loved her, but I shall never see her again. Give these, with my blessing, to the good woman and the boys," and he handed over, with a sigh, the little bundle containing the gifts for his wife and children.
He shook hands with his rival. "Pelatiah," he said, looking back as he left the ship, "be kind to Anna and my boys."
"Ay, ay, sir!" responded the sailor in a careless tone. He watched the poor man passing slowly up the narrow street until out of sight. "It's a hard case for old David," he said, helping himself to a fresh cud of tobacco, "but I'm glad I've seen the last of him."
When Pelatiah Curtis reached home he told Anna the story of her husband and laid his gifts in her lap. She did not shriek nor faint, for she was a healthy woman with strong nerves; but she stole away by herself and wept bitterly. She lived many years after, but could never be persuaded to wear the pretty shawl which the husband of her youth had sent as his farewell gift. There is, however, a tradition that, in accordance with her dying wish, it was wrapped about her poor old shoulders in the coffin, and buried with her.
The little old bull's-eye watch, which is still in the possession of one of her grandchildren, is now all that remains to tell of David Matson,—the lost man.
John G. Whittier.
Across the lonely beach we flit, One little sandpiper and I, And fast I gather, bit by bit, The scattered drift-wood, bleached and dry. The wild waves reach their hands for it, The wild wind raves, the tide runs high, As up and down the beach we flit, One little sandpiper and I.
Above our heads the sullen clouds Scud, black and swift, across the sky: Like silent ghosts in misty shrouds Stand out the white light-houses high. Almost as far as eye can reach I see the close-reefed vessels fly, As fast we flit along the beach, One little sandpiper and I.
I watch him as he skims along, Uttering his sweet and mournful cry; He starts not at my fitful song, Nor flash of fluttering drapery. He has no thought of any wrong, He scans me with a fearless eye; Stanch friends are we, well tried and strong, The little sandpiper and I.
Comrade, where wilt thou be to-night, When the loosed storm breaks furiously? My drift-wood fire will burn so bright! To what warm shelter canst thou fly? I do not fear for thee, though wroth The tempest rushes through the sky; For are we not God's children both, Thou, little sandpiper, and I?
They were a family that had long outlived their grandeur,—the Fotheringtons. And though the last generation had been kept alive with traditions of it, the present one knew those traditions only as vague dreams that might or might not be true, and which, either way, had nothing at all to do with their absolute want of bread and butter, other than as having fostered past pride they had hindered honest labor. Of all those great colonial possessions, nothing remained to them but the rambling old house and its well-worn hereditaments; and though various parts even of the old mansion itself had been sold and moved away, still much more room remained than was needed by the mother and her five children,—the mother, whose woful condition had brought her to an utter contempt of the ancestral Fotheringtons, the children, who yet preserved a certain happiness in the midst of their poverty in remembering that at their great-grandfather's wedding a hundred guests were entertained for a week in the house after princely fashion. Not that the Fotheringtons of to-day did not present a decent appearance;—gowns were turned, and ribbons were pressed, and laces were darned till there was nothing left of them; nobody knew exactly how poor they were, which perhaps made it all the harder. The eldest daughters had been quite comfortably educated before everything was gone; the elder son had pushed his own way through college with but small debt, and was now studying his profession at home, finding much reason for unhappiness, and vexed out of patience by little Sarah's troublesome tongue and fingers, and young Tommy's musical fancy, which occasioned him opportunity of exercising his lungs and his shrill little voice all day long and sometimes half the night. It was hard work for poor Frederick Fotherington to try and bury himself in the dismal profundities of his law-books, and the quirks and catches of their citations, when little Sarah had been planted at one end of the great, lumbering cradle in which the first Fotherington might have been rocked,—planted there to be entertained by Tommy, who, inserting himself at the other end, with a hand on either side, loudly rocked the great ark quite across the room from one end to the other, piping meanwhile, like a boatswain's whistle, an interminable ballad of the Fair Rosamond that his sister Margaret had taught him, without ever dreaming of the evil use to which it would be put, and piping the more noisily the more he guessed at Frederick's annoyance. Of the two remaining children, Margaret taught school all day, being a visiting governess in two families; Helen stayed at home and did the house-work and the sewing, for the mother had been an invalid ever since her husband's death and the birth of little Sarah, something over two years ago.
This family had yet a trifle remaining of their mother's small dowry, invested, as it had been by their father, in certain bridge-stock, which paid dividends of exactly one per cent. This gave the two children molasses on their bread; the elders ate their bread without it. They had a cow, that fed in the paddock,—a cow lineally descended from a famous Puritan cow of the Fotherington breed,—and from her milk once a fortnight Helen contrived to scrape together butter enough for her mother's morning slice of toast. They completed the inventory of their wealth by mention of an old horse, which every day Frederick harnessed into an antique chaise, in order that he might take his mother for an airing.
Meantime, Helen, left with the two children alone in the house, would scrub, and scour, and cook, and sew, and sing songs, and tell stories,—stories of the good cheer of other days that once this barren house afforded, half of which she believed, and many of which she made up. Thus gradually left so much to herself and her fancies, while the others either detested their origin or laughed at it, Miss Helen had persuaded herself into a conviction that it was all a very fine thing, and was sure that they had by no means come to the end of such a tether, and that some day or other something was to turn up on it. There were the customary legends of every rich family for her to choose from; she might take that of the day when, after General Fotherington's funeral, the guests, returning from the grave, found the old gentleman there before them, storming up and down in a great pother opposite the portrait of his wife, long dead and gone, trying to shake the panel on which it was painted from its setting in the carved wood of the wall, so that half the world believed that the worthy, having failed to find his departed spouse in the spirit-land, had indignantly returned to loosen her ghost from the painting in which some cunning artist had imprisoned it, and the other half declared that certain deeds and records had been concealed between the panel and the chimney-bricks, which the General wished to dislodge; but, as no one knew of any deed or record missing, the matter had slipped by. Or, if Miss Helen's conjecture wearied on that, she might take the rumor concerning a Revolutionary Fotherington, who, being a noted Tory, had seen fit both to eat his cake and have it, and had accordingly buried a great pot of golden Spanish pieces in the garden, and marked the spot with the young slip of a St. Michael's pear-tree. There stood the old St. Michael's at this day, a dead trunk, having long since ceased to bear either fruit or blossom or leaf; and many a time had Helen persuaded Margaret and Frederick to take hoe and shovel and go with her to dig round the roots of the old St. Michael's. Once, after the first digging, the ancient tree surprised them by bursting into a cloud of blossoms, and bearing a crop of golden, juicy pears; but that was the last sign of life it ever gave, and all the gold they ever found. There, too, had been the wide, dark-eaved garrets full of moth-devoured relics of splendor; who knew what might be lying hidden in those vast hair-covered chests? They were there no longer now; for once, in an access of angry irreverence, Margaret had had them all dragged down, and had sold their contents to the rag-man, and had made by her speculation cloaks for themselves and a shawl for Frederick,—in the days when gentlemen condescended to lend to their stiff costume the graceful dignity of a dropping fold or two. But what treasures of parchment might not have been quilted into any one of those old brocaded petticoats? and who knew the unrevealed wealth of that trunk of yellowed papers, that had brought only the sum of ten dollars in the rag-man's scales? More than once Helen had started at the rap at the door, half expecting an announcement that such and such a document had been found among that heap of trumpery, thought to have been worthless as yellow autumn leaves, which would install them as the possessors of such and such domain,—raps which usually brought nothing but a shoe-bill, or a demand for the price of the previous winter's coal. All these idle day-dreams Helen wisely kept to herself and Tommy; for there was not another member of the family whom they would not have aggravated out of endurance.
It was one day drawing on towards twilight in the latter part of November,—an afternoon of the mild, sweet weather that always comes at that season, and always seems an accident. Frederick had driven his mother out for her airing, and whether they had been beguiled by the soft air into going too far, or had met with some accident or delay, they had not yet returned. Margaret would have worried, had she herself yet come in from her classes; as for Helen, who would have looked with a sanguine eye at her own shroud, she was sure no harm could happen while Frederick had the reins. So she busied herself in giving things as cheerful an aspect as possible when everybody should have reached home.
But, in the first place, there were no coals. Helen had caught a pain in her side picking up the very last with her fingers. Nevertheless, she had put a bright face upon it, and, after threatening to set fire to the house and run away by the light of it, had decided that it would be better still to set fire to it and remain and be warmed by it, while Margaret declared they would never know what luck was again till they had made soap from the ashes. All that, however, had put nothing into the coal-bin.
Yesterday, Helen had received five dollars for transferring a piece of embroidery for a wealthy acquaintance. She had hesitated about accepting it; it would be the first Fotherington that ever took wages,—Margaret's pay was salary; but conscience put down pride, and she gave thanks, and shut her purse,—and perhaps it broke the spell. In such a household one would have thought there would of course be no question what to do with it. On the contrary, it was a grave question. Should Tommy have a hat and Sarah a hood? should the mother have a shawl? should it buy a quarter of a ton of coal? And there was the lyceum! Now, in the town where they lived, not to attend the lyceum was not to be in society; last winter they had managed to effect one season-ticket, and the girls had gone alternately, in a neighbor's company; this winter Frederick was at home, and two tickets were desirable.
"Let us buy three tickets to the lyceum now," said Margaret.
"Same money would buy three turkeys," answered Helen, "and we're close on Thanksgiving and Christmas."
"Yes, Nelly," cried Tommy, who was thoroughly tired of bread and molasses, "buy the turkeys."
"Be quiet, child," said the mother; "you can't go to the lyceum, you know; so don't be selfish."
"Well, which would be best," meditated Margaret, who had a way of spending other people's money as well as her own,—"turkeys or tickets?"
"The turkeys will feast the whole family, the tickets only us three," said Helen.
"And then our bonnets are so shabby," said Margaret.
"Buy the turkeys, mother," pleaded Tommy, piteously.
"Hush now, Tommy! You've no voice in the debate," declared Margaret. "You're not a member of the Lyceum Society."
"But I'm a member of the Turkey Society," urged Tommy, as a finishing argument.
The result of the conference was, that, as Frederick's shoes were fast approaching the character of sandals with leathern thongs, they were surreptitiously subtracted from his bedside at night, and their place filled by a pair of stout boots, which would carry him well into the winter. That was yesterday. Meanwhile, to-day, no coals; no kindlings, if there had been; last year's bill due, and dunned for; winter upon their heels; the night growing chilly. Helen wrapped a cloak round little Sarah, and gave her her precious black rosary to play with, and bade Tommy take excellent care of her, and for reward he need recite only half his usual spelling-lesson when she came back. Then she ran up the hill behind the house,—she had reached that pass that she did not care whether the neighbors saw or not,—and fell to gathering sticks. Once the spot had been a wood-lot, now long since dispeopled of its dryads; a young sapling or two had sprung up in place of the old growth, and boughs and twigs were blown there in the storms. Helen came down with her arms full, and trailing a couple of great branches behind her. These, at the back door, she broke up, reserving larger pieces for the parlor blaze, and the small bits for a good kitchen fire; and, that done, decided to catch a couple of her choice chickens, and decapitate them, although she shut her eyes and cut her own thumb in the course of the procedure; these chickens, which were her special property, had been reserved by her for some occasion, and when would there be a better than Frederick and her mother returning from so late and unconscionable a jaunt, and doubtless shivering with the cold? This accomplished, and the savory stew simmering over the stove, Helen washed her hands, that had nearly lost their patrician shape and whiteness, took off her apron, and withdrew to the parlor. There she found that Master Tommy had, some time since, left little Sarah to her own devices, and she had forthwith broken the string, and scattered the beads of the rosary in every direction upon the floor, while he stood breathing upon a distant window-pane, and drawing pictures with his finger-tip on the groundwork thus effected, humming the while one of his favorite tunes to himself.
"Now, Tommy," said Helen, "I'll hear your lesson."
"No, you won't," sang Tommy to his tune.
"'Cause I can't say it."
"Then we'll learn it together. F-a-t-h, what does that spell?"
"Don't know," said Tommy, his finger in his mouth.
"See now if you can't remember," urged Helen, giving him each letter phonetically.
"Don't want to know," said Tommy.
Here, little Sarah, who had heard the lesson many times, informed him what the desired syllable ought to be, and inferred the rest herself. Whereupon Helen proceeded to the next word. But there Tommy proved obdurate, not only didn't know, and didn't want to know, but refused to hear, and presented such a fearful example to his younger sister, that his elder one had no resource but to transfer the cloak from Sarah to Tommy, and to shut him up in the dark closet. That done, she laid the sticks together in the grate, that was never made for sticks, and blew up a nice blaze, that warmed and lighted all the damp and dark old room; and, taking little Sarah in her arms, rocked and sung her away to sleep.
It was a dismal room, and had been long deserted,—possibly owing to its former dreariness, and possibly to the report of its haunted space and shadow; for over the chimney-piece was the panel with the pale, proud face of old General Fotherington's dead wife painted on it, which every midnight he was once believed to return and visit. But when other parts of the house had fallen into hopeless disrepair, Helen had taken Tommy's little hatchet, and had felled the lofty lilac-hedge that obscured all the southern windows of the room, had cleaned the old paint, made good use of a bucket of white-wash, reset the broken glass herself, and then moved chattels and personals into the vacancy, and given it a more homelike appearance than it had worn for half a century. If the truth were known, Helen's chief fancy for the room, shaky and insecure as both floor and ceiling seemed, was that dim panel-portrait blistering there above the fire or peeling off with mouldy flakes in past days,—for she had still many a longing for the old family-pictures that once her shiftless father, when put to his trumps, had sold to adorn the halls of some upstart with forefathers.
"Tommy," said she softly, when little Sarah slept, "can you tell me what w-a-t-e-r spells?"
"No," said the stolid Tommy.
"Is it dark in there, Tommy?" asked she, half relenting, and yet half wishing to excite his fears enough to conquer his obduracy.
"I don't know," answered Tommy, quite willing to converse, "I've got my eyes shut."
"Very well," said Helen, and went on with her low lullaby, which Tommy stoutly, but ineffectually, attempted to join. The wind was beginning to rise and clatter at the casements, and sing its own tune round the gable-corner; the dark had quite fallen, and the room was gloomy and vivid by turns with the fitful flashes of the firelight.
"Nelly," said Tommy, wheedlingly, and shaking the lock of the closet, "I wish you'd give me some. I'm real sirsty."
"Some what?" asked Helen, very willing to compromise.
"Some w-a-t-e-r. I'm so sirsty."
"Pronounce it, Tommy, and you shall come out and have some."
"I don't know how to," was the atrocious answer.
"And some chicken-broth as well as some water, if you'll only tell me what those five letters spell."
But there was nothing but silence in reply from Tommy, and Helen resumed her song.
"It's real damp in here," said Tommy pretty soon, beginning to cough furiously. "I'm getting a stiff neck."
"You have one already," said Helen; and, laying little Sarah down, she went to put on her apron, to attend to her stew, to bring in the cloth and the tray of dishes, and to spread the supper-table in the warm room,—set out near the fire, the worn white linen, the sparse silver, the rare and gay old china, of which they used every day what would have decked out a modern drawing-room, all clean and glittering as if viands were various and plentiful as color and sparkle. That all done, again Cinderella sat down before the fire.
"'Elen!" said Tommy then in a muffled tone, having given the door another premonitory shake, and as if his darkness induced metaphysics, "how many yesterdays have there been and how many to-morrows are there going to be?"
"I'll tell you, Tommy, when you tell me what those letters spell." And again in response there was silence on the part of the closet, broken by occasional kicks that shook the door, and even caused the old panel to stir in its worm-eaten setting of oaken wainscot. As Helen looked up after the silence that followed Tommy's demonstration, while the panel yet slightly stirred, it seemed to her that a shiver ran over the lady painted there; she remembered the ghost-stories, it made a shiver run over her herself. She rose and went to look out of the window and see if there were no sign of the chaise,—it was hardly time for Margaret yet. Then she returned, and her fascinated eyes caught again the eyes of the old Colonial Governor's lady, that lady who was her mother many generations removed. It was a pale face painted there, as if the painter had seen it only by moonlight,—dark eyes in which the lustre lay with an effect of restless, searching radiance, and the delicate aquiline nose and thin and haughty lip spoke of a woman capable of acting a secret in her day, and keeping it long after, Helen thought. Whenever she caught the eye of that portrait,—and so curiously well was it painted, that she never looked at it without catching the eye,—the lady shadowed there seemed to return a glance of defiance, and her lip wore a curve of triumph. She kept one hand clasped over her crimson vest embroidered with its golden tangles and purfles; perhaps in the other her secret hung hidden out of sight. Now, in the dancing firelight, the ruby that lay on the dame's forehead seemed to flicker like a live jewel in Helen's eyes; as the flame rose, her breast heaved too, a color rested on the pale cheek; as it fell, Helen fancied that she sighed; with all the quick lightning and darkening of the crackling fire the glance of the eyes shifted to and fro, the shadows round the mouth wavered; now they lowered, and now they smiled, and now the parted lips seemed just about to speak.
Helen started to her feet in a tremble: no wonder Tommy hated to stay in the closet; she sprung to let him out. And just then the old horse stopped at the gate, with the sound of Frederick's voice. Helen forgot Tommy, flung open the door to Frederick, and ran out to the gate as he appeared coming in with his mother in his arms, and laid her on the sofa. Helen only stayed to lead the old horse into the barn, and directly afterward was blowing up the blaze in the parlor, and calling the delinquents to account. They had driven into Orton Wood, Frederick said, and there the chaise broke down; and it being in an open space, he had kindled a great fire to keep his mother warm, while he tied the springs up as he might, which it took a weary while to do, and he had brought home a chaiseful of fagots that nobody owned, and was cherishing visions of future predatory excursions in the same direction. Immediately as he said it, wheeling his mother's sofa up to the hearth and rubbing his hands before it, a little occurrence took place that rendered his invaluable chaiseful of fagots of a moment ago the mere chips of this one, for it had changed the earth under all their feet. Margaret was just coming in at the door; Master Tommy, hearing the incoming and voices and confusion, and desiring to make a part of it, called out from his den, "'Elen! let me out, let me out, I say. W-a-wa, t-e-r, water. You know the Docker said I needed plenty of fresh air. 'Elen! let me out,—the Docker said I was a pecoolar child and needed pecoolar treatment!" And before any one could reach him, the belligerent boy gave the old door such an astonishing series of kicks and thrusts, that the lock broke from its mouldering frame; the worn floor shook and creaked; a bit of the plastering dropped from above; the door and Tommy fell out together; and the old portrait of the pale proud lady started, and trembled, and pitched downward, caught and split from end to end upon the handle of the great steel poker. And suddenly, with a wild exclamation of inextinguishable certainty and exultation, Helen held up her apron to catch what came rattling and ringing and racing and jingling, as they tumbled down together into it, and danced a measure over the floor with the naughty nuns of the broken rosary-beads that they surprised in their mad escape from the bondage of a hundred years. The pale and languid mother started up, resting eagerly on her elbow; Margaret fell upon the floor, catching up the guineas and doubloons as if she were crazy, and kissing them in a transport; Tommy began to discover what his pockets were made for, straightway. Meanwhile Frederick sprung upon a chair and went to pulling out the thready remnants of the decaying bags in which the gold had been enclosed; Helen still held her apron up, thanking fortune it was so large; and little Sarah, waking, began to creep down and toddle along to hold her apron too, crowing and capering at the strange scene, the glitter, and the joy. At last there were no more,—there was only the memorandum on a bit of parchment, telling the story of the sealing of the bags by the old Tory ancestor in troublous times, and their destined concealment behind his wife's portrait.
"Here are more thousands of dollars than you have fingers and toes, little Cinderella!" cried Frederick. "You can afford to wear glass slippers for the rest of your life! It is all your godmother's doings, and she was a fine old English gentlewoman, who acted wisely and for the benefit of posterity. Never say I disbelieved in my ancestors!"
"O yes," said Helen, "all very fine now. For my part, I was sure of it long ago!"
"I sha'n't dare to close an eye to-night for fear of burglars!" cried Margaret. "That I sha'n't!"
"Now mother, mother dear," exclaimed Helen, coming and taking her mother's thin hand and plunging it deep down among the sliding coins that were tearing down her strong apron with their weight, "'tis almost as much as I can carry! Tommy may go to school now, and you can have the Doctor and get well, and what can't we, what sha'n't we have! Margaret needn't teach any more,—we can have the house made over, we can keep a girl,—and gold at 240!—O, I think I shall lose my wits!" And down it would all have gone upon the floor but for Frederick.
"Don't, Nelly," said he, "we shall want them,—the guineas I mean, of course not the wits. What use have they been to us all these years, except to make gowns out of cobwebs and dinners out of dew? Now let us count our wealth, and then—"
"No," said Nelly, "my stew will be good for nothing if we wait, and mother is famished. We're comfortable, we know; if we're rich, we can find it out after supper. I wish I hadn't killed my cropple-crowns. Now Tommy, Tommy Fotherington, you never need spell water again as long as you live, for it was that blessed word that put Tommy in the closet, that kicked the door, that shook the house, that loosened the panel, that poured out the guineas, that made the starving Fotheringtons a richer and happier family than ever sat round the old Tory Governor's table!"
Harriet E. Prescott.
FARMING FOR BOYS.
(Continued from page 66.)
Tony King was particularly struck with the improvement in the coffee-mill, for his knuckles had received a full share of the general skinning; and when the job was done, turning to the old man, he said, "O, Uncle Benny, won't you teach me to do such things before you do all the odd jobs about the farm?"
"Never fear that all the odd jobs about any farm, and especially such a one as this, are going to be done in a hurry," he replied, laying his hand gently on Tony's head. "If the owner of a farm, I don't care how small it may be, would only take time to go over his premises, to examine his fences, his gates, his barn-yard, his stables, his pig-pen, his fields, his ditches, his wagons, his harness, his tools, indeed, whatever he owns, he would find more odd jobs to be done than he has any idea of. Why, my boy, all farming is made up of odd jobs. When Mr. Spangler gets through with planting potatoes, don't he say, 'Well, that job's done.' Didn't I hear you say yesterday, when you had hauled out the last load of manure from the barn-yard,—it was pretty wet and muddy at the bottom, you remember,—'There's a dirty job done!' And so it is, Tony, with everything about a farm,—it is all jobbing; and as long as one continues to farm, so long will there be jobs to do. The great point is to finish each one up exactly at the time when it ought to be done."
"But that was not what I meant, Uncle Benny," said Tony. "I meant such jobs as you do with your tools."
"Well," replied the old man, "it is pretty much the same thing there. A farmer going out to hunt up such jobs as you speak of will find directly, that, if he has no tool-chest on hand, his first business will be to get one. Do you see the split in that board? Whoever drove that nail should have had a gimlet to bore a hole; but having none, he has spoiled the looks of his whole job. So it is with everything when a farmer undertakes any work without proper tools. Spoiling it is quite as bad as letting it alone.
"You see, Tony," he continued, "that a good job can't be done with bad tools,—that split shows it. No doubt the man who made it excused himself by saying that he was never intended for a mechanic. But that was a poor excuse for being without a gimlet. Every man or boy has some mechanical ability, and exercising that ability, with first-rate tools, will generally make him a good workman. Now as to what odd jobs a farmer will find to do. He steps out into the garden, and finds a post of his grape-arbor rotted off, and the whole trellis out of shape. It should be propped up immediately. If he have hot-beds, ten to one there are two or three panes out, and if they are not put in at once, the next hard frost will destroy all his plants. There is a fruit-tree covered with caterpillars' nests, another with cocoons, containing what will some day be butterflies, then eggs, then worms. The barn-yard gate has a broken hinge, the barn-door has lost its latch, the wheelbarrow wants a nail or two to keep the tire from dropping off, and there is the best hoe with a broken handle. So it goes, let him look where he may.
"Now come out into the yard," continued the old man, "and let us see what jobs there are yet to do."
He led the way to the wood-shed. There was an axe with only half a handle; Tony knew it well, for he had chopped many a stick with the crippled tool. Uncle Benny pointed to it with the screw-driver that he still carried in his hand, but said nothing, as he observed that Tony seemed confounded at being so immediately brought face to face with what he knew should have been done six months before. Turning round, but not moving a step, he again pointed with his screw-driver to the wooden gutter which once caught the rain-water from the shed-roof and discharged it into a hogshead near by. The brackets from one end of the gutter had rotted off, and it hung down on the pig-pen fence, discharging into the pen instead of into the hogshead. The latter had lost its lower hoops; they were rusting on the ground, fairly grown over with grass. The old man pointed at each in turn; and, looking into Tony's face, found that he had crammed his hands into his pockets, and was beginning to smile, but said nothing. Just turning about, he again pointed to where a board had fallen from the farther end of the shed, leaving an opening into the pig-pen beyond. While both were looking at the open place, three well-grown pigs, hearing somebody in the shed, rose upon their hinder feet, and thrust their muddy faces into view, thinking that something good was coming. The old man continued silent, looked at the pigs, and then at Tony. Tony was evidently confused, and worked his hands about in his pockets, but never looked into the old man's face. It was almost too much for him.
"Come," said Uncle Benny, "let us try another place," and as they were moving off, Tony stumbled over a new iron-bound maul, which lay on the ground, the handle having been broken short off in its socket.
"How the jobs turn up!" observed Uncle Benny. "How many have we here?"
"I should say about five," replied Tony.
"Yes," added the old man, "and all within sight of each other."
As they approached the hog-pen, they encountered a strong smell, and there was a prodigious running and tumbling among the animals. They looked over the shabby fence that formed the pen.
"Any jobs here, Tony?" inquired Uncle Benny.
Tony made no answer, but looked round to see if the old man kept his screw-driver, half hoping that, if he found anything to point at, he would have nothing to point with. But raising the tool, he poised it in the direction of the feeding-trough. Tony could not avert his eyes, but, directing them toward the spot at which the old man pointed, he discovered a hole in the bottom of the trough, through which nearly half of every feeding must have leaked out into the ground underneath. He had never noticed it until now.
"There's another job for you, Tony," he said. "There's not only neglect, but waste. The more hogs a man keeps in this way, the more money he will lose. Look at the condition of this pen,—all mud, not a dry spot for the pigs to fly to. Even the sheds under which they are to sleep are three inches deep in slush. Don't you see that broken gutter from the wood-shed delivers the rain right into their sleeping-place, and you know what rains we have had lately? Ah, Tony," continued the old man, "pigs can't thrive that are kept in this condition. They want a dry place; they must have it, or they will get sick, and a sick pig is about the poorest stock a farmer can have. Water or mud is well enough for them to wallow in occasionally, but not mud all the time."
"But I thought pigs did best when they had plenty of dirt about them, they like it so," replied Tony.
"You are mistaken, Tony," rejoined Uncle Benny. "A pig is by nature a cleanly animal; it is only the way in which some people keep him that makes him a filthy one. Give him the means to keep himself clean, and he will be clean always,—a dry shed with dry litter to sleep in, and a pen where he can keep out of the mud when he wants to, and he will never be dirty, while what he eats will stick to his ribs. These pigs can't grow in this condition. Then look at the waste of manure! Why, there are those thirty odd loads of corn-stalks, and a great pile of sweet-potato vines, that Mr. Spangler has in the field, all which he says he is going to burn out of his way, as soon as they get dry enough. They should be brought here and put in this mud and water, to absorb the liquid manure that is now soaking into the ground, or evaporating before the sun. This liquor is the best part of the manure, its heart and life; for nothing can be called food for plants until it is brought into a liquid condition. I never saw greater waste than this. Then there is that deep bed of muck, not three hundred yards off,—not a load of it ready to come here. Besides, if the corn-stalks and potato-vines were tumbled in, they would make the whole pen dry, keep the hogs clean, and enable them to grow. But I suppose Mr. Spangler thinks it too much trouble to do these little things.
"Now, Tony," he continued, "you can't do anything profitable or useful in this world without some trouble; and as you are to be a farmer, the sooner you learn this lesson, the more easily you will get along. But who is to do that job of putting a stopper over this hole in the trough, you or I?"
"I'll do it to-morrow, Uncle Benny," replied Tony.
"To-morrow? To-morrow won't do for me. A job that needs doing as badly as this, should be done at once; it's one thing less to think of, don't you know that? Besides, didn't you want to do some jobs?" rejoined Uncle Benny.
Tony had never been accustomed to this way of hurrying up things; but he felt himself fairly cornered. He didn't care much about the dirt in the trough; it was the unusual promptness of the demand that staggered him.
"Run to the house and ask Mrs. Spangler to give you an old tin cup or kettle,—anything to make a patch big enough to cover this hole," said Uncle Benny; "and bring that hammer and a dozen lath-nails you'll find in my tool-chest."
Tony did as he was directed, and brought back a quart mug with a small hole in the bottom, which a single drop of solder would have made tight as ever.
"I guess the swill is worth more to the hogs than even a new mug would be, Tony," said Uncle Benny, holding up the mug to the sun, to see how small a defect had condemned it. Then, knocking out the bottom, and straightening it with his hammer on the post, he told Tony to step over the fence into the trough. It was not a very nice place to get into, but over he went, and, the nails and hammer being handed to him, he covered the hole with the tin, put in the nails round the edge, hammered the edge flat, and in ten minutes all was done.
"There, Tony, is a six months' leak stopped in ten minutes. Nothing like the present time,—will you remember that? Never put off till to-morrow what can be done to-day. Now run back with the hammer and these two nails, and put this remnant of the tin cup in my chest; you'll want it for something one of these days. Always save the pieces, Tony."
Tony was really surprised, not only how easily, but how quickly, the repair had been made. Moreover, he felt gratified at being the mechanic; it was the first time he had been allowed to handle any of Uncle Benny's nice assortment of tools, and he liked the old man better than ever. But who is there that does not himself feel inwardly gratified at conferring a new pleasure on a child? Such little contributions to juvenile happiness are neither barren of fruit nor unproductive of grateful returns. They cost nothing, yet they have rich rewards in the memory of the young. They make beautiful and lasting impressions. The gentle heart that makes a child happy will never be forgotten. No matter how small the gift may be, a kind word, a little toy, even a flower, will sometimes touch a chord within the heart, whose soft vibrations will continue so long as memory lasts.
This survey of Mr. Spangler's premises was continued by Uncle Benny and Tony until the latter began to change his opinion about the former doing up the odd jobs so thoroughly that none would be left for him. He saw there was enough for both of them. The old man pointed out a great many that he had never even noticed; but when his attention was called to them, he saw the necessity of having them done. Indeed, he had a notion that everything about the place wanted fixing up. Besides, Uncle Benny took pains to explain the reasons why such and such things were required, answering the boy's numerous questions, and imparting to him a knowledge of farm wants and farm processes, of which no one had ever spoken to him.
The fact was, Uncle Benny was one of the few men we meet with, especially on a farm, who think the boys ought to have a chance. His opinion was, that farmers seldom educate their children properly for the duties they know they will some day be called on to perform,—that is, they don't reason with them, and explain to the boy's understanding the merit or necessity of an operation. His idea was, that too many boys on a farm were merely allowed to grow up. They were fed, clothed, sent to school, then put to work, but not properly taught how and why the work should be done. Hence, when they came to set up for themselves, they had a multitude of things to learn which they ought to have learned from a father.
He used to say, that boys do only what they see the men do,—that all they learned was by imitation. They had no opportunity allowed them while at home of testing their own resources and energies by some little independent farming operation of their own. When at school, the teacher drills them thoroughly; when at home, they receive no such close training. The teacher gives the boy a sum to do, and lets him work it out of his own resources. But a farmer rarely gives a boy the use of a half-acre of land, on which he may raise corn or cabbages or roots for himself, though knowing that the boy could plant and cultivate it if he were allowed a chance, and that such a privilege would be likely to develop his energies, and show of what stuff he was made. The notion was too common that a boy was all work, and had no ambition,—whatever work was in him must be got out of him, just as if he had been a horse or an ox. It was known that at some time he must take care of himself, yet he was not properly taught how to do so. The stimulant of letting him have a small piece of ground for his own profit was too rarely held out to him. No one knew what such a privilege might do for an energetic boy. If he failed the first year, he would be likely to know the cause of failure, and avoid it in the future. If he succeeded, he would feel an honest pride,—the very kind of pride which every father should encourage in his child. And that success would stimulate him to try again and do still better. Both failure and success would be very likely to set him to reading about what others had done in the same line,—how they had prospered,—and thus a fund of knowledge would be acquired for him to draw upon whenever he set up for himself.
As before mentioned, Mr. Spangler made a strange departure from his rule of plenty of work for everybody, by quitting home on a wet day and going to the tavern rendezvous, to hear what the neighbors had to say, leaving no work marked out for his "hands" to do in his absence. These wet days were therefore holidays for the boys. All three were pretty good readers; and so they usually borrowed a book from Uncle Benny, and went, on such occasions, into the barn, and lay down on the hay to read. Uncle Benny recommended to them that one should read aloud to the others, so as to improve his voice, and enable each to set the other right, if a mistake were made. When the weather became too cold for these readings in the barn, they went into the kitchen, there being no other room in the house in which a fire was kept up.
One November morning there came on a heavy rain that lasted all day, with an east wind so cold as to make the barn a very uncomfortable reading-room, so the boys adjourned to the kitchen, and huddled around the stove. But as the rain drove all the rest of the family into the house, there was so great an assembly in what was, at the best of times, a very small room, that Mrs. Spangler became quite irritable at having so many in her way. She was that day trying out lard, and wanted the stove all to herself. In her ill-humor at being so crowded up, she managed to let the lard burn; and at this she became so vexed that she told Tony, with Joe and Bill, to go out,—she couldn't have them in her way any longer.
They accordingly went back to the barn, and lay down in the hay, covering themselves with a couple of horse-blankets. These were not very nice things for one to have so close to his nose, as they smelt prodigiously strong of the horses; but farmers' boys are used to such perfumes, and they kept the little fellows so warm that they were quite glad to escape the crowd and discomfort of the kitchen. These became at last so great, that even Uncle Benny, seeing that he was not wanted there just then, got up and went over to the barn also. There he found Tony reading aloud from a newspaper that had been left at the house by a pedler a few days before. Tony was reading about the election, and how much one set of our people were rejoicing over the result.
As Uncle Benny came into the barn, Tony called out, "Uncle Benny, the President's elected,—did you know it?"
"O yes, I knew it,—but what President do you mean?" responded Uncle Benny.
"Why, President Lincoln. He was a poor boy like me, you know."
"But can you tell me, boys," asked Uncle Benny, "who will be President in the year 1900?"
"Dear me, Uncle Benny," replied Tony, "how should we know?"
"Well, I can tell," responded the old man.
The boys were a good deal surprised at hearing these words, and at once sat up in the hay.
"Who is he?" demanded Tony.
"Well," replied Uncle Benny, "he is a boy of about your age, say fifteen or sixteen years old."
"Does he live about here?" inquired Bill, the youngest of the party.
"Well, I can't say as to that," answered the old man, "but he lives somewhere on a farm. He is a steady, thoughtful boy, fond of reading, and has no bad habits; he never swears, or tells a lie, or disobeys his parents."
"Do you think he is as poor as we are, Uncle Benny?" said Joe.
"Most likely he is," responded the old man. "His parents must be in moderate circumstances. But poverty is no disgrace, Joe. On the contrary, there is much in poverty to be thankful for, as there is nothing that so certainly proves what stuff a boy is made of, as being born poor, and from that point working his way up to a position in society, as well as to wealth."
"But do poor boys ever work their way up?" inquired Tony.
"Ay, many times indeed," said Uncle Benny. "But a lazy, idle boy can do no such thing,—he only makes a lazy man. Boys that grow up in idleness become vagabonds. It is from these that all our thieves and paupers come. Men who are successful have always been industrious. Many of the great men in all countries were born poorer than either of you, for they had neither money nor friends. President Lincoln, when he was of your age, was hardly able to read, and had no such chance for schooling as you have had. President Van Buren was so poor, when a boy, that he was obliged to study his books by the light of pine knots which he gathered in the woods. President Lincoln for a long time split rails at twenty-five cents a hundred. But see how they got up in the world."
"But I thought the Presidents were all lawyers," said Tony.
"Well, suppose they were," replied Uncle Benny; "they were boys first. I tell you that every poor boy in this country has a great prospect before him, if he will only improve it as these men improved theirs. Everything depends on himself, on his own industry, sobriety, and honesty. They can't all be Presidents, but if they should all happen to try for being one, they will be very likely to reach a high mark. Most of the rich men of our country began without a dollar. You have as fair a chance of becoming rich or distinguished as many of them have had. You must always aim high."
"But how are we to make a beginning?" demanded Joe.
"I'll tell you," replied Uncle Benny. But at that moment a loud blast from the tin horn summoned them to dinner. They all thought it the sweetest music they had heard that day, and hurried off to the house.
Author of "Ten Acres Enough."
(To be continued.)
O snow! flying hither And hurrying thither, Here, there, through the air,—you never care whither,— Do you see me here sitting, A-knitting, a-knitting, And wishing myself with you breezily flitting, Like any wild elf?
Mother sits there a-rocking, And watches my stocking; Well, I know I am slow, and she thinks it is shocking: While Lizzie and Sally, They twit me, and rally,— My thoughts, half asleep, chase your flakes to the valley, A drowsy white heap.
Dear Sally and Lizzie, My sisters so busy, In and out, all about, you make my head dizzy; You hasten, you flutter, You spin, you churn butter, You sew the long seams; while I cannot utter One word of my dreams.
Lo! light as a feather, The merry flakes gather In rifts and in drifts, glad enough of cold weather; Gay throngs interlacing, On the slant roofs embracing, They slip and they fall! down, down they are racing, I after them all!
One large flake advances; 'Tis a white steed that prances; At the bits as he flits, how he foams, like my fancies! Up softly I sidle From where I sit idle,— I snatch, as it flies, at the gossamer bridle,— I'm mounted, I rise!
Away we are bounding, No hoof-note resounding, Still as light is our flight through the armies surrounding; No murmur, no rustling, Though millions are jostling; A host is in camp, but you heard neither bustling Nor bugle, nor tramp.
Yet the truce-flag is lifted; Unfurled it lies drifted Over hill, over rill, where its snow could be sifted; And now I'm returning To parley concerning The beautiful cause that awakened my yearning,— The trouble that was.
Ho! ho! a swift fairy,— A pearl-shallop airy! I am caught, quick as thought! fleece-muffled and hairy, Her grim boatman tightens His grasp, till it frightens Me, half, as we sail to the east where it brightens, On waves of the gale.
White, dimpled, and winning, The fairy sits spinning, From her hair, floating fair, coils of cable beginning, Her shallop to tether In stress of bleak weather, While the boatman and I, wrapped in ermine together, Drift on through the sky.
Stay! the boat is upsetting! My fairy, forgetting Her coil and her toil, to escape from a wetting Has now the one notion: Below boils the ocean! I scream,—I am heard,—up, in arrowy motion, I'm borne by a bird,—
A gray eagle!—over The seas flies the rover; And I ride as his guide, a new world to discover. He bears me on, steady, Through whirlwind and eddy; I cling to his neck, and he ever is ready To pause at my beck.
White doves through the ether Come flocking together. How they crowd to me, proud if I smooth one soft feather! O what is the matter? They startle,—they scatter! On the wet window-pane hear my eagle's claws clatter!— The snow's turned to rain!
Tears, why will you glitter? My sisters they titter, And there from her chair mother calls, "What a knitter!" My ball pussy twitches,— I've dropped twenty stitches,— My needles all rust,—they will earn me no riches; Alas if they must!
THE BABY OF THE REGIMENT.
We were in our winter camp on Port Royal Island, South Carolina. It was a lovely November morning, soft and spring-like; the mocking-birds were singing, and the cotton-fields still white with fleecy pods. Morning drill was over, the men were cleaning their guns and singing very happily; the officers were in their tents, reading still more happily their letters just arrived from home. Suddenly I heard a knock at my tent-door, and the latch clicked. It was the only latch in camp, and I was very proud of it, and the officers always clicked it as loudly as possible, in order to gratify my feelings. The door opened, and the Quartermaster thrust in the most beaming face I ever saw.
"Colonel," said he, "there are great news for the regiment. My wife and baby are coming by the next steamer!"
"Baby!" said I, in amazement. "Q. M., you are beside yourself." (We always called the Quartermaster Q. M. for shortness.) "There was a pass sent to your wife, but nothing was ever said about a baby. Baby indeed!"
"But the baby was included in the pass," replied the triumphant father-of-a-family. "You don't suppose my wife would come down here without her baby. Besides, the pass itself permits her to bring necessary baggage, and is not a baby six months old necessary baggage?"
"But, my dear fellow," said I, rather anxiously, "how can you make the dear little darling comfortable in a tent, amidst these rigors of a South Carolina winter, when it is uncomfortably hot for drill at noon, and ice forms by your bedside at night?"
"Trust me for that," said the delighted papa, and went off whistling. I could hear him telling the same news to three others, at least, before he got to his own tent.
That day the preparations began, and soon his abode was a wonder of comfort. There were posts and rafters, and a raised floor, and a great chimney, and a door with hinges,—every luxury except a latch, and that he could not have, for mine was the last that could be purchased. One of the regimental carpenters was employed to make a cradle, and another to make a bedstead high enough for the cradle to go under. Then there must be a bit of red carpet beside the bedstead, and thus the progress of splendor went on. The wife of one of the colored sergeants was engaged to act as nursery-maid. She was a very respectable young woman; the only objection to her being that she smoked a pipe. But we thought that perhaps Baby might not dislike tobacco; and if she did, she would have excellent opportunities to break the pipe in pieces.
In due time the steamer arrived, and Baby and her mother were among the passengers. The little thing was soon settled in her new cradle, and slept in it as if she had never known any other. The sergeant's wife soon had her on exhibition through the neighborhood, and from that time forward she was quite a little queen among us. She had sweet blue eyes and pretty brown hair, with round, dimpled cheeks, and that perfect dignity which is so beautiful in a baby. She hardly ever cried, and was not at all timid. She would go to anybody, and yet did not encourage any romping from any but the most intimate friends. She always wore a warm long-sleeved scarlet cloak with a hood, and in this costume was carried, or "toted," as the colored soldiers said, all about the camp. At "guard-mounting" in the morning, when the men who are to go on guard-duty for the day are drawn up to be inspected, Baby was always there, to help inspect them. She did not say much, but she eyed them very closely, and seemed fully to appreciate their bright buttons. Then the Officer-of-the-Day, who appears at guard-mounting with his sword and sash, and comes afterwards to the Colonel's tent for orders, would come and speak to Baby on his way, and receive her orders first. When the time came for drill, she was usually present to watch the troops; and when the drum beat for dinner, she liked to see the long row of men in each company march up to the cook-house, in single file, each with tin cup and plate. During the day, in pleasant weather, she might be seen in her nurse's arms, about the company streets, the centre of an admiring circle, her scarlet costume looking very pretty amidst the shining black cheeks and neat blue uniforms of the soldiers. At "dress-parade," just before sunset, she was always an attendant. As I stood before the regiment, I could see the little spot of red out of the corner of my eye, at one end of the long line of men; and I looked with so much interest for her small person, that, instead of saying at the proper time, "Attention, Battalion! Shoulder arms!"—it is a wonder that I did not say, "Shoulder babies!"
Our little lady was very impartial, and distributed her kind looks to everybody. She had not the slightest prejudice against color, and did not care in the least whether her particular friends were black or white. Her especial favorites, I think, were the little drummer-boys, who were not my favorites by any means, for they were a roguish set of little scamps, and gave more trouble than all the grown men in the regiment. I think Annie liked them because they were small, and made a noise, and had red caps like her hood, and red facings on their jackets, and also because they occasionally stood on their heads for her amusement. After dress-parade the whole drum-corps would march to the great flag-staff, and wait till just sunset-time, when they would beat on their drums what is called "the retreat," and then the flag would be hauled down,—a great festival for Annie. Sometimes the Sergeant-Major would wrap her in the great folds of the flag, after it was taken down, and she would peep out very prettily from amidst the stars and stripes, like a little new-born Goddess of Liberty.
About once a month, some inspecting officer was sent to the camp by the general in command, to see to the condition of everything in the regiment, from bayonets to buttons. It was usually a long and tiresome process, and, when everything else was done, I used to tell the officer that I had one thing more for him to inspect, which was peculiar to our regiment. Then I would send for Baby to be exhibited, and I never saw an inspecting officer, old or young, who did not look pleased at the sudden appearance of the little, fresh, smiling creature,—a flower in the midst of war. And Annie in her turn would look at them, with the true baby dignity in her face,—that deep, earnest look which babies often have, and which people think so wonderful when Raphael paints it, although they might often see just the same expression in the faces of their own darlings at home.
Meanwhile Annie seemed to like the camp style of housekeeping very much. Her father's tent was double, and he used the front apartment for his office, and the inner room for parlor and bedroom; while the nurse had a separate tent and wash-room behind all. I remember that, the first time I went there in the evening, it was to borrow some writing-paper; and while Baby's mother was hunting for it in the front tent, I heard a great cooing and murmuring in the inner room. I asked if Annie was still awake, and her mother told me to go in and see. Pushing aside the canvas door, I entered. No sign of anybody was to be seen; but a variety of soft little happy noises seemed to come from some unseen corner. Mrs. C. came quietly in, pulled away the counterpane of her own bed, and drew out the rough cradle where lay the little damsel, perfectly happy, and wider awake than anything but a baby possibly can be. She looked as if the seclusion of a dozen family bedsteads would not be enough to discourage her spirits, and I saw that camp life was likely to suit her very well.
A tent can be kept very warm, for it is merely a house with a thinner wall than usual; and I do not think that Baby felt the cold much more than if she had been at home that winter. The great trouble is, that a tent-chimney, not being built very high, is apt to smoke when the wind is in a certain direction; and when that happens, it is hardly possible to stay inside. So we used to build the chimneys of some tents on the east side, and those of others on the west, and thus some of the tents were always comfortable. I have seen Baby's mother running in a hard rain, with little Red-Riding-Hood in her arms, to take refuge with the Adjutant's wife, when every other abode was full of smoke; and I must admit that there were one or two windy days that season, when nobody could really keep warm, and Annie had to remain ignominiously in her cradle, with as many clothes on as possible, for almost the whole time.
The Quartermaster's tent was very attractive to us in the evening. I remember that once, on passing near it after nightfall, I heard our Major's fine voice singing Methodist hymns within, and Mrs. C.'s sweet tones chiming in. So I peeped through the outer door. The fire was burning very pleasantly in the inner tent, and the scrap of new red carpet made the floor look quite magnificent. The Major sat on a box, our surgeon on a stool; "Q. M." and his wife, and the Adjutant's wife, and one of the captains, were all sitting on the bed, singing as well as they knew how; and the baby was under the bed. Baby had retired for the night, was overshadowed, suppressed, sat upon; the singing went on, and the little thing had wandered away into her own land of dreams, nearer to heaven, perhaps, than any pitch their voices could attain. I went in, and joined the party. Presently the music stopped, and another officer was sent for, to sing some particular song. At this pause the invisible innocent waked a little, and began to cluck and coo.
"It's the kitten," exclaimed somebody.
"It's my baby!" exclaimed Mrs. C. triumphantly, in that tone of unfailing personal pride which belongs to young mothers.
The people all got up from the bed for a moment, while Annie was pulled from beneath, wide awake and placid as usual; and she sat in one lap or another during the rest of the concert, sometimes winking at the candle, but usually listening to the songs, with a calm and critical expression, as if she could make as much noise as any of them, whenever she saw fit to try. Not a sound did she make, however, except one little soft sneeze, which led to an immediate flood-tide of red shawl, covering every part of her but the forehead. After a little while, I hinted that the concert had better be ended, because I knew from observation that the small damsel had carefully watched a regimental inspection and a brigade drill on that day, and that an interval of repose was certainly necessary.
Annie did not long remain the only baby in camp. One day, on going out to the stables to look at a horse, I heard a sound of baby-talk, addressed by some man to a child near by, and, looking round the corner of a tent, I saw that one of the hostlers had something black and round, lying on the sloping side of a tent, with which he was playing very eagerly. It proved to be his little baby, a plump little shiny thing, younger than Annie; and I never saw a merrier picture than the happy father frolicking with his child, while the mother stood quietly by. This was Baby Number Two, and she stayed in camp several weeks, the two little innocents meeting each other every day, in the placid indifference that belonged to their years; both were happy little healthy things, and it never seemed to cross their minds that there was any difference in their complexions. As I said before, Annie was not troubled by any prejudice in regard to color, nor do I suppose that the other little maiden was.
Annie enjoyed the tent-life very much; but when we were sent out on picket soon after, she enjoyed it still more. When a regiment is on picket, the main camp is usually much smaller, because most of the companies are scattered about at outposts, and but few are left at head-quarters. Our head-quarters were at a deserted plantation house, with one large parlor, a dining-room, and a few bedrooms. Baby's father and mother had a room up stairs, with a stove whose pipe went straight out at the window. This was quite comfortable, though half the windows were broken, and there was no glass and no glazier to mend them. The windows of the large parlor were in much the same condition, though we had an immense fireplace, where we had a bright fire whenever it was cold, and always in the evening. The walls of this room were very dirty, and it took our ladies several days to cover all the unsightly places with wreaths and hangings of evergreen. In this performance Baby took an active, or rather a passive part. Her duties consisted in sitting in a great nest of evergreen, pulling and fingering the fragrant leaves, and occasionally giving a little cry of glee when she had accomplished some piece of decided mischief.
There was less entertainment to be found in the camp itself at this time; but the household at head-quarters was larger than Baby had been accustomed to. We had a great deal of company, moreover, and she had quite a gay life of it. She usually made her appearance in the large parlor soon after breakfast; and to dance her for a few moments in our arms was one of the first daily duties of each one. Then the morning reports began to arrive from the different outposts,—a mounted officer or courier coming in from each place, dismounting at the door, and clattering in with jingling arms and spurs, each a new excitement for Annie. She usually got some attention from any officer who came, receiving with her wonted dignity any daring kiss or pinch of the cheek. When the messengers had ceased to be interesting, there were always the horses to look at, held or tethered under the trees beside the sunny piazza. After the various couriers had been received, other messengers would be despatched to the town, seven miles away, and Baby had all the excitement of their mounting and departure. Her father was often one of the riders, and would sometimes seize Annie for a good-by kiss, place her on the saddle before him, gallop her round the house once or twice, and then give her back to her nurse's arms again. She was perfectly fearless, and such boisterous attentions never frightened her, nor did they ever interfere with her sweet, infantine self-possession.
After the riding-parties had gone, there was the piazza still for entertainment, with a sentinel pacing up and down before it; but Annie did not enjoy the sentinel, though his breastplate and buttons shone like gold, so much as the hammock which always hung swinging between the pillars. It was a pretty hammock, with great open meshes; and she delighted to lie in it, and have the netting closed above her, so that she could only be seen through the apertures. I can see her now, the fresh little rosy thing, in her blue and scarlet wrappings, with one round and dimpled arm thrust forth through the netting, and the other grasping an armful of blushing roses and fragrant magnolias. She looked like those pretty little French bas-reliefs of Cupids imprisoned in baskets, and peeping through. That hammock was a very useful appendage; it was a couch for us, a cradle for Baby, a nest for the kittens; and we had, moreover, a little hen, which tried to roost there every night.
When the mornings were colder, and the stove up stairs smoked the wrong way, Baby was brought down in a very incomplete state of toilet, and finished her dressing by the great fire. We found her bare shoulders very becoming, and she was very much interested in her own little pink toes. After a very slow dressing, she had a still slower breakfast out of a tin cup of warm milk, of which she generally spilt a good deal, as she had much to do in watching everybody who came into the room, and seeing that there was no mischief done. Then she would be placed on the floor, on our only piece of carpet, and the kittens would be brought in for her to play with.
We had, at different times, a variety of pets, of whom Annie did not take much notice. Sometimes we had young partridges, caught by the little boys in trap-cages. The children called them "Bob and Chloe," because the first notes of the male and female sound like those names. One day I brought home an opossum, with her blind bare little young clinging to the droll little pouch where their mothers keep them. Sometimes we had pretty little green lizards, their color darkening or deepening, like that of chameleons, in light or shade. But the only pets that took Baby's fancy were the kittens. They perfectly delighted her, from the first moment she saw them; they were the only things younger than herself that she had ever beheld, and the only things softer than themselves that her small hands had grasped. It was astonishing to see how much the kittens would endure from her. They could scarcely be touched by any one else without mewing; but when Annie seized one by the head and the other by the tail, and rubbed them violently together, they did not make a sound. I suppose that a baby's grasp is really soft, even if it seems ferocious, and so it gives less pain than one would think. At any rate, the little animals had the best of it very soon; for they entirely outstripped Annie in learning to walk, and they could soon scramble away beyond her reach, while she sat in a sort of dumb despair, unable to comprehend why anything so much smaller than herself should be so much nimbler. Meanwhile, the kittens would sit up and look at her with the most provoking indifference, just out of arm's length, until some of us would take pity on the young lady, and toss her furry playthings back to her again. "Little baby," she learned to call them; and these were the very first words she spoke.
Baby had evidently a natural turn for war, further cultivated by an intimate knowledge of drills and parades. The nearer she came to actual conflict, the better she seemed to like it, peaceful as her own little ways might be. Twice, at least, while she was with us on picket, we had alarms from the Rebel troops, who would bring down cannon to the opposite side of the Ferry, about two miles beyond us, and throw shot and shell over upon our side. Then the officer at the Ferry would think that there was to be an attack made, and couriers would be sent, riding to and fro, and the men would all be called to arms in a hurry, and the ladies at head-quarters would all put on their best bonnets and come down stairs, and the ambulance (or, as some of the men called it, "the omelet") would be made ready to carry them to a place of safety before the expected fight. On such occasions, Baby was in all her glory. She shouted with delight at being suddenly uncribbed and thrust into her little scarlet cloak, and brought down stairs, at an utterly unusual and improper hour, to a piazza with lights and people and horses and general excitement. She crowed and gurgled and made gestures with her little fists and screamed out what seemed to be her advice on the military situation, as freely as if she had been a newspaper editor. Except that it was rather difficult to understand her precise directions, I do not know but the whole Rebel force might have been captured through her plans. And at any rate, I should much rather obey her orders than those of some generals whom I have known; for she at least meant no harm, and would lead one into no mischief.
However, at last the danger, such as it was, would be all over, and the ladies would be induced to go peacefully to bed again; and Annie would retreat with them to her ignoble cradle, very much disappointed, and looking vainly back at the more martial scene below. The next morning, she would seem to have forgotten all about it, and would spill her bread-and-milk by the fire as if nothing had happened.
I suppose we hardly knew, at the time, how large a part of the sunshine of our daily lives was contributed by dear little Annie. Yet, when I now look back on that pleasant Southern home, she seems as essential a part of it as the mocking-birds or the magnolias, and I cannot convince myself that in returning to it I should not find her there. But Annie came back, with the spring, to her Northern birthplace, and then passed away from this earth before her little feet had fairly learned to tread its paths; and when I meet her next, it must be in some world where there is triumph without armies, and where innocence is trained in scenes of peace. I know, however, that her little life, short as it seemed, was a blessing to us all, giving a perpetual image of serenity and sweetness, recalling the lovely atmosphere of far-off homes, and holding us by unsuspected ties to whatsoever things were pure.
T. W. Higginson.
THE RED-WINGED GOOSE.
Once upon a time, when the rocks that make the earth were not so gray, and the beard of the sea-waves not so hoary,—when the stars winked at each other and said nothing, and the man in the moon thought of getting married,—once upon a time, I say, there lived on the edge of a pine-forest in Bohemia a poor peasant named Otto Koenig.
His hut was made of pine-branches, plastered with mud and thatched with rye-straw; a hole in the top let the smoke out, and a hole in the side let in father, mother, pigs, chickens, and children, beside a tame jackdaw, that slept on an old stool by the fireplace, and ate with Otto's nine children out of a wooden bowl.
Little enough the nine had to share with Meister Hans, as they called the jackdaw, for they lived on black beans and black rye-bread. Sometimes a bit of smoked bacon was found in the beans on great feast-days, and sometimes in summer wild berries helped the dry bread to savor and sweetness; but oftener the poor pig's-flesh and the red strawberries were put into a rush basket, covered with great cool leaves, on top of the eggs that lay so smooth and white below, and Otto carried them to Prague, when he went there at full moon to sell the turpentine he gathered in the pine-forest. With the money he got there he bought serge to clothe the nine children, rancid oil to burn in the clay lamp that sometimes they lighted in the long winter evenings, or some coarse pottery for larger vessels than he could hew out of dead branches with his dull hatchet. But it took all the coin that ever rattled in his sheep-skin pouch to buy any clothes or enough food for the nine black-eyed children who ran about in rags, and always wanted more bread and beans than poor Marthon, their brown, hard-working mother, had to give them.
At last, one winter there came a dreadful famine in Bohemia. There was no rye for the fowls, or the bread; it was blasted in the ear during a wet summer; and that same summer had given so little sunshine to the fields that no berries ripened; the turnips rotted in the ground, so the pig had nothing to eat; and between cold and starvation, quite tired of his wet sty and empty trough, master pig gave a loud squeak one November day, struggled out of his moist lodgings into a pool of water hard by, and died. For all that he was eaten up, because the nine children wanted food, whatever it might be, and the jackdaw scolded loudly for bread, but got less and less daily.
To be sure, the turpentine ran faster and clearer than ever from the trees, but then it was worth less to the old Jew who bought it, and the striped red serge and rancid oil were dearer than ever; so the children ate their supper by the light of the pine-cones they gathered in the forest, and went to bed to keep warm, where Mihal, the youngest boy, told them long stories of the old days in Bohemia, when there were fierce witches with steeple-crowned hats and flame-colored cloaks, who were burned to death in the market-place of Prague, and their ashes scattered on the waters of the Elbe, to find no rest on earth or in the water,—and legends of gnomes and elves that worked with little swarthy hands in the mountain mines, and hid their treasures away from human miners, unless spell and incantation brought them to light, and then the gnomes would scream and sob in the deep caverns till the miners fled away for fear.
These stories Mihal had learned from his old grandmother, who died the year before the famine. She used to sit in the open air knitting, or spinning with a distaff, and the scarlet yarn that trailed across the gray jacket and green petticoat glowed in the sun like a thread of crawling fire, and seemed to keep time to her droning voice, as she poured story after story into the wide-open ears of the child nestled on her feet.
But all these pretty tales of Mihal did not keep his eight brothers and sisters warm. Zitza, the least of all, cried herself to sleep often, and woke with hunger, wailing, in the sad and quaint accents of her land, for bread and berries. These were sorrowful sounds for poor Otto Koenig; he knew well the eager pain for food that forced that cry from the child's lips,—for his black crust was as small as it could be to keep him alive, and his cup of sour beer was only a quarter filled. Often, as he shouldered the rude axe with which he gashed the trees, and wandered out into the forest, the spicy smell of the pine-boughs seemed to make him sick and giddy, he was so faint with hunger; and instead of the hymns the wind used to sing in the long green tufts of leaves, there was a rush of unearthly whispering laughter, and mocking voices said in the poor man's ear, "Bread and beer! bread and beer!" chorused with another rustle of laughter; whereat the unlucky man, half crazed, would bless himself devoutly, and, taking to his heels, run like a scared cony till the woods were far behind him.
In the hut things went worse still; in vain did Matthias, the oldest of the nine children, take his twin sister into the fields to search the brambles for stray hips, or locks of wool the sheep had not left there willingly; men and women even worse off had been there before them, and they came home at night, tired out and footsore, only to hear Zitza's fretful cry for food, and the constant chatter of Meister Hans, croaking for his own share in what they had not.
One night, when Mihal had told more wonderful stories than ever, and fairly talked the other eight to sleep, he was still awake himself. Nothing stirred on the side of the hut where the children lay sleeping on some straw covered with sheep-skins, but Meister Hans, who, perched for the night on the arm of the grandmother's empty chair, rustled his blue-black wings now and then. But as Mihal lay thinking and hungry, his looks turned restlessly toward the uneasy bird; and presently he saw the creature's eyes begin to shine through the darkness brighter and brighter, till they made the room so light that one could plainly see the eight sleeping children, the straw-bed from which Father Koenig's snores were loudly heard, Mother Marthon's petticoat and red jacket hung against the wall, and the old black chair with the fiery-eyed jackdaw perched on one arm. Mihal lifted himself on his elbow and rubbed his eyes. Yes, it was really so! Meister Hans nodded gravely to him, and, hopping down to the floor, turned his eyes toward the boy, nodded again, croaked circumspectly, and walked with odd, precise steps toward the door, which was screened from the cold by a rough mat hung inside, and again turning, repeated the nod and the croak, as if he were inviting Mihal to follow him. The child gathered his rags more closely about him, and stepped across the threshold, at which Meister Hans gave a very satisfied croak and hopped along. The moon shone brightly on bare brown fields silvered with white frost, and in the still, cold air the distant forest stood like a black cloud just dropped upon earth.
In a strange, dreamy way Mihal followed the movements of the bird, stumbling over hard furrows, bruising his feet against stones, falling into ditches, but still straight after his odd guide, who peered at him now and then with one fiery eye, and wagged his head. On and on they went, away from the pine forest, but into places where Mihal had never been before, wide as were his usual rambles; on and on, over stone walls, ditches, stubble-fields, and wide meadows, till they found themselves at the foot of a high, round hill. Out of one side of this great mound ran a pure bubbling spring, and over its waters hung an old oak-tree, leafless now, but still strewing the ground beneath with dry acorns. Right at the root of this tree was an upright gray stone, apparently part of a rock deeply sunk in the hillside; dark lichens clung to its face, and dead leaves lay piled at its foot. Beside this stone Meister Hans paused, and, looking hard at the boy, deliberately picked up an acorn, and, hopping to the side of the little gravelly basin, dropped his mouthful into the fountain, and returned to the flat stone, where Mihal stood wondering much what was to follow.
Presently the jackdaw approached the stone and knocked upon it three times. No sound replied, but the rock opened in the middle, and there stood a little old woman, as withered as a spring apple and as bright as a butterfly, dressed in a scarlet bodice covered with spangles, and a black petticoat worked in square characters with all the colors of the rainbow. She made a reverence to the bird and Mihal, and in a shrill, eager voice invited them to come in. The boy hesitated, but the little old woman snatched his hand and pulled him in. A draught of warm air and a delicious smell of food invited him still more charmingly, he was so cold and hungry, and he passed through the cleft stone to find himself in a high round cavern, of shining, sparkling crystals, that glittered like jewels whenever the light of the old woman's iron lamp shone across them. She opened a low door in the side of this cavern, and beckoned her companions to follow. In the middle of a still larger vault stood a great arm-chair, fashioned from beryl and jasper, with knobs of amethyst and topaz, in which sat a dwarf no taller than little Zitza. He was dressed in robes of velvet, green and soft as forest moss, and a ring of rough gold lay on his grizzled hair; his little eyes were keen and fiery, his hands withered and brown, but covered with glittering jewels.
About the cave a hundred little creatures, smaller still than he, were busied in a hundred ways. Some ran to and fro with long ladles, wherewith they stirred and tasted kettles of smoking broth; others shredded crisp salads, and sliced fresh vegetables for the pottage; some, with ready hands, spread a table with flowered damask, golden plate, and crystal goblets; three tugged and strained at turning a huge spit before a fire at the end of the cavern, while a dozen more watched the simmering of pots and pipkins, seething on the coals; and full a score moulded curious confections, adorned vast pastries, heaped fruits upon baskets of carved ice, or brewed steaming potions in great silver pitchers, whose breath of tropic fragrance curled upward in light clouds to the sparkling roof above; while the red flashes of the blaze on the hearth lighted up their swarthy little figures and merry faces, and cast grotesque, mocking shadows against the sides of the cave.
As Meister Hans hopped gravely past all this toward the chair of the Dwarf-king, making profound reverences all the way, the little monarch stretched out his sceptre, which was a tall bulrush of gold, and touched the jackdaw on the head, whereat, to Mihal's great wonder, his old friend turned suddenly into just such another little old woman as the one who had brought them in.
After another low reverence to the king, she turned to Mihal and made him aware, by a long speech, that she had been turned into a jackdaw for twenty years, because she had once presumed to say that gold was not so yellow as buttercups, or so bright as sunshine,—a statement altogether against the belief and laws of the dwarf; but now her punishment was over, and, knowing that she would never go back to the earth again, because she had lived there long enough to know better, and had learned that gold was the best of all things, she had resolved to bring little Mihal with her, (for she loved him almost as much as gold, and quite as well as silver, he was such a good boy), and persuade her master to grant him one wish before he left the cavern.
The king readily consented to do this, but ordered that the boy and his friendly guide should take their places at the table and be served with supper first, for well he knew that a hungry child's first wish must be for food.
The king had scarce given this order before a quick pair of hands stripped a tender sucking-pig from the spit, another filled a golden bowl with smoking stew from the caldron, another poured wine and ale into the clear goblets, and a fourth heaped porcelain dishes from every simmering pot and pipkin on the hearth; rolls of bread whiter than hoar-frost, and piles of purple and golden fruit followed, while the half-starved boy warmed his fingers at the blaze, and then ate and drank his fill of such viands as he had never before tasted, even in dreams. But when he could do no more good trencher-service, and the little old woman reminded him of the wish he was to ask the Dwarf-king to grant, he sat a long time pondering this important matter.
Now, among the legends that his old grandmother had recounted was one that had made especial impression on his fancy,—an old Bohemian tradition of a red-winged goose, followed by six goslings, which traversed the forests and valleys in the dead of winter, uncaught and unhurt, for hundreds of years, though whoever was so skilful or so lucky as to catch the goose would after that succeed in all his undertakings. Mihal bethought himself, as he sat there, that perhaps the Dwarf-king was master of this wonderful bird, and could give him the prize at once, without delay or toil; so he slid from his seat at the table, and, approaching the king, made known his request.
The dwarf fixed his keen eyes sharply on the child, and shook his grizzled head from side to side before he spoke, in his rough but kindly voice, and said: "I cannot do that for thee, little one! All the treasures in my mountain, or the heart of the dumb earth, could not buy for thee the red-winged goose. She must be caught; but there is only one way to this end, and that way hitherto hath no mortal known. He who would capture the goose must first have caught the goslings, and that not by two or three, or as he may choose to trap them, but always the nearest one first, which is ever the last, seeing that they follow her in line, unbroken and unwavering. Thou must take them one by one, and in their order, child, however sorely tempted to break the sequence. Keep thine eye and thy labor for the nearest one, and at last the red-winged goose itself will reward thy patience."
Mihal heard and treasured up the Dwarf-king's orders, spoke his simple thanks, bowing low, and, after a gay farewell to the little old woman who had been his jackdaw, went his way into the upper air; and just as the sun arose, touching the pine-tree tops with fire, he came to his father's hut, where the eight children were rubbing their eyes and Zitza crying for her breakfast. No one knew that Mihal had been farther than the door-sill, nor did he tell the clamorous brood of children what he had seen, lest they should mock it as a dream, or attempt the pursuit themselves.
So he went patiently about his work, helped them look for Meister Hans, whom all mourned for many a day,—excepting Mihal, who well knew how much better off the jackdaw was than in any of the pitiful conditions they fancied, and the parents, who were too thankful to gain even the bird's small share of bread for their wasted and fretful children.
But after nightfall Mihal crept softly from his straw in the corner, tied a sheep-skin across his shoulders, and, with his uneaten supper, a crust of black bread, in the bosom of his ragged shirt, stole softly out of the door to seek his fortune. About two miles from the hut there was a clear space in the pine forest, where there stood a great stone cross, at the foot of which a tiny spring slept in the grass, and overflowed softly on the crisp turf at all seasons. At this place Mihal resolved to wait for the flight of the red-winged goose, and he knew the forest paths so well that a short half-hour brought him to the open glade. He knelt and bathed his face in the spring, drank deeply of its pure and tranquil waters, and then leaned back against the foot of the cross to eat his crust and wait till moon-rise. Overhead the dark blue sky seemed to be higher than ever, and the bright stars sparkled so kindly, and looked so much like watchful eyes to guard and bless him, that Mihal felt no fear, but gazed upward into the quiet depths of air so long that he fell fast asleep and dreamed about the Dwarf-king's hill-palace.
(To be continued.)
AFLOAT IN THE FOREST:
OR, A VOYAGE AMONG THE TREE-TOPS.
"The Gapo?" exclaimed the master of the craft. "What is it, Munday?"
"The Gapo?" repeated Tipperary Tom, fancying by the troubled expression on the face of the Indian that he had conducted his companions toward some terrible disaster. "Phwat is it, Munday?"
"Da Gapoo?" simultaneously interrogated the negro, the whites of his eyeballs shining in the moonlight. "What be dat?"
The Mundurucu made reply only by a wave of his hand, and a glance around him, as if to say, "Yes, the Gapo; you see we're in it."
The three interrogators were as much in the dark as ever. Whether the Gapo was fish, flesh, or fowl, air, fire, or water, they could not even guess. There was but one upon the galatea besides the Indian himself who knew the signification of the word which had created such a sensation among the crew, and this was young Richard Trevannion.
"It's nothing, uncle," said he, hastening to allay the alarm around him; "old Munday means that we've strayed from the true channel of the Solimoes, and got into the flooded forest,—that's all."