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Title: Our Young Folks. An Illustrated Magazine for Boys and Girls. Vol 5, Issue 6

Date of first publication: 1869

Author: John Townsend Trowbridge and Lucy Larcom (editors)

Date first posted: Feb. 9, 2016

Date last updated: Feb. 9, 2016

Faded Page eBook #20160211

This ebook was produced by: Marcia Brooks, Alex White & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net

Drawn by S. Eytinge, Jr.]          [See “The Story of a Bad Boy.”







An Illustrated Magazine







Vol. V. JUNE, 1869. No. VI.



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by Fields, Osgood, & Co., in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.


[This table of contents is added for convenience.—Transcriber.]



















This record of my life at Rivermouth would be strangely incomplete did I not devote an entire chapter to Gypsy. I had other pets, of course; for what healthy boy could long exist without numerous friends in the animal kingdom? I had two white mice that were forever gnawing their way out of a pasteboard chateau, and crawling over my face when I lay asleep. I used to keep the pink-eyed little beggars in my bedroom, greatly to the annoyance of Miss Abigail, who was constantly fancying that one of the mice had secreted itself somewhere about her person.

I also owned a dog, a terrier, who managed in some inscrutable way to pick a quarrel with the moon, and on bright nights kept up such a ki-yi-ing in our back garden, that we were finally forced to dispose of him at private sale. He was purchased by Mr. Oxford, the butcher. I protested against the arrangement, and ever afterwards, when we had sausages from Mr. Oxford’s shop, I made believe I detected in them certain evidences that Cato had been foully dealt with.

Of birds I had no end,—robins, purple-martins, wrens, bulfinches, bobolinks, ringdoves, and pigeons. At one time I took solid comfort in the iniquitous society of a dissipated old parrot, who talked so terribly, that the Rev. Wibird Hawkins, happening to get a sample of Poll’s vituperative powers, pronounced him “a benighted heathen,” and advised the Captain to get rid of him. A brace of turtles supplanted the parrot in my affections; the turtles gave way to rabbits; and the rabbits in turn yielded to the superior charms of a small monkey, which the Captain bought of a sailor lately from the coast of Africa.

But Gypsy was the prime favorite, in spite of many rivals. I never grew weary of her. She was the most knowing little thing in the world. Her proper sphere in life—and the one to which she ultimately attained—was the sawdust arena of a travelling circus. There was nothing short of the three R’s, reading, ’riting, and ’rithmetic, that Gypsy couldn’t be taught. The gift of speech was not hers, but the faculty of thought was. She combined the wisdom of the serpent with the harmlessness of the dove.

My little friend, to be sure, was not exempt from certain graceful weaknesses, inseparable, perhaps, from the female character. She was very pretty,—and she knew it. She was also passionately fond of dress,—by which I mean her best harness. When she had this on, her curvetings and prancings were laughable, though in ordinary tackle she went along demurely enough. There was something in the enamelled leather and the silver-washed mountings that chimed with her artistic sense. To have her mane braided, and a rose or a pansy stuck into her forelock, was to make her too conceited for anything.

She had another trait not rare among her sex. She liked the attentions of young gentlemen, while the society of girls bored her. She would drag them, sulkily, in the cart; but as for permitting one of them in the saddle, the idea was preposterous. Once when Pepper Whitcomb’s sister, in spite of our remonstrances, ventured to mount her, Gypsy gave a little indignant neigh, and tossed the gentle Emma heels over head in no time. But with any of the boys the mare was as docile as a lamb.

Her treatment of the several members of the family was comical. For the Captain she entertained a wholesome respect, and was always on her good behavior when he was around. As to Miss Abigail, Gypsy simply laughed at her,—literally laughed, contracting her upper lip and displaying all her snow-white teeth, as if something about Miss Abigail struck her, Gypsy, as being extremely ridiculous.

Kitty Collins, for some reason or another, was afraid of the pony, or pretended to be. The sagacious little animal knew it, of course, and frequently, when Kitty was hanging out clothes near the stable, the mare, being loose in the yard, would make short plunges at her. Once Gypsy seized the basket of clothes-pins with her teeth, and rising on her hind legs, pawing the air with her fore feet, followed Kitty clear up to the scullery steps.

That part of the yard was shut off from the rest by a gate; but no gate was proof against Gypsy’s ingenuity. She could let down bars, lift up latches, draw bolts, and turn all sorts of buttons. This accomplishment rendered it hazardous for Miss Abigail or Kitty to leave any eatables on the kitchen table near the window. On one occasion Gypsy put in her head and lapped up six custard pies that had been placed by the casement to cool.

An account of my young lady’s various pranks would fill a thick volume. A favorite trick of hers, on being requested to “walk like Miss Abigail,” was to assume a little skittish gait so true to nature that Miss Abigail herself was obliged to admit the cleverness of the imitation.

The idea of putting Gypsy through a systematic course of instruction was suggested to me by a visit to the circus which gave an annual performance in Rivermouth. This show embraced, among its attractions, a number of trained Shetland ponies, and I determined that Gypsy should likewise have the benefit of a liberal education. I succeeded in teaching her to waltz, to fire a pistol by tugging at a string tied to the trigger, to lie down dead, to wink one eye, and to execute many other feats of a difficult nature. She took to her studies admirably, and enjoyed the whole thing as much as anybody.

The monkey was a perpetual marvel to Gypsy. They became bosom-friends in an incredibly brief period, and were never easy out of each other’s sight. Prince Zany—that’s what Pepper Whitcomb and I christened him one day, much to the disgust of the monkey, who bit a piece out of Pepper’s nose—resided in the stable, and went to roost every night on the pony’s back, where I usually found him in the morning. Whenever I rode out, I was obliged to secure his Highness the Prince with a stout cord to the fence, he chattering all the time like a madman.

One afternoon as I was cantering through the crowded part of the town, I noticed that the people in the street stopped, stared at me, and fell to laughing. I turned round in the saddle, and there was Zany, with a great burdock leaf in his paw, perched up behind me on the crupper, as solemn as a judge.

After a few months, poor Zany sickened mysteriously, and died. The dark thought occurred to me then, and comes back to me now with redoubled force, that Miss Abigail must have given him some hot-drops. Zany left a large circle of sorrowing friends, if not relatives. Gypsy, I think, never entirely recovered from the shock occasioned by his early demise. She became fonder of me, though; and one of her cunningest demonstrations was to escape from the stable-yard, and trot up to the door of the Temple Grammar School, where I would discover her at recess patiently waiting for me, with her fore feet on the second step, and wisps of straw standing out all over her.

I should fail if I tried to tell you how dear the pony was to me. Even hard, unloving men become attached to the horses they take care of; so I, who was neither unloving nor hard, grew to love every glossy hair of the pretty little creature that depended on me for her soft straw bed and her daily modicum of oats. In my prayer at night I never forgot to mention Gypsy with the rest of the family,—generally setting forth her claims first.

Whatever relates to Gypsy belongs properly to this narrative; therefore I offer no apology for rescuing from oblivion, and boldly printing here, a short composition which I wrote in the early part of my first quarter at the Temple Grammar School. It is my maiden effort in a difficult art, and is, perhaps, lacking in those graces of thought and style which are reached only after the severest practice.

Every Wednesday morning, on entering school, each pupil was expected to lay his exercise on Mr. Grimshaw’s desk; the subject was usually selected by Mr. Grimshaw himself, the Monday previous. With a humor characteristic of him, our teacher had instituted two prizes, one for the best and the other for the worst composition of the month. The first prize consisted of a penknife, or a pencil-case, or some such article dear to the heart of youth; the second prize entitled the winner to wear for an hour or two a sort of conical paper cap, on the front of which was written, in tall letters, this modest admission: I am a Dunce! The competitor who took prize No. 2 wasn’t generally an object of envy.

My pulse beat high with pride and expectation that Wednesday morning, as I laid my essay, neatly folded, on the master’s table. I firmly decline to say which prize I won.

It is no small-author vanity that induces me to publish this stray leaf of natural history. I lay it before our young folks, not for their admiration, but for their criticism. Let each reader take his lead-pencil and remorselessly correct the orthography, the capitalization, and the punctuation of the essay. I shall not feel a bit hurt at seeing my treatise cut all to pieces; though I think highly of the production, not on account of its literary excellence, which I candidly admit is not overpowering, but because it was written years and years ago about Gypsy, by a little fellow who, when I strive to recall him, appears to me like a reduced ghost of my present self; but here’s the composition to speak for itself;—

I am confident that any reader who has ever had pets, birds or animals, will forgive me for this brief digression.


“I guess we’re going to have a regular old-fashioned snow-storm,” said Captain Nutter, one bleak December morning, casting a peculiarly nautical glance skyward.

The Captain was always hazarding prophecies about the weather, which somehow never turned out according to his prognostications. The vanes on the church steeples seemed to take fiendish pleasure in humiliating the dear old gentleman. If he said it was going to be a clear day, a dense sea-fog was pretty certain to set in before noon. Once he caused a protracted drought by assuring us every morning, for six consecutive weeks, that it would rain in a few hours. But, sure enough, that afternoon it began snowing.

Now I had not seen a snow-storm since I was eighteen months old, and of course remembered nothing about it. A boy familiar from his infancy with the rigors of our New England winters can form no idea of the impression made on me by this natural phenomenon. My delight and surprise were as boundless as if the heavy gray sky had let down a shower of pond-lilies and white roses, instead of snow-flakes. It happened to be a half-holiday, so I had nothing to do but watch the feathery crystals whirling hither and thither through the air. I stood by the sitting-room window gazing at the wonder until twilight shut out the novel scene.

Several inches of snow had already fallen. The rose-bushes at the door drooped with the weight of their magical blossoms, and the two posts that held the garden gate were transformed into stately Turks, with white turbans, guarding the entrance to the Nutter House.

The storm increased at sundown, and continued with unabated violence through the night. The next morning, when I jumped out of bed, the sun was shining brightly, the cloudless heavens wore the tender azure of June, and the whole earth lay muffled up to the eyes, as it were, in a thick mantle of milk-white down.

It was a very deep snow. The Oldest Inhabitant (what would become of a New England town or village without its oldest inhabitant?) overhauled his almanacs, and pronounced it the deepest snow we had had for twenty years. It couldn’t have been much deeper without smothering us all. Our street was a sight to be seen, or, rather, it was a sight not to be seen; for very little street was visible. One huge drift completely banked up our front door and half covered my bedroom window.

There was no school that day, for all the thoroughfares were impassable. By twelve o’clock, however, the great snow-ploughs, each drawn by four yokes of oxen, broke a wagon-path through the principal streets; but the foot-passengers had a hard time of it floundering in the arctic drifts.

The Captain and I cut a tunnel, three feet wide and six feet high, from our front door to the sidewalk opposite. It was a beautiful cavern, with its walls and roof inlaid with mother-of-pearl and diamonds. I am sure the ice palace of the Russian Empress, in Cowper’s poem, was not a more superb piece of architecture.

The thermometer began falling shortly before sunset, and we had the bitterest cold night I ever experienced. This brought out the Oldest Inhabitant again the next day,—and what a gay old boy he was for deciding everything! Our tunnel was turned into solid ice. A crust thick enough to bear men and horses had formed over the snow everywhere, and the air was alive with merry sleigh-bells. Icy stalactites, a yard long, hung from the eaves of the houses, and the Turkish sentinels at the gate looked as if they intended never to be relieved from duty.

So the winter set in cold and glittering. Everything out of doors was sheathed in silver mail. To quote from Charley Marden, it was “cold enough to freeze the tail off a brass monkey,”—an observation which seemed to me extremely happy, though I knew little or nothing concerning the endurance of brass monkeys, having never seen one.

I had looked forward to the advent of the season with grave apprehensions, nerving myself to meet dreary nights and monotonous days; but summer itself was not more jolly than winter at Rivermouth. Snow-balling at school, skating on the Mill Dam, coasting by moonlight, long rides behind Gypsy in a brand-new little sleigh built expressly for her, were sports no less exhilarating than those which belonged to the sunny months. And then Thanksgiving! The nose of Memory—why shouldn’t Memory have a nose?—dilates with pleasure over the rich perfume of Miss Abigail’s forty mince-pies, each one more delightful than the other, like the Sultan’s forty wives. Christmas was another red-letter day, though it was not so generally observed in New England as it is now.

The great wood fire in the tiled chimney-place made our sitting-room very cheerful of winter nights. When the north wind howled about the eaves, and the sharp sleet rattled against the window-panes, it was nice to be so warmly sheltered from the storm. A dish of apples and a pitcher of chilly cider were always served during the evening. The Captain had a funny way of leaning back in the chair, and eating his apple with his eyes closed. Sometimes I played dominos with him, and sometimes Miss Abigail read aloud to us, pronouncing “to” toe, and sounding all the eds.

In a former chapter I alluded to Miss Abigail’s managing propensities. She had effected many changes in the Nutter House before I came there to live; but there was one thing against which she had long contended without being able to overcome. This was the Captain’s pipe. On first taking command of the household, she prohibited smoking in the sitting-room, where it had been the old gentleman’s custom to take a whiff or two of the fragrant weed after meals. The edict went forth,—and so did the pipe. An excellent move, no doubt; but then the house was his, and if he saw fit to keep a tub of tobacco burning in the middle of the parlor floor, he had a perfect right to do so. However, he humored her in this as in other matters, and smoked by stealth, like a guilty creature, in the barn, or about the gardens. That was practicable in summer, but in winter the Captain was hard put to it. When he couldn’t stand it longer, he retreated to his bedroom and barricaded the door. Such was the position of affairs at the time of which I write.

One morning, a few days after the great snow, as Miss Abigail was dusting the chronometer in the hall, she beheld Captain Nutter slowly descending the staircase, with a long clay pipe in his mouth. Miss Abigail could hardly credit her own eyes.

“Dan’el!” she gasped, retiring heavily on the hat-rack.

The tone of reproach with which this word was uttered failed to produce the slightest effect on the Captain, who merely removed the pipe from his lips for an instant, and blew a cloud into the chilly air. The thermometer stood at two degrees below zero in our hall.

“Dan’el!” cried Miss Abigail, hysterically,—“Dan’el, don’t come near me!” Whereupon she fainted away; for the smell of tobacco-smoke always made her deadly sick.

Kitty Collins rushed from the kitchen with a basin of water, and set to work bathing Miss Abigail’s temples and chafing her hands. I thought my grandfather rather cruel, as he stood there with a half-smile on his countenance, complacently watching Miss Abigail’s sufferings. When she was “brought to,” the Captain sat down beside her, and, with a lovely twinkle in his eye, said softly: “Abigail, my dear, there wasn’t any tobacco in that pipe! It was a new pipe. I fetched it down for Tom to blow soap-bubbles with.”

At these words Kitty Collins hurried away, her features working strangely. Several minutes later I came upon her in the scullery with the greater portion of a crash towel stuffed into her mouth. “Miss Abygil smelt the terbacca with her oi!” cried Kitty, partially removing the cloth, and then immediately stopping herself up again.

The Captain’s joke furnished us—that is, Kitty and me—with mirth for many a day; as to Miss Abigail, I think she never wholly pardoned him. After this, Captain Nutter gradually gave up smoking, which is an untidy, injurious, disgraceful, and highly pleasant habit.

A boy’s life in a secluded New England town in winter does not afford many points for illustration. Of course he gets his ears or toes frost-bitten; of course he smashes his sled against another boy’s; of course he bangs his head on the ice; and he’s a lad of no enterprise whatever, if he doesn’t manage to skate into an eel-hole, and be brought home half drowned. All these things happened to me; but, as they lack novelty, I pass them over, to tell you about the famous snow-fort which we built on Slatter’s Hill.


The memory of man, even that of the Oldest Inhabitant, runneth not back to the time when there did not exist a feud between the North End and the South End boys of Rivermouth.

The origin of the feud is involved in mystery; it is impossible to say which party was the first aggressor in the far-off ante-revolutionary ages; but the fact remains that the youngsters of those antipodal sections entertained a mortal hatred for each other, and that this hatred had been handed down from generation to generation, like Miles Standish’s punch-bowl.

I know not what laws, natural or unnatural, regulated the warmth of the quarrel; but at some seasons it raged more violently than at others. This winter, both parties were unusually lively and antagonistic. Great was the wrath of the South-Enders, when they discovered that the North-Enders had thrown up a fort on the crown of Slatter’s Hill.

Slatter’s Hill, or No-man’s-land, as it was generally called, was a rise of ground covering, perhaps, an acre and a quarter, situated on an imaginary line, marking the boundary between the two districts. An immense stratum of granite, which here and there thrust out a wrinkled boulder, prevented the site from being used for building purposes. The street ran on either side of the hill, from one part of which a quantity of rock had been removed to form the underpinning of the new jail. This excavation made the approach from that point all but impossible, especially when the ragged ledges were a-glitter with ice. You see what a spot it was for a snow-fort.

One evening twenty or thirty of the North-Enders quietly took possession of Slatter’s Hill, and threw up a strong line of breastworks, something after this shape:—

The rear of the intrenchment, being protected by the quarry, was left open. The walls were four feet high, and twenty-two inches thick, strengthened at the angles by stakes driven firmly into the ground.

Fancy the rage of the South-Enders the next day, when they spied our snowy citadel, with Jack Harris’s red silk pocket-handkerchief floating defiantly from the flag-staff!

In less than an hour it was known all over town, in military circles at least, that the “Puddle-dockers” and the “River-rats” (these were the derisive sub-titles bestowed on our South-End foes) intended to attack the fort that Saturday afternoon.

At two o’clock all the fighting boys of the Temple Grammar School, and as many recruits as we could muster, lay behind the walls of Fort Slatter, with three hundred compact snow-balls piled up in pyramids, awaiting the approach of the enemy. The enemy was not slow in making his approach,—fifty strong, headed by one Mat Ames. Our forces were under the command of General J. Harris.

Before the action commenced, a meeting was arranged between the rival commanders, who drew up and signed certain rules and regulations respecting the conduct of the battle. As it was impossible for the North-Enders to occupy the fort permanently, it was stipulated that the South-Enders should assault it only on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons between the hours of two and six. For them to take possession of the place at any other time was not to constitute a capture, but on the contrary was to be considered a dishonorable and cowardly act. The North-Enders, on the other hand, agreed to give up the fort whenever ten of the storming party succeeded in obtaining at one time a footing on the parapet, and were able to hold the same for the space of two minutes. Both sides were to abstain from putting pebbles into their snow-balls, nor was it permissible to use frozen ammunition. A snow-ball soaked in water and left out to cool was a projectile which in previous years had been resorted to with disastrous results.

These preliminaries settled, the commanders retired to their respective corps. The interview had taken place on the hillside between the opposing lines.

General Harris divided his men into two bodies: the first comprised the most skilful marksmen, or gunners; the second, the reserve force, was composed of the strongest boys, whose duty it was to repel the scaling parties, and to make occasional sallies for the purpose of capturing prisoners, who were bound by the articles of treaty to faithfully serve under our flag until they were exchanged at the close of the day.

The repellers were called light infantry; but when they carried on operations beyond the fort they became cavalry. It was also their duty, when not otherwise engaged, to manufacture snow-balls. The General’s staff consisted of five Templars (I among the number, with the rank of Major), who carried the General’s orders and looked after the wounded.

General Mat Ames, a veteran commander, was no less wide-awake in the disposition of his army. Five companies, each numbering but six men, in order not to present too big a target to our sharpshooters, were to charge the fort from different points, their advance being covered by a heavy fire from the gunners posted in the rear. Each scaler was provided with only two rounds of ammunition, which were not to be used until he had mounted the breastwork and could deliver his shots on our heads.

The following cut represents the interior of the fort just previous to the assault. Nothing on earth could represent the state of things after the first volley.

The enemy was posted thus:—

The thrilling moment had now arrived. If I had been going into a real engagement I could not have been more deeply impressed by the solemnity of the occasion.

The fort opened fire first,—a single ball from the dexterous hand of General Harris taking General Ames in the very pit of his stomach. A cheer went up from Fort Slatter. In an instant the air was thick with flying missiles, in the midst of which we dimly descried the storming parties sweeping up the hill, shoulder to shoulder. The shouts of the leaders, and the snow-balls bursting like shells about our ears, made it very lively.

Not more than a dozen of the enemy succeeded in reaching the crest of the hill; five of these clambered upon the icy walls, where they were instantly grabbed by the legs and jerked into the fort. The rest retired confused and blinded by our well-directed fire.

When General Harris (with his right eye bunged up) said, “Soldiers, I am proud of you!” my heart swelled in my bosom.

The victory, however, had not been without its price. Six North-Enders, having rushed out to harass the discomfited enemy, were gallantly cut off by General Ames and captured. Among these were Lieutenant P. Whitcomb (who had no business to join in the charge, being weak in the knees), and Captain Fred Langdon, of General Harris’s staff. Whitcomb was one of the most notable shots on our side, though he was not much to boast of in a rough-and-tumble fight, owing to the weakness before mentioned. General Ames put him among the gunners, and we were quickly made aware of the loss we had sustained, by receiving a frequent artful ball which seemed to light with unerring instinct on any nose that was the least bit exposed. I have known one of Pepper’s snow-balls, fired point-blank, to turn a corner and hit a boy who considered himself absolutely safe.

But we had no time for vain regrets. The battle raged. Already there were two bad cases of black eye, and one of nose-bleed, in the hospital.

It was glorious excitement, those pell-mell onslaughts and hand-to-hand struggles. Twice we were within an ace of being driven from our stronghold, when General Harris and his staff leaped recklessly upon the ramparts and hurled the besiegers heels over head down hill.

At sunset, the garrison of Fort Slatter was still unconquered, and the South-Enders, in a solid phalanx, marched off whistling “Yankee Doodle,” while we cheered and jeered them until they were out of hearing.

General Ames remained behind to effect an exchange of prisoners. We held thirteen of his men, and he eleven of ours. General Ames proposed to call it an even thing, since many of his eleven prisoners were officers, while nearly all our thirteen captives were privates. A dispute arising on this point, the two noble generals came to fisticuffs, and in the fracas our brave commander got his remaining well eye badly damaged. This didn’t prevent him from writing a general order the next day, on a slate, in which he complimented the troops on their heroic behavior.

On the following Wednesday the siege was renewed. I forget whether it was on that afternoon or the next that we lost Fort Slatter; but lose it we did, with much valuable ammunition and several men. After a series of desperate assaults, we forced General Ames to capitulate; and he, in turn, made the place too hot to hold us. So from day to day the tide of battle surged to and fro, sometimes favoring our arms, and sometimes those of the enemy.

General Ames handled his men with great skill; his deadliest foe could not deny that. Once he outgeneralled our commander in the following manner: He massed his gunners on our left and opened a brisk fire, under cover of which a single company (six men) advanced on that angle of the fort. Our reserves on the right rushed over to defend the threatened point. Meanwhile, four companies of the enemy’s scalers made a détour round the foot of the hill, and dashed into Fort Slatter without opposition. At the same moment General Ames’s gunners closed in on our left, and there we were between two fires. Of course we had to vacate the fort. A cloud rested on General Harris’s military reputation until his superior tactics enabled him to dispossess the enemy.

As the winter wore on, the war-spirit waxed fiercer and fiercer. At length the provision against using heavy substances in the snow-balls was disregarded. A ball stuck full of sand-bird shot came tearing into Fort Slatter. In retaliation, General Harris ordered a broadside of shells; i. e. snow-balls containing marbles. After this, both sides never failed to freeze their ammunition.

It was no longer child’s play to march up to the walls of Fort Slatter, nor was the position of the besieged less perilous. At every assault three or four boys on each side were disabled. It was not an infrequent occurrence for the combatants to hold up a flag of truce while they removed some insensible comrade.

Matters grew worse and worse. Seven North-Enders had been seriously wounded, and a dozen South-Enders were reported on the sick list. The selectmen of the town awoke to the fact of what was going on, and detailed a posse of police to prevent further disturbance. The boys at the foot of the hill, South-Enders as it happened, finding themselves assailed in the rear and on the flank, turned round and attempted to beat off the watchmen. In this they were sustained by numerous volunteers from the fort, who looked upon the interference as tyrannical.

The watch were determined fellows, and charged the boys valiantly, driving them all into the fort, where we made common cause, fighting side by side like the best of friends. In vain the four guardians of the peace rushed up the hill, flourishing their clubs and calling upon us to surrender. They could not get within ten yards of the fort, our fire was so destructive. In one of the onsets a man named Mugridge, more valorous than his peers, threw himself upon the parapet, when he was seized by twenty pairs of hands, and dragged inside the breastwork, where fifteen boys sat down on him to keep him quiet.

Perceiving that it was impossible with their small number to dislodge us, the watch sent for reinforcements. Their call was responded to, not only by the whole constabulary force (eight men), but by a numerous body of citizens, who had become alarmed at the prospect of a riot. This formidable array brought us to our senses: we began to think that maybe discretion was the better part of valor. General Harris and General Ames, with their respective staffs, held a council of war in the hospital, and a backward movement was decided on. So, after one grand farewell volley, we fled, sliding, jumping, rolling, tumbling down the quarry at the rear of the fort, and escaped without losing a man.

But we lost Fort Slatter forever. Those battle-scarred ramparts were razed to the ground, and humiliating ashes sprinkled over the historic spot, near which a solitary lynx-eyed policeman was seen prowling from time to time during the rest of the winter.

The event passed into a legend, and afterwards, when later instances of pluck and endurance were spoken of, the boys would say, “By golly! you ought to have been at the fights on Slatter’s Hill!”

T. B. Aldrich.


On their way to the coal-shaft, Lawrence and his new friend passed a little white box of a house, which Mr. Clarence said was the superintendent’s office, and proposed that they should look in.

The interior consisted of one room, divided by a counter, on one side of which sat a young man reading a newspaper. Lawrence and Mr. Clarence, with the little dog Muff, advanced from the other side.

“Here,” said Mr. Clarence, “is where the miners walk up and get their pay.” He rapped on the counter with his cane. “How are you, Mr. Superintendent?”

The young man looked up pleasantly enough; and Mr. Clarence proceeded to introduce himself and his companion, with liberal allusions to their distinguished uncles, which made the more modest Lawrence grin and blush.

“We shall take it as a favor if you will grant us facilities for visiting the mines,” said the fluent-tongued Mr. Clarence.

“It won’t be safe for you to go into the mines without a guide, and I have no person to send with you,” replied the superintendent, politely, but decidedly.

Upon which Lawrence was for retiring at once. But Mr. Clarence said, leaning upon the counter very much at his ease, “Of course; I understand all about that; and we have no wish to take up your valuable time. Thank you,—very kind, I am sure,”—though Lawrence couldn’t see how the superintendent had shown himself so very kind, or why they should thank him. “Perhaps, however,” said Mr. Clarence, “as my friend here is interested in the coal formation, you might show us some specimens without much trouble to yourself.”

“O certainly.” The superintendent laid aside his newspaper, and got up from his chair. “Here is something quite pretty,” said he, opening a drawer and placing on the counter a piece of slate rock, bearing a beautiful impression of a fern-leaf. Lawrence’s enthusiasm over it seemed to please him; and he continued to lay out his treasures, until he came to one which he pronounced “very remarkable.”

This was a broad, thin slab of slate, which proved to be a perfect cast of a portion of the leaves of a strange tree, which must have been two or three feet in diameter, at least. All the minute seams in the bark, together with little bud-like spots occurring at regular intervals between parallel lines half an inch apart, were stamped with wonderful delicacy and distinctness in the slaty mould.

“How—where did these come from?” cried Lawrence, examining the specimens with astonishment and admiration.

“The coal, you know,” said the voluble Mr. Clarence, “is supposed to be the result of immense, rank growths of fern-trees, and other plants, which absorbed the surplus carbon of the atmosphere during the carboniferous period. Carbon, you know, is the principal thing in coal,—the French say charbon, which means both carbon and coal,—and the carboniferous era is that in which our coal deposits were made. That was nobody knows how many thousands of years ago,—millions, it may be; and the trunks and leaves that made these impressions in the stones you are handling grew and decayed long before ever man appeared on the globe.”

Lawrence knew as much as that before; but now, with the impressions before his eyes, distinct as if they had been taken but yesterday, the fact came home to his mind with startling force.

“Those forests,” continued Mr. Clarence, “must have grown mostly in the water, and have sunk down in great beds of fallen trunks and matted leaves, and there decayed; and occasionally layers of mud or clay must have washed in over them; and now and then, at longer intervals,—the ground sinking, I suppose,—great beds of sand and pebbles washed in. The vegetable matters changed to coal, while the mud hardened into slate, and the sand and pebbles into rocks. The mud, of course, would often take impressions of the leaves and bark, and retain them, as it hardened, even after the leaves and bark themselves had changed to coal.”

“See what you make of these,” said the superintendent, smiling, as he handed out more specimens.

“These are fossil roots,” said Mr. Clarence. “You find them generally in the fire clay under the coal veins; don’t you? Ah, this,” he said, seizing a beautiful slender, jointed stem of stone, “this is a fossil reed! Something like it grows in Mexico, at this day.”

“I believe you are right,” said the superintendent. “That was fifteen feet long, when we first found it. But it has been broken, and I have given away pieces of it.”

“Oh! if I could only have a piece!” exclaimed Lawrence.

“I’ll give you a piece,” said the superintendent, and picked out from the pile a small fragment of the reed, which had been previously broken off. Then, seeing how delighted the boy was, he selected a piece of slate that had a fine imprint of a leaf on it, and gave it to him.

Lawrence, having secured these treasures, threw longing glances at the large cast already described. But of course the superintendent could not be expected to break that, for anybody. So Lawrence asked for a piece of paper, thinking he might take an impression from it.

“Now,” said he, laying the paper on the cast, “if I only had a piece of lead to rub on it,”—for he remembered that he had often, in this way, taken quite accurate impressions of cents and medals, when at school. “Have you a bullet?”

“None outside of me,” said the superintendent; who went on to explain that he had one in him, received from a rebel musket.

“You were in the army, then?” said Mr. Clarence.

“Yes, with a company of our miners. We left coal, and went into business under the rebel fortifications. Our men helped make the famous mine we exploded before Petersburg. It was there I got my bullet.”

As the said bullet was not available for artistic purposes, Lawrence tried a lead pencil, and succeeded in getting a fair impression of the curious bark pattern.

“Would you like to look at the breaker?” then said the superintendent.

To which Lawrence replied, “O very much!” while Mr. Clarence kicked his shin, and whispered, “That’s the way to do it; I knew he would come round.”

So they all walked out towards the great colliery building near by. It covered the steep slope of the hillside, and looked, Lawrence said, as if it might have been built as a coop for some long-necked, enormous bird.

“So it does,” said the superintendent. “The highest part, which you fancy was meant to accommodate the goose’s long neck and head, is what we call the tower. It is directly over the shaft. The wing covers, sloping away down to the railroad, are over the shoots.”

“Spelled chutes,” remarked Mr. Clarence, twisting his cane. “That is the French for falls. Didn’t you ever hear a Frenchman speak of la chute de Niagara? You won’t see a chute de Niagara here, but you’ll see chutes de anthracite coal. Though in this case it isn’t the cataracts they call the chutes, but the wooden spouts they run down.”

The superintendent took them first into the engine-room, on the upper side of the building, close by the shaft. There they saw several beautiful engines at work with so little noise that they could scarcely be heard amid the thundering roar of the cataract of coal launched in the tower overhead.

“This engine is for pumping the water out of the mines,” said the superintendent. “The one yonder works the ventilating fan, that blows out the impure air and smoke and fire-damp, and makes it possible for men to live so far down in the earth. Here is the breaker-engine, that crushes the coal.” Lastly, he showed a strong pair of engines employed in lifting the coal in the shaft.

“You don’t have to go far for the fuel you burn,” said Lawrence, as they went on into the boiler-room.

“Show him,” said the superintendent to a stout fireman, who threw open the iron doors beneath the boilers, and exposed to view a glowing and flaming bed of the very finest kind of coal, “no bigger than peas,” Lawrence said.

“We call it pea-coal,” replied the superintendent. “It is too fine to ship, and we used to throw it away with the coal-dust. But since coal has been so high, we have tried burning it here, and find that it does very well.”

Returning through the engine-room, they entered the tower, and stopped at the head of the shaft. This had for Lawrence a terrible fascination. Every three quarters of a minute—as Mr. Clarence, who looked at his watch, informed them—up came out of its black depths, with fearful rapidity, a car-load of coal, shooting past them, and disappearing with a deafening crash in the top of the tower, high above their heads.

The shaft was double, and two sets of cars were ascending and descending, with a parting of timber between them. The car was supported on a strong framework, called a carriage, which was lifted and lowered by a long rope and a steam-engine.

“What if the rope should break?” said Lawrence, imagining the frightful consequences of such a disaster.

“Don’t you see?” said Mr. Clarence, pointing with his cane; “the carriage runs in the grooves of these upright timbers. They are called guides. You see the notches in them. Well, if the rope breaks, there are dogs—as we call them—in the sides of the carriage, and they fall into the notches, and hold it.”

“I see you know something about coal,” remarked the superintendent.

“I ought to,” replied Mr. Clarence. “I intend to follow my uncle’s profession”; and he took occasion once more to extol that celebrated mining engineer. “It is one of the noblest professions in the world. Civil engineering is nothing to it. A civil engineer, laying out a railroad, or anything of the sort, works where he can see; but a mining engineer has to work like a mole in the dark. He must know all about the coal-beds, how they lie, and the easiest and most economical way of getting at them, and all that. Now when you consider that the coal-beds in these anthracite regions lie in all sorts of ways,—as if the country, after they were formed, had been tossed up like the waves of a sea by the action of heat, I suppose; so that here you find them nearly level, in a sort of basin, and there turned up edgeways, and in another place, perhaps, regularly rolled over and folded together, like that,”—he traced out with his cane, on the floor, the various undulations and curves in the coal strata, very much as if he had been writing a hard word; “when you consider all that, and reflect that sometimes these beds crop out at the surface, and sometimes dive hundreds of feet into the earth,—you’ll conclude that a mining engineer, who knows his business, knows something.”

“There are plenty who pretend to know their business who don’t know the first thing about it,” said the superintendent.

“Yes, and they often come and get my uncle to go and engineer for them,” said Mr. Clarence. “ ‘But you are an engineer, yourself,’ says my uncle. ‘Yes, but my eyes trouble me,—I can’t see very well,’ says the fellow. So my uncle goes and gives him a start, and makes figures and plans for him to work after. O,” laughed Mr. Clarence, “lots of those fellows have poor eyes, when anything requiring real skill is to be done; though they pass for engineers and draw big salaries. They know just enough to open a drift, or a slope, when it has been laid out for them.”

“What is a drift, or a slope?” Lawrence asked.

“Why, you see, there are different ways of opening a coal-mine. One is by a shaft, like this, when the beds lie deep, and in a sort of basin. We go straight down to the bottom of the lowest bed we are going to work, and pump out the water and draw up the coal by steam. The drift is a gangway from the bottom of the shaft, or a straight opening into a nearly level coal-bed, where it crops out on some hillside; and there the engineer must be pretty sharp, in order to make his opening so that the mine will drain itself, and the coal can be drawn out by mules. The slope is an opening that goes down slantingly into a vein; in it a track is laid, and regular wheelcars are let down and drawn up by a steam-engine.”

Lawrence wished to know more about the shaft before them; and the superintendent explained that it was a perpendicular opening, twenty-two feet long, twelve broad, and two hundred and fifty feet deep. It had been sunk by drilling and blasting through the solid strata of rock that covered and separated the coal-beds. It was divided, by partitions of plank and timber, into what seemed three separate shafts,—two for the coal-carriages, and a third for the air column and water-pump, which ventilated and drained the mines.

“But what is the use of a high tower?” said Lawrence, his eye following a coal-car as it shot up amid the strong timbers and braces above his head.

“To get room to break, screen, and separate the coal,” said the superintendent. “Come up stairs, and you will see.”

The tower was fifty feet high above the mouth of the shaft; and it would have had to be built still higher, Mr. Clarence observed, had not the slope of the hill made room for the bins below. They went up by narrow wooden staircases, through the “screen-room” and “plate-room” (which the superintendent said they should see again as they came down), amidst clouds of coal-dust, and blackened beams and braces, to the summit of the black-raftered and high-windowed tower. Mr. Clarence came last, having stopped to set Muff to guarding his cane in the engine-room, in order to prevent that white sheep of a dog from becoming a black one.

“Here you’ll see what makes the noise,” said the superintendent.

As he spoke, up came a coal-car, and stopped before their eyes. It was loaded, as Lawrence now had a chance to see, with huge lumps or fragments, some of immense size and weight. It seemed endowed with intelligence of its own, for the moment it arrived in the right place it threw out its own end-board, and immediately tipped up, casting its contents into an opening through the floor, called a “dump.” Some of the great lumps tumbled over the sides of the opening, and made Lawrence jump to take care of his toes.

An attendant (“That’s the ticket-boss,” said Mr. Clarence), begrimed from head to foot with coal-dust, now stepped forward, tumbled the scattered lumps into the dump, took something from a little hook in the car, pulled a bell as a signal to the engineer, and closed up the end-board as the empty car fell back into its place on the carriage. The car now dropped swiftly down into the shaft again; while the man, glancing at the little thing he had taken out of it, proceeded to put it away in a box of pigeon-holes.

“That’s the ticket,” said Mr. Clarence. “You didn’t know they had to have tickets on these cars, did you?”

Lawrence looked puzzled, and the superintendent explained. “This little piece of brass”—he took the ticket from its pigeon-hole—“has a number on it. It is number thirty-seven. That is the number of the chamber or breast in which that load of coal was mined. There is one miner in each chamber; he has his package of tickets, and he puts one in every car he sends out. The tickets are collected by the ticket-boss here, and all the thirty-sevens are put into pigeon-hole thirty-seven. So with the other tickets. Then, at night, the tickets in each pigeon-hole show just how many loads of coal are to be credited to each miner.”

“How many, on an average, will there be?”

“Seven is the rule; and each car-load must be a ton and a half.”

“Do you weigh it?”

“No. The ticket-boss can tell by his eye if it is full weight. If it isn’t, he docks the miner for the deficiency. Or he docks him if there is too much slate in his coal.”

“Seven car loads,—a ton and a half to the load,—ten and a half tons,” said Lawrence. “Does one miner get out all that, in a day?”

“You must know there are two distinct classes of laborers in the mines,” said the superintendent. “Each miner has possession of a chamber and we deal only with him. He finds his own tools, powder, oil, everything; and hires a common laborer to help him. The laborer knows not much more about mining than you do, and he is not called a miner, though he works in the mines. He loads the coal, and helps the miner in many ways. These two get out their seven loads,—or more, if they choose; and we pay the miner ninety-seven cents a load.”

“Six dollars and seventy-nine cents a day!” said Lawrence, who was quick at figures. “That’s good wages.”

“So it is, even after the miner has paid his expenses out of it. His powder costs him a dollar a day. He pays his laborer now, I believe, two dollars and ten cents a day. He has nearly three dollars and a half left for himself even if he gets out only seven loads. But some miners get out eight or nine loads a day; and, after making due allowance for stoppages, on account of accidents, or a dull market, earn their thousand or twelve hundred dollars a year. You will notice that those who confine themselves to their seven loads will go home this afternoon at three or four o’clock.”

“What sort of people are they?” Lawrence wished to know.

“They are all Welsh, in these mines. And a respectable, thrifty class they are, generally. They have their church-meetings, and their Sunday school, and week-day school for their children, like any other class. A few of them are dissipated and shiftless, and spend all they earn. But the most of them are sober and industrious, and provide well for their families. Some have laid up handsome little fortunes, all earned in the mines.”

“They are a much better class than the miners down in the Schuylkill district,” said Mr. Clarence. “There we have all sorts, but mostly Irish of the worst kind. Every once in a while some of them will get up a strike. The strikers go around to all the mines, and force everybody to stop work until everybody gets an increase of wages. If they don’t like a boss, they give him warning to quit, and if he don’t quit, they kill him. Riots are quite common; and the governor has had to call out the militia to put them down.”

“How many miners are at work in this mine?” Lawrence asked. “And how many men, besides?”

“We have forty-eight chambers running now; that makes forty-eight miners,” said the superintendent. “These, with their laborers, and a small army of men and boys employed in various other ways,—mule-drivers, slate-pickers, and so forth,—make a force of over three hundred.”

All the while they were talking the loads of coal kept thundering into the dump. They now descended into the room below, to see what next became of it. There it was received on a set of strong, slanting iron plates, forming a sort of spout from the dump above to the breaker below, and so arranged as to let the small pieces of coal drop through between them, as the cataract poured down. The big lumps rushed on to the breaker, guided by four stout Irishmen, armed with strong iron rakes. There was something terrible in the way the great lumps and blocks of anthracite came crashing and bounding down these plates; and Lawrence observed that the men had to work hard to take care of them.

“Yes,” one said; “the coal bosses us. If we had a boss that drove us half as hard, we’d be kickin’ him out.” And he grinned through his grime of coal-dust.

The breaker looked like a great coffee-mill; and the most of the coal went into its hopper. To see what became of it after it was crushed, the lads followed their guide to the room below.

Here was a lively scene. The first thing Lawrence noticed was a long, cylindrical screen, as large as a good-sized saw-log, rolling over and over, high up in the back part of the room. It was sifting the crushed coal, which was poured into one end of it by a spout from the breaker above. It was inclined just enough to let the coal roll and rattle down slowly from the upper towards the lower end, as it revolved. The finest coal and dust fell out of it, first, into a second screen, which separated them. Next, coal of four different sizes fell into four separate spouts, or chutes, the largest size coming out of the coarsest meshes at the lower end of the screen. These screens and chutes occupied one entire division of the room; and Lawrence now saw that there was another division, the exact counterpart of this; so that there were in all four screens and eight chutes. The two upper screens slanted each way from the breaker above, and the chutes distributed the torrent of coal into little streams which poured down through the room.

Here were the “pickers”; and quick-fingered, sharp-eyed, black-nosed little people they were. There were over forty in the room,—boys of various ages, sitting on the sides of the chutes, or on boards laid across, one above the other, picking out pieces of slate and bony coal, as the black streams poured down. What one did not get, those below him on the chute were expected to see and take out. The little hands flew fast; and the bad pieces went into wooden “slate-pockets” between the chutes. Lawrence, who could scarcely tell slate from coal at first sight, was amazed at their quickness of eye and hand.

“They are certainly throwing out coal!” said he, taking a lump which one was throwing out.

“That’s nothing but bone,” said Mr. Clarence. “It came very near being coal, but I suppose there was a little too much earthy mud mixed with the carbon of the decaying forests. All our coal-beds are full of slaty and bony seams, as you will see when we go into the mines.”

“The best we can do,” said the superintendent, “a good deal of slate comes to the breaker, and has to be picked out here. The miners call it collum. Culm is the proper word. They call everything collum that goes into the waste heap. Would you like to look at that?”

They went down into an archway beneath the screen-room, where they found a mule-car loading under a spout which led from one of the culm-bins. The car filled, the spout was closed, and the mule was driven off with his load along a track laid across the summit of an immense black mound, or small mountain, as it might truly be called. It spread out into the valley below, and must have contained hundreds of thousands of tons of “collum,”—being composed entirely of slate and bone and coal-dust from this single colliery.

“We dump here a hundred and twenty-five loads a day,” said the superintendent.

“In and about Scranton,” remarked Mr. Clarence, “there are a dozen collieries, and each one has just such a ‘collum dump,’ as they call it. You have only to go around and look at them, to get a tolerably big idea of the coal business of this little town.”

On the steep sides of the black mountain three or four women and one crippled old man were picking out the best pieces of bony coal, or pieces of slate to which a little coal adhered, and putting them into bags and baskets to burn or to sell.

From the culm dump the superintendent took his young friends down the hill-slope to the coal-bins, under the chutes, and showed them a coal-train loading from spouts.

“So you don’t have to shovel or handle the coal at all,” said Lawrence.

“Not from the time it leaves the miner’s chamber. From there it is drawn by mules to the foot of the shaft; then it is lifted by machinery, and poured through the breaker and down the chutes, travelling by its own weight, until it is taken off by the cars here. Even the cars, as you see,” added the superintendent, “are so constructed that the coal can be dumped from them on to a coal-wharf, or into the hold of a vessel, through spouts, still without handling.”

They now returned to the engine-room, where Mr. Clarence found Muff keeping faithful guard over his cane. “Present arms!” said Mr. Clarence. And Muff, getting up on his hind legs and turning about, with the cane balanced in his mouth, allowed his master to take it out. “Thank you,” said Mr. Clarence. And after that the dog went wherever the boys did.

“I see you looking anxiously at the shaft,” said the superintendent, smiling at Lawrence. “Won’t you be afraid to go down?”

“I don’t think I shall be afraid to go where anybody else does,” said Lawrence, looking down into the shaft. But even as he spoke, he started back.

Suddenly up out of the black pit rose a figure like a ghost. It was a moment before Lawrence perceived that it was really a form of flesh and blood, and, moreover, a boy of about his own age. He was standing on the naked beams of the carriage, with just one hand outstretched, holding on by a brace. This was all that supported him on his dark journey up the shaft. There was a little tin lamp hooked into his cap, the sallow flame of which, together with spots and streaks of coal-dust on his face, gave a sort of unearthly cast to his complexion. He wore no coat, and his shirt was open at the throat. The carriage stopped when on a level with the floor at the head of the shaft; he stepped off, and it sank down into the pit again.

“How would you like to ride in that style?” asked the superintendent.

Lawrence thought that if another boy could hold on he could, and said he would like it.

“Well,” said the superintendent, “I think we can do a little better by you than that. These boys ride up and down any way. I shall expect to see them clinging on to the rope like monkeys, soon. Owen,” said he to the ghost, “I want you to go through the mines with these young gentlemen, if you have time.”

“I’ve time enough,” said Owen; and his face lighted up with a bright and friendly smile,—not at all ghostly.

“What did I tell you?” Mr. Clarence whispered to Lawrence, while the superintendent went for another lamp.

The lamp was brought,—a little teapot-shaped thing, with a hook for a handle, and a lighted wick in the spout. Lawrence took it. Then an empty car was stopped at the head of the shaft, and the three lads stepped into it,—Mr. Clarence with Muff in his arms. Then the signal was given; the car began to sink; and darkness surrounded them, streaked only by the dim rays of the lamps.

“Good by,” cried the superintendent, from above.

“Good by,” echoed the voices of the boys, from the depths of the hollow-sounding shaft.

J. T. Trowbridge.


We were children together, you and I,

  We trod the same paths in days of old;

Together we watched the sunset sky,

  And counted its bars of massive gold.

And when from the dark horizon’s brim

The moon stole up with its silver rim,

And slowly sailed through the fields of air,

We thought there was nothing on earth more fair.


You walk to-night where the jasmines grow,

  And the Cross looks down from the tropic skies;

Where the spicy breezes softly blow,

  And the slender shafts of the palm-trees rise.

You breathe the breath of the orange flowers,

And the perfumed air of the myrtle bowers;

You pluck the acacia’s golden balls,

And mark where the red pomegranate falls.


I stand to-night on the breezy hill,

  Where the pine-trees sing as they sang of yore;

The north-star burneth clear and still,

  And the moonbeams silver your father’s door.

I can see the hound as he lies asleep,

In the shadow close by the old well-sweep,

And hear the river’s murmuring flow,

As we two heard it, long ago!


Do you think of the firs on the mountain-side,

  As you walk to-night where the palm-trees grow?

Of the brook where the trout in the darkness hide?

  Of the yellow willows waving slow?

Do you long to drink of the crystal spring,

In the dell where the purple harebells swing?

Would your pulses leap could you hear once more

The sound of the flail on the threshing-floor?


Ah! the years are long, and the world is wide,

  And the salt sea rolls our hearts between;

And never again at eventide

  Shall we two gaze on the same fair scene.

But under the palm-trees wandering slow,

You think of the spreading elms, I know;

And you deem our daisies fairer far

Than the gorgeous blooms of the tropics are!


Julia C. R. Dorr.


Adjoining the Grays’ place was another one very much like it; the cottage was of the same style of architecture, and about it there was the same amount of ground. The family who occupied it, however, were persons of altogether different tastes, who had very little idea of beautifying the outside of their premises. True, there was a sort of lawn before the door, with a straight walk leading directly up from the gate, on either side of which were narrow flower-beds. In these were planted a number of coarse and showy flowers, among which were marigolds, hollyhocks, and sunflowers. The beds were usually much overgrown with weeds, although once in a while the boy was set at the business of clearing them out, after which, for a short time, the place appeared to better advantage. But there was not a tree upon the premises, nor a vine about the piazza, except the volunteer morning-glories, that had come up and twined around the posts without any planting or training.

Mrs. Patton, the lady of the house, had little taste for such matters; and although she admitted that Mrs. Gray had made her place look very pretty, still she pronounced it a waste of time, these hours spent in merely planting and cultivating flowers. They would all die as soon as frost touched them, and then the work must be done over again next year. In this way she consoled herself for the lack of beauty around her house.

Now there are some persons who talk a great deal about their time, and how much they object to wasting it; while observers cannot see that they turn it to any very profitable account. Mrs. Patton was one of these; she read a great many trashy novels, and so did her two daughters, and they were always complaining of the dulness of the country, and longing to return to the city. They did not hear the songs of the birds that sang so sweetly in their neighbors’ trees, nor did they enjoy any of the pleasures that made up so much of the Grays’ happiness; yet they were surrounded by the same outside influences. The grand difference was in the tastes and feelings of the two neighbors. One family had no love for the bright things that God has given to adorn and soften our lives; the other took delight in their very toils, and admired the flowers all the more because they had helped to make them grow.

The Grays’ first summer in the country drew near its end. The seeds were carefully gathered, and put into little papers, with the names written upon each, all ready for the next season’s planting. Then the house-plants—those which would not bear the winter—were taken up, and placed in pots, to be kept in the sitting-room window during the cold weather. The verbenas had thrown out long runners, and these had taken root at every joint, so that it was easy to secure a number of vigorous young plants of each variety. Large ones were not taken up nor potted until quite late in the fall, as it was found that they were quite hardy at this season, and would bear several heavy frosts. Other plants, the scarlet sage, heliotrope, &c., needed protection from even the first cold nights; so they were at once placed under shelter of the piazza, where the frost could not reach them. After a few days’ drooping, they revived, and went on blooming as profusely as before they were taken from the beds.

Not until the middle of November was it necessary to bring the plants into the house, and then they were placed upon a wooden stand in a room without fire, where the sun could shine in upon them all day. Here again the Grays perceived the advantage of the country-house, for in the city, during previous winters, they had often found it impossible to secure a ray of bright sunlight for their plants; the high houses on either side of them left little chance for the sun.

There were many delightful employments out of doors for the young folks, at this lovely season, when the trees put on their many-colored dress, and the Indian summer made its brief visitation of pleasant weather. Nuts abounded in the woods near by, and there was grand fun to be found in whipping down the chestnuts, and then getting them out of their prickly burs.

Then there was some work to be done in preparing for the winter. The tender roses were to be protected slightly, or they might die, especially if it should be a cold winter. Their weather-wise neighbors predicted that it would be such a one, from several signs, said to be unfailing. The north sides of the forest trees were covered more thickly than common with moss and lichens; the breast-bones of the geese this year were said to be dark-colored, with only an occasional streak of white upon them, with other omens well known among farmers. Whether these were true indications or not our young gardeners could not undertake to decide, but since older observers had adopted them, it would have seemed presumptuous for mere beginners to doubt. Following the example of others, they therefore began to cover up the tender roots with heaps of dried leaves, laying light boards over, to keep the wind from blowing them away. The roses were surrounded with a tier of taller sticks and branches, driven firmly into the ground, and tied together over the top. A few loose leaves or shreds of straw tucked inside were a sufficient protection, and better than a tight covering of straw such as some use, as it allowed of a free circulation of air, and thus prevented mould or mildew.

Willie, the farmer, housed his crop of pop-corn, and the whole family was invited to join in the fun of husking it. Altogether he had more than a bushel of nice little ears, and many a popping time they would have before the winter was over.

As to the other products of the farm during this first year, they may be briefly summed up as follows: fifty quarts of strawberries, ten quarts of currants, three baskets of cucumbers, six bushels of tomatoes, and the same of potatoes, one bushel of pop-corn, one ditto of onions, besides a nice assortment of herbs, dried for winter use. In the barn-yard was a pen containing two pigs, which would furnish many nice things for Christmas,—sausage, doughnuts, and pastry, all of which the children could appreciate. Then a poultry-yard with a dozen hens would supply them with eggs all winter, to say nothing of the white cow that gave excellent milk and cream.

“How very much better is cows’ milk than milkmen’s!” exclaimed Mr. Gray to his wife nearly every time he drank his usual evening portion; but this was a remark which Daisy did not precisely understand. It was, however, unquestionably true; for their cow’s milk was innocent of water, or other mixtures, and the cream was so thick that half the quantity was sufficient for the coffee. Besides this, the children could fully enjoy the marvellous puddings and custards which their mother and the cook together knew so well how to prepare.

For grown people who long for company and gayety, winter in the country has not many amusements; but for children who go to school, and ought to be busy with study, there is even more variety than can be had in the city. The Grays began their studies with the usual autumn term, and as Willie and Maggie were now pretty well advanced, and would not have many years longer at school, they were urged to be diligent, and improve the time. This was rather more difficult, after the long summer vacation, during the whole of which they had scarcely looked into a geography or grammar. But now came “the tug of war,” and the lessons must be learned, whether they would or not. By degrees, however, it became easier to them, and they studied with energy.

Out of school hours there were amusements enough: skating, sledding, and sliding, upon the slippery lawn, which was covered with frozen sleet for weeks together. The predictions of the farmers had proved true, for the cold was severe and continuous, and even with all the fires going, people were complaining of the cold. Whenever the farmers or gardeners met together, they began to groan and grumble lest the fruit-trees should be injured, and the next year’s crops be lost. But, happily, the snow lay deep upon the ground during most of the winter, and, strange as it might seem to those who do not understand such things, it covered and kept warm the wheat, and strawberries, and many other plants that would have suffered seriously from the bitter winds.

So, when the spring returned, and the snow had melted away, there were the grass and grain, quite green and tender underneath, ready to start and grow, once more repeating that annual miracle of “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.”


“A place for everything, and everything in its place,” was a maxim that Mr. Gray had always enforced upon his children; and if it was a valuable rule in their city home, where there were comparatively few tools or fixtures in use, how much more important now, in regard to their farming and gardening implements. Even during the summer, when they were in daily use, the rule had been strictly practised, and every hoe, rake, and spade was carried, as soon as the work was over, and deposited in its place in the barn. Against the inside wall of that building were sundry hooks and nails where they could be hung up; and in the same corner had been fastened narrow leather straps, held by nails at short distances apart. These furnished receptacles for the various tools, such as hatchets, files, hammers, chisels, &c., which were needed so frequently both in the house and in the garden. Then Willie had constructed a box-shelf for nails, and it contained within it various small compartments for those of different sizes. Besides these, there was a place for twine and strips of leather; so that whenever a plant required tying up, or a frame needed repairs, there was no time lost in finding these useful trifles. The barn was a place of great importance, for in it were stored all such matters, and in rainy weather it offered shelter and many facilities for work.

One of the improvements meditated this year was a hot-bed, in which could be raised quite a variety of plants, to come into use and profit very early in the season. About the middle of February the boxes and frames were prepared, the back being raised higher than the front, and sloping downward, facing the south, so as to catch the warmest sunshine. A good second-hand sash was obtained at a trifling cost, and Pat and Willie together were the architects. By placing the back of the box against the barn-yard fence, the cold winds were kept off, and by a reference to one of the agricultural papers, for which Mr. Gray had long subscribed, the mode of filling it was easily learned. About the last of February it was ready for planting, and then were sown lettuce and radish seeds, as well as a few cucumbers, which, before many days, showed themselves above ground, and grew vigorously, forced by the heat of the rich compost in which they were planted. It was evident that their lettuce and radishes would be as early as any to be found in market.

The first of April had now come again, and with it a few spring-like days; but the season was later than usual, and the regular garden work was, in consequence, very much delayed. Yet there was some work to be done in clearing up and burning the brush. True, there was not much rubbish of that kind, for all the leaves and dead grass were to be ploughed under, and would help to enrich the ground. There was plenty of manure in the pig-pen and cow-yard, which was to be dug thoroughly into the ground before anything was planted, and they were thus saved the expense of purchasing any for this year. Around the rose-bushes, too, and indeed all over the flower-beds, it was spread quite thickly, for nothing shows the benefit of a rich soil more than flowers. It is the food they need to enable them to grow and bloom, and without it the plants would be very weak and spindling, and the blossoms small and few in number.

Although there was less to do in the way of laying out grounds, and such preparatory business, yet there were several important improvements in contemplation, which were now to be carried out. Among other things was the planting of a hedge of arbor-vitæ along the front fence, and Pat, who had formerly worked for a professional florist, and was therefore tolerably expert at the business of transplanting trees, was intrusted with the job. The young plants were only about two feet high, but they were set out close together, and afterwards trimmed at the top, so as to make them grow thick, as a hedge ought to do. The rains which came soon afterward settled them nicely in the ground, and most of them grew and flourished.

The children had long begged for a summer-house, and their father, who was very kind and indulgent, consented to the plan; but it was rather beyond Willie’s power to build so important a structure himself. A carpenter was therefore employed to do it, according to the plan agreed on in the assembled council of the family. There was to be a tight roof, but the sides were to be of open lattice-work, with seats all around, and a table in the middle. A coat or two of green and white paint gave the finishing touch, and then it was ready for the vines.

By this time the weather had become settled and spring-like, and the garden-beds had been prepared for planting. Here and there, where bulbs and early spring flowers had been placed last year, crocuses, snow-drops, violets, pansies, and hyacinths were coming into bloom, and in Daisy’s garden there was a superb crown imperial, which cast all the other flowers into the shade. Then among the shrubbery on the lawn were several lovely white spireas, and a flowering pear, all of which were in their full beauty by the middle of May.

But earlier than that, while there was yet frost in the ground, the children began their trips to the woods, to gather that loveliest and most fragrant of wild-flowers,—the epigæa, or trailing arbutus, which blooms so luxuriantly in the Middle States. Indeed, during the whole season of its blossoming Mrs. Gray was never without a bouquet.

Another of the ornamental improvements to be arranged this year was a rock-bed, and as there were sundry great stones upon the premises, and many more in the immediate neighborhood, they were soon collected into one huge pile, in a central part of the lawn. Sufficient earth and leaf-mould from the woods were placed in all the crevices between the stones, and then Willie and one or two of the others were intrusted with the duty of getting the prettiest ferns and mosses to plant upon it. Every good day, after school was over, they went on these excursions, and dived deep into the thickets after the most beautiful specimens, thinking of no danger but the poison-vines, which Willie was always careful to point out.

Always eager for adventures, on one of these occasions they saw something more marvellous than any sight yet witnessed. Running directly through the woods was a narrow brook, and on its banks grew the loveliest green mosses and the finest ferns. Maggie and Willie had descended to the very edge of the green bank, and Bessie and Susie were on the other side watching the operation. Just as Maggie stretched out her hand to grasp the moss there was a movement among the ferns beside her, and, looking around quickly, she saw a large snake, surrounded by a score of young ones. She uttered an involuntary shriek, and started back, and Willie raised his spade to strike the reptile, which continued in its nest, with its tongue darting backward and forward, and its eyes glancing brightly; but before he had time to take a proper position to deal a death-blow, the snake opened her mouth wider, and, strange to relate, the young ones quickly jumped down into her throat! It took but a moment for all this to happen, and away went the snake, gliding down into the water out of sight. The children, who had all seen the unheard-of proceeding, were well scared, and they hurried home with what ferns they had collected, full of the marvellous adventure, but less eager for another trip of the kind.

“That is certainly a grand snake story,” said Mr. Gray, laughing at the children’s exaggerated accounts of its size and fierceness; “I have heard that they will protect their young in this way.”

“O,” cried Daisy, in greater astonishment than ever; “that’s a funny way of protecting them,—to eat them up!”

This set them all to laughing. “Why, Daisy,” said her father, “they only went down her throat into a pouch she has, to stay until it was safe to come up again. I suppose that by this time they’re all crawling about the old one as lively as ever.”

“Then we’ll be afraid ever to go to the woods again,” said Bessie, “if all those snakes are alive yet.”

“I believe these water snakes are very harmless,” replied her father; “but snakes are not at all pretty, and no one ever cares to be very sociable with them, although I have heard of little girls making pets of them.”

“Pets of snakes!” cried Susie.

“Yes, there are a number of such instances on record; don’t you remember the story of the little girl who shared her bread and milk with a snake which came every day to eat out of her bowl? It was said that whenever the snake put his head too far over on to the other side of the bowl, the child would pat him with her spoon, as an invitation to keep in his proper place. Then snakes are said to have the power of charming or fascinating their prey, so as to draw them within reach of their fangs, and this is doubtless true, in the case of birds, toads, &c., though I can hardly believe the other stories, or imagine that they could ever become pleasant pets.”

“I hope we may never see another one,” said Maggie, shuddering; and so the uncomfortable snake-subject was dropped.

Fortunately, they had secured a plentiful supply of ferns and moss before this adventure, and the rock-bed became at once a very attractive object. All sorts of pretty green creeping plants were added to increase its beauty, and the whole kept well watered, until they became rooted and settled. One of the largest willows bent over it, and screened it from the heat of the sun, so that the ferns might have imagined themselves still in the shade of their original forest home. All around the lawn the trees had grown finely, and as there were a goodly number of them, there was quite a grove about the house, yet not one too many to suit the tastes of the occupants.

The vines and climbing roses this year sent up strong runners, and would have covered the piazza without the addition of any of the annuals or house-plants; but Mrs. Gray still found places for a few roots of the Mexican vines, and two or three scarlet beans. Most of these, however, were planted around the new summer-house, where they had a fine field for the indulgence of their rambling propensities. By the last of May the wistaria had put forth its bluish-purple clusters, and they hung in profusion around the eaves of the piazza, attracting myriads of bumble-bees to its dangerous sweets. In a day or two the ground was covered with the dead bees which had fallen victims to their appetites; the honey found in the fragrant blossoms being evidently poisonous to them. Still they came, as many as ever, and continued to suck the honey and die, until the last blossoms had faded.

As the season advanced, many of the experiences of last year were renewed, and the young gardeners were busy during all their leisure hours, in beautifying their garden-beds. Willie’s patent hoop frames were adopted as the central ornaments, and the vines planted out around them. Some choice dahlia roots were stationed here and there on the lawn, and several ornamental shrubs, while a few bulbous roots of tube-rose and gladiolus were planted in the beds. Besides this, Mrs. Gray’s hanging baskets were suspended from the eaves of the piazza, on either side of the doorway, and added no little to the general good effect.

In the farming department matters progressed very favorably; the fruit-trees had all blossomed, and the cherries especially promised a good crop. The peach-trees looked less encouraging, and many of their leaves were curled up by insects; there were few peaches to be seen, the cold winter having been unfavorable for their first bearing season. There was a fair show of pears on the little dwarf trees, and the raspberries and blackberries which grew between the rows of fruit-trees were quite full of blossoms, considering that this was only the second year of growth, and the first of bearing. But the strawberry-bed was literally white with bloom, and would no doubt furnish a fine supply. Then there were the vegetables, in much the same order as last year, not forgetting the pop-corn, which had given so much fireside enjoyment during the winter.

A favorite enjoyment in the summer time was fishing in a neighboring stream, and this year even Daisy, who was now past six years old, was permitted to join in the sport. Every Saturday Mr. Gray came home earlier from the city, and, with bait and fishing-lines all ready, the party set off, and generally brought home enough fish to serve for supper or breakfast. Sometimes, when the water was clear and quiet, they could see the pebbles on the bottom, and the fish gliding about in all directions. Some of the larger and wiser ones took no notice of the tempting bait, while others would pause and look, as if uncertain what to do. Then some less cautious little fellow came up, and first bit at, and finally swallowed it, hook and all, when, in a moment, up went hook and line, clear out of the water, and the fish with it.

“How it does remind me of the fable of the ‘Three Silver Trout’!” said Daisy, on one of these occasions, when she had been watching their antics.

“So it does, Daisy,” said her father; “suppose you repeat the fable for our entertainment.”

Most children, doubtless, are familiar with the story of the discontented trout that wished for wings, and when they were given him, died because he did not know how to use them; of the over-careful trout, that wanted to be able to see every snare and danger about him, and, this being granted him, died because he was afraid to move from his hiding-place, or even to taste food; and of the contented little trout that only asked to be taken care of by the wise Hand which had created him, and so was always cheerful and happy.

This fable Daisy’s mother, who was something of a rhymer, had one day put into verse for her little girl’s amusement; and Daisy, who had an excellent memory, now recited it to her father.

Just as she had finished, Susie and Bessie drew up their lines, each with a fine catfish, and Willie brought a string of more than a dozen, besides a good many little fellows, too small, perhaps, to be cooked. While some one was arranging the lines, &c., Maggie counted the fishes, and altogether there were seventy-two.

“Half a dozen dozen!” she exclaimed,—“and not a bad day’s work, either.”

This sounded like a large number, and so it was, and the phrase “half a dozen dozen” was repeated from one to another as they went home. Susie was the first to enter the house, and running up to her mother she says: “Only think what good luck we have had,—six dozen dozen of fishes!”

Six dozen dozen!” exclaimed her mother,—“I never heard of such a haul; surely, that’s a mistake.”

“No, really,” said Susie,—“ask Maggie, for she counted them.”

Half a dozen dozen, I said,” answered Maggie.

“Ah, that’s rather different,” said her mother.

“Why, half a dozen is surely six,” insisted Susie.

“There’s a puzzler!” exclaimed Willie,—“and there’s a little arithmetic in that question.”

“Why, even Bessie can do that sum,” said Mrs. Gray. “Come here, Bessie. How many are six dozen?”

“Seventy-two,” said Bessie.

“Right; then how many are seventy-two dozen? Here’s the slate,—set it down.”

“Eight hundred and sixty-four,” said Bessie, after a moment’s ciphering.

“O, I see now,” cried Willie,—“I see there’s some difference between half a dozen dozen and half a dozen dozen dozen; but it was a little puzzling, at first hearing.”

Author of “Six Hundred Dollars a Year.”


Once upon a time, a thousand years ago, there dwelt by the sea a little maid. Had I said in the sea, it would perhaps have been as well, for such a spray sprite never danced before at a breaker’s edge. It was bliss to her to watch that great sea, to hear its sweet or awful voices, to feel the salt wind lift her thick brown hair and kiss her cheek, to wade, barefooted, into the singing, sparkling brine. Above all things, she hated to sew patchwork. O, but she was a naughty child,—not at all like the good, decorous little girls who will perhaps read this story. She didn’t like to sweep and dust, and keep all things bright and tidy. She wished to splash in the water the whole day long, and dance, and sing, and string shells, and be idle like the lovely white kittiwakes that flew to and fro above her, and came at the beckoning of her hand. I blush to record such things of any little girl I ever knew, and I would not do so, if I were not sure that when she grew older she became a better child. She looked with scorn on dolls and all their appointments, and never wished to play with them,—it was almost as bad as patchwork! But she loved the sky, and all the clouds and stars, the sun that made a glory in the east and west at morning and evening, the changing moon, the streaming northern lights. The winds seemed human, so much they had to say to her. She thought, “The north-wind fights me; the west-wind plays with me; the east-wind sighs, and is always ready to weep; the south-wind loves and kisses me.” Every wave that whitened the face of the vast sea was dear to her; every bird that floated over, every sail that glided across,—all brought her a thrill of joy. And what a wild and keen delight came to her with the thunder, lightning, and the rain! But with all her heart she hated the cold, white snow. Much she liked to creep out of the house in the dusk of dawn and climb the highest rocks to see the morning break. Wrapping herself close from the chill wind, curling into a niche of the rough granite cliff, how beautiful it was, all alone with the soaring gulls, to watch the east grow rosy, rosier to the very zenith, till she shouted with joy, facing the uprisen sun! Then it was so splendid to stand on the rocks when the billows came tumbling in, sending the spray flying high in the air, and throwing at her handfuls of crimson dulse, or long brown tresses of sea-weed, which she caught and flung back again, while she was drenched with the shower, and the wind blew her about in rough play. And blissful it was to run with the sandpipers along the edge of the shallow waves on the little beach, and dance in the clear green water; or, at low tide, to hang over the still surface of pools among the rocks, wherein lay treasures untold.

O those gardens of the sea! who shall describe their beauty? It was as if a piece of rainbow had fallen and melted into them, such myriads of many-colored creatures and plants inhabited them. Dear children, if I were to talk to you the whole day, I couldn’t tell you half the wonderful things she saw in those clear depths. But I think she liked best of them all the dainty Eolis, a delicate shell-less snail, with rosy spines and tiny horns.

To watch all this marvellous life at the edge of the wild ocean was enchanting, and she never wearied of it. Then, among the higher rocks, grew a few land plants and grasses, and a single root of fern, a world of delight to her; a whole tropical forest would not have been so precious. She gathered plumes of the bright golden-rod that nodded in the clefts, and crowned herself with long garlands of the wild pink morning-glory; and the gulls and the sandpipers looked at her, and wondered, I dare say, what she did it for;—they could have told quite as well as she. To the little pimpernel, always ready to shut its scarlet flowers at the slightest shadow of a cloud, she said, “I love you, pimpernel, for you’re always dreaming, and that’s what I like to do.” And so she did dream, and with the everlasting sound of the sea in her ears, I wonder she ever believed anything to be real!

Well, she was a very happy little maid and perfectly content, but still she couldn’t help longing to know what lay beyond the round horizon that hemmed her in with the waves, and many and many a day, rocking in her little boat on the tranquil water, she gazed at the dim line where the sky seemed to rest on the sea, and pondered until she was lost in a maze of aimless thought.

“Over there, beyond the faint blue cloud of distant coast, lies the great world,” she said. “Is it beautiful there?” Sometimes at sunrise it looked most beautiful, flushed with delicious color,—purple, and rose, and gold. Vessels glided by, hither and thither, at all times of the day and night. Whence came they? Whither did they go? If, in the morning sunshine, she saw the shadow of one sail fall upon another, as some craft passed near, the sight made this unreasonable little savage so happy, that it was better than if she had found a mine of gold,—the foolish thing, to be happy at a shadow!

She laughed and talked with the loons, and learned to imitate their weird, wild cry; she stretched her arms up to the big burgomaster gull flying over, crying, “Take me to ride with you, burgomaster, between your broad wings!” Driftwood came sailing to the shore, bits of bark,—on what sort of tree did they grow? she wondered. Pieces of oars,—who had paddled with them? Lathes, sticks, straws, blocks, logs, branches, cones, tangled together with ribbon-grass and kelp and rock-weed,—each thing had a history, if she did but know it, she thought. Sometimes came a green fir bough; there was a wonder, for no trees grew among her rocks, there wasn’t soil enough to hold their roots. Sometimes she came upon tokens of wreck and disaster that made her heart shrink, for she did not like to think that pain was in this lovely world wherein she was so glad to be alive.

But she always fancied she should find some strange and costly thing, as she sought among the weeds and drift,—that something mysterious and beautiful would come floating across the sea for her, among the odds and ends, one day; and something did come, as you shall hear.

One night she was playing on the beach alone; she gathered shells and sea-weeds; full of joy, she laughed and sang to herself. It was high tide and sunset; all the west was red and clear; a golden glory lay along the calm water from the sinking sun to her feet, as she stood at the edge of the tide. Near by, the lighthouse began to twinkle in crimson and gold; far off large vessels, with their sails full of the twilight, passed by, silent and slow. The waves made a continual talking among themselves, and sweet and disconsolate came the cry of the sandpipers along the shore. All else was very still. She stopped her play, and sat down on a rock, and let her bare feet drop within reach of the water, while she watched the gulls slowly floating home, by twos and threes, through the lovely evening sky. She smiled to see them beat the air with their wide wings, with a slow and measured motion. She knew where their lonesome rock lay, far out on the eastern sea.

By and by all were gone; the red faded, but a pure and peaceful light still held the west, and the stars came out, one after one. She sat still there a long time; the warm wind wrapped her close, she felt no chill with the falling dew. Wistfully peering out toward the horizon-line, she did not for some time notice that the sea was full of cool fire, of “sparks that snap and burst and flee”; every wave left its outline in vanishing gold on the wet weeds and sand; her feet were covered; it was as if she had on golden spangled slippers. That was charming! The tide had begun to fall now, and left bare a gray rock worn and polished by the waves—Heaven knows how many thousands of years!—till it was as smooth as satin. She laid her cheek against it, the dear old gray rock! it was her pet pillow. Though the water had just flowed over it, it was warm yet from the sun which had blazed down all the long, clear summer day. Then she watched the pale flame glowing, and fading, and glowing again, till—Well, I never could be quite sure how much of what I am going to tell you she dreamed, and how much really happened, but the main points are certainly true.

After she had been watching and listening awhile, she became aware of an unaccustomed sound among the noises of the washing tide and whispers of the wind. Presently she perceived, between the tide-mark and the ebbing water, two dim, slender figures busy among the weeds, and sweet, clear voices reached her with a merry mingling of talk and laughter. The figures drew near,—a youth, dark and brilliant, a maiden, bright and fair. They were filling little baskets with the phosphorescent sparks, and every spark they touched became a permanent star, so that the little baskets were overflowing with the harmless flame. She could not comprehend their talk, but she watched them eagerly. The youth dipped his finger into the pale fire, and touched with it the girl’s white forehead, and left there a spark that flickered first, then brightened and stood steady, a glittering star, so beautiful above her dusky hair! And the child saw the fairy maiden blush as she swung the basket lightly to her shoulder. She rose up as they turned, and confronted them, and both sprang toward her. “Child of the spray,” they cried, “it is thyself we came to seek”; and grasping her dress, they drew her gently after them into a small, lonely cove, where the water lay like a mirror, with all the stars in heaven shining out of it.

And by the starlight what an enchanting sight she saw! Moored close to the beach, a fairy fleet was waiting motionless,—seven purple mussel-shells as large as her own little skiff, each lined with mother-of-pearl, and strewn with silken cushions; in each a tapering mast, from which drooped lightly down the idle sail, shining like silver, bright as if woven of thistle-down. And at each curling prow was set a cluster of phosphorescent stars, gleaming and never disappearing, and every boat had its merry crew of fairy creatures, and in the midst, alone in his skiff, sat a fairy prince with a golden crown. When they saw their comrades bringing the spray-child, they set up a sweet outcry, and pushed the boats ashore with slender oars, and leaped out and danced about her. Was she awake or asleep? The tide had fallen farther yet. A large purple star-fish glided on the sand and paused close by. Many-hued little shells crept near and listened, and pearly Eolis, from a crystal pool at hand, lifted her crested head to listen also. The child rubbed her eyes, and looked about on every side,—the sand was real beneath her feet, the familiar sound of the water was surely in her ears, there were the stars above burning steadily. She was awake, she thought, though it was night; but when she looked at the fairy prince, she thought it was sunrise suddenly. He came near and took her hand, and as he did so all the sandpipers cried aloud in their dreams, and made their playmate tremble with mournful foreboding.

“Come,” he said, “I have sailed across the sea, to show you what lies beyond the wonderful horizon. Come with me”; and without knowing how, she was sitting in the beautiful boat by his side, and all the fairy creatures were busy casting off the ropes, and trimming the sails, with song and shout, and as swiftly those shimmering sails ran up to the tops of the delicate masts, the south-wind filled them; sudden wafts of music, fine and sweet, rose and fell, and out of the little cove swept the fleet of shells, rustling canvas, gleaming stars, and brilliant faces, and all. Rapidly they passed from sight, and now on the lonely beach the sandpipers cry more disconsolately, and the waves break ever with a lonelier sound, for nevermore came that little spray-sprite back to play with them again.

What became of her? Well, that I will tell you also. At first, she was listening to such a wonderful story that she quite forgot everything else; but, as they sailed and sailed, one by one the fairy crews disappeared, and still little Idleness and the fairy prince sailed on and on, till at last they came to the great world which had looked so beautiful to the child’s eyes from afar,—all gold, and pearl, and rose-color. And of what do you think she found it was made, after all? Why, my dear children, only patchwork! Everybody was doing patchwork of one kind or another,—black patches and white, blue patches and gray,—and everybody was so busy that it was astonishing to witness. I don’t mean to say that everybody was sewing with needle and thread, but all were at work upon something; and she comprehended that while she had been dancing in the spray, wiser children had been learning all kinds of useful things, of which she knew nothing at all, and, how much time she had lost, to be sure!

At first it was wearisome enough,—like living in a big ant-hill, with all the ants rushing about pell-mell. And then all the trees, hills, and fields seemed to be crowding up to the windows for the express purpose of smothering the poor mermaid. There wasn’t half enough sky, and no water at all, to speak of; and everything was so stiff and still, except the hurrying people. The trees waved, but they couldn’t go sweeping off as the grand ships did over the sea, and as for the fields, they were well enough, but altogether too still; they never changed about like the shifting, musical, many-colored sea. And yet some of them were lovely, when the wind bowed all the tall white daisies toward her, like the crest of a breaking wave; better so than when they blushed with clover-bloom, or flamed in buttercups and dandelions. The brooks and rivers were good as far as they went, but there was so little of them! And if she liked the hills, it was because they seemed to her like huge, petrified waves, heaved solemnly against the sky. Alas for her great horizon! She pined for it night and day.

But gradually she began to get used to the tame life, and slowly, very slowly, she found out a secret worth all the beauty she had lost. As young people don’t know it generally, I’ll whisper it in your ear. This is it: that work is among the best blessings God gave the world; that to be useful and helpful, even in the smallest ways, brings a better bliss than all the delightful things you can think of, put together. And this bliss is within the reach of every human being. She was glad when she found it out for herself. And so now she does patchwork, to the end of her days,—patchwork in this case, meaning all kinds of work under the sun. You’d never know now that she had been a spray sprite, and danced among the breakers, and talked and laughed with the loons, for she is like everybody else, except that, sleeping or waking, year after year, she keeps in her ears the sad, mysterious murmur of the sea, just like a hollow shell.

Celia Thaxter.


Not very many years ago naturalists knew little more about corals than many of you boys and girls now do. The reef-building corals have their home in warm tropical seas, and they were chiefly known in Europe through the dried specimens brought home by seafaring men and given to their friends or stored in museums. These were either the solid, rocky masses called coral heads, or fragments of the lighter branching kinds known as fan corals and the like. There was a vague idea that these masses were originally inhabited by animals, but no one knew anything of their nature, their process of growth, or their appearance when alive. Even the red Mediterranean coral, so famous on account of the ornaments made from it, was more familiar to the fisherman who brought it up from the sea, and to the jeweller who wrought it into a thousand attractive forms, than to the naturalist. Indeed, there were few naturalists in those days living upon the seashore; their homes were chiefly in the central parts of Europe, in the large cities, where they found occupation as professors and teachers in the universities, and they depended chiefly upon museum collections for their knowledge of marine animals. The existence of the host of minute creatures living singly or in communities along every seashore was hardly known to science in those days. A French physician residing at Montpelier, Peyssonel by name, first discovered the nature of these singular little beings. Having his home near the coast of the Mediterranean, he could keep his specimens alive, and study them in their natural condition. He made his investigations upon corals, as well as upon what are called Hydroids. This name is given to a variety of small animals most of which live in communities. The Sertularians, a specimen of which was shown to you in Figure 5 of the last article, belong to this group. The facts discovered by Peyssonel were so interesting that naturalists began to feel, as they had never felt before, the importance of studying these seemingly insignificant creatures, and of studying them alive in their natural element. Since then a vast deal has been learned about them; and it was in the course of these researches that the corals were found to be allied with all the radiated animals, to have essentially the same structure as the sea-anemones, star-fishes, sea-urchins, and countless smaller animals belonging to the group of Hydroids.

I will not weary you with an account of these researches; but in learning something of the corals you ought at least to know the names of the men who have taught us most about them. The English naturalist Darwin studied the singular islands built by coral animals in the Pacific Ocean, and wrote a charming book about them, so simple and clear that even the youngest among you might read it with interest and pleasure. Our own countryman, Dana, who accompanied the United States Exploring Expedition around the world, made the corals his especial study, and published an elaborate and very valuable work upon them. And lastly, Milne-Edwards, the French naturalist, though he has not had the living specimens before him, has taught us more than any one else of the hard parts of these animals,—that is, of those portions of their structure which after their death are still preserved in the solid masses built by them.

You little know the difficulty of these investigations,—what patient watching is required; sitting motionless for hours over the microscopes, waiting for the little creature to contract or expand, to spread his feelers, or to show some part of his tiny frame which you must see to render your description complete. To give you an idea of the way in which such studies are carried on, I will tell you about an investigation the history of which I happen to know.

Until he came to this country, Mr. Agassiz, like most European naturalists, had lived far from the seashore. It is true that in the heart of Switzerland he had gathered marine shells and corals and had studied them; but they were the dead shells and corals, of past ages, belonging to a time when the countries which now shut Switzerland from the sea did not exist, and her western boundary was a seashore where corals built their reefs and shells lived on the beaches. When you learn something about the formation of mountains, you will see how such beaches may be raised from their natural level, so that the shells of animals which lived upon them are found at last among the mountains. On arriving in America Mr. Agassiz began the study of the jelly-fishes, star-fishes, sea-anemones, and like objects living along our northern shore,—animals which he had never before had the opportunity of watching alive. And among other things, he became deeply interested in studying the structure of the little corals found about Martha’s Vineyard Sound,—the Astrangia, of which you had a picture (Figure 10) in the last article. He procured living specimens, kept them alive in glass jars, changing the water frequently, and watched them during a whole summer, having drawings made from them to show the different parts of their body, their appearance when open or closed, and, in short, all the details of their structure. Thus it happened that he was quite familiar with these corals of our coast when he was invited by Professor Bache, then Superintendent of the Coast Survey, to make an examination of the Coral Reef of Florida, in order to ascertain certain facts about it, the knowledge of which was important to the interests of navigation.

While making this survey he had, of course, the best opportunity for studying the animals themselves. He arranged a working-room, or laboratory, at Key West, and provided himself with a number of glass jars and large glass tubs, some of them so wide and deep that he could keep in them masses of living corals measuring two feet in diameter, completely immersed in water. This is a necessary condition. If you take a coral out of the water, he dies. There are some kinds so sensitive, that, merely in order to take them from the sea and drop them into your jar, you must place your jar under the water. The instant of transit while you lift the coral from his natural home would otherwise be sufficient to kill him.

Having arranged his working materials, Mr. Agassiz passed weeks in studying these minute creatures. He had microscopes, one or two assistants, and an artist, so that the work went on with a certain rapidity. But under the most favorable circumstances the progress is slow, because you must wait the moods of these capricious little creatures, who will hide themselves for hours, drawing in all their soft parts, and closing themselves against investigation. One day he sat watching a mass of living Porites, one of the more solid kinds of coral which form the foundations of the Reef. Figure 1 shows you a fragment of such a community in natural size. Every spot on the surface marks a separate individual, while the lines disposed about it like a star indicate the feelers. The animals are, as you see, exceedingly small, scarcely larger than the head of a pin. On this occasion, Mr. Agassiz had been looking for a long time with a magnifying-glass at the minute creatures forming this singular community, when suddenly he saw a little round yellowish object, so small that it would scarcely have been noticed without the magnifier, protrude from the mouth of one of them. It was a new feature; he had never observed anything of the kind before, and he watched it with intense curiosity. It advanced more and more, creeping slowly out, and presently parted from the coral stock and floated free in the water, an independent being, oval in shape, a mere bubble for transparency and lightness, but evidently a living thing, since it moved about quite rapidly. He had seen the birth of a coral animal. While he followed its motions with wonder and interest, he perceived that the same process was going on over the whole mass. It was a birthday in this great family, for now from the countless mouths crowding the surface of the coral head, the same little objects began to appear, and were cast off like the first, till hundreds of new beings floated in the water around the parent community.

Figure 1.
Fragment of Porites.

Mr. Agassiz had chanced upon the moment of breeding in a coral stock. He had never seen it, nor had any naturalist ever seen it before; he has never seen it since; he might watch for months, perhaps, and never see it again. This is what I mean when I say that these investigations are so baffling and slow. The patient waiting of years may give you only one such hour. Still the time is not lost, for it is by intimate, familiarity with the structure of animals, by constant comparison of one with another, by unwearied study, in short, that the observer acquires the knowledge which enables him to understand some entirely new fact when it suddenly presents itself to him.

The next step in the investigation was to secure one of these new-born creatures and study his structure under the microscope. In Figure 2 you have his picture highly magnified, as seen from the side and also from above. The oval outline represents the profile view, while the circular one shows the upper end of the body where the mouth will be, though it is not yet formed; the lines radiating from the centre outward are the partitions which we have seen to be characteristic of all these animals, and which were already perceptible. This small atom in creation can swim about by means of an apparatus invisible to the naked eye, but very effectual as an organ of locomotion. The surface of the body is covered with what naturalists call “Vibratile Cilia,”—incredibly delicate threads which vibrate and palpitate with quick, waving motion, and so impel the animal through the water. Mr. Agassiz was unable to follow the history of his new brood beyond its first stages, because it was impossible to maintain the conditions necessary to rear them, and they soon died. But having ascertained that the young corals begin their existence as free, independent beings, and resemble the young of the soft-bodied Radiates, so much is known of the latter, and of later stages in the life of the corals, that it was easy to put these facts together and make out the whole story.

Figure 2.
The young just hatched of Porites.

Suppose such a being to be born into the sea,—and no doubt they are cast in swarms from the coral stocks into the water surrounding a reef. Independent and able to move about freely at first, it presently selects a suitable spot, and attaches itself to the rocks or to the sea bottom by one end. This end flattens and adheres to the ground just as in the sea-anemone, fitting itself gradually to the surface on which it rests, while the upper end spreads and becomes a little depressed at the centre. That depression marks where the mouth is presently to be, and it deepens until it becomes a hole, and feelers or tentacles gradually develop around it. And now begins that phase in the life of a coral animal by which it differs as I have told you from all the other Radiates, and is enabled, notwithstanding its diminutive size, to play so important a part in the history of the world. There are hard particles of lime in its substance, and these accumulate, first, at the base of the body where it is attached to the ground, so that it becomes firm and immovable, afterwards on the outside wall, and between the partitions. Now the whole has a solid frame, the only parts of the little coral which remain soft being the stomach within the body, the mouth, and feelers. These latter retain their flexible contractile character through life, and decompose when the animal dies.

There is one fact in the nature of the coral animals which affects their choice of a resting-place, and has a direct bearing on the strength and solidity of the structures they build. The more compact kinds, those which grow closely together and form the rounded, rocky masses known as coral heads, like the deep sea. They settle at a depth of ten or twelve fathoms, while the lighter branching kinds prefer shallower waters. Thus it happens that the foundation of a reef is always laid by those coral animals which, from their very nature and mode of growth, secure the soundest basis for the structure; while the upper part is built by the lighter branching kinds.

We have seen the birth of an independent coral. But these animals have two ways of multiplying; one by which new communities are founded, another by which they spread and increase. A little germ, like the one described above, having undergone the changes I have mentioned, and assumed his permanent character, begins to put out little buds from either side, which grow into new beings exactly like himself, and multiply in their turn, till the community which he has founded is numbered by hundreds, thousands, nay, millions, of distinct beings. All the members of this innumerable family are organically connected; that is, the cavities of their bodies open into each other, so that they lead a common life, the food absorbed by each one circulating through the whole mass and nourishing all the rest.

I have said that the harder, more compact kinds are found at the bottom of the Reef. Such are the Astræans, so named on account of the star-shaped pits crowded upon the surface, each one of which marks a single animal. Figure 3 represents such a coral head. Next come the Meandrinas, or Brain Corals, and the Porites. The former take their name from the waving furrow, thought to resemble the undulations of the brain; they are produced by the elongation of the mouths which run into each other and thus produce depressions extending lengthwise, instead of the round, clearly defined pits of the Astræans. You have a specimen of the Brain Coral represented in Figure 4. The Porites you know already; it is from that species our little coral is taken, and you have a representation of a fragment from such a community in Figure 1.

Figure 3.
Astræan head.

Figure 4.
Meandrina, or Brain Coral.

But the Astræans, the Meandrinas, the Porites, in short, all the solid, close-growing corals, have their limits within the sea. When the Astræans have brought the coral wall up to a certain height, they cease to grow upwards, because they require a greater depth of water than they find at that level. At this point, however, the Meandrinas and Porites find a genial home. They settle above the Astræans, and build the wall still higher; but they also cease to thrive, as the water diminishes above them, and finally, when their share of the work is accomplished, a host of lighter branching kinds set in upon the surface they have formed, and finally bring the reef to the sea level. Such are the Madrepores (see Figure 5) and a great variety of sea-fans, of which you have a specimen in Figure 6.

Figure 5.
Branch of Madrepore.

Figure 6.

There is a great difference in the mode of budding among the different kinds of coral. Some spread horizontally, budding from the base and pushing outward. Such is the mode of increase in the Mycidium, represented in Figure 7. Others bud from the side, like the Caryophyllia, in Figure 8. In others, each animal widens gradually toward the summit as it grows, assuming a sort of trumpet-shape, and then divides, so that where there was but one mouth there are now two. Such is the Mussa, of which you have a specimen in Figure 9. On the left hand, and highest in the group, are two which are completely separated; on the right hand, lowest in the group, are two which are just parting, formed by the division of one; while just above them is another animal the opening or mouth of which is greatly expanded. It will presently contract in the centre, and form two, as the others have done.

Figure 7.

Figure 8.

Figure 9.

In short, there is no end to the variety in the life and aspect of these little creatures, which are so small, and yet accomplish such great results. I have described them to you, however, as I have seen them myself in the dry fragments preserved in museums; and when these articles were begun, I had no expectation that I should ever have a nearer view of them. But a pleasant chance takes me to Florida and to the Reef. I write these words on the point of starting, and all that I see of the beauty and wonder of this submarine wall, and of the living shrubbery which crowns its summit, you shall share, if you will have the patience to read my next chapter.

Elizabeth C. Agassiz.


“Painted candies are always poisonous; are they not?” asked Mysie.

“Well, no; but still I should not recommend them. They are uncertain, at least.”

“Not only the paint, but the coloring mixed in the candies by unscrupulous dealers, is dangerous,” said Magnifico, “as I recently saw proved. While I was staying at my brother’s house (not in this city, by the way), one of his children was taken violently ill, and, after a good deal of inquiry, it was found that his nurse, while on a visit to her relatives in the lower part of the city, had bought a quantity of colored candies and brought them as a present to the child, who devoured the whole at a sitting.

“My brother, by the advice of his physician, sent at once and bought a pound of the same candy at the same shop, and took it to an analytical chemist who tested it in various ways, and finally dissolved the whole pound in a covered jar of water, the result being a deposit of three eighths of an inch of white sediment, probably the terra alba mentioned by our friend here, and the discovery of no less than three mineral poisons in the form of paint. Further inquiry proved that unscrupulous manufacturers, and those who aim merely to produce a cheap and showy article, are in the regular habit of using such dainties as yellow ochre, verdigris, and red-lead for coloring, and fusel-oils for flavoring, not to speak of the adulteration of the sugar already mentioned. Pleasing idea for parents,—is it not?”

“Of course, sir, your statement is not to be questioned,” remarked Mr. Son, with a little heat. “But I must say I do not think your friend would find a pound of such candy as you describe in this city. I have too good an idea of my fellow-manufacturers to believe it possible. At any rate, such practices have never come within my knowledge.”

“But granting them to exist, we are all the more grateful to manufacturers whom we can trust implicitly,” interposed Magnifico, with a smile and a bow, quite atoning for his unconscious offence.

“What is becoming of the rest of the candy?” suddenly inquired Mysie; and, turning once more to the bench, she found that the artist, although forgotten, had not been idle, and that the remains of the various sorts of paste were already manufactured into sticks, twists, or fancy shapes, some of one color, some of several, as the artist had chosen to combine his various masses of material.

“I was obliged to use it up at once, before it hardened, or I could have made some other fancies,” said he, apologetically.

“Certainly, but now how will you get the elephants, the fishes, and the kisses apart, and free from the ragged edges clinging to them?”

“Thus with the fishes”; and the artist, taking a penknife in one hand and the sheet of fish in the other, struck a light blow between each two, cracking every one off from its neighbor with as clean and sharp an edge as if it had been moulded by itself. The elephants and kisses were treated with less care, being all jumbled together in a very coarse wire sieve, and shaken until all the thin bits connecting them were broken off and dropped through the sieve upon the table to be collected and used over again.

“And now I will make a few peppermints, and then I have some pan work to do,” said the artist, quite restored, now that the cooling candy was off his mind, to his first genial and chatty state of mind.

“The sirup for the peppermints,” continued he, taking a saucepan from the furnace, where it had been watched by the silent John, “is not boiled so high as for clear candies, and, as a general rule, the softer you want your candies, the lower you boil the sirup.”

“Lower means less,—does it not?” asked Mysie.

“Yes, and by boiling high I mean boiling fast and a good while; that is, evaporating more of the water. Now this sirup, you see, is neither so clear nor so thick as that we have been using, but will make soft, crumbly peppermint drops, such as are most in demand.” And with this little explanation the artist began to pour the sirup from the lip of his saucepan, a little at a time, upon a tin sheet, cutting off each portion, as it fell, with a broad-bladed knife.

“In a few moments they will be cold, and can be slipped off the sheet without trouble,” said he. “Of course, by varying the color and flavor, we can get any variety of drops, but peppermint is the most popular. A curious thing about these drops is, that if they are shut up close in a jar, when first made, they will all crumble back into sugar. The air hardens them.”

“How are lozenges made?” inquired Mysie.

“A little gum is mixed with the sirup, to give it consistency, and then the sheet of paste is spread upon a marble or table, and the lozenges are cut out with a punch,—just a tin tube open at both ends, you know. There, the peppermints are done, and now I will show you how to make sugared almonds and other pan work. John, are those almonds ready? Very well. Don’t take them off yet; I want the ladies to see the whole process.”

And the cheerful artist led the way to one of the furnaces, over which swung a large, shallow copper basin, very much as some baby-cradles are swung from a supporting rod, instead of standing upon rockers. To carry out this idea, stood John, patient as any nurse, steadily swinging the cradle to and fro above the fire, and watching the contents as carefully as if he had been bidden by old Blunderbore to serve up broiled baby at five o’clock, or lose his own head. But when Minnie and Mysie peered over the edge of the cradle, they found no baby, but, instead, a peck or so of shelled almonds, nicely browned and toasted, but not in the least burnt, although we all remember “burnt almonds” as the name most dear to our childish hearts.

“These are the best of sweet Jordan almonds, and we use no others,” said the busy artist, swinging the cradle off the fire, and critically handling the almonds. “Yes, they are plenty done. Now, John, the sirup.”

But John, anticipating the order, stood ready with a great two-handled copper basin of thin sirup, which, at a sign from the artist, he placed upon a frame close beside the furnace, and, after handing a long ladle, resumed the rocking of the cradle, while the artist, dipping up a ladleful of the sirup, threw it over the almonds, to which it adhered in a thin glaze. After a moment to allow this to dry, another dash of sirup was administered, and so on, with alternate sirup baths and dryings-in, until the brown almonds disappeared altogether in their rough and grainy white coverings, and the process was complete. This, however, it should be acknowledged, was the work of an hour or two, and only the beginning and the end were witnessed by Signor Magnifico’s party. While they still lingered, however, the artist found time and breath to tell them that smooth almond-comfits are prepared in the same way as these, except that the sirup is much thinner,—indeed, almost as fluid as water,—and the applications must be much oftener repeated before a sufficient coating is obtained. Also, he said that all “sugar-plums” are made in the same manner, and consist of clove-buds, carraway or coriander seeds, slips of cinnamon, flag-root, lovage, or any of a dozen other aromatic seeds or barks, which are coated with sugar, either plain or flavored, and colored according to fancy, in the same manner as the almonds, the rough or smooth surface depending upon the consistency of the sirup.

“Then there is nut candy of various sorts,” continued the artist. “That is only a sirup boiled pretty high, with a quantity of almonds, peanuts, filberts, or shredded cocoanut, boiled in it. It is turned out upon the marble and left until nearly cold, when it is cut into strips with the long sword you saw me use. Nut candy can be made of molasses also, but we do not meddle with that sort of thing much.”

Leaving the artist rocking and feeding his almond babies, Minnie and Mysie followed Mr. Son, who showed them iron moulds in shape of cockerels, dogs, horses, men, flowers, hearts, and various other objects,—each mould in two parts, to be joined and clasped together, leaving a hole at the top, through which the candy could be poured. When this was cold, the clamps were removed, the mould was opened, and the work of art, whatever it might be, revealed. But these efforts, as Mr. Son remarked, were mostly reserved for holiday times and special orders. Also he showed them a miniature garden-roller, with knife-like bands running round it, by which the sheets of hoarhound, and similar candies, are divided into bars; and also a frame filled with narrow strips of iron arranged in squares, used to mark, without dividing, checkerberry, sassafras, and other clear candies usually sold in this form. Also some stencil-plates, by means of which the mottoes are printed upon “conversation lozenges,” or the sugar hearts so popular about Valentine’s Day.

“But with all this we have not seen how the cream gets inside the chocolate,” said Minnie, who had for some moments seemed very impatient. Mr. Son smiled blandly.

“Chocolate creams? They are made up stairs in the crystallizing department. If you are not too tired, we will go up there.”

“O, certainly,” cried Mysie, a new flush of energy thrilling through her wearied limbs; and as Minnie was more than willing to encounter new fatigues in the pursuit of her favorite inquiry, and Signor Magnifico would have gone smilingly wherever she chose to lead him, all three followed Mr. Son, who led them through such a labyrinth of passages, and up so many stairs, that one might reasonably expect to emerge in fair Rosamond’s bower at the least; but the bower proved to be only a bright, sunny chamber close under the roof, and fair Rosamond was represented by Caramel in his white cap and clean linen apron, who welcomed his visitors, and showed them his domain, with the same good-humored readiness pervading the lower part of the establishment. Probably the constant use of sugar and sirups has a mollifying influence upon the disposition.

“And what are you about to-day, Caramel?” inquired Mr. Son, looking into a copper boiler over the furnace, where something very white and nice was gently boiling.

“Just making some chocolate creams, sir,” replied Caramel, giving the white substance a stir.

“How nice! Are they chocolates Duchesse?” eagerly inquired Minnie.

“No, miss; but I can make part of this into Duchesse, if you would like to see it.”

“Of all things,” exclaimed Minnie, adding in an aside to Mysie, “To think of the acres of taffy we have waded through to come to this!”

“The taffy, as you call it, was quite as interesting to me,” replied Mysie, rather indignantly; but Caramel, who had been busy in setting out sundry large shallow boxes filled with a white powder carefully smoothed upon the top, was now ready to begin his lecture.

“The first process in making chocolate creams,” said he, “is to boil the sugar and water, sometimes with a flavoring of vanilla or lemon, sometimes without, until it will just ‘set’ without candying. The lower it is boiled, the longer it takes to set, but the softer and more melting it will be when finished, and most persons value a chocolate cream for just this melting quality. When the cream is ready, I mould it in these starch boxes in this manner.”

And Caramel, opening a drawer, took out a flat stick, with a dozen or more little plaster balls like halves of marbles fastened upon it, and pressed it lightly upon the box of starch, leaving, of course, a row of little cavities corresponding to the half-spheres upon the stick.

“You will see a good many prettier moulds in that drawer, if you please to look,” remarked Caramel, going on with his cave-making; and Minnie and Mysie, availing themselves of the permission, turned over the moulds, finding all sorts of pretty things in shape of bows, rosettes, flowers, hands, shoes, human faces, hearts, butterflies, and various small animals, birds, and fishes. All these were arranged like the half-marbles,—a dozen or more of each glued upon a flat stick as long as the boxes of starch were wide,—and were used in the same manner.

“And now, my moulds being ready, I fill them,” continued Caramel, taking his copper pan off the furnace and dipping part of its contents into a saucepan with a lip, over which he poured a little of the mixture into each of the holes he had made in the starch, until all were filled.

“There,” said he. “Now I put them in the drying-room, and leave them until to-morrow, when they will be fit to handle. If I had boiled the sugar high, they would be as hard as stones in an hour; but that is not what we want. And now for the chocolate Duchesse.” And with a smile Caramel produced a tin can from beneath his bench, and poured a portion of its contents into a tin cup, which he handed to Minnie.

“Real cream,—isn’t it?” asked he.

“Yes, certainly; but how does it get inside?”

“In the simplest manner possible. It just stays still and the sugar crystallizes around it,” said Caramel, taking the copper pan off the fire again, and stirring the cream into the sirup. Then he produced some more boxes of starch, carefully smoothed them, selected a stick of little oval moulds, and, while printing them off, remarked, “The sugar needs to be boiled higher for the Duchesses than for chocolate creams, because we want it to crystallize around the cream, and low-boiled sugar never crystallizes.”

“And I should not suppose high-boiled sugar would either, after having cream mixed with it,” said Mysie.

“But it does,” tranquilly replied Caramel, laying aside his mould, stirring up his cream and sirup, and proceeding to fill the impressions left in the starch.

“And now,” said Minnie, disappointed, “we cannot see any more unless we come again, if they have to dry for a whole day.”

“But I have some of both kinds already dry, and am just going to dip them,” said Caramel, exulting in his little surprise; and opening the door of a small room with a stove in the middle, shelves all around it, and an inclined trough at one side, he placed the starch-boxes just filled upon one of the shelves, and took down some others from another.

“These were put in yesterday, and are quite ready to dip now,” said he; and, closing the door of the drying-room, he placed the starch-boxes upon a table, and with his fingers rapidly sifted out the little white balls of the chocolate creams and the firmer oval cases of the chocolates Duchesse, throwing them into separate baskets.

Then from another closet he produced a pan of liquid chocolate, thick with sugar, and a two-pronged steel fork.

“First, the Duchesse,” said he, taking up three or four, throwing them into the chocolate, turning them over and over with his fork, and finally fishing them out completely coated, and laying them carefully upon a tin sheet, where they soon flattened into the shape we all know so well, and looked like an army of great brown beetles marching to the assault of somebody’s sugar-box.

The chocolate creams were served in the same manner; and when all were finished, and again placed in the drying-room for a few hours, Minnie heaved a sigh of satisfaction.

“Well, now I know,” said she. “But I never should have believed, if I had not seen it, that the cream would go inside of its own accord, and the sugar stay outside. And are brandy, and wine, and liquor drops made in the same way?”

“Precisely. The wine, brandy, or liquor is mixed with sirup boiled to a crystallizing point, and then poured into starch moulds, when the liquid remains within, and the sugar forms outside it. Those other moulds, many of them, are used for sweetmeats of this kind.”

“Yes, I remember,” said Minnie. “Some one presented me with a pair of lovely little rose-colored slippers about two inches long; and, not knowing how they were made, I bit off the toe of one, and the sirup came rushing out.”

“I hope you had on a blue silk dress,” viciously remarked Mysie, remembering Minnie’s mirth at her own mishap.

“Others of these shapes,” pursued Caramel, “are used for gum-drops, marsh-mallow paste,—although that is usually made in squares,—and various sorts of crystallized sweetmeats, all made on the same principle.”

“But those things are always covered with loose, glittering crystals of sugar,” remarked Mysie.

“Yes. After they have hardened in the starch, they are laid in shallow pans, and a thin sirup is poured over them. After a few hours, the sugar crystallizes upon the shapes, and the rest of the sirup is drained off into the wooden trough you remarked in the drying-room, and used over again. Fig paste is made much in the same manner, the inside of the fig being boiled with sugar and a little gum, shaped in starch moulds, and then crystallized.”

“And jujube paste,—what is that?”

“Jujube paste is nothing but gum-arabic, sugar, and water, with a little coloring. Once it may have been made of the gum of the jujube-tree, but not in my day,” said Caramel, smiling frankly.

“And gum-drops?”

“Are gum, sugar, and water, boiled together, moulded in starch, and crystallized by lying in sirup. Here are some rather pretty sweetmeats which I made yesterday,” continued Caramel, bringing from the drying-closet two trays, one of prunes, divided in the centre, the stone extracted, and the cavity filled with sparkling crystallized sugar, and the other of English walnuts treated in the same manner.

“I have used tamarinds, dates, and dried ginger in this way,” continued Caramel, turning over his sweetmeats with considerable pride. “In fact, it is hard to say what a man cannot do with starch moulds, coloring, flavoring, and crystallized sugar. I think up new ideas almost every wakeful night I have, and putting them into successful shape is as great a pleasure to me as—well, as a new bonnet is to a fashionable lady.”

Leaving the enthusiastic Caramel to finish his chocolate creams, the party next looked into a little room where the decorator was at work ornamenting a great wedding-cake with raised bands of frosting, flowers, and leaves. All around him upon shelves lay other cakes, some completed and ready to be placed upon the bridal supper-table, others covered with their first coat of plain icing, others brown and rich just from the oven. The cake under operation was nearly finished, and the decorator went steadily on without heeding his visitors. In his hands he held a bag fitted with a tin tube, its mouth cut into notches; and other tubes larger or smaller, more or less notched, or quite plain, lay ready beside him. A slight pressure upon the bag squeezed out the frosting mixture in the form of a cylinder, deeply furrowed by the notches cut in the mouth of the tube. This cylinder the decorator disposed upon his cake according to his own fancy,—in curves, scrolls, a Greek pattern, or in curious nondescripts,—always, however, leaving spaces between the lines of ornaments, that the cake might be cut without spoiling its appearance. The frosting finished, the decorator produced a box containing varieties of flowers, birds, butterflies, and other ornaments made in paste, and painted by hand. Some of these he disposed in an artistic bouquet upon his cake, perched a butterfly in the centre, and pronounced it complete.

Returning through the outer room, the party found Caramel busy over the furnace with a new confection.

“I am making some of my own namesakes now,—some chocolate caramels,” said he, as Mysie paused beside him.

“Indeed, and how will you do it?” asked she.

“It is very simple. Sugar, water, chocolate, boiled together until the proper moment arrives, then poured out upon the marble slab, cooled just enough, then divided into squares by a wide knife.”

“Very simple, if one understands ‘just enough,’ ” replied Mysie, laughing; and, with thanks for his ready politeness, the friends left the merry Caramel to his caramels, and followed Mr. Son down stairs to the glittering shop full of wonders, whose origin now lay before them an understood, but no less marvellous process, where they offered to Mr. Son their acknowledgments of his kindness, and took leave,—Minnie happy in the answer to her question, Mysie wild with the effort to remember all at once everything she had seen, and Magnifico so delighted to have completed his duties of politeness, that he lingered behind to leave a fabulous order with the astonished young lady at the desk, which order resulted, the same evening, in such an arrival of sweets at Minnie’s and Mysie’s home, that neither of those young ladies has since been seen or heard from.

Jane G. Austin.


Drawn by Gaston Fay.]          [See “After Pickerel.”

Master Charles Horsey always retained the liveliest recollections of an excursion he once made to the celebrated Owline Mountain. Indeed, the memory of that happy occasion was always so fresh, that he seldom ceased to recall it when awake, and when asleep the incidents of a certain rabbit-hunt invariably reproduced themselves in his early morning dreams. His efforts to secure another day of pleasure were so persevering that I consented to form a fishing-party.

“On Tuesday,” said I to Master Horsey, “if I live,”—I always added the latter clause, for I was a daily passenger by a railway,—“if I live, we will start on our fishing excursion.”

My little companion was delighted with my proposition. Mr. Rover, a young neighbor, was invited to join the party,—Clip and Tobey, the dogs, were of course included. It was not a matter of much difficulty to decide upon a destination; for what more delightful or prolific pond than Ramble’s could be chosen for an expedition such as we proposed to undertake?

The evening preceding the happy day was spent in perfecting the necessary arrangements. The old fish-baskets were uncloseted, the jointed rods taken from their dusty resting-places, and the trolling-spoons—we proposed to try the pickerel—rubbed and polished until they glistened like plate mirrors. Master Horsey retired to bed full of cheering anticipations. A dozen times during the night, the restless fellow crept from his little bed to take a look at the weather. Imagine his consternation, when he visited his post of observation for the last time, to see the heavens completely overcast. The fact was too potent,—the morning of Tuesday dawned cloudy and unpropitious.

We all met at the breakfast-table. Master Horsey’s face was overspread with an expression of unhappiness and dismay.

“You need not be so downcast, my boy,” said I; “we’ll make all ready for the start, so that if it clears away by nine o’clock we’ll have nothing to detain us.” My remarks revived the drooping Charley.

Towards eight o’clock the lifting of the clouds inspired us with renewed hope. The worms were dug, the orders given to harness the horse, and a messenger despatched for Mr. Rover. By half past eight the improved appearance of the sky encouraged a start. Master Horsey, in the mean time, acted the part of a barometer. In the early morning he was as depressed as the weather was lowering; after breakfast his spirits revived, and by the time the wagon was at the door he reached the highest point of felicity he was capable of attaining. Mr. Rover, contrary to our expectations, was on hand ready to take his place with the rest of us. At nine precisely we moved out of the gate, the dogs following as best they could.

The symptoms of a rainy day had entirely disappeared. The road was good, the horse in admirable condition; in fact, everything was conducive to a merry time. Mr. Rover, who had the reputation of being a very funny fellow, amused us by blowing through his fingers in imitation of a fish-horn; calling out after each peal, “Fresh fish!” “Polywogs!” “Porgies!” “Mackerel!” His mimicry was so perfect that many eager housewives came out into the road, expecting to see a veritable fish-pedler.

Ramble’s Pond, our destination, was distant about three miles from Owline Grange. In less than half an hour we reached the brow of the hill that overlooks the beautiful sheet of water. The view was lovely in the extreme. At our feet lay the placid pond, glistening like burnished silver, in a frame of the most brilliant green.

In a barn at the bottom of the hill we stabled the horse. The traps were taken from the wagon, and we set to work to prepare our tackle. There is no more delightful moment than the one that precedes the casting of the line into the water. How many joyful anticipations follow the first cast! how many dreary disappointments imbitter a day’s unsuccessful fishing! Full of expectant successes, we baited our hooks, and entered upon the business of the expedition.

For a while we fished from the shore, but not meeting with much success, we determined to take a boat, kindly retained for our use by its owner.

The moment had now arrived to try the efficacy of the trolling-spoon,—a piece of polished metal, spoon-shaped, with three hooks attached to the smaller end. In the water it has a spinning motion, and sufficiently resembles a young fish to effectually deceive the gluttonous pickerel. Mr. Rover arranged his line, and threw it into the water. As we moved hither and thither, the whirling metal bait glistened and flashed in the sun.

Our patience was sorely tried,—the fish for a time obstinately refused to bite. Reward, however, came at last. We were making the circuit of the pond for the fourth or fifth time, when Mr. Rover felt a sudden jerk upon his rod,—a heavy fish had seized the bait. A fight for the mastery now ensued. The pickerel, for such it proved to be, displayed all his cunning; now leaping entirely clear of the water, now darting in zigzag flight through the lily-pads. Our friend was an experienced fisherman, and proved himself equal to the occasion. He reversed his rod, that is, held the butt of it towards the game, and retarded the running line. Indeed, it required all Mr. Rover’s dexterity to save his slender tackle. The fish was vigorous and demanded the entire contents of the reel. At this juncture we were forced to row with all our strength, in order to prevent the escape of our antagonist.

“Back water! back water!” suddenly roared Mr. Rover,—“back water! or we’ll lose him.” The forward movement of the boat was reversed, and the excited fisherman gave a sigh of relief. The question was now an open one, whether we should or should not succeed in securing the prize. The obstinate fish insisted upon rushing in among the lilies; already, as their swaying tops indicated, the line had been wound around several of the plants. As it turned out, however, this manœuvre of the pickerel insured his destruction. The lilies acted as so many drags; their flexible stems yielding to the strain, yet offering sufficient resistance to gradually exhaust and conquer the foe.

As we pushed the boat through the lovely white flowers, Mr. Rover slowly reeled in his line. Little by little the fish ceased to struggle; his last expiring effort convinced us that we were masters of the situation. It required considerable skill to follow the line from one plant to another, but after much trouble we succeeded in tracing the pickerel to his hiding-place. We found him partly concealed under several large leaves. He was an enormous fellow, and as he moved slowly from side to side his beautiful yellow flanks glistened like bands of gold.

As may be imagined, Master Horsey was intensely interested in watching the progress of the battle. Indeed, once or twice he came very near falling overboard, so anxious was he that not a single phase of the struggle should escape him. In the illustration that accompanies this article you will observe the boat in the act of being urged among the lilies. Mr. Rover stands at the bow, deeply absorbed in the movements of the fish. Master Horsey is seated in the stern-sheets, and as his mouth is open it is to be presumed he is calling at the top of his voice either to the pickerel or Mr. Rover, probably the latter.

Our antagonist, with a large hook in his mouth, and his snout pulled close to a lily-stem, was in no pleasant predicament. He had no chance to escape, for there was not sufficient length of line to give him headway for a break. The main difficulty was how to secure our prize. We left home provided with a net suitable to land any fish that should prove too large to be handled in the ordinary way. Previous to embarking in the boat, however, we determined that, as it was extremely improbable we should kill anything larger than an eight-inch pickerel, it would be the part of wisdom to leave the net on shore. Now that we needed it, we regretted bitterly our want of appreciation of the capacities of the pond. Mr. Rover proved equal to this, as to every other emergency. Although our appliance for landing the vanquished foe was not at hand, our friend found a substitute in his breech-loading rifle, without which he never undertook any excursion however brief or insignificant. Fortunately his trusty weapon was available on this occasion.

“Now,” said Mr. Rover to Master Horsey, “you hold my rod, and I’ll make short work with the fish.” Charley was only too proud to assume the burden. Mr. Rover adjusted his piece, and fired. The result was most admirable,—the pickerel floated upon his side, within easy reach of a long arm. The latter was quickly supplied by the expert marksman.

I dare say the more confident among my youthful readers imagine it an easy matter to shoot fish. But I can assure all such, that the art not only requires great experience, but it also involves a very nice calculation; and in this way. In shooting on land, we generally aim directly at the object, particularly if it is stationary. In shooting at objects beneath the surface of the water, a certain allowance must be made for the enormous deflection of the ball. It is not necessary that the projectile shall actually touch the fish, to produce death; but the same result is attained if it passes within an inch of the mark. Death, in this case, is caused by concussion. Mr. Rover was an expert in submarine gunnery. An examination of our prize revealed the fact that the ball had barely grazed the snout of the pickerel.

What boy has not experienced the pleasure of handling his first fish? Master Horsey was no exception to the rule. First he opened the creature’s large mouth and examined all its teeth, then his hands wandered again and again over its sleek body, while he counted almost every scale.

“Well, Charley, how much do you think he weighs?” The boy shook his head; the calculation was too gigantic for his infantile mind. Mr. Ramble’s weights, however, supplied the deficiencies of Master Horsey’s intellect,—the fish weighed seven pounds and one ounce, dressed.

Encouraged by our previous success, we fished the pond patiently for many hours; but not a single pickerel accepted our glittering invitations to take a bite. We had seemingly exhausted our luck in one single effort. Repeated failure will weary the most enthusiastic fisherman, however youthful he may be. I must confess I was speedily worn out; but Master Horsey and Mr. Rover held to it with commendable zeal and perseverance. I verily believe they had almost forgotten the dinner; in fact, if I remember aright, I was forced to suggest to the former the propriety of dulling his appetite. My hint was taken, and with the concurrence of the enthusiasts I pulled ashore to dine. I will not weary my readers with a description of the lunch; suffice it to say it was excellent and heartily enjoyed.

We had barely finished our rustic meal, when we were accosted by a respectable looking Jerseyman, who addressed us in these words:—

“Wal, I say, have you ketched anythin’? If yer have, I’ll bet a dollar it’s a pickerel, and if it be one, I’ll bet yer another dollar she hefts seven pound and better.”

This salutation was unanswerable; so we maintained a dignified silence, and awaited developments.

“Now I tell yer what it is,” continued the intruder. “About two weeks ago I put two pickerel in this yer pond, expectin’ to keep ’em, but I see you city folks ain’t let ’em be. Now I tell yer what it is: you’ve ketched one of the critters for I see her tail stickin’ out o’ the basket. You can’t bring her to life; so if yer want to keep her, I’ll sell her to ye.”

This startling proposition demanded a council of war; so I called Mr. Rover aside for consultation; the result of which was the following dialogue.

Fishermen. How much will you take for the fish?

Jerseyman. How much will yer give?

Fishermen. You’d better fix a price.

Jerseyman. Wall, I’ll take twenty cents a pound.

And this is why we weighed the pickerel. We paid twenty cents a pound for seven pounds and one ounce of pleasure,—it was very cheap.

The commercial interruption, added to our subsequent ill-luck, induced us to return to Owline Grange at a much earlier hour than we had intended. When we reached our home, the most florid compliments were paid us on our successful capture. To this day we have never divulged the fact that, after all, the pickerel was caught with—figuratively speaking—a silver hook.

Gaston Fay.


One day last summer I shook hands with a young Canadian lad who was on a remarkable journey. He was no older than some of you who will read this in school, but was on a pleasure trip of more than four thousand miles. The odd feature of it was, that he started from the ocean, and was going to the ocean, yet intended travelling all the way by water, though his journey was wholly inland. Strange, but very easy to understand with a little explanation.

My young friend, who was a Canadian Frenchman, had been studying the narratives of the French Jesuit priests who were the first to explore the West, and who, after much searching and many perils, succeeded in finding their way by the St. Lawrence River, and the lakes and rivers flowing into it, to the Mississippi River, and down to the Gulf of Mexico. He conceived the idea of spending his summer vacation in following their route, and traversing the great water-ways of the interior, between the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Gulf of Mexico. When we parted, he was in doubt which of three routes he would take, each having historic claims to his attention, and neither being very difficult.

He could pass through all the lakes, except Lake Michigan, and leave the steamer at Superior City, on the most westerly point of Lake Superior. There he would take a canoe and Indian guide, and paddle up the St. Louis River several miles, to the portage between the St. Louis River and Sandy Lake. Those of you who are French scholars know that “portage” was originally a French word, and that it means a “carrying-place” between two streams, or around waterfalls. Portages are frequent in the smaller streams, and near the head-waters of the larger rivers, the channel being frequently obstructed by precipices, causing waterfalls, and sloping descents full of rocks, which make “rapids.” All the rivers flowing into Lake Superior are full of these rapids, and the portages are therefore frequent, though seldom very long. The St. Louis is a turbulent stream, and for this cause, as well as for the unusually long portage between it and Sandy Lake,—nine miles,—it is the least travelled of the common routes between Lake Superior and the Mississippi. But having had his canoe carried by the Indian across the desolate nine miles to Sandy Lake, my young friend could then paddle across the lake, and float down with little difficulty on the Mississippi, with an occasional portage, to St. Paul. There he would take steamer for St. Louis, and exchange at that point for another steamer to New Orleans.

An easier route leads off from Lake Superior some distance to the eastward of Superior City. The canoe would pass up the Bois Brulé, or Burnt Wood River, to where a portage of three miles would enable it to be launched on the St. Croix River, and float down to the Mississippi at Prescott, below St. Paul.

If he chose to turn down through the Straits of Mackinac into Lake Michigan, instead of going to Lake Superior, he could enter Green Bay, pass up the Fox River a hundred and sixty miles, to where it approaches the Wisconsin, and, by a canal a mile and a half long, enter the Wisconsin, down which he could sail to the Mississippi at Prairie du Chien. By this route he would not require a canoe, as steamers have passed through from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi.

It was by the first two of these routes that news was brought of the great river of the west, rising near the head of the chain of lakes and finding the ocean in a different direction from that to which the current of the lakes flowed. The Jesuit missionaries who set up the cross, and taught the Roman Catholic religion to the wondering savages on the shores of Lake Superior, were visited by Indians, who came in their canoes down the Burnt Wood and St. Louis Rivers, and told of the great river to be reached from those streams. It was by the Fox and Wisconsin that one of those missionaries, Jacques Marquette, floated his canoe into the Mississippi, and thus found the great river of which so much had been heard.

Whichever route my young Canadian took, the greater part of his travelling would be done by steamer. It was different when the Jesuit missionaries went over those routes. There were neither steamers on the water, nor conveyances of any kind on the land. The only highways were the lakes and rivers; and the Jesuits had to make their voyage in birch-bark canoes. The Indian travelled hundreds of miles, to hunt, trade, or fight, in these slight boats of thin strips and bark, which he could pick up and carry off on his shoulders with ease. In a craft so frail that a boy’s boot-heel would knock a hole through the French explorers travelled thousands of miles in waters entirely strange to them.

I think I hear some of my young readers asking how it is possible to build a boat of bark and make it strong enough to carry four, five, and sometimes many more persons, with a load of goods, and bear knocking about in the rivers or the waves of the lake. Before we set out with our stories of early adventures on the Western rivers, it is perhaps better to explain fully the nature and construction of the boats in which the adventurers travelled; and as the Indian birch-bark canoe of to-day is exactly like that of two hundred years ago, I will describe how an old Indian, “The man that paddles,”—I will not venture to write the long Indian word that expresses that meaning,—built his canoe, three or four summers since, on the Kaministiquia River that flows into Thunder Bay, on the north shore of Lake Superior.

The first business of the “Paddling Man” was to collect his birch-bark. For this purpose he tramped through the forest until he found a birch-tree the trunk of which was bare of branches for several feet, and free from knots or cracks. With a sharp knife he made one sweeping cut around the trunk just beneath the lowest branch, and another a little above the earth. A downward slash of the knife connected the two cuts. With his knife and a sharp wooden wedge he peeled the bark carefully from the trunk, removed it in one piece, and rolled it up as if it were a large sheet of stiff paper. Then he hunted for another tree, and, after two or three days’ search, had enough good bark in his hut for the proposed canoe. Next he cut a number of long, pliant cedar boughs and whittled them into strips about the thickness of his finger,—three fingers wide, and from six to twelve feet long. The long, fibrous roots of the larch and spruce were dug up and steeped in water. Now he was ready to begin work.

Four of the largest cedar strips were bound together in pairs with cords of larch-root, and the pairs then joined together in the same manner at each end. These were for the top rails of the canoe. The other strips were laid in order on the ground, about three fingers apart, the largest strips in the middle and the others decreasing in length to the end of the row; these were the ribs. The “Paddling Man” next put a heavy stone on the middle of the largest rib to keep it in place, bent it like a bow, struck the ends between the parallel rail strips and bent them over. The next rib was treated in a similar manner,—the ends bent over and forced under the first, which prevented them from slipping. This was repeated until all the ribs were in place,—the canoe being broad in the centre, and tapering gradually to a point at each end. Other cedar strips were then fastened lengthwise outside the ribs, to strengthen them and keep them in place. The canoe was now sitting in its bones waiting for its skin to be cut and fitted.

“The Man that Paddles” took his pieces of birch-bark, cut them to the proper lengths, and sewed them with larch-root threads. Then he fitted the skin to the skeleton with as much care as a fashionable tailor fits a coat to his customer, trimmed the edges, and completed the fastenings. Being somewhat of a dandy, my Indian friend ornamented his canoe with a design worked with stained quills. As a final process, he melted some spruce-gum and carefully pitched all the seams to make them water-tight. Ten days he had worked steadily, and now the canoe was finished.

In canoe-voyaging great care must be taken. The material is so frail that boots or shoes cannot safely be worn, as the heel might punch a hole through the bark bottom. In a day’s voyage the bark becomes water-soaked and the canoe is hauled out at night to dry. Before starting in the morning the seams are carefully examined, any suspicious place sucked, and if air comes through, the leak is stopped with spruce-gum, of which a supply is always carried. When the voyager reaches a rapid up which he is unable to push his canoe, or any of the portages between streams, he unloads his boat, mounts it on his shoulders, like a huge hood and cloak in one, and sets off at a rapid pace, followed by his companions carrying the cargo. A canoe eight or ten feet long, large enough for five or six persons, with their provisions and baggage, can easily be carried by one man over a long portage. It is an Indian axiom, that where a man can go a canoe can also go; and before the destruction of the forests reduced the quantity of water in the streams, there were but few parts of the country tributary to the St. Lawrence or Mississippi but could be reached by canoe navigation.

As you all know, America was discovered by navigators who had hoped to reach Eastern Asia by a direct course across the Atlantic. The American continent lay in their way and barred their progress. One after another the Spanish, English, Dutch, and French nations sent out expeditions to seize and hold portions of this newly discovered continent, and at the same time to seek some passage through or around it by which the lands of silks, gems, and spices could be reached. In the early portion of the seventeenth century the Spaniards had a few garrisons on the Florida coast, and occasionally sailed a short distance up the rivers flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. The English were founding colonies on the New England coast, building, planting, and hunting for gold in Virginia, and making vain efforts to find a passage westward through the perpetual ice of the Arctic sea. The Dutch were buying peltries on the Hudson. The French were pushing their way westward along the Canadian watercourses, engaged in the work of enlarging the dominions of the French crown, driving a good trade in furs, converting the Indians to the Roman Catholic faith, and seeking a water-way through the continent. In fighting, trading, preaching, or exploring the subject of a short road to China and Japan was never lost sight of.

The most adventurous of explorers were the French Jesuit missionaries. Arriving at Quebec in 1632, with authority to preach to the Indians, and to push their missionary labors wherever they deemed the field inviting, they passed, cross in hand, and prayer-book suspended from the neck, farther into the wilderness than the most adventurous trader dared go. Their unshaken courage and indifference to peril, or even death, at first astonished, and at last won the respect of, the savages; and though the black robe was sometimes stained with the life-blood of its wearer, it came at length to be a safeguard from hostility, though not from suffering and danger.

At first, the Jesuit Fathers found their way westward from Quebec by the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers to Lake Huron, where they made converts among the Huron Indians at the lower part of Georgian Bay. Here they established a mission, and had got fairly to work teaching and preaching, when tidings came that fired them with hopes of new triumphs for France and their Church. A French interpreter, Nicolet, had been sent westward to arrange a treaty with some Indian tribes. He brought back reports of a great river flowing westward to the sea. This the Jesuits thought must be the route to China that had been so diligently sought. They were anxious to carry the cross, and the power of France, by this short route to the rich countries of Asia.

On the 28th of August, 1660, Father René Ménard, an aged and infirm priest who had labored and suffered among the Hurons, left Three Rivers, on the St. Lawrence on a mission to Lake Superior. Accompanied by eight Frenchmen, and a supply of goods for presents, he joined a party of Ottawa Indians on their return from a trading expedition to Quebec, the whole party embarking in birch-bark canoes.

It was a long and perilous voyage the venerable missionary had undertaken. Thirty-five times, before reaching Lake Huron, the canoes would have to be carried through the woods, around rapids and cataracts; fifty times they must be pulled or pushed through the strong but shallow current by the voyagers wading in the stream. Worse than all, the hostile Iroquois lay in ambush among the dense undergrowth, to send their flint-headed arrows into the passing canoes. Then remained the storms of Lake Huron, and the unknown dangers of the great lake beyond. Nor were the savages, under whose protection the voyage was to be made, desirable companions. They were jealous of the French, though glad of their aid against the murderous Iroquois, and looked suspiciously at the black-robed priests as sorcerers full of mischief. The prayer-books at their necks filled the savages with superstitious dread.

The fleet of canoes paddled up the St. Lawrence, through the shoals and islands of Lake St. Peter, up the broad river, smooth and glassy under an August sun, keeping well out in the middle of the channel, to avoid the arrows of any foe lurking amid the luxuriant foliage that covered the banks, and turned at last to meet the current of the Ottawa. Then began the real hardships of the journey. For some time they held their course along the smooth surface of Lake Two Mountains, and then stemmed the current of the gradually narrowing river, until the Long Saut checked their progress. The voyagers were compelled to get out of the canoes, and pull or push them up stream, wading through the water close to the banks during the greater part of the distance, the tangled woods affording no pathway. Ménard gathered up his robe, and stumbled feebly among the slippery stones of the torrent, more than once owing his life to the friendly hand of an Indian fellow-traveller. At last smoother water was reached. Once, when paddling near shore, seeking a convenient place to rest and cook a meal, a shower of arrows, followed by the fierce yells of a party of Iroquois in ambush, warned them off, and they paddled hastily up stream, and towards the opposite bank.

The river narrowed, and rocky cliffs towered on either side. The current became swifter and was flecked with foam. There was a dull, rushing sound ahead, gradually increasing in distinctness, until the fleet of canoes came to a halt at the foot of the Chaudière or Kettle Falls, where the whole volume of the Ottawa went tearing and plunging over rock after rock, the huge rock basins into which the torrent fell bubbling and hissing, and sending up clouds of spray, like so many boiling caldrons.

The chief of the party threw into the principal caldron his offering of tobacco, to appease the Spirit of the Falls. There was to have been a solemn dance to propitiate the Spirit and insure a safe voyage, but the Iroquois attack, lower down the river, warned the Ottawas that no time must be wasted. The canoes were run in shore, unloaded, and preparations for the portage made. At that moment rang out again the dreaded war-whoop of the Iroquois. There was a crackling of twigs all around, a shower of arrows, and with another yell the enemy were upon them. The Ottawas, though thus suddenly attacked, were not taken at disadvantage. They fought vigorously, and were aided by the eight Frenchmen, whose guns did good service. The aged priest, unfit and unwilling to fight, knelt among the loaded canoes and packages, and prayed fervently. His prayers were answered, and the Iroquois were compelled to retreat into the forest.

Now all was hurry. Each canoe was shouldered by an Indian, the others following with the bundles and packages. In pity for his age and feebleness, or rather because of his utter inability, Ménard was exempted from carrying either canoe or bundles. It was with difficulty he could carry himself, and keep up with the rapid march of the party.

Into the dense forest, climbing over jagged rocks, plunging into chasms, with silent lips and attentive ears, went the Indians, well accustomed to the path, and the Frenchmen, to whom fear of being lost in that horrible place gave energy. At the rear of the party stumbled the old priest, less fearful of his life than of his losing the opportunity of bearing the cross to the shores of the far-off lake. Once he tripped and fell, injuring his leg and ankle severely but the Indians were not disposed to wait, and in great agony he hobbled on till the river was once more reached.

Day after day it was the same story. All day long they paddled against the current, dragged or pushed their canoes up the rapids, or made long and wearisome portages through the woods. At night they landed in some convenient spot, lit their camp-fires, cooked what provisions they had, and then slept on the bare rock, or upon boughs broken from the surrounding trees, their feet towards the burning embers around which they lay. Sometimes they fared well on fish caught in the river, or on the flesh of a stray moose shot as it came down to drink. At other times they fell back on their stores of smoked deer-flesh, or of pemmican, made of pounded deer-flesh soaked with boiling fat. When this gave out, and no other food could be found, they were content with the scant supply of blueberries and raspberries that grew among the rocks. When food was to be had, the Indians gorged to repletion, heedless of the days to come when they would be in peril of dying from hunger. When everything else failed, they gathered tripe roche, a fat lichen that grew on the rocks, and this they boiled, with the snails and caterpillars that clustered on it, into a black and sticky soup. It was not a savory dish, but served to still the worst pangs of hunger.

The route lay along the Ottawa, till the river Mattanan was reached, then up that stream to the portage leading to Lake Nipissing, across that lake, and down the French River to Georgian Bay. As the voyagers progressed they found the way more difficult. The river grew shallower, the rapids and portages more frequent. Father Ménard’s wounded foot and leg became inflamed, and every step he took caused him intense anguish. To add to his suffering, there was prospect of an early winter, and the water, through which he frequently had to wade with naked feet, became intensely cold.

Up Georgian Bay and the River Sainte Marie to the Saut they paddled, the weeks running by, and the winter, always early and cold in that northern region, swiftly approaching. Another portage around the Saut, and at last they were on the waters of Lake Superior.

But more than two hundred miles were yet to be traversed before the rendezvous of the Ottawas could be reached. A great misfortune now befell the missionary. One night, while sleeping on the wooded shore of the lake, a sudden storm swept over the forest. A tree was blown down, falling on the frail canoe in which he had voyaged, and breaking it in pieces. When morning came the others pushed off, leaving Ménard and his three Indians, without a canoe or a mouthful of food, to shift for themselves. Six days they continued in this pitiable condition. One of the four remained all day at the water’s edge, watching for some passing party from whom he could beg a morsel of dried meat, whilst the others hunted the woods. At night they gathered around the fire, glared at each other with hungry eyes, and then lay down to dream of rich feasts of moose-meat and wild duck. At last, when their hunger was at the worst, they found a deserted hut. They raked up with their fingers the filth around it, found a few bones, and with these and the precious dirt soaked with the blood of slaughtered animals, made a soup,—not very palatable or nourishing, but better than nothing. Soon after this feast a canoe party came along, and they were taken on board. On the 15th of October, just seven weeks after he left Three Rivers, Father Ménard landed at the Ottawa town in what is now called Kerveenan Bay, but which he named the Bay of St. Theresa, having reached it on St. Theresa’s day.

The first winter was a hard one for the Frenchmen. As usual, the Indians among whom they had come had laid up an insufficient stock of provisions, and when half famished themselves were not disposed to be liberal to the French intruders. Occasionally a returning fishing-party threw a worthless fish or two to the miserable men, who crawled down to the water’s edge to beg that charity; but more frequently the priest and his fellow-countrymen feasted on pounded bark, boiled and served in fish-oil, to which sharp hunger gave the needed zest. In the spring they fared better. Fish were caught with ease in the lake. Ducks and pigeons were shot on the shore and in the woods. Both Frenchmen and Indians grew fat.

The second winter the Frenchmen saw the Indians preparing to fish, and resolved to watch them, judging hunger to be more difficult to endure than were the pains and perils of fishing in winter. These were not light. They suffered dreadfully with cold, and from their inexperience with the canoe. Their hands and feet were frozen, and sometimes the canoe capsized, and they were thrown into the icy water.

The priest found it a poor field for missionary labor. The Ottawa chief was a fierce and cruel savage. He conceived a dislike to Ménard, and in the first winter turned him out of the hut, and made him pass the inclement season in a miserable shelter of fir-branches. He had several wives, and scoffed at the priest’s reproaches. The people were like their chief, brutal, and debased by all sorts of hideous vices. In two winters Ménard had succeeded in baptizing but two old men and a few squaws. Discouraged at laboring in such a barren field, he determined to go farther west along the lake, to where a band of Hurons had found their way. They had heard of their old missionary, and sent for him to visit them once more before they perished.

Ménard sent three of his Frenchmen to visit the Hurons, call them together, and say that he would come to be their teacher. The messengers, after a long and fatiguing journey, found the Hurons, so weak with hunger and the sufferings they had endured as to be scarcely able to stand. They delivered their message, and set out on their return. But the Huron guide abandoned them, fearing lest he should die of hunger on the way. The canoe they came in was stolen, and they were left helpless in the forest. Necessity made them both ingenious and energetic. They gathered bark and made a small, rudely-constructed canoe, which served, with great care, for their voyage. A few pigeons and some fish caught in the lake supplied them with food, and early in June the three messengers stood again in the priest’s hut. They strongly dissuaded him from undertaking the journey. He was old and feeble, they said. There were innumerable perils by land and water,—the portages were long, the rocks over which he must take his canoe huge and jagged, the lands through which he must pass bare and sterile, affording nothing that could support life. They magnified all the real perils of the route, and invented many that did not exist, but without avail. His only answer was: “God has called me; I must go if it costs my life. Shall I refuse to obey the voice of God calling me to the succor of those poor Christians, so long deprived of a teacher? No, no! I will not allow these suffering souls to perish that I may save my own miserable body. Behold a glorious opportunity of mounting to the angels, and shall I allow it to escape me?”

Some Hurons who had come to trade with the Ottawas were about to return, and with them Ménard determined to go. He chose a Frenchman named Armurier to accompany him, laid in dry sturgeon and smoked meat for provisions, and on the 13th of June, 1661, set out on his westward journey. His farewell to the Frenchmen left with the Ottawas was prophetic. “Adieu, my children,” said he, embracing them tenderly; “I give you my last adieus in this world, for you will see me no more. I pray the Divine Goodness that we may be reunited in heaven.”

The Hurons were faithless. After traversing the bay some distance, sleeping on the shore at night, they one morning pushed off without taking on board the priest or his companion. They shouted to the deserted Frenchmen that they would hasten home, and send young, robust men to their aid. Then they paddled away, leaving the two Frenchmen without a canoe, and with but a scant stock of provisions, alone on the edge of the trackless forest.

Fifteen days they remained, watching anxiously for the promised succor, but none came. Then they sought means of escape, and happily found a small canoe hid in the bushes. In this they embarked with their little bundles, and set out on the track of their faithless guides. Unused to the route, their progress was slow and painful. The supply of food ran low, and starvation stared them in the face. The old priest was compelled to assist in carrying the canoe or packages at the portages, and his feebleness made this slow work.

About the 10th of August the two were passing the portage at the head of Portage Lake, Armurier in advance, with the canoe on his shoulders, and Ménard following with the bundles. The way was swampy and difficult to travel. Ménard fell behind. The light was dim, and the priest’s eyes were weakened with age, so that, on looking ahead, he mistook a distant stump for Armurier and the canoe. Thus he wandered off in the wrong direction, and the farther he travelled the wider he went astray. At the end of the portage Armurier set down the canoe, and turned to look for the priest, but he was nowhere to be seen. He shouted, but there was no answer. Thoroughly alarmed, Armurier started back on the path, shouting and firing his gun, but the echoing of the forest was the only reply. Judging a Huron village to be near, he went in search of assistance, but lost his way. Fortunately, an Indian met him and brought him to the village, but two precious days had been lost by this mistake.

To make matters worse, he knew not a word of the Huron dialect. By signs and tears he at length succeeded in making them understand that the good Father was lost, and then begged assistance in the search. The Indians remained immovable. Finally, by large promises of French merchandise, a young warrior was induced to engage in the search. He had been gone but two hours, when he came rushing back, shouting that he had met the enemy. The whole village was instantly in commotion, and though no enemy approached, they could not be induced to resume their search for the lost priest.

So perished René Ménard, the first missionary on Lake Superior. Whether alone, in the trackless woods, he died of hunger, or was murdered by a roving band of Sioux, who had come eastward on a plundering expedition, was never known; though the latter is not unlikely, some relics of him being afterwards found in a Sioux village, west of the lake. The work of exploring the lake coast, and pursuing the search for the rumored great river, was left for others to perform.

J. H. A. Bone.


At the window hangs Canary,

  Singer sweet and true;

Bobolink, from out the hedge-row,

  He is singing too.


Now his liquid notes Canary

  Pours like music rain;

Now the voice from out the hedge-row,

  Bobolink again.


Stints his song awhile Canary;—

  “Who may this bird be,

That with ever-answering carol

  Strives to vie with me?”


“Only Bobolink, the singer;

  Merry bird am I.

Through the wood and fields and meadows

  Back and forth I fly.”


Now his bravest song Canary,

  Now his finest trill;

Bobolink’s from out the hedge-row

  Braver, finer still!

Then the tender-voiced Canary,

  Wondering, paused in pain,

And the careless hedge-row singer

  Trilled his lay again.


“I am weary,” sobs Canary,

  “I am all outdone;

’Twas the trial test between us,—

  Bobolink has won.


“Even my mistress, she who fancied

  My poor song divine,—

See, how eagerly she listens

  To his song,—not mine.


“Knows she why in happy music

  He surpasses me?

I am but a caged Canary;—

  Bobolink is free.”


Mrs. A. M. Wells.


We take it for granted that all the readers of “Our Young Folks” are familiar with the crow,—a bird well known in all parts of the United States. He is everywhere rendered conspicuous by his large size and deep, dark color, which in the distance appears to be black. He is not, I am sorry to add, a bird that everywhere enjoys a good reputation.

In fact, the crow has really very few friends. The farmer is befriended by him, yet the farmer dislikes him. For, unaware of the good deeds of the harsh-voiced bird, he only knows that, no sooner has the seed begun to sprout in his cornfield, than this black-coated intruder, this “robber crow,” as Whittier the poet calls him, will drop in among the hills of corn, pull up kernel by kernel, and so undo all his labor. The wrathful husbandman replants his field, perhaps only to have the mischief repeated again and again. No wonder he does not like crows.

We, too, who love all birds, and delight to have them shelter themselves in our shrubbery, or build their nests and rear their young over our porch, have had our patience sorely tried when we have seen the ruthless crow

“Come down like the wolf on the fold,”

and, in spite of the outcries of the parent birds, or our endeavors to frighten him away, kill and carry off a brood of young robins nearly ready to fly. Our first impulse has been to take down our double-barrelled avenger and pursue the murderer.

And then, too, the crow has no song to recommend him. His note is one incessant caw, caw, caw! What wonder that so many join in the general outcry against him!

And yet, neither the character nor the coat of this much-abused bird is as black as each is generally represented. His plumage is really of a glossy blue-black, which shades into a beautiful purple. And as for his character, there is some brightness to be found in that too, when we examine it a little more closely. If he troubles and disappoints the farmer by postponing his early crop of corn, we must remember that he does it, not in wanton mischief, but in obedience to the instincts of his nature, and simply to satisfy his hunger. If it is harder for us to be reconciled with what seems to us his inexcusable cruelty in occasionally destroying the whole family of some poor bird, we ought not to forget that he is still only obeying these same natural instincts, in providing for the wants of his own hungry brood. Such offences, however, are not of frequent occurrence.

Especially ought we to bear in mind that these instinctive temptations which beset the crow lead him to do a great deal of good, as well as a little harm. There are indeed few birds which help the farmer so much. But for the crow’s vigilance, some of the most destructive insects would increase so rapidly as to do an infinite amount of mischief. He is incessantly at work, when the ground is not frozen, killing grubs, beetles, and other creatures injurious to vegetation. It would be well for the farmer, sometimes, to abate his indignation at the crows for pulling up his early corn, remembering that but for them his cornfields might—have been so full of cut-worms and other destructive grubs that he would have had no crops, early or late.

And if the crows here, in New England, shun our society, it is our fault and not theirs. They would be social with us, but we have taught them, on the peril of their lives, to keep aloof from us. No bird is more tame and fearless, in Nova Scotia, than the crow, because in that province no one molests him. In the Western States, also, he is tame and sociable, because he is not persecuted. Here, in Massachusetts, however, he will not let you come near him, especially when you have a gun in your hand.

Our treatment of these birds has developed in them an amount of wariness and worldly wisdom quite foreign to their natural disposition. They all live as so many scouts or sentinels, on the constant lookout for danger. Persons passing without weapons, or with only the harmless instruments of husbandry, do not excite their alarm. But let the dreaded instrument of death appear, and instantly each trusty sentinel utters the loud alarum, and follows, at a safe distance, repeating his warning cries wherever the detected danger moves.

The order and method with which large communities of crows will follow the guidance of a few trusted leaders is surprising, and is as well attested as it is wonderful. My friend, the late John Cassin of Philadelphia,—one of the best of men and of ornithologists,—described to me, only a few days before his death, the interesting and extraordinary movements of a large army of crows, witnessed by himself.

In the neighborhood of Philadelphia these birds are very abundant; and, either because they do not molest the farmer’s crops, or because the benefits they confer are duly appreciated, they are not objects of persecution, as with us. At certain seasons, they move about in large flocks, crossing the Delaware River in the morning from the east, and recrossing it at night from the opposite direction, as they go to their roosting-places. In these movements they often pass over the city itself in large flocks, but high in the air, and out of harm’s way. On a Sunday morning in April last, when the whole city of Philadelphia was enveloped in the thickest fog, so dense and impenetrable that it was hardly possible to distinguish objects across its narrow streets, Mr. Cassin was passing through Walnut Street, in the rear of that famous State-house in which the Declaration of Independence was signed. A friend called to him to look at Independence Square, where, he told him, he would see such a sight as he had never witnessed before. He immediately crossed the street with his friend, and approached the park, the whole of which he found, to his utter astonishment, occupied by an immense army of crows. They swarmed over and covered the ground, they filled all the trees, and weighed down the branches. The entire space, in every nook and corner, seemed alive with crows. Mr. Cassin stated that, to the best of his judgment, they were numbered not merely by thousands, but by hundreds of thousands. Flock after flock, in attempting to cross the Delaware, had evidently lost their way in the dense fog, and had at last found themselves in a small park in the very heart of Philadelphia. As if aware of their close proximity to danger, the whole flock preserved the utmost order, and a stillness as profound as that of the grave itself. A few birds moved noiselessly back and forth through their ranks, as if giving out tacit signals, to direct their course; and after these movements, slowly and cautiously went up into the air the trusty scouts which had evidently been commissioned to explore the way in advance of the rest.

Up into the fog-covered heavens ascended these several explorers until lost to view. But they soon returned, apparently unsuccessful. No noise was heard except the slight rustle of their wings, as they went and returned.

Again were repeated the uneasy movements of those who seemed to be their leaders, passing silently and cautiously in and out through the close ranks. After a long consultation, as it seemed, though no audible sound was given out, another small band of scouts slowly went up to explore. This time their course and proceedings were different. Instead of a straight upward course, as they ascended, they wheeled round and round in ever increasing zones, and at last, as if satisfied with their observations, they returned to a point just above their companions and then quietly dropped down among them.

This time the report was evidently more satisfactory, for, after communicating its results, the leaders once more moved up and down among the assembled army of crows, as if giving their final directions for a general movement, and the whole of this immense congregation, in perfect order, rose slowly and silently, preceded by the last body of scouts. After wheeling around as their guides had previously done, they all finally moved off in a westerly direction, and were soon lost to view. During all these movements, from first to last, not a single sound was uttered, which might betray their presence in that unsafe neighborhood.

As Mr. Cassin passed on, he found that Washington Square, another park at a short distance from Independence Square, was in like manner filled, either with another army or with a portion of the same bewildered army of crows. They had been going through with the same manœuvres, sending up scouts, and following them, in the same way, to places of greater safety. How indisputably do the facts of this narrative establish the wonderful intelligence, amounting almost to reason, possessed by these birds! And what a lesson is taught us by their sagacious conduct, when in danger, of the value of prudent counsels combined with good order and self-control!

When taken young, the crow can be readily tamed, and becomes a very entertaining, though often a very mischievous and troublesome pet. He soon makes himself quite at home, and even seems to enjoy his life of semi-domestication. This is especially so when he is permitted to go at large. A life of ease and indulgence appears to develop in him the trait of secretiveness, and a general love for mischief. He seems to delight in stealing for its own sake, taking objects of no interest or value to himself, and apparently making no other use of them than to hide them. When punished for his mischievous pranks, he will also feign insensibility, in order to make good his escape.

Some years since I shot at a crow that fell at my feet and was taken up apparently dead. I put it in my game-bag, and carried it about with me several hours. It was a very fine specimen, and I decided to take off its skin for preservation. Finding my scalpel somewhat dull, I left the apparently lifeless crow on its back for a few moments, and returning to my workroom with a sharper instrument, was not a little surprised to find my dead bird on his feet, seeking to escape from the apartment. I then ascertained that its only injury had been the sundering of the main tendon of one wing, which, while it disabled it from flight, injured no vital organ. Its apparent death had been wholly assumed.

A friend of ours, whose family, in which are several young children, reside near Chestnut Hill, has possessed during the past year a pair of tame crows, whose pranks have been a great source of entertainment to the entire neighborhood. They were perfectly tame, enjoyed the largest liberty, came and went as they pleased, and seemed to enjoy the society of their benefactors, especially that of the children, taking part in their plays with as much animation as is sometimes shown by an intelligent and playful dog. They would indeed join with the children in games of hide-and-seek with a readiness and quickness of movement which even made them the masters of the game.

On one occasion the younger of the children took a small spherical button, with a projecting eye attached, threw it on the ground before one of the crows, and told him to pick it up. The bird immediately essayed so to do, but, endeavoring to take it up by the rounded part, was for some time unable to retain his hold, and it turned over, and slipped each time from his grip, greatly to the entertainment of the children. But, after turning the button over several times, the crow took it up on the point of its beak by the eye, holding it securely at last. Proud of this success, he moved about twirling the button in the most amusing manner. After a while, he flew with the button a short distance and, dropping it in the grass, returned to the children, challenging them to a game of hide-and-seek. One of the boys immediately ran in search of the button. The crow hovered in the air, attentively watching the boy, and as soon as he seemed on the point of finding it, the bird darted down, picked up the button, and bore it off in triumph. This manœuvre he repeated several times, in each instance anticipating the children in their attempts to recover the button.

One of these birds was very much attached to the mistress of the house, always flying to her whenever he saw her out of doors, hovering over her head, and alighting upon her shoulders or on her head. This he would do even when she was accompanied by other persons; but he never manifested the same regard for any one else.

One of his greatest delights was to tease and annoy the hens on the place, especially those having charge over a brood of chickens. To these his near approach was a source of great uneasiness, and they would meet him with all those tokens of hostility which a faithful mother-hen so well knows how to manifest. This was just what the crow seemed to enjoy. After pestering the poor hen to his heart’s content, he would retire to the limb of a tree close by, where he would indulge in the most grotesque noises, apparently in burlesque imitation of the outcries of the distressed and indignant parent.

Occasionally, one of these crows would venture to visit some of the adjacent dwellings and there play off his mischievous tricks.

One summer afternoon, as a neighbor of the owner of the crows was taking a nap in an easy-chair in his parlor, some one, as he thought, tapped at the door. “Come in,” he called to the supposed visitor. But no one obeyed the summons, and the rap at the door was repeated. Again a louder summons to the visitor to “walk in” brought no visible response. But immediately, in an adjoining room, there commenced the greatest possible uproar, and sounds of banging things about, as if some one was overturning the furniture.

In great alarm the gentleman sprang to the door and hastily entered the room, where he found that his neighbor’s crow was the intruder, and was busily engaged in throwing down or tipping over every article in the room that he could move. Upon the gentleman’s entrance, however, the crow seemed to come to the conclusion that it was about time for him to depart, and immediately disappeared through an open window, leaving the apartment in a most chaotic condition.

There is a popular and quite general belief that the crow can be made to imitate the human voice, and even to speak distinctly. To enable him to do this, a surgical operation on the tongue has been supposed to be necessary. I have not usually given faith to this popular legend, no evidence to sustain it having come within my own knowledge. Yet the ability of the crow to articulate seems by no means impossible. It is well known that the raven, a bird closely related to the crow, can be taught to speak. And we also know that in confinement the latter bird evinces a great readiness for burlesque imitations of certain familiar sounds, though this is rarely, if ever, done with exactness. Its cackling like a hen is rather a ludicrous caricature than a close imitation. It has always seemed to me very probable that by careful training the crow might be made to articulate words. And two well-authenticated instances have recently been reported to me; one in Vermont, the other near Boston.

A few years since, the family of a distinguished member of the Boston bar, who spend their summers in Grafton, found a tame crow, kept by a neighbor, which had been taught to say distinctly several words. One of the children succeeded in negotiating for his purchase, and took him home, but only for a single day; for he was soon found to be very noisy and vociferous. His language was by no means the most choice, bordering even upon the profane; and the mistress of the household insisted upon his return to his original educators. This bird enunciated sentences of three or four words. These two instances seem to warrant the belief that the crow can, with proper pains, be easily made to imitate human speech.

However amusing some of the performances of the crow may sometimes be, in a state of confinement they are not always so pleasant or agreeable. His mischievous pranks are very annoying, and any neighborhood will generally rejoice at the disappearance of a tame crow. Not unfrequently, if we are not on our guard, our not over-scrupulous pet will pillage the nests of the smaller birds on our grounds, destroying their eggs and their young. At other times he will make a foray upon the hen-roost, committing petty larceny among the eggs.

A pair of crows which, in his younger days, the writer attempted, not very successfully, to tame, were at last detected by him in the attempt to kill a favorite pet pigeon, a very rare and beautiful bird. Fortunately, they were discovered before it was too late; but it was an offence not to be forgiven, and the crows were at once consigned to disgrace and banishment. When inquiries were made of an old farmer in the neighborhood if he could find us some one who would take the crows off our hands,—“Like enough,” was the dry rejoinder, “for the fools are not all dead yet.”

We appreciated the sarcasm, and made no further attempts to keep or to tame a crow.

T. M. B.


Words by Lucy Larcom. Music by F. Boott.



Run, little rivulet, run!

Carry the perfume you won

From the lily that woke when the morning was gray,

To the white waiting moonbeam adrift on the bay.

Run, &c.





Run, little rivulet, run!

Stay not till summer is done;

Carry to the city the mountain-bird’s glee,

Carry the joy of the hills to the sea.

Run, little rivulet, run, run!

Run, little rivulet, run, run!

Run, little rivulet, run!


All the puzzles for which prizes have been awarded are given below.



No. 37.

Hitty Maginn.

No. 38.

1. On what key does a boy pitch his crying?

2. What did Maud Muller say to her babe when it cried for a baked bean?

3. Whose airs does a frequently repulsed musquito sing?

4. Why is an egg laid in May likely to be dark-shelled?

5. When a man loses a fine horse, what does he next procure?

6. Why is a heifer not so high as a cow?

7. Why do the conundrums of the Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table wear well?

8. When the day breaks, does it break into small pieces?

9. What are the best drops for loss of appetite?

10. Why is it an imposture for a monkey to beg pennies?

11. What is the difference between the man that opens the mails and a minister who is being ordained?

12. Where shall a farmer send his son who has imperfectly hoed two gardens?

13. In what Massachusetts town should antiquarians seek for the fruit of the tree of knowledge?

14. Why is a hat with a part of the top knocked out convenient for a sleight-of-hand performer to fry doughnuts in?

15. When does a conundrum mourn?

Willy Wisp.

PRIZE PUZZLE.—No. 39.—Dinner-Table with Guests.

No. 40.

My first has a head, without mouth, ear, or eye;

My next oft has wings, but never could fly;

And though for my third not a rush you may care,

You’ll own that he’s sometimes a shocking affair.

My fourth with great wings, and the power to fly,

Keeps them close to its body, unwilling to try;

My fifth, with large arms, but never a hand,

Bears safely the treasures of many a land.

My sixth, with strong feet, is unable to walk;

My seventh, with a head, but cannot eat, sing, or talk,

And though without feet, it will go, if hard driven,

As people have found, when with blows they have striven.

My eighth may be seen in the country or town,

And you’ll find it the highest just where it is down.

The initials of these form an eight-lettered name

Of something which head, wings, and feet can well claim.

Which can see and can hear, can walk, run, or fly,

But never can talk, as you’ll see by and by.






32.1. Carnation.
2. Dandelion.
3. Foxglove.
4. Camelia.
5. Love-in-a-mist.
6. Cowslip.
7. Verbena.
8. Pœony.
9. Buttercup.
10. Shamrock.
11. Water-Lily.
12. China-Aster.
33.Declaration of Independence.
35.“We think not that we daily see
About our hearths angels that are to be,
Or may be if they will, and we prepare
Their souls and ours to meet in happy air.”

(Wee t) (H in knot) (T hat) (weed) (ale) Y (deaf mute) (sea about hour) (H earths) (angels) (T hat) R (toe) (bee) Or (May) (bee) I F T (hay) (will) and (weep) R E (pear) T (deaf mute) (hair) (sole) (sand) (hour) S (2) (meat in hay) P P Y A(eye)R.

Puzzle in Letter-Box.

“She stoops to conquer.” (C on cur.)

Rebuses in April Letter-Box.

Croquet. (Crow K.)

Double your efforts. (Double ewer) F (forts).

Salmon P. Chase. (Salmon) (peach) (ace).

“You better reckon I’ll be thar. Yours, &c.” (Ewe) (better) (wreck on isle) (bee) th R (Ewers, and so forth.)


These pretty little verses are for the benefit of the almost babies, whom we never mean to forget, although our magazine is, for the greater part, filled with articles very carefully prepared for their older brothers and sisters.

We have sometimes been asked the supposed age of our readers, and have answered, “Anywhere from eight to eighteen.” But some of our friends suggest, “Anywhere from eight to eighty.” And it is true that we often hear from the children that they cannot read their magazine as soon as it comes, because Papa, and sometimes Grandpapa, gets absorbed in it, and does not like to give it up.

But we have many subscribers under eight years of age, and their entertainment is also part of our plan, always.

Tu weet, Tu wee!


A little bird sat on the fence;

  “Tu weet, tu weet, tu wee!”

“I’ll take my dinner at your expense,”

  Said the little bird to me.


He cocked his head to the hither side;

  “Tu weet, tu weet, tu wee!”

And opened both eyes very wide,

  That he might better see.


He spied a crumb on the window-sill;

  “Tu weet, tu weet, tu wee!”

He picked it up in his little bill,

  But he kept one eye on me.


He made his feast on the little crumb;

  “Tu weet, tu weet, tu wee!”

He wiped his bill, and flew off home,

  But never said “Thanks!” to me.


J. W.

Some of our younger readers wish us to explain the construction of the Double Acrostic Charade. “Minnie’s,” which has gained one of the prizes, is pretty and ingenious, and is the first illustrated one we have ever seen. In hers, the two foundation words are first pictured, and beneath them the six words whose initial-letters spell the first foundation-word, and their last letters the second.

We will give one of the very shortest examples:

Foundation-,{A small trial of humanity.}Boy.
Words,{A greater one.}Man.
{A fowl name.}BantaM.
Cross-{An immovable spot of Greece.}OssA.
Words.{A wide breach of politeness.}YawN.

You see that a Double Acrostic Charade is easy enough to make, in this plain fashion. But when it is formed of two long words, and when every cross-word is explained by a verse of good poetry, it is quite another affair.

The answers to Hitty Maginn’s rebuses in the April Letter-Box, accidentally omitted in May, are given this month.

The prizes promised in January are thus awarded:—

Two prizes of $15 each for Illustrated Rebuses, one to “Sunbeam,” Fortress Monroe, Va., and one to “Hitty Maginn,” Saint Louis, Mo.

A prize of $10 for Illustrated Double Acrostic Charade, to “Minnie,” Cambridge, Mass.

A prize of $10 for Acrostic Riddle, to “Sphinx,” Detroit, Mich.

A prize of $10 for Conundrums, to “Willy Wisp,” Maiden, Mass.

A prize of $10 for Puzzle, to “E. B. B.,” Dover, N. H.

All these appear in the present number; and we suspect there will be pretty hard guessing over some of them.

Many excellent puzzles, besides these, have been sent in. We thank our friends for them.

Those who offer us MSS. for examination must send their real name and address, if they wish for prompt attention. Articles are not returned unless stamps are enclosed for that purpose.

The Butterfly Hunters,” by Mrs. H. S. Conant (Fields, Osgood, & Co.), is just the book for children who are going to spend the summer in the country. It will show them a fine way of amusing themselves, and, before they know it, they will have read a pleasant story, and will also have learned an interesting chapter of Natural History. There are many pictures in the volume of our handsomest moths and butterflies, which will afford much help to those who are beginning to collect specimens.

“C. S. A.” wishes to commend to our readers Mrs. Stowe’s “Little Foxes,” also published by Fields, Osgood, & Co. It is certainly one of the most valuable books “to have in the family.” “C. S. A.” says that it shows up the vexations of domestic life “in a style lively and pictorial as that of the novel or drama.” This is true. It is very entertaining, and there are few persons who would not be benefited by reading it; for almost everybody is so happy as to have a home, while even into the happiest “little foxes” will sometimes creep.

Edelweiss,” by Berthold Auerbach (Roberts Brothers), is another good family book, which relates how a terrible “little fox” almost destroyed the peace of a German household. It took nothing less than a mountain avalanche to drive out the intruder. The story is of the clock-making region of Germany, and is full of Auerbach’s homely and poetical pictures of people, manners, and scenery. “Edelweiss” is a little flower, something like our life-everlasting, which grows underneath the snow on the high Alps. Its meaning is “Noble Purity.” And one feels, in reading, as if the flower were pressed in the book; for the memory of a good and noble mother perfumes every page.

Mrs. Stowe’s new volume, “Oldtown Folks,” just issued by Fields, Osgood, & Co., is full of curious pictures of bygone days. Old and young will alike be entertained by reading about Sam and Hepsy Lawson, and Miss Mehitable, and Crab Smith and his dreadfully industrious sister, Miss Asphyxia, and the orphan children, Harry and Tina Percival. We have only read as far as to the wanderings of these two babes in the wood through fairy-land, whither they had escaped from their oppressors. But that is a pleasant place to leave them in. Bleak New England is fairy-land once a year, all fashioned of white pines, and crimson swamp-maples, and golden-rod, and royal purple asters, and yellow butterflies, and hazy blue October skies. Mrs. Stowe mixes these materials on her palette well. And the autumn sunshine seems softer, and the tints of trees and blossoms mellower, for the hard, old-fashioned people she portrays, who seem moulded out of the granite of their native hills. Some of us remember when there were many Miss Asphyxias. Country children had a hard time growing up, with these for schoolmistresses and housekeepers.

Editor “Young Folks”:—

It is hardly worth while to continue the controversy about the best way of constructing a rebus. My former letter was written merely to indicate to your readers a higher standard than had been proposed by Willy Wisp. I am more than gratified to perceive that he so gracefully admits all I have claimed by designating my style as the “classical.” It will be remembered that I indicated what a perfect rebus should be. They are not often produced, but no one ought to aim at anything lower, even in these unimportant matters.

As to Willy Wisp’s hint, that perhaps I can improve on the specimens I have sent you, all I can say now is

Hitty Maginn.


Mis-spelled words and printer errors have been fixed.

Illustrations have been relocated due to using a non-page layout.

Some photographs have been enhanced to be more legible.

[The end of Our Young Folks. An Illustrated Magazine for Boys and Girls. Vol 5, Issue 6 edited by John Townsend Trowbridge and Lucy Larcom]