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WINGS AND STINGS.
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"T. NELSON AND SONS
NELSONN AND SONS..
LONDON, EDINBURGH AND NEW YORK.
A. L. O. E.,
AUT IO t OF TIHE SILVIk CASKET, THE ROBBE I' CLAVE,
HIow doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
SFrom, every opening flower
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;
EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.
4l^ l o h 8119
S'HAT is the use of a preface ?
\', Most of my young readers will
regard it as they would a stile in
front of a field in which they
were going to enjoy haymaking;
as something which they hastily scramble
over, eager to get to what is beyond. Such
being the case, I think it best to make my
preface as short, my stile as small as possible,
not being offended if some of my friends
should skip over it at one bound. To the
more sober readers I would say, If you look
for some fun in the little field which you
are going to enter, remember that in hay-
making there is profit as well as amusement;
in turning over thoughts in our minds, as
in turning over newly-mown grass, we may
"make hay while the sun shines," which
will serve us when cloudier days arise.
A. L. O. E.
Dlin eten tf .
I. THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE, ... ... 9
II. SOME ACCOUNT OF A WATERFALL, .....
III. A FLATTERING INVITATION, ... ... ... ... 36
IV. HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS, ..... 46
V. CONVERSATION IN THE HIVE, ......... 59
VI. A STINGING REPROOF, ...........
VII. A WONDERFUL BORE, ....... SO
VIII. A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES, ......... 88
IX. PRISONS AND PRISONERS, ......... .. 10
X. A CONFESSION, ............. 117
XI. A SUDDEN FALL, ............. 131
XII. AN UNPLEASANT JOURNEY, ... ....... 140
XIII. WINGS AND STINGS, ........... 151
WINGS AND STINGS.
THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE.
" AD you not better go on a little
faster with your work, Polly?"
said Minnie Wingfield, glancing
up for a minute from her own,
over. which her little fingers had
been busily moving, and from which she
now for the first time raised her eyes.
"I wish that there were no such thing as
work !" exclaimed Polly, from her favourite
seat by the school-room window, through
which she had been watching the bees
10 THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE.
thronging in and out of their hive, some
flying away to seek honied treasure, some
returning laden with it to their home.
I think that work makes one enjoy play
more," replied Minnie, her soft voice scarcely
heard amidst the confusion of sounds which
filled the school-room; for there was a
spelling-class answering questions at the
moment, and the hum of voices from the
boys' school-room, which adjoined that of
the girls, added not a little to the noise.
The house might itself be regarded as a
hive, its rosy-cheeked scholars as a little
swarm of bees, and knowledge as the honey
of which they were in search, drawn, not
from flowers, but from the leaves of certain
dog's-eared books, which had few charms
for the eyes of Polly Bright.
I never have any play," said the little
girl peevishly. "As soon as school is over,
and I should like a little fun, there is
Johnny to be looked after, and the baby to
be carried. I hate the care of children-
THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE. 11
mother knows that I do-and I think that
baby is always crying on purpose to tease
THE BIG HIVE.
Yet it must be pleasant to think that
you are helping your mother and doing your
Polly uttered a little grunting sound.
THE P,IG HIVE.
"Yet it must be pleasant to think that
you are helping your mother and doing your
Polly uttered a little grunting sound!.
12 THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE.
which did not seem like consent, and ran
her needle two or three times into her seam,
always drawing it back instead of pushing it
through, which every one knows is not the
way to get on with work.
"Why, even these little bees," Minnie
continued, "have a sort of duty of their
own; and how steadily they set about it!"
"Pretty easy duty,-playing amongst
flowers and feasting upon honey !"
Minnie Wingfield, no talking allowed in
school !" cried the teacher from the top of
the room, turning towards the corner near
the window. "Polly Bright, you are
always the last in your class."
This time the lazy fingers did draw the
needle through, but a cross, ill-tempered
look was on the face of the little girl; while
her companion, Minnie, colouring at the
reproof, only worked faster than before.
We will leave them seated on their bench,
with their sewing in their hands, and passing
THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE. 13
through the little window, as only authors
and their readers can do, cross the narrow
garden, with its small rows of cabbages and
onions, bordered by a line of stunted goose-
berry bushes, and mixing with the busy in-
habitants of the hive, glide through the
tiny opening around which they cluster, and
enter the palace of the bees. Now I have
a suspicion that though my young readers
may be well acquainted with honey-comb
and honey, and have even had hives on a
bench in their own gardens, they never in
their lives have been inside one, and are
totally ignorant of the language of bees.
For your benefit, therefore, I intend to trans-
late a little of the buzzing chit-chat of the
winged nation; and, begging you to consider
yourself as little as possible, conduct you at
once to the palace of Queen Farina.
A very curious and beautiful palace it is;
the Crystal Palace itself is not more perfect
in its way. Look at the long lines of cells,
framed with the nicest care, row above row,
14 THE BIG HIVE AND TIE LITTLE ONE.
built of pure white wax, varnished with gum,.
and filled with provisions for the winter.
Yonder are the nurseries for the infant bees;
these larger apartments are for the royal
race; that, largest of all, is the- state-
chamber of the queen. How strait are
the passages-just wide enough to let two
travellers pass without jostling! And as
for the inhabitants of this singular palace, or
rather, I should say, this populous city,
though for a moment you may think them
all hurrying and bustling about in utter con-
fusion, I assure you that they are governed
by the strictest order-each knows her own
business, her own proper place. I am afraid
that before you are well acquainted with
your small companions, you may find some
difficulty in knowing one from another, as.
each bee looks as much like her neighbour
as a pin does to a pin. I am not speaking,.
of course, of her majesty the queen, distin-
guished, as she is, from all her subjects by
the dignified length of her figure and the:
THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE. 15
shortness of her wings; but you certainly
would not discover, unless I told you, that
the little creature hanging from the upper
comb is considered a beauty in Bee-land.
You must at once fancy your eyes powerful
microscopes, till a daisy is enlarged to the
size of a table, and the thread of a spider to
a piece of stout whip-cord; for not till then
can you find out the smallest reason why
Sipsyrup should be vain of her beauty. Yet
why should she not pride herself on her
slender shape or her fine down ? Vanity
may seem absurd in a bee, but surely it is
yet more so in any reasonable creature, to
whom sense has been given to know the
trifling worth of mere outside looks; and I
fear that I may have amongst my young
readers some no wiser than little Sipsyrup.
She is not buzzing eagerly about like her
companions, who are now working in various
parties; some raising the white walls of the
cells; some carrying away small cuttings of
wax, not to be thrown away, but used in
16 THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE.
some other place, for bees are very careful
and thrifty; some putting a fine brown
polish on the combs, made of a gum
gathered from the buds of the wild poplar;
some bringing in provisions for the little
workmen, who are too busyto go in search
of it themselves. No; Sipsyrup seems in
her hive as little satisfied as Polly in her
school-room, as she hangs quivering her
wings with an impatient movement, very
unworthy of a sensible bee.
"A fine morning this!" buzzed an in-
dustrious young insect, making bee-bread
with all her might. I may here remark
that the subject of the weather is much
studied in hives, and that their inhabitants
show a knowledge of it that might put to
shame some of the learned amongst us. I
am not aware that they ever make use of
barometers, but it is said that they manage
seldom to be caught in a shower, and take
care to keep at home when there is thunder.
"A fine morning, indeed," replied Sip-
THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE. 17
syrup. "Yes; the sunshine looks *tempting
enough, to be sure; no doubt the flowers are
all full of honey, and.the hills covered with
thyme; but of what use is this to a poor
nurse-bee like me, scarcely allowed to snatch
a hasty sip for myself, but obliged to look
after these wretched little larva" (that is
the name given to young baby-bees), "and
carry home tasteless pollen to make bread
for them, when I might be enjoying myself
in the sunshine ?"
"We once were larve ourselves," meekly
"Yes, and not very long ago," replied
Sipsyrup rather pertly, glancing at the
whitish down that showed her own youth;
for it was but three days since she had
quitted, her own nursery, which may account
for her being so silly a young bee.
"And but for the kindness'of those who
supplied our wants when we were poor help-
less little creatures, we should never have
lived to have wings," continued her com panion.
18 THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE.
"Don't remind me of that time," buzzed
Sipsyrup, who could not bear to think of
herself as a tiny, feeble worm. "Anything
more weary and tiresome than the life that
I led, shut up all alone in that horrid cell,
spinning my own coverlet from morning till
night, I am sure that I cannot imagine.
Ah, speaking of that spinning, if you had
only seen what I did yesterday."
"What was that ?" inquired Silverwing.
As I flew past a sunny bank, facing the
south, I noticed a small hole, at the entrance
of which I saw one of our cousins, the poppy-
bees. Her dress, you must know, is dif-
ferent from ours (Sipsyrup always thought
something of dress). "It is black, studded
on the head and back with reddish-gray
hairs, and her wings are edged with gray.
Wishing to notice a little more closely her
curious attire, I stopped and wished her
good-day. Very politely she invited me
into her parlour, and I entered the hole in
THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE. 19
A dull, gloomy place to live in, I should
"Dull! gloomy!" exclaimed Sipsyrup,
quivering her feelers at the recollection;
"why, the cell of our queen is a dungeon
compared to it. The hole grew wider as we
went further in, till it appeared quite roomy
and large, and all round it was hung with
the most splendid covering, formed of the
leaves of the poppy, of a dazzling scarlet,
delightful to behold. Since I saw it, I have
been scarcely able to bear the look of this
old hive, with its thousands of cells, one
just like another, and all of the same white
"Had the poppy-bee a queen?" inquired
"No-; she is queen, and worker, and
everything herself; she has no one to com-
mand her, no one to obey; no waspish com-
panion like Stickasting there."
"What's that? who buzzes about me?"
cried a large thick bee, hurrying towards
20 THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE.
them with an angry hum. Stickasting had
been the plague of the hive ever since she
had had wings. She was especially the
torment of the unfortunate drones, who, not
having been gifted with stings like the
workers, had no means of defence to protect
them from their bullying foe. When a
lva, her impatient disposition was not
known. She had spun her silken web like
any peaceable insect, then lain quiet and
asleep as a pupa or nymph. But no sooner
did the young bee awake to life, than, using
her new powers with hearty good-will, she
-te her way through the web at such a
quick rate, that the old bees who looked in
pronounced at once that she was likely to be
a most active worker. Nor were they dis-
appointed, as far as work was concerned; no
one was ready to fly faster or further, no
one worked harder at building the cells;
but it was soon discovered that her activity
and quickness were not the only qualities
for which she was remarkable. If ever bee
THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE. 21
had a bad temper, that bee was Stickasting.
Quarrelling, bullying, attacking, fighting,
she was as bad as a wasp in the hive. No
one would ever have trusted larve to her
care. Sipsyrup might neglect or complain
of her charge, but Stickasting would have
been positively cruel. Her companionship
was shunned, as must be expected by all
of her character, whether they be boys or
bees; and she seldom exchanged a hum,
except of defiance, with any creature in the
Sipsyrup, the moment that she perceived
Stickasting coming towards her, flew off in
alarm, leaving poor Silverwing to bear the
brunt of the attack.
"Who buzzes about me repeated
Stickasting fiercely, flying very close up to
the little nurse-bee.
"Indeed, I never named you," replied
Silverwing timidly, shrinking back as close
as she could to the comb.
If you were not talking against me your-
22 THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE.
self, you were listening to and encouraging
one who did. Who dare say that I am
waspish ?" continued Stickasting, quivering
her wings with anger till they were almost
invisible. It is this gossip and slander
that make the hive too hot to hold us. I
once thought better of you, Silverwing, as a
quiet good-natured sort of a bee, but I now
see that you are just like the rest, and as
silly as you are ugly."
This was a very provoking speech-it was
intended to be so; but Silverwing was not a
creature ready to take offence; whatever
she felt, she returned no answer-an ex-
ample which I would strongly recommend
to all in her position, whether standing on
six feet or on two.
But Stickasting was resolved to pick a
quarrel if possible, especially with one whom
she considered less strong than herself; for
she was not one of those generous beings
who scorn to take advantage of the weak-
ness of another. Stickasting much resem-
THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE. 23
bled the class of rude, coarse-minded boys,
who find a pleasure in teasing children
and annoying little girls, and like to show
their power over those who dare not op-
I owe you a grudge, Silverwing, for your
conduct to me yesterday. When I was toil-
ing and working at the cells like a slave, not
having time to go out for refreshment, I saw
you fly past me two or three times, and not
a drop of honey did you offer me."
I was carrying pollen for my little
larve," gently replied Silverwing. "It is
not my office to supply the builders, though
I am sure that I should do so with pleasure;
but the baby-bees are placed under my
charge, and you know what care they need
till they begin to spin."
"Yes, idle, hungry, troublesome creatures
that they are! Have they not set about
their spinning yet? I'll make them stir
themselves,"-and Stickasting made a move-
ment towards the nursery-cells.
24 THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE.
"The larva- do not like to, be disturbed !"
cried Silverwing, anxious for her charges,
-and placing herself between them and the
Like I daresay not,--but who cares
what they like Get out of the way; I'll
prick them up a little !"
"You shall not come near them!" hum-
med the little nurse, resolutely keeping her
"I say that I shall,-who shall hinder
me ? Get out of my way,-or I'll let you
feel my sting."
Silverwing trembled, but she did not stir,
for she was a faithful little bee. As the hen
is ready to defend her chickens from the
hawk, and even the timid wren will fight for
her brood, so.this feeble insect would have
given up her life rather than have forsaken
the little ones confided to her care.
But she was not left alone too struggle
with her assailant. Two of her winged com-
panions came to the rescue; and Stickasting
THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE. 25
who had no wish to encounter such odds,
and was fonder, perhaps, of bullying than
of fighting, no sooner saw Waxywill and
Honeyball on the wing, than with an angry
hum she hurried out of the hive.
SOME ACCOUNT OF A WATERFALL.
; WISH that all little nurses were as
trustworthy as Silverwing, or as
kind and patient with their charges!
While Polly Bright has sat in her
mother's cottage trimming her bonnet, till it
looks as absurd as pink ribbons can make it,
the poor baby has been crying unheeded in
his cradle, except that now and then, when
vexed more than usual by the noise, with
an almost angry look she pauses for a
moment to rock the cradle with her foot.
She does not notice that little Johnny has
been clambering up by the pail, which her
mother has set aside for her washing, till the
SOME ACCOUNT OF A WATERFALL. 27
sudden sound of a fall, and a splash, and a
child's frightened cry, startle her, and she
sees little streams running all over the stone
floor, and Johnny flat on his face in the
middle of a loud roar,-and a pool of water.
Up she jumps, not in the best of tempers.
Poor Johnny is dragged up by one arm,
and receives one or two slaps on the back,
which only makes him cry louder than be-
fore; he stands a picture of childish misery,
with dripping dress and open mouth, the
tears rolling down his rosy cheeks, helpless
and frightened, as his careless sister shakes
and scolds him, and shakes him again, for
what was the effect of her own negligence.
28 SOME ACCOUNT OF A WATERFALL.
Happily for the little boy, Minnie Wing-
field is a near neighbour, and comes running
at the sound of his distress.
"Why, what is the matter, my dear little
man are her first words as she enters
"Look here! did you ever see anything
like it ? His dress clean on to-day I can-
not turn my back for a moment but he must
be at the pail,-naughty, tiresome, mis-
chievous boy !" and poor Johnny received
another shake. "A pretty state the cottage
is in,-and there-oh, my bonnet! my bon-
net !" exclaimed Polly, as she saw that in
her hurry and anger she had thrown it
down, and that, pink ribbons and all, it lay
on the floor, right across one of the little
streams of water.
"Never mind the bonnet; the poor child
may be hurt, and-oh, take care, the baby
will be wetted !" and without waiting for
Polly's tardy aid, Minnie pushed the cradle
beyond reach of danger.
SOME ACCOUNT OF A WATERFALL. 29
While Polly was yet bemoaning her
bonnet, and trying to straighten out its
damaged ribbons, Minnie had found out
something dry for the shivering little boy,
had rubbed him, and comforted him, and
taken him upon her knee ; then asking him
to help her to quiet poor baby, had hushed
the sickly infant in her arms. Was there
no pleasure to her kind heart when its wail-
ing gradually ceased, and the babe fell into
a sweet sleep,-or when Johnny put his
plump arms tight round her neck, and
pressed his little lips to her cheek ?
There are some called to do great deeds
for mankind, some who bestow thousands in
charity, some who visit hospitals and prisons,
and live and die the benefactors of their
race. But let not those who have not power
to perform anything great, imagine that
because they can do little, they need there-
fore do nothing to increase the sum of hap-
piness upon earth. There is a terrible
amount of suffering caused by neglect of, or
30 SOME ACCOUNT OF A WATERFALL.
unkindness to, little children. Their lives--
often how short !-are embittered by harsh-
ness, their tempers spoiled, sometimes their
health injured; and can those to whose care
the helpless little ones were confided, imagine
that there is no sin in the petulant word,
the angry blow, or that many will not have
one day to answer for all the sorrow which
they have caused to their Lord's feeble
lambs, to those whose spring-time of life
should be happy ?
Would my readers like to know a little
more of Minnie Wingfield, whose look was
so kind, whose words were so gentle, that
her presence was like sunshine wherever
she went ? She lived in a little white cot-
tage with a porch, round which twined roses
and honeysuckle. There was a little narrow
seat just under this porch, where Minnie
loved to sit in the summer evenings with
her work, or her book when her work was
done, listening to the blackbird that sang in
the apple-tree, and the humming of the
SOME ACCOUNT OF A WATERFALL. 31
bees amidst the blossoms. Little Minnie
led a retired life, but by no means a useless
one. If her mother's cottage was the pic-
ture of neatness, it was Minnie who kept it
so clean. Her brother's mended stockings,
his nicely-washed shirts, all did credit to
her neat fingers. Yet she could find time
to bestow on the garden, to trim the borders,
to water the plants, to tie up the flowers in
which her sick mother delighted. Nor did
Minnie neglect the daily school. She was
not clever, but patient and ever anxious to
please; her teacher regarded her as one of
her best scholars, and pointed her out as an
example to the rest. But Minnie's great
enjoyment was in the Sunday-school; there
she learned the lessons which made duty
sweet to her, and helped her on the right
way through the week. The small Bible
which had been given to her by her father,
with all his favourite verses marked, was a
precious companion to Minnie: not studied
.as a task-book, or carelessly read as a matter
32 SOME ACCOUNT OF A WATERFALL.
of custom; but valued as a treasure, and
consulted as a friend, and made the rule and
guide of daily life.
And was not Minnie happy? In one
sense she certainly was so, but still-she had
her share of this world's trials. The kind
father whom she had fondly loved had died
the year before; and besides the loss of so
dear a friend, his death had brought poverty
upon his family. It was a hard struggle to
make up the rent of the little cottage, which
Mrs. Wingfield could not bear to quit, for
did not everything there remind her of her
dear husband,-had he not himself made the
porch and planted the flowers that adorned
it! Often on a cold winter's day the little
fire would die out for want of fuel, and
Minnie rise, still hungry, from the simple
meal which she had spared that there might
be enough for her parent and her brother.
Mrs. Wingfield's state of health was
another source of sorrow. She was con-
stantly ailing, and never felt well, and
MINNIE WITH THE FIREWOOD.
SOME ACCOUNT OF A WATERFALL. 35
though saved every trouble by her attentive
child, and watched as tenderly as a lady
could have been, the sufferings of the poor
woman made her peevish and fretful, and
sometimes even harsh to her gentle daughter.
Tom, her brother, was also no small trial
to Minnie. Unlike her, he had little thought
for anything beyond self; he neither con-
sidered the comfort nor the feelings of
others. If Minnie was like sunshine in the
cottage of her mother, Tom too often re-
sembled a bleak east wind; and though Mrs.
Wingfield and her daughter never admitted
such a thought, their home was happiest
when Tom was not in it.
But it is time to return to our hive.
A FLATTERING INVITATION.
t .AXYWILL and Honeyball had
a If both come to the assistance of
Silverwing, and she buzzed her
thanks in a grateful way to both,
though different motives had
brought them to her aid, for they were very
different bees in their dispositions.
Honeyball was a good-humoured, easy
kind of creature. Very ready to do a kind-
ness if it cost her little trouble, but lazy as
any drone in the hive. Honeyball would
have liked to live all day in the bell of a
foxglove, with nothing to disturb her in her
idle feast. It was said in the hive that,
A FLATTERING INVITATION. 37
more than once she had been known to sip
so much, that at last she had been unable
to rise, and, for hours had lain helpless on
the ground. Sipsyrup, who, like other
vain; silly creatures, was very fond of talking
about other people's concerns, had even
whispered that Honeyball had been seen
busy at one of the provision-cells stored for
the winter's use, which it is treason in a bee
to touch; but as those who talk much gene-
rally talk a little nonsense, we may hope
that there was no real ground for the story.
Waxywill was one of whom such a report
would never have been believed; there was
not a more honourable or temperate worker
in the hive. Yet Stickasting herself was
scarcely less liked, so peevish and perverse
was the temper of this bee. If desired to
do anything, it was sure to be the very thing
which she did not fancy. Were cells to be
built-she could not bear moping indoors;
if asked to bring honey-she always found
out that her wings were tired. She could
38 A FLATTERING INVITATION.
not bear submission to the laws of the hive,
and once actually shook her wings at the
queen! When she flew to help Silverwing,
it was less out of kindness to her than the
love of opposing Stickasting. And yet
Waxywill was not an ungenerous bee; she
had more sense too than insects generally
possess; she would have been respected and
.even loved in the hive, had not her stubborn,
wilful temper spoilt all.
We will now follow Sipsyrup in her hasty
flight, as, leaving both her friend and her
charges behind, she made her retreat from
Stickasting. How delightful she found the
fine fresh air, after the heated hive Now
up, now down,' she pursued her varying
course, sometimes humming for a moment
.around some fragrant flower, then, even
before she had tasted its contents, deserting
it for one yet more tempting. Deeply she
plunged her long tongue into its cup; her
curious pliable tongue, so carefully guarded
by Nature in a nicely fitting sheath.
A FLATTERING INVITATION 39
Sheathe your tongue !" was an expression
which the gossipping little bee had heard
more often than she liked, especially from
the mouth of WaxywilL It might be an
expressive proverb in other places than Bee-
land, for there are tongues whose words are
more cutting than swords, that much need
the sheath of discretion.
The movements of the lively insect were
watched with much interest by Spinaway
the spider, from her quiet home in a rose-
bush. Sipsyrup, disdaining the narrow gar-
den of the school, had winged her way over
the wall, and turning into a narrow green
lane that was near, was now sporting with
the blossoms by Mrs. Wingfield's porch.
Spinaway was a clever, artful spider, some-
what ambitious too in her way. She had
made her web remarkably firm and strong,
and expected to be rewarded by nobler
game than the little aphis, or bony gnat.
She had once succeeded in capturing a blue-
bottle fly, and this perhaps it was that raised
40 A FLATTERING INVITATION.
her hopes so high, that she did not despair
of having a bee in her larder.
"Good- morning," said Spinaway in a
soft, coaxing tone, as Sipsyrup came flutter-
ing near her. You seem to have travelled
some distance, my friend, and if you should
like to rest yourself here, I am sure that you
would be heartily welcome."
Sipsyrup was a young, inexperienced bee,
but she did not much fancy the looks of the
spider, with her hunchback and long hairy
legs. She politely, therefore, declined the
invitation, and continued her feast in a
I am really glad to see a friend in a nice
quiet way," continued the persevering spider.
" I find it very dull to sit here all day ; I
would give anything to have wings like a
Sipsyrup, who loved gossip, advanced a
little nearer, taking care to keep clear of
"I do long to hear a little news of the
A FLATTERING INVITATION. 41
world, to know what passes in your wonder-
ful hive. I am curious to learn about your
queen; your manner and style of dress is
such, that I am sure that you must have
been much about the court."
Settling upon a leaf, still at a safe dis-
tance, Sipsyrup indulged her taste for chit-
chat, glad to have so attentive a listener.
Spinaway soon heard all the gossip of the
hive,-how the present queen had killed in
single combat the queen of another swarm,
whilst the bees of both nations watched the
fight; and how the hostile band, when they
saw their queen dead, had submitted to the
conqueror at once. How a slug had last
morning crept into the hive and frightened
her out of her wits, but had been put to
death by fierce Stickasting before it had
crawled more than an inch. Sipsyrup then
related-and really for once her conversa-
tion was very amusing-all the difficulties
and perplexity of the people of the hive as
to how to get rid of the body of the intruder.
42 A FLATTERING INVITATION.
She herself had been afraid to venture near
the monster, but Silverwing and the rest
had striven with all their might to remove
the dead slug from their hive.
And did they succeed ?" said Spinaway,
Oh, it was quite impossible to drag out
the slug! We were in such distress-such
a thing in the hive-our hive always kept
so neat and clean that not a scrap of wax
is left lying about! "
"What did you do ? said the spider; "it
really was a distressing affair."
"Waxywill thought of a plan for pre-
venting annoyance. She proposed that we
should cover the slug all over with wax, so
that it should rather appear like a piece of
the comb than a dead creature left in the
A capital plan!" cried Spinaway. "And
was the thing done ?"
"Yes, it was, and before the day was over."
"So there Mrs. Slug remains in a white
A FLATTERING INVITATION. 43
wrapping," laughed the spider; "a warning
to those who go where they are not wanted.
You were, I daresay, one of the foremost in
"Not I; I would not have touched the
ugly creature with one of my feelers !"
"I beg your pardon!" said the spider;
"indeed, I might have judged by your
appearance that nothing but the most re-
fined and elegant business would ever be
given to you. You look as though you had
never touched anything rougher than a rose."
This speech put Sipsyrup in high good-
humour; she began to think that she had
judged the spider harshly, and that she
really was an agreeable creature in spite of
her ugly hunch.
"If you speak of delicate work," observed
the bee very politely, "I never saw any-
thing so fine as your web."
"It is tolerably well finished," said the
spider with a bow; "would you honour me
by a closer inspection ? "
44 A FLATTERING INVITATION.
Oh, thank you, I'm not curious in these
matters," replied Sipsyrup, still feeling a
little doubtful of her new friend.
"You have doubtless remarked," said
Spinaway, "that each thread is composed
of about five thousand others, all joined
"No, really, I had no idea of that-how
wonderfully fine they must be!"
I am surprised that you did not see it;
at least if the powers of your eyes equal
their beauty. I never beheld anything like
them before-their violet colour, their
beautiful shape, cut, as it were, into hun-
dreds of divisions, like fine honey-comb
cells, and studded all over with most deli-
cate hair. I would give my eight eyes for
Two cried Sipsyrup, mightily pleased;
"I have three more on the back of my head."
"I would give anything to see them, if
they are but equal to the faceted ones. No
creature in the world could boast of such a
A FLATTERING INVITATION. 45
set! Might I beg-would you favour
me ( -
Silly Sipsyrup! foolish bee! not the first,
however, nor, I fear, the last, to be caught
by sugary words. Blinded by vanity, for-
ward she flew-touched the sticky, clammy
web--entangled her feet-struggled to get
free-in vain, in vain !-quivered her wings
in terrified efforts-shook the web with all
her might-but could not escape. Her art-
ful foe looked eagerly on, afraid to approach
until the poor bee should have exhausted
herself by her struggles. Ah, better for
Sipsyrup had she kept in her hive, had she
spent all the day in making bee-bread, to
feed the little larvae in their cells
/y-;^~~'~ 16,~('""" ~ '~~
HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS.
SUZZ, buzz, buzz !-" There's a bee
in a web!" cried Tom, looking up
from the bowl of porridge which
he was eating in the rose-covered
"Poor thing!" said Minnie, rising from
"A precious fright it must be in! what a
noise it makes!" cried her brother.
It is not much entangled-I think that
I could set it free !"-and Minnie ran up to
And be stung for your pains. Nonsense
-leave it alone. It is good fun to watch
it in its struggles."
HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS. 47
POOR SIPSYRUP IN A SNARE.
"It never can be good fun to see any
creature in misery," replied Minnie; and
with the help of a little twig, in a very
short time poor Sipsyrup was released from
"Poor little bee!" said Minnie, "it has
hurt its wing, and some of the web is still
clinging to its legs. I am afraid that it
I hope that it will sting you laughed
Tom. Are you going to nurse and pet it
here, and get up an hospital for sick bees ? "
"I think that it must belong to our
school-mistress's hive. I will carry it there,
48 HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS.
and put it by the opening, and let its com-
panions take care of it." And notwithstand-
ing Tom's scornful laugh, Minnie bore off
the bee on her finger.
"You are the most absurd girl- that I
ever knew," said he on her return. "What
does it matter to you what becomes of one
bee ? I should not mind smothering a
whole hive "
"Ah, Tom," said his sister, "when there
is so much pain in the world, I do not think
that one would willingly add ever so little
to it. And I have a particular feeling
about animals. You know that they were
placed under man, and given to man, and
they were all so happy until-until man
sinned; now, innocent as they are, they
share his punishment of pain and of death;
and it seems hard that we should make that
punishment more bitter !"
"Then my tender-hearted sister would
never taste mutton, I suppose."
"No; the sheep are given to us for food;
-' -- -- -
MINNIE AND THET BEE.
HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS. 51
but I would make them as happy as I could
while they lived. 0 Tom, we are com-
manded in the Bible to be 'tender-hearted,'
and 'merciful,' and surely to be cruel is a
I wonder that you did not crush the
spider that would have eaten up your bee."
"Why should I? She did nothing
wrong. It is Nature that has taught her
to live on such food; I would be merciful
to spiders as well as to bees."
"You carried off her dinner-she would
not thank you for that."
"Perhaps I did foolishly," said Minnie
with a smile; "but I cannot see a creature
suffering and not try to help it."
"I wish that you saw the green-grocer's
horse with his bones all starting through his
skin, and the marks of the blows on his head.
What would you say to the master of that
"Oh, I wish that he would remember
that one verse from the Bible, 'Blessed are
52 HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS.
the merciful, for they shall obtain merccy.'
Without mercy, what would become of the
best- without mercy, we all should be
ruined for ever. And if only the merciful
can obtain mercy, oh! what will become
of the cruel ? "
"Pshaw!" cried Tom, not able to dispute
the truth of Minnie's words, but not choos-
ing to listen to them, for he had too many
recollections of bird-nesting, cockchafer-
spinning, and worrying of cats, to make the
subject agreeable. Some find it easier to
silence an opponent with a "pshaw !" than
by reason or strength of argument ; and this
was Tom's usual way. He did not wish to
continue the conversation, and, perhaps
with a view to change its subject, said in a
sudden, abrupt tone, as he stirred his
porridge with his pewter spoon-
"You've not put a morsel of sugar in my
"Yes, indeed, I put some," replied Min-
HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS. 53
"But you know that I like plenty; I1
have told you so a thousand times."
"But, dear Tom, I have not plenty to
give you-we have nearly come to the end of
our little store. And you know," continued
she, lowering her voice, "that we cannot
buy more until we are paid for these shirts."
The little girl did not add that for the
last three days she had not tasted any
Nonsense !" cried Tom, starting up from
his seat, and hastily entering the cottage.
He took down from the shelf a large broken
cup, which was used to contain the store of
sugar. Mrs. Wingfield was lying asleep in
the back-room, being laid up with a worse
headache than usual.
Fearing lest her mother should-be roused
from her sleep, Minnie followed her brother,
her finger on her lip, a look of anxious
warning on her face. But both look and
gesture were lost upon Tom, who was
thinking of nothing but himself.
54 HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS.
Here's plenty for to-day," he said in a
careless tone, emptying half the supply into
"But, Tom-our poor mother-she is ill,
"Well, I've not taken it all."
"But we cannot afford-"
"Don't torment me !" cried Tom angrily,
helping himself to more.
"Oh, dear Tom," said the little girl, lay-
ing her hand upon his arm.
I'll not stand this nonsense !" exclaimed
the boy fiercely; and turning suddenly
round, he flung the rest of the sugar into
the dusty road. "There-that serves you
right; that will teach you another time to
mind your own business and leave me
alone;" and noisily setting down the empty
cup, the boy sauntered out of the cottage.
Something seemed to rise in Minnie's
throat; her heart was swelling, her cheek
was flushed with mingled sorrow and indig-
nation. Oh, how much patience and meek-
HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS. 55
ness we require to meet the daily little trials
of life !
Minnie was roused by her mother's feeble,
fretful voice. "I wish that you and Tom
had a little more feeling for me. You have
awoke me with your noise."
"I am sorry that you have been dis-
turbed, dear mother; I'll try and not let it
happen again. Do you feel better now ?"
"No one feels better for awaking with a
start," returned Mrs. Wingfield peevishly.
"I should not have expected such thought-
lessness from you."
Minnie's eyes were so brimful of tears
that she dared not shut them, lest the drops
should run over on her cheek. She knew
that her mother would not like to see her
cry, so,- turning quietly away, she went to
the small fire to make a little tea for the
There was nothing that Mrs. Wingfield
enjoyed like a cup of warm tea; and when
Minnie brought one to the side of her bed,
56 HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS.
with a nice little piece of dry toast beside it,
even the sick woman's worn face looked
almost cheerful. As soon, however, as she
had tasted the tea, she set down the cup
with a displeased air.
"You've forgotten the sugar, child."
"Not forgotten, mother, but--but I have
"More shame to you," cried Mrs. Wing-
field, her pale face flushing with anger; "I
am sure that a good deal was left this
morning. You might have thought of your
poor sick mother; she has few enough com-
forts, I am sure."
Poor Minnie! she left the room with a
very heavy heart; she felt for some minutes
as if nothing could cheer her. Angry with
her brother, grieved at her mother's unde-
served reproach, as she again sat down to
work in the little porch, her tears fell fast
over her seam. Presently Conscience, that
inward monitor to whose advice the little
girl was accustomed to listen, began to make
HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS. 57
itself heard. "This is foolish, this is wrong,
-dry up your tears, they can but give pain
to your sick mother. You must patiently
bear with the fretfulness of illness, and not
add to its burden by showing that you feel-
it. You know that you have not acted sel-
fishly, you need not regret your own conduct
in the affair,-is not that the greatest of
comforts ? But I know very well," still
Conscience whispered in her heart, "that
you never will feel quite peaceful and happy
till no anger remains towards your brother.
A little sin disturbs peace more than a great
deal of sorrow; ask for aid to put away this
Minnie listened to the quiet voice of Con-
science, and gradually her tears stopped and
her flushed cheek became cool. She made
a hundred excuses in her mind for poor Tom.
He had been always much indulged,-he
would be sorry for what he had done,-how
Such better he was than other boys that
she knew, who drank, or swore, or stole.
58 HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS.
And for herself. what a sin it was to have
felt so miserable.! How many blessings
were given her to enjoy She had health,
and sight, and fingers able to do work; and
neither she nor her mother had difficulty in
procuring it, the ladies around were so kind.
Then there was the church, and the school,
and the Best of Books ;-and the world was
so beautiful, with its bright sun and sweet
flowers,-there was so much to enjoy, so
much to be thankful for! And Minnie
raised her eyes to the blue sky above, all
dotted over with rosy clouds; for it was the
hour of sunset, and she thought of the bright
happy place to which her dear father had
gone, and how she might hope to join him
there, and never know sorrow again. What
wonder, with such sweet thoughts for her
companions, if Minnie's face again grew
bright, and she worked away in her little
porch with a feeling of peace and grateful
love in her breast which a monarch might
CONVERSATION IN THE HIVE.
OOR Sipsyrup! how sadly she stood
at the entrance of the hive, where
her gentle preserver had left her.
The fine down, of which she had
"been so vain, was all rubbed and
injured by her struggles in the web; one of
her elegant wings was torn; she felt that all
her beauty was gone! She had hardly
courage to enter the hive, and was ashamed
to be seen by the busy bees flocking in and
out of the door. I am not sure that insects
can sigh, or I am certain that she must have
sighed very deeply. The first thing that
gave her the least feeling of comfort was the
60 CONVERSATION IN THE HIVE.
sound of Silverwing's friendly hum;-the
poor wounded insect exerted her feeble
strength, and crept timidly into the hive.
Sipsyrup !-can it be !" cried Honey-
ball, rousing herself from a nap as the bee
brushed past her.
"Sipsyrup, looking as though she had been
in the wars !" exclaimed Waxywill, who, in
the pride of her heart, had always looked
with contempt on her vain, silly companion.
My poor Sipsyrup!" cried Silverwing,
hastening towards her. Their feelers met
(that is the way of embracing in Bee-land),
the kind bee said little, but by every friendly
act in her power showed her pity and anxiety
to give comfort.
What pleased Sipsyrup most was the ab-
sence of Stickasting, who had not returned
to the hive which she had left an hour be-
fore in a passion.
After resting for a little on a half-finished
cell, while Silverwing with her slender
tongue gently smoothed her ruffled down,
_ y. -
MINNIE AT THE HIVE.
CONVERSATION IN THE HIVE. 63
and brought a drop of honey to refresh her,
Sipsyrup felt well enough to relate her sad
story, to which a little group of surrounding
bees listened with no small interest. Sip-
syrup left altogether out of her account the
fine compliments paid her by Spinaway, she
could not bear that her vanity should be
known; but she gained little by hiding the
truth, as this only made her folly appear
"I cannot understand," said Waxywill,
"how any bee in her senses could fly into a
web with her eyes open."
When there was not even a drop of
honey to be gained by it," hummed Honey-
Sipsyrup hastened to the end of her story,
and related how she had been saved from the
spider by the timely help of a kind little girl.
May she live upon eglantine all her
life," exclaimed Silverwing with enthusiasm,
" and have her home quite overflowing with
honey and pollen !"
64 CONVERSATION IN THE HIVE.
"This is the strangest part of your ad-
venture," said Honeyball; this is the very
first time in my life that I ever heard of
kindness shown to an insect by a human
"I thought that bees were sometimes fed
by them in winter," suggested Silverwing.
Fed with sugar and water !-fit food for
a bee !" cried Honeyball, roused to indigna-
tion upon the only subject that stirred her
up to anything like excitement. And
have you never heard how whole swarms
have been barbarously murdered, smothered
in the hive which they had filled with so
much labour, that greedy man might- feast
upon their spoils !"
If you talk of greediness, Honeyball,"
drily observed Waxywill, I should say,
Keep your tongue in a sheath."
I am glad that it is not the custom for
men to eat bees as well as their honey,"
Oh, they are barbarous to everything,
CONVERSATION IN THE HIVE. 65
whether they eat it or not," exclaimed
Waxywill, with an angry buzz. Have I
not seen a poor butterfly, basking in the
sun, glittering in her vest of purple and
gold-ah, Sipsyrup, in your very best day,
you were no better than a blackbeetle com-
pared to her !"
An hour before, Sipsyrup would have felt
ready to sting Waxywill for such an insolent
speech, but the pride of the poor bee was
humbled; and when Waxywill observed her
silence and noticed her drooping looks, she
felt secretly ashamed of her provoking words.
She continued : Have I not seen the but-
terfly, I say, dancing through the air, as
though life was all sunshine and joy !-I
have seen a boy look on her-not to admire,
not to feel pleasure in beholding her beauty,
but eager to lay that beauty in the dust, and
seize on his little victim. I have watched
him creeping softly, his hat in his hand, as
anxious about his prize, as if to destroy a
poor insect's happiness was the way to secure
66 CONVERSATION IN THE HIVE.
his own. Now the unconscious butterfly
rose, high above the reach of her pursuer,
then sank again to earth, to rest upon a
flower, whose tints were less bright than its
wings. Down came the hat-there was a
shout from the boy-the butterfly was pri-
soner at last. If he had caught it to eat it,
as the spider caught Sipsyrup, I could have
forgiven him--for men as well as bees must
have food, and I suspect that they do not
live entirely upon honey; but it made me
wish for a hundred stings when I saw the
wretched insect lying on the ground, flutter-
ing in the agonies of death. The boy had
barbarously torn off its bright beautiful
wings, and had not even the mercy to put it
out of pain by setting his foot upon it."
"It had never injured him," murmured
""It had never injured any one-it desired
nothing but to be allowed to spend its short
life in peace."
How would the boy have liked to have
CONVERSATION IN THE HIVE. 67
had his wings torn off," said Honeyball, "for
the amusement of some creature stronger
than himself ?"
"Men and boys are worse than hornets,"
But we have found one of human-kind,"
hummed Silverwing cheerfully, "who could
be merciful even to a bee. Perhaps in the
world there may be others like her, too
noble, too generous to use their strength to
torture and destroy what cannot resist
Waxywill and Honeyball now took their
departure-I fear rather for their own plea-
sure than for the benefit of the hive; as
Waxywill was not in a humour to work, and
Honeyball was always in a humour to idle.
As soon as they had flown out of reach of
hearing, poor Sipsyrup said, in a very dull
I wonder what is to become of me now,
poor unhappy insect that I am. I fear that
I shall never be able to fly; and to live on
68 CONVERSATION IN THE HIVE.
here in this wretched way is almost worse
than to be eaten by a spider."
"Oh, you should not say so," replied
gentle Silverwing; "you can still crawl
about, and you are safe in your own home."
Safe !-I am miserable! With what
pleasure I had thought of joining the first
swarm that should fly off. I am tired of the
hive--this noisy, bustling hive-I have lost
everything that I cared for, everything that
made life pleasant--my beauty, my strength,
my power of flying; I have nothing left-"
"But your duties," added Silverwing;
" make them your pleasures. My dear
friend, if you no more can be pretty, you
may still be useful; if you no more can be
admired, you can still be loved. You may
not be able to go far, or to see much; but
there are better joys to be found in your
Before the night closed, both the little
nurse-bees were busy feeding the larve.
A STINGING REPROOF.
1 HE sunset was still casting a red glow
over the earth, throwing the long
shadows of the trees on the ground,
and lighting up the cottage windows,
as Polly Bright stood at the door of her cot-
tage, watching for her mother's return.
Mrs. Bright was a hard-working woman,
who, during the absence of her husband, a
soldier in the Crimea, earned many an honest
shilling as charwoman in the house of the
Squire on the hill. She generally managed
to let Polly have the advantage of attending
the school in the morning. Though herself
unable to read, she liked the idea of her
70 A STINGING REPROOF.
daughter being a scholar; and as plain-work
was also taught in the school, she thought
that what Polly acquired there might make
her not only more learned, but more useful.
But it was only for attendance in the morn-
ing that the charwoman's child could be
spared from her home. During her mother's
frequent absence, all the charge of the cot-
tage, and care of the children, belonged of
course to Polly Bright.
I cannot say that the little parlour could
compare in neatness with that of Mrs. Wing-
field. There was a chest of drawers in one
of the corners, and on it was heaped a strange
medley of things. Tea-pot and broken jug,
old shawl and a baby's rattle, nutmeg-scraper,
bellows, saucepan and books, were piled in
sad confusion. Nor would I have advised
you to have attempted to open one of the
drawers. They were sometimes too full to
be opened at all, and stuck tight against
every effort, as if aware that they were not
fit to be seen. Polly was too fond of adorn-
A STINGING REPROOF. 71
ing herself to care for adorning her cottage.
She was not aware how far better it looks to
be simple, neat, and clean, and dressed ac-
cording to our station, than to be decked out
with gaudy finery, and try to ape the appear-
ance of those whom Providence has placed
You will remember that we visited this
cottage in the third chapter, and there is
little change in the appearance of things
there now. The damp on the floor occa-
sioned by Johnny's accident has dried up,
and so have the tears of the little boy,
who, seated upon a stool near his sister's
feet, is cramming his mouth with bread and
butter, with an air of great content. But
the thin sickly baby is still in his cradle, still
uttering his feeble, unheeded wail, for the
poor little creature is teething hard, and has
no other way of expressing his pain. Polly
never notices his heated lips and swelled
gums; she is more occupied with herself
this evening than usual, for Mrs. Larkins,
72 A STINGING REPROOF.
the farmer's wife, has invited her to tea, and
as soon as her mother returns to take her
place, she will be off to amuse herself at
Greenhill. Oh yes; you might be certain
that some gay meeting was expected-! Look
at the necklace of false coral round her neck,
the half-soiled lace which she has sewn round
her frock, and her hair all in papers at
this hour of the day; you would laugh were
you to see her, but to me the sight of her
folly is really too sad for laughing. Of what
is she thinking as she quickly untwists the
papers, and curls her long hair round her
fingers ? Her thoughts are divided between
impatience at her mother's delay, fears of
herself being late for the party, and wishes
that the pedlar would only happen to call at
She had heard that day, from one of her
school-fellows, that a man had been going
about the neighbourhood with a pack so full
of beautiful things, that such a collection
had never before been seen in the village.
A STINGING REPROOF. 73
Polly had been particularly tempted by the
description of some brooches made of false
diamonds, and exactly like real ones, as the
girl, who had never seen a jewel in her life,
very positively affirmed. One of these fine
brooches was to be had for sixpence-how
eager was Polly to be its possessor! She
counted over her little treasure of pence, and
found that she had sufficient for the pur-
But how was she to find the pedlar ?
Had Polly not been tied to the cottage
by what she called "these tiresome chil-
dren," she would long ago have gone in
search of him. She could hardly expect
him to pass down her little lane, but she
was near enough to the high-road to see if
any one passed along it in going through the
village. At one time she had set little
Johnny to watch, and more than once her
hopes had been raised as the little fellow
shouted aloud, "There's the man !" But
Polly came running first to see a drover
74 A STINGING REPROOF.
with pigs, then the baker with his little cart
going his rounds;-she had a disappoint-
ment, poor Johnny a slap, and he was sent
crying into the cottage. This was rather
hard upon him, poor little fellow: How
could a child, not three years old, be ex-
pected to know the difference between a
pedlar and a baker ?
But all was quiet again in the cottage,
Johnny occupied with his supper, and Polly
with her curl-papers, when in through the
open door who should make her entrance
but Stickasting. She came in, as usual, in
no amiable mood, quite ready to take offence
on the very shortest notice. She first settled
on the little baby's arm; but the infant lay
perfectly still, half-comforted in his troubles
by sucking his thumb: the most passionate
bee in the world could find no excuse for
being angry with him. Stickasting rested
for a few moments on the thin, tiny arm,
then rose and approached Polly Bright.
Every sensible person knows that when a
A STINGING REPROOF. 75
bee or a wasp hover's near, the safest way
is to keep quiet and take no notice; but
Polly was not a very sensible person, and
being not very courageous either, was quite
frightened when the insect touched her face.
If Stickasting had mistaken it for a flower,
she would very soon have found out her
blunder, and left the little girl in peace; but,
starting back with a cry, Polly struck the
bee, and Stickasting, roused to fury, quickly
returned the blow. Mad with passion, the
insect struck her sting so deep, that it was
impossible to withdraw it again, and she left
it behind, which occasions certain death to a
Stickasting felt at once that she had
thrown away her life in a wild desire for
revenge; that her destruction was caused
by her own violent act-she crawled feebly
a few inches from the spot where she fell,
and expired-a victim to her temper.
Loud was the scream which Polly Bright
uttered on being stung; so loud that it
76 A STINGING REPROOF.
brought, from the opposite cottage, both
Minnie Wingfield and her brother. On
finding out the cause of Polly's distress,
Minnie hastily ran back for the blue-bag, or
a little honey, to relieve the pain, of her
school-fellow. But Tom, who had very
little pity in his nature, stood shaking with
laughter at the adventure.
Stung by a bee !-stung on the very tip
of the nose !-what a beauty you will look
at Greenhill to-night!-ha! ha! ha!-if you
could only see how funny you look, your
hair half in curl-papers, and half hanging
down, and your eyes as red with crying as
TOM LAUGHING AT POLLY.
A. STINGING REPROOF. 79
the coral round your neck! You are for all
the world like silly Sally !"
It does not show much, does it ?" said
poor Polly anxiously, as Minnie returned
with the blue-bag.
"It is swelling !" cried Tom-" swelling
higher and higher -'twill be just like the
turkey-cock's comb !"
"Then I can't go to-night !-I will not
go!" exclaimed Polly, sitting down and
bursting into tears.
Tom laughed louder, Minnie in vain tried
to comfort,-all Polly's happiness was for
the time overthrown by a bee! It rested
but on trifles, and a trifle was enough to
make her wretched for the rest of that day.
A WONDERFUL BORE.
HE sun set, the rooks in the squire's
park had gone to roost, the bats
flew round the ivy-covered tower of
the village church. The hive was
becoming quiet and still, the bees hanging
in clusters prepared to go to sleep; but
Stickasting had never returned. Silver-
wing listened in vain for the well-known
sound of her angry hum, and wondered what
could have delayed her companion. But
never again was the poor bee to fly back to
the hive, never again to labour at the waxen
cells; and, alas! how little was her presence
missed-still less was it regretted.
A WONDERFUL BORE. 81
The next morning was warm, bright, and
sunny, the bees were early on the wing.
The larvae were beginning to spin their webs,
and therefore no longer required food; so
Silverwing was free to range over the fields,
and gather honey for the hive. So tempt-
ing was the day, that even Honeyball shook
her lazy wings and cre t to the door; there
stood for a few moments, jostled by her
more active fellow-servants, and finally flew
off in quest of food.
How delightful was the air !-how fra'-
rant the breeze! The buttercups spread
their carpet of gold, and the daisies their
mantle of silver over the meadows, all glit-
tering with the drops of bright dew. Honey-
ball soon found a flower to her taste, and
never thought of quitting it till she had ex-
hausted all its honied store. She had a -dim
idea that it was her duty to help to fill the
cells, but poor Honeyball was too apt to
prefer pleasure to duty.
"I should like to have nothing to do,"
82 A WONDERFUL BORE.
she murmured, little thinking that a listener
Like to have nothing to do! Is it from
a hive-bee that I hear such words ?-from
one whose labour is itself all play ?"
Honeyball turned to view the speaker,
and beheld on a sign-post near her the most
beautiful bee that she had ever seen. Her
body was larger than that of a hive-bee, and
her wings were of a lovely violet colour, like
the softest tint of the rainbow.*
Honeyball felt a little confused by the
address, and a little ashamed of her own
speech; but as all bees consider each other
as cousins, felt it best to put on a frank,
"Why, certainly, flying about upon a
morning like this, and making elegant ex-
tracts from flowers, is pleasant enough for a
time. But may I ask, lady-bee," continued
"* Naturalists doubt whether the violet-bee is a native of Britain.
It is known that one species of carpenter-bee is to be found in
England, but the one described above probably belongs to foreign
A WONDERFUL BORE. 83
Honeyball, "if you think as lightly of work-
ing in wax?"
Working in wax !" half contemptuously
replied Violetta; "a soft thing which you
can bend and twist any way, and knead into
any shape that you choose. Come and look
at my home here, and then ask yourself if
you have any reason to complain of your
Honeyball looked forward with her two
honey-combed eyes, and upwards and back-
wards with her three others, but not the
shadow of a hive could she perceive any-
where. May I venture to ask where you
live ?" said she at last.
"This way," cried Violetta, waving her
feeler, and pointing to a little round hole in
the post, which Honeyball had not noticed
before. It looked gloomy, and dark, and
strange to the bee; but Violetta, who took
some pride in her mansion, requested Honey-
ball to step in.
"( You cannot doubt my honour," said she,
84 A WONDERFUL BORE.
observing that the hive-worker hesitated,
"or be suspicious of a cousin ?"
Honeyball assured her that she had never
dreamed of such a thing, and entered the
hole in the post.
For about an inch the way sloped gently
downwards, then suddenly became straight
as a well, so dark and so deep, that Honey-
ball would have never attempted to reach
the bottom, had she not feared to offend her
new acquaintance. She had some hopes
that this perpendicular passage might only
be a long entrance leading to some cheerful
hive; but after having explored to the very
end, and having found nothing but wood to
reward her search, she crept again up the
steep narrow way, and with joy found her-
self once more in the sunshine.
"What do you think of it ?" said Violetta,
"I-I do not think that your hive would
hold many bees. Is it perfectly finished,
may I inquire '"
A WONDERFUL BORE. 85
"No; I have yet to divide it into cham-
bers for my children, each chamber filled
with a mixture of pollen and honey, and
divided from the next by a ceiling of saw-
dust. But the boring was finished to-day."
"You do not mean to say," exclaimed
Honeyball in surprise, "that that long
gallery was ever bored by bees !"
"Not by bees," replied Violetta, with a
dignified bow, "but by one bee. I bored it
The indolent Honeyball could not conceal
her amazement. "Is it possible that you
sawed it all out with your teeth ?"
"Every inch of the depth," Violetta re-
"And that you can gather honey and
pollen -enough to fill it ?"
"I must provide for my children, or they
"And you can make ceilings of such a
thing as sawdust to divide your home into
86 A WONDERFUL BORE.
"This is perhaps the hardest, part of my
task, but nevertheless this must be done."
"Where will you find sawdust for this
carpenter's work ?"
See yonder little heap; I have gathered
it together. Those are my cuttings from
my tunnel in the wood."
"You are without doubt a most wonder-
ful bee. And you really labour all alone ?"
All alone," replied Violetta.
Honeyball thought of her own cheerful
hive, with its thousands of workers and
divisions of labour, and waxen cells dropping
with golden honey. She scarcely could
believe her own five eyes when she saw
what one persevering insect could do. Her
surprise and her praise pleased the violet-
bee, who took pride in showing every part
of her work, describing her difficulties, and
explaining her manner of working.
"One thing strikes me," said Honeyball,
glancing down the tunnel; "I should not
much like to have the place of your eldest
A WONDERFUL BORE. 87
larva, imprisoned down there in the lowest
cell, unable to stir till all her sisters have
eaten their way into daylight."
Violetta gave what in Bee-land is con-
sidered a smile. "I have thought of that
difficulty, and of a remedy too. I am about
to bore a little hole at the end of my tunnel,
to give the young bee a way of escape from
its prison. And now," added Violetta, I
will detain you no longer, so much remains
to be done, and time is so precious. You
probably have something to collect for your
hive. I am too much your friend to wish
you to be idle."
Honeyball thanked her new acquaintance
and flew away, somewhat the wiser for her
visit, but feeling that not for ten pairs of
purple -wings would she change places with
A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
":3 HERE'S the pedlar Oh dear! and
just as mother has gone out!" cried
Polly, who on beginning her after-
noon business of nurse to the little
children, saw, or thought that she saw, at
the end of her lane, a man with a pack
travelling along the high-road. "There he
is. Oh, if I could only stop him, or if any
one would look after the baby whilst I am
gone! Minnie Wingfield! Ah, how stupid
I am to forget that she is now at the after-
noon school! I think that baby would
keep very quiet for five minutes; he cannot
roll out of his cradle. But Johnny, he'd be
A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. 89
tumbling down, or setting the cottage on
fire; I cannot leave him for a minute by
himself.---Johnny," said she suddenly, "I
want to catch the pedlar and see his pretty
things; will you come with me, like a good
little boy ?"
Johnny scrambled to his feet in a moment,
to the full as eager as herself. Polly held
his fat little hand tight within her own, and
began running as fast as she could drag him
along. But the poor child's round heavy
figure and short steps were altogether un-
suited for anything like a race. Polly felt
him as a dead weight hanging to her arm.
In vain she pulled, dragged, and jerked,
now began to encourage, and now to scold;
poor Johnny became tired, frightened, and
out of-breath, and at last fairly tumbled
upon his face.
"'Get up-I'm in such a hurry !"-no
answer but a roar. "Stupid child! he'll be
gone, "-Johnny bellowed louder than before.
"There, I'll leave you on the road, you
90 A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
great tiresome boy; you have half pulled
out my arm with dragging you on. I'll
leave you there, and silly Sally may get
Then, without heeding the poor little
child's cries and entreaties that she would
stop, as he lay on the ground, half suffocated
with sobs, Polly Bright, thinking only of
the prize which her vanity made her so
much desire, hastened after the pedlar.
Silly Sally, who has been twice men-
tioned in my tale, was a poor idiot-woman
who lived with some kind neighbours on a
common about two miles from the village.
She was perfectly harmless, and therefore
allowed to go about with freedom wherever
she chose; but the terrible misfortune, alas!
exposed her to the scorn and sometimes
even persecution of wicked children, who
made the worst use of the senses left them,
by tormenting one already so much afflicted.
Poor Sally used to wander about the lanes,
uttering her unmeaning sound. Perhaps
A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. 91
even she had some pleasure in life, when
the sun shone brightly and the flowers were
out, for she would gather the wild roses
from the bank, or the scarlet poppies from
the field, and weave then into garlands for
her head. Nothing pleased her more than
when she found a long feather to add to her
gaudy wreath. If the poor witless creature
92 A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
had delight in making herself gay, Polly at
least had no right to laugh at her.
Timid and easily frightened, the idiot felt
a nervous terror for schoolboys, for which
they had given her but too much cause.
She had been hooted at, even pelted with
mud, pursued with laughter like a hunted
beast. Twice had Minnie to interfere with
her brother, pleading even with tears for one
so helpless and unhappy. If there be any-
thing more brutal and hateful than cruelty
to a harmless animal, it is heartless barbarity
to a defenceless idiot-to one who bears our
image, is descended from our race, and whose
only crime is the being most unfortunate.
Deal gently, dear children, with the poor
senseless idiot; we trust that there is a place
in heaven even for him. The powers denied
him in this world may be granted in the
next; and in a brighter realm, although
never here below, he may be found at his
Lord's feet, clothed and in his right mind.
On hastened the little girl, breathless and
A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. 93
panting. At the place where the roads
joined she looked anxiously up the highway,
to see if she had not been mistaken in her
distant view of the traveller. No; there
was the pedlar, pack and all, and no mis-
take, but walking more briskly than might
have been expected from his burden and
the warmth of the afternoon. His pack
must have been much lightened since he
first set out with it.
Polly called out; but he either did not
hear, or did not attend. The wind was
blowing the dust in her face, she was tired
with her vain attempts to drag poor Johnny,
her shoes were down at heel and hindered
her running; for it by no means follows
that those who wish to be fine care to be
tidy also. But the brooch of false diamonds
-the coveted brooch-the thought of that
urged her on to still greater efforts; even
the remembrance of her swelled nose was
lost in the hope of possessing such a beauti-
ful ornament. Polly, as she shuffled hastily
34 A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
along, saw more than one person meet the
pedlar. If they would but stop him-if
only for one minute-to give her time to get
"up with him at last. No one stopped him
-how fast he seemed to walk! -Polly's
face was flushed and heated, her hair hung
about her ears-would that we were as
eager and persevering in the pursuit of what
really is precious, as the girl was in that of
a worthless toy!
At last her gasped-out "Stop!" reached
the ear of the pedlar. He paused and turned
round, and in a few minutes more his pack
was opened to the admiring eyes of Polly.
Ah, how she coveted this thing and that!
how she wished that her six pennies were
shillings instead A cherry-coloured necker--
"chief, a pink silk lace, a large steel pin, and
a jewelled ring,-how they took her fancy,
and made her feel how difficult it is to
decide when surrounded by many things
But at last the wonderful brooch of false
POLLY AND THE-PEDLAR.