The Baldwin Lbrary
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THE PARTHEINON AT ATHENS .
SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION,
56, OLD BAILEY.
TIHE first-born in a family is generally the
parent's pet. These little homely sketches
were the first-born of my literary offspring,
and they will always occupy a prominent
place in the pleasant part of my memory.
My earnest wish is that they may do so with
my young friends,forwhose specialbenefit they
are now re-published. They were the result
of a desire I long felt that the interesting facts
of natural history might be presented for
juvenile readers in a colloquial .and popular
style; and since they were written, this idea
has been adopted by others who have not for-
gotten that many a lesson in morality and
religion may be read between the lines of the
curiosities of what we call nature," one
revelation being the best illustration to the
other. May the lessons taught in the follow-
ing pages accomplish the desired end !
TIHE STORY OF A ROOK 7
THE LABYRINTIODON .. 1
TIE BEE i i
THE GARDEN SPIDER'S YARN 24
TABBY'S TALE .30
A KIND WORD FOR A WORM 37
THE CHALK FAMILY 44
WHAT THE WHALE SAID 50
THE TALE OF A SCORPION 56
THE SERPENT'S LAMENT 62
A VOICE FROM THE EAST 68
TIHE LARK AND THE SWALLO 77
THE AYE-AYE 85
TIE STARLINGS 97
THE ADVENTURES OF A FLY .
WONDERS OF TIE DEEP ., 119
UNCLE JAMES'S SKETCH-BOOK.
THE STORY OF A ROOK
WHO NEVER SPOKE WITHOUT cawsS."
:.iT.'-,T was just the place for a rookery;
and how the birds in their satin
dresses did rejoice in their liberty,
',1 to be sure! for, up there in the old
'. churchyard elms, hundreds of them
cawed, and feasted, and enjoyed
themselves as only birds can do; for what had
they to do with care, those busy rooks ? toil-
ing and spinning and gathering into barns
they knew nothing about, and cared still less,
and so they were just as happy as the day
was long; a few cockchafers and a green
walnut or two were a dainty dish for them, and
8 Uncle ytames's Skctc/i-Book.
of such there were plenty; but there was a
little quiet family gossip going on between an
old bird and one of its young, and I want to
tell you what it was about.
It was rather an odd perch, too; for it was
1 i II
nothing but an old man's grave, and it began
by an answer to the question, Mother, what
do you think Cousin Jackdaw says?"
Oh," replied she, "anything; for the chat-
tering busy-body is always in mischief."
The Story of a Rook. 9
"Well, then," continued the young rook,
"he says your mother was a magpie."
"No such thing; my mother was a rook
like yourself. But do you see the tombstone
at the tip of my tail? it tells where a friend
of ours lies, who once had a great fondness
for our family; he tried every way to induce
them to build in his trees without success, till
one day he found a magpie's nest in a chest-
nut branch, and while the old bird was gone
out for her dinner, he took away her eggs, and
replaced them with four others which he
brought from a neighboringg rookery, and
when Mag returned, she did not observe the
trick, but sat on the rook's eggs and reared
the young ones as if they were her own, and
we liked the spot so much, that all our family
were brought up there. Jack's a troublesome
fellow, and when he calls you Magpie again,
ask him who was nailed to the barn-door as a
warning to thieves."
"Who was nailed to the barn-door, then ?"
asked the little rook.
"His father," was the reply ; "for he flew
off with the farmer's spoon, and was found out
and shot. Honesty is the best policy, and all
the world over we are celebrated for it; learn
to be useful, and their you will be respected -
wherever you go."
To Uncle amlles's Sketch-Book.
But that inquisitive little rook! he wasn't
going to be preached to at that rate, not he;
so he asked again, Are youall so useful then,
"I believe you, child," was the reply; wc
destroy the grubs which would injure the corn,
and we give free lessons in bringing up
families properly, and how to keep home
clean and tidy; we teach good manners, and
dispense justice, and induce order and tem-
perance, and all sorts of things."
"Caw! caw! caw!" exclaimed the little
one, "what does all that mean ?"
"'Early to bed, early to rise,
Makes a rook healthy, happy, and wise.'
That is one of our lessons," she said ; "then,
we look well after the little ones, and while
their mothers stay at home to mind the nest,
their fathers go after food; and we love our
home; very cautious when and where we
build ; when once we have chosen a tree, we
never leave it; we are kind to our neighbours,
and employ messengers to other rookeries, to
help the weak and protect the injured."
"But what do you mean by 'justice' ?"
"Why," she continued, "if we find any
interference with another's nest, or any dis-
cord, we all unite and turn out the offender
from our society, but not till a committee has
The Story of a Rook. 1I
been summoned,where sentence is pronounced,
when regular executioners are engaged to
carry out the verdict. The other day, a lazy
rook stole some of the sticks of a young
family's nest; complaint was made, and after
consultation, about a dozen of the strongest
birds found out the other's nest, and tore the
unfinished part all to pieces."
"Uncle Raven says his is the oldest family
of birds in the world, and boasts about his
name being first in a book that tells what
happened upwards of four thousand years
"Quite right," replied the other, "and his
very great grandfather, a very long time ago
was employed to take bread and flesh to a
prophet who hid himself in the 'wood, as the
same old book says. Wonderful things may
be told of all our family; some are very fond
of cockles, and flying up with one in their
beak, they let it fall on a stone, breaking the
shell, when they feast upon the contents."
Caw !" replied the little rook, as if he half
doubted this prodigious feat of his relative.
Caw, indeed," continued the old bird; "why
that reminds me of our Indian family name,
'Kazu-Kaw-Gezv.' There's a grand title!"
"Do rooks, then, live in India?" he asked.
"India! yes, all the world over; some prefer
12 Uncle yamnes's Sketck-Eook.
the icy regions of the North Pole, others the
sunny clime of Italy, and one family lived
in this country a few years ago, consisting of
Io,ooo birds, and in one year they ate worms
and grubs enough to fill a ship that would
contain 200oo tons weight;" but another doubt-
ful "Caw again responded, which made the
old lady quite angry; when a strange noise
came from a lofty tree close by, as if a dog
was barking up there, then as of the whistling
of a ploughboy, and again, as if a sawyer was
at work sawing off the branches, and just as
the couple of rooks were about flying off in
alarm, what'should fly out but a frolicsome
Jay, making such clever imitations, that the
poor birds really looked out for an enemy
instead of a relation.
"Teach me some of your funny tricks,"
cawed the curious little rook, but the old bird
gave such a serious roll of her sharp little eye,
that the little one hung down its head half
frightened, and flew away to the old church
tower, where, without one thought of broken
bones or bruises, and without any care about
food and clothing and lodging, he said nothing
but." caw caw caw!"
AH-AH!" growled the brute,
frightening me out of my five
senses-"ya/i-a I have been
sleeping here, just over the coal-
beds, eighteen hundred yards
below the foundation of your
little garden, for thousands of
years, and why do you disturb me now?
Ya/i-a/ mortal of a day, you will soon
depart like every other created thing, leaving
your race all the better or all the worse for
your existence, and one day they will witness
against you, just as my footprints, which you
see on the solid rock around me, show the
sandy paths I trod -long before your great
grandfather, Adam, walked in the garden of
14 Uncle Yames's Sketch-Book.
Paradise; yali! let me alone, or, with these
terrible teeth of mine, I will-- "
"No, don't!" I exclaimed, as a capacious
mouth disclosed the huge entrance to a cavern
of a stomach that set all my teeth a-chatter-
ing; "no, don't! I didn't mean to do it. I'll
* -- --
go away directly if you'll only just tell me
who you are, and whence you came."
"Curious mortal!" replied the beast, "like
the first of your race, always wanting to
know and yet not satisfied. What do I look
"Well," I answered, "if you won't be very
angry, I should- say a sort of a kind of a very
The Labyrinth/odon. 15
"Not very wrong either; but ya-a--a-ah !
I'm an antediluvian frog."
"What! a frog as big as a bull ? I won't
believe it. I know better than that, oh-sharp-
toothed monster !"
Incredulous infant!" roared the beast,
making my heart go pitty-ty-pat, "what do
youl know ? Can you tell anything of the age
of reptiles when there was no human being to
disturb us ? Look around you, and see many
of my mighty family, half fish and half lizard,
in their hard stony beds, great mammoths,
compared with which your modern elephants
and hippotamuses are kittens and puppies.
When the earth was in its infancy we were
there; gigantic trees afforded us gloomy re-
treats, and gorgeous flowers adorned the banks
of vast lakes and seas, where we sported and
played. In your old Book, where you are
told that God made the beast of the earth
after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and
everything that creepeth upon the earth after
his kind, we are referred to. It was when the
waters brought forth great whales, and when
everything was gradually being prepared, so
that the beautiful earth might be ready, as a
glorious palace, which in the next age your
race, as princes, should inhabit-for we were
created in the fifth period of the earth's history,
16 Uncle 7James's Sketch-Book.
and you in the sixth--and then, poor thing!
you came. Everything was ready; a glorious
garden awaited you, and your employment
was just to keep it in order. But what did
you do ? Yah-ah--ah You turned every-
thing upside down; and, seeking forbidden
knowledge, you brought sin, and sorrow, and
suffering into the beautiful world, which was
all the worse for your addition. But you will
soon depart and be forgotten, like ourselves,
without being, most of you, half so useful
either, for with the stony beds. in which we
repose your houses are built and your temples
raised. The great waters, which drowned
nearly all your first family, covered us with
floating-forests and thick beds of solid chalk,
flint, and heavy masses of red sea sand; and
now the earth is nothing but a great tomb, in
which all has been turned to stone; below us
are the world's great coal-cellars, above us the
burial place of flying reptiles, and great birds,
shells, sponges, and corals. But not satisfied
with all the mischief you have done, you won't
let us alone, but rudely disturb our quiet
neighbourhood still, burning our foundation
to cinders, and making church-steeples,
paving-stones, and cups and saucers of our
coats and wrappers. Poor thing! you call me
Labyrinthlodon, because of my curiously formed
T/e Lalbriynthodon. 17
teeth. How clever you are. Come to my
jaws, and-- Yak-a-c-akt !"
Oh, don't! pray don't !" I exclaimed, and
the rings of my bed-curtains all jingled and
danced again as, trembling with fear, and in a
terrible perspiration, I awoke.
And how do you think, now, all this came
about? Why, I had .been to the Crystal
Palace, and there, in what is called the Ante-
diluvian garden, I had seated myself in a
mossy corner, one beautiful evening in May,
just beside a sweet little spring where prim-
roses and violets were blooming; on the other
side the lake were the extraordinary models
of the great reptiles which you must have
seen. As I sat and thought, the sun went
down and the shadows lengthened, and, brim-
ful of thought at the wonderful things I had
seen, I went home, fell fast asleep, and was
only awakened by the imaginary growl of one
of the very brutes which I had seen squatting
on the muddy ground with his big footprints
*ii---'"- 0"- *?; 'y- ^^^ '^ -.
ON'T go so fast, good master
SDrone," said the Bee: "you see
I am heavily laden, and we have
'-. some distance to go yet; let us
S rest on the next honeysuckle we
meet and refresh ourselves."
So they rested, and while the Bee crept
into the nectary of the flower, the Drone
buzzed about hither and thither, asking
curious questions, very busy doing nothing.
Cousin Violetta," he began, what's the
use of working like a slave as you do? See
what a jolly life I lead ; 20,000 workers in
our hive do all the labour, while 800 of us
gentlemen have nothing to do but wait upon
our queen and enjoy ourselves."
The Bee. 19
"Fine privilege, certainly," said the Bee;.
" and your 20,00o workers' one day will have
'nothing to do,' when your honey is falling
short, but to sting your 8oo idle gentlemen'
all to death. Why don't you go to work, and
not buzz about from hive to hive, living upon
the sweets and labours of others? Work
away while you're able,'-that's my motto."
"And pray, busy Bee, what is your busi-
Carpenter and confectioner," replied the
other; I build my own house, which consists
of five or six stories, with three or four rooms
in each ; and I collect the'sweets from the
.....' 2 :--_:rT---- .@ -
_ : -- :. .
inl each; and I collect the'sw~eets from the
20 Uncle Yames's Sketcl-Book,
choicest flowers, and with pollen and honey
I make sweet cakes for my babies. Pay me
a visit, and I will show you my secrets, and
then you will see how much better it is to
work than live idle."
The Drone looked about, and was beginning
to feel uncomfortable, when he exclaimed
"Dear me! what ugly legs yours are, my
For shame, sir !" returned the Bee; don't
you know that my bread pockets are there,
filled with the nice things I am going to make
up for my children ?"
Like all conceited things, the Drone was
sometimes very rude, so he exclaimed, "Gam-
mon, Carpenter but putting his large head
closer, he discovered that what the Bee said
was perfectly true ; two large pockets, formed
of the hollow parts of her two hind legs, were
quite crammed with the pollen and honey she
had brought from sweet-scented flowers.
If you had used your 3,800 eyes properly,"
she continued, "you would have seen what
wonderful wings I have, too; for upon each
of the larger there are nineteen hooks, which
fasten on to the ledges of the two smaller
wings, so that the four may be used alto-
gether when the heavy bread-baskets make
it difficult to fly."
The Bee. I
SDear me, Carpenter, what a wonderful
workwoman you must be!" buzzed the Drone.
"Say rather, what a wonderful workman
must He be who foresaw all my wants, and
provided for them !"
True ; but if you carry your confectionery
in your legs, where do you carry your tools ?"
"Ah !" she said, "that's the most wonder-
ful part of all. My little mouth, you see, is
divided into five parts ; with two strong cut-
ting jaws I scoop out my chambers; two
other parts form a pair of trowels to plaster
the floors and ceilings of the rooms; and the
middle is a brush to sweep up the pollen from
Dear me! exclaimed the Drone.
But they were on the wing now, and had
almost reached Violetta's home. They crossed
a beautiful common, where the wild thyme
was blooming, and they rested there; then
they halted in a cottage garden, and sipped
freely of the juice from the mignonette ; then
they came to some white lilies, with their
golden stamens; and while the Bee crawled
into the flower, the Drone stayed outside; and
when she returned as yellow as a guinea, he
burst out a-laughing, and said, Ha ha! ha !
Carpenter, you must be suffocated." But she
told him how, while she was earning bread for
22 Uncle ames's Sketc-J-Book.
her children, she was inoculating the flowers,
and improving their characters by carrying
the proper material from one to another. But
away they went again, till presently they
came to the corner of a kitchen garden, when
Violetta began to sing, "Home, home, sweet
It was a curious home indeed, but very
comfortable, too; for, cut in the back of a dry
old post, that for many years had supported a
grape-vine, were a number of apartments,-
but Violetta will describe it much better than
I can do.
"You see, friend, I bore a hole in this dry
old post, because the wood is softer, and the
work easier; and always in the direction of
the morning sun, because it's warmer. I work
from the foundation to the upper roof first;
then I descend, and collecting the sawdust
which my work has made, mix it together
with my trowels like mortar. I then plaster
over the lower story, ready for one of my
children, because each must be kept separate.
The ceiling of this room makes the flooring
for the next; and so I go on till every
chamber is complete. I know exactly how
much food each grub will require, and so I
mix up a sweet cake and lay it on the middle
of the floor, and leave one egg on each cake,
Tfie Bee. 23
and then directly my baby grubs are born,
there is their breakfast ready. That in the
lowest room is born first, and he finds his way
out when he has grown a little by a back
door I cut out for him ; then the next grub
over him is born, and he eats his way through
the sawdust floor and finds his way out, and
the next do the same,-do you comprehend ?"
"Wonderful! exclaimed the Drone; "I'm
quite proud of my relations."
Don't be proud of anything," said the Bee,
"but praise God as you look at the beautiful
flowers He has made everywhere for your food
and employment, and work for your family;
and don't go wandering from hive to hive, a
trouble to your relations, who look upon you
as too expensive to keep and too useless to
The Drone was so humbled with this
friendly piece' of advice, that he never stayed
to say Good day," but buzzing Dear me !"
hurried off as fast as his wings would carry
him, leaving the Bee to her work and her
song, where we must leave her too.
THE GARDEN SPIDER'S YARN.
",X ON'T talk to me about your spin-
ning machines and telegraph
wires," said the spider; "the one
S often 'makes a false stitch, and
the other blunders ridiculously.
Why, it was but the other day it
had to bring a message from Russia that your
Prince was 'skilled in hunting,' but it dropped
the first letter on the road, and everybody
was alarmed at the report that his Royal
Highness was 'killed in llunting !' You bor-
rowed the idea of your telegraph cable from
our web-miserable Imitation Fancy one of
your 'patent electric wire manufacturers'
turning a coil out of his own body hundreds
ITe Garden pidcer's Yarn. 25
of yards long. Shouldn't I like to see how
he looked after the operation !
"Wouldn't he be thought a cunning old
fox, indeed, who out of a stolen goose, digested
in the workshop of his stomach, could spin a
rope and weave it into a net, fastening it
between the branches of a tree for the pur-
pose of entangling the birds, watching the
process from his hole close by! but this is
what I do every day, and you think nothing
"Look at your looms; bungling pieces of
2 '6 U>le aes's Sk1ech-iBok.
machinery they are compared with mine: youe
must have furnaces and steam engines, and
hundreds of hands, and thousands of reels
before you can get your common thread
ready for working, while I quietly spin a fine
material out of a little gum pouring out of
my body through very small tubes, thousands
of which are not bigger than the point of
a needle, and all of which, uniting the sub-
stance, make the compound thread you call
"Oh, it makes no difference to us what
you 'believe.' I tell you that each rope is
composed of at least 4,000 threads, and yet
when united, so small that, with all your won-
derful sight, you can scarcely behold them;
and small wonder, for what can you do with
only two eyes, compared with a spider with
eigkt ? And then look at your tools; why, it
would take all my time to describe them,
with their odd names and purposes, while all
we use are the combs at the ends of our eight
"You, who are so very wise as only to
believe just what you can understand, will
perhaps laugh outright at the. idea of
gloves and stockings being made from spider's
silk, but it is true nevertheless, and I could
tell you of a relation of ours to whose spin-
.: GarCdn Spiaer-'s Yar'n. '/
neret the small wheel of a steam engine was
once attached, and for several minutes the
thread was drawn out of her body, measuring
I8,ooo feet! Fancy that! But if you won't
believe,' what's the use of my telling you ?
"Did you ever look at one of my nets?
They call us 'geometric spiders,' and a very
good name too, because we work upon the
principles of geometry. Now listen, and I'll
tell you a little about it. When we want
to spread them, the first thing we do is to
look out for the best position, and that's more
than you always do. Well, the next thing is
to secure a good foundation, and you can't
sayyou always do the same. Then, when the
scaffold ropes are fastened, we throw out thin
gummy lines, which the wind carries to some
object to which they become fastened, form-
ing a bridge, down or up which we walk in
safety, starting upon our work from the centre,
and making dry lines in the form of a coach-
wheel ; this done, we make up quite a different
kind of web, and, again commencing from the
middle, work round and round, fastening a
gluey line to the 'spokes' at each joint, and
covering the spiral cord with globes of gum,
which catches the flies just as your birdlime
catches the skylark; we begin and finish a
net measuring fifteen yards in length covered
28 Uncle Yames's Sketc-BPook.
with 120,ooo of these gummy fly-catchers in
about three-quarters of an hour; and, because
nothing should be wasted, we bite off the
fag-ends and work them over again in our
stomachs, and cleanliness being a necessity
in our family, with our combs we are always
cleaning out our nets.
If we want to ascend, we throw out a very
long line, which the wind takes in the direc-
tion we want to go, and while going up we
take good care to make another bridge by
which we may descend, so that, one failing, we
have another. A pity you did not take a
lesson from us when you. laid your Atlantic
cable! But we're 'only spiders,' and you
despise our wisdom.
"' iCunning and fierce' are we? I know
some two-legged animals who leave their little
ones to the mercy of anybody, and cuff their
heads, asking 'What they're crying for?
Catch us doing it! Our friend,' Uncle James,'
the other day, was very much surprised at
finding a fine large fat bluebottle at the
bottom of my grandmother's nest; but do
you think she was going to feast when she
knew her 120 babies would want their break-
fast directly they were born, and wouldn't be
strong enough to earn it ? I should think not;
she knew better, and cared more for her little
The Garden Spiders Yarn, 29
ones than for herself. That was the way she
showed her love.
"'But what about our telegraph ?' Every-
thing. When the net is finished we fit up
a snug cupboard in some quiet corner near at
hand, and there, like 'Mother Hubbard,' we
reside; but we fasten a telegraph rope from
the top shelf to the net, and directly a fly is
caught up comes a message--'Daddy Long-
legs in trouble !' or' Honey Bee in a mess !'
when down we rush after our dinner.
You talk about '.pluck !' Your family
motto is 'I CAN'T !' but ours invariably is,
'NEVER GIVE UP!'
"Just suppose you lost your great toe in a
battle, and amputation at the knee was neces-
sary to save your life. Why, many of you
would die rather than lose your leg; but we
know just the place where the injured limb
must be removed, and with the sharp blades
of our mouth we bite off our own stumps, and
then they grow as strong and as fresh as
ever. 'Never give zip !' that's the spider's
motto, and, in every good thing, take my
advice, and let it be yours also."
A- "--v -
Sew !ew mw how d'ye do?
I'm little Nell's kit,--and pray whose are you?"
.- H! you needn't remind me of the
4! wild character of my'ancestors, for
yours were quite as bad; while we
,r.! hunted for prey in the old British
woods two thousand. years ago,
your forefathers lived like beasts,
painting their naked bodies with red and.blue
colour, and burning their faces with all manner
of ugly patterns, which cats would never think
of doing; and they burnt their living children,
too, in the arms of an ugly god which they
made of willow boughs, like a great basket!
Think of that, little miss, and say if you ever
heard of a cat serving her kittens so cruelly,
."._ t.4 ._
LA I- -m
LITTLE TA BBY.
*) _________ ^____________________________
32 Uncle yames's. Sketch-Bool'.
Oh yes, I know how smart you look, but
it makes me laugh to see how very proud
you are! and when I say "MVew! mew!
mew !" that means in our language "Ha!
The long curl hanging down your back re-
minds me of my tail, and then with the little
curls in front of your head, and two other long
velvet tails hanging still farther behind with
bells at their ends, and two holes bored through
your ears with dingle-dangles fastened to them,
a little hat about the size of a muffin, with a
pheasant's wing on one side and a green glass
beetle on the other, a great thing like a Jack-
in-the-Green to make you look very big, and
a' red petticoat to match,-mew mew!
M. y wardrobe is very scanty; all the wash-
ing is done at home, and mangling is alto-
gether dispensed with; our toilet is very
simple, for our paw is our towel and our
tongue a comb; but if you want to know how
valuable we were in the sight of the old
Egyptians, go to your great Museum, and
there you will see several of our family who
were embalmed three thousand years ago.
Yes, for a long time in that country they
treated their cats as they did their gods, and
the murderer of a kitten was given up to the
Tabby s Tale. 33
mob to be beaten to death. In your country
a thousand years since, a kitten was readily
sold for a penny as soon as she was born,
before she could see; twopence immediately
after, and fourpence after she had caught the
first mouse-a great deal of money in those
days. If a thief was caught with the royal
puss, he was fined a sheep and a lamb, or as
much wheat as when piled up would make a
heap covering the cat hanging by her tail, her
nose reaching the floor.
We were wild, as you were, I know; but we
have been tamed as you have been, and if I
am fond of a bit of fun with your reel of cotton,
you know you like to see me running after it.
Some of our family, though, are very diffi-
cult indeed to tame; there's my uncle Lion,
and aunt Tiger, and cousin Leopard,-they
have been made to play all manner of kitten-
like pranks, but they don't like it at all, and
they make a tremendous noise at being con-
fined -in a box and fed upon the legs of raw
bullocks only once a day; and I don't wonder
either. Ah if they only knew how comfort-
able it is to lie on the rug in front of your
parlour fire, with a nice clean hearth, and the
kettle singing on the hob, who could help
purring then? I can't; and when you say,
" Why, Tit, what are you so easedsd about ?"
34 Uncle yames's Sketch-Book.
you forget how much I and you have to be
thankful for, and that is the only way I can
show it. Do you always purr when you are
A relation of mine once had a cruel mistress,
who gave her a couple of very young live
rabbits to eat; and what do you think she did
with them?--burn them in a basket as your
family used to burn their little ones? Oh no;
she brought them up and fed them, not having
any kittens of her own to care for. Now which
do you think was the more sensible animal of
the two ?
Another of our family once brought up two
little chickens; but a third actually allowed a
rat to be brought up in her family, and cat,
rat, and kittens, all lived very happily to-
gether, and played with each others' tails.
Do you remember putting me in the cup-
board the other day and shutting the door ?
How do you think I contrived to get out in
the dark? Ah, you can't tell: my eye is
differently framed from yours ; for if it hadn't
been, how could I have seen to catch a mouse
at night ? It enables me to see my way when
you must feel yours ; and so making a spring
at the latch, I knew just where to lift it. But
that reminds me of another relation of ours,
who once lived with a family where the bell
Tabby's Tale. 35
was rung every day for dinner, and puss
always joined the family circle. One day
she was shut up in another room, and couldn't
get out. Some hours after she was liberated,
and away she ran to the dining-room; but
the dinner was all cleared away. So Mistress
Puss hurried off to the bell-rope, and pulled
with all her might to have the dinner served
up again. Mew "What a wonderful cat !"
One of our family was very cunning; observ-
ing that when the parlour bell was rung the
servants left the kitchen to answer it, she
sometimes contrived to ring the bell, and
watching the kitchen in the servants' absence,
would run away with the first nice thing she
could lay hold of. Yes, there arc bad cats as
well as good ; but, like oticr bad animals that
I could name, they always get the worst of it,
and are generally hanged for thieving, as your
family once were, or drowned in the river.
And so cats and kittens, you see, have their
funny stories to tell, just like other creatures.
Do you know how it is we can let you. take
our paws in your hand without scratching if
we like, and yet how it is that we can claw a
mouse or a bird to death ? Why, our four
legs have altogether eighteen very strong and
sharp-hooked claws, each claw shutting up in
36 Uncle yames's Sktcli-i'oo".
a horny case like a pair of scissors in a sheath,
and there is a hole at the tip where the points
are seen coming through, so when we don't
want to hurt anything we just pull in the
points with some strings we have inside, and
when we want to hold anything very fast we
push them out again; that's it. Our soft
velvety feet are given us that we may noise-
lessly watch. our prey in the dark without
Some of us have black jackets, like some
of you ; some of our coats are called "tabbies,"
which means like watered silk, as you see
mine is; the most valued are those who wear
frocks of the tortoiseshell pattern ; others have
long silvery hair shawls, with soft silky tails.
All over China, India, and Persia, from time
immemorial, we have been highly valued; but
give me an English cottage home, with a
sparkling fire and a clean hearth, a bright
kettle singing merrily on the hob, a warm rug
to lie upon, and a kind little mistress to say
" mew, mew, mew to, and then--urr, furr,
turr-only see how pleased I will be !
A KIND WORD FOR A WORM.
T was "onzly a worm," poor thing,
"only a worm," they said; some
time ago the gardener accidentally
cut it in two with his spade; but,
'li by some mysterious instinct which
the lord of creation is ignorant of,
it found its way together again, and then, like
a broken bone, the two halves grew stronger
than ever ; but what an escape Only fancy a
man cut in half in a sawpit just being glued up,
and finding himself all the better for the little
operation; wouldn't le be thought something
of, and what would be said of the great doctor
in that case! But nobody cared for the worm
except the busy starling, or the impudent
sparrow, or the happy skylark: recovering
38 UncIc JYalcs' Sk ctc/-Pook.
slowly from such a wonderful reunion, it was
well-nigh suffocated now with a few grains of
chalk it had accidentally swallowed in a sand-
Sbank, as, writhing and i -bin in pain, it
was discovered in an old garden path which
-. . .._ .
opened into the country lane through a broken
gate by the road-side.
What are th worms for, my dear ?"
For your good and mine, so don't be
frightened : I have taken the poor thing in
A Kind 1or;d for a Worm. 39
my hand, just to explain to you what I know
about it, for every worm, like every boy and
girl, has a life story of its own. Ah if the
humble creature you are looking at could
speak, what would it say?. But it has no
tongue, and so it cannot talk: no; silently
and patiently it works on, sometimes lying
half crushed on the pathway, sometimes
pecked almost to pieces by the birds, some-
times nearly frozen to death by the frost;
always despised in life, forgotten in its death,
and unknown in its work, it is only a wormn,"
as they said, only a worm!
Ah! look, it is disgorging the curious con-
tents of its soft body, and the little white
grains mixed with the brown earthy matter
are the little chalk bodies which have-
occasioned all its trouble; but it is getting
right again, and being now nearly empty we
shall all the better be able to examine it.
"What am I going to do," my dear ? Take
a magnifying-glass out of my pocket, so that
you may see something of the structure of
the poor worm's body, and so the better
understand what I shall tell you. It appears
to like the warmth of my hand, for it lies
quite still; but see, it begins to move. There,
take it in yours, and don't be afraid; it's
"only a worm," but it is one of the thousand
40 Uncle yames's Sketc/i-Book.
of instruments that the Almighty God has
created for our good, and you are more in-
debted to this, the humblest servant 'in the
great household, than you are aware.
What do you say ? "How it tickles your
skin ?" Of course it does ; it is beginning to
walk, and the tickling sensation you describe
is the action of its many tiny feet, which are
of a very singular kind.
The entire length of the body is composed
of a number of rings like a wire spring. How
many ?" Well, I dare say you will be able to
count about 130, and upon each of these rings
there are four pairs of hooked feet. Had we
attempted to draw our worm from its hole
when we first noticed its head coming through,
we should have found that while we pulled
one way, the worm pulled another. Its body
is very elastic; and these many hooked feet
enable it to hold very firmly to any substance
through which it is passing. The only thing
by which we can distinguish the head from
the tail is the mouth, through which it just
disgorged its food; but nose, eyes, and ears-
ah! the poor worm enjoys nothing of the
kind, and yet it can distinguish sound, and if
we were only half as wise as we pretend to be,
I dare say we should discover senses which
Cod has kindly bestowed upon this despised'
A Kind Word for a WorTm. 41
thing, which would again prove the truth of
His own word, that ;'. ..'."'" He has
made is "very good."
.What did you say? What is that red line
shining through its transparent skin ?"
Why, that is a tube which runs through the
body of the worm, down which its curious
food has to pass, something like the great
canal in your body and mine, where all the
meat and pudding we eat performs a journey
through a passage thirty feet in length; and
the crimson current you see coursing down
the sides of the little canal in the worm's
body is its blood, confined in an artery or
blood-vessel, floating down one way and zip
another, stopping at a number of very small
holes on the surface, to take refreshment in
the shape of a little gas out- of the air called
oxygen, which renews and strengthens the
blood of the worm just as it does our own.
What are the very fine white lines passing
,.''.".'. L the banks of this canal from tihe
head?" The nerves, which tell the brain when
the distant part of the worm's body is injured,
or warn it to escape when danger is at hand.
"Upon what does it feed ?"
Ah there is the most wonderful part of the
story. God often chooses the humblest, the
poorest, and the meanest to do His work;
42 Unc ass Skctc-Bo.
and when they do it zell, He loves to be
served best by such. He knew the soil of
our world would want continual repairing by
bringing to the surface, in the same manner
that a field requires to be ploughed one year
after another, and His great army of work-
men are the earth-worms : while they take in
the garden mould into their stomachs, sucking
out all that which is good for food, they throw
up the rest in what we call zorm casts,"
bringing it outside to receive the benefits
which come from light and air, and so the
ground is gradually prepared for the great
family of grasses, that we may have bread
and meat to eat.
Yes; it is quite true that every part of
garden mould has once passed through the
body of a worm !
I told you that you did not know how
much you owed to the worms.
Patiently and perseveringly working in the
dark, they toil day and night for the great
human family; humble and harmless in their
lives; despised and forgotten in their deaths,
but the objects of His care who watches over
And do you know, my dear, that the little
particles of chalk which so troubled the worm
have lives of their own too, equally curious,
A i0Td Tord for a FWorm. 43
for once they were all alive, as every bit of
earth has been. Tell yot all about them ?"
So I will, but you must learn to be patient
from the poor worm, and wait for another
'- ;- --
-~~~~~~~~~~~~f . ____ _.: --___:.:- ,,,. ,
THE CHALK FAMILY.
TOLD you that our worm fed .upon
nothing but garden mould; it is
Sby no means the only animal that
has a fondness for earth : the
natives of Siam and Siberia, India,
and America, make cakes of clay
and puddings of mud, and find one
pound a day quite enough to satisfy their
earthy appetite. But the rich old Romans
made crumpets of caterpillars, and the Chinese
will still treat themselves to bird's-nest soup,
and they do say that nearer home some people
make fish soy of black-beetles, and so don't
let us be angry because our worm is content
to feed upon nothing but dead animal or
The Chalk Pamily. 45
vegetable matter, which is what our garden
mould is chiefly composed of.
The few chalk grains I told you about, and
which caused so much trouble, were swallowed
by mistake; they were not good for food, but
they are good for a story, because their lives
are equally interesting with that of the worm
or the earth; for just as I told you that all
the garden mould has passed through the
body of a worm, so now I am going to tell
you that every particle of chalk was once
Take a little in your hand, and it will soon
become dry powder; throw it into a little
water, and it will sink to the bottom and
become pasty, making the water milky : throw
away the water so as to leave only the chalk,
and put more clean water, and do this three
or four times, until the water is no longer
coloured by the chalk; then dry a little of
the paste before the fire, and look at it
through a microscope, and you will find
every particle of that chalk to be nothing
but the house of an animal that existed in
the bed of the old deep seas thousands of
Yes, all chalk is found to consist of the
fossil remains of what are called Foramini-
46 Uncle yames's Sketch-Book.
"What a word !" I dare say you will ex-
claim; "what does it mean?"
Why, animals with dwellings consisting of
many chambers, just like our rich neighbours
with their drawing rooms, dining rooms,
breakfast-rooms, bedrooms, libraries, and I
don't know what else; but I want you to
know how wonderfully these little creatures
have been formed; little !" that indeed they
are. Take some of our dry dust to a chemist,
and politely ask him to weigh you a grain
weight, as I did; "a grain," the smallest of his
smallweights, you could blowit away with your
breath, it is like a piece of paper ; he would
return you very little indeed; then, if you
were to put on your mother's spectacles, and
spread the little chalk grains out upon some
dark paper, and patiently count, how many
do you think would go to the grain? Why,
4,o66 Now, will you just try and think that
these little creatures, with their many ready-
furnished apartments, weighed each less than
the 4,oooth part of a grain ? and will you also
try and think that the same glorious Being
who holds the stars and guides the great suns
and worlds which appear only as so many
thousands of shining points at night, also
cares for such lowly things as these chalk
grains ? Yes, God cares for everything He
'The Chalk Family, 47
has made; He never does anything in vain,
and so, knowing that we should require
marble for our use in buildings and orna-
ments, these chalk families have been care-
fully preserved through a long course of ages,
that they might become marble; and so it
happens that these tiny animals' bodies, up-
wards of ten thousand of which are required
to equal the weight of a fourpenny-piece,
have been transformed into the most glorious
temples and figures.
Chalk often lies some depth from the earth's
surface, but it was once covered with water;
the bottom of the deepest sea now is chalk.
Think of the pressure of three or four miles of
water! In the earth this pressure has been
so great, and, far down, the heat so strong,
that -large bodies of chalk families have be-
come hardened as stone, and the once thick
paste, mixed or fused with a new substance,
has become beautifully crystallised, and is
capable of receiving a fine polish, but all
appearance of life has gone, and nothing but
the crystalline chalk, shaded with veins of
coloured metal which ran into it while cooling
down, is left.
One of the noblest monuments of antiquity,
and the most refined temple of the Greeks,
in the famous city of Athens, was called the
48 Uncle yamiess Sketch-Book.
Pairtenon. In its present ruined condition
it is still the admiration of every artist and
traveller; it was the temple of the goddess
Minerva, whose marble image, overlaid with
gold, was valued at C120,000. The beautiful
remains of the richly sculptured figures which
adorn the building, some of which, called the
"Elgin marbles," are in our British Museum,
although broken by Turkish cannon, and worn
with the effects of 2,300 winters, are still the
wonder and admiration of the world.
Well, this Grecian temple of Minerva was
entirely composed of the whitest marble, hewn
in the neighboring quarries, where it had
been deposited for thousands of years, the
original chalk being heated and compressed
into stone; and so pillars, sculptures, goddess,
and all, forming the beautiful temple of the
pagan goddess Minerva, was once nothing but
the tiny bodies of very little animals.
Ah! I want you all, young and old, who
read this, to learn here some very precious
It is only after the trial of life is over, and
its heat and pressure has been borne with
Christian patience and fortitude, that you will
be pillars in another temple. "How do I know
this?" Him that overcometh," says the Bible,
"will I make a pillar in the temple of my
The Chalk Family. 49
God-the new Jerusalem." Ah! that precious
book will best tell you how this is to be done;
but what I want you to learn here is, that
God very often employs the humblest of all
things for His service even in this life, while
in another His brightest ornaments will be
found to be those who have passed through
"great tribulation," extreme pressure from
without, and many a fiery trial from within,
while the necessary process was going on.
-- : . ._ -: .2 --$2 =- -- -
*-' ".7' Z, : --" "
WHAT THE WHALE SAID.
U- U want to be big, do you ?" roared
an ,- enormous whale, as it steered
S its way between a couple of moun-
t ains of floating ice in the frozen
S legions of Greenland. Want to
.'e ,bg; do you? Look at me!
I am told there are some animals
living in this neighbourhood so small that
they weigh less than the four-thousandth part
of a grain, and that a microscope is required
to look into the rooms in their bodies. You
won't want any other instrument than your"
eyes to sec me with, I can tell you, for my
extreme length is about eighty feet, and my
waistthirty-five feetround. Myweightis about
What the Whale Said. 5 S
ninety tons, equal to two hundred bullocks,
or upwards of one thousand men.
"A giant is all very well in its way, but it's
an expensive and very dangerous luxury, I
assure you. I am avoided by nearly every
living thing; there is only one who cares for
me, and he is my dreaded enemy, although
I could chaw him up in a twinkling if he
would only let me. He leaves his comfortable
. -r -.- i- ..
home and comes to these dreary regions for
two or three years at a time, just that he may
enjoy the sport of sticking a great toasting-fork
53 Uncle yames's Sketch-Book.
into my body, and see me fastened to the end
of his rope like a huge kite on a string.
"Dreary regions" indeed they were; for
out there in those northern seas there was
nothing to cheer the mind or comfort the
body,--ice as big as mountains in front, sail-
ing down the cold deep waters in vast fields,
with rugged and broken surfaces; and ice
behind in massive beds, resembling mighty
hills without a particle of vegetation, where
the only sign of life was a polar bear hungrily
hunting for a fish dinner; and perpetual snow
everywhere, for even on the shores the only
living thing was a little green moss, or the
red snow-plant; and even they hid themselves
beneath the thick white counterpane which
covered them during the darkness of a night
that lasts for one third the whole year.
It's a great misfortune to be bigger than
your neighbours," resumed the whale, "for
you either become the sport or envy of
everybody. In my infancy I was called a
'cub;' I was an only child, and out of her
enormous fish supper my mother prepared me
a rich milk breakfast.
"She was a magnificent and affectionate
creature, always ready to risk her own life for
the preservation of mine, with a sleek hairless
Jacket, a splendid tail, which not only enabled
What t/e Whale Said 53
her to steer through the water like some
mighty ship, but enabled her also to protect
herself in danger. She was the hugest of
living creatures; her head measured twenty
feet, her mouth would contain a large
boat full of men, which could have been
rowed in, turned round, and rowed out again.
But you should have seen her eye! not larger
than that of an ox, it was full of love and
intelligence. Through two holes in her head
she blew up great fountains of water to the
height of twenty feet, the noise being heard
several miles distant.
"Well, one bright cold day in June, when
biting north winds howled amidst the sharp
masses of floating ice that were splitting and
crushing each other as they floated along, she
was lying on the surface of the water, when
what should I see but one boat's crew followed
by another from a ship in the distance! They
had the hardihood to approach close to her
side, when one of the men instantly plunged
a sharp instrument called a harpoon into her
body, and down she rushed into the abyss
below. I was just waking up from the danger,
and saw all that was going on from an ice
cradle in which I had been sleeping below,
well wrapped up in a blanket of fat all round
my body. Wounded, and in agony and alarm,
54 Uncle Yameis's Skctc/h-Book.
the speed with which she pulled the rope over
the boat's side nearly set the wood on fire,
and water had to be poured upon it to keep
"Upwards of an hour she remained under
the water, that dreadful instrument sticking
in her body, the blood pouring from her side;
but rising to the surface for a fresh supply of
air, more harpoons and lances, like pins in a
pincushion, were thrust into her, until at
length, exhausted by wounds and loss of
blood, two large fountains of blood and water,
and then of blood only, thrown up through
the blow-hole on her head, bespoke her
"Ice, boats, and crews were dyed with
blood in that deep red sea, and a long train
of oil marked the path along which she had
passed; but one more effort! up went her
tail, capsizing the boat and throwing all into
the air ; but all in vain, for they righted them-
selves sooner than she could, and in another
half-hour she turned on her side, and the loud
hurrahs of the sailors sounded her funeral
knell, and I was left* alone in the world of icy
waters. She had plunged about a mile below,
with upwards of 200,000 tons of water upon
her, and a rope three miles long fastened to
What the Whale Said. 55
"Well, she was hauled up with great difficulty,
and cut to pieces; 300 large bony plates were
found in her upper jaw, and they called them
'z halebone,' it served instead of teeth, and
formed a net to catch fish when the jaws
were opened. The 'blubber' was about twelve
inches in thickness, and it filled a hundred
barrels with oil, and weighed ten tons; it was
carried home to burn in lamps, the whalebone
being taken care of for making skeletons for
umbrellas. The tongue was cut out as a
dainty for the captain's dinner, and the flesh
sold to the Greenlanders for food, who make
clothes from the muscles, transparent linings
for their windows, instead of glass, with the
covering of her heart; props for their tents,
boards for their boats, harpoons and spears
from her bones, and threads for sewing from
Her heart was too large to fill a wide tube,
and the blood rushed out of it through a pipe
a foot in diameter, twelve gallons every
Yes," concluded the whale, God is every-
where: and if you look for Him, He will be
found of you; but the proud He knows only
afar off. So don't want to be big, because
you see what comes of it,"
"-, .. ..- ,
THE TALE OF A SCORPION,
'.,,-WAS born inside a bale of goats'
hair in the hold of a ship on her
voyage from Syria to England:
.',- my mother's dwelling was a secret
S chamber beneath a ruined pillar on
S the shore of Lake Galilee, whose
clear waters reflected the snowy
height of Mount Hermon, upon whose
slopes a number of sheep and goats were
continually feeding. The shepherds there
were afraid of us; one of my young brothers
once fell into the hands of their children, who
caught him with birdlime; he stung them
severely in trying to regain his liberty, and
they called him a "hateful creature," and all
sorts of terrible names besides. Another fell
into the hands of a parson, and he made a
The Tale of a Scorpion. 57
fiery circle and put him in the middle, and,
scorched and frightened, he rushed into the
flame to escape death; but not succeeding,
they said he was "full of satanic rage," and
that he died from his own poison which he
carried. about in his tail. Ah, because we
by everybody, but because son. animals
carry their poison on their tongues nothing
is said about it !
Everybody hates us. I had my portrait
taken by a very uneer sort of an artist. hom
:~y e but : ea- -
carry their poison on their tongues nothing
is said about it!
Everybody hates us. I had my portrait
taken by a very queer sort of an artist, whom
58 Uncle amnes's Sketch-Book.
they called Uncle Yames "-I'll show it you
presently. He turned me over and over,
looked into my eyes, and tickled my tail, but
even he hadn't a good word for me, although
my relation, the spider, is one of his pets ; I
suppose it's because he can spin a yarn, but
my education was terribly neglected.
It was a queer birthplace, wasn't it ? How
would you like to have been born in a bale
of wool ? I was often more than half-choked,
and nothing to eat! I crawled out one hot
night, and there I spied a fat cockroach
making a meal off a sheepskin. Fixing one
of my eyes sharply upon him, I just gave
him a slight touch with the tip of my tail,
and kis business was settled: he lasted me
for a week. Then I caught another; and one
day, just as I was going to sleep, I felt the
soft nose of a little mouse smelling my legs;
I gave my poison-bag an extra squeeze, and
squirted a little juice through my tail, and
the mouse was dead in a minute. Cruel"
you call it, do you ? Not half so bad as-you,
who torment some of the animals upon which
you feed that they may look nice when they
are cooked. But that mouse was delicious:
a brother scorpion found it out, and we
certainly had a terrible fight who should
have it, although there was more than
T/he Tale of a Scorpion. 59
enough for both, and it ended in the death
of one-I must leave you to guess which.
After some weeks on the passage the great
thing in which I was enclosed was landed
and put into a large warehouse, and one day
I crawled out on the floor and made all the
use I could of my eight eyes: nothing but
casks, and bundles, and bales, and dirty men;
what a different scene from the blue hills of
Presently there was such a hue and cry,-
"A scorpion! A scorpion! Look out, a scorpion!"
Had it been a rattlesnake they could scarcely
have been more frightened. One had the
courage to take me up with a stick and put
me into a bottle; another filled it up with
turpentine, which maddened me with pain,
and I lashed my tail, and must have appeared
as they said I was, "mad" indeed. They
called me what I dare not repeat; I should
like to know what they would have done if
they had been pitched into such a sea,-they
wouldn't have done what I did-outlive it all.
Yes, after this I was sent to have my portrait
taken, as I have already told you; an odd-
looking instrument was employed, and I was
carefully studied all over, and I heard some-
body say, "Send him to Kind Words;"-
better for me had they sent "kind words to
60 Uncle 7ames's Sketch-Book.
"him." Well, I was sketched upon paper,
and here is a copy of my portrait.
Fancy a creature completely cased in
armour, ornamented with knobs all over the
body, with sharp spikes in the centre of each,
with a seven-jointed tail fastened by a great
number of strong muscles, enabling the brute
to lash it in every direction, like a whip, with
a very finely-pointed claw at the end of a
tubular nature, boring and injecting at the
same time, down which a subtle poison is
thrown into the wound made by the point,
generally producing death; fancy each of its
eight armour-plated legs covered with sharp
spines or teeth, like a saw, each foot ending
with an extremely fine and sharp claw; and
fancy a long body ending with a huge mouth,
with two very fierce jaws like hooked pincers,
lobster fashion, with a double-bladed grind-
ing machine of a mouth to catch what the
claws allowed to escape, moving like a scythe,
the teeth of one blade fitting into the teeth of
the other; fancy the armour-plates on the
back, with small holes for the admission of
air, and eight eyes staring at you from the
head like policemen's lanterns; fancy this
strange brute scampering off with amazing
swiftness, carrying a dozen of its babies on
its back in a bag like a gipsy; fancy this
SThe Tale of a Scorpfon. 61
monster when full-grown as big as a lobster,
stinging men and women to death; fancy all
this, and a good deal more if you can, and
you have the faint outline of a portrait from
nature of that class of the spider family called
I managed, however, to escape, and crawled
into the garden, and took good care never to
be found out again. There I had plenty of
food,-spiders' eggs, for which I have a par-
ticular fancy, for breakfast, a dozen or two of
bluebottles for dinner, earwigs for tea, and
black-beetles for supper,-delicious dishes, I
assure you; but perhaps you have never tried
them. I made my house under an old brick
wall, and began to get old; but before I say
good-bye to you I want to tell you some-
For every ill beneath the sun
There is some remedy or none
Should there be one, why, seek to find it;
If not, be still, and never mind it."
Now the remedy for a scorpion's sting, which
always lies in its tail, is in its body; the
animal must be crushed, and the wound
rubbed with the juices which flow from the
crushed parts, and then the poison will be
harmless: thus you see that from the same
body which inflicted pain comes the cure.
THE SERPENT'S LAMENT.
'. OILED around the branches of a
forest tree, in a large cage at the
S Zoological Gardens, was a huge boa
.- constrictor: it hadn't been fed for a
Sfortnight, and so it stared as wildly
V at you as you would stare into a
cook-shop if you had eaten no
dinner for a week.
The front of its prison was'covered with
glass protected by iron bars; the room was
appropriated to serpents, and it was evident
the boa was considered a dangerous speci-
men: but who could help admiring its beauty?
Couldn't, and so when I exclaimed to my-
self, What a beautiful creature !" it seemed
as if it answered, "Beautiful indeed of what
The Serpent's Lament. 63
value is outside show when there is no other
"I am 'cursed above all cattle.'
For six thousand years enmity has existed
between my race and yours, and I, who was
-- ,-- .,
't -* \ 'K" Z '
one of the innocent charms of the garden
of Eden, through the folly of your grandfather
am condemned to crawl in every direction
without legs or feet; but Satan, whom you
still call' the old serpent,' made my body an
64 Uncle Yames's SketCc-Book.
instrument with which he poisoned your soul,
and my outward form and habits became
consequently changed; and because I was
thus made the way of Adam and Eve's fall, I
have been shunned and persecuted ever since,
although in some parts of the world I have
been petted, and charmed, and even wor-
There was some fascinating power in the
great serpent as it fixed its sharp, beautiful
eye upon me, and I couldn't help listening.
"Look at my prison! where are the bam-
boo jungles, the moist shades, and the warm
sands where I hoped to spend my life? To
keep up the steam of my body here in winter
they wrap me up in a wretched blanket,-
ugh I get savage when I think of it; so
much so that a year or two ago I quite forgot
myself, and in a fit of passion I swallowed my
wrapper, and thousands of people came, at a
shilling a head, to see a 'Python,' as they
called me, who had performed such a pro-
They talk of swallowing why, they drink
rivers of fire-water, and set their brains in a
flame, and think nothing about it; indeed,
they actually write up over the doors of their
The Serpent's Lament. 65
'LICENSED TO BE DRUNK ON THE
"As for my sting, with its forked end,
about which so much has been said, why,
their tongues, so smooth and slippery, sting
fifty times worse than mine, for they are full
of deadly poison, setting on fire the course of
nature, defiling the whole body,' as their
inspired teacher tells them. Every kind of
serpent,' he says, 'hath been tamed, but the
tongue can no man tame.'
"When I was made a prisoner in Borneo
they had to provide a number of live goats
for my dinner on the voyage, and you should
have seen how frightened they all were when-
ever they came near my cage !
"The first time I was fed I fixed my eyes
upon the animal, who immediately tried to
escape, piteously crying in its fright, and
vainly butting at me with its horns; but
embracing it tightly in the folds of my body,
which was then about sixteen feet in length, it
soon fell dead, when I began to prepare for a
huge swallow, by first licking the whole body
over, beginning with the head, and the goat
gradually disappeared, head first, assisted by
my extraordinary muscular power and two
rows of hooked teeth. I had to make the
little breath in my body go a great
66 Uncle 7ames's Skeetc-Book.
way, for breathing while this operation was
going forward was impossible, and as it lasted
for two hours and a half I was nearly ex-
hausted by the time the goat's tail arrived at
the door of my stomach.
SAfter dinner sleep awhile,
After supper walk a mile.'
I don't know much about 'suppers,' and very
little about 'walking,' but my 'sleep' after
each dinner lasts about three weeks, particu-
larly when I have been lucky enough to have
an entire bullock, or tiger, or antelope, or
even a man, for a meal.
"A whole infant was once found inside one
of my brothers' body, swallowed after the
same fashion; and then in our turn we are
cooked and eaten by others, while by some
we are charmed, my smaller Indian friends
being taught to come out of their holes and
dance on the tip of their tail to the sound of
a drum and a pipe.
"You see me in a sorry condition now, but
in our native woods we are sometimes as thick
as a' man's thigh, and between thirty and forty
feet long: holding on by the tail to the upper
branches of a tree, we can reach a tiger who
is asleep in the shade below, or pick the rider
off his horse as he hurries along, as my cousin
did the other day.
The Serpents Lament. 67
"I have been used for all sorts of purposes.
For my prudence, and circumspection, and
medicinal virtues I was much respected by
the Greeks many years ago; whilst the Egyp-
tians considered me the emblem of fertility,
and the guardian of their rice and cotton
fields on the reedy banks of their ancient river
Nile; and putting my tail into my mouth, so
as to form a circle, I was fastened over the
large entrances to their mighty temples, a
sign of eternity, without a beginning or end.
Some parts of my body are valuable as
medicine; birds and animals feed upon me
after I have fed upon them ; and, inhabiting
waste places, heaths, pestilential marshes, and
moist jungles, where other animals could not
live, I fulfil the great law, showing that every-
thing is good in its place; and when you
want a profitable lesson in natural history,
excuse the habits of my life, which I cannot
alter, and the bad use which has been made
of me both by man as well as Satan, for which
I am not responsible; and listen to the voice
of One who advised you to 'be as wise as
serpents,' and refuse to listen to the charms of
temptation as the adder, 'who stoppeth her
ear,' refusing to listen 'to the voice of the
A VOICE FROM THE EAST.
What are the wild waves saying,
Sister, the whole day long?
That, ever amidst our playing,
I hear but their low, lone song ?
What is that voice repeating
Ever by night and day?
Is it a friendly greeting,
Or a warning that calls away?"
-":-'OU could not hear our stormy
voices if we told you," murmured
the waters of an Indian river;
"T .' "you could not hear us; but in
our present calm, listen, and I
S4 v will make you understand.
"In my country I am called the river
Ganges; 'tis a long way off from your cottage
homes in England, although the same monarch
rules over both; yes, seven thousand miles
A Voice from the East. 69
and more; 'tis a long way. Your greatest
river, the Thames, only runs for a distance of
240 miles, and rises in a very humble manner;
my entire length is 1,350 miles, or between
five and six times longer, and I have been
flowing for many thousands of years, supplied
by the constant springs which flow among the
hills, and by the melting snows from the lofty
peaks of the highest mountains in the world,
the Himalaya, some of which rise to the
amazing height of 25,000 feet above the level
of the sea; that is, 62- times higher than
your great cathedral of St. Paul's in London.
"The Egpytians were said to be the most
learned people in the world, but they deified
their great river the Nile, which comes all the
way from the mountains in Abyssinia, whose
king, Theodore, you have recently conquered.
See how some people become foolish in the
estimation of others when they are full of
wisdom in their own, for while these very
'wise' people worshipped the river whose
muddy streams supplied their valleys with
food for their corn, the people who live upon
my banks worshipped me too. Easily reached
by vast numbers of native Hindoos from the
most'populous and productive part of India, I
am twice a day crowded by thousands who
adore my sacred waters ; those who cannot
70 UncZe yames's Sk/etch-Book.
bring their families and friends consider the
object accomplished by taking some of the
water to them, just as the poor Jew who can-
not be buried in Jerusalem believes it all the
same to have some of its earth buried with
him in his coffin; and just as in your English
courts of justice you administer an oath upon
the Gospel, so in the courts of justice around
my shore an oath is only considered sacred
when delivered upon water from our river. No
wonder the great God turned the Egyptians'
great river into blood; that which we love in
His stead is often turned into that which we
Our shores are the refuge of all kinds of
beasts, and our jungles the habitations of the
most useful and curious of trees.
"There are found the elephant, the tiger,
and many other quadrupeds. Perhaps the
most really useful of all is the arnee, or water
buffalo, so called from its habit of taking to
'the narrow parts of our river; its flesh is eaten
by the natives; the dead beast is curiously
skinned, for it is cleverly stripped off without
cutting, except where strictly necessary ; the
neck and legs are then closed up, and the
skin is inflated with air, like a great bladder,
and thus it becomes a very useful and very
- 'i =
THlE WATER BUFFALO AND SERPENT.
A Voice from the East. 73
"The arnee is easily tamed, and is a great
favourite with the inhabitants of the islands
in our neighbourhood. Sometimes the Indian
herd-boys become attached to a particular
bull, which in turn will guard it even from a
tiger, as a faithful dog would do, but it not
unfrequently becomes the prey of the stealthy
boa-constrictor, who lies coiled around the
stem of the wild date-tree growing on our
"I may remind you while talking about
serpents that this reptile is worshipped by the
most superstitious of our native tribes; the
cow, too, sharing the adoration of others, its
dung being used in the temples and other
places as a species of holy ointment! Some
of these temples are of great antiquity. One
of the most extensive was called Juggernaut,
and until very recently was connected with
the most terrible of sacrifices. It was so large
that some of its towers might be seen at a
distance of twenty miles. A huge ugly car,
carrying the big doll which was considered
the god, was dragged along by thousands of
half-naked men, some of whom devoted them-
selves to destruction by rushing forward, and,
throwing themselves under the wheels, were
crushed to death, exulting in the thought of
securing an entrance to eternal life in this
74 Uncle yames's Sketch-Book.
"You see, then, that in our benighted
country, which includes a' population of one-
sixth part of- the whole globe, some there are
who choose to destroy, themselves that they
may live, whilst others there are who live that
they may destroy themselves; for in one part
of our stream the very shores are sacred, and
a heavy tax is imposed upmn the great number
of holy pilgrims who resort thither to bathe
in the sacred waters, and many are the lives
which are here annually sacrificed. Accom-
panied by a priest the victims embark in a
boat, from which they descend to the river
with a large earthen pan fastened to their
bodies, and still supported by the priest, the
pan, is filled with water, as a sign for the
sacrifice to begin; the priest then lets go his
hold, and the deluded Hindoo sinks to rise
no more, whilst the applause of the spectators
encourages the fortitude of those who are next
"Our shores are covered with the most
luxuriant foliage. There' grow the feathery
date-trees, already mentioned; there the
broad, flat leaves of the plantains or bananas;
there, to the amazing height of forty feet,
grow the various species of bamboo, one of
the most useful trees to the native Hindoo,
who has learned to value it as one of the
A Voice from the East. 7
necessaries of life; from it he makes beams
and poles for his house, masts for his boats,
furniture for his dwelling, mats for his floor,
paper for "all sorts of purposes, and pipes
through which to conduct water.
"These date-trees and bananas, besides
affording mankind the material for a great
number of useful articles, by their fruit afford
him a rich supply of healthy food, while their
beautiful foliage is a grateful shade in the
heat of the day; for the palm-groves are im-
pervious to the sun's rays, and there, while the
eyes are fed with the endless variety of flowers
which deck these sylvan scenes, the ears are
at the same time ravished with the melodious
notes of numerous birds of wondrous colours,
which are attracted to these groves by the
shade and the cool springs, and the food which
"You forced me to speak by singing,
'What are the wild waves saying?'
I have told you a little, now let me conclude
by reminding you of your own dear poet's
description of the land through which I
SFrom many an ancient river,
From many a palmy plain,
They call us to deliver
Their land from error's chain.
76 Uncle Yames's Sketch-Book.
Can we whose souls are lighted
With wisdom from on high,
Can we to men benighted
The lamp of life deny ?'
"If you have never done anything for the
poor heathen, what will you say when you are
called to give an account of the talent God
has entrusted to you ?"
"*"T T '' '.^ T _- .^S ^- **-'^ L^ -1-
THE LARK AND THE SWALLOW.
In these wide old-fashioned chimneys."
-i' ES, it is," said the one.
'i "No, it isn't," replied the other.
"I tell you you are mistaken,"
returned the lark.
"And I tell you I am not', re-
torted the swallow.
What was to be done?
"So high at last the contest rose,
From words they almost came to blows,
When luckily came by a third;
To him the question they referred,
And begged he'd tell them if he knew
Which was the wiser of the two,"
Uncle Yames's Sketch-Book.
-1 ':-' : "-
It was old Bob the Bullfinch; he was a
grave, short-beaked arbitrator, and the lark
The Lark and the Swallow. 79
and the swallow agreed to be bound by his
"Now tell me, first," he said "what it's all
Then the two began such a clatter that
neither the one nor the other could be heard,
till at last the bullfinch frowned the birds
almost into silence.
"Let us hear the lark first," said Bully
That isn't fair," twittered the swallow.
"And why not, I should like to know?"
said the other.
At last the arbitrator declared that if silence
was not immediately obtained, he would wash
his feet of it altogether, and they might fight
it out as they pleased.
And so this determination brought the
belligerents to a stand, and the lark began-
"He says I build my nest too low."
"And he will have it I build mine too
high," replied the swallow.
Said the latter, He accuses me of making
my home of mud;" but the other was im-
mediately charged by the accused of building
his house of grass and sticks.
He calls me home-sick," said the lark, and
says that I am afraid to go beyond my own
"He says I am a 'gad-about,'" retorted the
So Unic/e J'Zames's Sketch-Book.
swallow, "because I prefer a warmer home
than his in winter, and go across the waters
He blames me for building my house in
the grass," declared the former.
"And he ridicules me for erecting mine in
the chimney," murmured the other.
Bully didn't know what to do; so he began
to pipe his tune resembling the human whistle,
and the quarrelsome birds being frightened,
were soon brought to their senses.
He was a very knowing fellow indeed; he
had been done two years ago, but it was
astonishing how much wiser he had become,
for the trick played upon him was wondrously
valuable to him ; he had learned the secret of
taking the advantage of an accident, as we
should do; and how do you think it hap-
pened ? Why, you must know Bully was un-
commonly fond of the growing buds on young
gooseberry trees, and, to prevent their being
eaten, some gardeners covered the branches
over with whitewash, which so completely
deceived his family that they flew away, but
they got used to it next year, and, making up
for lost time, they devoured more than ever.
Well, Bully looked very serious, and began
his oration thus :-
"You both argue in a very narrow circle,
The Lark and the Swallow. 81
and conclude that either must be wrong be-
cause he differs from the other. Such, my
friends," he declared, "was the secret of
quarrels among men and women, and boys
and girls ; we should learn to be wiser," said
the bullfinch, "believing that another's opinion,
however it may differ from ours, is just as
likely to prove correct as our own; if we
were more humble and charitable with our
neighbours, we should be vastly more happy
"The lark builds its nest in the grass,
truly, and builds it, as the swallow said, of
grass and sticks, but how wisely ordained
was it by the great Creator. It is built of
such material to resemble the grass wherein
it is laid, and to avoid discovery; the lark
does not fly directly into the nest, because
that would attract attention, but falls into the
grass at some distance from it, and secretly
finds its way home.
"The swallow, as the lark says, builds in
the chimney her mud-like house, but let me
remind you she does not select the chimney
in which the smoke generally rises, but that
next to the kitchen chimney, that she may
enjoy all the warmth of which she is so fond.
Its nest is cleverly contrived of dirt or mud,
mixed with short pieces of straw to render it
Es Uncle Yames's Sketch-Book.
tough and permanent, and it is lined with fine
grass and feathers, and sometimes horsehair,
but each is exactly suited to the wants of the
"The lark flies toward the sun, and, with
her shrill and clear voice, clapping her wings
with gladness, teaches mankind the beautiful
lesson that in however humble a dwelling
they may live, they may rise to the loftiest
heavenly position; and the swallow, by its
instructive pattern of unwearied industry and
affection, and its peculiar fondness for a com-
fortable home, teaches also that if mankind
would enjoy the good things of this life, they
must do their part to deserve them.
"The lark truly remains in the country all
the year through, but it is to remind us some
cheerfulness should be exhibited under every
circumstance; she sings even in winter to
teach the beautiful truth that songs in the
night of adversity are the best songs of all;
and the swallow, with marvellous instinct,
summons her fellow in the month of Sep-
tember, when old and young assemble in
vast flocks, arranging their affairs for a long
flight, and in a great triangular form, with a
body-guard of pioneers to precede them, take
wing, first across the Channel, and then pass-
ing through Italy, ultimately find that food
The Lark and Ite Swallow. Sj
and temperature in the wild and tangled
forests and lakes of Central Africa which ini
winter they could not have enjoyed ir
England, returning home to their old nests
the second week in April.
"Learn from this, proud man," piped the
grave bullfinch, "that there is another land
far away, which, in the winter of life as well
as every other season, is rich with everything
that can contribute to the happiness of the
soul, and for which you should be constantly
preparing, not so much troubling yourself
about the life that now is as that which is
to come, as a religious songster has sung,-
'When life's hope shall fail thee,
And dark billows roll;
When tempests assail thee,
Mourn not, 0 iriy soul!
The bird finds green meadows
Beyond the sea's roar;
And, passing death's shadows,
For thee is a shore,
Illumed by a Sun that Will set never more.'
"Yes," concluded the bii-d, delighted with
its own sweet philosophy, "yes, yes, yes; you
differ in your habits well and wisely; and
because you differ, men learn wisdom from
your separate instincts, as another warbler
84 U'ncZe Yames's Sketch-Book.
'The bird that soars on highest wing
Builds on the ground her lowly nest;
And she that doth most sweetly sing,
Sings in the shade when all things rest
Nearest the throne itself must be
The footstool of humility.'
"My friend the lark may take that as a
compliment; and you, dear swallow, may see
in it a pretty reason for not complaining, for
the lark is a-
'Type of the wise who soar, but never roam,
True to the kindred points of heaven and home.'
And the swallow is a-
'Type of the soul, who when by death set free,
Migrating,* finds, dear Lord, a home in Thee.'"
This concluded the business: afterwards the
lark and the swallow lived upon better terms;
both looked upon their grave old friend Bully
as a good adviser, and wisely determined that
if they were ever so foolish as to quarrel again,
they would first of all take the opinion of one
who was better informed than themselves,
since it was quite clear each was prejudiced in
favour of his own opinion and against that of
The proper rendering of "absent." See 2 Cor. v. 8.
NATIVE OF MADAGASCAR.
ALL these 'Zoological Gardens!"
IJ screamed the creature, "call these
S Zoological Gardens! aye-aye;
S There was an ironical tone in
the exclamation, and although it
was of course imaginary, it seemed perfectly
natural that an animal so grotesque, who
became an object for the study of the curious
staring at him through the iron bars of his
solitary prison there, should have something
Its feet were remarkable for the length of
their five toes, the middle one being much
86 Uncle 7amves's Sketch-Book.
more slender than the rest, but admirably
adapted for the purpose of drawing worms
out of the holes of trees, and the whole foot
exactly suited to the habits of an animal that
seemed allied to the squirrel, ape, and bat.
It was very fond of groping its way in the
earth like the mole, and these curious feet
enabled it to burrow in every direction.
It was apparently a dull, stupid, slothful,
but good-tempered looking brute, having a
plaintive cry which sounded like aye-aye,"
from which it received from the natives its
Its colour was brown mixed with black
and grey; it had a strange fancy for boiled
rice, which it ate with its long skinny fingers
much after the fashion of the Chinese with
their chopsticks; it was about the size of a
common hare; its large flat ears resembled
those of the larger bats; its eyes were like
those of an owl, and its long wiry tail was
similar to that of the s.qu'ir'Cl, although, unlike
that animal, it rarely elevated it, but allowed
Sit to drag in the dirt; altogether it was an
odd mixture, as staring stupidly, and with a
melancholy cry, it continued its simple ditty,
" Aye-aye, aye-aye ;" and it seemed as though
it would add, I am not such a fool as I
- r-=- ----- -
-- --" ._.
ThE AV-E-AY E.
The Aye-aye. 89
"Call these 'Zoological Gardens'? it con-
tinued; "call these Zoological Gardens'? You
should see the forests where we roam, with
their prodigious variety of beautiful and useful
trees; inhabited by buffaloes, wild boars, por-
cupines, dogs, chameleons, and my half-
cousins, monkeys and rats!"
A chain of volcanic mountains divides the
land, whence flows a plentiful supply of water,
where your God waters the hills with His
goodness. True, our climate is not the most
healthy in the world, but we can't help that,
for during our summer season the influence
of the intense heat upon the decayed animal
and vegetable substances washed down by
the floods breeds infection and all sorts of
pestilential vapours, but then the constitution
of our black people is just fitted for it.
"There is no country in the world where
civilisation has made such rapid 1. .:..:., as
in our island; fifty years ago people ate each
other, worshipped two gods, one the good
principle and another the bad, and what was
left from sacrifices to the former they gene-
rously bestowed on the latter.
"They amused themselves chiefly with
dancing and singing, feeding upon milk, rice,
fish, fruits, and roots of plants.
Your missionaries preached the Gospel
90' Uncle Yames's Sketch-Book,
there forty years ago, but our queen preferred
her gods to yours, and in return for what her
deities had done for her she denounced the
'new Gods, Jehovah and Jesus,' as traitors;
she burnt the Bibles and other works, and
pronounced sentence of death upon every
native who should thenceforth be found with
any printed book in his possession.
"But how are things altered there now!
When I was trapped by an English captain,
and brought away from liberty'to this prison,
your religion was eating up our own; white
men increased in numbers, the people were
being taught the arts and sciences, the children
to read and write, new buildings were rising
in every direction, differing very considerably
from our old mud-built hovels, and the huge
island was moving forward like your nation,
getting higher and richer every day.
Our forests produced almost every variety
of trees good for food and other purposes,
amongst which is one which yields an
aromatic gum used by the black women for
preserving the freshness of their skins; a de-
scription of india-rubber is milked from our
fig-trees ; our wounds are healed with balsam,
our fish are caught with spears, and our
torches are supplied with material to enable
us to fish by night with the produce of another
The Aye-aye. 91
tree; while our vast palm forests yield timber
for building our houses, and thatch for the
roofs; our plates and dishes, which we never
use more than once, are made from the same
useful tree; another produces a gummy syrup
resembling honey; the bamboo contributes to
almost every necessity; from it we obtain our
water-pipes, our masts for ships, and our ma-
terial for household furniture; the cotton,
flax, and hemp trees yield an abundance of
fibre for our clothes, while the endless varieties
of cocoa-nuts, figs, pine-apples, pomegranates,
tamarinds, oranges, lemons, and wild vines
afford delicious dessert.
So rich is the soil, that rice merely dropped
into small holes in the ground, and covered
by the foot with mould, will yield a hundred-
fold. The silkworm is abundant, and the wild
bee yields an extraordinary supply of wax
and honey. Eagles, storks, pelicans, herons,
turkeys, pheasants, pigeons, parrots, and vast
tribes of more beautiful birds, live in the
tangled branches of our old thick forests;
while an abundance of fish-amongst which
are the oyster, sole, mackerel, eel, mussel,
herring, turtle, crab, and mullet-crowd our
"The crocodile haunts our rivers, serpents
bask under many a green shade where beauti-
92 Uncle Yames's Sketch-Book.
fully variegated insects sport in the daytime,
and luminous beetles lighten the traveller at
night through the lonely thicket."
"Call these 'Zoological Gardens ?'" groaned
the aye-aye; "go to Madagascar, and you will
see there what a Zoological Society we have,
and you will learn what can be done when
you try. My friends, you would find we are
no longer the 'brute beasts' you once called
us; you would see how the memory of our
good Radama is respected.
Radama, our first king, reigned within the
last half-century, in which period nearly all
our progress has been made; and if you want
to know what one man can do, I can tell you
that good Radama has influenced for good
our whole population of four or five millions
of human beings. He gave very early indica-
tion of what was to follow, for he tenderly
loved his mother, who was driven from her,
home by a cruel husband, greatly to the grief
*of little Radama, who next morning caught a
chicken and tied it by the leg to a chair in his
father's room. Hearing the cries of the little
bird, he asked, 'What is that?' 'Nothing'
said the boy, 'but a little chicken crying after
its mother.' His father understood his mean-
ing, yet said nothing; but the same day
Radama's mother was restored to her home.
The Aye-aye. 93
"When Radama's father, who was the
island chief, died, he was made king, and
profited by the intercourse with your people,
whom he esteemed, and from whom he learned
many useful things, making a treaty with
them. Amongst Radama's good qualities
was a great horror of lying; he had a great
love for educating his poorer subjects, and
instituted schools all over the city. His first
school was opened in Tantananarivo (which
means thousand cities) in 1820, but the king's
scheme was ridiculed by the people, who could
not comprehend how figures and letters could
mean anything, and they looked upon Ra-
dama's work as you do upon that of a
"But the plan prospered, although few
scholars could be induced to attend. The
king was frequently the teacher, and at the
end of the first year there was a public ex-
amination. The parents attended, and
laughed at the very idea of writing supplying
the place of speech, when Radama requested
a little scholar who had been his pupil to
write what had been previously whispered
into his ear,-' It is not true that writing can
supply the place of speech.' The child wrote
the phrase, and the slate was afterwards
handed to a distant scholar, with a request to
94 Uncle 7ames's Sketch-Book.
read the words aloud; and when the visitors
discovered, to their astonishment, that it was
understood, 'Oh, solombava tokoa they ex-
claimed (' Oh, substitute for the tongue !').
"They had hitherto known but one method
of arithmetic, that of counting by a few stones.
Radama had taught the children the first
rudiments of this branch of science, so, calling
a little child, he asked, 'If I send a hundred
sheep to Tamatave, and sell sixty at four
dollars each, twenty at three dollars, and
twenty at two dollars, how much ought my
slave to bring back to me?' Scarcely had he
finished, when a little black girl called out,
'340 dollars.' 'Yes, yes; 340, 340,' cried out
all the little voices. The visitors said it was
astonishing, and Radama's cause was gained;
and from that time-less than fifty years ago
-all has gone on well. The old pagan gods
are being abandoned, and your Bible is being
read all over the land; and although he died
at the early age of thirty-six, in the year 1828,
his good influence has been felt from one end
of the island to the other, notwithstanding his
widowed queen, who was less civilised than
her good husband, endeavouring to prevent
many of his plans being carried out.
"Sich is the story of, t1h good king
Radama," concluded the aye-aye, "and such
The Ayeae. g9
is a faint description of our Zoological Gar-
den. We don't pay a shilling admittance, and
our dark people have not to put 'F.Z.S.' at
the end of their names to make them 'fellows/
for they are fellows naturally,-and very
queer fellows some of them, too, I can assure
OR, HOW TO BE HAPPY.
r --- '
'1 ELI, you a story, my dear," said
an old starling to her daughter,
as she was perched upon the top-
most bough of an ash-tree,-" tell
you a story? better creep into
the warm snug nest in the copse
yonder, for the snow makes it very cold, and
all the worms are frozen to death."
"Ah!" replied the younger bird, "you
don't know what a dainty meal I enjoyed on
the back of one of the sheep on the hill
below; but Cousin Corvi says you can tell
me all about the great city, where you were a
prisoner; and I am quite impatient to know
all about it."
Tze Starlings. 9
"Little birds should never be 'impatient,'
fhen," she answered; "they should learn all
about themselves before they study the history
Oh! I know all about myself," replied the
little one, rather pertly; for she was a curious
creature, and had made good use of her eyes
and ears, although I must confess where
the ears were I was always at a loss to dis-
cover. Corvi says we are great favourites
with everybody," she continued, and I know
we're very clever, but I'm quite impatient to
hear all about the great city where you were
a prisoner, and how you escaped, and all
about everything, everywhere."
"Hoity, toity, Miss! Please to remember
that if you wish to be a 'favourite,' as you
call it, the first thing to learn is obedience."
So the little one sat very still while her
beautiful mother related the story of her
"Beautifiul !" Ah, that they weir! for
their glossy plumage only, required a little
careful examination, and they were found to
be the most handsome of our woodland birds;
and how. intelligent the- family was to be sure!
Ah, you need not smile at birds' intelligence;
I have heard of a distant relation of the star-
ling performing one of the most amusing