The discontented weathercock

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Material Information

Title:
The discontented weathercock and other stories for children
Physical Description:
127, 8 p. : col. ill. ; 18 cm.
Language:
English
Creator:
Jones, M
Nimmo, William Philip, 1831-1883 ( Publisher )
Crawford and M'Cabe ( Printer )
Publisher:
William P. Nimmo
Place of Publication:
London (14 King William Street Strand)
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Animals -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children's stories -- 1877   ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1877
Genre:
Children's stories   ( lcsh )
fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh

Notes

Statement of Responsibility:
by M. Jones.
General Note:
Includes publisher's catalog.
General Note:
Imprint also notes publisher's location in Edinburgh.
Funding:
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 001545479
oclc - 22416724
notis - AHF8999
System ID:
UF00035193:00001

Full Text
























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DISCONTENTED WEATHERCOCK,
















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THE



DISCONTENTED WEATHERCOCK,




Anb other Stovrirc for lhilbi-en.







.i. JONES,
AUTHOR OF *0 "TH BLACK PRINCE,' 'CHILDREN'S BIBLI'
PICTURE-BOOK,' ETC. ETC ETC.







WILLIAM P. NIMMO:
LONDON: 14 KING WILLIAM STREET, STRAND;
AND EDINBURGH.
1877.




































































ECRINABE RGI :

CIRAWFORD AND) MCABE, PIRINTEIRS, 15 (QUEEN STREET.



















CONTENTS.


PAGE
THE DISCONTENTED WEATHERCOCK, ,

THE DUCK AND THE HEN, 15

FIDO AND TIB, 27

A RAT, A RAT 3S

OUR CANARY, 39

A DRAGON OF THE OLDEN TIME, 45

ROBIN REDBREAST'S ADVENTURES, 53

LITTLE BIRDS, 61

THE TOWN SPARROWS, 63

THE MILD FEBRUARY, 75

THE CHILDREN'S DOG, 77

[ SHALL JUST GO AND GIVE A GOOD THUMPING
TO ROVER, 87









vi CONTENTS.


PAGE
MISS TABBY, 89

HERE COMES PUSSY-CAT, MEW, MEW, MEW! 99

THE FAIRY BOY, . 101

FAIRIES AT WORK, 11

WHAT BECAME OF THE TURKEYS-A CHRISTMAS
STORY, 17
















PREFACE.


i HAVE to thank Messrs. G. Routledge and
Sons, and Messrs. Cassell, Petter, and Galpin,
for permission to include in my little volume

'The Discontented Weathercock,' and 'The

Fairy Boy:' the former published many years
ago in 'The Donkey's Shadow, and -other

Stories;' the latter in Little Folks.'

M. J.






















"THE DISCONTENTED
WEATHERCOCK.



S',';- WEATHERCOCK that had, for I
S know not how long, swung back-
wards and forwards on a tall pole,
near an old country house, became, at last
strangely discontented with its lot. How it
came about, it is impossible for me to say; but
so it was that, to itself, it expressed a distinct
opinion that it was created for something better
than to twist and turn every day, and all day
long, just to let country folks know which way
the wind blew.
"What a life," said our weathercock, "do I
9








ro DISCONTENTED WEATHERCOCK

lead! creak-creak-creak, all day, and all
night too-never enjoying a moment's repose
save at the pleasure of these good-for-nothing
breezes, that are nearly always blowing about
me, and that make a point of taking both their
rest and exercise at such times as are least
agreeable to me. I do believe they change
about to all the points of the compass for no
other reason than to tease and thwart me. In
the summer, when I was languid, and suffering
because I could not get change of air (which
the odious way in which I am fixed up here
renders impossible) the slightest puff, even of
an east wind, would have been a real comfort
to me; but it was not to be had. Now, this
blessed New Year's Day, for a whole week, I
have been kept in such a constant state of agi-
tation, and spun round so often, that I declare
I am quite giddy. There are Hobnail and
Cabbagestalk coming every morning to look at
me, without apparently a single thought about
the unpleasantness of my position. How would







DISCONTENTED WEATHERCOCK. i

they like it, I wonder! Only give them a week
of it, and I'll engage they would be more
thankful to get back again to their plough and
spade than ever they were to throw them down
after a hard day's work. To think of my
abilities being wasted up here Why, if I were
only loose, I am sure I could fly as well as a
bird. How I would astonish the people! I
should fly right over the Hall, and then to the
church steeple, like the rooks--and look much
handsomer than they, too, for their black jackets
can't be compared to my gilded sides. They
look well enough even here, when the sun
shines upon them; but fluttering through the
air-O that would be beautiful Flying, I am
sure, is the easiest thing in the world. And,
then, travelling does so improve the mind and
manners. I am a complete rustic-nay, a clown
-with having spent all my life in this out-of-
the-way place."
And with that, the weathercock gave itself
a good twitch. But this had only the effect of








12 DISCONTENTED WEATHERCOCK.

making it spin round; and it was as far off
flying as ever. Then it tried turning obstinate;
and for three days contrived not to move an
inch, though there was so brisk a gale blowing
that, being washing-day, more garments than I
can mention were blown off the clothes-line,
and carried away to-Jericho, I suppose, for
they never came back again.
But Hobnail got a tall ladder, and set it up
against the tall pole, and climbing very clumsily
to the top, gave the weathercock such an
oiling that it could not, for the life of it, stand
still a moment, but went on, trembling and
shaking like an aspen leaf.
However, at last, I believe it managed to
wriggle out some of its fastenings; for one day,
when it was fretting and grumbling as usual,
jerking and twitching itself like a petulant child,
and saying-" if I was only loose,"-soug/
came a gust of wind that in a trice whisked it
off the pole, and up into the air in a most grati-
fying manner.








DISCONTENTED WEATHERCOCK 13

'Here goes for the steeple!' exclaimed the
weathercock, exultingly. But, alas its upward
flight was but for an instant. The next moment,
down it came clattering in the court-yard.
And as it lay, hour after hour, half choked,
among dirty straw, and all sorts of rubbish, it
found to its sorrow, that, so far from having
bettered its condition by following its own
fancies, it now could not stir at all; not even
backwards and forwards, which it once thought
so unworthy of its abilities.
All bent and dirty, the stable-boy found it
next morning, and gave it a kick, which was
not very agreeable to its feelings. However, he
picked it up. It next received a severe disci-
pline at the hands of a blacksmith, who beat
it straight upon his anvil: but it got no more
gilding. And finally, Hobnail climbed again
clumsily up the tall ladder, and fixed it in its
old place, just over the offices at the back of
that old, old country house.
But I am happy to say that it was nevet








14 DISCONTENTED WEATHERCOCK.

again heard to utter the least complaint about
the 'indignity of being condemned for the
rest of its days just to show which way the
wind blew.'








-.. .


















THE DUCK AND THE HEN.

A LESSON FOR THE 'LEARNED.'



UCKS are not generally considered
the most careful mothers in the
"world. But there was one at the
cottage down the green lanes that was really
more careless than all the rest of them put to-
gether. Scarcely were her brood fledged, when
she would set off on long walks through the
fields, striding along at a great rate, without
ever turning her head, or stopping for a moment
to see what had become of her poor ducklings.
They of course ran after her as fast as they
could; but one would stick fast in the hedge,
15







16 THE DUCK AND THE HfENI

half a dozen would upset backwards in the long
grass, and not be able to right themselves
again; while of those that did contrive to
keep up with her, first one, and then another
would be nearly crushed by her broad, heavy
foot: for, looking neither to the right nor the
left, as she waddled on, she trod upon them
quite as often as not. In short, she :i. I..... 1
so badly, and always lost so many of her little
ones, that the whole poultry-yard cried shame
upon her.
Many of her neighbour-ducks contented
themselves with saying disrespectful things of
her behind her back. Others, who were more
kindly disposed (and it may be added, better
mannered), went so far as to remonstrate with
her on her conduct. They did not wish to
wound her feelings, but, as mothers of families,
they could not bear to see children so shame-
fully neglected as, they ventured to tell her,
hers were. If she only knew how harshly she
was spoken of in the vicinity, they were sure







THE DUCK AND THE HEN. 17

that regard for her own reputation would
induce her to pay more attention to her mater-
nal duties, even supposing her to be utterly
destitute of natural affection for her children,
which they were far from wishing to believe.
The duck, however, gave not the slightest
heed either to the backbiters or her friendly
advisers. For the former, she professed a con-
tempt that would have been exceedingly painful
to those individuals, had they been at all aware
of it; and she told the latter that 'it was owing
to her organization, so, of course, she could not
help it.' And when they were gone, she mut-
tered something about 'being insulted in her
own nest,' and sat down again (for she had
risen to let her visitors out) so carelessly, that
she broke two of her finest eggs.
But if the ducks were scandalized by her glar-
ing neglect of her family, it may be imagined
how the hens went on. They scarcely ever
met at a scratching-party in the dust without
talking about her, and saying what a disgrace
B







18 THE DUCK AND THE HEN

she was to the yard. They accused her roundly
of losing her ducklings, and treading upon them,
on purpose. Indeed, they pronounced her whole
mode of rearing her children to be vicious in
the extreme-one alike opposed to reason and
experience-but sighed as they added, 'we
can't all be hens; ducks are in the world, and
we must try to bear with, if we cannot mend
them.'
There was one of these hens in particular
who conceived her special mission in the world
to be that of setting everybody else right. A
good-natured creature she was, always ready to
serve a friend ; but her excessive self-esteem led
her to bestow even her kindnesses of this sort
with such an air of superiority at once offensive
and ridiculous, that those who knew her never
cared to receive them, seeing they were little
better than well-intentioned impertinences. She
was good-looking, and she knew it; white bc.dy
and black legs-a contrast that she admired.
Had she been romantic in her notions (which







THE DUCK AND THE HEN 19

she was not) she would probably have said (to
herself) that the loveliness of her person was
the apt expression of the loveliness of her mind.
As it was, she simply thought herself the hand-
somest and wisest hen in the world, which was
a very comfortable opinion.
Well, being so much wiser than the rest of
the world, our clever hen naturally thought that
she both knew better than any fowl among
them, the cause of the duck's rearing so few of.
her brood, and the proper way to remedy the
mischief. Here was her self-conceit. Her kindly
feelings had been roused by finding one of
the little ducks dead among the reeds at the
edge of the pond that very morning. So, urged
by the two, she resolved to go at once and
correct both the theory and practice of Mrs.
Duck.
Accordingly she put on her best bonnet (she
thought it right to pay her neighbour that
respect) and set out for the nest. She was re-
ceived civilly; and after a few observations







20 THE DUCK AND THE HEN.

upon the weather, in which the duck hoped it
would rain, and the hen that it would keep fair,
the latter began by a brief allusion to the mel-
ancholy fate of the deceased duckling. After
hinting, delicately enough for her,7at the duck's
want of care for her little ones, she proceeded
to tell her what she considered to be the true
explanation of the mortality that prevailed
among them ; and that was, their being always
taken to the water-the external use of cold
water being, as she believed (and she was gen-
erally correct in her opinions), exceedingly injur-
ious. A little was certainly good-for drinking,
but anything further, her friend must permit
her to say, was positively destructive ; it chilled
the system, and consequently enfeebled the
vital powers, to spend so much time dabbling
in it. An old duck, inured by long custom,
might remain uninjured by it, but what-(here
her voice faltered)-what result could be ex-
pected from so pernicious a practice when tender
infants were the subjects of it, other than that








THE DUCK AZND THE HEN 2

which had been so deplorably manifest in her
friend's household ? And here the hen, who, as
I have said, was really good-natured, dropped
two enormous tears, for she was affected by her
own eloquence.
The duck, who had never been so talked to
in her life, did not know what to say to all this.
She had often thought it very stupid of the hen
to stay always on dry ground, and to be so
afraid of wetting her feet. But it had never
occurred to her that anybody could possibly
find fault with her own practice.
So she cleared her voice, and rather hesitat-
ingly replied, that she thought it was more
natural to go into the water; adding, that her
children liked it, and she thought it did them
good.
'Look at me,' said the hen;'did you ever
see any one more healthy in your life? I never
bathe; and as for my chicks, I do not lose half
so many of mine as you do of yours. A plain
proof that scratching in the dust is infinitely








22 THE DUCK AND THE HIEN.

more wholesome than sailing on that dirty
duck-pond: not to speak of its being so much
cleaner.'
To this the duck could only urge that not
only herself, but all her relations, as far back as
she could remember, had always felt themselves
as much at home on the water as on dry
land. Her mother had taken her to it as soon
as she was hatched; and, in short, she believed
there never was a duck since the world began
who did not consider herself decidedly as much
of a water-fowl as a land-bird.
To which the hen calmly, but firmly, rejoined,
that 'the length of time that an absurd custom
had prevailed was, to a reasonable mind, not
the slightest argument for its continuance. My
own internal convictions,' continued she, 'assure
me that dabbling in water is useless, dangerous,
and-allow me to add-dirty; and I am amazed
that you should not have sufficient strength of
mind to break through this mere prejudice in
its favour-for so I must term it-truth being








THE DUCK AND THE HEN 23

dearer to me than courtesy. I am, however,
perfectly willing to prove to you that I am
correct (as I believe I generally am) in my
view of this matter. Let me have the training,
nay, the hatching, of your next flock, and I will
engage they shall never wish to go near the
water.'
The duck, who was not naturally fond of
children (which is the only excuse I can offer
for her), readily assented to this. For-I am
ashamed to say it of her-she thought the
rearing of a family very troublesome, and an
intolerable restraint upon her personal freedom.
So it was arranged between them; and the hen
then walked home with her eldest son, who had
called for her.
In due time the eggs arrived. The hen sat
upon them with the greatest patience; and out
came the little ducks. She did not think them
half so handsome as chickens. 'But,' said she,
'a parent's duty does not depend upon the
beauty of her children. If ducks are ugly, that








24 THE DUCK AND THE HEN.

is no reason why their mother should neglect
them, and ruin their constitutions by exposure
to damp.' And she thought to herself how
much education should do for these poor little
unfortunate things.
They were all fine, strong creatures; and
after the farmer's wife had snipped off a bit of
their tails (to prevent their being overweighted
behind), our hen trotted about the yard with
them as proud as could be. She stood on tip-
toe, clapped her wings, 'cluck-clucked' to
them, and began to think that even little ducks
might be loved. And she trooped past the pond
with an air of conscious pride, as she thought
how that dull duck would be convinced at last.
But 0, dear, dear! she stopped, only a minute
to speak to a friend, and on turning again to
her charge, what did she see? Why, the whole
set of them, like a little fleet, merrily floating
on the sunshiny surface of the duck-pond. And
as she stood, dancing with impatience, and
loudly calling to the rogues to come back, or








THE DUCK AND THE HEN 25

they would be all drowned, out came their
mother (who knew them in a moment) to laugh
at her; and then, tumbling heels over head into
the water, she splashed after the young folks,
crying out to the hen, 'What an excellent
nurse you are! Do venture in! you can't think
how much good it will do you!'
The poor hen hung down her head, for they
were all laughing at her. Even her own rela-
tions were rather pleased than otherwise to see
her self-conceit so thoroughly mortified.
And she walked home alone with a sort of
half idea in her head, that it was just possible
after all that she had been mistaken in thinking
that she knew everything, better than every-
body else.






















FIDO AND TIB;

OR THINGS FROM ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW.



IDO AND TIB were a dog and a cat
who had for some time resided in a
s K highly respectable family in London.
They had been brought together in very
early life, and after the spitting, scratching,
and snarling incident to the first meeting of
dogs and cats had subsided, became very great
friends indeed. They ate out of the same dish,
and slept in the same basket of hay until they
grew so big that it took much turning and
twisting at bed-time to get themselves into it.
But as, when they were in, it fitted them to a
f27








28 FID AND TIB.

nicety, and the slumbers they enjoyed in it
were of the most refreshing character, they did
not quarrel with their bed on the score of its
somewhat limited accommodation. They used
to laugh sometimes, as they reminded each
other of the ridiculous way in which they be-
haved on the day that they were compelled to
make each other's acquaintance; and when, so
far from being able to pack together amicably
in one basket, the whole house was scarcely
large enough to hold them. The cat would
candidly admit that she had been taught to
regard the dog as her 'natural enemy;' while
he owned that, owing, as he said, to a vicious
system of education, he really at that time be-
lieved that to worry a cat was the first duty of
every individual of the canine species. His
mother, he thought, must have been in some
degree to blame for his having imbibed such
perverted sentiments; though, to do her justice
it must be said that he was removed from her
care at a very tender age. And then they







FIDO AND TIB. 29

would both make very just remarks on the
influence of prejudice and misunderstanding in
keeping asunder, not only individuals, but, as
in their own case, even whole races. There was
no earthly reason why a cat's tail should grow
as thick as her entire body at sight of a dog;
nor why he should bark his very heart out even
at this unmistakable demonstration of the dis-
satisfaction with which she regarded him. That
dogs and cats should thus habitually conduct
themselves towards each other was therefore,
as they felt, solely the result of prejudice, to
which they rejoiced they had risen superior.
And then the cat, who in her younger days
was fond of poetry, would begin to say some-
thing about 'Skins may differ,'-a verse that
invariably sent the dog to sleep.
Both these creatures had the good fortune
to be very handsome. Fido had wavy, shining
black hair, with a few spots of tan; and Tib
was a beautiful specimen of the darkest tabby,
with just a dash of tortoise shell for richness.








30 FIDO AND TIE.

I say the good fortune, because this circum-
stance led the family in which they lived to
take much more care of them than they would
otherwise have done. And they prudently
showed their fondness, not only in affording the
young people a most comfortable home-this I
should hope would have been done even had
they been a Manx cat and a Skye terrier,
which are the two ugliest beasts of their kinds
that I can think of-but by taking great pains
with their education and morals; and that with
the most gratifying results. The cat never stole
meat out of the pantry, nor regaled herself at
the cream-jug; neither was she ever known to
sharpen her claws on her mistress's best gown.
The dog picked his bones, not on the door mat,
for people to tumble over, but in the back area,
where they were placed for the purpose; and
always drank his brimstone and water without
grumbling, when it was prescribed for him,
whether he thought he required it or not.
But though their conduct was in the main







FID O AND TIB. 31

correct-vastly superior to that of dogs and
cats in general-they were, I fear, sadly wanting
in one particular: I doubt whether either of
them was as grateful as it would have been
becoming for them to be for the kindnesses
they were constantly receiving. Among other
luxuries which they enjoyed, I may mention
that the cat was allowed to appropriate a
cushion almost entirely to her own use, and to
eat rice-pudding in the dining-room whenever
that, to her, tempting dish made its appearance
thlre; and that the dog was, every fine day,
taken out by one of the ladies, who, being
attached to him by a slender chain, was of
course compelled to walk at any pace that he
thought proper, and in all things to conform
herself to his pleasure. Yet they received all
these benefits as things of course, due to their
own merit and importance. For they considered
that the world was made for their convenience,
and consequently that any little service that
could be rendered them by the other animals







32 FIDO AND TIB.

for whom a place had been found in it, was
nothing more than they might reasonably
claim.
Very ridiculous, undoubtedly. I wish our poor
dog and cat were the only creatures that had
ever fallen into such a mistake!
The cat deemed that she made an ample
return for the good things she enjoyed, by
catching a mouse or two occasionally: the family,
as she was aware, not being fond of mice.
While the dog thought that he laid everybody
under oppressive obligation by frightening away
from the back-door, people who looked as if
they came to steal something. Had he been
aware that he, at the same time, nearly fright-
ened a nervous lady who lived next door,
into fits, by his yelping, he perhaps might
not have felt altogether so well pleased with
himself.
But such very superior folks as they were,
are not to be judged by the same lules as more
ordinary mortals. Their own estimate of them-








7IDO AND TIB. 33

selves was formed, not from the humble, though
useful, virtues to which they had been trained,
and which indeed were their chief recommenda-
tion to the family by whom they were pro-
tected, but from their intellectual acquirements,
which they deemed of so high an order as to
entitle them to regard the rest of the world
with a feeling in which certainly contempt was
not altogether wanting. The dog had a notion
that he was scientific; and by way of showing
it, generally used big words where little ones
would have done quite as well. He used to make
the cat's very whiskers stand on end with the
utterly unintelligible, but exceedingly learned,
way in which he would explain the simplest
occurrences of their daily life : as, for instance,
why, the more milk she lapped, the less there
was in the saucer. Whilst she, on her part, took
a pride in being what she considered strong-
minded. She professed an entire independence
of the world's opinion; was so unreasonable as
to require a reason for everything; and gener-
C








34 FIDO AND TIB.

ally, troubled herself to correct the views and
sentiments of all who were unwise enough to
utter them in her presence.
With such abilities, it may be supposed their
conversations were of the most improving de-
scription. All sorts of subjects did they discuss;
and occasionally, it must be owned, they came
to rather extraordinary conclusions. They dif-
fered upon these at times, perhaps purposely, to
give energy to the debate. Oftener, I think,
because that self-opinionated person the cat
laboured under the delusion that a habit of
differing from, and contradicting, others, was the
most obvious indication of a superior intellect:
not to mention that it also ordinarily insured
her the exquisite pleasure of having the last
word. But there was one thing in which they
always agreed; and that was, that what they
themselves did not understand, must be both
useless and foolish. This being the case, it was
a thing of course that mankind generally-as
represented to them by the family in which







FIDO AND TIB. 35

they lived-were deemed eminent offenders
against the true standard [their own] of wisdom
and usefulness. They lamented that it should
be so, but that did not mend matters; and with
a mild air of superiority they passed sentence
upon them accordingly.
Indeed the cat, who suffered from indigestion,
and was apt at such times to take exceedingly
gloomy views of things, would not unfrequently
express a doubt as to whether 'the lords' and
ladies 'of creation,' could be said to answer
any useful purpose whatever; always excepting
their daily duties of providing for the sustenance
and comfort of herself and her friend : a remark
which pained the dog exceedingly; for besides
that he thought rather better of their mental
and moral qualities than she did, he was in the
habit of observing, that unless you give people
credit for something of goodness, it is absolutely
impossible to mend them.
They had contended this point rather earn-
estly one night, when at last the cat, having







36 F10DO AND TIB.

finished washing herself, and turned round three
or four times before lying down, put an end, as
she thought, to the dispute, by exclaiming pet-
tishly, 'I wonder what men and women were
created for!'
But Fido had had a charming walk that
morning, with his mistress in close attendance
upon him; and during that pleasant progress,
having tripped up three children and two
nursery-maids by getting his chain entangled
about their ankles, was possessed with so
amiable a feeling of his own importance that he
could afford to give a liberal consideration to
the claims of others. He was therefore less
disposed than usual to let so sweeping a
condemnation as that which Puss implied
pass unnoticed. He did not wish to vex
the cat, who he saw was out of temper; still
he thought her partially unjust, and hastened,
as delicately as he could, to correct her harsh
judgment.
"I entirely agree with you,' said he, 'as to








FIDO AND TIB. 37

men: I see no earthly use that they are'of; but

I am amazed that you should express yourself
in such a way about women. Are you not aware

that they were created to take care of lap-

dogs?

















'M-
''





















A RAT, A RAT,



A RAT! a rat!
Quick, quick the cat,
He'll gobble up all in the house ,
Here Puss-puss-puss-
Dear me, what a fuss!
It's only a wee, wee mouse.




















OUR CANARY.



HEN I was a very little girl, we had
at home a canary that was an
especial favourite with us all. He
was so tame that he was allowed to go out of
his cage whenever he liked; and it was a
pleasant sight to see him sit singing in a myrtle
tree that stood in the drawing-room window,
his yellow feathers gleaming through the dark
glossy leaves. Another frequent perch of his
was the ledge where the upper and lower sash
of the window joined; in one corner of which,
on a winter's afternoon, fell a slanting ray of
39







40 OUR CAiNAR Y.

sunshine, towards which Dicky would carefully
turn his back, and then set up his feathers in
order to warm himself more effectually; whilst,
for variety, he would occasionally seat himself
on my elder sister's head, and nestle among her
hair. Of course when Dicky thought fit to
leave his cage, the cat was turned out of the
room; an indignity which she-as great a pet
in her way as he-sometimes both resisted and
resented. I, as the youngest-the little 'maid
of all work'-was generally deputed to the duty
of carrying her off in my pinafore. And though
my love for Pussy led me to execute the ungra-
cious office as tenderly.as possible,well-scratched
hands and arms were not unfrequently the
reward of my exertions to procure Dick's libera-
tion from captivity.
Much as the little creature enjoyed his free-
dom on these occasions, he was always exceed-
ingly afraid of losing his cage, when out of it.
And we often amused ourselves by pretending
to carry it away; when he would instantly fly







OUR CANARY. 41

to it, and cling to the wires in evident anxiety
for its safety.
A most delightful life did Dick lead among
us: as much liberty as he pleased, as much sun-
shine as was to be had, seed, and fresh water
for drinking and bathing, every day, with the
added luxuries of plantain and lumps of sugar
innumerable-all these were his. And what
more could bird in a cage desire ? It is true he
was not-who is-without his occasional anxie-
ties; the chief one perhaps being the cat's
pervading desire to make a closer acquaintance
with him than would have been at all desirable,
so far as Master Dick was concerned. She
would sit devouring him-with her great, round,
yellow eyes-until his nerves at times seemed
not a little shaken by the earnestness and per-
severance of her ravenous gaze. I found her
one day, poor beast, rather drolly illustrating
the reverse of the proverb that 'a bird in the
hand is worth two in the bush;' for there sat
she as usual, staring both Dick and herself out







42 OUR CANARY.

of countenance as she regaled (by anticipation)
upon his plump person, while unnoticed, quite
within her reach, stood two or three dishes just
removed from the dining-room: the 'pleasures
of imagination' cost her a good, substantial
dinner.
It was a false alarm of his,-that of being
eaten up, feathers and all, by that terrible crea-
ture with the whiskers and long tail. Yet though
he escaped the cat's expectant jaws, we lost him
at last, like all other pets, and that in a melan-
choly manner.
He was hopping about the floor one morning,
Pussy, according to her custom, sneezing outside
the door in order to give us the idea of her
catching cold through being shut out in the hall,
when a servant entered, unbidden, with coals.
'The cat! the cat!'-we all exclaimed; thinking
Dicky's fate was sealed. And so it was; but
not by. the cat. She rushed in of course, as
soon as the door was opened; but the careless
servant, not looking where she trod, set her foot








OUR CANARY 43

upon the poor bird, and killed him on the
spot.
Great was the lamentation on this occasion.
We young ones nearly cried our eyes out, over
that poor little crushed bunch of feathers; and
dire and deep were the maledictions bestowed
upon the unlucky housemaid, who, to do her
justice, was in as much trouble as any of us.
But neither scolding her nor weeping over the
dead canary assuaged our grief. We cried on
and on, until suddenly the bright idea of giving
Dick a magnificent funeral occurred to one of us;
and that seemed to bring with it something of
consolation.
We dried up our tears-I think my pinafore
would have borne wringing-and before long
were as deeply and amusingly interested with
the important preparations for the ceremony, as
though they had not, ten minutes before, been
streaming like a waterspout. The cage was hung
with crape, and a procession was formed, with the
cat in a black bonnet, who should have followed








44 OUR CANARY.

as chief mourner; instead of which she indecor-
ously walked backwards, dragging her bonnet-
peak upon the ground, in a vain attempt to rid
herself of the novel encumbrance-which rather
spoiled the pageant.
How it ended I do not precisely remember:
only that our spirits were relieved by the
various cares attendant upon the ceremonial.
I have a faint recollection of concluding the
day with an excellent supper, served in our
doll's china, in which 'roly-poly' puddings the
size of a finger, and pease-soup, were the prin-
cipal dishes; and that the soup-we were our
own cooks-was so outrageously peppered that
we burnt our mouths to distraction, and spent
the rest of the evening, till bed-time, in drink-
ing cold water, to allay the inflammation of our
own creating.
Next morning the empty cage was put out of
sight. Another pet speedily engaged our fickle
affections, and poor Dicky was as completely
forgotten as though he had never existed.



















A DRAGON OF THE OLDEN TIME:

A NEW VERSION OF AN OLD STORY.



HERE was, once upon a time, a huge
dragon, who made himself dreadfully
disagreeable, in a certain northern
part of England.
Do you know what a. dragon is like? No?
Well then, a dragon is much like a crocodile with
a pair of wings and a long tail; and as this dragon
was so big that he ate up churches and houses, as
if they had been turkeys and geese-a church
served for himself and a friend, a house he could
manage for his own dinner,-you may just im-
agine how very unpleasant a neighbour he was, in
45







46 A DRAGON OF

that part of the world. The more so, that, in
addition, he gobbled up people-men, women,
and children-as though they had been shrimps:
in fact he took them, as shrimps, to his tea.
Now, people do not like to be eaten, just by
way of relish to a dragon's tea; and they do not
like their houses and churches, which they have
been at the trouble and cost of building, to be
champed up for a dragon's dinner. Then,
beside the mischief that he did, he was so hor-
ribly ugly; and his manners-in other respects
than those of eating up everything and every-
body-were to match. So the long and the
short of it was that his neighbours would have
been exceedingly glad to get rid of him, if they
could. If he would have changed his quarters,
gone off and eaten up houses and churches
and people elsewhere, they would have been
content, though they would have much preferred
killing him out of the way. But as long as there
were so many of them and their buildings to
be gobbled up, it was not likely that he would







THE OLDEVN TI3E. 47

remove. Why should he? The air agreed
with his constitution, and food was plentiful.
And as for killing him-just you think how that
was to be done when the great beast was cased
in scales so thick and hard that the armour-
plates of an iron-clad were moonshine compared
to them; whilst he had also various other ways
of making himself a nuisance to the human
beings who came near him,-provided he did
not want to eat them. He would make wry
faces at them : and let me tell you that when a
dragon 'pulls a face' it is something really
awful. It once sent the whole corporation, mayor
included, with the bishop bringing up the rear
of the procession, into hysterics to such an ex-
tent that it took I cannot tell how many gallons
of cold water, with 'just brandy enough to tinge
it'-that was how it is said the dose was com-
posed-to recover them; and they had all severe
headaches next morning: which shows that
to take water, with 'just brandy enough to tinge
it,' is the worst thing you can do after calling








48 A DRAGON OF

upon a dragon. The corporation, being in their
best robes, and having bought a new mace for
the occasion, thought they could have persuaded
him, civilly, to leave the neighbourhood; and
this was the result: severe headaches, and the
dragon as firmly settled as ever. It is even
said that he cracked an extra house for his
supper that night, out of pure fun at having
'pulled a face' at a mayor and corporation,
and given them all headaches next morning.
For as he knew nothing of the restoratives they
had taken when they got home, of course he
thought his ugly face had donethe whole business.
I believe the military went out against him
next, but without success. How they fared
with the beast, whether he grinned at them, or
spit at them,-for he was rude enough to do this
at times, and nobody likes to be spit at, least
of all by a dragon,--was never known, for they
kept it to themselves, whatever it was. But it
was seen by the whole parish that they came
galloping back by twos and threes, instead of







THE OLDEN TIME. 49

in the compact squadron that had set out to
demolish him. Likewise that upon their smart
jackets and helmets there were specimens of
every kind of soil that lay between the dragon's
castle and their own barracks-which moved the
compassion of all beholders, as it is a fact that
cleaning military uniforms is very troublesome,
and requires an unknown amount ofpipe-clay.
The inhabitants of that district were in low
spirits after this. There were they, munched
and crunched and swallowed-their houses and
churches also-by this abominable dragon, who
had now got so fat that he split the great tower
of his castle right up the middle, by trying to
get out at the top, after the door had grown too
small for him ;-I dare say you have seen a
picture of this;-and both civil and military
force were alike unavailing against the mon-
ster. I forgot to mention that the police at one
time took him in hand. And he took them-
well, in stomach, for he 'bolted' every mother's
son of them.
D







50 A DRAGON OF

A deliverer was at length found for these
unfortunate people. A gentleman in the neigh-
bourhood, a Mr. More of More Hall-I am glad
to be able to give his name and address in full
-gave his mind to the matter, and in the end
rescued them from their intolerable condition.
For it is intolerable to be eaten up like that:
not to mention the loss of property.
It was known that this dreadful dragon had
one soft spot, undefended by scales, somewhere
on its body; it was believed to be under the
left wing. Human beings, I am told, have the
same peculiarity; but their soft part is fre-
quently about the head. And Mr. More thought
rightly that if he could make out this soft part
there was nothing to hinder his sticking the
creature with a good boar-spear, which he had
used when 'pig-sticking' in India. You know
what 'pig-sticking' is-that is the modern
elegant name for boar-hunting.
But how to keep himself from being swal-
lowed whilst he was poking about for this place?








THE OLDEN TIM.E. 51

I will tell you : he had a suit of treble steel
armour made to case him from top to toe, and this
armour was stuck all over with sharp steel
spikes, full half a yard long. In short, he turned
himself into a steel hedgehog, and any attempt
on the dragon's part to swallow him, would
have been like your trying to swallow a horse-
chesnut, with the prickles on. Thus armed, he
seized his spear, and stalked off-rather clumsily
it must be owned, for armour like that is not
easy to walk in-to the castle of his enemy,
whom he invited, I believe in the very words,
to 'come out and fight.' The dragon was very
uncivil in reply, nay, down-right impertinent.
But Mr. More did not mind that; he just 'gave
him as good as he sent,' for he had been edu-
cated at Eton and Oxford, where they under-
stand 'chaff;' and he also gave him a thump
with his spear. That of course was of no use;
you might as well have switched a man-of-war
by way of smashing it. And yet it was of use
too, for the dragon turned round to laugh at








52 A DRAGON OF THE OLDEN TIMiE.

him; and as, at the same time, he refreshed
himself with a good yawn, and a stretch of his
wings by way of expressing additional contempt
for Mr. More, that gentleman espied the soft
part underneath, took a little run, and with a
vigorous kick sent one of the spikes at his foot
deep into the fatal spot. It was quite enough;
and the huge beast, after a heavy roll or two,
and a highly disrespectful remark to Mr. More,
lay stretched all its length dead on the ground.
Need I say that when the dragon-slayer got
back to his own village he was 'chaired' a!!
round it; and was so often invited out to dinner
that it was generally believed throughout the
district-I am writing, mind you, of what hap-
pened a long time ago-that his death, which
took place some months afterwards, was occa-
sioned by over-eating? But if it were so, it
is said to be the 'correct thing' ('sweet, and
decorous' is I think the precise phrase) to 'die
for one's country,' And I am sure Mr. More
deserved all the praise he got for it.









_..--. . -' -
V.I









ROBIN REDBREAST'S ADVENTURE.




ROBIN REDBREAST, remarkable
S for general sweetness of disposition
S as well as for the regularity of his
habits, alarmed his family one day by coming
home full two hours after his usual time, and
in such a state of irritation as positively
frightened them. He banged the door to after
him, called twice for his slippers before it was
possible they could be brought, tumbled over
his wife's footstool, and then, as petulant folks
do not stay to be reasonable, instead of blaming
himself for not looking where he trod, ridi-
6S







54 ROBIN REDBREASTS AD VENTURE.

culously scolded his eldest daughter for leaving
it in his way. Altogether he went on in so
extraordinary a manner that, glad as they were
to see him come in-for his absence had caused
them much anxiety-they were almost equally
uneasy at seeing him so lamentably out of
temper as on this occasion he contrived to
exhibit himself.
As he did not, however, appear to have sus-
tained any very alarming injury-his feathers
were a little ruffled certainly, but that was all-
they very wisely left him to himself for an hour,
solitude being, as they thought, the best remedy
for ill-tempered people. It proved so in Robin's
case; and when they rejoined him he was able
to conduct himself like a rational being, and to
give them some account of his day's adventure.
He told them that in the course of his morn-
ing's ramble he passed a very nice-looking
house, in the second story of which a window
was wide open. What possessed him he could
not tell,-idle curiosity most likely,-but with-








ROBINZ REDBRIEAST'S AD VENTURE. 55

out a moment's thought, in he flew, and sat
down on a sort of shelf above the curtains: the
cornice, he believed it was called. It was a
large, lofty room, and seemed comfortably fur-
nished, according to the ideas that those huge
creatures who live in these great brick houses
have of comfort. It was well carpeted; and at
one side stood a vast four-post bed, piled up
with pillows, and all sorts of wrappings, and
hung round with something that he supposed
was to keep every breath of air from the occu-
pant. All very well for those whose pleasure
it was to be suffocated among that mass of
feathers and flannels : for his part, he liked free
ventilation when he was in bed; but then he
was a Robin redbreast, and not a human being,
which might perhaps account for the difference
of taste. He was just thinking how infinitely
better adapted for repose were the accommo-
dations of his own simple nest than those of
this unwieldy structure, when a lady suddenly
entered, whose countenance, he must own,








56 ROBIN REDBREAST'SS AD VENTURE.

impressed him unfavourably, though it did any-
thing but prepare him for what followed.
There was room enough for both of them.
He, as he had just observed, was sitting on the
cornice, where she could not have got if her life
had depended upon it. But, not content with
the whole of the floor, and all the chairs to
herself, she very coolly took up an umbrella,
with the evident design of knocking him off his
perch. Such deliberate selfishness he had rarely
seen. Fortunately she was not tall enough to
reach him, and her movements were very
clumsy, so that after hitting her nose several
times, and breaking a pane of glass, she laid
aside this formidable spiked weapon. But it
was only to go and fetch the long brush, with
which at last she succeeded in giving the wood-
work on which he stood, such a blow as jarred
every nerve in his body, and compelled him
instantly to jump off: a movement that unfor-
tunately only brought him more within the
reach of this ill-mannered gentlewoman, who








ROBIN REDBREAST'S AD VENTURE. 57

next flapped a towel at him, driving him to the
top of the great four-post bed, where he was
half choked with dust. But it would be im-
possible for him to narrate all that he under-
went at the hands of this evil-disposed person
-he did wrong to call her a gentlewoman-in
the course of her heartless attempts to drive
him from her house. He should have been only
too glad to leave her inhospitable roof; but the
fact was that her noise and violence made him
completely lose all presence of mind, so that,
though, as he believed, the window by which he
entered remained open, it was impossible for
him to find his way out. He beat himself sadly
against all sorts of furniture, in endeavouring to
do so; but it was in vain. And he confessed,
with the tears in his bright, round eyes, that in
that harassing moment he had thought tenderly
of the dear ones at home, as the apprehension
flashed across his mind that, perhaps, he was
doomed to be a captive for life, and to that
wicked woman. He had heard of such things.








58 ROBIN REDBREAST'S AD VENTURE.

The fright and vexation brought on a violent
palpitation of the heart, which made him feel
very unwell; and indeed he was at his wit's end
as he sat trembling on the top of the bed, when
to his inexpressible relief, the lady, having in
vain called to the housemaid to come and help
her, retired, long brush and all, from the apart-
ment; apparently with the purpose of fetching
that personage to her assistance. Quit of her,
though it might be but for a moment, he man-
aged, he said, to reach the window, and so
make his escape from that terrible trap-for
such it had proved to him-and hasten home:
adding that hunger, fear, and indignation had
altogether so overcome him as to make him-
he knew it, and was sorry for it-excessively
cross when he first reached it.
Mrs. Redbreast smiled. And then the chil-
dren were had in. Very nice they all looked in
their little red waistcoats and brown jackets.
And after their father had solemnly warned
them, first, against the indulgence of idle curi-







ROBIN REDBREAST'S ADVENTURE. 59

osity in general, and then, more particularly,
never on any account to fly in at open windows
-no, not even if their wings were ready to drop
off with fatigue-their parents kissed them and
sent them to bed.
Robin sat an hour longer with his wife and
daughter; and then being tired with his hard
day's work, put his head under his wing, and
dropped asleep as sweetly as any of them.









L--^-^-*"^"





















LITTLE BIRDS.



LITTLE birds have strong wings,
To mount high in the air;
The dear little things
Sing sweetly up there.

But shut up in cages,-
The thought drives me wild;
Pray how would you like it,
You horrible child ?

Quick, open the door,
And don't stay a minute;
Let your captive go free,
Be it thrush, lark, or linnet.
61






















THE TOWN SPARROWS.



N the beginning of the spring, two
town sparrows, tired of mere city
'" ''" life, resolved to look out for some
convenient residence in or near the suburbs.
After some hunting about they at last fixed
upon a street leading out of one of the largest
squares in town, which they thought would be
a desirable neighbourhood; and upon looking
around for an eligible site for building, were
delighted to find, inside the verandah of one of
the back drawing-room windows in this street,
a broad ledge along its whole length, which
they at once decided upon occupying. It pre-
03







64 THE TOWN SPARROWS.

sented unusual advantages for their purpose.
Roof, and outside walls were there ready to
their hand; and further, the foundation was
stationary: an important point on the score of
health, as one of them, having been subject to
fits of dizziness, which were thought to threaten
apoplexy, had been solemnly warned by the
medical attendant of the family, of the extreme
unwholesomeness, to any one suffering in this
way, of nests in trees, the action of the wind
among the branches keeping them in constant
motion; and a perpetual swaying to and fro
was, as this intelligent physician remarked,
trying at times even to the steadiest head.
A glance showed that building materials were
abundant; and our sparrows set to work with-
out loss of time. But things did not go so
smoothly as they had expected. First, the cross
gentleman who belonged to the house, pulled
down the little bit of nest-it was only the
ground floor, and part of the first story-with
the hook of his walking-stick. Then the clean







THE TOWN SPARROWS. 65

housemaid whisked away the next foundation
with an enormous broom:-with other accidents
that I cannot stay to recount. Still they per-
severed; for, as I have said, the situation was
very respectable and healthy, and they were
unwilling to be driven from it. At last, the
good lady of the house took pity upon them,
and forbade any one to meddle again with the
nest. She was really sorry for them; and
besides, she thought it would sound rural to
have birds singing at her bed-room window
every day when she awoke. Buit I must add
that when the nest was finished, and the eggs
all hatched, she repented of her kindness regu-
larly every morning ats five o'clock ; for that was
the birds' breakfast hour, and their parents,
knowing that mirth at meals was wholesome,
allowed them to keep up such a cackle as to
render sleep impossible to her. And then the
good lady wished she had let the cross gentle-
man and the clean housemaid have it their
own way.
E







66 THE TO WN SPARR O WS.

Well, the young birds throve amazingly.
They had such appetites: you might have seen
them any hour of the day, sitting with their
mouths so wide open that you could see half
way down their throats, waiting for their parents
to bring them a little worm or insect, or some-
thing equally savoury. They were all so clam-
orous for food that their mother was sometimes
sadly puzzled to remember whose turn it was
to be fed next; and they ate so much that they
grew as fat as possible. Too much so it would
have been, but that the situation of their house
afforded them opportunities for taking the air,
such as are seldom enjoyed by young birds
that cannot fly. There was a fine covered walk,
stretching away at least a yard and a half before
their door, down which they waddled two or
three times a day, and thought the exercise
did them good. Of course it did, seeing they
ate too much.
It may be supposed their father and mother
were very proud of them. They thought them







THE TOWN SPARROWS. 67

remarkably handsome children; though, if the
truth must be told, they had little half-naked,
heavy bodies, mouths quite as wide as they
were intended to be when they were grown up,
and excessively bad complexions. As for their
wings,-they were more like shoulder-knots
than anything else, they were so exceedingly
small. In short, no one but their parents would
have imagined that they had the slightest pre-
tensions to beauty. Beauty, however, as every-
body knows, is a matter of taste; the young
sparrows were admired at home, and that was
quite sufficient. They were happy birds; they
had everything that heart could wish; their
house was not only commodious, but elegant;
and their way of living was to match. They
maintained a good appearance, had no cares,
and were thoroughly satisfied with their lot,-
as I think they might well be.
Living in such superior style they soon found
themselves very much sought after, even by
persons above themselves in rank, though their







68 TIHE TOWN SPARROWS.

fortune was inferior; and this, by degrees,
exerted a very unhappy influence upon the
moral character of the whole family. Instead
of enjoying their many advantages in a modest,
grateful spirit, they soon began to assume the
airs of people of consequence, treating with an
ill-disguised contempt such of their neighbours
as were in a less distinguished position than
their own. And they thought those birds who,
having their nests in the tall poplars close by,
had no promenade like theirs,-very vulgar birds
indeed. Some of them were old friends; but
our sparrows dropped their acquaintance as un-
ceremoniously as if it had been of but yesterday.
They just gave them a little supercilious nod
in passing, if they chanced to meet, and when
they got home told each other how very neces-
sary it was to be select in their acquaintance
when they had young people growing up about
them. And they spent much more time in
visiting their fashionable friends than was at all
good for their children, for whose sake alone, as







THE TO WN SPARROWS. 69

they often said to each other, they consented to
give themselves so much trouble. They desired
to do their duty to their offspring; and though,
as they frequently assured each other, their own
tastes led them entirely to the calm, domestic
pleasures of life, in the bosom of their family;
yet sacrifices must be made for the sake of the
future advancement in life of those so dear to
them. And they made them accordingly.
The young birds, who overheard conversa-
tions of this sort, and thought them much
more to the point than the various instructions
which their parents addressed to them, became
fully impressed with a sense of their own import-
ance, and grew as conceited as they were fat:
which is saying a great deal. Nay, they soon
began to think themselves much wiser than
their parents, and often murmured at the sub-
jection in which they were kept.
They had by this time got very nice little
wings; which they thought quite sufficient to fly
over the house-tops with. Their father and







70 THE TOWN SPARROW WS.

mother however, knowing better, had strictly
forbidden any attempt of the kind, promising
that, as soon as it was safe, they would them-
selves take them out, and having put them
properly into the way of it, give them a charm-
ing trip into the country, which they had never
seen. But (knowing the danger to which they
would be exposed) until permission was given,
fly they must not.
This prohibition the young birds thought
exceedingly injudicious and uncalled for; and
they occasionally remarked to each other how
impossible it was for old people to sympathize
with, or even understand, young ones; adding
that old heads would often be much the better
for taking counsel with those that were younger.
They indulged their discontent on this subject
so much that it grew stronger and stronger
every day. At last they felt and said that,
unless they intended to be treated as children
all their lives, it was time a decisive step should
be taken. So one fine morning when papa and







THE TOWN SPARROWS. 71

mamma had gone to make a call upon some
genteel people in the square, they looked care-
fully all around to see if the coast was clear,
flapped their little wings-O how pleasant it
felt!-and then, one after the other, gave a great
jump off the edge of the nest, expecting to sail
away into the clear sunshine. Poor little unfor-
tunate things! they only dropped heavily, one
after the other, into the garden, where the cat
happened to be sitting with a friend; and, as
the little dog, who saw the whole, declared, were
instantly gobbled up, feathers and all.
Their parents having had lunch offered them
(it was spider pie, and they could not resist it)
were late in returning home. Their dismay
may be imagined on finding the house empty.
In great distress they at once exclaimed that
they were the victims of treachery: that the
cross gentleman and the good lady had suffered
them to build in their window for no other
purpose than that of making sparrow-dumplings
of their darlings. But this was only an outburst







72 THE TO TIVW SPARR 0 WS.

of distraction. When somewhat more tranquil,
they felt that it was unjust to entertain such
injurious suspicions of those who had never
wronged them, and who in the neighbourhood
were generally esteemed far from bad people.
So they went round to all their neighbours to
make inquiry,-even to the vulgar birds in the
tree, who received them kindly, and did all they
could for them, which was to express the warm-
est sympathy for their sorrowful condition.
Coming home almost in despair, they met the
dog, with whom they had a slight acquaintance,
and asked him if he had seen their little ones.
But he only told them to inquire at the police-
office for their missing children ; adding imper-
tinently, that the cat kept it in the back area.
It was well they knew nothing of the cat's
habits, or the dog's unfeeling, remark would
have conveyed a dreadful meaning to their
minds.
So they gave up all hope, and came. home
sadly enough. There fresh misfortunes awaited







THE TO TWN SPARR 0 WS. 73

them; for,. seeing the nest empty, even the
good lady herself had made the clean house-
maid sweep it away with her enormous broom.
They had no heart to build it up again;
and as they hovered about the old spot-their
wings trembled so they could scarcely sup-
port themselves-often and often did they
blame themselves for this entire destruction of
their hopes and home, declaring that should
they ever again be blest with such sweet chil-
dren, they would never waste, in idle visiting
and gaiety, the time that ought to be devoted
to their family.
And I, who overheard this, thought it a very
wise resolution, and hoped they would keep it.














Kom






THE MILD FEBRUARY.




SILLY little birds,
Twittering on each spray,
Make such a precious 'row,'
You needs must think it May.

But soon the bitter wind,
And cold will come again;
O silly little birds !
There'll be no twittering then.








TB














i--








THE CHILDREN'S DOG.



MONG our pets at home, Diamond,
an exceedingly respectable-looking
fat, black dog, held a distinguished
place. His coat was as smooth and glossy as
though the house-maid had polished it up
with her furniture-brush; whilst his plumpness
was drolly shown one day by the cat's repeated
and unsuccessful efforts to stand on him as he
lay basking by the kitchen fire. She slipped
so often on the sleek, round surface, that at last
she fairly screamed with vexation: of which
Diamond took no other notice than just to
77








78 THE CHILDREN'S DOG.

raise his head to look at her, and then lay it
down again with something between a groan
and a grunt. Not a particularly elegant sound,
it must be said; though I have heard other
animals make one not very unlike it.
I do not think our dog could be exactly
called beautiful; nay, I fear his general style
was somewhat of a vulgar one. But he was
very fond of his master, and all the children;
and we in return were very fond of him, and
thought him a great improvement upon his
predecessor Don, who was such a huge creature
that he used to upset us like so many nine-
pins, as he swept round the house in mere play.
We were frightened at sight of him. He would
put his large paws on my father's shoulders as
he stood, and then try to lick his face, by way
of making himself agreeable, whilst we flocked
round wondering. Diamond, however, was not
too big to be manageable, and as he was good-
natured into the bargain, we often took him out
with us when walking in the country; much







THE CHILDREN'S DOG. 79

both he and we enjoyed this. He would trot
merrily along, wagging his long pointed tail
that curled over on his back-I suppose to be
out of the way-sometimes in mere gaiety of
heart making a rush and a snap at any creature
smaller than himself, that he chanced to meet
in the course of his travels. In this way he
was generally very successful in breaking up
parties of hens that were teaching their chickens
to pick up a living by the roadside. He seemed
to think it remarkably good fun to set them off
hop, skip, and jump, with that sort of hysterical
chuckle, ending in a scream, that hens are apt
to make when startled. But one day an old
fowl, whom he had gallantly charged as usual,
turned round upon him, and flapped her wings
about his ears in such a style that Diamond
speedily took to his heels, and with sorrow and
shame fled back to his young mistresses, who
were all laughing at him, he looked so silly. I
ought not to insinuate that he was altogether
a coward, for, 'once upon a time,' he thought







80 THE CHILDREN'S DOG.

proper to attack a large pig, who, with com-
mendable propriety, was quietly occupying his
share of the world, without infringing upon that
of his neighbours; and on this occasion there
ensued the usual consequences of a collision
between two bodies of greatly disproportioned
size and weight;. the pig stood firm as a rock,
whilst Diamond, as the 'weaker, went to the
wall.' I wish I could say that he learned pru-
dence from these encounters, in which his posi-
tion was ordinarily that inglorious one known
as 'second best;' but I do not think that he
did. There are some people whom not even
experience makes wise; and decidedly Dia-
mond was one of that class.
His fondness for us had, I fear, a little un-
amiable tincture of selfishness in it. One
morning when he was in the dining-room with
us, a friend brought in a beautiful greyhound,
with which we young folks were soon playing,
and much delighted with his graceful move-
ments. Diamond looked on for some time,







THE CHILDREN'S DOG. 81

evidently annoyed that the elegant stranger
should receive more attention than himself.
At last he could bear it no longer; and by
way, I suppose, of showing that he possessed
equally good claims to our admiring notice,
began to execute a series of most clumsy and
ludicrous imitations of the greyhound's playful
gambols; just such as a fat, short-legged dog
might be supposed capable of. His excessively
awkward pranks, and the obvious motive of
them, of course, soon set us all looking and
laughing at him. This Diamond appeared to
understand as a tribute of applause to his exer-
tions, which he thereupon redoubled; when,
just as the greyhound, raising himself with easy
grace, had leaped lightly upon the table, our
unfortunate dog, determined not to be outdone,
gave himself a heavy fling, like a porpoise, and
nearly crushed a young lady by alighting, with
all his weight, in her lap, where he sat looking
as pleased with himself as possible. 'Match
me that,' he seemed to say to all around.
F








82 THE CHILDREN'S DOG.

This jealousy of Fly, the greyhound, was
however only a trouble for once and away; the
visitor took his leave, and Diamond recovered
his composure. A more lasting distraction re-
sulted from our adding a new cat to the
establishment in place of the old mouser, who
had been the terror of our infant days by
reason of her particularly bad temper, to which
claws, as strong as they were sharp, were apt
to give formidable expression. I was carrying
her off one day against her will, when, twisting
herself round, she planted these same claws
firmly in my neck, and then drew herself out of
my arms, with such violence, as left me for a
short space not quite certain whether my head
had not been wrenched off in the process. It
felt amazingly like it.
Of course, now that I am grown up, I think
Pussy very likely knew what she was about, in
keeping her claws in good working order for
children's use, who do not always treat either
cat or kittens quite as respectfully as could be







THE CHILDREN'S DOG. 83

wished. If I were a cat I should do so myself,
and go to the expense of a special grindstone
for the purpose.
But to return to our new-comer; not only
did she break in upon Diamond's monopoly of
our affection, but she added to the offence, that
of treating himself with great personal indignity.
She used to 'swear,' and spit at the poor beast,
until he was quite confused with the noise;
then, with tail aloft, and as thick as two, fly at
him, and, quick as lightning, give him half a
dozen boxes on the ear, and a good scratch in
the face, before he had the slightest idea of her
designs upon him. But this turbulence wore
off in time, and the two got to be on something
like speaking terms. He would snarl at her if
they met, and she would just spit at him in
passing; and there was an end.
I do not know that there were many incidents
in Diamond's life that are worth relating. The
most comfortable lives-and his life was emin-
ently comfortable, grimalkin notwithstanding-







84 THE CHILDREN'S DOG.

are often the most wanting in incident. 'Ease'
he had in plenty; but not the 'hunger' which,
with it, is said to make up a dog's life. We
always took care that our pets were well fed
and well treated ; I don't mean pampered on
mutton chops, and wings of chicken, for that is
simply wicked; nor allowed to make everybody
in the house uncomfortable, which is simply
foolish. But they had proper food, and enough
of it; and not only were they not kicked and
scuffed about, but they were kindly dealt with,
and received such a reasonable amount of petting
as dog, cat, man, woman, and child are all the
better for. Life must have its occasional lumps
of sugar both for man and beast.
It must be admitted that our dear Diamond
was of no earthly use; the cat was fifty times
as respectable for that matter, for she earned
her own living by ridding us of mice, and did
her own washing into the bargain; but seeing
that he was only a dog, that was perhaps of no
great consequence. Had he been a human








THE CHILDREN'S DOG. 85

being-man, boy, or child-I should have had
something very different to say about it.
But fat, respectable-looking, common-place
as our dog was, he came to a rather extraor-
dinary and very melancholy end. He was
shut up in the stable one night, when (whether
seized with a sprightly fit or not, or whether he
intentionally committed suicide, nobody knows)
he jumped right over the horse ; and the cord
by which he was tied up not being long enough
to let him reach the ground, there the poor
creature hung, and was found dead next morn-
ing, to the great grief of us children, who all
loved Diamond very much.







'2" 4;Z













; -W .--. "- <:,".' -' -* : -








I SHALL JUST GO AND GIVE A GOOD
THUMPING TO ROVER.



I SHALL just go and give a good thumping to Rover,
He's tumbled poor pussy-cat over and over,
The poor thing's so frightened, she scarcely can stir,
And O, what a mess he has made of her fur !

It's a shame, that it is, that a bit of a cat,
Should be bundled about by a great dog like that;
But if ever again he should do such a trick,
Old Thomas, the coachman, shall give him the stick.

Eh 1 cruel to dogs ?-no, no, not a bit,
Dogs' skins are so thick that they stand a good hit;
But if Pussy is naughty, to deal with her rightly,
(Cats' skins are so thin), you must slap very lightly.
87























MISS TABBY.




ISS TABBY was a wee, wee kitten,
about the length of your hand, with
the usual number of very weak
trembling legs, and a small pointed tail, that
stuck straight out behind, as if to balance the
unsteady little body to which it belonged.
Her age was precisely one fortnight; and she
had just been taken from the basket in which
she and her mother lay coiled up together, and
carried in the housemaid's apron to the drawing-
room to be admired. Her mother followed of
course, to see that no harm happened to her;
89








90 MISS TABBY.

for she knew that human beings were scarcely
fit to be trusted with such precious creatures as
kittens. Especially such a one as this; for
though Pussy loved all her children, yet the
rest of her family being, like herself, perfectly
black, she thought little Tabby the most
beautiful kitten that ever was seen; and, as
some parents will do, loved and prized her
more than them all on this account.
The whole party got safely down again from
that first visit to the drawing-room. Tabby's
beauty had been praised, though not half so
much as her mother thought it deserved; and
she was right glad to have her all to herself
again.
Time passed on; and the kitten grew hand-
somer and stronger, and more intelligent every
day. Her mother was delighted, and yet at
times almost frightened lest the alarming pre-
cocity of intellect which she imagined her dar-
ling exhibited, should prove prejudicial to her
health, if not indeed, as maternal fears occa-








MISS TABBY. 91

sionally suggested, even to her life; and some-
times, in fits of depression, she expressed these
anxieties to Tabby's grandmother, who lived
with them. But the old lady, who had brought
up scores of kittens, only laughed at her; or
when she thought little Tabby was more in-
dulged than was good for her, would exclaim
peevishly :-' How you do spoil that child!
she'll never be good for anything, you may
depend upon it!'
Remarks of this sort vexed Pussy very much;
but she knew grandmamma was getting old
and infirm, and that she never had an amiable
temper. So she bit her lips and said nothing;
the expression of any irritation that she might
feel being confined to the tip of her tail, which
did at times jerk about rather angrily, while
her aged parent was propounding her severe
views on the educational and moral training of
young people. Then she would beckon Tabby
out of the room, and have a good romp with
her in the garden, until they were both tired.








92 MISS TABBY.

And as the little thing lay fast asleep, she
would sit winking in the sunshine, and purring
and saying to herself that, after all, there never
was such a kitten as Tabby. There was such
an air about all she did; in the way in which
she licked her paws, and ran after her tail, and
drew up her little whiskers at cats' meat! And
when she wakened, and jumped about her
mother, and bit her cheeks, and pulled her tail,
and clawed her in the face until it brought the
tears into her eyes, Pussy only smiled, and said
to herself:-' What delightful spirits the child
has!'
Tabby's spirits were sometimes too much for
her grandmother. Several days together she
was wakened out of her afternoon's nap before
it was half over, by the outrageous merriment
of her granddaughter; and this made her exces-
sively cross. But one morning when the sun
shone in upon them so bright and warm, that
little Tabby was nearly beside herself with glee,
rfe so far forgot herself in her friskiness as to








MISS TABBY. 93

jump right upon her grandmother's back, as
she sat basking on the floor. Upon which the
old lady turned round, and gave her such a box
on the ear as made her head ring for full ten
minutes after, and put an effectual stop to such
impertinences for the future. Having a will of
her own, Tabby did not like -having her play
spoiled in this fashion; but seeing there was no
help for it, she comforted herself with the agree-
able fiction of doing as she pleased when she
was grown up.
Our kitten was a frequent visitor to the draw-
ing-room, for the ladies of the house were sensible
people, and very fond of cats. She generally en-
joyed herself very much when there ; for she was
permitted to do just as she thought proper, and
had all sorts of gratifying attentions paid her.
But one day, when she was about three weeks
old, she complained, when she came down-stairs,
that she had been nearly suffocated with a
saucer of milk, which the ignorant, though well-
meaning ladies, had set her down to, and into








94 MISS TABB Y.

which she had popped both mouth and nose,
in sheer ignorance what to do with it, as she
had never drunk milk before. She told her
mother it had made her cough and sneeze in a
very unpleasant manner; but that a pat of
butter, to which she had found her own way on
the table, was so exceedingly good, that she
had eaten a large piece of it without any diffi-
culty at all; and if she might have her own
will, she would never again sit down to a meal
without this delightful viand forming a part of
it. Her mother laughed; and hoped she
would not be ill after her excesses. But grand-
mamma was cross; and threatened her so with
bilious attacks, and nobody knows what, that
Miss Tabby was fairly frightened, and vowed
she would never again taste butter, if-licking
her lips as she said it-she could possibly resist
it.
She was very fond of the ladies who took so
much notice of her ; and often said that if they
had proper pains taken with them, they would







MISS TABB Y. 95

be almost as agreeable as cats. Her mother
shook her head doubtingly at this; but her
grandmother-who had a low opinion of the
whole race, and never neglected any oppor-
tunity of putting a slight upon these ladies, for
whom she professed the greatest aversion-
told her it was perfectly ridiculous; when she
was older she would know better, and find, as
she herself had done, that human beings of
every rank and age were characterized in the
highest degree by treachery, deceit, and cruelty,
vices which she abhorred. And then she told
Tabby how her poor old grandmother had once
been as young and beautiful, and almost as silly,
as herself. That ladies, and even gentlemen,
who do not generally know how to conduct
themselves towards cats, had patted and stroked
her, and made her cough and sneeze in saucers of
milk, before she had the slightest idea how to
take it properly; and by their flattering ways
had led her to think as favourably of them as
her grandchild now did. But no sooner was







96 MISS TABBE

she old enough to take care of herself, and had
been taught to lap milk, wash her face, and do
other little things useful both to herself and her
mother, than, spite of all their pretensions to
friendliness, she was put into a basket one
evening, jolted along, she did not know how
many miles, and then turned out in a strange
house among vulgar people; and she never
again saw one member of her own family. Her
kittens-she had had many, as good as they
were handsome-had been dealt with in the same
way (one of them was actually sold for sixpence
before her own eyes), with the exception of her
last daughter, Tabby's mother, who was, she
declared, the sole comfort of her declining
years.
She was proceeding to assure her horror-
stricken hearer, who had never dreamed of such
depravity, that a similar fate would certainly
be hers at last, but stopped short to catch a
mouse that she had heard squeaking in a cor-
ner; and after playing with it half an hour







MISS TABBY. 97

before eating it, was so tired that, instead of
finishing her lecture, she fell fast asleep, leav-
ing Miss Tabby secretly resolving that she
would never learn to lap milk, or do anything
for herself, seeing the acquisition of these
accomplishments had been attended by such
terrible consequences to her grandmother.
Grandmamma was right. Little Tabby was
spirited away from her home and friends. And
it fell out thus :-
There was a dreadful giant in that neighbour-
hood, whose name was so hard that no one
could pronounce it. There was a large brass
plate all over his front door, and he drew the
teeth of all the people who were unfortunate
enough to get into his' den. Everybody was
frightened for him; and as he walked along the
street, making a noise like thunder, he often
saw Tabby sitting on her own door-step in the
sunshine. She was very much afraid of him,
and used to run away when she saw him
coming. But he spoke kindly to her, and pre-
G







98 MISS TABB Y.

tended to admire her so much that at last she
ventured to let him come near her. He stroked
her back, and said, 'Puss-chit, chit!' in as
gentle a voice as he could ; when, just as she
was rubbing herself against his boot, he sud-
denly stooped down, seized her round the waist,
dropped her into his pocket, and ran off straight
to his castle, where he keeps her to this very
day.
But whether he intends to eat little Tabby,
or only make her catch mice for him, I really
cannot say.