Transcriber's Note: Footnote B is incomplete due to text missing from original page.
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==================================================================== VOL. V. APRIL, 1878. NO. 6. ==================================================================== [Copyright, 1878, by Scribner & Co.]
HOW KITTY WAS LOST IN A TURKISH BAZAAR.
BY SARA KEABLES HUNT.
Kitty was a pretty little girl, with gray, laughing eyes, and a dimple in each cheek; but from the time when she first commenced to toddle alone she began to be dangerously fond of running away from home. Let a door be ajar ever so little and out pattered the tiny feet into the streets of the crowded city and all sorts of dangers. Papa and mamma had long consultations of what should be done to correct this fault, while Aunt Martha, looking over her spectacles, timidly suggested a little birch tea; but mamma would not listen to that. Kitty was too small for any such bitter dose yet, and papa, who rather admired Aunt Martha's suggestion, declared finally that his wife must settle the matter herself—he "didn't know how to train a girl."
So Kitty, left to an indulgent mother, went on her way, and hardly a day passed but the cry went from cellar to attic, "Kitty is gone!" Nurses without number came and went; they could never "stand Miss Kitty's strange ways."
The little one had reached her fifth year without any serious injury, notwithstanding her unfortunate habit, when there came a time of great anxiety in their home, for her mamma was ill, growing paler and weaker every day. The physicians suggested a winter in Egypt, and a trip up the Nile; so, one bright October day, the family, consisting of the father and mother, with Kitty and her nurse, sailed away from New York in a steamer bound for Liverpool. Kitty was delighted with the novelty of everything she saw on this grand trip. She did not once attempt to run away during the whole of the long journey to Egypt, though all the time, and especially in Liverpool, Maggie never failed to keep her "under her eye."
On a bright, warm November afternoon they sailed into the harbor of Alexandria, and Kitty held tightly to Maggie's hand in open-mouthed astonishment at the novelty of the scene. Vessels of all sizes and descriptions thronged the harbor, carrying crews from many strange nations—Arabs with long flowing robes and swarthy skins, black Nubians and portly Turks, all screaming, apparently at the top of their voices. Kitty's mamma had read to her little girl some stories from the "Arabian Nights," and now, as they approached this eastern land, they mingled curiously in her little brain. They were not long in landing, and as they drove to the hotel on the Grand Square, Kitty fairly gave herself up to staring about the streets. Here came a file of tall camels laden with merchandise, stalking along with silent tread; there rode a fat Turk on a very small donkey; then followed several ladies riding upon donkeys, and each wearing the invariable street costume of Egyptian ladies—a black silk mantle, with a white muslin face-veil which conceals all the features except the eyes. Kitty admired the Syce men running before the carriages to clear the way, and as she looked at their spangled vests and white, long sleeves waving backward while they ran, she inwardly wished it had been her position in life to be a Syce. What could be more delightful and exciting!
Then there were the palm-trees and the water-carriers, with their goat-skins of water slung over their shoulders, and the bazaars—all most interesting to our travelers. But Kitty was too young to feel more than a dim surprise at the objects around her. She knew nothing, of course, of the history of Alexandria, once the first city in the world, where Euclid presided over the school in mathematics, and Aristotle studied and gave instruction. Here stood those vast libraries founded by Ptolemy Soter, which were subsequently destroyed, and here St. Mark presided over the church of Africa. Yet all this was unknown to Kitty, who was much more interested in the good dinner set before her at the hotel, with its dessert of fresh dates and great luscious grapes, and the comfortable bed which received her tired little form that night.
"Maggie," said the invalid mother the next morning, "don't let Kitty go out of your sight. I'm so nervous about her."
"Oh no, mum!" replied Maggie, re-assuringly. "Shure and I'll watch her like a cat does a mouse," and the good Irish girl kept her word, so that the two days spent in Alexandria were disturbed by no frights concerning Kitty. At last they were off again, this time in the cars for Cairo. On, on they went, villages on either hand, and such funny houses, such as Kitty had never seen before, and mud hovels with domed roofs, but without windows and often without doors.
"Shure," said Maggie, eyeing these rude dwelling-places with great disdain, "it's glad I am that me mother was not an Egyptian, to bring me up in a poor hoot loike thim."
For a time Kitty gazed wonderingly on the swiftly passing scenes, but by and by the little head drooped, the eyelids closed, and Maggie took the sleeping child into her lap, and let her sleep there until they reached the railroad station at Cairo and stepped out into the din and confusion of the motley crowd. With a bewildered look Kitty leaned back in the carriage which conveyed them to the New Hotel, opposite the Esbekiyah Gardens; then, as they approached the entrance, she looked up at the great building with its many balconies and columns, and exclaimed: "It looks just like a big church organ, mamma."
Many exciting days followed before they left for their trip up the Nile. The bright sunshine of that cloudless sky appeared to revive the invalid. It seemed, she said, as if she could feel it warm in her lungs and heart, and she brightened so in the change that they all gathered hope and courage, and went about on merry little trips to the many objects of interest around Cairo, before their floating home was ready for their departure. Kitty made friends of everybody; and had funny pantomime conversations with the Arab waiter who took charge of their rooms, examining curiously the long blue robe which he wore, and the red fez with its black tassel on his head. "It's awful funny," she said, "to see people calling the waiters by clapping their hands instead of ringing a bell; I think it's a very strange country!" So saying she would walk up and down the long rooms with her hands folded behind her as she had seen her papa do.
Such donkey rides as Kitty and her papa had over the hard, smooth road leading to the pyramids, with the long shadows of the acacias before them! And then, how she teased him to buy a donkey for her to take to America! But he only smiled in reply, saying, in true Arab fashion, "Bookrer" (to-morrow).
They spent one day in the bazaars buying all sorts of beautiful sashes, in brilliant colors, of Turkish embroidery. One bore the Sultan's name in the Turkish language, worked with gold threads, and another had the motto, "God is good," worked in blue and silver. Then there were shawls "perfectly lovely," said the little New York girl, boxes of sandal-wood that she longed to be smelling of continually, a pair of slippers and a gold-embroidered smoking cap to be taken home to Uncle Harry, and a beautiful cloak and table-cover for Aunt Martha.
But, alas! this visit awoke Kitty's long-slumbering propensity, and she determined to watch for a good opportunity and go alone to that wonderful bazaar. The opportunity soon came. It was just after breakfast. Maggie had gone to the laundry with some of Kitty's white dresses. Papa was talking with a French gentleman about New York, while mamma was yet sleeping. "What a splendid chance!" whispered Kitty, and catching up her sailor hat she sped away through a side entrance and down the Mouski, which is the Broadway of Cairo. It is a narrow, crowded street, with tall houses, every story projecting a little over the one under it, so that if you should lean from a window of the upper floor you might shake hands with your opposite neighbor. Kitty's bump of locality was pretty well developed, and she found the way to the bazaar without any trouble. In her chubby hand was clasped a little gold five-franc piece, which had been given her the previous day, and visions of glittering treasures which should be bought with that tiny gold piece floated before her eyes. She hurried on by the quaint fountains which are placed at the corners of the bazaars, to cheer those water-worshiping people, and soon found herself amid the charms and mysteries of the bazaar, and in front of the little shops like bow-windows, with their owners sitting cross-legged in the midst of their goods, smoking and waiting indifferently for a customer. Walking toward one of these turbaned merchants, Kitty said, with a queer attempt at dignity, "Please show me some shawls."
But this clearly spoken sentence was all lost on the foreign merchant, to whom English was an unknown language.
"Anni mush ariff," said the man, puffing away at his pipe, and deliberately settling himself among his cozy cushions, as if for a long and dreamy nap.
Kitty, of course, did not understand Arabic, and the words, which really signified, "I don't understand," sounded to her unpracticed ears like "I am a sheriff!" a word which was always associated in the little runaway's mind with policemen, a class of persons who were to Kitty objects of tyranny and terror.
"Oh, dear," whispered Kitty, "if he is a sheriff, may be he'll arrest me and lock me up." So saying she fled from the presence of the astonished merchant, and darted round a corner through a motley crowd of donkeys, camels, and beggars blind and maimed. And now, her momentary fright over, she entered a still more narrow way, where were stalls of glittering diamonds set in every imaginable form, and gems of all sorts and sizes, arranged in brilliant order. Kitty forgot everything in her admiration. "I mean to buy a diamond pin. I just do!" she exclaimed, and, accosting the man, asked the price of a huge crescent of gems.
"Allah!" cried the man, rousing from his languor. And then, in his own language, he said to Kitty: "Little lady, where are you going? Are your papa and mamma gone?"
Kitty looked silently and wonderingly at the kind-hearted merchant a moment, and then her little mind began to realize that she was among a strange people who could not understand a word that she might say. The tears began to come in the gray eyes, and turning, she said, "I will go home." But which way? Her little head grew bewildered, and, to crown all, an immense camel stalking along with silent tread nearly stepped on her little foot. She cried in earnest now, and the merchant kindly lifted her up beside him on a soft, Turkish rug, right in the midst of the flashing gems.
Quite a crowd had gathered now, listening eagerly while the man pictured in earnest language the position of the lost child. But none knew little Kitty; not a soul could speak to her in all that motley crowd of camel drivers, donkey boys, beggars, milkmen with their goats, merchants and dark-eyed women wrapped in their mantles and veils. There was none to help her. Suddenly, out from the crowd came a young Arab boy, one of those little fellows who carry about with them a vest full of snakes, exhibiting them for a living in front of hotels and other public places.
"Me know she!" he cried, as his eyes fell on the little girl sitting there on the rich Turkish carpet, her soft, golden hair floating around her, more beautiful than all the merchant's gold and jewels.
The boy rapidly addressed the merchant, Kitty catching at the words, and trying in vain to understand them. They seemed to satisfy the merchant, however, and then the boy, pushing down a restless snake into its retreat, advanced to the troubled child.
"You Americano," he said. "Me see you in New Hotel. You want see papa? Me tek you."
Kitty, started up delighted; but at the sight of that inquisitive snake making its re-appearance from the boy's pocket, she retreated and sat down again amid the jewels. The merchant laughed. "She likes my diamonds, Mahomet, better than your ugly reptiles." Then, taking a little gold ring set with a small blue turquoise, he placed it on Kitty's first finger and lifted her off the carpet, calling as he did so to a passing donkey boy, and giving him some hurried instructions. Kitty smiled her thanks for her pretty ring, and seeing the snake boy looking fiercely at the donkey boy, who had lifted her into the saddle, "Come, too," she said, "you can talk, and this boy can't." So the two boys ran alongside of the donkey, watching carefully lest the little rider should fall; and very soon they emerged from the bazaar and were galloping along the Mouski.
Meantime, Kitty's absence had been discovered at the hotel, and great excitement followed. Her mamma fainted, and Maggie wrung her hands in anxiety and despair. Her papa alone was cool and collected.
"She has run away so many times," said he, quietly, "that I have no doubt she will come home safely, as always before."
Nevertheless, he dispatched messengers without number here and there, and looked anxiously out into the streets for that dear little yellow head he so loved. It was nearly noon when he saw it—the bright sun glaring down on the tired little face under the sailor hat. He was going to be very stern as he lifted his naughty child from the saddle, but she looked so repentant, putting up her quivering lips for a forgiving kiss, that somehow his anger fled away and he gave her the pardoning caress. The two boys were sent away happy, with a generous baksheesh or present, and the next day Kitty's father sought out the kind-hearted jewel merchant and bought many a gem from his choice collection. Among them was a locket for Kitty, in which he then placed his own and her mother's picture.
"Kitty," he said, gravely, as he hung the pretty thing about her neck, "when you are tempted to do wrong, open this locket, and think how it will pain two hearts that love you."
"Papa," said the repentant Kitty, "I never will run away again."
And she kept her word. So it came to pass that our little heroine lost her evil propensity in the Turkish bazaar at Cairo.
"I'M A LITTLE STORY."
BY MARGARET EYTINGE.
You'd never guess what 't was I found One morning in my basket; Oh! such a precious, precious gem For such a funny casket.
Gem, did I say? A wealth of gems: Sweet eyes of sapphire brightness, And, 'twixt two lips of coral red, Pearls dazzling in their whiteness.
And gold was there on waving hair, And lilies too, and roses On rounded cheeks, and dimpled chin And cunningest of noses.
"In here, mamma," the darling cried. "Look! I'm a little story; The one you didn't like, you know— 'Prince Bee and Morning Glory.'
"And Rover, he's a jingle, torn 'Cause he went wrong—poor Rover! But I'm real pretty. Wont you take Me out and write me over?"
I kissed the laughing eyes and mouth. "My pet, you need not ask it; No story sweet as you must stay In mamma's old waste-basket!"
EASTER IN GERMANY.
BY F. E. CORNE.
"Oh, look! look! all those pretty little Easter things in the window already!" exclaimed my little sister one day, as we passed one of the largest confectionery stores in Stuttgart; and, true enough, though Lent was but half over, there they were, a pretty show. Eggs, of course, in quantities and of all sizes, from that of an ostrich to a humming bird's, made of chocolate or of sugar, and gayly decorated with little ribbons and pictures. Then there were fat little unfledged chickens, some just emerging from their shells, some not an inch long, and others large as life; pure white lambs, with ribbons and bells round their necks; paste-eggs, with holes at the ends, and, looking through, behold, a panorama inside! and eggs with roses on one side, which, when blown upon, emit a musical sound.
But odder than all these were the goats playing on guitars, or dragging behind them fairy-like egg-shaped carriages, with little hares gravely driving; and in others of these carriages were reclining one or two (generally two) baby hares, or a hare mother rocking her little one in an egg cradle; there were sugar balloons, in the baskets of which hares watched over their nests full of eggs; wheelbarrows full of eggs, and trundled by a hare; and dainty baskets of flowers, with birds perched upon each handle, peering down into nests of eggs half hidden amidst the blossoms. When one knows that each nest comes out, and forms the cover to a box of bonbons neatly concealed underneath, this pretty structure certainly loses none of its attractiveness.
In all directions signs of the approaching season begin to appear. Every old woman in the market-place offers for sale a store of hard-boiled eggs, smeared over with some highly colored varnish, besides candy chickens, hares, etc., in abundance. All the various shop windows display pretty emblematic articles. Besides the sugar and chocolate eggs, there are eggs of soap and of glass; egg-shaped baskets and reticules; leather eggs, which really are ladies' companions, and filled with sewing implements; wooden eggs and porcelain eggs, and even egg-shaped lockets made of solid gold.
It would be difficult to explain why these things appear at Easter, and what they all mean. The eggs, as every one knows, we have at home, and where they are in such abundance chickens will not be very far away. For the lamb and the goat we can find scriptural interpretations, but the rabbit and the hare—what can they have to do with Easter? Nine persons out of ten can only answer, "The hares lay the Easter eggs." Queer hares they must be, indeed, but the children here believe it as devoutly as they do that the "Christ-kind" brings their Christmas presents, or as our own little ones do in Santa Claus. No one knows exactly whence came this myth. Many think it a relic of heathen worship; but a writer named Christoph von Schmid, in an interesting story for children, suggests this much prettier origin:
Many hundred years ago, a good and noble lady, Duchess Rosilinda von Lindenburg, at a time when a cruel war was devastating the land, was obliged to fly from her beautiful home accompanied only by her two little children and one old man-servant.
They found refuge in a small mining village in the mountains, where the simple but contented and happy inhabitants did what they could for their comfort, and placed the best of all they had at the disposal of the wanderers. Nevertheless, their fare was miserable; no meat was ever to be found, seldom fish, and not even an egg; this last for the very good reason that there was not a single hen in the village! These useful domestic fowls, now so common everywhere, were originally brought from the East, and had not yet found their way to this secluded place. The people had not even heard of such "strange birds." This troubled the kind duchess, who well knew the great help they are in housekeeping, and she determined that the women who had been so kind to her should no longer be without them.
Accordingly, the next time she sent forth her faithful old servant to try and gather news of his master and of the progress of the war, she commissioned him to bring back with him a coop full of fowls. This he did, to the great surprise of the simple natives, and the village children were greatly excited a few weeks later at the appearance of a brood of young chickens. They were so pretty and bright, were covered with such a soft down, were so open-eyed, and could run about after their mother to pick up food the very first day, and were altogether such a contrast to the blind, bald, unfledged, helpless, ugly little birds they sometimes saw in nests in the hedges, that they could not find words enough to express their admiration.
The good lady now saved up eggs for some time, then invited all the housewives of the village to a feast, when she set before them eggs cooked in a variety of ways. She then taught them how to prepare them for themselves, and, distributing a number of fowls among them, sent the dames home grateful and happy.
When Easter approached, she was anxious to arrange some pleasure for the village children, but had nothing to give them, "not even an apple or a nut," only some eggs; but that, she concluded, was, after all, an appropriate offering, "as an egg is the first gift of the reviving spring." And then it occurred to her to boil them with mosses and roots that would give them a variety of brilliant colors, "as the earth," said she, "has just laid aside her white mantle, and decorated herself with many colors; for the dear God makes the fruit and berries not only good to eat, but also pleasant to look upon," and the children's pleasure would be all the greater.
Accordingly, on Easter Sunday, after the church service, all the little ones of about the age of her own met together in a garden; and, when their kind hostess had talked to them a while, she led them into a small neighboring wood. There she told them to make nests of moss, and advised each to mark well his or her own. All then returned to the garden, where a feast of milk-soup with eggs and egg-cakes had been prepared. Afterward they went back to the wood, and found to their great joy in each nest five beautiful colored eggs, and on one of these a short rhyme was written.
The surprise and delight of the little ones when they discovered a nest of the gayly colored treasures, was very great, and one of them exclaimed:
"How wonderful the hens must be that can lay such pretty eggs! How I should like to see them!"
"Oh! no hens could lay such beautiful eggs," answered a little girl. "I think it must have been the little hare that sprang out of the juniper bush when I wanted to build my nest there."
Then all the children laughed together, and said, "The hares lay the colored eggs. Yes, yes! the dear little hares lay the beautiful eggs!" And they kept repeating it till they began really to believe it.
Not long afterward the war ended, and Duke Arno von Lindenburg took his wife and children back to their own palace; but, before leaving, the Duchess set apart a sum of money to be expended in giving the village children every Easter a feast of eggs. She instituted the custom also in her own duchy, and by degrees it spread over the whole country, the eggs being considered a symbol of redemption or deliverance from sin. The custom has found its way even to America, but nowhere out of the Vaterland are the eggs laid by the timid hare.
To this day children living in the country go to the woods just before Easter, and return with their arms full of twigs and moss, out of which they build nests and houses, each child carefully marking his own with his name. They are then hidden behind stones and bushes in the garden, or, if the weather be cold, in corners, or under furniture in the house. And on Easter morning what an excitement there is to see what the good little hare has brought! Not only real eggs boiled and colored, but sugar ones too, and often wooden ones that open like boxes, disclosing, perhaps, a pair of new gloves or a bright ribbon. He even sometimes brings hoops and skipping-ropes, and generally his own effigy in dough or candy is found trying to scamper away behind the nest.
Then what fun they have playing with the eggs, throwing them in the air and catching them again, rolling them on the floor, exchanging with each other, and knocking them! This game is played by two, each child holding an egg firmly in his hand, so that only the small end appears between the thumb and forefinger, or under the little finger. The two eggs then are knocked smartly against each other until one cracks, when it becomes the property of the victorious party, who adds it to his stock. Those who have never tried to break an egg in this way will be astonished to find how many hard taps it is able to stand. But, as the game called "picking eggs" is played in some parts of the United States during the Easter holidays, it may be that many of our readers know all about this matter, and understand very well how to select the eggs that shall prove strong and victorious.
In Germany, presents are frequently bestowed upon servants at this season, and exchanged between friends; and on Easter morning the churches are crowded by many who scarcely ever think of entering at any other time. On Good Friday only, considered here the holiest day in the whole year, are they still more largely attended. The music is usually fine, but one misses the beautiful flowers which adorn our home altars.
Easter Monday is looked upon as a grand holiday by the peasantry in many parts of the country. Weddings are often deferred to this day, and many village games are reserved for this season. The lads and lassies all appear in their gala costumes; the girls with short, dark skirts, braided with gold or silver, snowy aprons and full white sleeves, bright colored bodices and odd little caps; the boys with knee-breeches, white stockings, low shoes, and scarlet or yellow vests, the solid gold or silver buttons on which are often their whole inheritance. But when they are dancing gayly together on the green, they look a good deal happier than if they were little kings and queens.
Games vary in different villages throughout the country, but one example will give some idea of what they are like.
Two of the leading young men of the place take entire charge of the day's amusements, selecting for the purpose as the scene of festivities some inn or Wirthschaft, to which is attached a large garden or meadow.
For several preceding evenings, when work is over, they go about from house to house, dressed in their best, and carrying large baskets on their arms. Everywhere they are kindly received, and bread with wine or cider is placed before them. While they eat and drink, the baskets are quietly slipped away by some member of the family, a generous donation of eggs is placed within them, and they are secretly returned to their places. The eggs are not asked for, neither are they alluded to in any way; but the object of the visit is well understood and prepared for long beforehand.
When Monday morning dawns, the inn is found to have been gayly decorated with garlands of green and flowers, and fluttering ribbons of many colors. The tree nearest the house is ornamented in like manner, and on it the prize to be contended for, conspicuously hangs. On the smooth grass hard by, a strip, a few feet wide and perhaps a hundred long, has been roped in, and at either end of this narrow plot a large, shallow, round-bottomed basket, called a Wanne, is placed, one filled with chaff and the other with eggs, dozens upon dozens, cooked and raw, white and colored.
The plan of the peculiar game which follows is that one player is pitted to run a given distance, while another safely throws the eggs from one basket to the other, he who first completes his task being, of course, the winner. Accordingly, when the young men and maidens have arrived, two leaders draw lots to determine who shall run and who shall throw. That decided, the contestants are gayly decked with ribbons, a band strikes up a lively air, a capering clown clears the way, and the game begins. He who throws takes the eggs, and one after another swiftly whirls them the length of the course, and into the chaff-filled basket, which is held in the hands of an assistant. Occasionally he makes a diversion by pitching a hard one to be scrambled for by the crowds of children who have assembled to see the sport. Meantime (while wagers are laid as to who will likely win) the other contestant speeds the distance of a mile or two to an appointed goal, marks it as proof of his having touched it, and if he succeeds in returning before all the eggs are thrown, the victory and the prize are his, otherwise they belong to his opponent. The game finished, the prize is presented to the victor with due ceremony and amid the cheers of the crowd; the hard eggs are distributed among the company, and the raw ones carried uproariously into the neighboring inn, there to be cooked in various ways and eaten.
The remainder of the day is spent in dancing and merry-making, and if a wedding can possibly be arranged to take place on that afternoon the fun is wilder than ever.
DICK HARDIN AWAY AT SCHOOL.
BY LUCY J. RIDER.
September 9th, 1877.
DEAR MOTHER: I don't feel very well. I want to come home. I am very sick. I could not eat any supper. My throat aches pretty bad. I think I had better come home. The boy that sleeps with me says most all boys feels so at first; but may be I shall die. I want to come home. I will study good at home. So good-by.—Your son, DICK.
P. S.—I want to come home.
* * * October 26, 1877.
DEAR MOTHER: Me and the boy that sleeps with me put a peace of paper on the door, and that made me feel better. I got the ten cents and your letter. I had to buy some pop-corn. All the boys buy pop-corn. A man has pop-corn to sell. Jim gave me some pop-corn that time my throat had a lump in it, and it felt better. It was red, and all sticky together. I think that was why.
It's a buster of a house here, and it's got a bell on top of it. A boy rings it. It comes right down in his closet. It comes through a little round hole, and he pulls it, and he let me pull it once, and that makes it ring. There's lots of boys here, and some girls. There is doves living up where the bell is. I went up there. They kind of groan, and that is coon, when they coo. I like the doves, but I don't like their coon. Every boy writes their names up there. Sometimes they cuts their names, but Mr. Wiseman says you mustn't any more. Mr. Wiseman is the Principle, and he has got whiskers, and every boy has to mind him.
He points and he says, "Go to your rooms!" and we go. Some boy sent him a paper, and it made him hoppin' mad. It was about a clock. It said:
"Half way up the stairs he stands, And points and beckons with his hands."
Jimmy has a room, and he sweeps it sometimes. I sleep with Jimmy. There isn't any woman to make up the bedclothes. We fix 'em. It isn't very hard. You just pull them up and tuck them down. There is a gong, and that makes you get up and eat breakfast. The breakfast is good. It is a round thing, and a girl pounds it. You put five tea-spoons of sugar in your tea-cup. A girl sits on the other side. There is lots of tables, and they make a noise. By and by, one gets through and walks out. There is a lock on the door, and that makes you hurry up or you can't have any breakfast. You can't get in. The ten cents is 'most gone. I hope you will write me again pretty soon.—Your son, DICKERSON H.
P. S.—The peace of paper has got the days on it, and we scratch them off every night. There is sixty-one more to scratch off, and that will make it vacation. D. H.
* * * November 3, 1877.
DEAR MOTHER: There is 'bout ten pianos here, and folks play on them all the while. It sounds pretty. You can't tell what tune they play 'most always. Mr. Wiseman has an noffice, and that's where you have to go when you want to do things. Sometimes you have to go when you don't want to do things. He sits in a chair and his legs go under the table. There's a square hole where his legs go. It has a slate on it, and he writes your name on it. It don't feel good. You ought to have seen Jim one day. He fell into the river, but he got out. There is a river. He had the cookies in his pocket. They were just as good, except the soap. He had some soap too, and that wasn't very good. Jim didn't get dry pretty soon, and he had the neuraligy or the toothache. The side of his cheek swelled out as big as a foot-ball. He went to the office. He was sicker. I made up the bed for a week, and he felt better. We went in swimming five times yesterday. We have to treat. All men have to treat. It's molasses-candy and it's pop-corn. To treat is to pay for what a nother feller eats. The button come off of my shirt. I lost it, but I sewed on one of the black ones like the ones on my jacket. The place to sew it on came out too, but I sewed it one side. It made my thumb bleed.—Your son, DICKERSON HARDIN.
* * * November 17, 1877.
DEAR MOTHER: Jim has got a box. His mother sent it to him. The other boys have boxes. We have to have boxes, 'cause they have hash that is made out of boots. It is not good to eat. The soup tastes like a tooth-pick. The butter is a thousand years old. A girl said so. If I should have a box, I think it would be good for me. Put in some cookies and some apples and cake and cheese and chicken-pie and a neck-tie and apple-pie and fruit-cake and that other kind of jelly-cake and some cookies and stockings and cans of fruit and fish-hooks and pop-corn and molasses and cookies. Jim found a half a dollar in his box, down to the bottom. It was for his neuraligy. My throat is not quite well yet.
I take drawing. There is a nice lady to teach it. She wears a white sack with red pockets, and a blue bow. She pulls her hair down over her head. She says we must draw things, when we look at them. I drew a dog, but it came out a lamb. I can make a very nice bird. Jim put the feathers on to the tail.
Mr. Wiseman has got some snakes in some bottles, and a frog and a toad. He has got some grasshoppers with a pin stuck through them, and a spider and some potato-bugs. It is the museum. He thinks a great deal of them.
There is a foot-ball, and we play it. It is as big as a pumpkin, but you kick it. Then you get kicked and knocked down and your leg hurt; but you don't cry. You never cry except when Jim's asleep in the night, and your throat aches pretty bad.
There is twenty-four more days on the peace of paper.
Give my love to Tooty. How is the baby?—Your son, D. HARDIN.
* * * December 2, 1877.
DEAR MOTHER: It is not a very big town. There is one store where you treat. It is Jerry's. You walk right in. Jerry has molasses-candy and pop-corn and pea-nuts and string and oranges and canes and brooms and raisins and ginger-snaps and apples and fish-hooks and pise. Jim bought a pie once. It was wet, and you had to bite hard to bite it. He got it for the lock-jaw. A lock-jaw is a supper, but Mr. Wiseman don't catch us. It is at night. We had a chicken, but I promised I would not tell where it came from. I will die before I will tell. All the boys will die before they will tell. It was the big boys, and they put a blanket up to the window and made a fire and roasted it. We had some salt and a jack-knife. John Simms roasted it. He's a big boy. He knows how. He always roasts things. You just stick a sharp stick through it and roast it. It is good, but it makes your stummuck feel funny in the morning. There is a nother store, where the girls get things, and there is a place to get your shoes mended, and a depot, and a place for horse-shoes, and a church.
The box was very good. So good-by. D.
P. S.—Mr. Wiseman said you'd feel bad about these three demerits in my report, but you needn't. Jim has got about ten demerits. All the boys gets demerits. One was a old bottle I threw in the hall, 'cause I didn't want it on the table, and one was some water I threw out the window, and a boy was walking under. I had just washed me, and he got wet, and one was a noise. You make it with a tin tomato can and a string. I'll fix one for you when I get home. The bottom has come out of my bank. And my trousers, the gray ones. How is the baby? HARDIN.
P. S.—All the boys say Hardin.
UNDER THE LILACS.
BY LOUISA M. ALCOTT.
Mrs. Moss woke Ben with a kiss next morning, for her heart yearned over the fatherless lad as if he had been her own, and she had no other way of showing her sympathy. Ben had forgotten his troubles in sleep, but the memory of them returned as soon as he opened his eyes, heavy with the tears they had shed. He did not cry any more, but felt strange and lonely till he called Sancho and told him all about it, for he was shy even with kind Mrs. Moss, and glad when she went away.
Sancho seemed to understand that his master was in trouble, and listened to the sad little story with gurgles of interest, whines of condolence, and intelligent barks whenever the word "Daddy" was uttered. He was only a brute, but his dumb affection comforted the boy more than any words, for Sanch had known and loved "father" almost as long and well as his son, and that seemed to draw them closely together now they were left alone.
"We must put on mourning, old feller. It's the proper thing, and there's nobody else to do it now," said Ben, as he dressed, remembering how all the company wore bits of crape somewhere about them at Melia's funeral.
It was a real sacrifice of boyish vanity to take the blue ribbon with its silver anchors off the new hat and replace it with the dingy black band from the old one, but Ben was quite sincere in doing this, though doubtless his theatrical life made him think of the effect more than other lads would have done. He could find nothing in his limited wardrobe with which to decorate Sanch except a black cambric pocket. It was already half torn out of his trousers with the weight of nails, pebbles and other light trifles, so he gave it a final wrench and tied it into the dog's collar, saying to himself, as he put away his treasures, with a sigh:
"One pocket is enough; I sha'n't want anything but a han'k'chi'f to-day."
Fortunately, that article of dress was clean, for he had but one, and with this somewhat ostentatiously drooping from the solitary pocket, the serious hat upon his head, the new shoes creaking mournfully, and Sanch gravely following, much impressed with his black bow, the chief mourner descended, feeling that he had done his best to show respect to the dead.
Mrs. Moss's eyes filled as she saw the rusty band, and guessed why it was there; but she found it difficult to repress a smile when she beheld the cambric symbol of woe on the dog's neck. Not a word was said to disturb the boy's comfort in these poor attempts, however, and he went out to do his chores conscious that he was an object of interest to his friends, especially so to Bab and Betty, who, having been told of Ben's loss, now regarded him with a sort of pitying awe very grateful to his feelings.
"I want you to drive me to church by and by. It is going to be pretty warm, and Thorny is hardly strong enough to venture yet," said Miss Celia, when Ben ran over after breakfast to see if she had anything for him to do, for he considered her his mistress now, though he was not to take possession of his new quarters till the morrow.
"Yes'm, I'd like to, if I look well enough," answered Ben, pleased to be asked, but impressed with the idea that people had to be very fine on such occasions.
"You will do very well when I have given you a touch. God doesn't mind our clothes, Ben, and the poor are as welcome as the rich to Him. You have not been much, have you?" asked Miss Celia, anxious to help the boy, and not quite sure how to begin.
"No'm; our folks didn't hardly ever go, and father was so tired he used to rest Sundays, or go off in the woods with me."
A little quaver came into Ben's voice as he spoke, and a sudden motion made his hat-brim hide his eyes, for the thought of the happy times that would never come any more was almost too much for him.
"That was a pleasant way to rest. I often do so, and we will go to the grove this afternoon and try it. But I love to go to church in the morning; it seems to start me right for the week, and if one has a sorrow, that is the place where one can always find comfort. Will you come and try it, Ben, dear?"
"I'd do anything to please you," muttered Ben, without looking up, for, though he felt her kindness to the bottom of his heart, he did wish that no one would talk about father for a little while, it was so hard to keep from crying, and he hated to be a baby.
Miss Celia seemed to understand, for the next thing she said, in a very cheerful tone, was, "See what a pretty thing that is. When I was a little girl I used to think spiders spun cloth for the fairies, and spread it on the grass to bleach."
Ben stopped digging a hole in the ground with his toe, and looked up, to see a lovely cobweb like a wheel, circle within circle, spun across a corner of the arch over the gate. Tiny drops glittered on every thread as the light shone through the gossamer curtain, and a soft breath of air made it tremble as if about to blow it away.
"It's mighty pretty, but it will fly off, just as the others did. I never saw such a chap as that spider is. He keeps on spinning a new one every day, for they always get broke, and he don't seem to be discouraged a mite," said Ben, glad to change the subject, as she knew he would be.
"That is the way he gets his living. He spins his web and waits for his daily bread, or fly, rather, and it always comes, I fancy. By and by you will see that pretty trap full of insects, and Mr. Spider will lay up his provisions for the day. After that he doesn't care how soon his fine web blows away."
"I know him; he's a handsome feller, all black and yellow, and lives up in that corner where the shiny sort of hole is. He dives down the minute I touch the gate, but comes up after I've kept still a minute. I like to watch him. But he must hate me, for I took away a nice, green fly and some little millers one day."
"Did you ever hear the story of Bruce and his spider? Most children know and like that," said Miss Celia, seeing that he seemed interested.
"No'm; I don't know ever so many things most children do," answered Ben, soberly, for since he had been among his new friends he had often felt his own deficiencies.
"Ah, but you also know many things which they do not. Half the boys in town would give a great deal to be able to ride and run and leap as you do, and even the oldest are not as capable of taking care of themselves as you are. Your active life has done much in some ways to make a man of you, but in other ways it was bad, as I think you begin to see. Now, suppose you try to forget the harmful past, and remember only the good, while learning to be more like our boys, who go to school and church, and fit themselves to become industrious, honest men."
Ben had been looking straight up in Miss Celia's face as she spoke, feeling that every word was true, though he could not have expressed it if he had tried, and when she paused, with her bright eyes inquiringly fixed on his, he answered heartily:
"I'd like to stay here and be respectable, for, since I came, I've found out that folks don't think much of circus riders, though they like to go and see 'em. I didn't use to care about school and such things, but I do now, and I guess he'd like it better than to have me knockin' round that way without him to look after me."
"I know he would; so we will try, Benny. I dare say it will seem dull and hard at first, after the gay sort of life you have led, and you will miss the excitement. But it was not good for you, and we will do our best to find something safer. Don't be discouraged, and, when things trouble you, come to me as Thorny does, and I'll try to straighten them out for you. I've got two boys now, and I want to do my duty by both."
Before Ben had time for more than a grateful look, a tumbled head appeared at an upper window, and a sleepy voice drawled out:
"Celia! I can't find a bit of a shoe-string, and I wish you'd come and do my neck-tie."
"Lazy boy, come down here, and bring one of your black ties with you. Shoe-strings are in the little brown bag on my bureau," called back Miss Celia, adding, with a laugh, as the tumbled head disappeared mumbling something about "bothering old bags":
"Thorny has been half spoiled since he was ill. You mustn't mind his fidgets and dawdling ways. He'll get over them soon, and then I know you two will be good friends."
Ben had his doubts about that, but resolved to do his best for her sake; so, when Master Thorny presently appeared, with a careless "How are you, Ben," that young person answered respectfully,
"Very well, thank you," though his nod was as condescending as his new master's; because he felt that a boy who could ride bareback and turn a double somersault in the air ought not to "knuckle under" to a fellow who had not the strength of a pussy-cat.
"Sailor's knot, please; keeps better so," said Thorny, holding up his chin to have a blue silk scarf tied to suit him, for he was already beginning to be something of a dandy.
"You ought to wear red till you get more color, dear," and his sister rubbed her blooming cheek against his pale one as if to lend him some of her own roses.
"Men don't care how they look," said Thorny, squirming out of her hold, for he hated to be "cuddled" before people.
"Oh, don't they; here's a vain boy who brushes his hair a dozen times a day, and quiddles over his collar till he is so tired he can hardly stand," laughed Miss Celia, with a little tweak of the ear.
"I should like to know what this is for?" demanded Thorny, in a dignified tone, presenting a black tie.
"For my other boy. He is going to church with me," and Miss Celia tied a second knot for this young gentleman, with a smile that seemed to brighten up even the rusty hat-band.
"Well, I like that—" began Thorny, in a tone that contradicted his words.
A look from his sister reminded him of what she had told him half an hour ago, and he stopped short, understanding now why she was "extra good to the little tramp."
"So do I, for you are of no use as a driver yet, and I don't like to fasten Lita when I have my best gloves on," said Miss Celia, in a tone that rather nettled Master Thorny.
"Is Ben going to black my boots before he goes?" with a glance at the new shoes which caused them to creak uneasily.
"No, he is going to black mine, if he will. You wont need boots for a week yet, so we wont waste any time over them. You will find everything in the shed, Ben, and at ten you may go for Lita."
With that, Miss Celia walked her brother off to the dining-room, and Ben retired to vent his ire in such energetic demonstrations with the blacking-brush that the little boots shone splendidly.
He thought he had never seen anything as pretty as his mistress when, an hour later, she came out of the house in her white shawl and bonnet, holding a book and a late lily-of-the-valley in the pearl-colored gloves, which he hardly dared to touch as he helped her into the carriage. He had seen a good many fine ladies in his life, and those he had known had been very gay in the colors of their hats and gowns, very fond of cheap jewelry, and much given to feathers, lace and furbelows, so it rather puzzled him to discover why Miss Celia looked so sweet and elegant in such a simple suit. He did not know then that the charm was in the woman, not the clothes, or that merely living near such a person would do more to give him gentle manners, good principles and pure thoughts, than almost any other training he could have had. But he was conscious that it was pleasant to be there, neatly dressed, in good company, and going to church like a respectable boy. Somehow, the lonely feeling got better as he rolled along between green fields, with the June sunshine brightening everything, a restful quiet in the air, and a friend beside him who sat silently looking out at the lovely world with what he afterward learned to call her "Sunday face." A soft, happy look, as if all the work and weariness of the past week were forgotten, and she was ready to begin afresh when this blessed day was over.
"Well, child, what is it?" she asked, catching his eye as he stole a shy glance at her, one of many which she had not seen.
"I was only thinking you looked as if——"
"As if what? Don't be afraid," she said, for Ben paused and fumbled at the reins, feeling half ashamed to tell his fancy.
"You was saying prayers," he added, wishing she had not caught him.
"So I was. Don't you, when you are happy?"
"No'm. I'm glad, but I don't say anything."
"Words are not needed, but they help, sometimes, if they are sincere and sweet. Did you never learn any prayers, Ben?"
"Only 'Now I lay me.' Grandma taught me that when I was a little mite of a boy."
"I will teach you another, the best that was ever made, because it says all we need ask."
"Our folks wasn't very pious; they didn't have time, I s'pose."
"I wonder if you know just what it means to be pious?"
"Goin' to church, and readin' the Bible, and sayin' prayers and hymns, aint it?"
"Those things are a part of it, but, being kind and cheerful, doing one's duty, helping others and loving God, is the best way to show that we are pious in the true sense of the word."
"Then you are!" and Ben looked as if her acts had been a better definition than her words.
"I try to be, but I very often fail; so every Sunday I make new resolutions, and work hard to keep them through the week. That is a great help, as you will find when you begin to try it."
"Do you think, if I said in meetin', 'I wont ever swear any more,' that I wouldn't do it again?" asked Ben, soberly, for that was his besetting sin just now.
"I'm afraid we can't get rid of our faults quite so easily; I wish we could; but I do believe that if you keep saying that, and trying to stop, you will cure the habit sooner than you think."
"I never did swear very bad, and I didn't mind much till I came here, but Bab and Betty looked so scared when I said 'damn,' and Mrs. Moss scolded me so, I tried to leave off. It's dreadful hard, though, when I get mad. 'Hang it,' don't seem half so good if I want to let off steam."
"Thorny used to 'confound!' everything, so I proposed that he should whistle instead, and now he sometimes pipes up so suddenly and shrilly that it makes me jump. How would that do, instead of swearing?" proposed Miss Celia, not the least surprised at the habit of profanity which the boy could hardly help learning among his former associates.
Ben laughed, and promised to try it, feeling a mischievous satisfaction at the prospect of out-whistling Master Thorny, as he knew he should for the objectionable words rose to his lips a dozen times a day.
The bell was ringing as they drove into town, and by the time Lita was comfortably settled in her shed, people were coming up from all quarters to cluster around the steps of the old meeting-house like bees about a hive. Accustomed to a tent where people kept their hats on, Ben forgot all about his, and was going down the aisle covered when a gentle hand took it off, and Miss Celia whispered, as she gave it to him:
"This is a holy place; remember that, and uncover at the door."
Much abashed, Ben followed to the pew, where the Squire and his wife soon joined them.
"Glad to see him here," said the old gentleman with an approving nod, as he recognized the boy and remembered his loss.
"Hope he wont nestle round in meeting-time," whispered Mrs. Allen, composing herself in the corner with much rustling of black silk.
"I'll take care that he doesn't disturb you," answered Miss Celia, pushing a stool under the short legs and drawing a palm-leaf fan within reach.
Ben gave an inward sigh at the prospect before him, for an hour's captivity to an active lad is hard to bear, and he really did want to behave well. So he folded his arms and sat like a statue, with nothing moving but his eyes. They rolled to and fro, up and down, from the high red pulpit to the worn hymn-books in the rack, recognizing two little faces under blue-ribboned hats in a distant pew, and finding it impossible to restrain a momentary twinkle in return for the solemn wink Billy Barton bestowed upon him across the aisle. Ten minutes of this decorous demeanor made it absolutely necessary for him to stir; so he unfolded his arms and crossed his legs as cautiously as a mouse moves in the presence of a cat, for Mrs. Allen's eye was on him, and he knew by experience that it was a very sharp one.
The music which presently began was a great relief to him, for under cover of it he could wag his foot and no one heard the creak thereof; and when they stood up to sing, he was so sure that all the boys were looking at him, he was glad to sit down again. The good old minister read the sixteenth chapter of Samuel, and then proceeded to preach a long and somewhat dull sermon. Ben listened with all his ears, for he was interested in the young shepherd, "ruddy and of a beautiful countenance," who was chosen to be Saul's armor-bearer. He wanted to hear more about him, and how he got on, and whether the evil spirits troubled Saul again after David had harped them out. But nothing more came, and the old gentleman droned on about other things till poor Ben felt that he must either go to sleep like the Squire, or tip the stool over by accident, since "nestling" was forbidden, and relief of some sort he must have.
Mrs. Allen gave him a peppermint, and he dutifully ate it, though it was so hot it made his eyes water. Then she fanned him, to his great annoyance, for it blew his hair about, and the pride of his life was to have his head as smooth and shiny as black satin. An irrepressible sigh of weariness attracted Miss Celia's attention at last, for, though she seemed to be listening devoutly, her thoughts had flown over the sea with tender prayers for one whom she loved even more than David did his Jonathan. She guessed the trouble in a minute, and had provided for it, knowing by experience that few small boys can keep quiet through sermon-time. Finding a certain place in the little book she had brought, she put it into his hands, with the whisper, "Read if you are tired."
Ben clutched the book and gladly obeyed, though the title, "Scripture Narratives," did not look very inviting. Then his eye fell on the picture of a slender youth cutting a large man's head off, while many people stood looking on.
"Jack, the giant-killer," thought Ben, and turned the page to see the words "David and Goliath," which was enough to set him to reading the story with great interest, for here was the shepherd-boy turned into a hero. No more fidgets now; the sermon was no longer heard, the fan flapped unfelt, and Billy Barton's spirited sketches in the hymn-book were vainly held up for admiration. Ben was quite absorbed in the stirring history of King David, told in a way that fitted it for children's reading, and illustrated with fine pictures which charmed the boy's eye.
Sermon and story ended at the same time; and while he listened to the prayer, Ben felt as if he understood now what Miss Celia meant by saying that words helped when they were well chosen and sincere. Several petitions seemed as if especially intended for him, and he repeated them to himself that he might remember them, they sounded so sweet and comfortable, heard for the first time just when he most needed comfort. Miss Celia saw a new expression in the boy's face as she glanced down at him, and heard a little humming at her side when all stood up to sing the cheerful hymn with which they were dismissed.
"How do you like church?" asked the young lady as they drove away.
"First-rate," answered Ben, heartily.
"Especially the sermon?"
Ben laughed and said, with an affectionate glance at the little book in her lap:
"I couldn't understand it, but that story was just elegant. There's more, and I'd admire to read 'em, if I could."
"I'm glad you like them, and we will keep the rest for another sermon-time. Thorny used to do so, and always called this his 'pew book.' I don't expect you to understand much that you hear yet awhile; but it is good to be there, and after reading these stories you will be more interested when you hear the names of the people mentioned here."
"Yes'm. Wasn't David a fine feller? I liked all about the kid and the corn and the ten cheeses, and killin' the lion and bear, and slingin' old Goliath dead first shot. I want to know about Joseph next time, for I saw a gang of robbers puttin' him in a hole, and it looked real interesting."
Miss Celia could not help smiling at Ben's way of telling things; but she was pleased to see that he was attracted by the music and the stories, and resolved to make church-going so pleasant that he would learn to love it for its own sake.
"Now, you have tried my way this morning, and we will try yours this afternoon. Come over about four and help me roll Thorny down to the grove. I am going to put one of the hammocks there, because the smell of the pines is good for him, and you can talk or read or amuse yourselves in any quiet way you like."
"Can I take Sanch along? He doesn't like to be left, and felt real bad because I shut him up for fear he'd follow and come walkin' into meetin' to find me."
"Yes, indeed; let the clever Bow-wow have a good time and enjoy Sunday as much as I want my boys to."
Quite content with this arrangement, Ben went home to dinner, which he made very lively by recounting Billy Barton's ingenious devices to beguile the tedium of sermon-time. He said nothing of his conversation with Miss Celia, because he had not quite made up his mind whether he liked it or not; it was so new and serious, he felt as if he would better lay it by, to think over a good deal before he could understand all about it. But he had time to get dismal again and long for four o'clock, because he had nothing to do except whittle. Mrs. Moss went to take a nap; Bab and Betty sat demurely on their bench reading Sunday books; no boys were allowed to come and play; even the hens retired under the currant-bushes, and the cock stood among them, clucking drowsily, as if reading them a sermon.
"Dreadful slow day," thought Ben, and, retiring to the recesses of his own room, he read over the two letters which seemed already old to him. Now that the first shock was over, he could not make it true that his father was dead, and he gave up trying, for he was an honest boy and felt that it was foolish to pretend to be more unhappy than he really was. So he put away his letters, took the black pocket off Sanch's neck, and allowed himself to whistle softly as he packed up his possessions ready to move next day, with few regrets and many bright anticipations for the future.
"Thorny, I want you to be good to Ben and amuse him in some quiet way this afternoon. I must stay and see the Allens who are coming over, but you can go to the grove and have a pleasant time," said Miss Celia to her brother.
"Not much fun in talking to that horsey fellow. I'm sorry for him, but I can't do anything to amuse him," objected Thorny, pulling himself up from the sofa with a great yawn.
"You can be very agreeable when you like, and Ben has had enough of me for this time. Tomorrow he will have his work and do very well, but we must try to help him through to-day, because he doesn't know what to do with himself. Besides, it is just the time to make a good impression on him, while grief for his father softens him and gives us a chance. I like him, and I'm sure he wants to do well; so it is our duty to help him, as there seems to be no one else."
"Here goes, then. Where is he?" and Thorny stood up, won by his sister's sweet earnestness, but very doubtful of his own success with the "horsey fellow."
"Waiting with the chair. Randa has gone on with the hammock. Be a dear boy, and I'll do as much for you some day."
"Don't see how you can be a dear boy. You're the best sister that ever was, so I'll love all the scallywags you ask me to."
With a laugh and a kiss, Thorny shambled off to ascend his chariot, good-humoredly saluting his pusher, whom he found sitting on the high rail behind, with his feet on Sanch.
"Drive on, Benjamin. I don't know the way, so I can't direct. Don't spill me out,—that's all I've got to say."
"All right, sir,"—and away Ben trundled down the long walk that led through the orchard to a little grove of seven pines.
A pleasant spot, for a soft rustle filled the air, a brown carpet of pine-needles, with fallen cones for a pattern, lay under foot, and over the tops of the tall brakes that fringed the knoll one had glimpses of hill and valley, farm-houses and winding river like a silver ribbon through the low green meadows.
"A regular summer house!" said Thorny, surveying it with approval. "What's the matter, Randa? Wont it go?" he asked, as the stout maid dropped her arms with a puff, after vainly trying to throw the hammock rope over a branch.
"That end went up beautiful, but this one wont; the branches is so high I can't reach 'em, and I'm no hand at flinging ropes round."
"I'll fix it," and Ben went up the pine like a squirrel, tied a stout knot, and swung himself down again before Thorny could get out of the chair.
"My patience! what a spry boy!" exclaimed Randa, admiringly.
"That's nothing; you ought to see me shin up a smooth tent-pole," said Ben, rubbing the pitch off his hands, with a boastful wag of the head.
"You can go, Randa. Just hand me my cushion and books, Ben; then you can sit in the chair while I talk to you," commanded Thorny, tumbling into the hammock.
"What's he goin' to say to me?" wondered Ben to himself, as he sat down with Sanch sprawling among the wheels.
"Now, Ben, I think you'd better learn a hymn; I always used to when I was a little chap, and it is a good thing to do Sundays," began the new teacher with a patronizing air, which ruffled his pupil as much as the opprobrious term "little chap."
"I'll be—whew—if I do!" whistled Ben, stopping an oath just in time.
"It is not polite to whistle in company," said Thorny, with great dignity.
"Miss Celia told me to. I'll say 'Confound it,' if you like that better," answered Ben, as a sly smile twinkled in his eyes.
"Oh, I see! She's told you about it? Well, then, if you want to please her, you'll learn a hymn right off. Come now, she wants me to be clever to you, and I'd like to do it; but if you get peppery, how can I?"
Thorny spoke in a hearty, blunt way, which suited Ben much better than the other, and he responded pleasantly:
"If you wont be grand I wont be peppery. Nobody is going to boss me but Miss Celia, so I'll learn hymns if she wants me to."
"'In the soft season of thy youth' is a good one to begin with. I learned it when I was six. Nice thing; better have it." And Thorny offered the book like a patriarch addressing an infant.
Ben surveyed the yellow page with small favor, for the long s in the old-fashioned printing bewildered him, and when he came to the last two lines he could not resist reading them wrong:
"The earth affords no lovelier fight Than a religious youth."
"I don't believe I could ever get that into my head straight. Haven't you got a plain one anywhere round?" he asked, turning over the leaves with some anxiety.
"Look at the end and see if there isn't a piece of poetry pasted in? You learn that, and see how funny Celia will look when you say it to her. She wrote it when she was a girl, and somebody had it printed for other children. I like it best, myself."
Pleased by the prospect of a little fun to cheer his virtuous task, Ben whisked over the leaves and read with interest the lines Miss Celia had written in her girlhood:
"A little kingdom I possess, Where thoughts and feelings dwell; And very hard I find the task Of governing it well. For passion tempts and troubles me, A wayward will misleads, And selfishness its shadow casts On all my words and deeds.
"How can I learn to rule myself, To be the child I should, Honest and brave, nor ever tire Of trying to be good? How can I keep a sunny soul To shine along life's way? How can I tune my little heart To sweetly sing all day?
"Dear Father, help me with the love That casteth out my fear! Teach me to lean on Thee, and feel That Thou art very near; That no temptation is unseen, No childish grief too small, Since Thou, with patience infinite, Doth soothe and comfort all.
"I do not ask for any crown But that which all may win; Nor seek to conquer any world Except the one within. Be Thou my guide until I find, Led by a tender hand, Thy happy kingdom in myself, And dare to take command."
"I like that!" said Ben, emphatically, when he had read the little hymn. "I understand it, and I'll learn it right away. Don't see how she could make it all come out so nice and pretty."
"Celia can do anything," and Thorny gave an all-embracing wave of the hand, which forcibly expressed his firm belief in his sister's boundless powers.
"I made some poetry once. Bab and Betty thought it was first-rate. I didn't," said Ben, moved to confidence by the discovery of Miss Celia's poetic skill.
"Say it," commanded Thorny, adding with tact, "I can't make any to save my life—never could; but I'm fond of it."
"Chevalita, Pretty creter, I do love her Like a brother; Just to ride Is my delight, For she does not Kick or bite,"
recited Ben, with modest pride, for his first attempt had been inspired by sincere affection and pronounced "lovely" by the admiring girls.
"Very good! You must say them to Celia, too. She likes to hear Lita praised. You and she and that little Barlow boy ought to try for a prize, as the poets did in Athens. I'll tell you all about it some time. Now, you peg away at your hymn."
Cheered by Thorny's commendation, Ben fell to work at his new task, squirming about in the chair as if the process of getting words into his memory was a very painful one. But he had quick wits, and had often learned comic songs; so he soon was able to repeat the four verses without mistake, much to his own and Thorny's satisfaction.
"Now we'll talk," said the well-pleased preceptor, and talk they did, one swinging in the hammock, the other rolling about on the pine-needles, as they related their experiences boy-fashion. Ben's were the most exciting, but Thorny's were not without interest, for he had lived abroad for several years, and could tell all sorts of droll stories of the countries he had seen.
Busied with friends, Miss Celia could not help wondering how the lads got on, and, when the tea-bell rang, waited a little anxiously for their return, knowing that she could tell at a glance if they had enjoyed themselves.
"All goes well so far," she thought, as she watched their approach with a smile, for Sancho sat bolt upright in the chair which Ben pushed, while Thorny strolled beside him leaning on a stout cane newly cut. Both boys were talking busily, and Thorny laughed from time to time, as if his comrade's chat was very amusing.
"See what a jolly cane Ben cut for me. He's great fun if you don't stroke him the wrong way," said the elder lad, flourishing his staff as they came up.
"What have you been doing down there? You look so merry, I suspect mischief," asked Miss Celia, surveying them from the steps.
"We've been as good as gold. I talked, and Ben learned a hymn to please you. Come, young man, say your piece," said Thorny, with an expression of virtuous content.
Taking off his hat, Ben soberly obeyed, much enjoying the quick color that came up in Miss Celia's face as she listened, and feeling as if well repaid for the labor of learning by the pleased look with which she said, as he ended with a bow:
"I feel very proud to think you chose that, and to hear you say it as if it meant something to you. I was only thirteen when I wrote it, but it came right out of my heart, and did me good. I hope it may help you a little."
Ben murmured that he guessed it would, but felt too shy to talk about such things before Thorny, so hastily retired to put the chair away, and the others went in to tea. But later in the evening, when Miss Celia was singing like a nightingale, the boy slipped away from sleepy Bab and Betty to stand by the syringa-bush and listen, with his heart full of new thoughts and happy feelings, for never before had he spent a Sunday like this. And when he went to bed, instead of saying "Now I lay me," he repeated the third verse of Miss Celia's hymn, for that was his favorite, because his longing for the father whom he had seen made it seem sweet and natural now to love and lean, without fear, upon the Father whom he had not seen.
(To be continued.)
BY NATHAN HASKELL DOLE.
Of all the birds that swim the air I'd rather be the swallow; And, summer days, when days were fair, I'd follow, follow, follow The hurrying clouds across the sky, And with the singing winds I'd fly.
My eager wings would need no rest If I were but a swallow; I'd scale the highest mountain crest And sound the deepest hollow. No forest could my path-way hide; No ocean plain should be too wide.
I'd find the sources of the Nile, I'd see the Sandwich Islands, And Chimborazo's granite pile, And Scotland's rugged Highlands; I'd skim the sands of Timbuctoo; Constantinople's mosques I'd view.
I'd fly among the isles of Greece, The pride of great Apollo, And circle round the bay of Nice, If I were but a swallow, And view the sunny fields of France, The vineyards merry with the dance.
I'd see my shadow in the Rhine Dart swiftly like an arrow, And catch the breath of eglantine Along the banks of Yarrow; I'd roam the world and never tire, If I could have my heart's desire!
THE WILD MUSTANG.
BY CHARLES BARNARD.
All the horses we see in the streets, or along the country roads, are tame. Such a thing as a real wild horse is hardly to be found anywhere, save in certain places in Texas, California, and parts of South America. Elsewhere, the horse is tame enough, and no one can remember, neither is it told in any history or story book, when or where men first tamed him and put a bit in his mouth. A long, long time ago, all the horses were wild, but no one knows when that could have been, for, as long as men can remember, they have had tame horses, dogs, cats, elephants, camels and cattle.
Now, the curious part of this is that there are wild horses both in North and South America at this day. They do not belong to any one in particular, and run wild, without saddle or bridle, all the year round. Yet they are not descendants of the original wild horses, for there was a time when their fathers were good cavalry horses, and belonged to the Spanish armies that invaded Mexico and Peru. When Europeans discovered the two continents on this side of the world, such a thing as a horse was totally unknown to the people living here, and, when they saw the Spanish cavalry, they thought the horses and riders some new kind of animal. Seeing the horses champ their brass bits, the people thought they were eating gold. So they brought lumps of gold to see them eat it. The soldiers slyly put the gold in their pockets, and said the horses had eaten it up, and the natives were simple enough to believe this wonderful story.
Many of the Spanish soldiers were killed in the wars with the Mexicans, and their horses broke loose and ran away. Some of them may have been caught again by the Mexicans, but many others escaped and were never captured again, and ran wild through the country. The descendants of these horses grew and multiplied and spread over parts of North and South America, going south into the great plains or pampas, and north into the prairie lands of Texas and the valleys of California. These horses still run wild, and are the only really wild horses in the world. At the same time, they may not precisely resemble the first real wild horses, for their fathers were tame, and, perhaps, they still remember something of this, and have strange legends among themselves of the old days when their ancestors were good Spanish cavalry horses.
The early settlers that landed in other parts of the country, at New Amsterdam, at Jamestown and Plymouth Bay, also brought tame horses with them, and these, in turn, spread over North America, as the settlers moved out toward the west. These horses are now called "American horses," to distinguish them from the wild horses of Texas and California. The American horses, in time, met the wild horses, and then men noticed that they were very different animals. The wild horse is smaller and more muscular, he has stronger and stouter limbs, a larger head, and a more bushy mane and tail. His ears are longer and more inclined to lie back on his head, his feet are smaller and more pointed in front, and his hair is rougher and thicker. His color is often curiously mixed in black and white dots and flecks, like some circus horses that you may have seen; and, if his color is uniform, it is generally dark red or deep gray or mouse color. These mustangs are quite wild, and have no fixed feeding-ground. They scamper in droves over the rolling prairies and pampas, and sleep at night in such dry places as they can find. They keep in companies for protection against bears or other wild animals, and if they are attacked, they put their noses together and form a circle with their heels out, as if they had been told of the old Spanish fighting days, and of the soldiers forming with their pikes solid squares to resist attacks of cavalry.
They can defend themselves against the bears in this way, but against the lightning and men they have no protection, except to run away as fast as they can. A thunder storm, or a very high wind, fills them with terror, and away they go at furious speed through the grass, and, at last, disappear in a cloud of dust on the horizon.
The wild horse can run away from a man; but this protection fails at times. The horse-catchers—or "vaqueros," as they are called—are famous riders, and to see them capture a wild mustang is better than to go to a circus. The vaquero puts a Spanish saddle on a tame horse, and starts out to see what he can find. In front, on the high pommel of the saddle, he hangs in large coils a leather rope, about a hundred feet long, and called a lasso. It is made of strips of raw hide, braided by hand into a smooth, hard and very pretty rope. One end is secured to the saddle, and the other end has a slip-knot making a sliding noose.
The vaquero has not long to wait, for there are droves of horses cantering or walking about over the swells and hollows of the prairie, with here and there a smaller group looking on, or watching a battle between two horses who wish to be captains of their bands or companies. Presently, there is a strange sound of tramping hoofs, like the sound of a squadron of cavalry, except that it has a grand, wild rush and swing such as no cavalry ever had, and a cloud of dark heads rises over a swell of the land. The leader sees the vaquero, and he halts suddenly, and the others pull up in a confused crowd, and toss their heads, and sniff the air, as if they scented danger near. The leader does not like the looks of things, and turns and slowly canters away, followed by all the rest, tramping in confusion through the yellow grass and wild barley. Presently they become frightened, and away they fly in a dusty throng.
The vaquero's horse seems to think his chance has come, and he pricks up his ears, and is eager for the glorious fun of a dash after the mustangs. Away they go pell-mell, in a panic, and the tame horse galloping swiftly after them. Down they tumble—some knocked over in the confusion, snorting and flinging great flecks of foam from their dilated nostrils, trampling over each other in mad haste, each for himself, and the American horse sweeping after them. Now the vaquero stands up in his saddle, and the lasso swings round and round in a circle over his head. Swish! It sings through the air with a whirring sound, and opens out in great rings, while the loop spreads wider and wider, and at last drops plump over the head of a mustang. The vaquero's horse pulls up with a sudden halt, and sinks back on his haunches, and braces his fore feet out in front. Ah! How the dust flies! The mustang is fast, held by the slip-knot, and he rears up and plunges in wild and frantic terror. The rope strains terribly, but the vaquero watches his chances, and takes in the rope every time it slackens. It is of no use! The poor mustang is hard and fast. Perhaps another rider comes up and flings another lasso over his head. Then they ride round him, and the mustang is twisted and tangled in the ropes till he can hardly move. He falls, and rolls, and kicks furiously, and all in vain. Panting, exhausted and conquered, he at last submits to his fate. His free days are over, and he seems to know it. A few more struggles, and he recognizes that man is his master, and, perhaps, in one or two days he submits to a bit in his mouth, and becomes a tame horse for the rest of his life. If, by any chance, he escapes before he is broken in, and runs away to join his wild companions, he seems never to forget that terrible lasso, and if he sees the vaquero again, he will stand, trembling and frightened, too much terrified to even run away.
The wild mustangs of the far West are rapidly disappearing. As the settlers come in, they capture them and tame them, so that in places where once the wild horses roamed in great droves, hardly one is now to be seen, and the much better American horse has taken his place. This picture shows two vaqueros in South America just making a capture. They came out from the plantation under the palm-trees, and the powerful white mustang has just felt the pull of the lasso round his splendid neck. Poor fellow! It is hard, but it will soon be over, and then he will one day enjoy chasing others quite as much as the splendid black horse has enjoyed the exciting chase after him.
BY JOY ALLISON.
"Here's a warm sunbeam, Daisy, Daisy; April sent it to wake you, dear! How can you be so lazy, lazy? Haven't you heard that Spring is here?"
Daisy murmured, sleepy and surly: "Spring's too young yet—the air is cool; I don't believe in a sun so early,— He's just playing at April fool!"
BY PAUL FORT.
One fine summer morning, many years ago, there sat upon a log, in a garden in Russia, an old man, who was mending a rake. The rake was a wooden one, and he was cutting a tooth to take the place of one that was broken. He was a stout, healthy old fellow, dressed in a coarse blue blouse and trousers; and as he sat on the log, whittling away at the piece of wood which was to become a rake-tooth, he sang, in a voice that was somewhat the worse for wear, but still quite as good a voice as you could expect an old gardener to have, a little song. He sang it in Russian, of course, and this was the way it ran:
"Zvoeri raboti ne znaiut Ptitzi zhivut bes truda Liudi ne zvoeri ne ptitzi Liudi rabotoi zhivut."
Expressed in English, this ditty simply set forth the fact that the beasts and the birds do not labor, but Man, who is neither a beast nor a bird, is obliged to work.
The old fellow seemed to like the lines, for he sang them over several times, as he went on with his whittling. Just as he was about to make a new start on his "Zvoeri raboti," a boy, about fifteen years old, came out of the house which stood by the side of the garden, and walked toward him.
"Nicolai Petrovitch," said the boy, sitting down on a wheelbarrow, which was turned over in front of the gardener, "why is it that you are so fond of singing that song? One might suppose you are lazy, but we know very well you are not. And then, too, there is no sense in it. Birds don't work, to be sure, but what have you to say about horses and oxen? I'm sure they work hard enough—at least, some of them."
"Martin Ivanovitch," said the old man, as he took up the rake and tried the new tooth, to see if it would fit in the hole, "this stick will have to be cut down a good deal more; it is hard wood. What you say about the beasts is very true. But I like that song. It may not be altogether true, but it is poetry, and it pleases me."
"You like poetry, don't you?" said Martin.
"Yes, indeed, little Martin, I like poetry. If it had been possible, I should have been a poet myself. I often think very good poetry, but as I cannot read or write, there is no sense in my trying to make use of any of it."
"But how did you learn to like poetry, as you cannot read?" asked Martin.
"Oh! I heard a great deal of very good poetry when I was a young man, and then I learned to like it. And I remembered almost all I heard. Now, my daughter Axinia reads poetry to me every Sunday, but I do not remember it so well."
"What kind of poetry suits you best?" asked the boy, who seemed to be tired of studying, or working, or perhaps playing, and therefore glad to have a quiet talk with the old man.
"I like all kinds, Martin Ivanovitch. I used to sing a great deal, and then I liked songs best. I think you have heard me sing some of my good songs."
"Oh yes!" said Martin, "I remember that song about the young shepherdess, who wanted to give her sweetheart something; and she could not give him her dog, because she needed him, nor her crook, because her father had given it to her, nor one of her lambs, because they all belonged to her mother, who counted them every day, and so she gave him her heart."
"Yes, yes," said old Nicolai, smiling; "I like that song best of all. I should be proud to have written such poetry as that. He must have been a great poet who wrote that. But I do not hear many songs now. My little Axinia is reading me a long poem. It is called the 'Dushenka.' Perhaps you have heard of it?"
"Oh yes!" said Martin.
"Well, she is reading that to me. She likes it herself, I do not understand it all; but what I do understand, I like very much. It is good poetry. It must have been a grand thing to write such poetry as that," and the old man laid down his knife and his stick, and took off his cap, as if in involuntary homage to the author of "Dushenka," which is one of the standard poems in Russian literature.
"You were not a gardener when you were a young man, were you, Nicolai Petrovitch?" asked Martin.
"O no! But long before you were born I became a gardener. When I was a young man I had a good many different employments. Being a serf, I paid a yearly sum to my master, and then I went where I pleased. Sometimes I was well off, and sometimes I was badly off. I have been out on the lonely steppes in winter, often only three or four of us together, with our horses and carts, when the snow came down so fast, and the wind blew so fiercely, that we could scarcely make our way through the storm; and even the colts that were following us could hardly keep their feet in the deep drifts. Sometimes, we would lose our way in these storms,—when we could see nothing a hundred feet from us,—and then we should have wandered about until we died, if we had not given up everything to the horses. They could always find their way home, even in the worst storms. And then," said old Nicolai, knocking from the rake a tooth that was cracked (for the new one was finished and hammered in), "I used to drive a sledge on a post-road. That was harder, perhaps, than plunging through the snow-storms on the steppes, for I used to have to drive sometimes by day and sometimes by night, in the coldest weather; and a wind that is cold enough when you are standing still, or going along the same road that it is taking, is fifty times worse when you are driving, as fast as you can, right into the teeth of it. I used to be glad enough when we reached a post-house and I could crowd myself up against the great brick stove and try and get some little feeling into my stiffened fingers. The winter that I drove a sledge was the worst winter I have ever known. I did not care to try this hard life another season, so I went to Moscow, and there I became servant to a young fellow who was the greatest fool I ever knew."
"What did he do?" asked Martin. "Why was he a fool?"
"Oh! he was a boy without sense—the only Russian boy I ever knew who had no sense at all. If he had belonged to some other nation, I should not have wondered so much. This fellow was about fifteen or sixteen, and ought to have known something of the world, but he knew nothing. He was going to the university when I was with him, but you might have thought he was a pupil at a mad-house. Whatever came into his cracked brain, came out of his mouth; and whatever he wanted to do, he did, without waiting to think whether it would be proper or not. The biggest fool could cheat him; and when anybody did cheat him, and his friends found it out and wanted to punish the rascal, this little fool of mine would come, with tears in his eyes, to beg for the poor wretch, who must feel already such remorse and such shame at being found out! Bah! I can hardly bear to think of him. Why, there was once a house afire, in a neighborhood where one of his friends lived, and what does this young fool do but jump out of his bed, in the middle of a stormy night, and run to this fire, with nothing but his night-clothes on!"
"This is very curious," said Martin, laughing. "Nicolai Petrovitch, do you know——"
"Well, as I was going on to tell you," said the old man, who seemed thoroughly wrapped up in his subject, "I couldn't stand any such folly as that, and so I soon left him and went to live with Colonel Rasteryaieff. I stayed there a long, long time. There I became a gardener, and there I learned almost all the poetry that I know. The colonel had a daughter, who was a little child when I went there; but when she grew old enough, she became a girl of great sense, and she liked poetry, and used to come and read to me, out of the books she had. I always tried to get at some work which would let me listen to her, during the hour that she would come to me in the afternoon. She read better than my little Axinia. I used to wish I was a poet, so that I could hear her read some of my songs."
"But, Nicolai Petrovitch," cried Martin, his eyes fairly sparkling with a discovery he had made, "do you know that I believe that that fool of a boy you lived with was the poet who wrote the songs and the poetry that you like best—that he wrote the 'Dushenka,' which Axinia Nicolaievna is reading to you?"
"What!" said the old gardener, laying down his knife and the piece of wood he was cutting.
"I mean what I say," said Martin. "Wasn't his name Bogdanovitch?"
"Bog-dan-ovitch!" repeated Nicolai, his eyes wide open in surprise. "Yes—that was his name. How did you know him? It was nearly fifty years ago since I lived with him."
"Oh yes!" said Martin, still laughing, "it must have been that long ago. I read his life only a short time since, in the edition of 'Dushenka' which we have. It was surely Bogdanovitch whom you lived with. Why, Nicolai Petrovitch, you ought to be proud of having had such a master! He was one of our great poets. He wrote the song of the shepherdess, and he wrote the 'Dushenka.' He might have acted very simply when he was young, but he certainly became a great poet."
"So he wrote the shepherdess song, did he?" said Nicolai.
"Yes, he wrote that, and many other good things, and he became quite a famous man. Queen Catharine thought a great deal of him, and the people at court paid him many honors. They did not consider him a fool, as you did. If you would like to know all about what happened to this young boy who was such a simpleton, I will lend you the book with his life in it, and Axinia Nicolaievna can read it to you."
"My little Martin Ivanovitch," said the old man, picking up his knife and the yet unfinished rake, "I do not believe that I ever could have become a poet, even if I had known how to read and write. It would have been impossible for me to have gone to a fire in my night-clothes!"
BY CLARENCE COOK.
The Professor seated himself at the luncheon-table with an air of importance. He was twelve years old, but he might have been taken for six, or even for three, he looked so wise. The children's nurse poured herself out a cup of tea. The teapot was too full, and a large drop fell upon the shining mahogany table. The Professor looked at the drop with evident pleasure.
"Stop, nurse!" he cried, as she was about to wipe it up with her napkin. "Let's see who can take up that tea without touching it, and leave the table dry!"
"Thuck it up," said Pip.
"Mamma doesn't like you to drink tea," said nurse.
"Besides, that would be touching it," said Tom.
"Take it up with a thpoon," said Pip.
"You couldn't do it; it would spread all over," said the Professor.
"And that would be touching it just as much," said Bob.
"Don't fink it can be done!" said Pip, shaking her head.
"All shut your eyes," said the Professor. "You, nurse, shut yours, too. Don't any of you look."
Nurse shut both her eyes, hard. Pip put her two fat little fists into her eyes, and listened. Tom laid his head down sideways on the table, and curled his arms round it. Bob declared that he wouldn't shut his eyes; he was going to see that the Professor acted fair.
"Now open your eyes," said the Professor.
They all looked up, and there stood the sage, who had covered the drop with a little blue bowl. He lifted the bowl, and, on the spot where had been the drop of tea, stood a lump of loaf-sugar holding up the tea in its paws, or pores, whichever you please.
Nurse picked up the lump of sugar and ate it. The table was as dry as a bone.
"Oh, my!" said Pip.
* * *
The Professor walked over to the window.
"Oh, nurse!" said he, "why don't you make Bridget wash this paint off the glass?"
"She has tried to get it off," said nurse, "but she can't do it."
"What loths of little thpots!" said Pip.
"What careless fellows those painters were!" said Tom.
"Who knows how to get it off?" said the Professor.
"Take a thpunge and thum thope," said Pip.
"'T wont do," said nurse; "Bridget has tried."
"Oh, I know!" said Bob. "Kerosene!"
"Thath dangeruth," said Pip, "and thmells bad, bethides."
"Nurse," said the Professor, "what will you give me if I will show you how to take it off?"
"I'll give you a cent," said nurse.
"Give me a cent and I'll do it," said the Professor. "But I must be paid in advance." He took the cent. "Now look, all of you," he said; and, laying it flat on the glass, he held it with the tips of the first and second fingers, and rubbed it briskly over the pane. Off went the spots like buckwheat cakes of a cold winter-morning!
"Oh, how nithe!" said Pip.
"Any feller could do that," said Bob.
"Yeth," said Pip, "if they'd theen anybody do it before."
* * *
"Why, Tom!" cried nurse, "where did you get that paint on your sleeve?"
"There! I told Fred Mason he'd get me all over paint, if he didn't stop fooling," said Tom.
"It'th a wewy big thpot," said Pip.
"It'll never come off," said Tom; "and it's my new jacket, too! Mason pushed me against the door."
"Well," said the Professor, "there's no use crying over spilt milk."
"Oh," said Pip, "is it milk in the paint that makth it so white?"
"Nonsense, Pip! The thing to do now is to get the paint off Tom's coat. Who knows how to do it?"
"Don't fink anybody duth," said Pip.
"Hold out your arm," said the Professor. And, with the sleeve of his own coat, he briskly rubbed the sleeve of Tom's; and away went the spot of paint in a jiffy.
"He's wubbed it onto his own thleeve," said Pip.
But no; the Professor's sleeve was as clean as Tom's.
"Where ith it went to?" said Pip. "Oh, nurse! Ithn't that thingler?"
"I say," said Bob, "you couldn't have got it off if it had dried on your coat."
"Perhaps not," said the Professor.
* * *
It was again luncheon-time, and Pip, Tom, and Bob were in the dining-room, where nurse Charlotte, seated at the head of the table, was already pouring herself out a cup of tea. She had cut bread and butter for the children, filled their tumblers with milk, and was ready, when they should be ready, to help them to the apple-and-sago pudding—"just the nithest pudding in the world," as merry little Pip used to say every time it came on table.
All the children were there but the Professor; the others did not know where he was. Pip was the first one to see him coming across the lawn.
"How queer!" said Pip. "He'th all mud, and what hath he got in hith hand?"
"It's a turtle," says Tom.
"It'th a bird," says Pip.
"Perhaps it's a turtle-dove," says nurse.
"Should say 't was a mud-turtle by the looks of his legs," said Bob.
"Nurth, do turtle-doves live in the mud?" said Pip.
"Nonsense," said Bob, "as if birds ever lived in the mud!"
"Well," said Pip, "thum thwallows, I know, make their neths of mud, and then they live in their neths, and that's living in mud. But here comth the Profethor; let's see what heeth found. It's thumthin in a glath."
The Professor came up, walking very slowly across the grass; then stepped carefully up upon the piazza, and, as he passed the window, he called for some one to come and open the front door.
All the children ran together, and opened the door with such a flourish, the Professor was obliged to call out, "Stand off! Hands off!"
"Will it splode?" said Pip.
"Will it bite?" said Bob.
"Will it fly away?" said Tom.
"It will splode," said the Professor, "and it will fly away; but it won't bite."
"Oh my!" said Pip, "what can it be? I never heard of any creature splodin!"
The Professor looked pleased; his face was red, his hair was tumbled, his coat was torn, and his boots and trousers were muddy.
"You look as if you had had a hard time catching the creature, whatever it is," said nurse. "You'd better leave it out-of-doors now, and clean yourself, and come and eat your luncheon."
"Oh, please, nurse, let's see it now!" said all the children; and nurse, who wanted to see it herself, agreed.
"You can't see it," said the Professor; "it's invisible! You can't see it till it disappears!"
"Oh dear," said Pip, "I just ache to know about it."
"Well," said the Professor, "light mamma's wax-taper."
"I don't see what good lighting a taper will do, if the creature's invisible," said Bob.
The Professor set his burden down on the table. It was a saucer filled with water, and in the water stood a tumbler upside down. There was nothing to be seen in the tumbler.
The Professor struck an attitude.
"What I have in this tumbler, nurse and children, was obtained with great difficulty. I've been about it ever since lesson-time."
"Where did you find it?" says Pip.
"How came you to know about it?" says Tom.
"I should think it would be hard to catch nothing," says Bob.
"I found it in the water, in the little pool in our woods. I saw it first the other night in the dark, and I caught it to-day when it was hiding. I took a long stick and gently stirred up the dead leaves that lie rotting on the bottom, and he began to come up—first one, then another—now here, and now there."
"Ho! ho!" says Bob. "How could that be? How could he come up in pieces, and in different places?"
"Poor thing!" said Pip. "He wath dead!"
"Oh, if he's dead I don't care about him," says Bob.
"He's far from dead," said the Professor; "and though he was in pieces, he's all together now, and safe in this tumbler." And then, seizing the lighted taper, he turned up the tumbler, held the taper quickly to its mouth, and—Pop! went something, with a quick flash.