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The Baldwin Libry
WINGS AND STINGS.
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WINGS AND STINGS:
A TALE FOR THE YOUNG.
AUTHOR OF THE SILVER CASKET," THE ROBBERS' CAVE,"
How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower !
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;
EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.
HAT is the use of a preface? Most of
my young readers will regard it as they
Should a stile in front of a field in
which they were going to enjoy hay-
making; as something which they
hastily scramble over, eager to get to what is
beyond. Such being the case, I think it best to
make my preface as short, my stile as small as
possible, not being offended if some of my friends
should skip over it at one bound! To the more
sober readers I would say, if you look for some fun
in the little field which you are going to enter,
remember that in haymaking there is profit as well
as amusement; in turning over thoughts in our
minds, as in turning over newly-mown grass, we
may "make hay while the sun shines," which will
serve us when cloudier days arise.
A. L. O. E.
I- : -
I. THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE, ... ... ...
II. SOME ACCOUNT OF A WATERFALL, ... ... .. ... 21
III. A FLATTERING INVITATION, ... ... ... 27
IV. HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS, ... ... ... ... 3
V. CONVERSATION IN THE IIVE, ... ... ... ... 42
VI. A STINGING REPROOF, ... ... ... ... ... 48
VII. A WONDERFUL BORE, ... ... ... ... 6 54
VIII. A CHASE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES, ... .. ... ... 60
IX. PRISONS AND PRISONERS, ... .. ...... 73
X. A CONFESSION, ... ... .... ... .. .. 79
XI. A SUDDEN FALL, ... ... .. .. ... ... 88
XII. AN UNPLEASANT JOURNEY, ... ... ... ... ... 94
XIII. WINGS AND STINGS, ... ........ ...... 102
WINGS AND STINGS.
THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE.
g "AD you not better go on a little faster with
.-'21 your work, Polly?" said Minnie Wingfield,
f ^ glancing up for a minute from her own,
over which her little fingers had been
J busily moving, and from which she now
for the first time raised her eyes.
"I wish that there were no such thing as work!"
exclaimed Polly from her favourite seat by the school-
room window, through which she had been watching
the bees thronging in and out of their hive, some
flying away to seek honied treasure, some returning
laden with it to their home.
"I think that work makes one enjoy play more,"
replied Minnie, her soft voice scarcely heard amidst
10 THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE.
the confusion of sounds which filled the school-room,
for there was a spelling-class answering questions at
the moment, and the hum of voices from the boys'
school-room, which adjoined that of the girls, added
not a little to the noise.
The house might itself be regarded as a hive, its
rosy-cheeked scholars as a little swarm of bees, and
knowledge as the honey of which they were in search,
drawn, not from flowers, but from the leaves of
certain dog's-eared books, which had few charms for
the eyes of Polly Bright.
"I never have any play," said the little girl,
peevishly. "As soon as school is over, and I should
like a little fun, there is Johnny to be looked after,
and the baby to be carried. I hate the care of
children-mother knows that I do-and I think that
baby is always crying on purpose to tease me! "
"Yet it must be pleasant to think that you are
helping your mother, and doing your duty."
Polly uttered a little grunting sound, which did
not seem like consent, and ran her needle two or
three times into her seam, always drawing it back
instead of pushing it through, which every one knows
is not the way to get on with work.
"Why, even these little bees," Minnie continued,
"have a sort of duty of their own, and how steadily
they set about it! "
THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE. 11
"Pretty easy duty playing amongst flowers, and
feasting upon honey "
Minnie Wingfield, no talking allowed in school!"
cried the teacher, from the top of the room, turning
towards the corner near the window. "Polly Bright,
you are always the last in your class "
This time the lazy fingers did draw the needle
through, but a cross ill-tempered look was on the
face of the little girl, while her companion, Minnie,
colouring at the reproof, only worked faster than
We will leave them seated on their bench with
their sewing in their hands, and passing through
the little window, as only authors and their readers
can do, cross the narrow garden with its small rows
of cabbages and onions bordered by a line of stunted
gooseberry-bushes, and mixing with the busy inhabi-
tants of the hive, glide through the tiny opening
around which they cluster, and enter the palace of
the bees. Now I have a suspicion, that though my
young readers may be well acquainted with honey-
comb and honey, and have even had hives on a bench
in their own gardens, they never in their lives have
been inside one, and are totally ignorant of the
language of bees. For your benefit, therefore, I
intend to translate a little of the buzzing chit-chat
12 THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE.
of the winged nation; and, begging you to consider
yourself as little as possible, conduct you at once to
the palace of Queen Farina.
A very curious and beautiful palace it is, the
Crystal Palace itself is not more perfect in its way.
Look at the long lines of cells, framed with the nicest
care, row above row, built of pure white wax, var-
nished with gum, and filled with provisions for the
winter! Yonder are the nurseries for the infant
bees; these larger apartments are for the royal race;
that-largest of all-is the state-chamber of .the
queen! How straight are the passages, just wide
enough to let two travellers pass without jostling!
And as for the inhabitants of this singular palace, or
rather, I should say, this populous city, though for
a moment you may think them all hurrying and
bustling about in utter confusion, I assure you that
they are governed by the strictest order; each knows
her own business, her own proper place! I am
afraid that before you are well acquainted with your
small companions, you may find some difficulty in
knowing one from another, as each bee looks as
much like her neighbour as a pin does to a pin. I
am not speaking, of course, of her majesty the queen,
distinguished as she is from all her subjects by the
dignified length of her figure and the shortness of
her wings; but you certainly would not discover,
THE H1 H V E
T HE 8 1 H IV E
THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE. 13
unless I told you, that the little creature hanging
from the upper comb is considered a beauty in Bee-
land. You must at once fancy your eyes powerful
microscopes, till a daisy is enlarged to the size of a
table, and the thread of a spider to a piece of stout
whip-cord; for not till then can you find out the
smallest reason why Sipsyrup should be vain of her
beauty. Yet why should she not pride herself on
her slender shape or her fine down !-vanity may
seem absurd in a bee, but surely it is yet more so in
any reasonable creature, to whom sense has been given
to know the trifling worth of mere outside looks; and
I fear that I may have amongst my young readers
some no wiser than little Sipsyrup.
She is not buzzing eagerly about like her com-
panions, who are now working in various parties;
some raising the white walls of the cells; some carry-
ing away small cuttings of wax, not to be thrown
away, used in some other place, for bees are very
careful and thrifty; some putting a fine brown
polish on the combs, made of a gum gathered from
the buds of the wild poplar; some bringing in pro-
visions for the little workmen, who are too busy to go
in search of it themselves. No, Sipsyrup seems in
her hive as little satisfied as Polly in her school-room,
as she hangs quivering her wings with an impatient
movement, very unworthy of a sensible bee.
14 THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE.
"A fine morning this!" buzzed an industrious
young insect, making bee-bread with all her might.
I may here remark, that the subject of the weather
is much studied in hives, and that their inhabitants
show a knowledge of it that might put to shame
some of the learned amongst us. I am not aware
that they ever make use of barometers, but it is said
that they manage seldom to be caught in a shower,
and take care to keep at home when there is thunder.
"A fine morning indeed!" replied Sipsyrup.
"Yes; the sunshine looks tempting enough, to be
sure; no doubt the flowers are all full of honey, and
the hills covered with thyme; but of what use is
this to a poor nurse-bee like me, scarcely allowed to
snatch a hasty sip for myself, but obliged to look
after these wretched little larvae (that is the name
given to young baby-bees), and carry home tasteless
pollen to make bread for them, when I might be
enjoying myself in the sunshine !"
We once were larve ourselves," meekly observed
"Yes, and not very long ago," replied Sipsyrup
rather pertly, glancing at the whitish down that
showed .her own youth; for it was but three days
since she had quitted her own nursery, which may
account for her being so silly a young bee.
"And but for the kindness of those who supplied
THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE. 15
our wants, when we were poor helpless little crea-
tures, we should never have lived to have wings,"
continued her companion.
"Don't remind me of that time!" buzzed Sip-
syrup, who could not bear to think of herself as a
tiny, feeble worm. "Anything more weary and
tiresome than the life that I led, shut up all alone
in that horrid cell, spinning my own coverlet from
morning till night, I am sure that I cannot imagine !
Ah speaking of that spinning, if you had only seen
what I did yesterday !"
What was that ?" inquired Silverwing.
"As I flew past a sunny bank, facing the south,
I noticed a small hole, at the entrance of which I
saw one of our cousins, the poppy-bees. Her dress,
you must know, is different from ours (Sipsyrup
always thought something of dress); it is black,
studded on the head and back with reddish-gray
hairs, and her rings are edged with gray. Wishing
to notice a little more closely her curious attire, I
stopped and wished her good day. Very politely
she invited me into her parlour, and I entered the
hole in the bank."
"A dull, gloomy place to live in, I should fear."
"Dull! gloomy !" exclaimed Sipsyrup, quivering
her feelers at the recollection; "why, the cell of our
queen is a dungeon compared to it! The hole grew
16 THE BIG HIVEAND THE LITTLE ONE.
wider as we went further in, till it appeared quite
roomy and large, and all round it was hung with the
most splendid covering, formed of the leaves of the
poppy, of a dazzling scarlet, delightful to behold !
Since I saw it, I have been scarcely able to bear the
look of this old hive, with its thousands of cells, one
just like another, and all of the same white hue!"
"Had the poppy-bee a queen?" inquired Silver-
"No; she is queen, and worker, and everything
herself; she has no one to command her, no one to
obey ; no waspish companion like Stickasting there."
'"What's that? who buzzes about me?" cried a
large thick bee, hurrying towards them with an
angry hum Stickasting had been the plague of
the hive ever since she had had wings; she was
especially the torment of the unfortunate drones,
who, not having been gifted with stings like the
workers, had no means of defence to protect them
from their bullying foe. When a larva, her impa-
tient disposition was not known; she had-spun her
silken web like any peaceable insect, then lain quiet
and asleep as a pupa or nymph. But no sooner did
the young bee awake to life, than, using her new
powers with hearty good will, she ate her way
through the web at such a quick rate, that the old
bees who looked in pronounced at once that she was
THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE. 17
likely to be a most active worker. Nor were they
disappointed, as far as work was concerned; no one
was ready to fly faster or further, no one worked
harder at building the cells; but it was soon dis-
covered that her activity and quickness were not
the only qualities for which she was remarkable. If
ever bee had a bad temper, that bee was Stickasting;
quarrelling, bullying, attacking, fighting,-she was
as bad as a wasp in the hive! No one would ever
have trusted larvae to her care; Sipsyrup might
neglect or complain of her charge, but Stickasting
would have been positively cruel. Her companion-
ship was shunned, as must be expected by all of her
character, whether they be boys or bees; and she
seldom exchanged a hum, except of defiance, with
any creature in the hive.
Sipsyrup, the moment that she perceived Stick-
asting coming towards her, flew off in alarm, leaving
poor Silverwing to bear the brunt of the attack.
"Who buzzes about me?" repeated Stickasting
fiercely, flying very close up to the little nurse-bee.
"Indeed I never-named you," replied Silverwing
timidly, shrinking back as close as she could to the
If you were not talking against me yourself, you
were listening to and encouraging one who did.
Who dare say that I am waspish ?" continued Stick-
(238) : 2
18 THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE.
asting, quivering her wings with anger till they were
almost invisible. "It is this gossip and slander
that make the hive too hot to hold us! I once
thought better of you, Silverwing, as a quiet, good-
natured sort of a bee, but I now see that you are
just like the rest, and as silly as you are ugly !"
This was a very provoking speech-it was intended
to be so; but Silverwing was not a creature ready
to take offence; whatever she felt, she returned no
answer, an example which I would strongly recom-
mend to all in her position, whether standing on six
feet or on two.
But Stickasting was resolved to pick a quarrel if
possible, especially with one whom she considered
less strong than herself, for she was not one of those
generous beings who scorn to take advantage of the
weakness of another. Stickasting much resembled
the class of rude, coarse-minded boys, who find a
pleasure in teasing children, and annoying little girls,
and like to show their power over those who dare
not oppose it.
"I owe you a grudge, Silverwing, for your conduct
to me yesterday. When I was toiling and working
at the cells like a slave, not having time to go out
for refreshment, I saw you fly past me two or three
times, and not a drop of honey did you offer
THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE. 19
"I was carrying pollen for my little larvse," gently
replied Silverwing; it is not my office to supply
the builders, though I am sure that I should do so
with pleasure; but the baby-bees are placed under
my charge, and you know what care they need till
they begin to spin."
"Yes; idle, hungry, troublesome creatures that
they are Have they not set about their spinning
yet? I'll make them stir themselves "-and Stick-
asting made a movement towards the nursery-cells.
The larve do not like to be disturbed !" cried
Silverwing, anxious for her charges, and placing her-
self between them and the intruder.
"Like I daresay not; but who cares what they
like! Get out of the way, I'll prick them up a
"You shall not come near them !" hummed the
little nurse, resolutely keeping her place.
"I say that I shall,-who shall hinder me ? Get
out of my way, or I'll let you feel my sting."
Silverwing trembled, but she did not stir, for she
was a faithful little bee. As the hen is ready to de-
fend her chickens from the hawk, and even the timid
wren will fight for her brood, so this feeble insect
would have given up her life rather than have for-
saken the little ones confided to her care.
But she was not left alone to struggle with her
20 THE BIG HIVE AND THE LITTLE ONE.
assailant: two of her winged companions came to the
rescue, and Stickasting, who had no wish to encounter
such odds, and was fonder, perhaps, of bullying than
of fighting, no sooner saw Waxywill and Honeyball
on the wing, than with an angry hum she hurried
out of the hive.
SOME ACCOUNT OF A WATERFALL.
WISH that all little nurses were as trust-
worthy as Silverwing, or as kind and
patient with their charges! While Polly
Bright has sat in her mother's cottage trim-
ming her bonnet, till it looks as absurd as
pink ribbons can make it, the poor baby has been
crying unheeded in his cradle, except that now and
then, when vexed more than usual by the noise,
with an almost angry look she pauses for a moment
to rock the cradle with her foot. She does not
notice that little Johnny has been clambering up by
the pail, which her mother has set aside for her
washing, till the sudden sound of a fall, and a splash,
and a child's frightened cry, startle her, and she sees
little streams running all over the stone floor, and
Johnny flat on his face in the middle of a loud roar
-and a pool of water.
22 SOME ACCOUNT OF A WATERFALL.
Up she jumps, not in the best of tempers; poor
Johnny is dragged up by one arm, and receives one
or two slaps on the back, which only makes him cry
louder than before; he stands a picture of childish
misery, with dripping dress and open mouth, the
tears rolling down his rosy cheeks, helpless and
frightened, as his careless sister shakes and scolds
him, and shakes him again, for what was the effect
of her own negligence.
Happily for the little boy, Minnie Wingfield is a
near neighbour, and comes running at the sound of
Why, what is the matter, my dear little man? "
are her first words as she enters the cottage.
"Look here did you ever see anything like it ?
His dress clean on to-day I cannot turn my back
for a moment, but he must be at the pail-naughty,
tiresome, mischievous boy!" and poor Johnny
received another shake. "A pretty state the cot-
tage is in-and there-oh, my bonnet my bonnet !"
exclaimed Polly, as she saw that in her hurry and
anger she had thrown it down, and that, pink rib-
bons and all, it lay on the floor, right across one of
the little streams of water.
"Never mind the bonnet; the poor child may
be hurt; and oh, take care, the baby will be
wetted!" and without waiting for Polly's tardy
SOME ACCOUNT OF A WATERFALL. 23
aid, Minnie pushed the cradle beyond reach of
While Polly was yet bemoaning her bonnet, and
trying to straighten out its damaged ribbons, Minnie
had found out something dry for the shivering little
boy, had rubbed him, and comforted him, and taken
him upon her knee; then asking him to help her
to quiet poor baby, had hushed the sickly infant in
her arms. Was there no pleasure to her kind heart
when its wailing gradually ceased, and the babe fell
into a sweet sleep, or when Johnny put his plump
arms tight round her neck, and pressed his little
lips to her cheek ?
There are some called to do great deeds for man-
kind, some who bestow thousands in charity, some
who visit hospitals and prisons, and live and die the
benefactors of their race. But let not those who
have not power to perform anything great, imagine
that because they can do little, they need therefore
do nothing to increase the sum of happiness upon
earth. There is a terrible amount of suffering
caused by neglect of, or unkindness to little children.
Their lives, often how short! are embittered by
harshness, their tempers spoiled, sometimes their
health injured; and can those to whose care the
helpless little ones were confided, imagine that
there is no sin in the petulant word, the angry blow,
24 SOME ACCOUNT OF A WATERFALL.
or that many will not have one day to answer for
all the sorrow which they have caused to their
Lord's feeble lambs, to those whose spring-time of
life should be happy.
Would my readers like to know a little more of
Minnie Wingfield, whose look was so kind, whose
words were so gentle, that her presence was like
sunshine wherever she went? She lived in a little
white cottage with a porch, round which twined
roses and honeysuckle. There was a little narrow
seat just under this porch, where Minnie loved to sit
in the summer evenings with her work or her book
when her work was done, listening to the blackbird
that sang in the apple-tree, and the humming of the
bees amidst the blossoms. Little Minnie led a
retired life, but by no means a useless one. If her
mother's cottage was the picture of neatness, it was
Minnie who kept it so clean. Her brother's mended
stockings, his nicely-washed shirts, all did credit to
her neat fingers. Yet she could find time to bestow
on the garden, to trim the borders, to water the
plants, to tie up the flowers in which her sick
mother delighted. Nor did Minnie neglect the
daily school. She was not clever, but patient and
ever anxious to please ; her teacher regarded her as
one of her best scholars, and pointed her out as an
example to the rest. But Minnie's great enjoyment
SOME ACCOUNT OF A WATERFALL. 25
was in the Sunday school; there she learned the
lessons which made duty sweet to her, and helped
her on the right way through the week. The small
Bible which had been given to her by her father,
with all his favourite verses marked, was a precious
companion to Minnie: not studied as a task-book,
or carelessly read as a matter of custom; but valued
as a treasure, and consulted as a friend, and made
the rule and guide of daily life.
And was not Minnie happy? In one sense she
certainly was so, but still she had her share of this
world's trials. The kind father whom she had
fondly loved had died the year before; and besides
the loss of so dear a friend, his death had brought
poverty upon his family. It was a hard struggle to
make up the rent of the little cottage, which Mrs.
Wingfield could not bear to quit, for did not every-
thing there remind her of her dear husband-had he
not himself made the porch and planted the flowers
that adorned it! Often on a cold winter's day the
little fire would die out for want of fuel, and Minnie
rise, still hungry, from the simple meal which she
had spared that there might be enough for her
parent and her brother.
Mrs. Wingfield's state of health was another
source of sorrow. She was constantly ailing, and
never felt well, and though saved every trouble
26 SOME ACCOUNT OF A WATERFALL.
by her attentive child, and watched as tenderly as a
lady could have been, the sufferings of the poor
woman made her peevish and fretful, and sometimes
even harsh to her gentle daughter.
Tom, her brother, was also no small trial to
Minnie. Unlike her, he had little thought for any-
thing beyond self; he neither considered the com-
fort nor the feelings of others; if Minnie was like
sunshine in the cottage of her mother, Tom too often
resembled a bleak east wind, and though Mrs. Wing-
field and her daughter never admitted such a thought,
their home was happiest when Tom was not in it.
But it is time to return to our hive.
A FLATTERING INVITATION.
AXYWILL and Honeyball had both come
to the assistance of Silverwing, and she
buzzed her thanks in a grateful way
to both, though different motives had
brought them to her aid, for they were
very different bees in their dispositions.
Honeyball was a good-humoured, easy kind of
creature. Very ready to do a kindness if it cost
her little trouble, but lazy as any drone in the hive.
Honeyball would have liked to live all day in the
bell of a foxglove, with nothing to disturb her in her
idle feast. It was said in the hive that more than
once she had been known to sip so much, that at
last she had been unable to rise, and for hours had
lain helpless on the ground. Sipsyrup, who, like
other vain, silly creatures, was very fond of talking
about other people's concerns, had even whispered
28 A FLATTERING INVITATION.
that Honeyball had been seen busy at one of the pro-
vision-cells stored for the winter's use, which it is
treason in a bee to touch; but as those who talk
much generally talk a little nonsense, we may hope
that there was no real ground for the story.
Waxywill was one of whom such a report would
never have been believed: there was not a more
honourable or temperate worker in the hive. Yet
Stickasting herself was scarcely less liked, so peevish
and perverse was the temper of this bee. If desired
to do anything, it was sure to be the very thing which
she did not fancy. Were cells to be built,-she could
not bear moping in-doors; if asked to bring honey,
she always found out that her wings were tired.
She could not bear submission to the laws of the
hive, and once actually shook her wings at the
queen When she flew to help Silverwing, it was
less out of kindness to her than the love of opposing
Stickasting; and yet Waxywill was not an ungener-
ous bee-she had more sense, too, than insects gener-
ally possess; she would have been respected, and even
loved, in the hive, had not her stubborn wilful temper
We will now follow Sipsyrup in her hasty flight,
as, leaving both her friend and her charges behind,
she made her retreat from Stickasting. How delight-
ful she found the fine fresh air, after the heated hive !
A FLATTERING INVITATION. 29
Now up, now down, she pursued her varying course,
sometimes humming for a moment around some fra-
grant flower, then, even before she had tasted its
contents, deserting it for one yet more tempting.
Deeply she plunged her long tongue into its cup;
her curious pliable tongue, so carefully guarded by
Nature in a nicely fitting sheath. Sheath your
tongue! was an expression which the gossiping
little bee had heard more often than she liked, especi-
ally from the mouth of Waxywill. It might be an
expressive proverb in other places than Bee-land, for
there are tongues whose words are more cutting than
swords, that much need the sheath of discretion.
The movements of the lively insect were watched
with much interest by Spinaway the spider, from her
quiet home in a rose-bush. Sipsyrup, disdaining
the narrow garden of the school, had winged her
way over the wall, and turning into a narrow green
lane that was near, was now sporting with the
blossoms by Mrs. Wingfield's porch. Spinaway was
a clever, artful spider, somewhat ambitious too in
her way. She had made her web remarkably firm
and strong, and expected to be rewarded by nobler
game than the little aphis, or bony gnat; she had
once succeeded in capturing a blue-bottle fly, and this
perhaps it was that raised her hopes so high, that
she did not despair of having a bee in her larder.
30 A FLATTERING INVITATION.
Good morning," said Spinaway, in a soft coaxing
tone, as Sipsyrup came fluttering near her. "You
seem to have travelled some distance, my friend, and
if you should like to rest yourself here, I am sure
that you would be heartily welcome."
Sipsyrup was a young inexperienced bee, but she
did not much fancy the looks of the spider, with her
hunchback and long hairy legs. She politely, there-
fore, declined the invitation, and continued her feast
in a flower.
"I am really glad to see a friend in a nice quiet
way," continued the persevering spider. "I find it
very dull to sit here all day; I would give anything
to have wings like a bee."
Sipsyrup, who loved gossip, advanced a little
nearer, taking care to keep clear of the web.
"I do long to hear a little news of the world, to
know what passes in your wonderful hive. I am
curious to learn about your queen;-your manner
and style of dress is such, that I am sure that you
must have been much about the court."
Settling upon a leaf, still at a safe distance, Sip-
syrup indulged her taste for chit chat, glad to have
so attentive a listener. Spinaway soon heard all the
gossip of the hive-how the present queen had
killed in single combat the queen of another swarm,
whilst the bees of both nations watched the fight-
A FLATTERING INVITATION. 31
and how the hostile band, when they saw their queen
dead, had submitted to the conqueror at once. How
a slug had last morning crept into the hive and
frightened her out of her wits, but had been put to
death by fierce. Stickasting, before it had crawled
more than an inch. Sipsyrup then related-and
really for once her conversation was very amusing-
all the difficulties and perplexity of the people of the
hive, as to how to get rid of the body of the intruder.
She herself had been afraid to venture near the mon-
ster, but Silverwing and the rest had striven with all
their might to remove the dead slug from their hive.
"And did they succeed?" said Spinaway, much
Oh it was quite impossible to drag out the slug!
We were in such distress-such a thing in the hive
-our hive always kept so neat and clean that not
a scrap of wax is left lying about !"
"What did you do ?" said the spider; "it really
was a distressing affair !"
Waxywill thought of a plan for preventing an-
noyance. She proposed that we should cover the
slug all over with wax, so that it should rather ap-
pear like a piece of the comb than a dead creature
left in the hive."
"A capital plan !" cried Spinaway; "and was the
thing done ?"
32 A FLATTERING INVITATION.
Yes, it was, and before the day was over."
So there Mrs. Slug remains in a white wrapping,"
laughed the spider, "a warning to thoso who go where
they are not wanted. You were, I daresay, one of
the foremost in the work."
"Not I; I would not have touched the ugly crea-
ture with one of my feelers !"
"I beg your pardon!" said the spider; "indeed
I might have judged by your appearance that nothing
but the most refined and elegant business would ever
be given to you! You look as though you had
never touched anything rougher than a rose !"
This speech put Sipsyrup in high good-humour,
she began to think that she had judged the spider
harshly, and that she really was an agreeable creature
in spite of her ugly hunch.
"If you speak of delicate work," observed the bee
very politely, "I never saw anything so fine as your
It is tolerably well finished," said the spider with
a bow; "would you honour me by a closer inspection?"
"Oh! thank you, I'm not curious in these matters,"
replied Sipsyrup, still feeling a little doubtful of her
"You have doubtless remarked," said Spinaway,
that each thread is composed of about five thousand
others, all joined together."
A FLATTERING INVITATION. 33
"No, really; I had no idea of that-how wonder-
fully fine they must be! "
"I am surprised that you did not see it, at least
if the powers of your eyes equal their beauty! I
never beheld anything like them before-their violet
colour, their beautiful shape, cut, as it were, into
hundreds of divisions like fine honeycomb cells, and
studded all over with most delicate hair I would
give my eight eyes for your two !"
Two cried Sipsyrup, mightily pleased, I have
three more on the back of my head."
"I would give anything to see them; if they are
but equal to the facetted ones, no creature in the
world could boast of such a set! Might I beg-
would you favour me ?"-
Silly Sipsyrup foolish bee not the first, however,
nor I fear the last, to be caught by sugary words!
Blinded by vanity, forward she flew-touched the
sticky clammy web-entangled her feet-struggled
to get free-in vain, in vain !-quivered her wings
in terrified efforts-shook the web with all her might
-but could not escape! Her artful foe looked
eagerly on, afraid to approach until the poor bee
should have exhausted herself by her struggles. Ah I
better for Sipsyrup had she kept in her hive, had
she spent all the day in making bee-bread, to feed
the little larvae in their cells !
N 7. -
HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS.
IUZZ buzz buzz !-" There's a bee in a
web! cried Tom, looking up from the
bowl of porridge which he was eating
in the rose-covered porch.
Poor thing!" said Minnie, rising from
"A precious fright it must be in I what a noise it
makes cried her brother.
"It is not much entangled-I think that I could
se it free "-and Minnie ran up to the web.
"And be stung for your pains-nonsense leave
it alone. It is good fun to watch it in its struggles."
"It never can be good fun to see any creature in
misery," replied Minnie; and with the help of a
little twig, in a very short time poor Sipsyrup was
released from the web.
"Poor little bee said Minnie, it ha hurt its
HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS. 35
wing, and some of the web is still clinging to its
legs; I am afraid that it cannot fly."
"I hope that it will sting you," laughed Tom.
"Are you going to nurse and pet it here, and get up
an hospital for sick bees? "
"I think that it must belong to our school-
mistress's hive. I will carry it there, and put it by
the opening, and let its companions take care of
it;" and notwithstanding Tom's scornful laugh,
Minnie bore off the bee on her finger.
You are the most absurd girl that I ever knew,"
said he on her return. What does it matter to
you what becomes of one bee I should not mind
smothering a whole hive !"
"Ah! Tom," said his sister, "when there is so
much pain in the world, I do not think that one
would willingly add ever so little to it. And I have
a particular feeling about animals. You know that
they were placed under man, and given to man, and
they were all so happy until-until man sinned;
now, innocent as they are, they share his punishment
of pain and of death, and it seems hard that we
should make that punishment more bitter "
Then my tender-hearted sister would never taste
mutton, I suppose."
"No; the sheep are given to us for food, but I
would make them as happy as I could while they
36 HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS.
lived. Oh, Tom, we are commanded in the Bible
to be 'tender-hearted,' and 'merciful,' and surely
to be cruel is a grievous sin "
I wonder that you did not crush the spider that
would have eaten up your bee."
"Why should I ? She did nothing wrong. It
is nature that has taught her to live on such food;
I would be merciful to spiders as well as to bees."
"You carried off her dinner-she would not thank
you for that."
"Perhaps I did foolishly," said Minnie, with a
smile, "but I cannot see a creature suffering and not
try to help it."
"I wish that you saw the green-grocer's horse,
with his bones all starting through his skin, and the
marks of the blows on his head What would you
say to the master of that horse ? "
"Oh! I wish that he would remember that one
verse from the Bible, Blessed are the merciful, for
they shall obtain mercy.' Without mercy, what
would become of the best-without mercy, we all
should be ruined for ever-and if only the merciful
can obtain mercy-oh what will become of the
"Pshaw!" cried Tom, not able to dispute the
truth of Minnie's words, but not choosing to listen
to them, for he had too many recollections of bird-
ROME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS. 37
nesting, cockchafer-spinning, and worrying of cats,
to make the subject agreeable. Some find it easier
to silence an opponent with a "pshaw 1" than by
reason or strength of argument, and this was Tom's
usual way. He did not wish to continue the con-
versation, and, perhaps with a view to change its
subject, said in a sudden, abrupt tone, as he stirred
his porridge with his pewter spoon,-
"You've not put a morsel of sugar in my bowl."
"Yes, indeed I put some," replied Minnie.
"But you know that I like plenty, I have told
you so a thousand times."
"But, dear Tom, I have not plenty to give you
-we have nearly come to the end of our little store
-and you know," continued she, lowering her voice,
"that we cannot buy more until we are paid for
The little girl did not add that for the last three
days she had not tasted any sugar herself.
"Nonsense!" cried Tom, starting up from his
seat, and hastily entering the cottage. He took
down from the shelf a large broken cup, which was
used to contain the store of sugar. Mrs. Wingfield
was lying asleep in the back-room, being laid up
with a worse headache than usual.
Fearing lest her mother should be roused from
her sleep, Minnie followed her brother, her finger on
38 HOME LESSONS AND ROME TRIALS.
her lip, a look of anxious warning on her face. But
both look and gesture were lost upon Tom, who was
thinking of nothing but himself.
"Here's plenty for to-day," he said in a careless
tone, emptying half the supply into his bowl.
"But Tom-our poor mother-she is ill, you
"Well, I've not taken it all."
"But we cannot afford-"
"Don't torment me cried Tom angrily, helping
himself to more.
"Oh! dear Tom," said the little girl, laying her
hand upon his arm.
"I'll not stand this nonsense exclaimed the
boy fiercely, and turning round, he flung the rest of
the sugar into the dusty road. There-that serves
you right-that will teach you another time to mind
your own business and leave me alone; and noisily
setting down the empty cup, the boy sauntered out
of the cottage.
Something seemed to rise in Minnie's throat-
her heart was swelling, her cheek was flushed with
mingled sorrow and indignation. Oh, how much
patience and meekness we require to meet the
daily little trials of life !
Minnie was roused by her mother's feeble, fretful
voice. "I wish that you and Tom had a little
HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS. 39
more feeling for me! You have awoke me with
your noise !"
"I am sorry that you have been disturbed, dear
mother; I'll try and not let it happen again. Do
you feel better now ? "
"No one feels better for awaking with a start,"
returned Mrs. Wingfield peevishly; "I should not
have expected such thoughtlessness from you."
Minnie's eyes were so brimful of tears that she
dared not shut them, lest the drops should run over
on her cheek. She knew that her mother would not
like to see her cry, so, turning quietly away, she went
to the small fire to make a little tea for the invalid.
There was nothing that Mrs. Wingfield enjoyed
like a cup of warm tea; and when Minnie brought
one to the side of her bed, with a nice little piece of
dry toast beside it, even the sick woman's worn face
looked almost cheerful. As soon, however, as she
had tasted the tea, she set down the cup with a
You've forgotten the sugar, child."
"Not forgotten, mother, but-but I have none."
"More shame to you," cried Mrs. Wingfield, her
pale face flushing with anger; "I am sure that a
good deal was left this morning; you might have
thought of your poor sick mother-she has few
enough comforts, I am sure."
40 HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS.
Poor Minnie she left the room with a very heavy
heart; she felt for some minutes as if nothing could
cheer her. Angry with her brother, grieved at her
mother's undeserved reproach, as she again sat down
to work in the little porch, her tears fell fast over
her seam. Presently Conscience, that inward moni-
tor, to whose advice the little girl was accustomed to
listen, began to make itself heard. "This is fool-
ish, this is wrong-dry up your tears, they can
but give pain to your sick mother. You must
patiently bear with the fretfulness of illness, and not
add to its burden by showing that you feel it. You
know that you have not acted selfishly, you need
not regret your own conduct in the affair-is not
that the greatest of comforts ? But I know very
well," still Conscience whispered in her heart, "that
you never will feel quite peaceful and happy till no
anger remains towards your brother. A little sin
disturbs peace more than a great deal of sorrow;
ask for aid to put away this sin."
Minnie listened to the quiet voice of Conscience,
and gradually her tears stopped and her flushed
cheek became cool. She made a hundred excuses
in her mind for poor Tom. He had been always
much indulged-he would be sorry for what he had
done-how much better he was than other boys
that she knew, who drank, or swore, or stole! And
HOME LESSONS AND HOME TRIALS. 41
for herself, what a sin it was to have felt so miser-
able How many blessings were given her to
enjoy She had health, and sight, and fingers able
to do work, and neither she nor her mother had
difficulty in procuring it, the ladies around were so
kind Then there was the church, and the school,
and the best of books;-and the world was so
beautiful, with its bright sun and sweet flowers-
there was so much to enjoy, so much to be thankful
for! And Minnie raised her eyes to the blue sky
above, all dotted over with rosy clouds; for it was
the hour of sunset, and she thought of the bright
happy place to which her dear father had gone, and
how she might hope to join him there, and never
know sorrow again! What wonder, with such
sweet thoughts for her companions, if Minnie's face
again grew bright, and she worked away in her
little porch with a feeling of peace and grateful love
in her breast, which a monarch might have envied!
CONVERSATION IN THE HIVE.
IOOR Sipsyrup how sadly she stood at the
Entrance of the hive, where her gentle pre-
-, server had left her. The fine down of
T '. which she had been so vain, was all rubbed
.' and injured by her struggles in the web;
one of her elegant wings was torn; she felt that all
her beauty was gone! She had hardly courage to
enter the hive, and was ashamed to be seen by the
busy bees flocking in and out of the door. I am
not sure that insects can sigh, or I am certain that
she must have sighed very deeply. The first thing
that gave her the least feeling of comfort was the
sound of Silverwing's friendly hum. The poor
wounded insect exerted her feeble strength, and
crept timidly into the hive.
"Sipsyrup can it be !" cried Honeyball, rousing
herself from a nap as the bee brushed past her.
CONVERSATION IN THE HIVE. 4:
"Sipsyrup looking as though she had been in the
wars !" exclaimed Waxywill, who, in the pride of
her heart, had always looked with contempt on her
vain silly companion.
My poor Sipsyrup 1" cried Silverwing, hastening
towards her. Their feelers met (that is the way of
embracing in Bee-land), the kind bee said little, but
by every friendly act in her power showed her pity
and anxiety to give comfort.
What pleased Sipsyrup most was the absence of
Stickasting, who had not returned to the hive which
she had left an hour before in a passion.
After resting for a little on a half-finished cell,
-while Silverwing with her slender tongue gently
smoothed her ruffled down, and brought a drop of
honey to refresh her, Sipsyrup felt well enough to
relate her sad story, to which a little group of sur-
rounding bees listened with no small interest. Sip-
syrup left altogether out of her account the fine
compliments paid her by Spinaway-she could not
bear that her vanity should be known; but she
gained little by hiding the truth, as this only made
her folly appear more unaccountable.
"Icannotunderstand," said Waxywill, "howanybee
in her senses could fly into a web with her eyes open!"
When there was not even a drop of honey to be
gained by it," hummed Honeyball.
'44 CONVERSATION IN THE HIVE.
Sipsyrup hastened to the end of her story, and
related how she had been saved from the spider by
the timely help of a kind little girl.
"May she live upon eglantine all her life !" ex-
claimed Silverwing with enthusiasm; "and have her
home quite overflowing with honey and pollen!"
"This is the strangest part of your adventure,"
said Honeyball; "this is the very first time in my
life that I ever heard of kindness shown to an insect
by a human being."
"I thought that bees were sometimes fed by them
in winter," suggested Silverwing.
"Fed with sugar and water! fit food for a bee,"
cried Honeyball, roused to indignation upon the only
subject that stirred her up to anything like excite-
ment. "And have you never heard how whole
swarms have been barbarously murdered, smothered
in the hive which they had filled with so much labour,
that greedy man might feast upon their spoils 1"
"If you talk of greediness, Honeyball," drily
observed Waxywill, I should say, Keep your tongue
in a sheath !"
I am glad that it is not the custom for men to
eat bees as well as their honey," laughed Silverwing.
"Oh ! they are barbarous to everything, whether
they eat it or not," exclaimed Waxywill with an
angry buzz. "Have I not seen a poor butterfly,
CONVERSATION IN THE HIVE. 45
basking in the sun, glittering in her vest of purple
and gold.-Ah Sipsyrup, in your very best day,
you were no better than a black-beetle compared to
An hour before, Sipsyrup would have felt ready
to sting Waxywill for such an insolent speech, but
the pride of the poor bee was humbled; and when
Waxywill observed her silence, and noticed her
drooping looks, she felt secretly ashamed of her pro-
voking words. She continued,-" Have I not seen
the butterfly, I say, dancing through the air, as
though life was all sunshine and joy !-I have seen
a boy look on her-not to admire, not to feel pleas-
ure in beholding her beauty, but eager to lay that
beauty in the dust, and seize on his little victim!
I have watched him creeping softly, his hat in his
hand, as anxious about his prize as if to destroy a
poor insect's happiness was the way to secure his
own! Now the unconscious butterfly rose high
above the reach of her pursuer, then sank again to
earth, to rest upon a flower, whose tints were less
bright than its wings! Down came the hat!-
there was a shout from the boy, the butterfly was
prisoner at last! If he had caught it to eat it, as
the spider caught Sipsyrup, I could have forgiven
him, for men as well as bees must have food, and I
suspect that they do not live entirely upon honey;
.40 CONVERSATION IN THE HIVE.
but it made me wish for a hundred stings when I
saw the wretched insect lying on the ground, flutter-
ing in the agonies of death; the boy had barbar-
ously torn off its bright beautiful wings, and had
not even the mercy to put it out of pain, by setting
his foot upon it !"
"It had never injured him," murmured Silver-
"It had never injured any one ; it desired nothing
but to be allowed to spend its short life in peace."
"How would the boy have liked to have had his
wings torn off," said Honeyball, "for the amusement
of some creature stronger than himself?"
"Men and boys are worse than hornets !" mut-
"But we have found one of human-kind,"
hummed Silverwing, cheerfully, "who could be
merciful even to a bee Perhaps in the world there
may be others like her-too noble, too generous to
use their strength to torture and destroy what
cannot resist them."
Waxywill and Honeyball now took their departure,
I fear rather for their own pleasure than for the
benefit of the hive, as Waxywill was not in a humour
to work, and Honeyball was always in a humour to
idle. As soon as they had flown out of reach of
hearing, poor Sipsyrup said in a very dull tone, "I
CONVERSATION IN THE HIVE. 47
wonder what is to become of me now, poor unhappy
insect that I am I fear that I shall never be able
to fly, and to live on here in this wretched way is
almost worse than to be eaten by a spider."
"Oh, you should not say so!" replied gentle
Silverwing; "you can still crawl about, and you
are safe in your own home."
"Safe !-I am miserable With what pleasure
I had thought of joining the first swarm that should
fly off. I am tired of the hive, this noisy bustling
hive; I have lost everything that I cared for, every-
thing that made life pleasant-my beauty, my
strength, my power of flying-I have nothing
"But your duties," added Silverwing; "make
them your pleasures. My dear friend, if you no
more can be pretty, you may still be useful; if you
no more can be admired, you can still be loved.
You may not be able to go far, or to see much, but
there are better joys to be found in your own
Before the night closed, both the little nurse-bees
were busy feeding the larve.
A STINGING REPROOF.
HE sunset was still casting a red glow over
the earth, throwing the long shadows of
the trees on the ground, and lighting up
the cottage windows, as Polly Bright stood
at the door of her cottage, watching for her mother's
Mrs. Bright was a hard-working woman, who,
during the absence of her husband, a soldier in the
Crimea, earned many an honest shilling as char-
woman in the house of the squire on the hill. She
generally managed to let Polly have the advantage
of attending the school in the morning; though her-
self unable to read, she liked the idea of her daughter
being a scholar, and as plain-work was also taught
in the school, she thought that what Polly acquired
there might make her not only more learned, but
more useful. But it was only for attendance in the
A STINGING REPROOF. 49
morning that the char-woman's child could be spared
from her home. During her mother's frequent ab-
sence, all the charge of the cottage and care of the
children belonged of course to Polly Bright.
I cannot say that the little parlour could compare
in neatness with that of Mrs. Wingfield. There was
a chest of drawers in one of the corners, and on it
was heaped a strange medley of things. Teapot and
broken jug, old shawl and a baby's rattle, nutmeg-
scraper, bellows, saucepan and books, were piled in
sad confusion! Nor would I have advised you to
have attempted to open one of the drawers. They
were sometimes too full to be opened at all, and
stuck tight against every effort, as if aware that
they were not fit to be seen. Polly was too fond
of adorning herself, to care for adorning her cot-
tage. She was not aware how far better it looks
to be simple, neat, and clean, and dressed according
to our station, than to be decked out with gaudy
finery, and try to ape the appearance of those whom
Providence has placed above us.
You will remember that we visited this cottage
in the third chapter, and there is little change in
the appearance of things there now. The damp on
the floor occasioned by Johnny's accident has dried
up, and so have the tears of the little boy, who,
seated upon a stool near his sister's feet, is cramming
50 A STINGING REPROOF.
his mouth with bread and butter with an air of
great content. But the thin sickly baby is still in
his cradle, still uttering his feeble unheeded wail, for
the poor little creature is teething hard, and has no
other way of expressing his pain. Polly never
notices his heated lips and swelled gums; she is
more occupied with herself this evening than usual,
for Mrs. Larkins, the farmer's wife, has invited her
to tea, and as soon as her mother returns to take her
place, she will be off to amuse herself at Greenhill.
Oh yes, you might be certain that some gay meet-
ing was expected! Look at the necklace of false
coral round her neck, the half-soiled lace which she
has sewn round her frock, and her hair all in papers
at this hour of the day; you would laugh were you
to see her, but to me the sight of her folly is really
too sad for laughing. Of what is she thinking, as
she quickly untwists the papers, and curls her long
hair round her fingers ? Her thoughts are divided
between impatience at her mother's delay, fears of
herself being late for the party, and wishes that the
pedlar would only happen to call at her cottage.
She had heard that day, from one of her school-
fellows, that a man had been going about the neigh-
bourhood with a pack so full of beautiful things,
that such a collection had never before been seen in
the village. Polly had been particularly tempted by
A STINGING REPROOF. 51
the description of some brooches made of false dia-
monds, and exactly like real ones, as the girl, who
had never seen a jewel in her life, very positively
affirmed. One of these fine brooches was to be had
for sixpence-how eager was Polly to be its possessor!
She counted over her little treasure of pence, and
found that she had sufficient for the purchase.
But how was she to find the pedlar ? Had Polly
not been tied to the cottage by what she called
"these tiresome children," she would long ago have
gone in search of him. She could hardly expect
him to pass down her little lane, but she was near
enough to the high road to see if any one passed
along it in going through the village. At one time
she had set little Johnny to watch, and more than
once her hopes had been raised as the little fellow
shouted aloud, "There's the man!" But Polly came
running first to see a drover with pigs, then the
baker with his little cart going his rounds;-she
had a disappointment, poor Johnny a slap, and he
was sent crying into the cottage This was rather
hard upon him, poor little fellow! How could a
child not three years old be expected to know the
difference between a pedlar and a baker?
But all was quiet again in the cottage, Johnny
occupied with his supper, and Polly with her curl-
papers, when in through the open door who should
52 A STINGING REPROOF.
make her entrance but Stickasting! She came in,
as usual, in no amiable mood, quite ready to take
offence on the very shortest notice. She first settled
on the little baby's arm, but the infant lay perfectly
still, half-comforted in his troubles by sucking his
thumb; the most passionate bee in the world could
find no excuse for being angry with him. Stick-
asting rested for a few moments on the thin tiny
arm, then rose and approached Polly Bright.
Every sensible person knows that when a bee or
a wasp hovers near, the safest way is to keep quiet
and take no notice; but Polly was not a very sensible
person, and being not very courageous neither, was
quite frightened when the insect touched her face.
If Stickasting had mistaken it for a flower, she would
very soon have found out her blunder, and left the
little girl in peace; but, starting back with a cry,
Polly struck the bee, and Stickasting, roused to fury,
quickly returned the blow Mad with passion, the
insect struck her sting so deep, that it was impossible
to withdraw it again, and she left it behind, which
occasions certain death to a bee !
Stickasting felt at once that she had thrown away
her life in a wild desire for revenge ; that her de-
struction was caused by her own violent act-she
crawled feebly a few inches from the spot where she
fell, and expired-a victim to her temper !
A STINGING REPROOF. 53
Loud was the scream which Polly Bright uttered
on being stung, so loud that it brought from the
opposite cottage both Minnie Wingfield and her
brother. On finding out the cause of Polly's distress,
Minnie hastily ran back for the blue-bag, or a little
honey, to relieve the pain of her school-fellow. But
Tom, who had very little pity in his nature, stood
shaking with laughter at the adventure.
"Stung by a bee stung on the very tip of the
noise! what a beauty you will look at Greenhill to-
night! ha, ha, ha! If you could only see how funny
you look, your hair half in curl-papers and half
hanging down, and your eyes as red with crying as
the coral round your neck! You are for all the
world like silly Sally !"
"It does not show much, does it ?" said poor
Polly anxiously, as Minnie returned with the blue-
"It is swelling!" cried Tom, "swelling higher and
higher!-'twill be just like the turkey-cock's comb!"
"Then I can't go to-night-I will not go !" ex-
claimed Polly, sitting down and bursting into tears.
Tom laughed louder, Minnie in vain tried to
comfort-all Polly's happiness was for the time over-
thrown by a bee! It rested but on trifles, and a
trifle was enough to make her wretched for the rest
of that day !
A WONDERFUL BORE.
f''-HE sun set, the rooks in the squire's park
had gone to roost, the bats flew round the
.1 ., -l o hc u h
ivy-covered tower of the village church.
I 'pThe hive was becoming quiet and still, the
bees hanging in clusters prepared to go to sleep; but
Stickasting had never returned Silverwing listened
in vain for the well-known sound of her angry hum,
and wondered what could have delayed her com-
panion. But never again was the poor bee to fly
back to the hive, never again to labour at the waxen
cells And alas! how little was her presence missed,
-still less was it regretted !
The next morning was warm, bright, and sunny;
the bees were early on the wing. The larvee were
beginning to spin their webs, and therefore no longer
required food, so Silverwing was free to range over
the fields and gather honey for the hive. So tempt-
A WONDERFUL BORE. 55
ing was the day, that even Honeyball shook her lazy
wings and crept to the door; there stood for a few
moments, jostled by her more active fellow-servants,
and finally flew off in quest of food.
How delightful was the air-how fragrant the
breeze The buttercups spread their carpet of gold,
and the daisies their mantle of silver over the mea-
dows, all glittering with the drops of bright dew.
Honeyball soon found a flower to her taste, and
never thought of quitting it till she had exhausted
all its honied store. She had a dim idea that it was
her duty to help to fill the cells, but poor Honey-
ball was too apt to prefer pleasure to duty.
"I should like to have nothing to do she mur-
mured, little thinking that a listener was near.
"Like to have nothing to do! Is it from a hive-
bee that I hear such words ? from one whose labour
is itself all play Honeyball turned to view the
speaker, and beheld, on a sign-post near her, the
most beautiful bee that she had ever seen. Her
body was larger than that of a hive-bee, and her
wings were of a lovely violet colour, like the softest
tint of the rainbow.*
Honeyball felt a little confused by the address, and
a little ashamed of her own speech; but as all bees
Naturalists doubt whether the violet-bee is a native of Britain. It is known
that one species of carpenter-bees is to be found in England, but the one described
above probably belongs to foreign lands.
56 A WONDERFUL BORE.
consider each other as cousins, felt it best to put on
a frank, easy air.
Why, certainly, flying about upon a morning
like this, and making elegant extracts from flowers,
is pleasant enough for a time. But may I ask, lady-
bee," continued Honeyball, "if you think as lightly
of working in wax ? "
"Working in wax half contemptuously replied
Violetta; "a soft thing which you can bend and twist
any way, and knead into any shape that you choose!
Come and look at my home here, and then ask your-
self if you have any reason to complain of your
Honeyball looked forward with her two honey-
combed eyes, and upwards and backwards with her
three others, but not the shadow of a hive could she
perceive anywhere. May I venture to ask where
you live? said she at last.
"This way," cried Violetta, waving her feeler, and
pointing to a little round hole in the post, which
Honeyball had not noticed before. It looked gloomy,
and dark, and strange to the bee; but Violetta, who
took some pride in her mansion, requested Honey-
ball to step in.
You cannot doubt my honour," said she, ob-
serving that the hive-worker hesitated, "or be sus-
picious of a cousin ? Honeyball assured her that
A WONDERFUL BORE. 57
she had never dreamed of such a thing, and entered
the hole in the post.
For about an inch the way sloped gently down-
wards, then suddenly became straight as a well, so
dark and so deep that Honeyball would have never
attempted to reach the bottom had she not feared
to offend her new acquaintance. She had some
hopes that this perpendicular passage might only be
a long entrance, leading to some cheerful hive-but
after having explored to the very end, and having
found nothing but wood to reward her search, she
crept again up the steep narrow way, and with joy
found herself once more in the sunshine.
What do you think of it ? said Violetta, rather
I-I do not think that your hive would hold
many bees. Is it perfectly finished, may I in-
"No; I have yet to divide it into chambers for my
children, each chamber filled with a mixture of pollen
and honey, and divided from the next by a ceiling
of sawdust. But the boring was finished to-day."
"You do not mean to say," exclaimed Honeyball
in surprise, "that that long gallery was ever bored
by bees ?"
"Not by bees," replied Violetta, with a dignified
bow, "but by one bee;--I bored it all myself."
58 A WONDERFUL BORE.
The indolent Honeyball could not conceal her
amazement. "Is it possible that you sawed it all
out with your teeth ? "
"Every inch of the depth," Violetta replied.
"And that you can gather honey and pollen
enough to fill it ? "
"I must provide for my children, or they would
"And you can make ceilings of such a thing as
sawdust, to divide your home into cells? "
"This is perhaps the hardest part of my task, but
nevertheless this must be done."
"Where will you find sawdust for this carpenter's
work ? "
"See yonder little heap, I have gathered it to-
gether,-those are my cuttings from my tunnel in
"You are without doubt a most wonderful bee!
And you really labour all alone ? "
"All alone," replied Violetta.
Honeyball thought of her own cheerful hive, with
its thousands of workers and divisions of labour, and
waxen cells dropping with golden honey; she
scarcely could believe her own five eyes when she
saw what one persevering insect could do! Her
surprise and her praise pleased the violet-bee, who
took pride in showing every part of her work, de-
A WONDERFUL BORE. 59
scribing her difficulties, and explaining her manner
"One thing strikes me," said Honeyball, glancing
down the tunnel; "I should not much like to have
the place of your eldest larva, imprisoned down
there in the lowest cell, unable to stir till all her
sisters have eaten their way into daylight."
Violetta gave what in Bee-land is considered a
smile. "I have thought of that difficulty, and of a
remedy too. I am about to bore a little hole at the
end of my tunnel, to give the young bee a way of
escape from its prison. And now," added Violetta,
"I will detain you no longer, so much remains to
be done, and time is so precious. You probably
have something to collect for your hive; I am too
much your friend to wish you to be idle."
Honeyball thanked her new acquaintance and flew
away, somewhat the wiser for her visit; but feeling
that not for ten pairs of purple wings would she
change places with the carpenter-bee !
A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
HERE'S the pedlar! Oh dear! and just as
mother has gone out! cried Polly, who,
S on beginning her afternoon business of
nurse to the little children, saw, or thought
that she saw, at the end of her lane, a man with a
pack travelling along the high road. There he is !
oh, if I could only stop him, or if any one would
look after the baby whilst I am gone. Minnie
Wingfield Ah, how stupid I am to forget that she
is now at the afternoon school! I think that baby
would keep very quiet for five minutes, he cannot
roll out of his cradle; but Johnny, he'd be tumbling
down, or setting the cottage on fire-I cannot leave
him for a minute by himself. Johnny," said she
suddenly, "I want to catch the pedlar and see his
pretty things, will you come with me, like a good
little boy ?"
,Y IN D
POLLY IN DISGR ACE
A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. 61
Johnny scrambled to his feet in a moment, to the
full as eager as herself. Polly held his fat little
hand tight within her own, and began running as
fast as she could drag him along. But the poor
child's round heavy figure and short steps were
altogether unsuited for anything like a race. Polly
felt him as a dead weight hanging to her arm; in
vain she pulled, dragged and jerked, now began to
encourage, and now to scold-poor Johnny became
tired, frightened, and out of breath, and at last fairly
tumbled upon his face.
Get up-I'm in such a hurry "-no answer but
a roar. "Stupid child, he'll be gone "-Johnny
bellowed louder than before. There, I'll leave you
on the road, you great tiresome boy you have half
pulled out my arm with dragging you on! I'll
leave you there, and silly Sally may get you."
Then, without heeding the poor little child's cries
and entreaties that she would stop, as he lay on the
ground, half suffocated with sobs, Polly Bright, think-
ing only of the prize which her vanity made her so
much desire, hastened after the pedlar.
Silly Sally, who has been twice mentioned in my
tale, was a poor idiot woman, who lived with some
kind neighbours on a common about two miles from
the village. She was perfectly harmless, and there-
fore allowed to go about with freedom wherever she
62 A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
chose; but the terrible misfortune, alas! exposed
her to the scorn, and sometimes even persecution, of
wicked children, who made the worst use of the
senses left them, by tormenting one already so much
afflicted. Poor Sally used to wander about the
lanes-uttering her unmeaning sound. Perhaps
even she had some pleasure in life, when the sun
shone brightly and the flowers were out, for she
would gather the wild-rose from the bank, or the
scarlet poppies from the field, and weave them into
garlands for her head. Nothing pleased her more
than when she found a long feather to add to her
gaudy wreath; if the poor witless creature had
delight in making herself gay, Polly at least had no
right to laugh at her.
Timid and easily frightened, the idiot felt a ner-
vous terror for schoolboys, for which they had given
her but too much cause. She had been hooted at,
even pelted with mud, pursued with laughter like
a hunted beast; twice had Minnie to interfere with
her brother, pleading even with tears for one so
helpless and unhappy. If there be anything more
brutal and hateful than cruelty to a harmless animal,
it is heartless barbarity to a defenceless idiot; to
one who bears our image, is descended from our race,
and whose only crime is the being most unfortunate.
Deal gently, dear children, with the poor senseless
A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. 63
idiot; we trust that there is a place in heaven even
for him; the powers denied him in this world may
be granted in the next, and in a brighter realm, al-
though never here below, he may be found at his
Lord's feet, clothed and in his right mind !
On hastened the little girl, breathless and panting.
At the place where the roads joined she looked
anxiously up the highway, to see if she had not been
mistaken in her distant view of the traveller. No,
there was the pedlar, pack and all, and no mistake,
but walking more briskly than might have been
expected from his burden and the warmth of the
afternoon; his pack must have been much lightened
since he first set out with it.
Polly called out, but he either did not hear, or
did not attend; the wind was blowing the dust in
her face, she was tired with her vain attempts to
drag poor Johnny, her shoes were down at heel and
hindered her running; for it by no means follows
that those who wish to be fine care to be tidy also.
But the brooch of false diamonds, the coveted
brooch the thought of that urged her on to still
greater efforts; even the remembrance of her swelled
nose was lost in the hope of possessing such a
beautiful ornament! Polly, as she shuffled hastily
along, saw more than one person meet the pedlar; if
they would but stop him, if only for one minute, to
64 A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
give her time to get up with him at last No one
stopped him-how fast he seemed to walk; Polly's
face was flushed and heated, her hair hung about
her ears-would that we were as eager and per-
severing in the pursuit of what really is precious,
as the girl was in that of a worthless toy !
At last her gasped-out "Stop !" reached the ear
of the pedlar; he paused and turned round, and in
a few minutes more his pack was opened to the
admiring eyes of Polly. Ah, how she coveted this
thing and that, how she wished that her six pennies
were shillings instead. A cherry-coloured neckerchief,
a pink silk lace, a large steel pin, and a jewelled ring,
how they took her fancy and made her feel how
difficult it is to decide, when surrounded by many
things alike tempting!
But at last the wonderful brooch of false diamonds
was produced; there was only one left in the pedlar's
stock, how fortunate did Polly think it that it also
had not been sold-neckerchief, lace, pin, or ring
was nothing compared to this She tried it on,
had some doubts of the strength of the pin, tried in
vain to obtain a lessening of the price; it ended in
the girl's placing all her pence in the hand of the
pedlar, and carrying home her prize with delight. She
had had her wish, her vanity was gratified, the brooch
was her own, but to possess-is not always to enjoy.
A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. 65
Polly returned to her cottage with much slower
steps; she was heated, and tired, and perhaps a
little conscious that she had not been faithful to her
trust. As she came near her home, she quickened
her pace, for to her surprise she heard voices
within, and voices whose tones told of anxiety
and fear. These were the words which struck
her ear, and made her pause ere she ventured to
"What a mercy it is that I returned for the
basket that I had forgotten l if I had not, what
would have become of my poor babe !" exclaimed
Mrs. Bright in much agitation.
"I can't understand how it happened," replied
another voice, which Polly knew to be that of Mrs.
"You may well say that," said the mother;
Polly could hear that she was rocking her chair
backwards and forwards, as she sometimes did when
hushing the sick child to sleep. "I left Polly in
charge of the children, I came back to find her gone,
and my poor, poor baby in a fit."
Polly turned cold, and trembled so that she could
"Is there no one who could go for a doctor? "
continued the agitated mother; "another fit may
come on-I would give the world to see him !"
66 A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
I am so feeble," replied Mrs. Wingfield, that I
"Take the baby, then, and I'll go myself; not a
moment is to be lost."
"No, no; there's my boy Tom," cried Mrs. Wing-
field, as she saw her son run hastily into her little
cottage, which was just opposite to Mrs. Bright's.
"Oh, send him, in mercy send him!" cried the
mother; and her neighbour instantly crossed over
to fulfil her wishes, passing Polly as she did so, and
looking at her with mingled surprise and scorn,
though in too much haste to address her.
"My boy, my own darling!" murmured the
anxious mother, pressing her sick child to her
bosom, "what will your father say when he hears
of this ?" Except her low sad voice, the cottage
was so still that the very silence was terrible to
Polly; it would have been a relief to have heard
the feeble fretful wail which had made her feel
impatient so often!
With pale anxious face and noiseless step, dread-
ing to meet her mother's eye, the unhappy girl stole
into the cottage. There sat Mrs. Bright, her bonnet
thrown back from her head, her hair hanging loose,
her gaze fixed upon the child in her arms; whilst
the poor little babe, with livid waxen features and
half closed eyes, lay so quiet, and looked so
A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. 67
terribly ill, that but for his hard breathing his sister
would have feared that his life had indeed passed
Mrs. Bright raised her head as Polly entered, and
regarded her with a look whose expression of deep
grief was even more terrible than anger. She asked no
question; perhaps the misery in which she saw the
poor girl made her unwilling to add to her suffering
by reproach, or perhaps, and this was Polly's own
bitter thought, she considered her unworthy of a
word. Whatever was the cause, no conversation
passed between them, except a few short directions
from the mother about things connected with the
comfort of the baby, as poor Polly, with an almost
bursting heart, tried to do anything and everything
In the meantime Tom had gone for the doctor,
though with an unwillingness and desire to delay
which had made his mother both surprised and
"He should go by the fields," he said, though he
well knew that to be the longest way; and he would
have done so, had not Mrs. Wingfield roused herself
to such anger, that even her rude and undutiful son
did not dare to disobey her.
The doctor came in about an hour, Tom having
happily found him at home, and, with an anxiety
68 A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
which those who have attended beloved ones in the
hour of sickness only can tell, Mrs. Bright and Polly
listened for his opinion of the case. The doctor
examined the child, and asked questions concerning
his illness : How long had the fit lasted ? There
was a most painful pause. Mrs. Bright looked at
her daughter. Polly could not utter a word; it
was not till the question was repeated that the dis-
tressing reply, No one knows," was given.
Was the child long ailing ? "
How was he when you left him? said Mrs.
Bright to the miserable Polly.
"Very well-that's to say-I don't exactly-he
There has been gross negligence here," said the
doctor sternly; "gross negligence," he repeated,
"and it may cost the child his life."
Polly could only clasp her hands in anguish, but
the mother exclaimed, "Oh, sir, is there no hope
for my boy ? "
"While there is life there is hope," replied the
doctor in a more kindly tone; "he must be bled at
once. Have you a basin here ?" he added, taking a
small instrument-case from his pocket.
Polly was at all times timid and nervous, and
quite unaccustomed to self-command, and now, when
she would have given worlds to have been useful,
A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. 69
her hand shook so violently, her feelings so over-
came her, that there was no chance of her doing
anything but harm.
Give the basin to me, dear," said a gentle voice
behind her; Minnie Wingfield had just entered the
cottage. "You look so ill, you must not be pre-
sent; go up-stairs, Polly, I will help your mother."
"Oh what shall I do ?" cried the miserable girl,
wringing her hands.
"Go and pray," whispered Minnie as she glided
from her side, and Polly, trembling and weeping,
slowly went up the narrow wooden staircase, and
entering her little chamber, sank down upon her
"Oh! spare him, only spare him, my darling
little brother!" she could at first utter no other
words. She had never loved the baby as she did
now, when she feared that she might be about to
lose him, and bitterly she lamented her own im-
patient temper that had made her weary of the
duty of tending him. Oh, that we would so act
towards our relations, that if death should remove
any one from our home, our grief should not. be
embittered by the thought, "I was no comfort or
blessing to him while he was here, and now the
opportunity of being so is gone for ever "
But the most terrible thought to Polly was, that
70 A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
the baby's danger might be partly owing to her
neglect; should he die-should the little darling be
taken away, could her mother ever forgive her ? As
Polly sobbed in an agony of grief, something fell
from her bosom upon the floor; she started at the
sight of her forgotten brooch, that which she had
coveted so much-that which had cost her so dear.
Snatching it up, and springing to her feet, with a
sudden impulse she ran to the window and flung it
far out into the lane. Then once more falling on
her knees, again she prayed, but more calmly, and
she implored not only that the baby might live, but
that her own weak vain heart might be cleansed,
that she might henceforth live not only for her-
self, but do her duty as a faithful servant of God.
She rose somewhat comforted, and creeping down-
stairs, listened ere she ventured to enter the little
"I hope that he may do well now-I shall send
something for him to-night-keep him quiet-I
shall call here to-morrow." These were the doctor's
parting words, and they were a great relief to Polly.
She came in softly, and bent down by the baby,
now laid again in his little cradle, and looking white
as the sheet that was over him; she would have
kissed his thin pale face, but she feared to disturb
the poor child. Her heart was full of mingled sor-
A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. 71
row and love, she felt as though she could never
bear to leave him again.
"Thank you, Minnie, my girl," said Mrs. Bright
earnestly, "you have been a real comfort to me in
my time of need. Your mother is a happy woman
to have such a child."
"Can I do anything else for you now ?" said
Minnie; "if you would allow me to sit up instead
of you to-night ? "
"No, no; I could not close an eye. But I should
be glad if you would bring Johnny home, my dear;
it is near his bed-time, and I do not think that he
will disturb the baby."
"I will bring him with pleasure; where is he ? "
"Where is he!" repeated Mrs. Bright; "is he
not at your home ? "
"No; he has not been there all day." Polly
started as if she had been stabbed.
"Then where is he? cried Mrs. Bright, looking
anxiously round; "is he up-stairs, Polly? The
miserable girl shook her head. Her fears for the
baby had made her quite forget her little brother,
and it now flashed across her mind that she had not
passed him in the lane, when she had retraced her
steps to the cottage. Where could he have gone,
where could he be now?
72 A CHASE, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
Mrs. Bright had endured much, but her cup
seemed now to overflow; she walked close up to
Polly, laid a heavy grasp upon her shoulder, and
said in a tone which the girl remembered to her
dying day, "When was your brother last with
"About two hours ago, just before you returned
home," faltered Polly.
And where did you leave him ? "
"In the lane, near the high-road."
Go and find him," said the mother, between her
clenched teeth, "or never let me set eyes on you
Polly rushed out of the cottage, and began her
anxious search, up and down the lane, by the hedge,
in the ditch, along the road, asking every person
that she met, and from every one receiving the same
disheartening answer. No one had seen the boy, no
one could think what had become of him, he was
too young to have wandered far; had he ran to-
wards the road, he must have been met by Polly-
if the other way, he must have been seen by his
mother; he could not have got over the hedge,
there was no possibility of his having lost his way.
Many neighbours joined in the search, many pitied
the unhappy mother, but she was less to be pitied
PRISONS AND PRISONERS.
E will now return to our little friend
Honeyball, whom we left flying from
the curious dwelling of the carpenter-
bee. We will follow her as she lazily
proceeded along the lane in which were
situated the cottages of Mrs. Wingfield and Mrs.
Bright, the sweet flowers in the garden of the
former rendering it a favourite resort for bees. This
was not long after noon, and therefore a few hours
before all the troubles related in the last chapter
had occurred, while Polly and her two little charges
were yet safe in their own comfortable cottage.
Honeyball looked at Spinaway busily mending
her net, torn by the adventure of Sipsyrup, and
laughed as she thought of the folly of her com-
panion. Honeyball was not vain enough to be en-
ticed by sugared words, her dangers arose from quite
74 PRISONS AND PRISONERS.
another source-her greediness and great self-indul-
gence. Her eye was now attracted by a little
bottle hung up by the porch, not far from the
rose-bush; it had been placed there by Tom to catch
wasps; perhaps he had hoped to entrap some others
of the winged tribes, for he had just taken a fancy
to make a collection of insects, and woe unto any
small creature that might fall into his merciless
Honeyball alighted on the bottle, then fluttered
to the top, allured by the sugary scent. The brim
was sticky; she unsheathed her long bright tongue,
tasted, approved, and then sipped again. At this
moment she heard a buzz near her, and looking up
with her back eyes, perceived her friend Silverwing.
"Do come from that huge bright hard cell!" cried
the bee; "I am sure that it never was formed by
any of our tribe, and I do not believe that it holds
"It holds something very good, and in such
abundance too! replied Honeyball; "a thousand
honeysuckles would not contain so much !"
"There is danger, I am certain that there is
danger cried Silverwing. "What if it should have
been placed there on purpose to catch us ? "
"You think me as foolish as Sipsyrup "
"No, not foolish, but--"
PRISONS AND PRISONERS. 75
"Too fond of good living, and too lazy to like
trouble in procuring it. Well, I daresay that you
are right, Silverwing; I believe that, as you say,
there may be danger."
".Then why not come away ? persisted the bee.
"Because the taste is so good!" said her com-
panion, bending over the rim-the next moment she
was struggling in the syrup !
Ah, Honeyball! weak, foolish insect! In vain
do you struggle, in vain do you buzz, in vain your
grieved friend flutters against the glass-you have
sacrificed yourself for a little indulgence, like thou-
sands who look at the tempting glass, know their
danger, yet will not abstain !
As Silverwing on the outside of the bottle was
uttering her hum of pity and regret, suddenly a
handkerchief was thrown over her, and the loud
rough voice of Tom was heard.
"Rather a paltry beginning to my collection, a
wretched hive-bee! But I caught it so cleverly,
without its being crushed, or spoiled by the syrup;
and I will keep it till I get that stuff which Ben
told me of, which kills insects without hurting their
Poor unhappy Silverwing! she was indeed in a
terrible position; she had not even power to use
her sting in self-defence, for to plunge it into the
76 PRISONS AND PRISONERS.
handkerchief would have been useless indeed, and
she felt all that a bee might be expected to feel, in
the power of its most cruel foe. Tom carried her
into the cottage, and carefully unclosing the hand-
kerchief, after he had mounted upon a chair to reach
the shelf easily, he shook his poor prisoner into
his own mug, and tied some paper firmly over the
Silverwing flew round and round, buzzing in
terror; she only hurt her wings against the sides.
Then she crawled over the paper which formed the
ceiling of her prison, but no hole for escape could
she find. It was clear that she was now shut out
from all hope, condemned perhaps to some lingering
death; while her companions were flying about,
busy and happy, she was to pine, a lonely prisoner,
here! At first her feelings were those of despair;
then quietly, though sadly, she made up her mind
to submit to her cruel fate. She no longer fluttered
about restlessly, but settling at the bottom of
the mug, in patience awaited the return of her tor-
Hours passed before Tom came back; there had
been other voices in the cottage, but no one had
touched the place of Silverwing's imprisonment.
Mrs. Wingfield had been called out hastily by her
neighbour Mrs. Bright, on the discovery of the ill-
PRISONS AND PRISONERS. 77
ness of the baby; and as Minnie had not then re-
turned from school, the cottage was left quite
empty. Presently there was a rapid step, then the
sound of some one jumping up on the chair; Silver-
wing felt the mug moved, then the paper raised-
she was ready to make a last effort to escape
through the opening, but her little tyrant took good
care to give no time for that; he only shook in
another victim, and then shut down the paper
quickly, and placed a book on.the top.
Silverwing paid no attention to what was passing
in the cottage round her, though I may as well re-
mind the reader of what passed in the last chapter
-how Tom had scarcely got down from the chair
before his mother came in and ordered him to go
off in haste for the doctor, as Mrs. Bright's baby
was very ill indeed; how Tom hesitated and said
that he would go by the fields, and then was sent
off direct by his mother in much displeasure. To
all this, as I said, Silverwing paid no attention; her
little world was contained in the mug, and all her
interest was aroused by her fellow-prisoner. Poor
Violetta, with her fine purple wings, was the prey
of the collector of insects He had not cared to
explore her curious home, to learn her customs and
ways, or admire her instinct; he only wished to
have the dead body of an insect that he thought
78 PRISONS AND PRISONERS.
curious, and had no scruple about destroying it to
gratify this wish.
Violetta was not so patient as poor Silverwing
had been. She dashed herself against the mug; in
passionate distress, she would listen to no words of
comfort Then she vainly tried to exercise her
wonderful powers of gnawing; from a wooden box
she perhaps might have worked her way to freedom,
but the hard slippery crockery resisted her utmost
efforts, her poor little teeth could not even make an
impression! Exhausted at last, she remained quite
still, and Silverwing, forgetful of her own distress,
began to attempt to soothe her companion.
Thus they remained till the evening without food,
almost without hope; Mrs. Wingfield had gone to
attempt to comfort her neighbour, nearly wild at
the loss of her Johnny; and now Minnie and Tom
both entered the cottage together. Their conversa-
tion had no interest for the bees in their mug; but
as it is possible that it may have some for my reader,
I shall proceed to give some account of it in the
'" .' H, Tom," said Minnie, "is not this a terrible
misfortune that has happened to poor
Mrs. Bright "
Tom gave a sort of grunt of assent.
And the baby so ill! Mother doubts
that he will live over the night! I am glad that
you found the doctor so soon. But what can have
become of dear little Johnny? The Barnes and
the Smiths have been all on the search; they say
that if the wind had not been blowing the dust so
much along the lane, the little fellow might have
been tracked by his footsteps. No one can imagine
where he can have gone, he is so very young, so
unable to wander far! Poor Polly, I am so sorry
for her !"
"I wish that you would not be talking for ever
about Johnny!" exclaimed Tom in a petulant tone.
80 A CONFESSION.
How can one think or talk of anything else?"
replied Minnie sadly; "I did so love that noble
"Have done with it!" cried her brother, more
angrily than before.
Minnie looked at him with pain, and then said
in a low tone, "I thought that you had even joined
in the search."
"I have joined; I would give anything to find
him!" exclaimed Tom, striking his hand on the
table as he spoke, with such passionate energy that
he almost startled his sister.
"Did you see nothing of the dear child," said
Minnie, as a thought suddenly occurred to her,
"when you came to our cottage, just before you
went for the doctor, you know ? "
"Didn't I tell. you that I wanted to hear no
more about the matter," cried Tom, his whole face
becoming the colour of crimson.
Minnie's eyes were fixed upon him, steadily,
earnestly; rude, bold boy as he was, he shrank
from her piercing gaze. Going nearer to her
brother, and speaking very distinctly, but in a
voice hardly above a whisper, she said, "I believe
that you know more about Johnny than you will
"Believe what you like, and let me alone."
A CONFESSION. 81
"Tom, I implore you, hide nothing from us.
Oh, think of the misery of the poor broken-hearted
mother !" and she laid her hand upon his arm.
Speak another word, and I'll strike you!" cried
Tom, roughly shaking her off.
Strike me if you will, but I must speak. Where
did you see that child last? "
"You can get nothing out of me," growled Tom.
Then I must call those who can," said Minnie
firmly, turning round as if to quit the cottage.
" This is a matter of life or death !" She looked
pale, but very determined.
"Whom are you going to call?" said Tom, his
manner betraying some fear.
"My mother-if necessary, the clergyman-or-
the magistrate !" Tom caught her by the arm as
he exclaimed, "Stop, Minnie-oh, stop-you shall
hear all and judge I don't know where the boy
is-I would give my right hand that I did; it is
true that I saw him last, and I have searched all
the place again and again. You would not betray
me, you would not, Minnie! you might ruin me,
but could not help Johnny! Sit down here, and
listen to me quietly, and you shall know everything
that has happened !"
Minnie sat down beside him, her heart beating
fast. He gave her a short but true account of what
82 A CONFESSION.
had passed, omitting, however, some little particu-
lars which we shall relate more at length.
You -will remember that we left poor Johnny
crying in the lane, vainly trying to call back his
sister, as she hurried in pursuit of the pedlar.
When the child found his terrors unheeded, his loud
roar gradually sank into a low broken sob, he
scrambled to his feet, rubbed his plump dusty hand
across his eyes to brush away the tears, and began
to think of trotting back to the cottage.
Just as the little fellow was. commencing his
journey, he heard a voice call him from the other
side of the hedge which bordered the narrow lane.
At first, fancying that it might be silly Sally, with
whom he had been threatened, Johnny was inclined
to run the faster for the call; but he soon knew
Tom, when he saw him clambering over and holding
something in his hand.
Here's something for you, my jolly little man,"
cried Tom, who amused himself sometimes by play-
ing with, but more often by teasing, his little rosy-
"What got?" asked the child, as Tom jumped
down beside him. Johnny was always sparing of
"A nest of little birds that was swinging on a bough;
I knocked off the nest, and down came the birds !"
-. ^. .--... ..
_. -, .. .k
T H E E -R' S .N.ES
THE BIRD'S NEST
A CONFESSION. 83
"All dead !" said Johnny, sadly.
"Why, yes; you see they had some way to fall;
the little things broke their necks, so there was an
end of them."
"Poor littlee birds, knocked off tree !" said the
pitying child. Tom was provoked at seeing the pity.
What a silly little goose you are, Johnny. It
was fine fun to set nest and all a-flying, and finish
the whole family at once "
But whatever might be the opinion of Tom, the
plump little cottager kept to his own, and only
more sadly repeated the words, "Poor littlee birds,
knocked off tree !"
Oh, if you've such a fancy for swinging on a
tree, we'll have you up directly, and make an littlee
bird of you!'" and laughing at the struggles and
entreaties of the child, Tom suddenly lifted him
over the hedge, and followed him into the field,
flinging the wretched dead birds into a ditch.
In vain Johnny kicked, and pushed, and roared;
Tom was a remarkably tall and strong boy, and
catching the poor child up in his arms, he ran with
him across the field. There was another hedge at
the opposite side, which Tom passed as easily as he
had done the first, and they now found themselves
at the edge of a wood, thickly filled with trees of
84 A CONFESSION.
It was a delight to Tom to cause terror and
alarm; no feeling of pity with him ever cut short a
joke. In a few moments poor Johnny was perched
upon a branch, clinging and roaring with all his
"There, littlee bird,' I hope that you like your
bough! shall I shake it an little just to give you a
nice swing ? Hold tight, mind you don't fall, or
you'll break your fat neck as the littlee birds did !"
Then he began to sing :-
"Husbaby, baby, on the tree top,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock;
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,
Down comes poor baby, cradle and all! "
How long Tom might have gone on tormenting
the child no one can tell, if suddenly he had not
been struck by the appearance of a curious bee,
which had alighted for a moment upon a wild-flower
"Oh, what a splendid bee!" he cried, leaving hold
of the branch to which Johnny still clung. Sit
you there till I catch it-isn't it a beauty !-I never
saw such fine purple wings "
My reader has probably guessed that it was poor
Violetta whose fatal beauty had attracted his eye.
Johnny and his terrors all were forgotten, while
Tom rushed forward in eager pursuit; the frightened
A CONFESSION. 85
child stopping his crying to watch the chase, which
ended in Tom's securing his prize in his handker-
Impatient to carry it at once to a safe place,
afraid of its either escaping or being crushed in his
hold, Tom, whose cottage was so near that he could
reach it in a few minutes, sprang over the hedge,
and ran fast across the field. Thus Johnny was
left in a position of some peril; not knowing how
long the boy's absence might be, he shouted as
loudly and as vainly after Tom as he before had
done after his sister.
"And did you not return soon? cried Minnie,
as Tom reached this part of his story.
How could I ? Mother sent me off directly for
"Oh, why, why did you not tell her ? "
Very likely, indeed, that I should tell her that
I had left little Johnny sticking in a tree ? I could
only hope that he would stick there until I could
get back. I returned at full speed from the doctor's,
I can assure you, but when I reached the wood not
a trace of the little fellow could I find."
Oh, Tom !" exclaimed Minnie, with a look of
horror, "such a terrible thought has struck me "
"I daresay that it has struck me before," gloomily
replied her brother.
86 A CONFESSION.
Was it, oh, was it far from the well ?"
"If he's there," said Tom in a hollow voice, "he's
dead long before now."
Did you search there? "
"I looked down, and saw nothing."
"Looked down! Oh, Tom, this is worse than
mockery If the waters were above him-it is so
deep-so dark !- "
"What is to be done ?" exclaimed the boy.
Some one must go down in the bucket. Oh,
there is not a moment to be lost !" Minnie would
have rushed from the cottage, but her brother held
"There is no use in rousing the village now!"
he cried; "do you mean to ruin, to destroy me.
Minnie, if you betray me-if it is found that the
child is drowned-people will say that-that,"-and
his look of terror told a great deal more than his
But you never threw him in; it was only foolish
Who can prove that? Oh, Minnie, would you
bring me to a jail, or perhaps to worse ? "
Then let us go ourselves !" exclaimed the little
girl, divided between anxiety for her brother and
fears for the lost child. I must either go or send,
and if there is danger to you- "
A CONFESSION. 87
"We will go-do anything, only in pity be
silent Minnie, Minnie, you cannot tell how miser-
able I am! "
Without pausing another moment, both ran out
of the cottage, only fearful lest they should be seen
and detained; Tom helped Minnie over the low
hedge, but she hardly needed help, so eager was, she
to reach the well. The rose-tint of sunset had now
given place to evening's gray, the dew was falling,
dark clouds gathered over the sky; but heeding
nothing, pausing for nothing, the Wingfields pressed
on, and were soon standing by the side of the well
., ----------- -
A SUDDEN FALL.
" I HAT has become of these two children of
Smine?" said Mrs. Wingfield fretfully, as
on her return from her neighbour's she
found the cottage empty. "I'm sure,
such a day of bustle as I have had-
scarce out of one trouble before I am into another !
Well, poor Mrs. Bright is still worse off, that is one
thing-I am glad that the baby has at last dropped
It grew darker and darker; Mrs. Wingfield became
uneasy. She stirred the fire, filled the kettle, then
with a long weary sigh sat down to rest-she missed
Minnie and her quiet attentions.
"I suppose that they are still out searching for
little Johnny. I fear that there will be rain-I
wish that they were back!" Mrs. Wingfield fancied
that she heard a low knock at the door.
A SUDDEN FALL. 89
"Come in," she said, but no one entered. Mrs.
Wingfield drew her chair nearer to the fire, leaned
her head upon her hand, and wished that Tom and
Minnie would not stay out so late.
Again the same low knock-she called out louder,
"Come in," and the faint light which came through
the doorway was darkened by a figure which seemed
to linger, as if in fear, on the threshold. Then the
voice of poor Polly was heard, "Oh, Mrs. Wingfield,
can you tell me how baby is ? "
"What Polly, is that you? Come in, my poor
child-all cold and wet with the dew! Why don't
you go home? "
"I dare not," said Polly, bursting into tears;
"mother forbade me till Johnny is found. Oh, tell
me how baby is; is he better? will he live? "-she
could hardly speak through her sobs.
"Yes, he is better; that is to say, he is asleep."
"Not dead!" exclaimed Polly, alarmed at the
"Dead! no, child-why, how you tremble! Come
to the fire, I'll get you a little tea and toast."
I could not eat-it would choke me Oh, that
I had never left the children-that I had done my
duty as Minnie would have done! She-she has
been a comfort in her home-but I-"
"Come, come," said Mrs. Wingfield in a soothing
90 A SUDDEN FALL.
tone, "don't go breaking your heart in this way; all
may come right at last. Would not you like to see
the baby ? "
"Oh, if I might only sit up with him all night 1
But I may not return without Johnny."
"Your mother never meant that; come, I'll take
you to her myself; when she sees how you feel all
this, I am sure that she will forgive you."
Mrs. Wingfield was a kind-hearted woman, and
taking Polly's trembling hand within her own, she
crossed over the lane to Mrs. Bright's. Polly shrank
back as they reached the door.
Oh, say, do you bring me news of my child ?"
cried the poor anxious woman from within.
"Not of Johnny, yet still of your child. There
is one here who is afraid to come in ; poor thing, she
has almost cried herself to death."
"Polly," murmured the mother, and stretched
out her arms; in another moment the poor girl was
sobbing upon her bosom.
Amidst the troubles of our human friends we
must not quite forget those of our little winged
ones. The frightened hungry bees, confined in
their small prison, passed the long hours in most
"What a bitter thing it is," cried Violetta, sink-
ing exhausted after a last effort to gnaw through
A SUDDEN FALL. 91
the unyielding crockery, "to think of all the joy
and happiness left in the world, from which we are
shut out for ever! To-morrow the lark will be
rising on high, the butterfly flitting over the daisied
meadow, your comrades feasting in the dewy
flowers, all Nature one hum of life."
"I am glad that they can enjoy still; there is
some comfort in that," said Silverwing.
"That is a feeling which I cannot understand,"
observed Violetta. "It is strange that the very same
thought should give pain to me and pleasure to you!"
Violetta had had no great experience of life, or
she would have known that such is often the case.
Living by herself as a solitary insect, she had never
heard one of the mottoes of Bee-land: From the
blossom of a comrade's success one draws the poison
of envy, another the honey of delight.
The village church clock had struck the hour of
nine; it was seldom that its sound could be heard
in the cottage of Mrs. Wingfield, but now the place
was so still that the breeze bore it distinctly to her
listening ear. Weary she lay on her bed, unwill-
ing to sleep till her children should return. The
rain was beginning to fall without; the heavy
clouds bending towards earth, made the night much
darker than is usual in summer. Presently a sound
was heard at the door.
92 A SUDDEN FALL.
Minnie, is that you ?" cried the mother.
"It is Polly," answered a mournful voice, as the
little girl entered the cottage.
"Is the baby worse?" asked Mrs. Wingfield.
"I hope not; but mother is in such a state about
Johnny! If it were not for baby, she would be
wandering all night in the rain. I come to ask if
you could kindly give her a little hartshorn; I know
that that is what you take when you are poorly."
"You are heartily welcome to what I have,"
replied the cottager. "I daresay that you can find
it yourself; I need not rise. Snuff the long wick
of the candle, and there-don't put it in the draught
-mind you don't snuff it out-why, how your poor
How changed was Polly since the morning's sun
had risen Her cheeks pale and haggard, her eyes
swollen with weeping, her dress hanging damp around
her chill form-who would have guessed that she
ever could have been the gayest girl in the village.
"You will find the bottle on the shelf; you can
reach it with a chair," continued Mrs. Wingfield,
raising herself on one arm to watch the proceedings
of the girl. "There, do you not see, just behind
that mug! Why, what have you done ?" she cried,
in a tone of impatience, as something came crashing
upon the floor.
A SUDDEN FALL. 93
What had she done indeed. She had thrown
down Tom's mug, and set two little prisoners free.
Yes, they were free-free as the air which they now
joyously beat with their little wings. Uttering a,
loud hum of delight, they flew round the cottage,
darted to the door, then drew back, afraid of the
damp, and at last both settled sociably under the
table, to enjoy together a nice crumb of sugar that
Tom had dropped on the floor.
Oh, if liberty be so sweet, so precious to all, who
would deprive even an insect of its birthright. Let
them spread the free wing, unconfined and happy,
and let us find our pleasure rather in seeing them
in the position for which Providence formed and
designed them, than in keeping them as captives,
the slaves to our will, deprived of their life's dearest
AN UNPLEASANT JOURNEY.
INNIE and her brother stood at the brink
Sof the well, and gazed with straining
S eyes into its depths.
S "Which of us should go down ?" said
"You need not have asked such a
question; you know that you are not strong enough
to draw me up; and I doubt," added Tom, passing
his hand along the rope-"I doubt that this is
strong enough to bear me."
Minnie drew one step backwards. "If it
should break with me," she murmured.
"You should have thought of that before," was
Tom's only reply.
"Tom, at all risks I must go; I could not sleep
to-night with this horrible doubt on my mind, and
you will not let me call others to help. I trust
AN UNPLEASANT JOURNEY. 95
that the Almighty will take care of me, for my only
hope is in him. Help me to get into the bucket,
and, oh! be very careful, dear Tom. You do not
know how much frightened I am."
Hold the rope firmly," said her brother; "and
here, take this long stick to feel about in the water
when you are down." Tom was extremely anxious
to have his own mind relieved, or, heartless as he
was, he could hardly have consented to let his young
sister run this risk. But there was nothing that
the selfish boy dreaded so much as that his share
in Johnny's wanderings should be known, if his
fearful suspicion were true, and the poor child had
indeed perished through his folly.
Minnie shook with terror as the bucket began to
descend; every moment she fancied the rope
giving way, and that she should be plunged into
the water below. The strange damp smell, the dim
light, the peculiar sound of her own voice in that
hollow confined place-all added to her feeling of
"Stop, Tom," she cried, as the bucket touched
the water. Tom looked down, and could perceive
some one below; but, all indistinct and dim, he
could not have recognized that it was his sister.
"Can you find anything ?" he whispered, kneel-
ing down, after fixing the wheel, and leaning over