INHTTT I I-'[-
"The Baldwin Librry
CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER.
JAMES R. OSGOOD AND COMPANY,
LATE TICKNOR & FIELDS, AND FIELDS, OSGOOD, & Co.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873,
BY JAMES R. OSGOOD & CO.,
in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington,
UNIVERSITY PRESS: WELCH, BIGELOW, & Co.,
"We behold a child. Who is it? Whose is it? What is it?
It is in the centre of fantastic light, and only a dim revealed form
appears. It is God's own child, as all children are. The blood
of Adam and Eve, through how many soever channels diverging,
runs in its veins; and the spirit of the Eternal, which blows
everywhere, has animated it. It opens its eyes upon us, stretches
out its hands to us as all children do. Can you love it ? It may
be heir of a throne,- does it interest you? Or of a milking-
stool, do not despise it. It is a miracle of the All-working; it
is endowed by the All-gifted. Smile upon it, it will a smile give
back again; prick it, it will cry. Where does it belong? In
what zone or climate ? It may have been born on the Thames or
the Amazon, the Hoang-ho or the Mississippi. It is God's child
still, and its mother's. It is curiously and wonderfully made.
The inspiration of the Almighty hath given it understanding. It
will look after God by how many soever names he may be called;
it will seek to know; it will long to be loved; it will sin and be
miserable; if it has none to care for it, it will die."
T HE unexpectedly favorable reception of the poetical compila-
tion entitled Child Life has induced its publishers to call
for the preparation of a companion volume of prose stories and
sketches, gathered, like the former, from the literature of widely
separated nationalities and periods. Illness, preoccupation; and
the inertia of unelastic years would have deterred me from the
undertaking, but for the assistance which I have had from the lady
whose services are acknowledged in the preface to "Child Life."
I beg my young readers, therefore, to understand that I claim little
credit for my share in the work, since whatever merit it may have
is largely due to her taste and judgment. It may be well to admit,
in the outset, that the book is as much for child-lovers, who have
not outgrown their child-heartedness in becoming mere men and
women, as for children themselves; that it is as much about child-
hood, as for it. If not the wisest, it appears to me that the happiest
people in the world are those who still retain something of the
child's creative faculty of imagination, which makes atmosphere
and color, sun and shadow, and boundless horizons, out of what
seems to prosaic wisdom most inadequate material, a tuft of grass,
a mossy rock, the rain-pools of a passing shower, a glimpse of sky
and cloud, a waft of west-wind, a bird's flutter and song. For the
child is always something of a poet; if he cannot analyze, like
Wordsworth and Tennyson, the emotions which expand his being,
even as the fulness of life bursts open the petals of a flower, he
finds with them all Nature plastic to his eye and hand. The soul
of genius and the heart of childhood are one.
Not irreverently has Jean Paul said, I love God and little
children. Ye stand nearest to Him, ye little ones." From the
Infinite Heart a sacred Presence has gone forth and filled the earth
with the sweetness of immortal infancy. Not once in history
alone, but every day and always, Christ sets the little child in the
midst of us as the truest reminder of himself, teaching us the
secret of happiness, and leading us into the kingdom by the way
of humility and tenderness.
In truth, all the sympathies of our nature combine to render
childhood an object of powerful interest. Its beauty, innocence,
dependence, and possibilities of destiny, strongly appeal to our sen-
sibilities, not only in real life, but in fiction and poetry. How
sweetly, amidst the questionable personages who give small occa-
sion of respect for manhood or womanhood as they waltz and
wander through the story of Wilhelm Meister, rises the child-figure
of Mignon How we turn from the light dames and faithless cava-
liers of Boccaccio to contemplate his exquisite picture of the little
Florentine, Beatrice, that fair girl of eight summers, so "pretty in
her childish ways, so ladylike and pleasing, with her delicate fea-
tures and fair proportions, of such dignity and charm of manner as
to be looked upon as a little angel !" And of all the creations of
her illustrious lover's genius, whether in the world of mortals or in
the uninviting splendors of his Paradise, what is there so beautiful
as the glimpse we have of him in his Vita Ncuova, a boy of nine
years, amidst the bloom and greenness of the Spring Festival of
Florence, checking his noisy merry-making in rapt admiration of
the little Beatrice, who seemed to him not the daughter of mortal
man, but of God" 1 Who does not thank John Brown, of Edin-
burgh, for the story of Marjorie Fleming, the fascinating child-
woman, laughing beneath the plaid of Walter Scott, and gathering
at her feet the wit and genius of Scotland 1 The labored essays
from which St. Pierre hoped for immortality, his philosophies, senti-
mentalisms, and theories of tides, have all quietly passed into the
limbo of unreadable things; while a simple story of childhood keeps
his memory green as the tropic island in which the scene is laid,
and his lovely creations remain to walk hand in hand beneath the
palhs of Mauritius so long as children shall be born and the hearts
of youths and maidens cleave to each other. If the after story of
the poet-king and warrior of Israel sometimes saddens and pains
us, who does not love to think of him as a shepherd boy, "ruddy
and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look upon,"
singing to his flocks on the hill-slopes of Bethlehem ?
In the compilation of this volume the chief embarrassment has
arisen from the very richness and abundance of materials. As a
matter of course, the limitations prescribed by its publishers have
compelled the omission of much that, in point of merit, may com-
pare favorably with the selections. Dickens's great family of ideal
children, Little Nell, Tiny Tim, and the Marchioness; Harriet
Beecher Stowe's Eva and Topsy; George MacDonald's quaint and
charming child-dreamers; and last, but not least, John Brown's Pet
Marjorie, are only a few of the pictures for which no place has
been found. The book, of necessity, but imperfectly reflects that
child-world which fortunately is always about us, more beautiful
in its living realities than it has ever been painted.
It has been my wish to make a readable book of such literary
merit as not to offend the cultivated taste of parents, while it
amused their children. I may confess in this connection, that, while
aiming at simple and not unhealthful amusement, I have been glad
to find the light tissue of these selections occasionally shot through
with threads of pious or moral suggestion. At the same time, I
have not felt it right to sadden my child-readers with gloomy narra-
tives and painful reflections upon the life before them. The les-
sons taught are those of Love, rather than Fear. I can bear,"
said Richter, to look upon a melancholy man, but I cannot look
upon a melancholy child. Fancy a butterfly crawling like a cater-
pillar with his four wings pulled off "
It is possible that the language and thought of some portions of
the book may be considered beyond the comprehension of the class
for which it is intended. Admitting that there may be truth in
the objection, I believe with Coventry Patmore, in his preface to a
child's book, that the charm of such a volume is increased, rather
than lessened, by the surmised existence of an unknown amount
of power, meaning, and beauty. I well remember how, at a very
viii PB EFACE.
early age, the solemn organ-roll of Gray's Elegy and the lyric
sweep and pathos of Cowper's Lament for the Royal George moved
and fascinated me with a sense of mystery and power felt, rather
than understood. "A spirit passed before my face, but the form
thereof was not discerned." Freighted with unguessed meanings,
these poems spake to me, in an unknown tongue indeed, but,
like the wind in the pines or the waves on the beach, awakening
faint echoes and responses, and vaguely prophesying of wonders yet
to be revealed. John Woolman tells us, in his autobiography, that,
when a small child, he read from that sacred prose poem, the Book
of Revelation, which has so perplexed critics and commentators,
these words, He showed me a river of the waters of life clear as
crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb," and
that his mind was drawn thereby to seek after that wonderful
purity, and that the place where he sat and the sweetness of that
child-yearning remained still fresh in his memory in after life.
The spirit of that mystical anthem which Milton speaks of as "a
seven-fold chorus of hallelujahs and harping symphonies," hidden
so often from the wise and prudent students of the letter, was felt,
if not comprehended, by the, simple heart of the child.
It will be seen that a considerable portion of the volume is devot-
ed to autobiographical sketches of infancy and childhood. It seemed
to me that it might be interesting to know how the dim gray dawn
and golden sunrise of life looked to poets and philosophers; and
to review with them the memories upon which the reflected light
of their genius has fallen.
I leave the little collection, not without some misgivings, to the
critical, but I hope not unkindly, regard of its young readers.
They will, I am sure, believe me when I tell them that if my own
paternal claims, like those of Elia, are limited to dream children,"
I have catered for the real ones with cordial sympathy and tender
solicitude for their well-being and happiness.
J. G. W.
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE.
LITTLE ANNIE'S RAMBLE. Nathaniel Hawthorne 13
WHY THE COW TURNED HER HEAD AWAY Abby Morton Diaz 22
THE BABY OF THE REGIMENT T. W. Higginson 27
PRUDY PARLIN "Sophie May" 38
MRS. WALKER'S BETSEY Helen B. Bostwick 43
THE RAINBOW-PILGRIMAGE Grace Greenwood 54
ON WHITE ISLAND Celia Thaxter 58
THE CRUISE OF THE DOLPHIN T. B. Aldrich 64
A YOUNG MAHOMETAN Mary Lamb 76
THE LITTLE PERSIAN Juvenile Miscellany 81
THE BOYS' HEAVEN L. Maria Child 83
BESSIE'S GARDEN. Caroline S. Whitomarsh 87
HOW THE CRICKETS BROUGHT GOOD FORTUNE P. J. Stahl 97
PAUL AND VIRGINIA Bernardin de Saint Pierre 101
OEYVIND AND MARIT Bj.rnsterne Bjrnsen 109
BOOTS AT THE HOLLY-TREE INN Charles Dickens . 119
AMRIE AND THE GEESE Berthold Auerbach 131
THE ROBINS ... . . John Woolman . 135
THE FISH I DID N'T CATCH John Whittier 137
LITTLE KATE WORDSWORTH Thomas De Quincey 142
How MARGERY WONDERED Lucy Larcom 145
THE NETTLE-GATHERER From the Swedish 149
LITTLE ARTHUR'S PRAYER Thomas Hughes 156
FAITH AND HER MOTHER E Elizabeth Stuart Phelps 161
THE OPEN DOOR John de Liefde 165
THE PRINCE'S VISIT Horace Scudder 167
FANCIES OF CHILD LIFE.
THE HEN THAT HATCHED DUCKS Harriet Beecher Stowe 175
BLUNDER Louise E. Chollet 185
STAR-DOLLARS Grimm's Household Tales 192
THE IMMORTAL FOUNTAIN L. Maria Child . 193
THE BIRD'S-NEST IN THE MOON New England Magazine 201
DREAM-CHILDREN : A REVERY Charles Lamb 204
THE UGLY DUCKLING .ans Christian Andersen 209
THE POET AND HIS LITTLE DAUGHTER Mary Howitt 220
THE RED FLOWER A Ladane De Gasparin 226
THE STORY WITHOUT AN END GeGrman of Carove 229
MEMORIES OF CHILD LIFE.
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN .. 253
MADAME MICHELET . 262
JEAN PAUL RICHTER 271
CHARLES LAMB 276
HUGH MILLER . 281
WALTER SCOTT. 286
FREDERICK DOUGLASS 290
CHARLES DICKENS .. . 297
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE.
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE.
LITTLE ANNIE'S RAMBLE.
SG--- ING DONG Ding-dong!
s EThe town-crier has rung
his bell at a distant corner,
and little Annie stands on
Sheer father's door-steps, trying
f llt -- ~- p to hear what the man with
i the loud voice is talking
about. Let me listen too. 0, he is
S telling the people that an elephant,
and a lion, and a royal tiger, and a
horse with horns, and other strange
"beasts from foreign countries, have
come to town, and will receive all
visitors who choose to wait upon them Perhaps little Annie
would like to go. Yes ; and I can see that the pretty child is
weary of this wide and pleasant street, with the green trees fling-
ing their shade across the quiet sunshine, and the pavements and
the sidewalks all as clean as if the housemaid had just swept them
with her broom. She feels that impulse to go strolling away -
that longing after the mystery of the great world which many
children feel, and which I felt in my childhood. Little Annie
shall take a ramble with me. See I do but hold out my hand,
and, like some bright bird in the sunny air, with her blue silk
frock fluttering upwards from her white pantalets, she comes
bounding on tiptoe across the street.
14 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
Smooth back your brown curls, Annie; and let me tie on your
bonnet, and we will set forth What a strange couple to go on
their rambles together One walks in black attire, with a meas-
ured step, and a heavy brow, and his thoughtful eyes bent down,
while the gay little girl trips lightly along, as if she were forced to
keep hold of my hand, lest her feet should dance away from the
earth. Yet there is sympathy between us. If I pride myself on
anything, it is because I have a smile that children love; and, on
the other hand, there are few grown ladies that could entice me
from the side of little Annie ; for I delight to let my mind go
hand in hand with the mind of a sinless child. So come, Annie;
but if I moralize as we go, do not listen to me; only look about
you and be merry !
Now we turn the corner. Here are hacks with two horses, and
stage-coaches with four, thundering to meet each other, and trucks
and carts moving at a slower pace, being heavily laden with bar-
rels from the wharves; and here are rattling gigs, which perhaps
will be smashed to pieces before our eyes. Hitherward, also, comes
a man trundling a wheelbarrow along the pavement. Is not little
Annie afraid of such a tumult 1 No : she does not even shrink
closer to my side, but passes on with fearless confidence, a happy
child amidst a great throng of grown people, who pay the same
reverence to her infancy that they would to extreme old age.
Nobody jostles her; all turn aside to make way for little Annie;
and, what is most singular, she appears conscious of her claim to
such respect. Now her eyes brighten with pleasure A street
musician has seated himself on the steps of yonder church, and
pours forth his strains to the busy town, a melody that has gone
astray among the tramp of footsteps, the buzz of voices, and the
war of passing wheels. Who heeds the poor organ-grinder None
but myself and little Annie, whose feet begin to move in unison
with the lively tune, as if she were loath that music should be
wasted without a dance. But where would Annie find a partner .
Some have the gout in their toes, or the rheumatism in their joints;
some are stiff with age; some feeble with disease; some are so lean
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 15
that their bones would rattle, and others of such ponderous size
that their agility would crack the flagstones ; but many, many have
leaden feet, because their hearts are far heavier than lead. It is a
sad thought that I have chanced upon. What a company of
dancers should we be ? For I, too, am a gentleman of sober foot-
steps, and therefore, little Annie, let us walk sedately on.
!. :y --_.... ---I.
It is a question with me, whether this giddy child or my sage
self have most pleasure in looking at the shop windows. We love
the silks of sunny hue, that glow within the darkened premises of
the spruce dry-goods' men ; we are pleasantly dazzled by the bur-
nished silver and the chased-gold, the rings of wedlock and the
costly love-ornaments, glistening at the window of the jeweller;
but Annie, more than I, seeks for a glimpse of her passing figure
16 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
in the dusty looking-glasses at the hardware stores. All that is
bright and gay attracts us both.
Here is a shop to which the recollections of my boyhood, as well
as present partialities, give a peculiar magic. How delightful to
let the fancy revel on the dainties of a confectioner; those pies,
with such white and flaky paste, their contents being a mystery,
whether rich mince, with whole plums intermixed, or piquant
apple, delicately rose-flavored; those cakes, heart-shaped or round,
piled in a lofty pyramid ; those sweet little circlets, sweetly named
kisses; those dark, majestic masses, fit to be bridal loaves at the,
wedding of an heiress, mountains in size, their summits deeply
snow-covered with sugar! Then the mighty treasures of sugar-
plums, white and crimson and yellow, in large glass vases; and
candy of all varieties; and those little cockles, or whatever they are
called, much prized by children for their sweetness, and more for
the mottoes which they enclose, by love-sick maids and bachelors !
O, my mouth waters, little Annie, and so doth yours; but we will
not be tempted, except to an imaginary feast; so let us hasten
onward, devouring the vision of a plum-cake.
Here are pleasures, as some people would say, of a more exalted
kind, in the window of a bookseller. Is Annie a literary lady ?
Yes; she is deeply read in Peter Parley's tomes, and has an increas-
ing love for fairy-tales, though seldom met with nowadays, and
she will subscribe, next year, to the Juvenile Miscellany. But,
truth to tell, she is apt to turn away from the printed page, and
keep gazing at the pretty pictures, such as the gay-colored ones
which make this shop window the continual loitering-place of chil-
dren. What would Annie think if, in the book which I mean to
send her on New Year's day, she should find her sweet little self,
bound up in silk or morocco with gilt edges, there to remain till
she become a woman grown, with children of her own to read
about their mother's childhood. That would be very queer.
Little Annie is weary of pictures, and pulls me onward by the
hand, till suddenly we pause at the most wondrous shop in all the
town. 0 my stars! Is this a toyshop, or is it fairyland For
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 17
here are gilded chariots, in which the king and queen of the fairies
might ride side by side, while their courtiers, on these small horses,
should gallop in triumphal procession before and behind the royal
pair. Here, too, are dishes of china-ware, fit to be the dining-set
of those same princely personages when they make a regal ban-
quet in the stateliest hall of their palace, full five feet high, and
behold their nobles feasting down the long perspective of the
table. Betwixt the king and queen should sit my little Annie, the
prettiest fairy of them all. Here stands a turbaned Turk, threat-
ening us with his sabre, like an ugly heathen as he is. And next
a Chinese mandarin, who nods "his head at Annie and myself.
Here we may review a whole army of horse and foot, in red and
blue uniforms, with drums, fifes, trumpets, and all kinds of noise-
less music ; they have halted on the shelf of this window, after
their weary march from Liliput. But what cares Annie for sol-
diers ? No conquering queen is she, neither a Semiramis nor a
Catharine; her whole heart is set upon that doll, who gazes at us
with such a fashionable stare. This is the little girl's true play-
thing. Though made of wood, a doll is a visionary and ethereal
personage, endowed by childish fancy with a peculiar life; the
mimic lady is a heroine of romance, an actor and a sufferer in a
thousand shadowy scenes, the chief inhabitant of that wild world
with which children ape the real one. Little Annie does not
understand what I am saying, but looks wishfully at the proud
lady in the window. We will invite her home with us as we
return. Meantime, good by, Dame Doll! A toy yourself, you
look forth from your window upon many ladies that are also toys,
though they walk and speak, and upon a crowd in pursuit of toys,
though they wear grave visages. 0, with your never-closing eyes,
had you but an intellect to moralize on all that flits before them,
what a wise doll would you be! Come, little Annie, we shall find
toys enough, go where we may.
Now we elbow our way among the throng again. It is curious,
in the most crowded part of a town, to meet with living creatures
that had their birthplace in some far solitude, but have acquired a
18 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
second nature in the wilderness of men. Look up, Annie, at that
canary-bird, hanging out of the window in his cage. Poor little
fellow His golden feathers are all tarnished in this smoky sun-
shine ; he would have glistened twice as brightly among the sum-
mer islands; but still he has become a citizen in all his tastes and
habits, and would not sing half so well without the uproar that
drowns his music; What a pity that he does not know how mis-
erable he is! There is a parrot, too, calling out, "Pretty Poll!
Pretty Poll!" as we pass by. Foolish bird, to be talking about
her prettiness to strangers, especially as she is not a pretty Poll,
though gaudily dressed in greed and yellow. If she had said
"Pretty Annie," there would have been some sense in it. See
that gray squirrel, at the door of the fruit-shop, whirling round
and round so merrily within his wire wheel! Being condemned
to the treadmill, he makes it an amusement. Admirable phi-
Here comes a big, rough dog, a countryman's dog in search of
his master; smelling at everybody's heels, and touching little
Annie's hand with his cold nose, but hurrying away, though she
would fain have patted him. Success to your search, Fidelity !
And there sits a great yellow cat upon a window-sill, a very corpu-
lent and comfortable cat, gazing at this transitory world, with
owl's eyes, and making pithy comments, doubtless, or what appear
such, to the silly beast. 0 sage puss, make room for me beside
you, and we will be a pair of philosophers !
Here we see something to remind us of the town-crier, and his
ding-dong bell! Look! look at that great cloth spread out in the
air, pictured all over with wild beasts, as if they had met together
to choose a king, according to their custom in the days of zEsop.
But they are choosing neither a king nor a president, else we
should hear a most horrible snarling They have come from the
deep woods, and the wild mountains, and the desert sands, and the
polar snows, only to do homage to my little Annie. As we enter
among them, the great elephant makes us a bow, in the best style
of elephantine courtesy, bending lowly down his mountain bulk,
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 19
with trunk abased and leg thrust out behind. Annie returns
the salute, much to the gratification of the elephant, who is cer-
tainly the best-bred monster in the caravan. The lion and the
lioness are busy with two beef-bones. The royal tiger, the beauti-
ful, the untamable, keeps pacing his narrow cage with a haughty
step, unmindful of the spectators, or recalling the fierce deeds of
his former life, when lie was wont to leap forth upon such inferior
animals, from the jungles of Bengal.
Here we see the very same wolf, do not go near him, Annie !
- the self-same wolf that devoured little Red Riding-Hood and her
grandmother. In the next cage, a hyena from Egypt, who has
doubtless howled around the pyramids, and a black bear from our
own forests, are fellow-prisoners and most excellent friends. Are
there any two living creatures who have so few sympathies that
they cannot possibly be friends? Here sits a great white bear,
whom common observers would call a very stupid beast, though I
perceive him to be only absorbed in contemplation; he is thinking
of his voyages on an iceberg, and of his comfortable home in the
vicinity of the north pole, and of the little cubs whom he left roll-
ing in the eternal snows. In fact, he is a bear of sentiment. But
0, those unsentimental monkeys the ugly, grinning, aping, chat-
tering, ill-natured, mischievous, and queer little brutes. Annie
does not love the monkeys. Their ugliness shocks her pure,
instinctive delicacy of taste, and makes her mind unquiet, because
it bears a wild and dark resemblance to humanity. But here is a
little pony, just big enough for Annie to ride, and round and
round lie gallops in a circle, keeping time with his trampling hoofs
to a band of music. And here, with a laced coat and a cocked
hat, and a riding-whip in his hand, -here comes a little gentle-
man, small enough to be king of the fairies, and ugly enough to be
king of the gnomes, and takes a flying leap into the saddle. Mer-
rily, merrily plays the music, and merrily gallops the pony, and
merrily rides the little old gentleman. Come, Annie, into the
street again; perchance we may see monkeys on horseback there !
Mercy on us, what a noisy world we quiet people live in Did
20 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
Annie ever read the Cries of London City? With what lusty
lungs doth yonder man proclaim that his wheelbarrow is full of
lobsters Here comes another mounted on a cart, and blowing a
hoarse and dreadful blast from a tin horn, as much as to say
"Fresh fish !" And hark! a voice on high, like that of a muez-
zin from the summit of a mosque, announcing that some chimney-
sweeper has emerged from smoke and soot, and darksome caverns,
into the upper air. What cares the world for that ? But, wella-
day we hear a shrill voice of affliction, the scream of a little child,
rising louder with every repetition of that smart, sharp, slapping
sound, produced by an open hand on tender flesh. Annie sympa-
thizes, though without experience of such direful woe. Lo the
town-crier again, with some new secret for the public ear. Will
he tell us of an auction, or of a lost pocket-book, or a show of
beautiful wax figures, or of some monstrous beast more horrible
than any in the caravan? I guess the latter. See how he uplifts
the bell in his right hand, and shakes it slowly at first, then with
a hurried motion, till the clapper seems to strike both sides at
once, and the sounds are scattered forth in quick succession, far
Ding-dong Ding-dong Ding-dong!
Now he raises his clear, loud voice, above all the din of the
town; it drowns the buzzing talk of many tongues, and draws
each man's mind from his own business; it rolls up and down the
echoing street, and ascends to the hushed chamber of the sick, and
penetrates downward to the cellar-kitchen, where the hot cook
turns from the fire to listen. Who, of all that address the public
ear, whether in church or court-house or hall of state, has such an
attentive audience as the town-crier? What saith the people's
Strayed from her home, a LITTLE GIRL, of five years old, in a
blue silk frock and white pantalets, with brown curling hair and
hazel eyes. Whoever will bring her to her afflicted mother "
Stop, stop, town-crier The lost is found. 0 my pretty Annie,
we forgot to tell your mother of our ramble, and she is in despair,
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 21
and has sent the town-crier to bellow up and down the streets,
affrighting old and young, for the loss of a little girl who has not
once let go my hand Well, let us hasten homeward and as we
go, forget not to thank Heaven, my Annie, that, after wandering a
little way into the world, you may return at the first summons,
with an untainted and unwearied heart, and be a happy child
again. But I have gone too far astray for the town-crier to call
Sweet has been the charm of childhood on my spirit, throughout
my ramble with little Annie 1 Say not that it has been a waste of
precious moments, an idle matter, a babble of childish talk, and a
revery of childish imaginations, about topics unworthy of a grown
man's notice. Has it been merely this ? Not so; not so. They
are not truly wise who would affirm it. As the pure breath of
children revives the life of aged men, so is our moral nature
revived by their free and simple thoughts, their native feeling, their
airy mirth, for little cause or none, their grief, soon roused and
soon allayed. Their influence on us is at least reciprocal with ours
on them. When our infancy is almost forgotten, and our boyhood
long departed, though it seems but as yesterday; when life settles
darkly down upon us, and we doubt whether to call ourselves young
any more, then it is good to steal away from the society of bearded
men, and even of gentler woman, and spend an hour or two with
children. After drinking from those fountains of still fresh exist-
ence, we shall return into the crowd, as I do now, to struggle on-
ward and do our part in life, perhaps as fervently as ever, but, for
a time, with a kinder and purer heart, and a spirit more lightly
wise. All this by thy sweet magic, dear little Annie !
22 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
WHY THE COW TURNED HER HEAD AWAY.
..... .- . .
" \/OOLLY COW, your barn is warm, the wintry winds
IVeA_ cannot reach you, nor frost nor snow. Why are your
eyes so sad 7 Take this wisp of hay. See, I am holding it up ?
It is very good. Now you turn your head away. Why do you
look so sorrowful, Moolly Cow, and turn your head away ? "
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 23
"Little girl, I am thinking of the time when that dry wisp of
hay was living grass. When those brown, withered flowers were
blooming clovertops, buttercups, and daisies, and the bees and the
butterflies came about them. The air was warm then, and gentle
winds blew. Every morning I went forth to spend the day in
sunny pastures. I am thinking now of those early summer morn-
ings, how the birds sang, and the sun shone, and the grass glit-
tered with dew! and the boy that opened the gates, how merrily
he whistled I stepped quickly along, sniffing the fresh morning
air, snatching at times a hasty mouthful by the way; it was really
very pleasant! And when the bars fell, how joyfully I leaped
over! I knew where the grass grew green and tender, and has-
tened to eat it while the dew was on.
As the sun rose higher I sought the shade, and at noonday
would lie under the trees chewing, chewing, chewing, with half-
shut eyes, and the drowsy insects humming around me; or perhaps
I would stand motionless upon the river's bank, where one might
catch a breath of air, or wade deep in to cool myself in the stream.
And when noontime was passed and the heat grew less, I went
back to the grass and flowers.
And thus the long summer day sped on, sped pleasantly
on, for I was never lonely. No lack of company in those sunny
pasture-lands The grasshoppers and crickets made a great stir,
bees buzzed, butterflies were coming and going, and birds singing
always. I knew where the ground-sparrows built, and all about
the little field-mice. They were very friendly to me, for often,
while nibbling the grass, I would whisper, 'Keep dark, little mice!
Don't fly, sparrows The boys are coming "
No lack of company, 0 no When that withered hay was
living grass, yellow with buttercups, white with daisies, pink with
clover, it was the home of myriads of little insects, very, very
little insects. 0, but they made things lively, crawling, hop-
ping, skipping among the roots, and up and down the stalks, so
happy, so full of life, never still! And now not one left alive !
They are gone. That pleasant summer-time is gone. 0, these
24 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
long, dismal winter nights! All day I stand in my lonely stall,
listening, not to the song of birds, or hum of bees, or chirp of
grasshoppers, or the pleasant rustling of leaves, but to the noise of
howling winds, hail, sleet, and driving snow !
Little girl, I pray you don't hold up to me that wisp of hay.
In just that same way they held before my eyes, one pleasant morn-
ing, a bunch of sweet clover, to entice me from my pretty calf!
"Poor thing! It was the only one I had! So gay and
sprightly Such a playful, frisky, happy young thing It was a
joy to see her caper and toss her heels about, without a thought
of care or sorrow. It was good to feel her nestling close at my
side, to look into her bright, innocent eyes, to rest my head lov-
ingly upon her neck !
"And already I was looking forward to the time when she
would become steady and thoughtful like myself; was counting
greatly upon her company of nights in the dark barn, or in roam-
ing the fields through the long summer days. For the butterflies
and bees, and all the bits of insects, though well enough in their
way, and most excellent company, were, after all, not akin to me,
and there is nothing like living with one's own blood relations.
But I lost my pretty little one The sweet clover enticed me
away. When I came back she was gone I saw through the bars
the rope wound about her. I saw the cart. I saw the cruel men
lift her in. She made a mournful noise. I cried out, and thrust
my head over the rail, calling, in language she well understood,
'Come back O, come back !'
She looked up with her round, sorrowful eyes and wished to
come, but the rope held her fast! The man cracked his whip, the
cart rolled away I never saw her more !
No, little girl, I cannot take your wisp of hay. It reminds
me of the silliest hour of my life, of a day when I surely made
myself a fool. And on that day, too, I was offered by a little girl
a bunch of grass and flowers.
It was a still summer's noon. Not a breath of air was stirring.
I had waded deep into the stream, which was then calm and
STORIES.OF CHILD LIFE. 25
smooth. Looking down I saw my own image in the water. And
I perceived that my neck was thick and clumsy, that my hair was
brick-color, and my head of an ugly shape, with two horns stick-
ing out much like the prongs of a pitchfork. 'Truly, Mrs. Cow,'
I said, 'you are by no means handsome !'
Just then a horse went trotting along the bank. His hair was
glossy black, he had a flowing mane, and a tail which grew thick
and long. His proud neck was arched, his head lifted high. He
trotted lightly over the ground, bending in his hoofs daintily at
every footfall. Said I to myself, 'Although not well-looking, -
which is a great pity,- it is quite possible that I can step beauti-
fully, like the horse; who knows 'I' And I resolved to plod on no
longer in sober cow-fashion, but to trot off nimbly and briskly and
I hastily waded ashore, climbed the bank, held my head high,
stretched out my neck, and did my best to trot like the horse,
bending in my hoofs as well as was possible at every step, hoping
that all would admire me.
"Some children gathering flowers near by burst into shouts of
laughter, crying out, 'Look Look !' 'Mary !' 'Tom 'What
ails the cow ?' 'She acts like a horse !' She is putting on airs '
'Clumsy thing !' Her tail is like a pump-handle ' I guess
she 's a mad cow !' Then they ran, and I sank down under a tree
with tears in my eyes.
But one little girl stayed behind the rest, and, seeing that I was
quiet, she came softly up, step by step, holding out a bunch of
grass and clover. I kept still as a mouse. She stroked me with
her soft hand, and said, -
"' 0 good Moolly Cow, I love you dearly; for my mother has
told me very nice things about you. Of course, you are not hand-
some. 0 no, 0 no But then you are good-natured, and so we all
love you. Every day you give us sweet milk, and never keep any
for yourself. The boys strike you sometimes, and throw stones,
and set the dogs on you; but you give them your milk just the
same. And you are never contrary like the horse, stopping when
26 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
you ought to go, and going when you ought to stop. Nobody has
to whisper in your ears, to make you gentle, as they do to horses;
you are gentle of your own accord, dear Moolly Cow. If you do
walk up to children sometimes, you won't hook; it's only playing,
and I will stroke you and love you dearly. And if you 'd like to
know, I '11 tell you that there's a wonderful lady who puts you into
her lovely pictures, away over the water.'
Her words gave me great comfort, and may she never lack for
milk to crumb her bread in But O, take away your wisp of hay,
little girl; for you bring to mind the summer days which are gone,
and my pretty bossy, that was stolen away, and also -my own
Abby Morton Diaz.
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 27
THE BABY OF THE REGIMENT.
W E were in our winter camp on Port Royal Island. It was
a lovely November morning, soft and spring-like; the
mocking-birds were singing, and the cotton-fields still white with
fleecy pods. Morning drill was over, the men were cleaning their
guns and singing very happily; the officers were in their tents,
reading still more happily their letters just arrived from home.
Suddenly I heard a knock at my tent-door, and the latch, clicked.
It was the only latch in camp, and I was very proud of it, and
the officers always clicked it as loudly as possible, in order to
gratify my feelings. The door opened, and the Quartermaster
thrust in the most beaming face I ever saw.
"Colonel," said he, "there are great news for the regiment. My
wife and baby are coming by the next steamer "
"Baby! said I, in amazement. "Q. M., you are beside your-
self." (We always called the Quartermaster Q. M. for shortness.)
"There was a pass sent to your wife, but nothing was ever said
about a baby. Baby indeed !"
But the baby was included in the pass," replied the triumphant
father-of-a-family. You don't suppose my wife would come down
here without her baby Besides, the pass itself permits her to
bring necessary baggage; and is not a baby six months old neces-
sary baggage '"
"But, my dear fellow," said I, rather anxiously, "how can you
make the little thing comfortable in a tent, amidst these rigors of
a South Carolina winter; when it is uncomfortably hot for drill at
noon, and ice forms by your bedside at night "
"Trust me for that," said the delighted papa, and went off
whistling. I could hear him telling the same news to three oth-
ers, at least, before he got to his own tent.
28 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
That day the preparations began, and soon his abode was a won-
der of comfort. There were posts and rafters, and a raised floor,
and a great chimney, and a door with hinges, every luxury ex-
cept a latch, and that he could not have, for mine was the last that
could be purchased. One of the regimental carpenters was em-
ployed to make a cradle, and another to make a bedstead high
enough for the cradle to go under. Then there must be a bit of
red carpet beside the bedstead; and thus the progress of splendor
went on. The wife of one of the colored sergeants was engaged to
act as nursery-maid. She was a very respectable young woman, the
only objection to her being that she smoked a pipe. But we
thought that perhaps Baby might not dislike tobacco; and if she
did, she would have excellent opportunities to break the pipe in
In due time the steamer arrived, and Baby and her mother were
among the passengers. The little recruit was soon settled in her
new cradle, and slept in it as if she had never known any other.
The sergeant's wife soon had her on exhibition through the neigh-
borhood, and from that time forward she was quite a queen among
us. She had sweet blue eyes and pretty brown hair, with round,
dimpled cheeks, and that perfect dignity which is so beautiful in
a baby. She hardly ever cried, and was not at all timid. She
would go to anybody, and yet did not encourage any romping from
any but the most intimate friends. She always wore a warm, long-
sleeved scarlet cloak with a hood, and in this costume was carried,
or "toted," as the soldiers said, all about the camp. At guard-
mounting in the morning, when the men who are to go on guard
duty for the day are drawn up to be inspected, Baby was always
there, to help to inspect them. She did not say much, but she
eyed them very closely, and seemed fully to appreciate their bright
buttons. Then the Officer-of-the-Day, -who appears at guard-
mounting with his sword and sash, and comes afterwards to the
Colonel's tent for orders, would come and speak to Baby on his
way, and receive her orders first. When the time came for drill
she was usually present to watch the troops; .and when the drum
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 29
beat for dinner she liked to see the long row of men in each com-
pany march up to the cook-house, in single file, each with tin cup
During the day, in pleasant weather, she might be seen in her
nurse's arms, about the company streets, the centre of an admiring
circle, her scarlet costume looking very pretty amidst the shining
black cheeks and neat blue uniforms
Snf the nicliPr. .-At dresl-plraldl."
J t l .- i- t . I ]. l.l 1 i t 1. i ', -
that I did not say, Shoulder babies !
interest for her small person, that, instead of saying at the proper
time "Attention, Battalion! Shoulder arms!" it is a wonder
that I did not say, Shoulder babies! "
Our little lady was very impartial, and distributed her kind looks
30 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
to everybody. She had not the slightest prejudice against color,
and did not care in the least whether her particular friends were
black or white. Her especial favorites, I think, were the drum-
mer-boys, who were not my favorites by any means, for they were
a roguish set of scamps, and gave more trouble than all the grown
men in the regiment. I think Annie liked them because they
were small, and made a noise, and had red caps like her hood, and
red facings on their jackets, and also because they occasionally
stood on their heads for her amusement. After dress-parade the
whole drum-corps would march to the great flag-staff, and wait till
just sunset-time, when they would beat the retreat," and then
the flag would be hauled down, -a great festival for Annie.
Sometimes the Sergeant-Major would wrap her in the great folds
of the flag, after it was taken down, and she would peep out very
prettily from amidst the stars and stripes, like a new-born Goddess
About once a month, some inspecting officer was sent to the
camp by the General in command, to see to the condition of every-
thing in the regiment, from'bayonets to buttons. It was usually a
long and tiresome process, and, when everything else was done, I
used to tell the officer that I had one thing more for him to in-
spect, which was peculiar to our regiment. Then I would send for
Baby to be exhibited; and I never saw an inspecting officer, old or
young, who did not look pleased at the sudden appearance of the
little, fresh, smiling creature, -- a flower in the midst of war. And
Annie in her turn would look at them, with the true baby dignity
in her face, that deep, earnest look which babies often have, and
which people think so wonderful when Raphael paints it, although
they might often see just the same expression in the faces of their
own darlings at home.
Meanwhile Annie seemed to like the camp style of housekeeping
very much. Her father's tent was double, and he used the front
apartment for his office, and the inner room for parlor and bed-
room, while the nurse had a separate tent and wash-room behind
all. I remember that, the first time I went there in the evening,
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 31
it was to borrow some writing-paper; and while Baby's mother
was hunting for it in the front tent, I heard a great cooing and
murmuring in the inner room. I asked if Annie was still awake,
and her mother told me to go in and see. Pushing aside the can-
vas door, I entered. No sign of anybody was to be seen; but a
variety of soft little happy noises seemed to come from some un-
seen corner. Mrs. C. came quietly in, pulled away the counterpane
of her own bed, and drew out the rough cradle, where lay the little
damsel, perfectly happy, and wider awake than anything but a
baby possibly can be. She looked as if the seclusion of a dozen
family bedsteads would not be enough to discourage her spirits,
and I saw that camp life was likely to suit her very well.
A tent can be kept very warm, for it is merely a house with a
thinner wall than usual; and I do not think that Baby felt the
cold much more than if she had been at home that winter. The
great trouble is, that a tent-chimney, not being built very high,
is apt to smoke when the wind is in a certain direction; and
when that happens it is hardly possible to stay inside. So we
used to build the chimneys of some tents on the east side, and
those of others on the west, and thus some of the tents were
always comfortable. I have seen Baby's mother running, in a hard
rain, with little Red-Riding-Hood in her arms, to take refuge with
the Adjutant's wife, when every other abode was full of smoke;
and I must admit that there were one or two windy days that
season when nobody could really keep warm, and Annie had to
remain ignominiously in her cradle, with as many clothes on as
possible, for almost the whole time.
The Quartermaster's tent was very attractive to us in the even-
ing. I remember that once, on passing near it after nightfall, I
heard our Major's fine voice singing Methodist hymns within, and
Mrs. C.'s sweet tones chiming in. So I peeped through the outer
door. The fire was burning very pleasantly in the inner tent, and
the scrap of new red carpet made the floor look quite magnificent.
The Major sat on a box, our surgeon on a stool; "Q. M." and his
wife, and the Adjutant's wife, and one of the captains, were all
32 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
sitting on the bed, singing as well as they knew how; and the
baby was under the bed. Baby had retired for the night, was
overshadowed, suppressed, sat upon; the singing went on, and she
had wandered away into her own land of dreams, nearer to heaven,
perhaps, than any pitch their voices could attain. I went in and
joined the party. Presently the music stopped, and another officer
was sent for, to sing some particular song. At this pause the in-
visible innocent waked a little, and began to cluck and coo.
It's the kitten," exclaimed somebody.
It's my baby exclaimed Mrs. C. triumphantly, in that tone
of unfailing personal pride which belongs to young mothers.
The people all got up from the bed for a moment, while Annie
was pulled from beneath, wide awake, and placid as usual; and she
sat in one lap or another during the rest of the concert, sometimes
winking at the candle, but usually listening to the songs, with a
calm and critical expression, as if she could make as much noise
as any of them, whenever she saw fit to try. Not a sound did she
make, however, except one little soft sneeze, which led to an im-
mediate flood-tide of red shawl, covering every part of her but the
forehead. But I soon hinted that the concert had better be
ended, because I knew from observation that the small damsel
had carefully watched a regimental inspection and a brigade
drill on that day, and that an interval of repose was certainly
Annie did not long remain the only baby in camp. One day,
on going out to the stables to look at a horse, I heard a sound of
baby-talk, addressed by some man to a child near by, and, looking
round the corner of a tent, I saw that one of the hostlers had
something black and round, lying on the sloping side of a tent,
with which he was playing very eagerly. It proved to be his
baby, -a plump, shiny thing, younger than Annie; and I never
saw a merrier picture than the happy father frolicking with his
child, while the mother stood quietly by. This was Baby Number
Two, and she stayed in camp several weeks, the two innocents
meeting each other every day in the placid indifference that be-
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 33
longed to their years; both were happy little healthy things, and it
never seemed to cross their minds that there was any difference in
their complexions. As I said before, Annie was not troubled by
any prejudice in regard to color, nor do I suppose that the other
little maiden was.
Annie enjoyed the tent-life very much; but when we were sent
out on picket soon after, she enjoyed it still more. Our head-
quarters were at a deserted plantation house, with one large parlor,
a dining-room and a few bedrooms. Baby's father and mother had
a room up stairs, with a stove whose pipe went straight out at the
window. This was quite comfortable, though half the windows
were broken, and there was no glass and no glazier to mend them.
The windows of the large parlor were in much the same condition,
though we had an immense fireplace, where we had a bright fire
whenever it was cold, and always in the evening. The walls of
this room were very dirty, and it took our ladies several days to
cover all the unsightly places with wreaths and hangings of ever-
green. In this performance Baby took an active part. Her
duties consisted in sitting in a great nest of evergreen, pulling
and fingering the fragrant leaves, and occasionally giving a lit-
tle cry of glee when she had accomplished some piece of decided
There was less entertainment to be found in the camp itself at
this time; but the household at head-quarters was larger than
Baby had been accustomed to. We had a great deal of company,
moreover, and she had quite a gay life of it. She usually made
her appearance in the large parlor soon after breakfast; and to
dance her for a few moments in our arms was one of the first daily
duties of each one. Then the morning reports began to arrive
from the different outposts, a mounted officer or courier coming
in from each place, dismounting at the door, and clattering in with
jingling arms and spurs, each a new excitement for Annie. She
usually got some attention from any officer who came, receiving
with her wonted dignity any daring caress. When the messengers
had ceased to be interesting, there were always the horses to look
34 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
at, held or tethered under the trees beside the sunny piazza. After
the various couriers had been received, other messengers would be
despatched to the town, seven miles away, and Baby had all the
excitement of their mounting and departure. Her father was
often one of the riders, and would sometimes seize Annie for a
good-by kiss, place her on the saddle before him, gallop her round
the house once or twice, and then give her back to her nurse's arms
again. She was perfectly fearless, and such boisterous attentions
never frightened her, nor did they ever interfere with her sweet,
After the riding-parties had gone, there was the piazza still for
entertainment, with a sentinel pacing up and down before it; but
Annie did not enjoy the sentinel, though his breastplate and but-
tons shone like gold, so much as the hammock which always hung
swinging between the pillars. It was a pretty hammock, with
great open meshes; and she delighted to lie in it, and have the
netting closed above her, so that she could only be seen through
the apertures. I can see her now, the fresh little rosy thing, in her
blue and scarlet wrappings, with one round and dimpled arm thrust
forth through the netting, and the other grasping an armful of
blushing roses and fragrant magnolias. She looked like those
pretty French bas-reliefs of Cupids imprisoned in baskets, and
peeping through. That hammock was a very useful appendage; it
was a couch for us, a cradle for Baby, a nest for the kittens; and
we had, moreover, a little hen, which tried to roost there every
When the mornings were colder, and the stove up stairs smoked
the wrong way, Baby was brought down in a very incomplete state
of toilet, and finished her dressing by the great fire. We found her
bare shoulders very becoming, and she was very much interested in
her own little pink toes. After a very slow dressing, she had a
still slower breakfast out of a tin cup of warm milk, of which she
generally spilt a good deal, as she had much to do in watching
everybody who came into the room, and seeing that there was no
mischief done. Then she would be placed on the floor, on our only
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 35
piece of carpet, and the kittens would be brought in for her to
"We had, at different times, a variety of pets, of whom Annie
did not take much notice. Sometimes we had young partridges,
caught by the drummer-boys in trap-cages. The children called
them Bob and Chloe," because the first notes of the male and
female sound like those names. One day I brought home an
opossum, with her blind bare little young clinging to the droll
pouch where their mothers keep them. Sometimes we had pretty
green lizards, their color darkening or deepening, like that of chame-
leons, in light or shade. But the only pets that took Baby's fancy
were the kittens. They perfectly delighted her, from the first mo-
ment she saw them ; they were the only things younger than her-
self that she had ever beheld, and the only things softer than
themselves that her small hands had grasped. It was astonishing
to see how much the kittens would endure from her. They could
scarcely be touched by any one else without mewing; but when
Annie seized one by the head and the other by the tail, and rubbed
them violently together, they did not make a sound. I suppose
that a baby's grasp is really soft, even if it seems ferocious, and so
it gives less pain than one would think. At any rate, the little ani-
mals had the best of it very soon; for they entirely outstripped
Annie in learning to walk, and they could soon scramble away
beyond her reach, while she sat in a sort of dumb despair, unable
to comprehend why anything so much smaller than herself should
be so much nimbler. Meanwhile, the kittens would sit up and
look at her with the most provoking indifference, just out of arm's
length, until some of us would take pity on the young lady, and
toss her furry playthings back to her again. "Little baby,"
she learned to call them; and these were the very first words
Baby had evidently a natural turn for war, further cultivated by
an intimate knowledge of drills and parades. The nearer she
came to actual conflict the better she seemed to like it, peaceful as
her own little ways might be. Twice, at least, while she was with
36 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
us on picket, we had alarms from the Rebel troops, who would
bring down cannon to the opposite side of the Ferry, about two
miles beyond us, and throw shot and shell over upon our side. Then
the officer at the Ferry would think'that there was to be an attack
made, and couriers would be sent, riding to and fro, and the men
would all be called to arms in a hurry, and the ladies at head-
quarters would all put on their best bonnets, and come down stairs,
and the ambulance would be made ready to carry them to a place of
safety before the expected fight. On such occasions Baby was in
all her glory. She shouted with delight at being suddenly un-
cribbed and thrust into her little scarlet cloak, and brought down
stairs, at an utterly unusual and improper hour, to a piazza with
lights and people and horses and general excitement. She crowed
and gurgled and made gestures with her little fists, and screamed
out what seemed to be her advice on the military situation, as
freely as if she had been a newspaper editor. Except that it was
rather difficult to understand her precise directions, I do not know
but the whole Rebel force might have been captured through her
plans. And, at any rate, I should much rather obey her orders
than those of some generals whom I have known; for she at
least meant no harm, and would lead one into no mischief.
However, at last the danger, such as it was, would be all over,
and the ladies would be induced to go peacefully to bed again; and
Annie would retreat with them to her ignoble cradle, very much
disappointed, and looking vainly back at the more martial scene
below. The next morning she would seem to have forgotten all
about it, and would spill her bread and milk by the fire as if noth-
ing had happened.
I suppose we hardly knew, at the time, how large a part of the
sunshine of our daily lives was contributed by dear little Annie.
Yet, when I now look back on that pleasant Southern home, she
seems as essential a part of it as the mocking-birds or the magno-
lias, and I cannot convince myself that, in returning to it, I should
not find her there. But Annie went back, with the spring, to her
Northern birthplace, and then passed away from this earth before
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 37,
her little feet had fairly learned to tread its paths; and when I
meet her next it must be in some world where there is triumph
without armies, and where innocence is trained in scenes of peace.
I know, however, that her little life, short as it seemed, was a
blessing to us all, giving a perpetual image of serenity and sweet-
ness, recalling the lovely atmosphere of far-off homes, and holding
us by unsuspected ties to whatsoever things were pure.
T. V. Higginson.
38 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
P RUDY PARLIN and her sister Susy, three years older, lived
in Portland, in the State of Maine.
Susy was more than six years old, and Prudy was between three
and four. Susy could sew quite well for a girl of her age, and had
a stint every day. Prudy always thought it very fine to do just
as Susy did, so she .teased her mother to let her have some patch-
work too, and Mrs. Parlin gave her a few calico pieces, just to
keep her little fingers out of mischief.
But when the squares were basted together, she broke needles,
pricked her fingers, and made a great fuss; sometimes crying, and
wishing there were no such thing as patchwork.
One morning she sat in her rocking-chair, doing what she
thought was a stint. She kept running to her mother with
every stitch, saying, Will that do ?" Her mother was very busy,
and said, "My little daughter must not come to me." So Prudy
sat down near the door, and began to sew with all her might; but
soon her little baby sister came along looking so cunning that
Prudy dropped her needle and went to hugging her.
"0 little sister," cried she, I would n't have a horse come and
eat you up for anything in the world "
After this, of course, her mother had to get her another needle,
and then thread it for her. She went to sewing again till she
pricked her finger, and the sight of the wee drop of blood made
"0 dear! I wish somebody would pity me !" But her
mother was so busy frying doughnuts that she could not stop to
talk much; and the next thing she saw of Prudy she was at the
farther end of the room, while her patchwork lay on the spice-box.
"Prudy, Prudy, what are you up to now ?"
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 39
Up to the table," said Prudy. "0 mother, I 'm so sorry, but
I've broke a crack in the pitcher "
What will mamma do with you I You have n't finished your
stint: what made you get out of your chair 1 "
O, I thought grandma might want me to get her speckles. I
thought I would go and find Zip too. See, mamma, he's so tickled
to see me he shakes all over every bit of him "
"Where's your patchwork "
I don't know. You've got a double name, have n't you, dog-
gie 1 It's Zip Coon; but it isn't a very double name, -is it,
When Mrs. Parlin had finished her doughnuts, she said, Pussy,
you can't keep still two minutes. Now, if you want to sew this
patchwork for grandma's quilt, I '11 tell you what I shall do.
There's an empty hogshead in the back kitchen, and I '11 lift you
into that, and you can't climb out. I'11 lift you out when your
stint is done."
O, what a funny little house!" said Prudy, when she was
inside; and as she spoke her voice startled her, it was so loud
and hollow. "I'll talk some more," thought she, "it makes such
a queer noise. Old Mrs. Hogshead, I thought I 'd come and see
you, and bring my work. I like your house, ma'am, only I should
think you'd want some windows. I s'pose you know who I am,
Mrs. Hogshead ? My name is Prudy. My mother did n't put me
in here because I was a naughty girl, for I have n't done nothing -
nor nothing -nor nothing. Do you want to hear some singing ?
0, come, come away,
From labor now reposin';
Let busy Care, wife of Barrow,
Come, come away! '"
Prudy, what's the matter ?" said mamma, from the next
"Did n't you hear somebody singing ?" said Prudy; "well,
't was me."
"0, I was afraid you were crying, my dear "
40 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
"Then I '11 stop," said the child. "Now, Mrs. Hogshead, you
won't hear me singing any more, it mortifies my mother very
So Prudy made her fingers fly, and soon said, Now, mamma,
I 've got it done, and I 'm ready to be took out! "
Just then her father came into the house. "Prudy 's in the
hogshead," said Mrs. Parlin. "Won't you please lift her out,
father ? I've got baby in my arms."
Mr. Parlin peeped into the hogshead. "How in this world did
you ever get in here, child ? said he. "I think I '11 have to take
you out with a pair of tongs."
Give me your hands," said papa. "Up she comes Now,
come sit on my knee," added he, when they had gone into the par-
lor, and tell me how you climbed into that hogshead."
"Mother dropped me in, and I'm going to stay there till I make
a bedquilt, only I 'm coming out to eat, you know."
Mr. Parlin laughed; but just then the dinner-bell rang, and
when they went to the table, Prudy was soon so busy with her
roasted chicken and custard pie that she forgot all about the patch-
Prudy soon tired of sewing, and her mother said, laughing, If
Grandma Read has to wait for somebody's little fingers before she
gets a bedquilt, poor grandma will sleep very cold indeed."
The calico pieces went into the rag-bag, and that was the last of
One day the children wanted to go and play in the "new
house," which was not quite done. Mrs. Parlin was almost afraid
little Prudy might get hurt, for there were a great many loose
boards and tools lying about, and the carpenters, who were at
work on the house, had all gone away to see some soldiers. But
at, last she said they might go if Susy would be very careful of
her little sister.
Susy meant to watch Prudy with great care, but after a while
she got to thinking of something else. The little one wanted to
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 41
play "catch," but Susy saw a great deal more sport in building
Now I know ever so much more than you do," said Susy. "I
used to wash dishes and scour knives when I was four years old,
and that was the time I learned you to walk, Prudy; so you
ought to play with me, and be goody."
"Then I will; but them blocks is too big, Susy. If I had a
axe I 'd chop 'em: I'11 go get a axe." Little Prudy trotted off, and
Susy never looked up from her play, and did not notice that she
was gone a long while.
By and by Mrs. Parlin thought she would go and see what the
children were doing; so she put on her bonnet and went over to
the "new house." Susy was still busy with her blocks, but she
looked up at the sound of her mother's footsteps.
"Where is Prudy ?" said Mrs. Parlin, glancing around.
"I 'm 'most up to heaven," cried a little voice overhead.
They looked, and what did they see ? Prudy herself standing
on the highest beam of the house She had climbed three ladders
to get there. Her mother had heard her say the day before that
" she did n't want to shut up her eyes and die, and be all deaded
"up, she meant to have her hands and face clean, and go up to
heaven on a ladder."
"0," thought the poor mother, "she is surely on the way to
heaven, for she can never get down alive. My darling, my dar-
Poor Susy's first thought was to call out to Prudy, but her
mother gave her one warning glance, and that was enough: Susy
neither spoke nor stirred.
Mrs. Parlin stood looking up at her, stood as white and still
as if she had been frozen Her trembling lips moved a little, but
it was in prayer; she knew that only God could save the precious
While she was begging him to tell her what to do, a sudden
thought flashed across her mind. She dared not speak, lest the
sound of her voice should startle the child ; but she had a bunch
42 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
of keys in her pocket, and she jingled the keys, holding them up
as high as possible, that Prudy might see what they were.
When the little one heard the jingling, she looked down and
smiled. "You goin' to let me have some cake and 'servs in the
china-closet, me and Susy "
Mrs. Parlin smiled, such a smile! It was a great deal sadder
than tears, though Prudy did not know that, she only knew that
it meant "yes."
O, then I 'm coming right down, 'cause I like cake and
'serves. I won't go up to heaven till bime-by !"
Then she walked along the beam, and turned about to come
down the ladders. Mrs. Parlin held her breath, and shut her eyes.
She dared not look up, for she knew that if Prudy should take
one false step, she must fall and be dashed in pieces !
But Prudy was not wise enough to fear anything. 0 no. She
was only thinking very eagerly about crimson jellies and fruit-
cake. She crept down the ladders.without a thought of danger, -
no more afraid than a fly that creeps down the window-pane.
The air was so still that the sound of every step was plainly
heard, as her little feet went pat, pat, on the ladder rounds.
God was taking care of her, yes, at length the last round was
reached, she had got down, she was safe !
"Thank God cried Mrs. Parlin, as she held little Prudy close
to her heart; while Susy jumped for joy, exclaiming, "We 've got
her we 've got her 0, ain't you so happy, mamma ?"
"0 mamma, what you crying for?" said little Prudy, clinging
about her neck. Ain't I your little comfort there, now, you
know what you speaked about You said you 'd get some cake
and verserves for me and Susy."
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 43
MRS. WALKER'S BETSEY.
IT is now ten years since.I spent a summer in the little village
of Cliff Spring, as teacher in one of the public schools.
The village itself had no pretensions to beauty, natural or archi-
tectural; but all its surroundings were romantic and lovely. On
one side was a winding river, bordered with beautiful willows;
and on the other a lofty hill, thickly wooded. These woods, in
spring and summer, were full of flowers and wild vines; and a
clear, cold stream, that had its birth in a cavernous recess among
the ledges, dashed over the rocks, and after many windings and
plungings found its way to the river.
At the foot of the hill wound the railroad track, at some points
nearly filling the space between the brook and the rocks, in others
almost overhung by the latter. Some of the most delightful walks
I ever knew were in this vicinity, and here the whole school would
often come in the warm weather, for the Saturday's ramble.
It was on one of these summer rambles I first made the acquaint-
ance of Mrs. Walker's Betsey. Not that her unenviable reputa-
tion had been concealed from my knowledge, by any means; but as
she was not a member of my department, and was a very irregular
attendant of any class, she had never yet come under my observa-
tion. I gathered that her parents had but lately come to live in
Cliff Spring; that they were both ignorant and vicious; and that
the girl was a sort of goblin sprite, such a compound of mis-
chief and malice as was never known before since the days of
witchcraft. Was there an ugly profile drawn upon the anteroom
wall, a green pumpkin found in the principal's hat, or an ink-bot-
tle upset in the water-bucket ? Mrs. Walker's Betsey was the first
and constant object of suspicion. Did a teacher find a pair of
tongs astride her chair, her shawl extra-bordered with burdocks,
44 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
her gloves filled with some ill-scented weed, or her india-rubbers
cunningly nailed to the floor ? half a hundred juvenile tongues
were ready to proclaim poor Betsey as the undoubted delinquent;
and this in spite of the fact that very few of these misdemeanors
were actually proved against her. But whether proved or not, she
accepted their sponsorship all the same, and laughed at or defied
her accusers, as her mood might be.
That the girl was a character in her way, shrewd and sensible,
though wholly uncultured, I was well satisfied, from all I heard;
that she was sly, intractable, and revengeful I believed, I am sorry
to say, upon very insufficient evidence.
One warm afternoon in July, the sun, which at morning had
been clouded, blazed out fiercely at the hour of dismissal. Shrink-
ing from the prospect of an unsheltered walk, I looked around the
shelves of the anteroom for my sunshade, but it was nowhere to
be found. I did not recollect having it with me in the morning,
and believed it had been left at the school-house over night. The
girls of my class constituted themselves a committee of search and
inquiry, but to no purpose. The article was not in the house or
yard, and then my committee resolved themselves into a jury, and,
without a dissenting voice, pronounced Mrs. Walker's Betsey guilty
of cribbing my little, old-fashioned, but vastly useful sunshade.
She had been seen loitering in the anteroom, and afterward run-
ning away in great haste. The charge seemed reasonable enough,
but as I could not learn that Betsey had ever been caught in a
theft, or convicted of one, I requested the girls to keep the matter
quiet, for a few days at least; to which they unwillingly con-
Remember, Miss Burke," said Alice Way, as we parted at her
father's gate, you promised us a nice walk after tea, to the place
in the wood where you found the beautiful phlox yesterday. We
want you to guide us straight to the spot, please."
Yes," added Mary Graham, "and we will take our Botanies in
our baskets, and be prepared to analyze the flowers, you know."
My assent was not reluctantly given ; and when the sun was low
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 45
in the west we set forth, walking nearly the whole distance in the
shade of the hill. We climbed the ridge, rested a few moments,
and then started in search of the beautiful patch of Lichnidia -
white, pink, and purple that I had found the afternoon pre-
vious in taking a "short cut" over the hill to the house of a
friend I was wont to visit.
Stop, Miss Burke came in suppressed tones from half my
little group, as, emerging from a thicket, we came in sight of a queer
object perched upon a little mound, among dead stick and leaves.
It was a diminutive child, who, judging from her face alone, might
be ten or eleven years of age. A little brown, weird face it was,
with keen eyes peering out from a stringy mass of hair, that strag-
gled about distractedly from the confinement of an old comb.
There," whispered M1atty Holmes, there's Mrs. Walker's
Betsey, I do declare She often goes home from school this way,
which is shorter; and now she is playing truant. She '11 get a
whipping if her mother finds it out."
"Miss Burke, Miss Burke cried Alice, "see what she has in
her hand I looked, and there, to be sure, was my lost parasol.
There, now Did n't we say so " Don't she look guilty ?"
"Were n't we right z" "Impudent thing were the whispered
ejaculations of my vigilance committee; but in truth the girl's
appearance was unconcerned and innocent enough. She sat there,
swaying herself about, opening and shutting the wonderful "in-
strument," holding it between her eyes and the light to ascertain
the quality of the silk, and sticking a pin in the handle to try if
it were real ivory or mere painted wood.
"Let's dash in upon her and see her scamper," was the next
benevolent suggestion whispered in my ear.
No," I said. I wish to speak to her alone, first. All of you
stay here, out of sight, and I will return presently." They fell
back, dissatisfied, and contented themselves with peeping and lis-
tening, while I advanced toward the forlorn child. She started a
little as I approached, thrust the parasol behind her, and then
pleasantly made room for me on the little hillock where she sat.
46 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
Well, this is a nice place for a lounge," said I, dropping down
beside her; "just large enough for two, and softer than any t&te-a-
t&te in Mrs. Graham's parlor. Now I should like to know your
name "-- for I thought it best to feign ignorance of her ante-
"Bets," was the ready reply.
Betsey what 1 "
"Bets Walker, mother says, but I say Hamlin. That was
father's name. 'T ain't no difference, though; it's Bets any way."
"Well, Betsey, what do you suppose made this little mound we
are sitting upon ?" I asked, merely to gain time to think how best
to approach the other topic.
"I don' know," she answered, looking up at me keenly.
"Maybe a rock got covered up and growed over, ever so far down.
Maybe an Injun 's buried there."
I told her I had seen larger mounds that contained Indian
remains, but none so small as this.
"It might 'a' ben a baby, though," she returned, digging her
brown toes among the leaves and winking her eyelids roguishly.
"A papoose, you know; a real little Injun I wish it had 'a' ben
me, and I 'd 'a' ben buried here; I 'd 'a' liked it first-rate Only I
would n't 'a' wanted the girls should come and set over me. If I
did n't want so bad to get to read the books father left, I 'd never
go to school another day." And her brow darkened again with
Did your own father leave you books ?"
"Yes, real good ones; only they 're old, and tore some.
Mother could n't sell 'em for nothing so she lets me keep 'em. She
sold everything else." Then suddenly changing her tone, she
asked, slyly, "You hain't lost anything, have you ."
"Yes," I answered; "I see you have my sunshade."
She held it up, laughing with boisterous triumph. "You left it
hanging in that tree yonder," she said, pointing to a low-branching
beech at a little distance. It was kind o' careless, I think.
S'posing it had rained !"
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 47
Astonishment kept me silent. How could I have forgotten,
what I now so clearly recalled, my hanging the shade upon a
tree, the previous afternoon, while I descended a ravine for flowers ?
I felt humiliated in the presence of the poor little wronged and
For many days after this the girl did not come to school, nor did
I once see her, though I thought of her daily with increasing interest.
During this time the principal of the school planned an excur-
sion by railroad to a station ten miles distant, to be succeeded by
a picnic on the lake shore. Great was the delight of the little
ones, grown weary of their unvaried routine through the exhaust-
ing heats of July. Many were the councils called among the boys,
many the enthusiastic discussions held among the girls, and seldom
did they break up without leaving one or more subjects of contro-
versy unsettled. But upon one point perfect harmony of opinion
prevailed, and it was the only one against which I felt bound
strongly to protest: this was the decision that Mrs. Walker's
Betsey was quite unnecessary to the party, and consequently was
to receive no notice.
Why, Miss Burke that looking girl! cried Amy Pease, as I
remonstrated. "She has n't a thing fit to wear, if there were no
other reason!" I reminded her that Betsey had a very decent
basque, given her by the minister's wife, and that an old lawn skirt
of mine could be tucked for her with very little trouble. But
she is such an awkward, uncouth creature She would mortify us
to death interposed Hattie Dale.
"" She could carry no biscuits, nor cake, for she has no one to
bake them for her," said another. She would eat enormously,
and make herself sick," objected little Nellie Day, a noted glutton.
In vain I combated these arguments, offering to take crackers and
lemons enough for her share, and even urging the humanity of
allowing her to make herself sick upon good things for once in her
poverty-stricken life. Some other teachers joined me ; but when
the question was put to vote among the scholars, it received a hur-
ried negative, as unanimous as it was noisy.
48 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
And now I think of it," added Mattie Price, the principal's
daughter, "the Walkers are out of the corporation, and so Betsey
has no real right among us at all." This ended the matter.
All the night previous to the great excursion, I suffered severely
from 'headache, which grew no better upon rising, and, as usual,
increased in violence as the sun mounted higher upon its cloudless
course. At half past nine, as the long train with its freight of
smiling and expectant little ones moved from the depot, I was
lying in a darkened room, with ice-bandages about my forehead,
and my feverish pillow saturated with camphor and hartshorn.
The disappointment in itself was not much. I needed rest, and
the utter stillness was very grateful to my overtasked nerves.
Besides, the slight put upon poor Betsey had destroyed much of
the pleasure of anticipation. I lay patiently until two o'clock,
when, as I expected, the pain abated. At five, I was entirely free,
and feeling much in need of a walk in the fresh air, which a slight
shower had cooled and purified.
Choosing the shaded route, I walked out upon the hill, ascend-
ing by a gentle slope, and, book in hand, sat down under a tree,
alternately reading and gazing upon the sweet rural picture that
lay before me. Soon a pleasant languor crept over me. Dense
wood and craggy hill, green valley and gushing brook, faded from
sight and hearing, and I was asleep !
Probably half an hour elapsed before I opened my eyes and
saw sitting beside me the same elfish little figure I had once before
encountered in the wood. The same stringy hair, the same sun-
burned forehead and neck, the same tattered dress, the same wild,
weird-looking eyes. In one hand she held my parasol, opened in
a position to shade my face from a slanting sunbeam; with a small
bush in the other she was protecting me from mosquitoes and
other insect dangers.
Well done, little Genius of the Wood; am I to be always
indebted to you for finding what I lose ?" I said, jumping up and
shaking my dress free from leaves.
She laughed immoderately. "First you lose your shade in the
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 49
woods, and now you've gone and lost yourself! I guess you 'll
have to keep me always," she giggled, trotting along beside me. I
was mighty scared when I see you lying there, and the sun creep-
ing round through the trees, like a great red lion, going to spring
at you and eat you up. I thought you'd gone to the ride."
I explained the cause of my detention, and saw that she looked
rather pleased; for, as I soon drew from her, she had been bitterly
disappointed in the affair, and felt her rejection very keenly. She
had come to this spot now for the sole purpose of peeping from be-
hind some rock or tree at the return of the merry company, which
would be at six o'clock.
I coaxed old Walker and his wife to let me have some green
corn and cucumbers, and I put on my best spencer and went to the
depot this morning, but none of 'em asked me to get in. Hal
Price kicked my basket over, too I s'pose I was n't dressed fine
enough. They all wore their Sunday things. I wish 't would rain
and spile 'em. I do- so!"
I tried to console her, but she refused to listen, and went on
with a fierce tirade, enumerating sundry disastrous events which
she "wished would happen: she did so!" and giving vent to
many very unchristian but very childlike denunciations.
All on a sudden she stopped, and we simultaneously raised our
heads and listened. It was a deep, grinding, crashing sound, as of
rocks sliding over and past each other; then a crackling, as of
roots and branches twisted and wrenched from their places ; then a
jar, heavy and terrible, that reverberated through the forest, mak-
ing the earth quake beneath our feet, and all the leafy branches
tremble above us. We knew it instantly; there had been a heavy
fall of rock not far fromtnus; and with one exclamation, we started '
in the direction of the sound.
The place was reached in a moment ; an enormous mass of rock
and earth, in which many small trees were growing, had fallen
directly upon the railroad track, and that too at a point where the
stream wound nearest, and its bank made a steep descent upon the
50 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
Dreadful as the spectacle was to me through apprehension for
the coming train, I could only notice at that moment the wonder-
ful change in Mrs. Walker's Betsey. She leaped about among the
rocks, shrieking and wringing her hands; she grasped the up-
rooted trees, tugging wildly at them till the veins swelled purple
in her forehead, and her flying hair looked as if every separate
fibre writhed with horror. I had imagined before what the aspect
of that strange little face might be in terror ; now I saw it, and
knew what a powerful nature lay hidden in that cramped, unde-
This lasted but a moment, however. Then came to both the
soberer thought, What is to be done ? It appeared that we were
sole witnesses of the accident; and though the crash might have
been heard at the village, who would think of a land slide ? and
upon the railroad !
Ten minutes must have elapsed before we could give the alarm,
and in less time than that the cars were due. In that speechless,
breathless moment, before my duller ear perceived it, Betsey caught
the sound of the approaching train, deadened as it was by the hill
that lay between us. It was advancing at great speed; rushing
on, all that freight of joyous human life, rushing on to certain
destruction, into the very jaws of Death !
I was utterly paralyzed Not so Mrs. Walker's Betsey.
I'm agoin' to run and yell," she said, and was off upon the.
instant. Screaming at the top of her voice, keeping near the
edge of the bank, where she could be soonest seen from the ap-
proaching train, plunging through the underbrush, leaping over
rocks, she dashed on to meet the cars. Fire Fire Murder!
Stop thieves! Hollo the house Thieves! Mad dogs Get out
of the way, Old Dan Tucker! were only a few of the variations
of her warning voice.
I followed as I could, seemingly in a sort of nightmare; won-
dering why I did not scream, yet incapable of making a sound;
expecting every moment to fall upon the rocks, yet taking my steps
with a sureness and rapidity that astonished me even then.
Betsey's next move was to run back to me and tear my shawl
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 51
from my shoulders, a light crape of a bright crimson color.
Then bending down a small sapling by throwing her whole
weight upon it, she spread the shawl upon its top and allowed
it to rebound. She called me to shake the tree, which I did
vigorously. It stood at an angle of the road, upon a bank
which commanded a long view, and was a most appropriate place
to erect a signal. Then leaping upon the track, she bounded
on like a deer, shouting and gesticulating with redoubled energy
now that the train appeared in sight.
-__- A..,' -
'..I. C, i,
It was soon evident that the engineer was neither blind nor deaf,
for the brakes were speedily applied, and the engine was reversed.
Still it dashed on at fearful velocity, and Betsey turned and ran
back toward the obstructed place in an agony of excitement.
Gradually the speed lessened, the wheels obeyed their checks, and
when at last they came to a full stop the cow-catcher was within
four feet of the rock.
52 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
Many, seeing the danger, had already leaped off; many more,
terrified, and scarcely conscious of the real nature of the danger,
crowded the platforms, and pushed off those before them. It was
a scene of wildest confusion, in the midst of which my heart sent
up only the quivering cry of joy, Saved, saved Betsey had
climbed half-way up the bank, and thrown herself exhausted upon
the loose gravel, with her apron drawn over her head. I picked
my way down to the train to assist the frightened children. Mr.
Price, the principal, was handing out his own three children, and
teachers and pupils followed in swarms.
Now, Miss Burke," said the principal, in a voice that grew
strangely tremulous as he looked at the frightful mass before him,
" I want to hear who it was that gave the alarm, and saved us from
this hideous fate. Was it you ?" I believe I never felt a glow of
truer pleasure than then, as I answered quickly : "I had nothing
to do with saving you, Mr. Price. I take no credit in the matter.
The person to whom your thanks are due sits on the bank yonder,
- Mrs. Walker's Betsey "
Every eye wandered toward the crouching figure, who, with
head closely covered, appeared indifferent to everything. Mr.
Price opened his portemonnaie. "Here are ten dollars," he said,
"which I wish you to give the girl for myself and children. Tell
her that, as a school, she will hear from us again."
I went to Betsey's side, put the money in her hand, and tried to
make her uncover her face. But she resolutely refused to do more
than peep through one of the rents in her apron, as the whole
school slowly and singly defiled past her in the narrow space be-
tween the train and the bank. A more crestfallen multitude I
never saw, and the eyes that ventured to look upon the prostrate
figure as they passed within a few feet of her had shame and con-
trition in their glances. Once only she whispered, as a haughty-
looking boy went past, "That 's the boy that kicked over my
basket. I wish I 'd 'a' let him gone to smash I do so !"
The children climbed over the'rocks and went to their homes
sadder and wiser for their lesson, and in twenty-four hours the
track was again free from all obstruction.
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 53
The principal, though a man but little inclined to look for the
angel side of such unprepossessing humanity as Mrs. Walker's
Betsey, had too strong a sense of justice, and too much gratitude
for his children's spared lives, not to make a very affecting appeal
to the assembled school on the day following. A vote to consider
her a member of the school, and entitled to all its privileges, met
with no opposition and a card of thanks, drawn up in feeling
terms, received the signature of every pupil and teacher. A purse
was next made up for her by voluntary contributions, amounting
to twenty dollars; and to this were added a new suit, a quantity of
books, and a handsome red shawl, in which her brunette skin and
nicely combed jetty hair appeared to great advantage.
Betsey bore her honors meekly, and, no longer feeling that she
was regarded as an intruder, came regularly to school, learned
rapidly, and in her neat dress and improved manners gradually be-
came an attractive, as she certainly was a most intelligent child.
In less than a year her mother died, and her drunken step-father
removed to the far West, leaving her as a domestic in a worthy
and wealthy family in Cliff Spring.
The privileges of school were still granted her, and amid the
surroundings of comfort and refinement the change from Mrs.
Walker's Betsey to Lizzie Hamlin became still more apparent.
She rapidly rose from one class to another, and is now employed
in the very school, and teaches the youngest brothers and sisters
of the very scholars who, ten years ago, voted her a nuisance"
and a plague.
There is truth in the old rhyme, -
"It is n't all in bringing up,
Let men say what they will;
Neglect may dim a silver cup, -
It will be silver still! "
Helen B. Bostwick.
54 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
O NE summer afternoon, when I was about eight years of age,
I was standing at an eastern window, looking at a beautiful
rainbow that, bending from the sky, seemed to be losing itself in
a thick, swampy wood about a quarter of a mile distant. We
had just had a thunder-storm but now the dark heavens had
cleared up, a fresh breeze was blowing from the south, the rose-
bushes by the window were dashing rain-drops against the panes,
the robins were singing merrily from the cherry-trees, and all was
brighter and pleasanter than ever. It happened that no one was
in the room with me, then, but my brother Rufus, who was just
recovering from a severe illness, and was sitting, propped up with
pillows, in an easy-chair, looking out, with me, at the rainbow.
See, brother," I said, "it drops right down among the cedars,
where we go in the spring to find wintergreens "
"Do you know, Gracie," said my brother, with a very serious
face, "that, if you should go to the end of the rainbow, you would
find there purses filled with money, and great pots of gold and
Is it truly so? I asked.
"Truly so," answered my brother, with a smile. Now, I was a
simple-hearted child who believed everything that was told me,
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 55
although I was again and again imposed upon; so, without another
word, I darted out of the door and set forth toward the wood. My
brother called after me as loudly as he was able, but I did not
heed him. I cared nothing for the wet grass, which was sadly
drabbling my clean frock ; on and on I ran; I was so sure that I
knew just where that rainbow ended. I remember how glad and
proud I was in my thoughts, and what fine presents I promised to
all my friends out of my great riches.
So thinking, and laying delightful plans, almost before I knew
it I had reached the cedar-grove, and the end of the rainbow was
not there But I saw it shining down among the trees a little
farther off; so on and on I struggled, through the thick bushes
and over logs, till I came within the sound of a stream which ran
through the swamp. Then I thought, "What if the rainbow
should come down right into the middle of that deep, muddy
brook Ah but I was frightened for my heavy pots of gold
and silver, and my purses of money. How should I ever find
them there ? and what a time I should have getting them out! I
reached the bank of the stream, and the end was not yet." But
I could see it a little way off on the other side. I crossed the
creek on a fallen tree, and still ran on, though my limbs seemed
to give way, and my side ached with fatigue. The woods grew
thicker and darker, the ground more wet and swampy, and I found,
as many grown people had found before me, that there was rather
hard travelling in a journey after riches. Suddenly I met in my
way a large porcupine, who made himself still larger when he saw
me, as a cross cat raises its back and makes tails at a dog. Fear-
ing that he would shoot his sharp quills at me, and hit me all over,
I ran from him as fast as my tired feet would carry me.
In my fright and hurry I forgot to keep my eye on the rainbow,
as I had done before; and when, at last, I remembered and looked
for it, it was nowhere in sight It had quite faded away. When
I saw that it was indeed gone, I burst into tears; for I had lost all
my treasures, and had nothing to show for my pilgrimage but muddy
feet and a wet and torn frock. So I set out for home.
56 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
But I soon found that my troubles had only begun; I could not
find my way; I was lost. I could not tell which was east or
west, north or south, but wandered about here and there, cry-
ing and calling, though I knew that no one could hear me.
All at once I heard voices shouting and hhllooing but, instead
of being rejoiced at this, I was frightened, fearing that the Indians
were upon me I crawled under some bushes, by the side of a
large log, and lay perfectly still. I was wet, cold, scared, alto-
gether very miserable indeed; yet, when the voices came near, I
did not start up and show myself.
At last I heard my own name called; but I remembered that
Indians were very cunning, and thought they might have found
it out some way; so I did not answer. Then came a voice
near me, that sounded like that of my eldest brother, who lived
away from home, and whom I had not seen for many months;
but I dared not believe the voice was his. Soon some one sprang
up on to the log by which I lay, and stood there calling. I could
not see his face ; I could only see the tips of his toes, but by them
I saw that he wore a nice pair of boots, and not moccasins. Yet
I remembered that some Indians dressed like white folks. I knew
a young chief who was quite a dandy; who not only
"Got him a coat and breeches,
And looked like a Christian man,"
but actually wore a fine ruffled shirt outside of all. So I still
kept quiet, till I heard shouted over me a pet name, which this
brother had given me. It was the funniest name in the world.
I knew that no Indian knew of the name, as it was a little
family secret; so I sprang up, and caught my brother about the
ankles. I hardly think that an Onondaga could have given a
louder yell than he gave then; and he jumped so that he fell off
the log down by my side. But nobody was hurt; and, after kiss-
ing me till he had kissed away all my tears, he hoisted me on to
his shoulder, called my other brothers, who were hunting in differ-
ent directions, and we all set out for home.
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 57
I had been gone nearly three hours, and had wandered a num-
ber of miles. My brother Joseph's coming and asking for me had
first set them to inquiring and searching me out.
When I went into the room where my brother Rufus sat, he
said, "Why, my poor little sister! I did not mean to send you off
on such a wild-goose chase to the end of the rainbow. I thought
you would know I was only quizzing you."
Then my eldest brother took me on his knee, and told me what
the rainbow really was : that it was only painted air, and did not
rest on the earth, so nobody could ever find the end; and that
God had set it in the cloud to remind hin and us of his promise
never again to drown the world with a flood.
O, I think God's promise would be a beautiful name for the
rainbow !" I said.
"Yes," replied my mother, "but it tells us something more
than 'hat he will not send great floods upon the earth, it tells
us of his beautiful love always bending over us from the skies.
And I trust that when my little girl sets forth on a pilgrimage to
find God's love, she will be led by the rainbow of his promise
through all the dark places of this world to 'treasures laid up in
heaven,' better, far better, than silver or gold."
58 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
ON WHITE ISLAND.
I WELL remember my first sight of White Island, where we
took up our abode on leaving the mainland. I was scarcely
five years old; but from the upper windows of our dwelling in
Portsmouth I had been shown the clustered masts of ships lying
at the wharves along the Piscataqua River, faintly outlined against
the sky, and, baby as I was, even then I was drawn with a vague
longing seaward. How delightful was that long, first sail to the
Isles of Shoals How pleasant the unaccustomed sound of the in-
cessant ripple against the boat-side, the sight of the wide water and
limitless sky, the warmth of the broad sunshine that made us
blink like young sandpipers as we sat in triumph, perched among
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 59
the household goods with which the little craft was laden It was
at sunset that we were set ashore on that loneliest, lovely rock, where
the lighthouse looked down on us like some tall, black-capped giant,
and filled me with awe and wonder. At its base a few goats were
grouped on the rock, standing out dark against the red sky as I
looked up at them. The stars were beginning to twinkle; the
wind blew cold, charged with the sea's sweetness; the sound of
many waters half bewildered me. Some one began to light the
lamps in the tower. Rich red and golden, they swung round in
mid-air everything was strange and fascinating and new. We
entered the quaint little old stone cottage that was for six years our
home. How curious it seemed, with its low, whitewashed ceiling,
and deep window-seats, showing the great thickness of the walls
made to withstand the breakers, with whose force we soon grew
acquainted A blissful home the little house became to the chil-
dren who entered it that quiet evening and slept for the first time
lulled by the murmur of the encircling sea. I do not think a
happier triad ever existed than we were, living in that profound
isolation. It takes so little to make a healthy child happy; and
we never wearied of our few resources. True, the winters seemed
as long as a whole year to our little minds, but they were pleasant,
nevertheless. Into the deep window-seats we climbed, and with
pennies (for which we had no other use) made round holes in the
thick frost, breathing on them till they were warm, and peeped out
at the bright, fierce, windy weather, watching the vessels scudding
over the intensely dark blue sea, all feather-white where the
short waves broke hissing in the cold, and the sea-fowl soaring
aloft or tossing on the water; or, in calmer days, we saw how the
stealthy Star-Islander paddled among the ledges, or lay for hours
stretched on the wet sea-weed, watching for wild-fowl with his
gun. Sometimes the round head of a seal moved about among
the kelp-covered rocks.
In the long, covered walk that bridged the gorge between the
lighthouse and the house we played in stormy days, and every
evening it was a fresh excitement to watch the lighting of the
60 CHILD LIFE IV PROSE.
lamps, and think how far the lighthouse sent its rays, and how
many hearts it gladdened with assurance of safety. As I grew
older, I was allowed to kindle the lamps sometimes myself. That
was indeed a pleasure. So little a creature as I might do that much
for the great world! We waited for the spring with an eager
longing; the advent of the growing grass, the birds and flowers
and insect life, the soft skies and softer winds, the everlasting
beauty of the thousand tender tints that clothed the world, -
these things brought us unspeakable bliss. To the heart of Nature
one must needs be drawn in such a life ; and very soon I learned
how richly she repays in deep refreshment the reverent love of her
worshipper. With the first warm days we built our little moun-
tains of wet gravel on the beach, and danced after the sandpipers
at the edge of the foam, shouted to the gossiping kittiwakes that
fluttered above, or watched the pranks of the burgomaster gull, or
cried to the crying loons. The gannet's long white wings stretched
overhead, perhaps, or the dusky shag made a sudden shadow in
mid-air, or we startled on some lonely ledge the great blue heron
that flew off, trailing legs and wings, stork-like, against the clouds.
Or, in the sunshine on the bare rocks, we cut from the broad,
brown leaves of the slippery, varnished kelps, grotesque shapes of
man and bird and beast, that withered in the wind and blew
away ; or we fashioned rude boats from bits of driftwood, manned
them with a weird crew of kelpies, and set them adrift on the great
deep, to float we cared not whither.
We played with the empty limpet-shells; they were mottled
gray and brown, like the song-sparrow's breast. We launched
fleets of purple mussel-shells on the still pools in the rocks, left by
the tide, pools that were like bits of fallen rainbow with the
wealth of the sea, with tints of delicate sea-weed, crimson and
green and ruddy brown and violet ; where wandered the pearly
eolis with rosy spines and fairy horns, and the large round sea-
urchins, like a boss upon a shield, were fastened here and there on
the rock at the bottom, putting out from their green, prickly spikes
transparent tentacles to seek their invisible food. Rosy and lilac
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 61
star-fish clung to the sides ; in some dark nook perhaps a holothuria
unfolded its perfect ferns, a lovely, warm buff color, delicate as
frost-work; little forests of coralline moss grew up in stillness, gold-
colored shells crept about, and now and then flashed the silver-
darting fins of slender minnows. The dimmest recesses were
haunts of sea-anemones that opened wide their starry flowers to
the flowing tide, or drew themselves together, and hung in large,
half-transparent drops, like clusters of some strange, amber-colored
fruit, along the crevices as the water ebbed away. Sometimes we
were cruel enough to capture a female lobster hiding in a deep
cleft, with her millions of mottled eggs ; or we laughed to see the
hermit-crabs challenge each other, and come out and fight a deadly
battle till the stronger overcame, and, turning the weaker topsy-
turvy, possessed himself of his ampler cockle-shell, and scuttled
off with it triumphant.
I remember in the spring kneeling on the ground to seek the
first blades of grass that pricked through the soil, and bringing
them into the house to study and wonder over. Better than a
shop full of toys they were to me Whence came their color?
How did they draw their sweet, refreshing tint from the brown
earth, or the limpid air, or the white light ? Chemistry was not
at hand to answer me, and all her wisdom would not have dis-
pelled the wonder. Later the little scarlet pimpernel charmed me.
It seemed more than a flower; it was like a human thing. I
knew it by its homely name of poor-man's weather-glass. It was
so much wiser than I, for when the sky was yet without a cloud,
softly it clasped its little red petals together, folding its golden
heart in safety from the shower that was sure to come! How
could it know so much? Here is a question science cannot,
answer. The pimpernel grows everywhere about the islands, in
every cleft and cranny where a suspicion of sustenance for its
slender root can lodge ; and it is one of the most exquisite of
flowers, so rich in color, so quaint and dainty in its method of
"growth. I never knew its silent warning fail. I wondered much
how every flower knew what to do and to be: why the morning-
62 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
glory did n't forget sometimes, and bear a cluster of elder-bloom,
or the elder hang out pennons of gold and purple like the iris, or
the golden-rod suddenly blaze out a scarlet plume, the color of the
pimpernel, was a mystery to my childish thought. And why did
the sweet wild primrose wait till after sunset to unclose its pale
yellow buds; why did it unlock its treasure of rich perfume to
the night alone ?
Few flowers bloomed for me upon the lonesome rock; but
I made the most of all I had, and neither knew of nor de-
sired more. Ah, how beautiful they were Tiny stars of crim-
son sorrel threaded on their long brown stems; the blackberry
blossoms in bridal white; the surprise of the blue-eyed grass; the
crowfoot flowers, like drops of yellow gold spilt about among the
short grass and over the moss; the rich, blue-purple beach-pea,
the sweet, spiked germander, and the homely, delightful yarrow
that grows thickly on all the islands. Sometimes its broad clus-
ters of dull white bloom are stained a lovely reddish-purple, as if
with the light of sunset. I never saw it colored so elsewhere.
Dandelions, buttercups, and clover were not denied to us; though
we had no daisies nor violets nor wild roses, no asters, but gorgeous
spikes of golden-rod, and wonderful wild -morning-glories, whose
long, pale ivory buds I used to find in the twilight, glimmering
among the dark leaves, waiting for the touch of dawn to unfold
and become each an exquisite incarnate blush, the perfect color
of a South Sea shell. They ran wild, knotting and twisting about
the rocks, and smothering the loose boulders in the gorges with
lush green leaves and pink blossoms.
Many a summer morning have I crept out of the still house
before any one was awake, and, wrapping myself closely from the
chill wind of dawn, climbed to the top of the high cliff called the
Head to watch the sunrise. Pale grew the lighthouse flame before
the broadening day as, nestled in a crevice at the cliff's edge, I
watched the shadows draw away and morning break. Facing the
east and south, with all the Atlantic before me, what happiness was
mine as the deepening rose-color flushed the delicate cloud-flocks
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 63
that dappled the sky, where the gulls soared, rosy too, while the
calm sea blushed beneath. Or perhaps it was a cloudless sunrise
"with a sky of orange-red, and the sea-line silver-blue against it,
peaceful as heaven. Infinite variety of beauty always awaited me,
and filled me with an absorbing, unreasoning joy such as makes the
song-sparrow sing, a sense of perfect bliss. Coming back in the
sunshine, the morning-glories would lift up their faces, all awake,
to my adoring gaze. It seemed as if they had gathered the peace
of the golden morning in their still depths even as my heart had
64 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
THE CRUISE OF THE DOLPHIN.
E VERY Rivermouth boy looks upon the sea as being in some
way mixed up with his destiny. While he is yet a baby
lying in his cradle, he hears the dull, far-off boom of the breakers
when he is older, he wanders by the sandy shore, watching the
waves that come plunging up the beach like white-maned sea-
horses, as Thoreau calls them; his eye follows the lessening sail as
it fades into the blue horizon, and he burns for the time when he
shall stand on the quarter-deck of his own ship, and go sailing
proudly across that mysterious waste of waters.
Then the town itself is full of hints and flavors of the sea.
The gables and roofs of the houses facing eastward are covered
with red rust, like the flukes of old anchors; a salty smell per-
vades the air, and dense gray fogs, the very breath of Ocean, peri-
odically creep up into the quiet streets and envelop everything.
The terrific storms that lash the coast ; the kelp and spars, and
sometimes the bodies of drowned men, tossed on shore by the
scornful waves; the shipyards, the wharves, and the tawny fleet
of fishing-smacks yearly fitted out at Rivermouth, these things,
and a hundred other, feed the imagination and fill the brain of
every healthy boy with dreams of adventure. He learns to swim
almost as soon as he can walk; he draws in with his mother's
milk the art of handling an oar : he is born a sailor, whatever he
may turn out to be afterwards.
To own the whole or a portion of a row-boat is his earliest am-
bition. No wonder that I, born to this life, and coming back to
it with freshest sympathies, should have caught the prevailing
infection. No wonder I longed to buy a part of the trim little
sail-boat Dolphin, which chanced just then to be in the market.
This was in the latter part of May.
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 65
Three shares, at five or six dollars each, I forget which, had
already been taken by Phil Adams, Fred Langdon, and Binny
Wallace. The fourth and remaining share hung fire. Unless a
purchaser could be found for this, the bargain was to fall through.
I am afraid I required but slight urging to join in the invest-
ment. I had four dollars and fifty cents on hand, and the treasurer
of the Centipedes advanced me the balance, receiving my silver
pencil-case as ample security. It was a proud moment when I stood
on the wharf with my partners, inspecting the Dolphin, moored
at the foot of a very slippery flight of steps. She was painted
white with a green stripe outside, and on the stern a yellow dolphin,
with its scarlet mouth wide open, stared with a surprised expression
at its own reflection in the water. The boat was a great bargain.
I whirled my cap in the air, and ran to the stairs leading down
from the wharf, when a hand was laid gently on my shoulder. I
turned, and faced Captain Nutter. I never saw such an old sharp-
eye as he was in those days.
I knew he would n't be angry with me for buying a row-boat;
but I also knew that the little bowsprit suggesting a jib, and the
tapering mast ready for its few square yards of canvas, were trifles
not likely to meet his approval. As far as rowing on the river,
among the wharves, was concerned, the Captain had long since
withdrawn his decided objections, having convinced himself, by
going out with me several times, that I could manage a pair of
sculls as well as anybody.
I was right in my surmises. He commanded me, in the most
emphatic terms, never to go out in the Dolphin without leaving
the mast in the boat-house. This curtailed my anticipated sport,
but the pleasure of having a pull whenever I wanted it remained.
I never disobeyed the Captain's orders touching the sail, though I
sometimes extended my row beyond the points he had indicated.
The river was dangerous for sail-boats. Squalls, without the
slightest warning, were of frequent occurrence; scarcely a year
passed that six or seven persons were not drowned under the very
windows of the town, and these, oddly enough, were generally sea-
66 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
captains, who either did not understand the river, or lacked the
skill to handle a small craft.
A knowledge of such disasters, one of which I witnessed, con-
soled me somewhat when I saw Phil Adams skimming over the
water in a spanking breeze with every stitch of canvas set. There
were few better yachtsmen than Phil Adams. He usually went
sailing alone, for both Fred Langdon and Binny Wallace were
under the same restrictions I was.
Not long after the purchase of the boat, we planned an excur-
sion to Sandpeep Island, the last of the islands in the harbor. We
proposed to start early in the morning, and return with the tide in
the moonlight. Our only difficulty was to obtain a whole day's
exemption from school, the customary half-holiday not being long
enough for our picnic. Somehow, we could n't work it; but
fortune arranged it for us. I may say here, that, whatever else I
did, I never played truant in my life.
One afternoon the four owners of the Dolphin exchanged signifi-
cant glances when Mr. Grimshaw announced from the desk that
there would be no school the following day, he having just received
intelligence of the death of his uncle in Boston. I was sincerely
attached to Mr. Grimshaw, but I am afraid that the death of his
uncle did not affect me as it ought to have done.
We were up before sunrise the next morning, in order to take
advantage of the flood tide, which waits for no man. Our prepara-
tions for the cruise were made the previous evening. In the way
of eatables and drinkables, we had stored in the stern of the Dol-
phin a generous bag of hardtack (for the chowder), a piece of pork
to fry the cunners in, three gigantic apple-pies (bought at Pettin-
gil's), half a dozen lemons, and a keg of spring-water, the last-
named article we slung over the side, to keep it cool, as soon as we
got under way. The crockery and the bricks for our camp-stove
we placed in the bows with the groceries, which included sugar,
pepper, salt, and a bottle of pickles. Phil Adams contributed to
the outfit a small tent of unbleached cotton cloth, under which we
intended to take our nooning.
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 67
We unshipped the mast, threw in an extra oar, and were ready
to embark. I do not believe that Christopher Columbus, when he
started on his rather successful voyage of discovery, felt half the
responsibility and importance that weighed upon me as I sat on
the middle seat of the Dolphin, with my oar resting in the row-
lock. I wonder if Christopher Columbus quietly slipped out
of the house with- I out letting his esti-
mable family know what he was up to ?
How calm and N lovely the river
was! Not a rip- -- . ple stirred on the
glassy surface, bro- ken only by the
sharp cutwater of our tiny craft. The
sun, as round and red as an August
moon, was by this time peering above
The town had l drifted behind us,
and we were en- tearing among the
group of islands. Sometimes we
could almost touch with our boat-hook
the shelving banks 1 on either side. As
we neared the mouth of the har-
bor, a little breeze now and then
wrinkled the blue water, shook the
spangles from the foliage, and gently
lifted the spiral mist-wreaths that
still clung along- __ shore. The meas-
ured dip of our oars and the drowsy twitterings of the birds
seemed to mingle with, rather than break, the enchanted silence
that reigned about us.
The scent of the new clover comes back to me now, as I recall
that delicious morning when we floated away in a fairy boat down
a river like a dream !
The sun was well up when the nose of the Dolphin nestled
against the snow-white bosom of Sandpeep Island. This island,
as I have said before, was the last of the cluster, one side of it
68 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
being washed by the sea. We landed on the river side, the sloping
sands and quiet water affording us a good place to moor the boat.
It took us an hour or two to transport our stores to the spot
selected for the encampment. Having pitched our tent, using the
five oars to support the canvas, we got out our lines, and went
down the rocks seaward to fish. It was early for cunners, but we
were lucky enough to catch as nice a mess as ever you saw. A
cod for the chowder was not so easily secured. At last Binny
Wallace hauled in a plump little fellow crusted all over with flaky
To skin the fish, build our fireplace, and cook the dinner, kept us
busy the next two hours. The fresh air and the exercise had given
us the appetites of wolves, and we were about famished by the
time the savory mixture was ready for our clam-shell saucers.
I shall not insult the rising generation on the seaboard by telling
them how delectable is a chowder compounded and eaten in this
Robinson Crusoe fashion. As for the boys who live inland, and
know naught of such marine feasts, my heart is full of pity for
them. What wasted lives Not to know the delights of a clam-
bake, not to love chowder, to be ignorant of lobscouse !
How happy we were, we four, sitting cross-legged in the crisp
salt grass, with the invigorating sea-breeze blowing gratefully
through our hair What a joyous thing was life, and how far off
seemed death, death, that lurks in all pleasant places, and was
so near !
The banquet finished, Phil Adams drew forth from his pocket a
handful of sweetfern cigars ; but as none of the party could in-
dulge without risk of becoming sick, we all, on one pretext or
another, declined, and Phil smoked by himself.
The wind had freshened by this, and we found it comfortable to
put on the jackets which had been thrown aside in the heat of the
day. We strolled along the beach and gathered large quantities
of the fairy-woven Iceland moss, which, at certain seasons, is
washed to these shores; then we played at ducks and drakes, and
then, the sun being sufficiently low, we went in bathing.
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 69
Before our bath was ended a slight change had come over the
sky and sea; fleecy-white clouds scudded here and there, and a
muffled moan from the breakers caught our ears from time to time.
While we were dressing, a few hurried drops of rain came lisping
down, and we adjourned to the tent to await the passing of the
"We're all right, anyhow," said Phil Adams. "It won't be
much of a blow, and we '11 be as snug as a bug in a rug, here in
the tent, particularly if we have that lemonade which some of you
fellows were going to make."
By an oversight, the lemons had been left in the boat. Binny
Wallace volunteered to go for them.
Put an extra stone on the painter, Binny," said Adams, call-
ing after him; "it would be awkward to have the Dolphin give
us the slip and return to port minus her passengers."
That it would," answered Binny, scrambling down the rocks.
Sandpeep Island is diamond-shaped, one point running out
into the sea, and the other looking towards the town. Our tent
was on the river side. Though the Dolphin was also on the same
side, it lay out of sight by the beach at the farther extremity of
Binny Wallace had been absent five or six minutes, when we
heard him calling our several names in tones that indicated dis-
tress or surprise, we could not tell which. Our first thought was,
"The boat has broken adrift! "
We sprung to our feet and hastened down to the beach. On
turning the bluff which hid the mooring-place from our view, we
found the conjecture correct. Not only was the Dolphin afloat,
but poor little Binny Wallace was standing in the bows with his
arms stretched helplessly towards us, -- drifting out to sea !
Head the boat in shore shouted Phil Adams.
Wallace ran to the tiller; but the slight cockle-shell merely
swung round and drifted broadside on. 0, if we had but left a
single scull in the Dolphin !
Can you swim it "" cried Adams, desperately, using his hand
70 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
as a speaking-trumpet, for the distance between the boat and the
island widened momently.
Binny Wallace looked down at the sea, which was covered with
white caps, and made a despairing gesture. He knew and we
knew, that the stoutest swimmer could not live forty seconds in
those angry waters.
A wild, insane light came into Phil Adams's eyes, as he stood
knee-deep in boiling surf, and for an instant I think he meditated
plunging into the ocean after the receding boat.
The sky darkened, and an ugly look stole rapidly over the broken
surface of the sea.
Binny Wallace half rose from his seat in the stern, and waved
his hand to us in token of farewell. In spite of the distance, in-
creasing every instant, we could see his face plainly. The anxious ex-
pression it wore at first had passed. It was pale and meek now, and
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 71
I love to think there was a kind of halo about it, like that which
painters place around the forehead of a saint. So he drifted away.
The sky grew darker and darker. It was only by straining our
eyes through the unnatural twilight that we could keep the Dol-
phin in sight. The figure of Binny Wallace was no longer visible,
for the boat itself had dwindled to a mere white dot on the black
water. Now we lost it, and our hearts stopped throbbing; and
now the speck appeared again, for an instant, on the crest of a
Finally it went out like a spark, and we saw it no more. Then
we gazed at each other, and dared not speak.
Absorbed in following the course of the boat, we had scarcely
noticed the huddled inky clouds that sagged down all around us.
From these threatening masses, seamed at intervals with pale light-
ning, there now burst a heavy peal of thunder that shook the
ground under our feet. A sudden squall struck the sea, ploughing
deep white furrows into it, and at the same instant a single pier-
cing shriek rose above the tempest, the frightened cry of a gull
swooping over the island. How it startled us !
It was impossible to keep our footing on the beach any longer.
The wind and the breakers would have swept us into the ocean if
we had not clung to each other with the desperation of drowning
men. Taking advantage of a momentary lull, we crawled up the
sands on our hands and knees, and, pausing in the lee of the
granite ledge to gain breath, returned to the camp, where we found
that the gale had snapped all the fastenings of the tent but one.
Held by this, the puffed-out canvas swayed in the wind like a bal-
loon. It was a task of some difficulty to secure it, which we did
by beating down the canvas with the oars.
After several trials, we succeeded in setting up the tent on the
leeward side of the ledge. Blinded by the vivid flashes of light-
ning, and drenched by the rain, which fell in torrents, we crept,
half dead with fear and anguish, under our flimsy shelter. Neither
the anguish nor the fear was on our own account, for we were
comparatively safe, but for poor little Binny Wallace, driven out to
72 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
sea in the merciless gale. We shuddered to think of him in that
frail shell, drifting on and on to his grave, the sky rent with
lightning over his head, and the green abysses yawning beneath
him. We fell to crying, the three of us, and cried I know not
Meanwhile the storm raged with augmented fury. We were
obliged to hold on to the ropes of the tent to prevent it blowing
away. The spray from the river leaped several yards up the rocks
and clutched at us malignantly. The very island trembled with
the concussions of the sea beating upon it, and at times I fancied
that it had broken loose from its foundation, and was floating off
with us. The breakers, streaked with angry phosphorus, were
fearful to look at.
The wind rose higher and higher, cutting long slits in the tent,
through which the rain poured incessantly. -To complete the sum
of our miseries, the night was at hand. It came down suddenly, at
last, like a curtain, shutting in Sandpeep Island from all the world.
It was a dirty night, as the sailors say. The darkness was
something that could be felt as well as seen, it pressed down
upon one with a cold, clammy touch. Gazing into the hollow
blackness, all sorts of imaginable shapes seemed to start forth from
vacancy, brilliant colors, stars, prisms, and dancing lights.
What boy, lying awake at night, has not amused or terrified him-
self by peopling the spaces round his bed with these phenomena
of his own eyes !
"I say," whispered Fred Langdon, at length, clutching my
hand, don't you see things out there in the dark "
"Yes, yes, Binny Wallace's face "
I added to my own nervousness by making this avowal; though
for the last ten minutes I had seen little besides that star-pale face
with its angelic hair and brows. First a slim yellow circle, like
the nimbus round the moon, took shape and grew sharp against the
darkness; then this faded gradually, and there was the Face, wear-
ing the same sad, sweet look it wore when he waved his hand to us
across the awful water. This optical illusion kept repeating itself.
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 73
"And I, too," said Adams. "I see it every now and then, out-
side there. What would n't I give if it really was poor little
Wallace looking in at us O boys, how shall we dare to go back
to the town without him ? I've wished a hundred times, since
we've been sitting here, that I was in his place, alive or dead "
We dreaded the approach of morning as much as we longed for
it. The morning would tell us all. Was it possible for the Dol-
phin to outride such a storm ? There was a lighthouse on Mack-
erel Reef, which lay directly in the course the boat had taken,
when it disappeared. If the Dolphin had caught on this reef,
perhaps Binny Wallace was safe. Perhaps his cries had been
heard by the keeper of the light. The man owned a life-boat, and
had rescued several people. Who could tell ?
Such were the questions we asked ourselves again and again, as
we lay in each other's arms waiting for daybreak. What an endless
night it was I have known months that did not seem so long.
Our position was irksome rather than perilous; for the day was
certain to bring us relief from the town, where our prolonged ab-
sence, together with the storm, had no doubt excited the liveliest
alarm for our safety. But the cold, the darkness, and the suspense
were hard to bear.
Our soaked jackets had chilled us to the bone. To keep warm,
we lay huddled together so closely that we could hear our hearts
beat above the tumult of sea and sky.
We used to laugh at Fred Langdon for always carrying in his
pocket a small vial of essence of peppermint or sassafras, a few
drops of which, sprinkled on a lump of loaf-sugar, he seemed to
consider a great luxury. I don't know what would have become
of us at this crisis, if it had n't been for that omnipresent bottle
of hot stuff. We poured the stinging liquid over our sugar,
which had kept dry in a sardine-box, and warmed ourselves with
After four or five hours the rain ceased, the wind died away to
a moan, and the sea no longer raging like a maniac sobbed
and sobbed with a piteous human voice all along the coast. And
74 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
well it might, after that night's work. Twelve sail of the Glouces-
ter fishing fleet had gone down with every soul on board, just out-
side of Whale's-back Light. Think of the wide grief that follows
in the wake of one wreck; then think of the despairing women
who wrung their hands and wept, the next morning, in the streets
of Gloucester, Marblehead, and Newcastle !
Though our strength was nearly spent, we were too cold to
sleep. Fred Langdon was the earliest to discover a filmy, lumi-
nous streak in the sky, the first glimmering of sunrise.
"Look, it is nearly daybreak !"
While we were following the direction of his finger, a sound
of distant oars fell on our ears.
We listened breathlessly, and as the dip of the blades became
more audible, we discerned two foggy lights, like will-o'-the-wisps,
floating on the river.
Running down to the water's edge, we hailed the boats with all
our might. The call was heard, for the oars rested a moment in
the row-locks, and then pulled in towards the island.
It was two boats from the town, in the foremost of which we
could now make out the figures of Captain Nutter and Binny
Wallace's father. We shrunk back on seeing him.
"Thank God cried Mr. Wallace, fervently, as he leaped from
the wherry without waiting for the bow to touch the beach.
But when he saw only three boys standing on the sands, his eye
wandered restlessly about in quest of the fourth; then a deadly
pallor overspread his features.
Our story was soon told. A solemn silence fell upon the crowd
of rough boatmen gathered round, interrupted only by a stifled
sob from one poor old man, who stood apart from the rest.
The sea was still running too high for any small boat to venture
out; so it was arranged that the wherry should take us back to
town, leaving the yawl, with a picked crew, to hug the island until
daybreak, and then set forth in search of the Dolphin.
Though it was barely sunrise when we reached town, there were
a great many people assembled at the landing, eager for intelli-
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 75
gence from missing boats. Two picnic parties had started down
river the day before, just previous to the gale, and nothing had
been heard of them. It turned out that the pleasure-seekers saw
their danger in time, and ran ashore on one of the least exposed
islands, where they passed the night. Shortly after our own
arrival they appeared off Rivermouth, much to the joy of their
friends, in two shattered, dismasted boats.
The excitement over, I was in a forlorn state, physically and
mentally. Captain Nutter put me to bed between hot blankets,
and sent Kitty Collins for the doctor. I was wandering in my
mind, and fancied myself still on Sandpeep Island: now I gave
orders to Wallace how to manage the boat, and now I cried be-
cause the rain was pouring in on me through the holes in the tent.
Towards evening a high fever set in, and it was many days before
my grandfather deemed it prudent to tell me that the Dolphin had
been found, floating keel upwards, four miles southeast of Mack-
Poor little Binny Wallace! How strange it seemed, when I
went to school again, to see that empty seat in the fifth row
How gloomy the play-ground was, lacking the sunshine of his
gentle, sensitive face! One day a folded sheet slipped from my
algebra; it was the last note he ever wrote me. I could n't read
it for the tears.
What a pang shot across my heart the afternoon it was whis-
pered through the town that a body had been washed ashore at
Grave Point, the place where we bathed. We bathed there no
more! How well I remember the funeral, and what a piteous
sight it was afterwards to see his familiar name on a small head-
stone in the Old South Burying-Ground !
Poor little Binny Wallace Always the same to me. The rest
of us have grown up into hard, worldly men, fighting the fight of
life ; but you are forever young, and gentle, and pure ; a part of
my own childhood that time cannot wither; always a little boy,
always poor little Binny Wallace !
T. B. Aldrich.
76 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
A YOUNG MAHOMETAN.
T HE bedrooms in the old house had tapestry hangings, which
were full of Bible history. The subject of the one which
chiefly attracted" my attention was Hagar and her son Ishmael. I
every day admired the beauty of the youth, and pitied the forlorn
state of his mother and himself in the wilderness.
At the end of the gallery into which these tapestry rooms opened
was one door, which, having often in vain attempted to open, I con-
cluded to be locked. Every day I endeavored to turn the lock.
Whether by constantly trying I loosened it, or whether the door
was not locked, but only fastened tight by time, I know not; but,
to my great joy, as I was one day trying it as usual, it gave way,
and I found myself in this so long-desired room.
It proved to be a very large library. If you never spent whole
mornings alone in a large library, you cannot conceive the pleasure
of taking down books in the constant hope of finding an entertain-
ing one among them; yet, after many days, meeting with nothing
but disappointment, it becomes less pleasant. All the books with-
in my reach were folios of the gravest cast. I could understand
very little that I read in them, and the old dark print and the
length of the lines made my eyes ache.
When I had almost resolved to give up the search as fruitless,
I perceived a volume lying in an obscure corner of the room. I
opened it. It was a charming print; the letters were almost as
large as the type of the family Bible. Upon the first page I
looked into I saw the name of my favorite Ishmael, whose face
I knew so well from the tapestry in the antique bedrooms, and
whose history I had often read in the Bible.
I sat myself down to read this book with the greatest eagerness.
I shall, be quite ashamed to tell you the strange effect it had on
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 77
me. I scarcely ever heard a word addressed to me from morning
till night. If it were not for the old servants saying, Good
morning to you, Miss Margaret," as they passed me in the long
passages, I should have been the greater part of the day in as per-
fect a solitude as Robinson Crusoe.
Many of the leaves in Mahometanism Explained" were torn
out, but enough remained to make me imagine that Ishmael was
the true son of Abraham. I read here, that the true descendants
L' '!1' I'll J: '
of Abraham were known by a light which streamed from the
middle of their foreheads, and that Ishmael's father and mother
first saw this light streaming from his forehead as he was lying
asleep in the cradle.
I was very sorry so many of the leaves were gone, for it was as
entertaining as a fairy tale. I used to read the history of Ishmael,
and then go and look at him in the tapestry, and then return to his
78 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
history again. When I had almost learned the history of Ishmael
by heart, I read the rest of the book, and then I came to the his-
tory of Mahomet, who was there said to be the last descendant of
If Ishmael had engaged so much of my thoughts, how much
more so must Mahomet! His history was full of nothing but
wonders from the beginning to the end. The book said that those
who believed all the wonderful stories which were related of Ma-
homet were called Mahometans, and True Believers; I concluded
that I must be a Mahometan, for I believed every word I read.
At length I met with something which I also believed, though I
trembled as I read it; this was that, after we are dead, we are to
pass over a narrow bridge, which crosses a bottomless gulf. The
bridge was described to be no wider than a silken thread; and all
who were not Mahometans would slip on one side of this bridge, and
drop into the tremendous gulf that had no bottom. I considered
myself as a Mahometan, yet I was perfectly giddy whenever I
thought of passing over this bridge.
One day, seeing the old lady who lived here totter across the
room, a sudden terror seized me, for I thought how she would ever
be able to get over the bridge. Then, too, it was that I first
recollected that my mother would also be in imminent danger. I
imagined she had never heard the name of Mahomet, because, as
I foolishly conjectured, this book had been locked up for ages in
the library, and was utterly unknown to the rest of the world.
All my desire was now to tell them the discovery I had made;
for I thought, when they knew of the existence of Mahometanism
Explained," they would read it, and become Mahometans to in-
sure themselves a safe passage over the silken bridge. But it
wanted more courage than I possessed to break the matter to my
intended converts. I must acknowledge that I had been reading
without leave; and the habit of never speaking, or being spoken
to, considerably increased the difficulty.
My anxiety on this subject threw me into a fever. I was so ill
that my mother thought it necessary to sleep in the same room
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 79
with me. In the middle of the night I could not resist the
strong desire I felt to tell her what preyed so much on my mind.
I awoke her out of a sound sleep, and begged she would be so
kind as to be a Mahometan. She was very much alarmed; -
she thought I was delirious, and I believe I was ; for I tried to
explain the reason of my request, but it was in such an incoherent
manner that she could not at all comprehend what I was talking
The next day a physician was sent for, and he discovered, by
several questions that he put to me, that I had read myself into a
fever. He gave me medicines, and ordered me to be kept very
quiet, and said he hoped in a few days I should be very well;
but as it was a new case to him, he never having attended a little
Mahometan before, if any lowness continued after he had removed
the fever, he would, with my mother's permission, take me home
with him to study this extraordinary case at leisure. He added,
that he could then hold a consultation with his wife, who was
often very useful to him in prescribing remedies for the maladies
of his younger patients.
In a few days he fetched me away. His wife was in the car-
riage with him. Having heard what he said about her prescrip-
tions, I expected, between the doctor and his lady, to undergo a
severe course of medicine, especially as I heard him very formally
ask her advice as to what was good for a Mahometan fever, the
moment after he had handed me into his carriage.
She studied a little while, and then she said, a ride to Harlow
Fair would not be amiss. He said he was entirely of her opinion,
because it suited him to go there to buy a horse.
During the ride they entered into conversation with me, and in
answer to their questions, I was relating to them the solitary
manner in which I had passed my time, how I found out the
library, and what I had read in that fatal book which had so
heated my imagination,--when we arrived at the fair; and Ishmael,
Mahomet, and the narrow bridge vanished out of my head in ar
80 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
Before I went home the good lady explained to me very serious-
ly the error into which I had fallen. I found that, so far from
"Mahometanism Explained being a book concealed only in this
library, it was well known to every person of the least informa-
The Turks, she told me, were Mahometans. And she said that, if
the leaves of my favorite book had not been torn out, I should have
read that the author of it did not mean to give the fabulous
stories here related as true, but only wrote it as giving a history
of what the Turks, who are a very ignorant people, believe con-
By the good offices of the physician and his lady, I was carried
home, at the end of a month, perfectly cured of the error into
which I had fallen, and very much ashamed of having believed so
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 81
THE LITTLE PERSIAN.
AMONG the Persians there is a sect called the Sooffees, and
one of the most distinguished saints of this sect was Abdool
It is related that, in early childhood, he was smitten with the de-
sire of devoting himself to sacred things, and wished to go to Bag-
dad to obtain knowledge. His mother gave her consent; and tak-
ing out eighty deenars (a denomination of money used in Persia), she
told him that, as he had a brother, half of that would be all his
She made him promise, solemnly, never to tell a lie, and then
bade him farewell, exclaiming, "Go, my son; I give thee to God.
"We shall not meet again till the day of judgment !"
He went on till he came near to Hamadan, when the company
with which he was travelling was plundered by sixty horsemen.
One of the robbers asked him what he had got. Forty deenars,"
said Abdool Kauder, are sewed under my garment." The fellow
laughed, thinking that he was joking him. "What have you got ?"
said another. He gave the same answer.
"When they were dividing the spoil, he was called to an emi-
nence where their chief stood. "What property have you, my
little fellow 1" said he. I have told two of your people already,"
replied the boy. I have forty deenars sewed up carefully in my
clothes." The chief desired them to be ripped open, and found the
And how came you," said he, with surprise, "to declare so
openly what has been so carefully hidden "
"Because," Abdool Kauder replied, "I will not be false to my
mother, whom I have promised that I will never conceal the
82 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
Child! said the robber, hast thou such a sense of duty to
thy mother, at thy years, and am I insensible, at my age, of the
duty I owe to my God ? Give me thy hand, innocent boy," he
continued, "that I may swear repentance upon it." He did so;
and his followers were all alike struck with the scene.
"You have been our leader in guilt," said they to their chief,
"be the same in the path of virtue and they instantly, at his
order, made restitution of the spoil, and vowed repentance on the
hand of the boy.
[ _______ -^ -- __ -__ __- ^- ^P .... *"' /J
STOI1ES OF CHILD LIFE. 83
THE BOYS' HEAVEN.
HARRY and Frank had a hearty cry when an ill-natured
neighbor poisoned their dog. They dug a grave for their
favorite, but were unwilling to put him in it and cover him up
I wish there was one of the Chinese petrifying streams near
"..e ,' 'I.I , .
_ .- ..
S_ __ ---
our house," said Frank. "We could lay Jip down in it; and,
after a while, he would become a stone image, which we would
always keep for a likeness of him."
Harry, who had been reading about the ancient Egyptians, re-
marked that it was a great pity the art of embalming was lost.
84 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
But Frank declared that a mummy was a hideous thing, and
that he would rather have the dead dog out of his sight forever,
than to make a mummy of him.
It seems very hard never to see him again," said Harry, with
a deep sigh.
But perhaps Jip has gone to some dog-heaven; and when we
go to the boys' heaven, we may happen to see our old pet on the
If he should get sight of us he would follow us," said Frank.
"He always liked us better than dogs. 0 yes, he would follow
us to the boys' heaven, of that you may be sure; and I don't
think boys would exactly like a heaven without any dogs. Mother,
what kind of a place is a boys' heaven "
His mother, who had just entered the room, knew nothing of
what they had been talking about; and, the question being asked
suddenly, she hardly knew what to answer.
She smiled, and said, "How can I tell, Frank ? You know I
never was there."
That makes no difference," said he. "Folks tell about a great
many things they never saw. Nobody ever goes to heaven till
they die; but you often read to us about heaven and the angels.
Perhaps some people, who died and went there, told others about
it in their dreams."
"I cannot answer such questions, dear Harry," replied his
mother. "I only know that God is very wise and good, and that
he wills we should wait patiently and humbly till our souls grow
old enough to understand such great mysteries. Just as it is
necessary that you should wait to be much older before you can
calculate when the moon will be eclipsed, or when certain stars
will go away from our portion of the sky, and when they will
come back again. Learned men know when the earth, in its
travels through the air, will cast its long dark shadow over the
brightness of the moon. They can foretell exactly the hour and
the minute when a star will go down below the line which we
call the horizon, where the earth and the sky seem to meet; and
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 85
they know precisely when it will come up again. But if they
tried ever so hard, they could never make little boys understand
about the rising and the setting of the stars. The wisest of men
are very small boys, compared with the angels; therefore the
angels know perfectly well many things which they cannot
possibly explain to a man till his soul grows and becomes an
"I understand that," said Harry. For I can read any book;
but though Jip was a very bright dog, it was no manner of use to
try to teach him the letters. He only winked and gaped when I
told him that was A. You see, mother, I was the same as an
angel to Jip."
His mother smiled to see how quickly he had caught her mean-
After some more talk with them, she said, You have both
heard of Martin Luther, a great and good man who lived in Ger-
many a long time ago. He was very loving to children; and
once, when he was away from home, he wrote a letter to his little
son. It was dated 1530 ; so you see it is more than three hundred
years old. In those days they had not begun to print any books
for children; therefore, I dare say, the boy was doubly delighted
to have something in writing that his friends could read to him.
You asked me, a few minutes ago, what sort of a place the boys'
heaven is. In answer to your question, I will read what Martin
Luther wrote to his son Hansigen, which in English means Little
John. Any boy might be happy to receive such a letter. Listen
to it now, and see if you don't think so.
To my little son, Halsigen Luther, grace and peace in Christ.
MY HEART-DEAR LITTLE SON : I hear that you learn well and pray
diligently. Continue to do so, my son. When I come home I will bring
you a fine present from the fair. I know of a lovely garden, full of
joyful children, who wear little golden coats, and pick up beautiful
apples, and pears, and cherries, and plums under the trees. They
sing, and jump, and make merry. They have also beautiful little
horses with golden saddles and silver bridles. I asked the man that
86 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
kept the garden who the children were. And he said to me, 'The
children are those who love to learn, and to pray, and to be good.'
Then said I, 'Dear sir, I have a little son, named Hansigen Luther.
May he come into this garden, and have the same beautiful apples and
pears to eat, and wonderful little horses to ride upon, and may he play
about with these children ?' Then said he, If he is willing to learn,
and to pray, and to be good, he shall come into this garden; and Lip-
pus and Justus too. If they all come together, they shall have pipes,
and little drums, and lutes, and music of stringed instruments. And
they shall dance, and shoot with little crossbows.' Then he showed
me a fine meadow in the garden, all laid out for dancing. There hung
golden pipes and kettle-drums and fine silver crossbows; but it was too
early to see the dancing, for the children had not had their dinner. I
said, Ah, dear sir, I will instantly go and write to my little son Han-
sigen, so that he may study, and pray, and be good, and thus come into
this garden. And he has a little cousin Lena, whom he must also bring
with him.' Then he said to me, 'So shall it be. Go home, and write
"Therefore, dear little son Hansigen, be diligent to learn and to pray;
and tell Lippus and Justus to do so too, that you may all meet together
in that beautiful garden. Give cousin Lena a kiss from me. Herewith I
recommend you all to the care of Almighty God."
The brothers both listened very attentively while that old letter
was read; and when their mother had finished it, Frank ex-
claimed, "That must be a very beautiful place "
Harry looked thoughtfully in the fire, and at last said, I
wonder who told all that to Martin Luther ? Do you suppose an
angel showed him that garden, when he was asleep ?"
I don't know," replied Frank. "But if there were small
horses there with golden saddles for the boys, why should n't Jip
be there, too, with a golden collar and bells ? "
"Now, would n't that be grand !" exclaimed Harry. And
away they both ran to plant flowers on Jip's grave.
L. Maria Child.
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 87
find their way up out of the dark ground, and unfold their lovely
__- - -
-A ." - \ -" ^ -, -
BOVE all things, Bessie loved flowers, but wild flowers most.
It seemed so wonderful to her that these frail things could
find their way up out of the dark ground, and unfold their lovely
blossoms, and all their little pointed leaves, without any one to
teach or help them.
Who watched over the dear little wild flowers, all alone in the
88 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
field, and on the hillside, and down by the brook ? Ah, Bessie
knew that her Heavenly Father watched over them; and she loved
to think he was smiling down upon her at the same time that his
strong, gentle hand took care of the flowers and of her at once.
And she was not wrong, for Bessie was a kind of flower, you
One day the little girl thought how nice it would be to have a
wild garden; to plant ever so many flowering things in one place,
and let them run together in their pretty way, until the bright-eyed
blossoms should gaze out from the whole tangled mass of beautiful
So into the house she ran to find Aunt Annie, and ask her
leave to wander over on a shady hillside where wild flowers grew
Yes, indeed, she might go, Aunt Annie said; but what had she
to carry her roots and earth in while making the garden 1
O, Bessie said, she could take a shingle, or her apron.
Aunt Annie laughed, and thought a basket would do better;
they must find one. So they looked in the closets and attics,
everywhere; but some of the baskets were full, and some were
broken, and some had been gnawed by mice; not one could they
find that was fit for Bessie's purpose.
Then dear Aunt Annie poured out the spools and bags from a
nice large work-basket, and told Bessie she might have that for
her own, to fill with earth or flowers, or anything she chose.
Pleased enough with her present, our young gardener went
dancing along through the garden, Aunt Annie watched her
from the balcony, dancing along, and crept through a gap in
the hedge, and out into the field, that was starred all over with
dandelions, and down the hollow by the brook, and up on the hill-
side, out of sight among the shady trees.
And how she worked that afternoon, singing all the while to
herself as she worked How she heaped together the rich, dark
mould, and evened it over with her little hands How she dug
up roots of violets, and grass, and spring-beauty, and Dutchmen's
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 89
breeches, travelling back and forth, back and forth, never tired,
never ceasing her song.
The squirrels ran up out of their holes to look at Bessie; the
birds alighted over her head and sang.
While Bessie was bending over her garden so earnestly, thump !
came something all at once, something so cold and heavy How
quickly she jumped upon her feet, upsetting her basket, and mak-
ing it roll down the hill, violet-roots and all !
And then how she laughed when she saw a big brown toad that
had planted himself in the very centre of her garden, and stood
there winking his silly eyes, and saying, No offence, I hope "
The squirrel chattered as if he were laughing too; the bird
sang, Never mind, Bessie, never mind; pick up your violets,
and don't hurt the poor old toad! "
0 no; it's God's toad; I should n't dare to hurt him," said
Just at that moment she heard a bell ringing loudly from her
father's house. She knew it was calling her home; but how
could she leave her basket? She must look for that first; the
hillider wa topp t nd tnoloprd with
"Waiting, waiting, waiting suddenly sang the bird from out
of siht among the bo s tin Bessie san the bird
"Waiting, waiting, waiting !" suddenly sang the bird, from out
of sight among the boughs; waiting, Bessie," sang the bird.
90 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
True enough," said Bessie; perhaps I'm making my mother
or dear Aunt Annie wait, and they are so good! I 'd better let
the basket wait; take care of it, birdie !--and none of your
trampling down my flowers, Mr. Toad And she climbed back
again from bush to bush, and skipped along among the trunks of
the great tall trees, and out by the brook through the meadow,
hedge, garden, up the steps, calling, Mother, mother Aunt
Annie who wants me ?"
I, dear," said her mother's voice; I am going away for a
long visit, and if you had not come at once, I could n't have bid-
den my little girl good by." So Bessie's mother kissed her, and
told her to obey her kind aunt, and then asked what she would
like brought home for a present.
0, bring yourself, dear mother; come home all well and
bright," said Bessie, and I won't ask any more." For Bessie's
mother had long been sick, and was going now for her health.
Her mother smiled and kissed her. "Yes, I will bring that if
I can, but there must be something else; how would you like a
set of tools for this famous garden? "
Bessie's eyes shone with joy. "What! a whole set, rake,
and hoe, and trowel, such as the gardener uses ?"
Exactly, only they'll be small enough for your little hands; and
there 'll be a shovel besides, and a wheelbarrow, and a water-pot."
So Bessie did not cry when her mother went away, though she
loved her as well as any one possibly could. She thought of all
the bright things, of the pleasant journey and the better health;
and then, then of her pretty set of tools, and the handsome
garden they would make !
It was too late to go back to the hill that evening; and on the
morrow Bessie awoke to find it raining fast. She went into her
Aunt Annie's room with such a mournful face. 0 aunty, this
old rain !"
"This new, fresh, beautiful rain, Bessie; what are you thinking
about ? How it will make our flowers grow! and what a good
time we can have together in the house !"
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 91
"I know it, Aunt Annie, but you 'll think me so careless "
"To let it rain "
No, don't laugh, aunty, to leave your nice basket out-of-
doors all night, and now to be soaked and spoiled in this this -
beautiful rain." Bessie's countenance did not look as though the
beautiful rain made her very happy.
And good Aunt Annie, seeing how much she was troubled, only
said, You must be more careful, dear, another time ; come and
tell me all about it. Perhaps my Bessie has some good excuse; I
can see it now in her eyes."
"Yes, indeed, I have," said Bessie, wiping away her tears.
And the little girl crept close to her aunty's side, and told her
of her beautiful time the day before, and of the bird, and
squirrel, and toad; and how the basket rolled away down hill
in the steepest place, and then how the bell rang, and she could n't
wait to find it.
"And you did exactly right, dear," said Aunt Annie. "If you
had lingered, your mother would have had to wait a whole day, or
else go without seeing you. When I write, I shall tell her how
obedient you were, and I know it will please her more than any-
thing else I shall have to say."
Dear Aunt Annie, she had always a word of excuse and of
comfort for every one! Bessie was too small to think much about
it then. She only pressed her little cheek lovingly against her
aunty's hand, and resolved that, when she grew up to a young
lady, she would be just as kind and ready to forget herself as
Aunt Annie was.
Ah, it was not Bessie's lot to grow up to a woman in this world !
Before the ground was dry enough for her to venture out in search
of her basket, she was seized with a fever, and in a few days shut
up her sweet eyes, as the flowers shut their leaves together, and
never opened them again.
Then the summer passed, and the grass grew green and faded,
and snow-flakes began to fall on a little grave; and Aunt Annie
quietly laid aside the set of garden tools that had come too late
92 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
for Bessie's use, and only made her mother feel sad and lonely
when she looked upon them now. And all this time, what had
become of the basket ?
As it fell from Bessie's hands that bright spring afternoon, it
had lodged in a grassy hollow, that was all wound about, like a
nest, with roots of the tall birch and maple trees; close among the
roots grew patches of the lovely scented May-flower; and all the
rest was long fine grass, with a tiny leaf or a violet growing here
The roots in the basket dried away, and died for want of
water; but the earth that Bessie had dug with them was full of
little seeds, which had been hiding in the dark for years, awaiting
their chance to grow.
Broader and darker grew the leaves on the shady boughs above,
higher and higher grew the grass, and all but hid Bessie's basket.
" Coming, coming, coming!" the bird sang in the boughs; but
Bessie never came.
So the summer passed; and when autumn shook the broad
leaves from the trees, and some went whirling down the hill, and
some sailed away in the brook, some lodged in Bessie's basket; a
few to-day, and a few the next day, till the snow came, and it was
almost full to the brim.
Sometimes there would come a hoar-frost, and then it was full
of sparkling flowers so airy that the first sunbeam melted them,
but none the less lovely for that; and they melted, and went down
among the leaves, and seed, and sand, and violet-roots.
In spring the May-flowers perfumed the hollow with their sweet,
fresh breath; but no one gathered them. The leaves and the
grass nestled close to Bessie's basket, as if they remembered her;
and drops of rain dripped into it from the budding boughs, and
sparkled as they dropped, though they were full of tiny grains of
dust and seed ; and thus another summer passed, and no one knew
what had become of Bessie's basket.
The bird sang, Coming, coming but she never came.
So the third spring came round; and Aunt Annie was putting
STORIES OF CHILD LIFE. 93
her closet in order one day, rolling up pieces, and clearing boxes,
and smoothing drawers, when she came upon a little bundle. It
was the bags, and work, and spools of thread all old and yellow
now which she had poured out that morning in spring, in order
to give the basket to her little niece.
"Dear child!" said Aunt Annie, "why have I never looked
for the lost basket ? The poor little garden must be swept away,
but it would be pleasant to go where her sweet footsteps trod on
that happy afternoon."
So she went, all by herself, in the same direction which she had
watched Bessie take ; and it seemed as if the little .one were skip-
ping before her through the garden, the gate, the gap in the
hedge was not large enough for Aunt Annie, across the meadow
that shone again with starry dandelions, along by the brook, and
up the hill, till she was lost from sight among the trees.
How sweet and fresh it was in the lonely wood, with the
birds, and the young leaves, and starry wild flowers, and patches
of pretty moss Did Bessie wait here and rest? Did she climb
this rock for columbines I Did she creep to the edge of this bank,
and look over ?
So Aunt Annie seated herself to rest among the moss and roots
and leaves; she picked columbines, climbing by help of the slender
birch-trees ; she went to the edge of the bank, and looked down
past all the trees, and stones, and flowers, to the little brook
below. And what do you think she saw ?
What do you think made the tears come in Aunt Annie's eyes
so quickly, though she seemed so glad they must have been tears
of joy ?
After a while Aunt Annie turned to go home. Why did she
put the boughs aside so gently, and step so carefully over the soft
moss, as if she feared making any sound. Can you think 1
She found Bessie's mother seated at work with a sad face, and
her back turned towards the window.
O," said Aunt Annie, "how dark the room is, with all these
heavy curtains and how still and lonesome it seems here You
94 CHILD LIFE IN PROSE.
must come this moment and take a walk with me out in the sun-
shine; it will do you good."
Bessie's mother shook her head. I don't care for sunshine to-
day; I would rather be lonely."
Then Aunt Annie knelt by her sister, and looked up with those
sweet eyes none could ever refuse. Not care for sun, because our
dear little Bessie has gone to be an angel! 0, you must see the
field all over buttercups and dandelions, like a sky turned upside
down, it would have pleased her so and you must see the brook
and woods; and then I have such a surprise for you, you'll never
be sorry for laying aside your work."
Is it anything about Bessie t the mother asked, as they went
down the steps, out into the bright, beautiful sunshine.
"Yes, yes Everything makes you think of her to-day; I can
almost see her little footsteps in the grass. A bird somewhere in
the wood sung her very name, and so sweetly, as if he loved
her, -' Bessie, Bessie, Bessie,' as if he were thinking of her all
the while! "
They reached the wood soon, for Aunt Annie seemed in haste,
and hurried Bessie's mother on; though she had grown so happy
all at once, that she wanted to wait and look at everything, the
little leaves in the ground, and the grass-blades, and clover, and
bees even, seemed to please her.
When you find people sad, there is nothing in all the world so
good as to take them out in the sun of a summer day. You must
remember this; it is better than most of the Latin prescriptions
When theywere fairly within the wood, at the brow of the steep
bank, Aunt Annie parted the branches with both her hands, and
said, "You must follow me down a little way; come."
0, as Aunt Annie looked back, it seemed as if she had brought
all the sunshine in her dear face! "Don't think of being afraid,"
she said; "why, Bessie came down here once I have found her
basket, I 've found her beautiful garden "
Yes, that was the secret You remember the spot into which