WREATHS OF FRIENDSHIP:
A Gift for the Young
T. S. ARTHUR and F. C. WOODWORTH
New York: Charles Scribner, 36 Park Row, And 145 Nassau St. Stereotyped by Baker & Palmer 11 Spruce Street.
Young friends—stop a moment. We have set up a sort of turnpike gate here, as you see, between the title-page and the first story in our book, in the shape of a preface, or introduction. "What! do you mean to take toll of us, then?" Why, no—not exactly. But we want to say half a dozen words to you, as you pass along, and to tell you a little about these WREATHS which we have been twining for our friends. So you need not be in quite so great a hurry. Wait a minute.
You have no doubt noticed that it is a very common thing for an author to take up several of the first pages of his book with apologies to his readers. First, perhaps, he apologizes for writing at all; and secondly, for writing so poorly—just as if it was a crime to make a book, for which crime the author must get down on his knees, and humbly beg the public's pardon. We think we shall not take this course, on the whole, for this reason, if for no other—that we do not feel very guilty about what we have done. But as the plan of our book is somewhat new, we have been thinking it would be well enough, in introducing it to you, at least to tell how we came to make it.
We have both of us published a good deal, in one way and another, for young people; and we got a notion—a very pleasant one, certainly, and rather natural, withal, whether well founded or not—that among that class of the public composed of boys and girls, we had a pretty respectable number of friends. Under this impression, we put our heads together, one day, and made up our minds to invite these friends of ours, every one of them, to a kind of festival, and that we would share equally in the pleasure of giving the entertainment. The book, reader, which we have named WREATHS OF FRIENDSHIP, as perhaps you have already guessed, grew out of that plan of ours.
We have not, as you will perceive, indicated the authorship of the tales and sketches, as they appear; and those readers who have any curiosity in this matter, are referred to the index.
We hope the volume will please you. More than this: we hope it will prove to be useful—useful for the future as well as for the present life; and, indeed, if it had not been for this hope, much as we love to entertain our young friends, these Wreaths would never have been twined by our hands.
We have little else to add, except the fondest wishes of our hearts; and, to tell the truth, it was to express to you these kind wishes—to give you something like a hearty shake of the hand—rather than because we had any thing of importance to say in our preface, that we stopped you at the outset.
What shall we Build? T.S.A. 13 The Two Cousins F.C.W. 16 A Noble Act T.S.A. 28 The Word of God T.S.A. 35 Harsh Words and Kind Words T.S.A. 36 The Herons and the Herrings F.C.W. 41 Early Spring Flowers F.C.W. 43 Temptation Resisted T.S.A. 51 Evening Prayer T.S.A. 61 Stretching the Truth F.C.W. 63 The City Pigeon T.S.A. 67 A Day in the Woods T.S.A. 72 The Spider and the Honey Bee F.C.W. 81 Emma Lee and her Sixpence T.S.A. 88 Uncle Roderick's Stories F.C.W. 93 Honesty the Best Policy F.C.W. 94 How a Rogue Feels when he is Caught F.C.W. 97 The Weekly Newspaper F.C.W. 100 The Cider Plot F.C.W. 103 My First Hunting Excursion F.C.W. 107 Saturday in Winter T.S.A. 111 Rover and his Little Master T.S.A. 113 Something Wrong T.S.A. 117 The Favorite Child F.C.W. 121 The Mine T.S.A. 129 The Miner T.S.A. 132 Visit to Fairy Land F.C.W. 135 The Hermit T.S.A. 143 A Picture T.S.A. 147 The Boy and the Robin F.C.W. 150 Something about Conscience F.C.W. 152 Old Ned T.S.A. 166 The Freed Butterfly T.S.A. 175 Julia and Her Birds F.C.W. 177 The Song of the Snow Bird T.S.A. 185 How to Avoid a Quarrel T.S.A. 189 Passing for More than One is Worth F.C.W. 197 The Lament of the Invalid F.C.W. 205 The Use of Flowers T.S.A. 207 Sliding Down Hill F.C.W. 211 A Garden Overrun with Weeds T.S.A. 217 Disappointment Sometimes a Blessing F.C.W. 221 The Old Man at the Cottage Door T.S.A. 232 Story of a Stolen Pen F.C.W. 234
WREATHS. WHAT SHALL WE BUILD?
Four children were playing on the sea-shore. They had gathered bright pebbles and beautiful shells, and written their names in the pure, white sand; but at last, tired of their sport, they were about going home, when one of them, as they came to a pile of stones, cried out:
"Oh! let us build a fort; and we will call that ship away out there, an enemy's vessel, and make believe we are firing great cannon balls into her!"
"Yes, yes! let us build a fort," responded Edward, the other lad.
And the two boys—for two were boys and two girls—ran off to the pile of stones, and began removing them to a place near the water.
"Come, Anna and Jane," said they, "come and help us."
"Oh, no. Don't let us build a fort," said Jane.
"Yes; we will build a fort," returned the boys. "What else can we build? You wouldn't put a house down here upon the water's edge?"
"No; but I'll tell you what we can build, and it will be a great deal better than a fort."
"Well; what can we build?"
"A light-house," said the girls; "and that will be just as much in place on the edge of the sea as a fort. We can call the ship yonder a vessel lost in the darkness, and we will hang out a light and direct her in the true way. Won't that be much better than to call her an enemy, and build a fort to destroy her? See how beautifully she sits upon and glides over the smooth water! Her sails are like the open wings of a bird, and they bear her gracefully along. Would it not be cruel to shoot great balls into her sides, tear her sails to pieces, and kill the men who are on board of her? Oh! I am sure it would make us all happier to save her when in darkness and danger. No, no; let us not build a fort, but a light-house; for it is better to save than to destroy."
The girls spoke with tenderness and enthusiasm, and their words reached the better feelings of their companions.
"Oh, yes," said they; "we will build a light-house, and not a fort." And they did so.
Yes, it is much better to save than to destroy. Think of that, children, and let it go with you through life. Be more earnest to save your friends than to destroy your enemies. And yet, when a real enemy comes, and seeks to do evil, be brave to resist him.
THE TWO COUSINS; OR, HOW TO ACT WHEN "THINGS GO WRONG."
"There, mother, I knew it would be so. Lucy Wallace has just sent over to tell me she can't walk out in the woods with me. There's no use in my trying to please any body—there's no use in it. I'm an odd sort of a creature, it seems. Nobody loves me. It always was so. Oh, dear! I wish I knew what I had done to make the girls hate me so!"
This not very good-natured speech was made by a little girl, whom I shall call Angeline Standish. She was some ten or twelve years old, as near as I can recollect. Perhaps my readers would like to know something about the occasion which called for this speech; but it is a long story, and hardly worth telling. The truth is, when little boys and girls get very angry, or peevish, or fretful, they sometimes blow out a great deal of ill-humor, something after the manner that an overcharged steam boiler lets off steam—with this difference, however, that the steam boiler gets cooler by the operation, while the boy or girl gets more heated. The throat is a poor safety-valve for ill-humor; and it is bad business, this setting the tongue agoing at such a rate, whenever the mercury in one's temper begins to rise toward the boiling point.
As is usual, in such cases, Angeline felt worse after these words had whistled through the escape pipe of her ill-nature, than she did before; and, for want of something else to do, she commenced crying. She was not angry—that is, not altogether so—though the spirit she showed was a pretty good imitation of anger, it must be confessed. She was peevish. Matters had not gone right with her that day. She was crossed in this thing and that thing. Her new hat had not come home from the milliner's, as she expected; one of her frocks had just got badly torn; she had a hard lesson to learn; and I cannot repeat the whole catalogue of her miseries. So she fretted, and stormed, and cried, and felt just as badly as she chose.
Not long after the crying spell was over, and there was a little blue sky in sight, Jeannette Forrest, a cousin of Angeline's, came running into the room, her face all lighted up with smiles, and threw her arms around her cousin's neck, and kissed her. This was no uncommon thing with Jeannette. She had a very happy and a very affectionate disposition. Every body loved her, and she loved every body.
One not acquainted with Angeline, might very naturally suppose that she would return her cousin's embrace. But she did no such thing. Her manner was quite cool and distant. Human nature is a strange compound, is it not?
"Why, cousin," said the light-hearted Jeannette, "what is the matter? You are not well, are you?"
"Yes, well enough," the other replied, rather crustily. Take care, Angeline, there's a cloud coming over your cousin's face. Speak a kind word or two, now. Then the sun will beam out again, brightly as ever. Jeannette was silent for a moment, for she was astonished, and did not know what to make of her cousin's manner. It would have appeared uncivil and rude to most little girls. But the sweet spirit of Jeannette—loving, hoping, trusting—was differently affected. She saw only the brighter side of the picture. So the bee, as she flies merrily from flower to flower, finds a store of honey where others would find only poison.
"Dear Angeline," said her cousin, at length, "I'm sure something is the matter. Tell me what it is, won't you? Oh, I should love to make you happy, if I only knew how!"
Angeline seemed scarcely to hear these words of love. That is strange enough, I hear you say. So it is, perhaps, and it may be stranger still, that she read not the language of love and sympathy that was written so plainly in her cousin's countenance. It is true, though, for all that. She did not say much of any thing to this inquiry—she simply muttered, between her teeth,
"I don't believe any body loves me."
Jeannette was no philosopher. She could not read essays nor preach sermons. Her argument to convince her cousin that there was, at least, one who loved her, was drawn from the heart, rather than from the head. It was very brief, and very much to the point. She burst into tears, and sobbed,
"Don't say so, dear."
Jeannette could not stay long. Her mother had sent her on an errand, and told her she must make haste back. Perhaps it was as well that she could not stay—and perhaps not. Human nature is a strange sort of compound, as I said before; and it may be that the ice which had covered over the streams leading from Angeline's heart would not have melted under the influence even of the warm sun that, for a moment or two, beamed upon them so kindly. For one, however, I should like to know what would have come out of that conversation, if it had been allowed to go on. Jeannette went home, and Angeline was again left to her own reflections, which were any thing but pleasant. It was Saturday afternoon; and, there being no school, she had hoped to be able to ramble in the woods with some of her little companions. But here she was disappointed, too, and this increased her peevishness; though the reason why she could not go was, because she did not learn her lesson in season, and that was her own fault. Toward night, when Mrs Standish had leisure to sit down to her sewing, she called Angeline, and reminded her of the ill-natured spirit she had shown in the early part of the afternoon. The child was rather ashamed of what she had said, it is true; but she tried to excuse her conduct.
"Every thing went wrong to-day, mother," she said; "I couldn't help feeling so. Oh, dear! I don't see how any body can be good, when things go in this way—I mean any body but Jeannette. I wish I was like her. It is easy for her to be good."
"Your cousin has, no doubt, a very different disposition from yours," said the mother. "But it is much easier for you to be always good-natured and happy than you suppose, Angeline."
"I wish I knew how, mother."
"Well, you say things went wrong with you this afternoon. I think I know what some of these things were. They were not so pleasant as they might have been, certainly. They were troublesome. But don't you think the greatest trouble of all was in your own heart?"
"No, ma'am. I was well enough until the things began to go wrong; and then I felt bad, and I couldn't help it."
Mrs Standish laughed, as she said, "So, then, as soon as the things begin to go wrong, you take the liberty to go wrong too. Every thing works well inside, until it is disturbed by something outside?"
"That is it, mother."
"And when the things inside go smoothly, because every thing is smooth outside, you have a very good and happy disposition?"
"Pretty good, I think."
"And so, when there is a hurricane inside, because the wind blows rather more than usual outside, you are cross, and unhappy, and bad enough to make up for being so good before?"
"Yes, ma'am, I am afraid I am, sometimes."
"No, my child, you are wrong, all wrong. If all was right inside, the other things you speak of would not disturb you so, if they should happen to go wrong."
"Why, mother, wouldn't they disturb me at all?"
"They might, occasionally, but not near as much. Do you remember that our clock went wrong last winter?"
"Yes, ma'am; we couldn't tell what time it was, and it used to strike all sorts of ways."
"What do you suppose made the clock act so, Angeline? It goes well enough now, you know."
"I believe Mr Mercer said one of the wheels was out of order."
"That was all. It was not the weather—not because we forgot to wind it up—not because things did not go right in the room. Now, your mind is something like a clock. If it is kept in order, it will run pretty well, I guess—no matter whether it rains or shines—whether it is winter or summer. Milton says, very beautifully, in his poem called the 'Paradise Lost,'
"'The mind is its own place, and of itself Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.'
"He means by this, that our happiness or unhappiness depends more upon what is within us than it does upon what is without. And he is right. Do you understand, my child?"
"I understand what you mean, but it is not so easy to see how I am to go to work and be good all the time, like cousin Jeannette. I'm not like her, mother, and I never can be like her, I know."
"True, you will always be very unlike your cousin. But I don't know of any thing to hinder your being as good and amiable as she is, for all that."
"Oh, mother! I'd give every thing in the world, if I only knew how!"
"I think you can learn, my child, with much less expense; though, to be sure, you will have to give up some things that perhaps you will find it hard to part with. You will be obliged to give up some of your bad habits."
"That would be easy enough."
"Not so easy as you think, it may be. It is a good deal easier to let a bad habit come in, than it is to turn one out. But 'where there's a will, there's a way,' you know."
"Well, mother, what shall I do? I should like to begin pretty soon, for scarcely any body loves me now,"
"Before you learn much, it might be well to unlearn a little. When any thing goes wrong, as you say, you must, at least, not make it go worse. You must not make every body around you unhappy, if you do feel a little cross and peevish."
"Oh, mother, I can't speak pleasantly when I don't feel so."
"Then, in most cases, you had better not speak at all."
"I never thought of that. I can stop talking, if I try."
"So you can, and you can do more. You can get into the habit of finding 'the south or sunny side of things,' as Jean Paul says, and if you do, you will not be likely to have a snow-storm in your heart very often. Besides, you ought to remember, that all these disappointments and crosses are a part of your education for heaven, and you should endeavor to improve them as such, so that their good effect will not be lost. And another thing, my child: you ought to ask God to assist you in this self-government—to make you his child—to give you a new heart—to teach you to love Christ, and to be like him. Then you will seldom feel cross and fretful, because things go wrong. You will be cheerful and good-natured. You will make others happy—and you will very soon forget the old story, that nobody loves you."
Now, many little boys and girls—possibly some who read this story—would have thought this task too hard. They would have regarded it as a pretty severe penance. Perhaps they would have concluded, after having put all these difficult things into one scale, and the thing to be gained by them into the other, that the reward was not worth so great a sacrifice. So thought not Angeline, however. She began the work in earnest, that very day. She went over to her uncle's, with an unusual amount of sunshine in her countenance, and made it all right with Jeannette. In the evening, she told her little brother James what she intended to do, and invited him to help her; and before they retired to rest that night, they knelt down together and offered up a prayer, that God, for Christ's sake, would help them in governing themselves.
One day—perhaps some six weeks after this—Mrs Standish said, smilingly, to her daughter,
"Well, my dear, does Lucy Wallace love you any better?"
"Oh, mother," said Angeline, as a tear of joy stood in her eye, "every body loves me now!"
A NOBLE ACT.
"What have you there, boys?" asked Captain Bland.
"A ship," replied one of the lads who were passing the captain's neat cottage.
"A ship! Let me see;" and the captain took the little vessel, and examined it with as much fondness as a child does a pretty toy. "Very fair, indeed; who made it?"
"I did," replied one of the boys.
"You, indeed! Do you mean to be a sailor, Harry?"
"I don't know. I want father to get me into the navy."
"As a midshipman?"
Captain Bland shook his head.
"Better be a farmer, a physician, or a merchant."
"Why so, captain?" asked Harry;
"All these are engaged in the doing of things directly useful to society."
"But I am sure, captain, that those who defend us against our enemies, and protect all who are engaged in commerce from wicked pirates, are doing what is useful to society."
"Their use, my lad," replied Captain Bland, "is certainly a most important one; but we may call it rather negative than positive. The civilian is engaged in building up and sustaining society in doing good, through his active employment, to his fellow-man. But military and naval officers do not produce any thing; they only protect and defend."
"But if they did not protect and defend, captain, evil men would destroy society. It would be of no use for the civilian to endeavor to build up, if there were none to fight against the enemies of the state."
"Very true, my lad. The brave defender of his country cannot be dispensed with, and we give him all honor. Still, the use of defence and protection is not so high as the use of building up and sustaining. The thorn that wounds the hand stretched forth to pluck the flower, is not so much esteemed, nor of so much worth, as the blossom it was meant to guard. Still, the thorn performs a great use. Precisely a similar use does the soldier or naval officer perform to society; and it will be for you, my lad, to decide as to which position you would rather fill."
"I never thought of that, captain," said one of the lads. "But I can see clearly how it is. And yet I think those men who risk their lives for us in war, deserve great honor. They leave their homes, and remain away, sometimes for years, deprived of all the comforts and blessings that civilians enjoy, suffering frequently great hardships, and risking their lives to defend their country from her enemies."
"It is all as you say," replied Captain Bland; "and they do, indeed, deserve great honor. Their calling is one that exposes them to imminent peril, and requires them to make many sacrifices; and they encounter not this peril and sacrifice for their own good, but for the good of others. Their lives do not pass so evenly as do the lives of men who spend their days in the peaceful pursuits of business, art, or literature; and we could hardly wonder if they lost some of the gentler attributes of the human heart. In some cases, this is so; but in very many cases the reverse is true. We find the man who goes fearlessly into battle, and there, in defence of his country, deals death and destruction unsparingly upon her enemies, acting, when occasion offers, from the most humane sentiments, and jeopardizing his life to save the life of a single individual. Let me relate to you a true story in illustration of what I say.
"When the unhappy war that has been waged by our troops in Mexico broke out, a lieutenant in the navy, who had a quiet berth at Washington, felt it to be his duty to go to the scene of strife, and therefore asked to be ordered to the Gulf of Mexico. His request was complied with, and he received orders to go on board the steamer Mississippi, Commodore Perry, then about to sail from Norfolk to Vera Cruz.
"Soon after the Mississippi arrived out, and before the city and castle were taken, a terrible 'norther' sprung up, and destroyed much shipping in the harbor. One vessel, on which were a number of passengers, was thrown high upon a reef, and when morning broke, the heavy sea was making a clear breach through her. She lay about a mile from the Mississippi, and it soon became known on board the steamer, that a mother and her infant were in the wreck, and that unless succor came speedily, they would perish. The lieutenant of whom I speak, immediately ordered out a boat's crew, and although the sea was rolling tremendously, and the 'norther' still blowing a hurricane, started to the rescue. Right in the teeth of the wind were the men compelled to pull their boat, and so slowly did they progress, that it took over two hours to gain the wreck.
"At one time, they actually gave out, and the oars lay inactive in their hands. At this crisis, the brave but humane officer, pointing with one hand to the fortress of San Juan de Ulloa, upon which a fire had already commenced, and with the other to the wreck, exclaimed, with noble enthusiasm,
"'Pull away, men! I would rather save the life of that woman and her child, than have the honor of taking the castle!'
"Struck by the noble, unselfish, and truly humane feelings of their officer, the crew bent with new vigor to their oars. In a little while the wreck was gained, and the brave lieutenant had the pleasure of receiving into his arms the almost inanimate form of the woman, who had been lashed to the deck, and over whom the waves had been beating, at intervals, all night.
"In writing home to his friends, after the excitement of the adventure was over, the officer spoke of the moment when he rescued that mother and child from the wreck as the proudest of his life.
"Afterward he took part in the bombardment of Vera Cruz, and had command, in turn, of the naval battery, where he faithfully and energetically performed his duty as an officer in the service of his country. He was among the first of those who entered the captured city; but pain, not pleasure, filled his mind, as he looked around, and saw death and destruction on every hand. Victory had perched upon our banners; the arms of our country had been successful; the officer had bravely contributed his part in the work; but he frankly owns that he experienced far more delight in saving the woman he had borne from the wreck, than he could have felt had he been the commander of the army that reduced the city.
"Wherever duty calls, my lads," concluded the captain, "you will find that brave officer. He will never shrink from the post of danger, if his country have need of him; nor will he ever be deaf to the appeal of humanity; but so long as he is a true man, just so long will he delight more in saving than in destroying."
THE WORD OF GOD.
Henry, what book is that you have in your hand?"
"It is the Bible, mother,"
"Oh, no, it cannot be, surely!"
"Why, yes it is—see!"
"And my little boy to treat so roughly the book containing God's holy word!"
Henry's face grew serious.
"Oh, I forgot!" he said, and went and laid the good book carefully away.
"Try and not forget again, my son. If you treat this book so lightly now, you may, when you become a man, as lightly esteem its holy truths; and then you could never live in heaven with the angels. No one goes to heaven who does not love and reverence the Word of God, which is holy in every jot and tittle."
HARSH WORDS AND KIND WORDS.
William Baker, and his brother Thomas and sister Ellen, were playing on the green lawn in front of their mother's door, when a lad named Henry Green came along the road, and seeing the children enjoying themselves, opened the gate and came in. He was rather an ill-natured boy, and generally took more pleasure in teasing and annoying others, than in being happy with them. When William saw him coming in through the gate, he called to him and said, in a harsh way,
"You may just clear out, Henry Green, and go about your business! We don't want you here."
But Henry did not in the least regard what William said. He came directly forward, and joined in the sport as freely as if he had been invited instead of repulsed. In a little while he began to pull Ellen about rudely, and to push Thomas, so as nearly to throw them down upon the grass.
"Go home, Henry Green! Nobody sent for you! Nobody wants you here!" said William Baker, in quite an angry tone.
It was of no use, however. William might as well have spoken to the wind. His words were entirely unheeded by Henry, whose conduct became ruder and more offensive.
Mrs Baker, who sat at the window, saw and heard all that was passing. As soon as she could catch the eye of her excited son, she beckoned him to come to her, which he promptly did.
"Try kind words on him," she said; "you will find them more powerful than harsh words. You spoke very harshly to Henry when he came in, and I was sorry to hear it."
"It won't do any good, mother. He's a rude, bad boy, and I wish he would stay at home. Won't you make him go home?"
"First go and speak to him in a gentler way than you did just now. Try to subdue him with kindness."
William felt that he had been wrong in letting his angry feelings express themselves in angry words. So he left his mother and went down upon the lawn, where Henry was amusing himself by trying to trip the children with a long stick, as they ran about on the green.
"Henry," he said, cheerfully and pleasantly, "if you were fishing in the river, and I were to come and throw stones in where your line fell, and scare away all the fish, would you like it?"
"No, I should not," the lad replied.
"It wouldn't be kind in me?"
"No, of course it wouldn't."
"Well, now, Henry," William tried to smile and to speak very pleasantly, "we are playing here and trying to enjoy ourselves. Is it right for you to come and interrupt us by tripping our feet, pulling us about, and pushing us down? I am sure you will not think so if you reflect a moment. So don't do it any more, Henry."
"No, I will not," replied Henry, promptly. "I am sorry that I disturbed you. I didn't think what I was doing. And now I remember, father told me not to stay, and I must run home."
So Henry Green went quickly away, and the children were left to enjoy themselves.
"Didn't I tell you that kind words were more powerful than harsh words, William?" said his mother, after Henry had gone away; "when we speak harshly to our fellows, we arouse their angry feelings, and then evil spirits have power over them; but when we speak kindly, we affect them with gentleness, and good spirits flow into this latter state, and excite in them better thoughts and intentions. How quickly Henry changed, when you changed your manner and the character of your language. Do not forget this, my son. Do not forget, that kind words have double the power of harsh ones."
THE HERONS AND THE HERRINGS. A FABLE.
A Heron once came—I can scarcely tell why— To the court of his cousins, the fishes, With despatches, so heavy he scarcely could fly, And his bosom brimfull of good wishes.
He wished the poor Herrings no harm, he said, Though there seemed to be cause for suspicion; His government wished to convert them, instead, And this was the end of his mission.
The Herrings replied, and were civil enough, Though a little inclined to be witty: "We know we are heathenish, savage, and rough, And are greatly obliged for your pity.
"But your plan of conversion we beg to decline, With all due respect for your nation; No doubt it would tend to exalt and refine, Yet we fear it would check respiration."
The Heron returned to his peers in disdain, And told how their love was requited. "Poor creatures!" they said, "shall we let them remain So ignorant, blind, and benighted?"
Then soon on a crusade of love and good-will The Herons in council decided; And they flew, every one that could boast a long bill, To the beach where the Herrings resided.
So the tribe were soon converts from ocean to air, Though liking not much the diversion, And wishing at least they had time to prepare For so novel a mode of conversion.
A sensible child will discover with ease The point of the tale I've related— A blockhead could not, let me say what I please— Then why need my MORAL be stated?
EARLY SPRING FLOWERS.
Of all the amusements of my childhood, I can think of none which I loved so much as rambling in the woods and meadows among the flowers. What a rich treat it used to be, just after the earth had thrown aside its white mantle, and begun to be clothed in its summer dress, to get permission to spend a whole Saturday afternoon in the woods with my brother and sister. Oh, how delighted we all were, when we found the first wild flowers of spring! Let me see. What flowers show their pretty faces the earliest? Do you remember, young friend? Perhaps you have always lived in the city, and have never made their acquaintance. But if you have ever seen them, blushing in their native haunts, I am sure you must remember how they look, and what their names are. I cannot see how any body can forget them, they are so beautiful and lovely.
One of the earliest flowers of spring, and one which grew in the woods only a few rods from my father's door, near the stream that turned my miniature water-wheels, is the Trailing Arbutus. Often you may find this plant unfolding its delicate blossoms before the snow has left the ground. That, in our northern latitudes, is usually among the first flowers in blossom. Soon after she appears, you may see one and perhaps two different species of the Anemone. One, especially—the Anemone Thalictroides, as it used to be called in botany, though it is now the Thalictrum Anemonoides, I believe—is among the fairest of all these flowers of spring. She has a blossom as white as snow. The Anemone Nemrosa is almost as fair, too, though not quite, I think. You can sometimes see them both smiling side by side, early in the month of May, nodding gracefully at each other, and smiling as if they were very happy. It does not require much imagination to fancy they are conversing together; and, indeed, I would quite as soon believe that flowers could talk, as I would believe those stories about the fairies that children hear sometimes.
There is another beautiful flower which makes her appearance very early—the Spring Beauty, or Claytonia Virginica. She is usually found in the same locations with the Anemone. Then there is the Liver Leaf. Did you ever find that, little girl? Very possibly you have not taken a ramble early enough in the spring to see her. She makes her visit frequently in the latter part of April, and she does not stay long. But after her flower has faded and fallen, there may be seen a few deeply notched and curious leaves, to mark the spot where she bloomed so sweetly.
The Blood Root, too, will make her visit, and go away again, if you delay your ramble in the woods till the first of May. The blossom of the Blood Root is a very delicate white. Hundreds of exotic flowers are cultivated in our gardens, and very much admired, that are not half so pretty as this. The leaves that appear before the plant is in blossom, are oval, a little like those of the Adder's Tongue, which is in flower somewhat later, and like those of one species of the Solomon's Seal—the Convallaria Bifolia. But when the flower of the Blood Root appears, you see quite a different kind of leaf, so that even close observers of wild flowers are sometimes deceived, and think that their early leaves belong to some other plant.
Every body who has been at all familiar with the forest and meadows in the spring, knows the Violet. There are a good many sisters in this charming family, but none, perhaps, in our latitude, that are more beautiful than the Viola Rotundifolia, or Yellow Violet, with roundish leaves, lying close to the ground. The Blue Violet, too, appears soon after, and is perhaps equally pretty. I recollect distinctly where it used to grow near the little brook that ran through our meadow—a brook that many a time has served to turn my water-wheel. Oh, those days of miniature water-wheels, and kites, and wind-mills! how happy they were, and how I love to think of them now! By the way, have you ever read Miss Gould's poetical fable about the little child and the Blue Violet? I must recite a stanza or two of this poem, I think. The child speaks to the Violet, and says,
"Violet, violet, sparkling with dew, Down in the meadow land, wild where you grew, How did you come by the beautiful blue With which your soft petals unfold? And how do you hold up your tender young head, Where rude, sweeping winds rush along o'er your bed, And dark, gloomy clouds, ranging over you, shed Their waters, so heavy and cold?
"No one has nursed you, or watched you an hour, Or found you a place in the garden or bower; And they cannot yield me so lovely a flower, As here I have found at my feet!
"Speak, my sweet violet, answer and tell, How you have grown up and flourished so well, And look so contented, where lonely you dwell, And we thus by accident meet?"
Then the Violet answers, and tells the child why it is so contented, and how it is able to hold up its head, and where its pretty blue petals come from. But I will not recite the remainder of the poem, for I am sure my readers do not need to be told who made the flowers, and who taught them to bloom so sweetly in their wild haunts.
The early flowers of spring! I loved them fondly when a child; but now I am a man, I love them still more. Shall I tell you why, dear child? There is something sad in the reason, and yet it is not all sadness. I had a sister—I had a sister. Ah! that tells the tale. I have no sister now! The dearest companion of my early rambles among the flowers—herself the fairest and sweetest of them all—has fallen before the scythe of Death. She has gone now to a world of perpetual spring, and the flowers she loved so well are blooming over her grave. She faded away in the early spring, and we laid her to rest where her mother had long been sleeping. By the side of the streamlet where we used to play in the sunny days of childhood, and where the Dandelion grew, and the Butter-cup, and the Violet—there is now the form of her I tenderly loved.
But my strain is sad—too sad. I will sing, and be cheerful.
Alas! how soon The things of earth we love most fondly perish! Why died the flower our hearts had learned to cherish? Why, ere 'twas noon?
I cannot tell— But though the grave be that loved sister's dwelling, And though my heart e'en now with grief is swelling, I know 'tis well.
'Tis well with the— 'Tis well with thee, thou lone and silent sleeper! 'Tis well, though thou hast left me here a weeper Awhile to be.
'Tis well for me— 'Tis well; my home, since thou art gone, is dearer— The grave is welcome, if it bring me nearer To heaven and thee.
I'll not repine— No, blest one; thou art happier than thy brother: I'll think of thee, as with thy angel-mother, Sweet sister mine.
Still would I share Thy love, and meet thee where the flowers are springing, Where the wild bird his joyous note is singing— Come to me there.
Oh! come again, At the still hour, the holy hour of even, Ere one pale star has gemmed the vault of heaven; Come to me then.
Charles Murray left home, with his books in his satchel, for school. Before starting, he kissed his little sister, and patted Juno on the head, and as he went singing away, he felt as happy as any little boy could wish to feel. Charles was a good-tempered lad, but he had the fault common to a great many boys, that of being tempted and enticed by others to do things which he knew to be contrary to the wishes of his parents. Such acts never made him feel any happier; for the fear that his disobedience would be found out, and the consciousness of having done wrong, were far from being pleasant companions.
On the present occasion, as he walked briskly in the direction of the school, he repeated over his lessons in his mind, and was intent upon having them so perfect as to be able to repeat every word. He had gone nearly half the distance, and was still thinking over his lessons, when he stopped suddenly, as a voice called out,
Turning in the direction from which the voice came, he saw Archy Benton, with his school basket in his hand; but he was going from, instead of in the direction of the school.
"Where are you going, Archy?" asked Charles, calling out to him.
"Into the woods, for chestnuts."
"Ain't you going to school, to-day?"
"No, indeed. There was a sharp frost last night, and Uncle John says the wind will rattle down the chestnuts like hail."
"Did your father say you might go?"
"No, indeed. I asked him, but he said I couldn't go until Saturday. But the hogs are in the woods, and will eat the chestnuts all up, before Saturday. So I am going to-day. Come, go along, won't you? It is such a fine day, and the ground will be covered with chestnuts. We can get home at the usual time, and no one will suspect that we were not at school."
"I should like to go, very well," said Charley; "but I know father will be greatly displeased, if he finds it out, and I am afraid he will get to know it, in some way."
"How could he get to know it? Isn't he at his store all the time?"
"But he might think to ask me if I was at school. And I never will tell a lie."
"You could say yes, and not tell a lie, either," returned Archy. "You were at school yesterday."
"No, I couldn't. A lie, father says, is in the intent to deceive. He would, of course, mean to ask whether I was at school to-day, and if I said yes, I would tell a lie."
"It isn't so clear to me that you would. At any rate, I don't see such great harm in a little fib. It doesn't hurt any body."
"Father says a falsehood hurts a boy a great deal more than he thinks for. And one day he showed me in the Bible where liars were classed with murderers, and other wicked spirits, in hell. I can't tell a lie, Archy."
"There won't be any need of your doing so," urged Archy; "for I am sure he will never think to ask you about it. Why should he?"
"I don't know. But whenever I have been doing any thing wrong, he is sure to begin to question me, and lead me on until I betray the secret of my fault."
"Never mind. Come and go with me. It is such a fine day. We shan't have another like it. It will rain on Saturday, I'll bet any thing. So come along, now, and let us have a day in the woods, while we can."
Charles was very strongly tempted. When he thought of the confinement of school, and then of the freedom of a day in the woods, he felt much inclined to go with Archy.
"Come along," said Archy, as Charles stood balancing the matter in his mind. And he took hold of his arm, and drew him in a direction opposite from the school. "Come! you are just the boy I want. I was thinking about you the moment before I saw you."
The temptation to Charles was very strong. "I don't believe I will be found out," he said to himself; "and it is such a pleasant day to go into the woods!"
Still he held back, and thought of his father's displeasure if he should discover that he had played the truant. The word "truant," that he repeated mentally, decided the matter in his mind, and he exclaimed, in a loud and decided voice, as he dragged away from the hand of Archy, that had still retained its hold on his arm, "I've never played truant yet, and I don't think I ever will. Father says he never played truant when he was a boy; and I'd like to say the same thing when I get to be a man."
"Nonsense, Charley! come, go with me," urged Archy.
But Charles Murray's mind was made up not to play the truant. So he started off for school, saying, as he did so—
"No, I can't go, Archy; and if I were you, I would wait until Saturday. You will enjoy it so much better when you have your fathers consent. It always takes away more than half the pleasure of any enjoyment to think that it is obtained at the cost of disobedience. Come! go to school with me now, and I will go into the woods with you on Saturday."
"No, I can't wait until Saturday. I'm sure it will rain by that time; and if it don't, the hogs will eat up every nut that has fallen before that time."
"There'll be plenty left on the trees, if they do. It's as fine sport to knock them down as to pick them up."
But Archy's purpose was settled, and nothing that Charles Murray could say had any influence with him. So the boys parted, the one for his school, and the other for a stolen holiday in the woods.
The moment Charles was alone again, he felt no longer any desire to go with Archy. He had successfully resisted the temptation, and the allurement was gone. But even for listening to temptation he had some small punishment, for he was late to school by nearly ten minutes, and had not his lessons as perfect as usual, for which the teacher felt called upon to reprimand him. But this was soon forgotten; and he was so good a boy through the whole day, and studied all his lessons so diligently, that when evening came, the teacher, who had not forgotten the reprimand, said to him:
"You have been the best boy in the school to-day, Charles. To-morrow morning try and come in time, and be sure that your lessons are all well committed to memory."
Charles felt very light and cheerful as he went running, skipping, and singing homeward. His day had been well spent, and happiness was his reward. When he came in sight of home, there was no dread of meeting his father and mother, such as he would have felt if he had played the truant. Every thing looked bright and pleasant, and when Juno came bounding out to meet him, he couldn't help hugging the favorite dog in the joy he felt at seeing her.
When Charles met his mother, she looked at him with a more earnest and affectionate gaze than usual. And then the boy noticed that her countenance became serious.
"Ain't you well, mother?" asked Charles.
"Yes, my dear, I am very well," she replied; "but I saw something an hour ago which has made me feel sad. Archy Benton was brought home from the woods this afternoon, where he had gone for chestnuts, instead of going to school, as he should have done, dreadfully hurt. He had fallen from a tree. Both his arms are broken, and the doctor fears that he has received some inward injury that may cause his death."
Charles turned pale, when his mother said this.
"Boys rarely get hurt, except when they are acting disobediently, or doing some harm to others," remarked Mrs Murray. "If Archy had gone to school, this dreadful accident would not have happened. His father told him that he might go for chestnuts on Saturday, and if he had waited until then, I am sure he might have gone into the woods and received no harm, for all who do right are protected from evil."
"He tried to persuade me to go with him," said Charles, "and I was strongly tempted to do so. But I resisted the temptation, and have felt glad about it ever since."
Mrs Murray took her son's hand, and pressing it hard, said, with much feeling,
"How rejoiced I am that you were able to resist his persuasions to do wrong. Even if you had not been hurt yourself, the injury received by Archy would have discovered to us that you were with him, and then how unhappy your father and I would have been I cannot tell. And you would have been unhappy, too. Ah! my son, there is only one true course for all of us, and that is, to do right. Every deviation from this path brings trouble. An act of a moment may make us wretched for days, weeks, months, or perhaps years. It will be a long, long time before Archy is free from pain of body or mind—it may be that he will never recover. Think how miserable his parents must feel; and all because of this single act of disobedience."
We cannot say how often Charles said to himself, that evening and the next day, when he thought of Archy, "Oh, how glad I am that I did not go with him!"
When Saturday came, the father and mother of Charles Murray gave him permission to go into the woods for chestnuts. Two or three other boys, who were his school companions, likewise received liberty to go; and they joined Charles, and altogether made a pleasant party. It did not rain, nor had the hogs eaten up all the nuts, for the lads found plenty under the tall old trees, and in a few hours filled their bags and baskets. Charles said, when he came home, that he had never enjoyed himself better, and was so glad that he had not been tempted to go with Archy Benton.
It was a lesson he never afterward forgot. If he was tempted to do what he knew was wrong, he thought of Archy's day in the woods, and the tempter instantly left him. The boy who had been so badly hurt, did not die, as the doctor feared; but he suffered great pain, and was ill for a long time.
Heavenly Father! Through the day, Have we wandered from thy way? Have our thoughts to error turned? Has within us evil burned?
Heavenly Father! Oh, remove Evil thoughts and evil love! Give us truth our minds to fill; Give us strength to do thy will.
Often we are led astray From the true and righteous way; But, we humbly pray to thee, From the tempter keep us free.
Heavenly Father! While we sleep, Angel watchers round us keep. When the morning breaks, may we, Better, wiser children be.
STRETCHING THE TRUTH.
It is a very bad habit, this stretching the truth, as one does a piece of India rubber; and the worst of it is, that when any body forms the habit, there is no telling how much it will grow upon him.
There is Jack Weaver, for instance. He is a sailor all over, to be sure—an "old salt," as he would call himself. But that does not confer upon him any license to spin such yarns as he does, to his young shipmates on the forward deck. He has cruised half a dozen years after whales, in the Pacific ocean, and, of course, has seen some sights that are worth speaking of. But that is no reason why he should fill the head of that young fellow sitting on a coil of rope with a hundred cock-and-bull stories, that have scarcely a word of truth in them, from beginning to end. Why, he don't pretend to tell stories without stretching the truth.
I know some boys, too, who seem to find it very difficult to relate any incident as it took place. They are so much in the habit of stretching the truth, in fact, that those who are acquainted with them seldom believe more than half of one of their stories. These boys, however, have not the slightest intention, when they are pulling out a foot into a yard, of doing any thing wrong. Very possibly they think they are telling a pretty straight story. Habits are strong, you know—especially bad habits. Just look at Selden Mason, one of the best-natured boys I ever saw, and who has not got an enemy among all his school-mates; it is wonderful what a truth-stretcher he has got to be. Every boy shakes his head, when he hears a great story, and says it sounds like one of Selden's yarns. And yet be is so particular and minute in relating any thing, sometimes, that one who did not know him would not suspect him of treating the truth so badly. His apparent sincerity reminds me of an anecdote related of another boy, who had this habit worse than Selden has, I should think. The boy remarked that his father once killed ninety-nine crows at a single shot! He was asked why he did not say a hundred, and have done with it. The fellow was indignant. "Do you think I would tell a lie for one crow?" said he!
Selden Mason's habit of truth-stretching has got such a hold of him now, that you can perceive the marks of it in almost every thing he says. I have sometimes been half sorry he was so good a boy in other respects; for, as his companions like him pretty well, there is the more danger that they will catch the habit of him, before they are aware of it. His teacher was once asked what he thought of Selden, on the whole. "I can't help being pleased with the fellow," said he; "he is a good scholar, and very obedient; but I should like him a great deal better if he didn't tell such monstrous stories. He is like a book all printed in italic letters, with an exclamation point at the end of every sentence." Selden has often gone by the name of the "Exclamation Point," since that time.
Poor fellow! I wish he had tried to break himself of that habit, before it became so deeply rooted. I am afraid it will stick to him as long as he lives now; and if it does, he will get a very bad character as a man of business. Scarcely any reliance can be placed upon his word. No matter how careful he may be to state a thing exactly as it is, in his business matters, if he keeps up this general habit, people will say, "Oh! that's nothing but one of Mason's italic stories!"
Look out, my boy! It wouldn't be the strangest thing in the world, if you had got into a habit something like this of Selden's, though it may not yet be half so strong. But keep a sharp look-out, at any rate. Take care that you never stretch the truth.
THE CITY PIGEON.
With all is the beautiful lingerer in our crowded cities a favorite. All love this gentle bird, that, shunning the cool and quiet woods, stays with man in the hot and noisy town, and, amid strife and the war of passions, passes ever before him a living emblem of peace. "It is no light chance," says Willis, in his exquisite lines "To a City Pigeon,"
"It is no light chance. Thou art set apart Wisely by Him who has tamed the heart, To stir the love for the bright and fair, That else were sealed in this crowded air; I sometimes dream Angelic rays from thy pinions gleam."
In these same lines, how truly and how sweetly has he said:
"A holy gift is thine, sweet bird! Thou'rt named with childhood's earliest word! Thou'rt linked with all that's fresh and wild, In the prison'd thoughts of a city child; And thy glossy wings Are its brightest image of moving things."
In the language of the same poet, how often have we said, as we looked forth upon the gentle bird:
"Stoop to my window, thou beautiful dove; Thy daily visits have touched my love. I watch thy coming, and list the note That stirs so low in thy mellow throat; And my joy is high To catch the glance of thy gentle eye."
In his lines to "The Belfry Pigeon," Mr Willis has expressed most truthfully the feelings and thoughts which all have had for this gentle creature, which,
"Alone of the feathered race, Doth look unscared on the human face."
As we know of nothing on the subject more appropriate and beautiful than the address referred to, we will copy it for our young readers.
THE BELFRY PIGEON.
"On the cross beam under the Old South Bell, The nest of a pigeon is builded well. In summer and winter that bird is there, Out and in with the morning air. I love to see him track the street, With his wary eye and active feet; And I often watch him as he springs, Circling the steeples with easy wings, Till across the dial his shade has pass'd, And the belfry edge is gained at last. 'Tis a bird I love, with its brooding note, And the trembling throb in its mottled throat; There's a human look in its swelling breast, And the gentle curve of its lowly crest; And I often stop with the fear I feel— He runs so close to the rapid wheel.
"Whatever is rung on that noisy bell— Chime of the hour or funeral knell— The dove in the belfry must hear it well. When the tongue swings out to the midnight moon— When the sexton cheerily rings for noon— When the clock strikes clear at morning light— When the child is waked with 'nine at night'— When the chimes play soft in the Sabbath air, Filling the spirit with love of prayer— Whatever tale in the bell is heard, He broods on his folded feet unstirr'd, Or, rising half in his rounded nest, He takes the time to smooth his breast, Then drops again with filmed eyes, And sleeps as the last vibration dies.
"Sweet bird! I would that I could be A hermit in the crowd like thee! With wings to fly to wood and glen. Thy lot, like mine, is cast with men, And daily, with unwilling feet, I tread, like thee, the crowded street; But, unlike me, when day is o'er, Thou canst dismiss the world and soar; Or, at a half-felt wish for rest, Canst smooth the feathers on thy breast, And drop, forgetful, to thy nest."
A DAY IN THE WOODS.
"School!" said Richard White, to himself; "School! I don't want to go to school. Why am I sent to school every day? What good is there in learning grammar, and arithmetic, and geography, and all them things? I don't like school, and I never did."
"Dick!" called out a voice; and the lad, who had seated himself on a cellar door, and placed his satchel beside him, looked up, and met the cheerful face of one of his school-fellows.
"What are you sitting there for, Dick? Don't you hear the school bell?"
"Yes; I hear it, Bill."
"Then get up and come along, or you will be late."
"I don't care if I am. I don't like to go to school."
"No, indeed. I'd never go to school if I could help it. What's the use of so much learning? I'm going to a trade as soon as I get old enough; and Pete Elder says that a boy who don't know A B C, can learn a trade just as well as one who does."
"I don't know any thing about that," replied William Brown; "but father says, the more learning I get when a boy, the more successful in life will I be when a man; that is, if I make a good use of my learning."
"What good is grammar going to do a mechanic, I wonder?" said Richard, contemptuously. "What use will the double rule of three, or fractions, be to him?"
"They may be of a great deal of use. Father says we cannot learn too much while we are boys. He says he never learned any thing in his life that did not come of use to him at some time or other."
"Grammar, and geography, and double rule of three, will never be of any use to me."
"Oh, yes, they will, Dick! So come along. The bell is nearly done ringing. Come, won't you?"
"No; I'm going out to the woods,"
"Come, Richard, come! That will be playing truant."
"No; I've made my mind up not to go to school to-day."
"You'll be sorry for it, Dick, if you do stay away from school."
"Why will I?" said the boy, quickly. "Are you going to tell?"
"If I should be asked about you, I will not tell a lie; but I don't suppose any one will inquire of me."
"Then why will I be sorry?"
"You'll be sorry when you're a man."
Richard White laughed aloud at the idea of his being sorry when he became a man, for having neglected his school when a boy.
"If you are not going, I am," said William Brown, starting off and running as fast as he could. He arrived at the door of the schoolhouse just as the bell stopped ringing. In stopping to persuade Richard not to play truant, he had come near being too late.
As soon as William left him, Richard White got up from the cellar door where he had been reclining lazily, and throwing his satchel over his shoulder, started for the woods. His books and satchel were in his way, and rather heavy to carry about with him for six or seven hours. But he did not think it prudent to leave them any where, for the person with whom they were left would suspect him of playing truant, and through that means his fault might come to the knowledge of his parents.
After thinking over this, as he went on his way, it occurred to Richard that the satchel was as likely to betray him if carried along as if left at some store to be called for on his return. Finally, he concluded to ask for a newspaper at a shop.
With this he wrapped up his satchel, and taking it under his arm, went on without any more fears of betrayal from this source.
As soon as the foolish boy reached the woods, he hid his satchel, so as to get clear of the trouble it was to him, beside a large stone, and covered it with leaves and long grass. Then he felt free, and, as he thought, happy.
But it was not long before he got tired of rambling about alone. He listened, sometimes, to the birds, and sometimes tried, with stones, to kill the beautiful and innocent creatures. Then he thought how pleasant it would be to find a nest, and carry off the young ones; and he searched with great diligence for a long time, but could find no nest.
Once a little striped squirrel glided past him, and mounted a high tree. As it ran around and around the great trunk, appearing and disappearing at intervals, Richard tried to knock it off with stones. But his aim was not very true. Instead of hitting the squirrel, he managed to get a severe blow himself; for a stone which he threw very high, struck a large limb, and, bouncing back, fell upon his upturned face, and cut him badly.
From that moment, all the pleasure he had felt since entering the woods was gone. The blood stained his shirt bosom, and covered his hand when he put it up to his face. Of course, the wound, and the blood upon his shirt, would betray him. This was his first thought, as he washed himself at a small stream. But, then, all at once it occurred to him—for evil suggestions are sure to be made to us when we are in the way to receive them—that it would be just as easy to say that a boy threw a stone, which struck him as he was walking along the street, as to say that he got hurt while in the woods. And, without stopping to think how wicked it would be to tell a lie, Richard determined to make this statement when he got home.
The smarting of the wound, and the uneasiness occasioned by a sight of the blood, so disturbed Richard's feelings, that he was unable to regain enough composure of mind to enjoy his day of freedom in the woods. By twelve o'clock, he was tired and hungry, and heartily wished himself at home. But it would not do to go now; for if he were to do so, his father would understand that he had not been to school. There was no alternative for him but to remain out in the lonely woods, without any thing to eat, for five hours longer. And a weary time it was for him.
At last the sun, which had been for a very long time, it seemed to him, descending toward the western horizon, sunk so low that he was sure it must be after five o'clock, and then, with sober feelings, he started for home. The day had disappointed him. He was far from feeling happy. When he thought of the wound on his face and the blood upon his bosom, he felt troubled. If he told the truth, he knew he would be punished, and if he told a lie, and was found out, punishment would as certainly follow.
These were his thoughts and feelings when he came to the place where he had concealed his satchel. But, lo! his books were gone. Some one had discovered and carried them off.
Sadly enough, now, did Richard White return home. We will not pain our young readers with an account of his reception. The father already knew that his son had not been to school, for a man had found the satchel in the woods. Richard's name was on it, and this led the man to bring it to his father, with whom he was acquainted.
Richard never went to school again. On the very next week, he was sent to learn a trade, and he soon found that there was a great difference between a school-boy and an apprentice.
William Brown continued to go to school two years longer, when he also went from home to learn a trade. He was then a good scholar, and had a fondness for books. Because he was learning a trade, he did not give up all other kinds of learning, but, whenever he had leisure, he applied himself to his books. Both he and Richard were free about the same time. Richard had learned his trade well, and was as good a workman as William; but he had not improved his mind. He had not been able to see the use that learning was going to be to a mechanic.
Fifteen years have passed since these two lads completed their terms of apprenticeship, and entered the world as men; and how do they now stand? Why, William Brown has a large manufactory of his own, and Richard White is one of his workmen. By his superior intelligence and enterprise, the former is able to serve the public interests by giving direction to the labors of a hundred men, and his reward is in proportion to the service he thus renders; while the latter serves the public interest to the extent of only one man's labors, and his reward is in exact ratio thereto.
Did Richard White gain any thing by his day in the woods? We think not. Is there any use in education to a mechanic? Let each of our young readers answer the question for himself.
THE SPIDER AND THE HONEY-BEE. A FABLE FOR MANY IN GENERAL AND SOME IN PARTICULAR.
A bee who had chased after pleasure all day, And homeward was lazily wending his way, Fell in with a Spider, who called to the Bee: "Good evening! I trust you are well," said he.
The bee was quite happy to stop awhile there— For indolence always has moments to spare— "Good evening!" he said, with a very low bow, "My health, sir, alas! 'tis quite delicate now.
"From spring until autumn, from morning till night, I'm obliged to be toiling with all my might; My labors are wearing me out, and you know I might as well starve, as to kill myself so."
The Spider pretended to pity the Bee— For a cunning old hypocrite Spider was he— "I'm sorry to see you so ill," he said; And he whispered his wife, "He will have to be bled."
"Some people—perhaps they are wiser than I— Some people are in a great hurry to die; Excuse me, but candor compels me to say, 'Tis wrong to be throwing one's life away.
"Your industry, sir, it may do very well For the beaver's rude hut, or the honey-bee's cell; But it never would suit a gay fellow like me; I love to be idle—I love to be free.
"This hoarding of riches—this wasting of time, In robbing the gardens and fields—'tis a crime! And then to be guilty of suicide, too! I tremble to think what a miser will do."
'Tis strange the poor Bee was so stupid and blind. "Mister Spider," said he, "you have spoken my mind; There's something within me that seems to say, I have toiled long enough, and 'tis better to play.
IX. "But how in the world shall I manage to live? I might beg all my life, and nobody would give. 'Tis easy enough to be merry and sing, But living on air is a different thing."
The Spider was silent, and looked very grave— 'Twas a habit he had—the scheming old knave! No Spider, intent on his labor of love, Had more of the serpent, or less of the dove.
"To serve you would give me great pleasure," said he; "Come into my palace, and tarry with me; The Spider knows nothing of labor and care. Come, you shall be welcome our bounty to share.
"I live like a king, and my wife like a queen, In meadows where flowers are blooming and green; 'Tis sweet on the violet's bosom to lie, And list to the stream that runs merrily by.
"With us you shall mingle in scenes of delight, All summer and winter, from morning till night; And when 'neath the hills the sun sinks in the west, Your head on a pillow of roses shall rest.
"When miserly Bees shall return from their toils, We'll catch them, and tie them, and feast on the spoils; I'll lighten their burdens—I ought to know how— My pantry is full of such gentlemen now."
The Bee did not wait to be urged any more, But nodded his thanks, as he entered the door. "Aha!" said the Spider, "I have you at last." And he caught the poor urchin, and wound him up fast.
The Bee, when aware of his perilous fate, Recovered his wit, though a moment too late. "O treacherous Spider! for shame!" said he, "Is it thus you betray a poor, innocent Bee?"
The cunning old Spider then laughed outright; "Poor fellow!" he said, "you are in a sad plight! Ha! ha! what a dunce you must be to suppose, That the heart of a Spider should pity your woes!
"I never could boast of much honor or shame, Though a little acquainted with both by name; But I think if the Bees can a brother betray, We Spiders are quite as good people as they.
"On the whole, you have lived long enough, I opine; So now, by your leave, I will hasten to dine; You'll make a good dinner, it must be confess'd, And the world, I am thinking, will pardon the rest."
This lesson for every one, little and great, Is taught in that vagabond's tragical fate: Of him who is scheming your friend to ensnare, Unless you've a passion for Heeding, beware!
EMMA LEE AND HER SIXPENCE.
Emma's aunt had given her a sixpence, and now the question was, what should she buy with it? "I'll you what I will do, mother," she said, changing her mind for the tenth time.
"Well, dear, what have you determined upon now?"
"I'll save my sixpence until I get a good many more, and then I'll buy me a handsome wax doll. Wouldn't you do that, mother, if you were me?"
"If I were you, I suppose I would do just as you will," replied Emma's mother, smiling.
"But, mother, don't you think that would be a nice way to do? I get a good many pennies and sixpences, you know, and could soon save enough to buy me a beautiful wax doll."
"I think it would be better," said Mrs Lee, "for you to save up your money and buy something worth having."
"Isn't a large wax doll worth having?"
"Oh, yes! for a little girl like you."
"Then I'll save up my money, until I get enough to buy me a doll as big as Sarah Johnson's."
In about an hour afterward, Emma came to her mother, and said—
"I've just thought what I will do with my sixpence. I saw such a beautiful book at a store, yesterday! It was full of pictures, and the price was just sixpence. I'll buy that book."
"But didn't you say, a little while ago, that you were going to save your money until you had enough to buy a doll?"
"I know I did, mother; but I didn't think about the book then. And it will take so long before I can save up money enough to get a new doll. I think I will buy the book."
"Very well, dear," replied Mrs Lee.
Not long after, Emma changed her mind again.
On the next day, her mother said to her—
"Your Aunt Mary is quite sick, and I am going to see her. Do you wish to go with me?"
"Yes, mother, I should like to go. I am so sorry that Aunt Mary is sick. What ails her?"
"She is never very well, and the least cold makes her sick. The last time she was here she took cold."
As they were about leaving the house, Emma said—
"I'll take my sixpence along, and spend it, mother."
"What are you going to buy?" asked Mrs Lee.
"I don't know," replied Emma. "Sometimes I think I will buy some cakes; and then I think I will get a whole sixpence worth of cream candy, I like it so."
"Have you forgotten the book?"
"Oh, no! Sometimes I think I will buy the book. Indeed, I don't know what to buy."
In this undecided state of mind, Emma started with her mother to see her aunt. They had not gone far before they met a poor woman, with some very pretty bunches of flowers for sale. She carried them on a tray. She stopped before Mrs Lee and her little girl, and asked if they would not buy some flowers.
"How much are they a bunch?" asked Emma.
"Sixpence," replied the woman.
"Mother! I'll tell you what I will do with my sixpence," said Emma, her face brightening with the thought that came into her mind. "I will buy a bunch of flowers for Aunt Mary. You know how she loves flowers. Can't I do it, mother?"
"Oh, yes, dear! Do it, by all means, if you think you can give up the nice cream candy, or the picture book, for the sake of gratifying your aunt."
Emma did not hesitate a moment, but selected a very handsome bunch of flowers, and paid her sixpence to the woman with a feeling of real pleasure.
Aunt Mary was very much pleased with the bouquet Emma brought her.
"The sight of these flowers, and their delightful perfume, really makes me feel better," she said, after she had held them in her hand for a little while; "I am very much obliged to my niece, for thinking of me."
That evening, Emma looked up from a book which her mother had bought her as they returned home from Aunt Mary's, and with which she had been much entertained, and said—
"I think the spending of my sixpence gave me a double pleasure."
"How so, dear?" asked Mrs Lee.
"I made aunt happy, and the flower woman too. Didn't you notice how pleased the flower woman looked? I wouldn't wonder if she had little children at home, and thought about the bread that sixpence would buy them when I paid it to her. Don't you think she did?"
"I cannot tell that, Emma," replied her mother; "but I shouldn't at all wonder if it were as you suppose. And so it gives you pleasure to think you have made others happy?"
"Indeed it does."
"Acts of kindness," replied Emma's mother, "always produce a feeling of pleasure. This every one may know. And it is the purest and truest pleasure we experience in this world. Try and remember this little incident of the flowers as long as you live, my child; and let the thought of it remind you that every act of self-denial brings to the one who makes it a sweet delight."
UNCLE RODERICK'S STORIES.
Uncle Roderick was an old bachelor—as thorough going an old bachelor as any one need wish to see. Some folks said he had a great many droll whims in his head. I don't know how that was; but this I know, that he loved every body, and almost every body loved him. He had evidently seen better days, when, in my boyhood, I first made his acquaintance; or rather, he had been "better off in the world," as the phrase goes. Whether he had been happier, may admit of a question; for the wealthiest man is not always the happiest. There were marks about him which seemed to show that he had been higher on the wheel of fortune, and that the change in his condition had had a chastening effect—just as some fruits become mellower and better after being bruised a little and frost-bitten. He was a great lover of children, and withal an inveterate story-teller.
His memory must have been pretty good, I think; for he would often tell stories to his little friends by the hour, about what happened to him when he was a boy. Some of these stories were funny enough; but the old gentleman usually managed to tack on some good moral to the end of them. By your leave, boys and girls, I will serve up two or three of these stories for an evening's entertainment. They will bear telling the second time, I guess, and I will repeat them, as nearly as my recollection will allow, in the good old bachelor's own words.
* * * * *
STORY FIRST. HONESTY THE BEST POLICY.
A person is, on the whole, a great deal better off to be honest. Dishonesty is a losing game. A wise man was once asked what one gained by not telling the truth. The reply was, "Not to be believed when he speaks the truth." He was right. There are a great many other respects, too, in which a dishonest person suffers by his dishonesty. I must tell you what a lie once cost me. I was about nine years old, perhaps. In justice to myself, I ought to say that I was not much addicted to this vice; but told a fib once in a great while, as I am afraid too many other little boys, pretty good on the whole, sometimes allow themselves to do. One very cool day in the spring of the year, my father, who was a farmer, was ploughing, and I was riding horse. I didn't relish the task very well, as I was rather cold, and old Silvertail was full of his mischief. It was a little more than I could do to manage him. Moreover, there was some rare sport going on at home.
"Father," said I, after bearing the penance for the greater part of the forenoon, "how much longer must I stay in the field?"
"About an hour," was the reply.
An hour seemed a great while in the circumstances, and I ventured to say, "I wish I could go home now—my head aches."
"I am very sorry," said my father; "but can't you stay till it is time to go home to dinner?"
I thought not—my headache was getting to be pretty severe.
"Well," said he, taking me off the horse, and no doubt suspecting that my disease was rather in my heart than my head—a suspicion far too well-founded, I am sorry to say—"well, you may go home. I don't want you to work if you are sick. Go straight home, and tell your mother that I say you must take a good large dose of rhubarb. Tell her that I think it will do you a great deal of good!"
There was no alternative. I went home, of course, and delivered the message to my mother. I told her, however, that I thought my head was better, hoping to avoid taking the nauseous medicine. But it was of no use. It was too late. She understood my case as well as my father did. She knew well enough my disease was laziness. So she prepared the rhubarb—an unusually generous dose, I always thought—and I had to swallow every morsel of it. Dear me! how bitter it was! It makes me sick to think of a dose of rhubarb, let me be ever so well. I am sure I would have rode horse all day—and all night, too, for that matter—rather than to have been doctored after that sort. But it cured my laziness pretty effectually, and it was a long time before I told another lie, too.
"Honesty is the best policy," children, depend upon it, though there is another and a better reason, as you very well know, why you should always speak the truth.
STORY SECOND. HOW A ROGUE FEELS WHEN HE IS CAUGHT.
When I was a little boy, as near as I can recollect, about nine years of age, I went with my brother one bright Saturday afternoon, when there was no school, to visit at the house of Captain Perry. The captain was esteemed one of the kindest and best-natured neighbors in Willow Lane, where my father lived; and Julian, the captain's eldest son, very near my own age, was, among all the boys at school, my favorite play-fellow. Captain Perry had two bee-hives in his garden, where we were all three at play; and as I watched the busy little fellows at work bringing in honey from the fields, all at once I thought it would be a very fine thing to thrust a stick into a hole which I saw in one of the hives, and bring out some of the honey. My brother and Julian did not quite agree with me in this matter. They thought, as nearly as I can recollect, that there were three good reasons against this mode of obtaining honey: first, I should be likely to get pretty badly stung; secondly, the act would be a very mean and cowardly piece of mischief; and, thirdly, I should be found out.
Still, I was bent on the chivalrous undertaking. I procured a stick of the right size, and marched up to the hive to make the attack. While I was deliberating, with the stick already a little way in the hole, whether I had better thrust it in suddenly, and then scamper away as fast as my legs could carry me, or proceed so deliberately that the bees would not suspect what was the matter, Captain Perry happened to come into the garden; and I was so busy with my mischief, that I did not notice him until he advanced within a rod or two of the bee-hives. He mistrusted what I was about. "Roderick," said he. I looked around. I am sure I would have given all I was worth in the world, not excepting my little pony, which I regarded as a fortune, if, by some magic or other, I could have got out of this scrape. But it was too late. I hung my head down, as may be imagined, while the captain went on with his speech: "Roderick, if I were in your place (I heartily wished he was in my place, but I did not say so; I said nothing, in fact), if I were in your place, I would not disturb those poor, harmless bees, in that way. If you should put that stick into the hive, as you were thinking of doing, it would take the bees a whole week to mend up their cells. That is not the way we get honey. I don't wonder you are fond of honey, though. Children generally are fond of it; and if you will go into the house, Mrs Perry will give you as much as you wish, I am sure."
This was twenty years ago—perhaps more. I have met Captain Perry a hundred times since; yet even now I cannot look upon his frank, honest countenance, but I distinctly call to mind the Quixotic adventure with the bees, and I feel almost as much ashamed as I did when I was detected.
STORY THIRD. THE WEEKLY NEWSPAPER.
I never shall forget what a sensation it used to produce in our family, years ago, when the newspaper came. We children—there were three of us, one brother and two sisters—used to watch for the post, on the all-important day, as anxiously as a cat ever watched for a mouse. Peter Packer, the bearer of these weekly dispatches, deserves a little notice. He was a queer man, at least he had that reputation in our neighborhood. As long as I can remember, he went his rounds; and, for aught I know, he is going to this day.
Peter's old mare—she must be mentioned, for the two are almost inseparable—was as odd as he was. I should think she belonged to the same general class and order with Don Quixote's renowned Rosinante; but she had one peculiarity which is not put down in the description of Rosinante, to wit, the faculty of diagonal or oblique locomotion. This mare of Peter's went forward something after the manner of a crab, and a little like a ship with the wind abeam, as the sailors say. It was a standing topic of dispute among us boys, whether the animal went head foremost or not. But that did not matter much, so that she made her circuit—and she always did, punctually; that is, she always came some time or another. Sometimes she was a day or two later than usual; but this never occurred except in the summer season, and it was in this wise: she had a most passionate love for the practical study of botany; and not being allowed, when at home, to pursue her favorite science as often as she wished, owing partly to a want of specimens, and partly to her master's desire to educate her in the more solid branches, she frequently took the liberty to divest herself of her bridle, when standing at the door of her master's customers, and to gallop away in search of flowers. She was a great lover of botany, so much so, that, as I said before, her desire to obtain specimens sometimes interfered a little with her other literary engagements; and I am sure I can forgive her—
"For e'en her failings leaned to virtue's side."
Just so it was with Peter himself. No storm, or tempest, or snow-bank, could detain him—that is, not longer than a day or two—in his weekly round. But he loved the theory of making money as much as his mare loved botany; and he was a practical student, too, and the road which he traveled afforded a good many opportunities both for extending his knowledge of that science and of practically applying his principles. So, between the two, our newspaper sometimes got thoroughly aired before it came to the house. But Peter was punctual—I insist upon it—for he always came some time or another.
When the paper did come, we literally devoured its contents. With us it was an oracle. If the "Courier" affirmed or denied a thing, that was enough for us. It was an end to all debate. How confiding children are! He who has read "Robinson Crusoe" when a boy, finds it almost impossible to regard it a fable when he is a man. The newspaper, that makes its weekly visit to the family circle in the country, leaves the marks of its influence upon the mind and the morals of the child. It forms his tastes and controls his character. How careful, then, should parents be, in the selection of periodicals to be the companions of their children.
* * * * *
STORY FOURTH. THE CIDER PLOT.
When I was an apprentice, some years ago, I lived—no matter where, and served—no matter whom. There were three apprentices besides myself; and it seems necessary to say, that, at the time when the incident happened which I am about to relate, we had neither of us completed that branch of husbandry called the sowing of wild oats; and as the soil was very favorable for the development of that species of grain, we were perhaps a little too industriously engaged in its cultivation. We were in great haste to have the oats all sowed in good season.
One day our employer bought a cast of cider—Newark cider, I believe they called it—and the greater portion of it was nicely bottled, and placed in a dark corner of the cellar, to be used, not for making vinegar, or mince pies, but for a very different purpose—which may be surmised by such as remember that in those days the juice of the apple had a much better reputation than it has now. We were allowed our share of the beverage. But we were not satisfied. We resolved ourselves into a sort of committee of the whole, one afternoon; and after a long and somewhat spirited debate, came to the unanimous conclusion that, in the course of human events, it became necessary to employ the most effective measures to procure additional supplies from the cellar. Now it so happened, that these measures were not of the most peaceable and honorable kind. Such was their nature, in fact, that if we had been discovered in the act of resorting to them, it would no doubt have been deemed necessary, in the general course of human events, that we should be soundly whipped.
The plan was to seize a bottle once in a while, something after the manner of privateers; though I believe the trade of privateering is regarded as piracy, now-a-days. How times are changed! We were to go on this expedition in rotation, from the oldest downward. We commenced, and two of us had performed the feat. It came George Reese's turn next. You didn't know George, I suppose. But I wish you had known him. I think you could appreciate the story better, if you knew him as well as I did. Well, George went down cellar, with his pitcher in his hand, thirsting for cider and glory. You must know that there was a flight of stairs that led directly to the cellar from the room we occupied. You should know, too, that we went down without a light, and felt our way in the dark. George had not been below two minutes, when we heard a report from the cellar very like the discharge of a pistol. It was loud enough to alarm the whole house. We were frightened. We had reason to be. Who knows, thought we, but they have set a spring-gun for us, and poor George is badly wounded? We waited in silence, and with not a little anxiety, for our hero to come up.
He came at last, and a sorry looking fellow he was. He was covered from head to foot with yeast! The cook had placed her bottle of emptyings, tightly corked, in the village of cider bottles; and the truth flashed upon us at once, that George had made a mistake, and captured the wrong bottle; and the most of its contents, being a little angry at the time, were discharged into his face. But this was not all. George thought he had encountered a cider bottle, after all, for he could see nothing in the cellar, and he had poured what little remained of his yeast into the pitcher, and brought it up with him. When he made his appearance, there was such a noisy trio of laughter as that old kitchen had seldom heard before. This brought in the cook, and she laughed as loudly as the rest of us. Then, to crown all, the lady of the house, hearing the noise, came to see what we were all about; and she laughed the loudest of any body. I shall never forget the image of George Reese, as he entered that room. It gives me a pain in the side now, only to think of it.
MORAL 1.—Before undertaking any enterprise similar to this cider-plot, it is desirable to count the cost.
MORAL 2.—In your pursuit after glory, take care that you do not come in contact with something else that is not so pleasant.
* * * * *
STORY FIFTH. MY FIRST HUNTING-EXCURSION.
I shall never forget the first time I sallied out into the woods to try my hand at hunting. Carlo, the old family dog, went with me, and he was about as green in the matter of securing game as myself. We were pretty well matched, I think. I played the part of Hudibras, as nearly as I can recollect, and Carlo was a second Ralph. I had a most excellent fowling-piece—so they said. It began its career in the French war, and was a very veteran in service. Besides this ancient and honorable weapon, I was provided with all the means and appliances necessary for successful hunting. I was "armed and equipped as the law directs," to employ the words of those semi-annual documents that used to summon me to training.
Well, it was sometime before we—Carlo and I—started any game. Wind-mills were scarce. For one, I began to fear we should have to return without any adventure to call forth our skill and courage. But the brightest time is often just before day, and so it was in this instance. Carlo began presently to bark, and I heard a slight rustling among the leaves in the woods. Sure enough, there was visible a large animal of some kind, though I could not determine precisely what it was, on account of the underbrush. However, I satisfied myself that it was rare game, at any rate; and that point being settled, I took aim and fired.
Carlo immediately ran to the poor victim. He was a courageous fellow, that Carlo, especially after the danger was over. Many a time I have known him make demonstrations as fierce as a tiger when people rode by our house, though he generally took care not to insult them until they were at a convenient distance. Carlo had no notion of being killed, knowing very well that if he were dead, he could be of no service whatever to the world. Hudibras said well when he said,
"That he who fights and runs away, May live to fight another day."
That was good logic. But Carlo went farther than this, even. He was for running away before he fought at all; and so he always did, except when the enemy ran away first, in which case he ran after him, as every chivalrous dog should. In the case of the animal which I shot at, Carlo bounded to his side when the gun was discharged, as I said before. For myself, I did not venture quite so soon, remembering that caution is the parent of safety. By and by, however, I mustered courage, and advanced to the spot. There lay the victim of my first shot! It was one of my father's sheep! Poor creature! She was sick, I believe, and went into a thicket, near a stream of water, where she could die in peace.
I don't know whether I hit her or not. I didn't look to see, but ran home as fast as my legs would carry me. Thus ended the first hunting excursion in which I ever engaged, and, though I was a mere boy then, and am somewhat advanced now, it proved to be my last.
SATURDAY IN WINTER.
Our tasks are all done, come away! come away! For a right merry time—for a Saturday play. See! the bright sun is shining right bravely on high; Make haste, or he'll soon be half over the sky. Come! first with our sleds down the glassy hill side, And then on our skates o'er the river we'll glide.
Now, Harry! sit firm on your sled—here we go! Swift—swift as an arrow let fly from a bow! Hurrah! downward rushing, how gayly we speed, Like an Arab away on his fleet-going steed. Hurrah! bravely done! Down the icy hill side, Swift—swift as an arrow, again let us glide.
And now for the river! How smooth and how bright, Like a mirror it sleeps in the flashing sunlight. Be sure, brother Harry, to strap your skates well; Last time you remember how heavy you fell. Now away! swift away! why, Harry! not down? Are you hurt? You must take better care of your crown.
Up, up, my good brother! now steady! start fair! Away we go! swift through the keen, frosty air. Down again! Bless me, Harry! your skates can't be right— Just wait till I see—no—but now they are tight. Here we go again! merry as school-boys can be, From books, pens, and pencils, and black board, set free.
Tired, at last, of our sport, home to dinner we run, And find that, two hours ago, dinner was done. But our meat and potatoes we relish quite well, Though cold—and the reason we scarcely need tell. Five hours spent in scudding and skating, I ween, 'Twould give to such lads as we, appetites keen.
At last the dim twilight succeeds to the day; Our week's work is ended, and ended our play. 'Tis Saturday night, and we know with the morn, Another dear Sabbath of rest will be born. O'er wearied, we sink into slumber profound, Assured that God's angels are watching around.
ROVER AND HIS LITTLE MASTER.
"Come, Rover!" said Harry, as he passed a fine old Newfoundland dog that lay on a mat at the door; "come, Rover! I am going down to the river to sail my boat, and I want you to go with me."
Rover opened his large eyes, and looked lazily at his little master.
"Come! Rover! Rover!"
But the dog didn't care to move, and so Harry went off to the river side alone. He had not been gone a great while, before a thought of her boy came suddenly into the mother's mind. Remembering that he had a little vessel, and that the river was near, it occurred to her that he might have gone there.