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GEORGE B. DAVIS,
Clerk of the Board.
THE BROOD HATCHED.
VUEHE LIVThLe FOLKS,
FEEDING THE LAME ROBIN.
Thomas Welson and Sons,
LONDON, EDINBURGH, AND NEW VORK.
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE, > $2
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW.
EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.
THE HEN THAT HATOHED DUCKS, se Sou Bad aes 11
THE NUTCRACKERS OF NUTCRACKER LODGE, oo Bho ae 29Â°
THE HISTORY OF TIP-TOP, oe me a at cost ode
MISS KATY-DID AND MISS CRICKET, Bde re nee ae 61
MOTHER MAGPIEâ€™S MISCHIEF, ... ae add eae see 70
THE SQUIRRELS THAT LIVE IN A HOUSE, ae teas eae 80
HUM, THE SON OF BUZ, tee ae ies oe ors 93
OUR COUNTRY. NEIGHBOURS, on Ne ae eas ees 106
THE DIVERTING HISTORY OF LITTLE WHISKEY, ... aad od 117
THE BROOD HATCHED, oy
FEEDING THE LAME ROBIN, ..
ERECTING THE HEN-HOUSE, .
THE HEN THAT HATCHED eeOnEy
ENEMIES IN WAITING,
THE NEST IN THE APPLE-TREE,
â€˜TIP-TOP IN BAD COMPANY, .
VENTUROUS SQUIRRELS, ve
AÃ©ist of Wllustrations.
oe .- .
QUEER LITTLE FOLKS.
THE HEN THAT HATCHED DUCKS.
Once there was a nice young hen that we will call
Mrs. Feathertop. She was a hen of most excellent
family, being a direct descendant of the Bolton Grays,
and as pretty a young fowl as you could wish to see
of a summerâ€™s day. She was, moreover, as fortunately
situated in life as it was possible for a hen to be.
She was bought by young Master Fred Little John,
with four or five family connections of hers, and a
lively young cock, who was held to be as brisk a
scratcher and as capable a head of a family as any
half-dozen sensible hens could desire.
I canâ€™t say that at first Mrs. Feathertop was a very
sensible hen. She was very pretty and lively, to be
sure, and a great favourite with Master Bolton Gray
Cock, on account of her bright eyes, her finely-shaded
12 : THE HEN THAT HATCHED DUCKS.
feathers, and certain saucy dashing ways that she
had which seemed greatly to take his fancy. But
old Mrs. Scratchard, living in the neighbouring yard,
assured all the neighbourhood that Gray Cock was a
fool for thinking so much of that flighty young thing;
that she had not the smallest notion how to get on
in life, and thought of nothing in the world but her
own pretty feathers. â€œWait till she comes to have
chickens,â€ said Mrs. Scratchard; â€œthen you will see.
I have brought up ten broods myselfâ€”as likely and â€”
respectable chickens as ever were a blessing to society
â€”and I think I ought to know a good hatcher and
brooder when I see her; and I know that fine piece
of trumpery, with her white feathers tipped with
gray, never will come down to family life. She
seratch for chickens! Bless me, she never did any-
thing in all her days but run round and eat the
worms which somebody else scratched up for her.â€
When Master Bolton Gray heard this he crowed
very loudly, like a cock of spirit, and declared that
old Mrs. Scratchard was envious, because she had lost
all her own tail-feathers, and looked more like a
worn-out old feather-duster than a respectable hen,
and that therefore she was filled with sheer envy of
anybody that was young and pretty. So young Mrs.
Feathertop cackled gay defiance at her busy rubbishy
THE HEN THAT HATCHED DUCKS, 13
neighbour, as she sunned herself under the bushes on
fine June afternoons, _
Now Master Fred Little John had been allowed to
have these hens by his mamma on the condition that
he would build their house himself, and take all the
care of it; and to do Master Fred justice, he executed
the job in a small way quite creditably. He chose a
sunny sloping bank covered with a thick growth of
bushes, and erected there a nice little hen-house with
two glass windows, a little door, and a good pole for
his family to roost on. He made, moreover, a row of
nice little boxes with hay in them for nests, and he
bought three or four little smooth white china eggs to
put in them, so that, when his hens did lay, he might
carry off their eggs without their being missed. This
hen-house stood in a little grove that sloped down to
a wide river, just where there was a little cove which
reached almost to the hen-house.
This situation inspired one of Master Fredâ€™s boy
advisers with a new scheme in relation to his poultry
enterprise. â€œHallo! I say, Fred,â€ said Tom Seymour,
â€œyou ought to raise ducks ; youâ€™ve got a capital place
for ducks there.â€
â€œYes; but Iâ€™ve bought hens, you see,â€ said Freddy ;
â€œso itâ€™s no use trying.â€
â€œNo use! Of course there is. Just as if your
14 THE HEN THAT HATCHED DUCKS,
hens couldnâ€™t hatch ducksâ€™ eges. Now you just -wait
till one of your hens wants to sit, and you put ducksâ€™
eggs under her, and you'll have a family of ducks in a
twinkling. You can buy ducksâ€™ eggs, a plenty, of old
Sam under the hill. He always has hens hatch his
So Freddy thought it would be a good experiment,
and informed his mother the next morning that he
intended to furnish the ducks for the next Christmas
. dinner ; and when she wondered how he was to come
by them, he said mysteriously, â€œOh, I will show you
how,â€ but did not further explain himself. The next
day he went with Tom Seymour and made a trade
with old Sam, and gave him a middle-aged jack-knife
for eight of his ducksâ€™ eggs. Sam, by-the-by, was a
woolly-headed old negro man, who lived by the pond
hard by, and who had long cast envying eyes on
Fredâ€™s jack-knife, because it was of extra fine steel,
having been a Christmas present the year before.
But Fred knew very well there were any number
more of jack-knives where that came from, and that,
in order to get a new one, he must dispose of the old;
so he made the purchase and came home rejoicing.
Now about this time Mrs. Feathertop, having laid
her eggs daily with great credit to herself, notwith-
standing Mrs. Scratchardâ€™s predictions, began to find
Se ee pa
ah Yi . ;
ee = = iQ oy
Cs, -t in - SE ESE ae o
Tr EBA io:
ERECTING THE HEN-HOUSE,
THE HEN THAT HATCHED DUCKS. 17
herself suddenly attacked with nervous symptoms.
She lost her gay spirits, grew dumpish and morose,
stuck up her feathers in a bristling way, and pecked
at her neighbours if they did so much as look at her.
Master Gray Cock was greatly concerned, and went
to old Dr. Peppercorn, who looked solemn, and re-
commended an infusion of angle-worms, and said he
would look in on the patient twice a day till she was
â€œGracious me, Gray Cock!â€ said old Goody
Kertarkut, who had been lolling at the corner as he
passed, â€œainâ€™t you a fool ?â€”cocks always are fools.
Donâ€™t you know whatâ€™s the matter with your wife?
She wants to sit, thatâ€™s all; and you just let her sit.
A fiddlestick for Dr. Peppercorn! Why, any good old
hen that has brought up a family knows more than a
doctor about such things. You just go home and tell
her to sit if she wants to, and behave herself.â€
When Gray Cock came home, he found that Master
Freddy had been before him, and had established Mrs.
Feathertop upon eight nice eggs, where she was sitting
in gloomy grandeur. He tried to make a little affable
conversation with her, and to relate his interview
with the doctor and Goody Kertarkut; but she was
morose and sullen, and only pecked at him now and
then in a very sharp, unpleasant way. So after a few
18 THE HEN THAT HATCHED DUCKS.
more efforts to make himself agreeable he left her,
and went out promenading with the captivating Mrs.
Red Comb, a charming young Spanish widow, who
had just been imported into the neighbouring yard.
â€œBless my soul,â€ said he, â€œyou've no idea how
cross my wife is.â€
â€œÂ© you horrid creature!â€ said Mrs. Red Comb.
â€œ How little you feel for the weaknesses of us poorâ€™
â€œOn my word, maam,â€ said Gray Cock, â€œyou do
me injustice. But when a hen gives way to temper,
maâ€™am, and no longer meets her husband with a smile
â€”when she even pecks at him whom she is bound to
honour and obeyâ€”â€
â€œ Horrid monster! talking of obedience! I should
say, sir, you came straight from Turkey.â€ And Mrs.
Red Comb tossed her head with a most bewitching
air, and pretended to run away; and old Mrs. Scratch-
ard looked out of her coop and called to Goody
â€œLook how Mr. Gray Cock is flirting with that
widow. I always knew she was a baggage.â€
â€œ And his poor wife left at home alone,â€ said Goody
Kertarkut. â€œItâ€™s the way with â€™em all!â€
â€œYes, yes,â€ said Dame Scratchard, â€œshe'll know
what real life is now, and she wonâ€™t go about holding
THE HEN THAT HATCHED DUCKS, : 19
her head so high, and looking down on her practical
neighbours that have raised families.â€
â€œPoor thing! what'll she do with a family?â€ said
â€œWell, what business have such young flirts to get
married?â€ said Dame Scratchard. â€œI donâ€™t expect
she'll raise a single chick; and thereâ€™s Gray Cock
flirting about, fine as ever. Folks didnâ€™t do so when
I was young. Iâ€™m sure my husband knew what
treatment a sitting hen ought to have,â€”poor old
Long Spur! he never minded a peck or so now and
then. I must say these modern fowls ainâ€™t what
fowls used to be.â€
Meanwhile the sun rose and set, and Master Fred
was almost the only friend and associate of poor little
Mrs. Feathertop, whom he fed daily with meal and
water, and only interrupted her sad _ reflections by
pulling her up occasionally to: see how the eggs were
At last â€œPeep, peep, peep,â€ began to be heard in
the nest, and one little downy head after another
poked forth from under the feathers, surveying the
world with round, bright, winking eyes; and gradually
the brood were hatched, and Mrs. Feathertop arose,
a proud and happy mother, with all the bustling,
scratching, care-taking instincts of family-life warm
20 THE HEN THAT HATCHED DUCKS.
within her breast. She clucked and scratched, and
cuddled the little downy bits of things as handily and
discreetly as a seven-year-old hen could have done,
exciting thereby the wonder of the community.
Master Gray Cock came home in high spirits, and
complimented her; told her she was looking charm-
ingly once more, and said, â€œ Very well, very nice,â€ as
he surveyed the young brood. So that Mrs. Feather-
top began to feel the world going well with her,
when suddenly in came Dame Scratchard and Goody
Kertarkut to make a morning call.
â€œLet's see the chicks,â€ said Dame Scratchard.
â€œGoodness me,â€ said Goody Kertarkut, â€œwhat a
likeness to their dear papa !â€
â€œWell, but bless me, whatâ€™s the matter with their
bills ?â€ said Dame Scratchard. â€œWhy, my dear, these
chicks are deformed! Iâ€™m sorry for you, my dear;
but. itâ€™s all the result of your inexperience. You
ought to have eaten pebble-stones with your meal
when you were sitting. Donâ€™t you see, Dame Ker-
tarkut, what bills they have? That'll increase, and
they'll be frightful !â€
â€œWhat shall I do?â€ said Mrs. Feathertop, now
4â€œ Nothing, as I know of,â€ said Dame Scratchard,
â€œsince you didnâ€™t come to me before you sat. I could
THE HEN THAT HATCHED DUCKS. 21
have told you all about it. Maybe it wonâ€™t kill â€™em,
but they'll always be deformed.â€
And so the gossips departed, leaving a sting under
the pin-feathers of the poor little hen mamma, who
began to see that her darlings had curious little
spoon-bills, different from her own, and to worry and
fret about it.
â€œMy dear,â€ she said to her spouse, â€œdo get Dr.
Peppercorn to come in and look at their bills, and see
if anything can be done.â€
Dr. Peppercorn came in, and put on a monstrous
pair of spectacles, and said, â€œHum! ha! extraordinary
case; very singular.â€
â€œDid you ever see anything like it, doctor?â€ said
both parents in a breath,
â€œTâ€™ve read of such cases. Itâ€™s a calcareous enlarge-
ment of the vascular bony tissue, threatening ossifi-
cation,â€ said the doctor.
â€œOh, dreadful! Can it be possible?â€ shriecked
both parents. â€œCan anything be done ?â€
â€œWell, I should recommend a daily lotion made of
mosquitoesâ€™ horns and bicarbonate of frogsâ€™ toes, to-
gether with a powder, to be taken morning and night,
of muriate of fleas. One thing you must be careful
about: they must never wet their feet, nor drink any
22 THE HEN THAT HATCHED DUCKS.
â€œDear me, doctor, I donâ€™t know what I shall do,
for they seem to have a particular fancy for getting
â€œ Yes, a morbid tendency often found in these cases
of bony tumification of the vascular tissue of the
mouth; but you must resist it, maâ€™am,-as their life
depends upon it.â€ And with that Dr. Peppercorn
glared gloomily on the young ducks, who were
stealthily poking the objectionable little spoon-bills
out from under their motherâ€™s feathers.
After this poor Mrs. Feathertop led a weary life of
it; for the young fry were as healthy and enterpris-
ing a brood of young ducks as ever carried saucepans
on the end of their noses, and they most utterly set
â€˜themselves against the doctorâ€™s prescriptions, mur-
mured at the muriate of fleas and the bicarbonate of
frogsâ€™ toes, and took every opportunity to waddle
their little ways down to the mud and water which
was in their near vicinity. So their bills grew larger â€”
and larger, as did the rest of their bodies, and family
government grew weaker and weaker.
â€œYou'll wear me out, children, you certainly will,â€
said poor Mrs. Feathertop.
â€œYou'll go to destruction, do ye hear?â€ said Master
â€œ Did you ever see such frights as poor Mrs. Feather-
THE HEN THAT HATCHED DUCKS. 23
top has got?â€ said Dame Scratchard. â€œI knew what
would come of her familyâ€”all deformed, and with a
dreadful sort of madness which makes them love to
shovel mud with those shocking spoon-bills of theirs.â€
â€œItâ€™s a kind of idiocy,â€ said Goody Kertarkut.
â€œ Poor things! they canâ€™t be kept from the water, nor
made to take powders, and so they get worse and
â€œT understand itâ€™s affecting their feet so that they
canâ€™t walk, and a dreadful sort of net is growing
between their toes. What a shocking visitation !â€
â€œShe brought it on herself,â€ said Dame Scratchard.
â€œWhy didnâ€™t she come to me before she sat? She
was always an upstart, self-conceited thing; but Iâ€™m
sure I pity her.â€ j
Meanwhile the young ducks throve apace. Their
necks grew glossy, like changeable green and gold
satin, and though they would not take the doctorâ€™s
medicine, and would waddle in the mud and waterâ€”
for which they always felt themselves to be very
naughty ducksâ€”yet they grew quite vigorous and
hearty. At last one day the whole little tribe
waddled off down to the bank of the river. It was a
beautiful day, and the river was dancing and dimpling
and winking as the little breezes shook the trees that
hung over it.
24 THE HEN THAT HATCHED DUCKS.
â€œWell,â€ said the biggest of the little ducks, â€œin
spite of Dr. Peppercorn, I canâ€™t help longing for the
water. I donâ€™t believe it is going to hurt me; at
any rate, here goes,â€ and in he plumped, and in went
every duck after him, and they threw out their great
brown feet as cleverly as if they had taken swim-
ming lessons all their lives,-and sailed off on the river,
away, away among the ferns, under the pink azaleas,
through reeds and rushes, and arrow-heads and
pickerel-weed, the happiest ducks that ever were
born ; and.soon they were quite out of sight.
â€œ Well, Mrs. Feathertop, this is a dispensation!â€ said
Mrs. Seratchard. â€œYour children are all drowned at
last, just as I knew they'd be. The old music-teacher,
Master Bullfrog, that lives down in Water-Dock Lane,
saw â€™em all plump madly into the water together this
morning. Thatâ€™s what comes of not knowing how to
bring up a family !â€
Mrs. Feathertop gave only one shriek and fainted
dead away, and was carried home on a cabbage-leaf ;
and Mr. Gray Cock was sent for, where he was wait-
ing on Mrs, Red Comb through the squash-vines.
â€œTtâ€™s a serious time in your family, sir,â€ said Goody
Kertarkut, â€œand you ought to be at home support-
ing your wife. Send for Dr. Peppercorn without
THE HEN THAT HATCHED DUCKS.
THE HEN THAT HATCHED DUCKS. 27
Now as the case was a very dreadful one, Dr.
Peppercorn called a council from the barn-yard of the
. Squire, two miles off, and a brisk young Dr. Partlett
appeared, in a fine suit of brown and gold, with tail-
feathers like meteors. A fine young fellow he was,
lately from Paris, with all the modern scientific im-
provements fresh in his head.
When he had listened to the whole story, he
clapped his spur into the ground, and leaning back,
_laughed so loudly that all the cocks in the neighbour-
Mrs. Feathertop rose up out of her swoon, and Mr.
Gray Cock was greatly enraged.
â€œWhat do you mean, sir, by such behaviour in the
house of mourning ?â€
â€œMy dear sir, pardon me; but there is no occasion
for mourning. My dear madam, let me congratulate
you. There is no harm done. The simple matter is,
dear madam, you have been under a hallucination all
along. The neighbourhood and my learned friend
the doctor have all made a mistake in thinking that
these children of yours were hens at all. They are
ducks, maâ€™am, evidently ducks, and very finely-formed
ducks I daresay.â€
At this moment a quack was heard, and at a
distance the whole tribe were seen coming waddling
28 THE HEN THAT HATCHED DUCKS.
home, their feathers gleaming in green and gold, and
they themselves in high good spirits.
â€œSuch a splendid day as we have had!â€ they all
cried in a breath, â€œAnd we know now how to get
our own living; we can take care of ourselves in
future, so you need have no further trouble with us.â€
â€œMadam,â€ said the doctor, making a bow with an
air which displayed his tail-feathers to advantage,
â€œlet me congratulate you on the charming family you
have raised. A finer brood of young, healthy ducks
I never saw. Give me your claw, my dear friend,â€ he
said, addressing the eldest son. . â€œIn our barn-yard
no family is more respected than that of the ducks.â€
And so Madam Feathertop came off glorious at
last. And when after this the ducks used to go
swimming up and down the river like so many nabobs
among the admiring hens, Dr. Peppercorn used to
look after them and say, â€œAh, I had the care of their
infancy!â€ and Mr. Gray Cock and his wife used to
say, â€œIt was our system of education did that!â€ |
THE NUTCRACKERS OF NUTCRACKER
Mr. and Mrs. Nutcracker were as respectable a pair
of squirrels as ever wore gray brushes over their backs.
They were animals of a settled and serious turn of
mind, not disposed to run after vanities and novelties,
but filling their station in life with prudence and
sobriety. Nutcracker Lodge was a hole in a sturdy
old chestnut overhanging a shady dell, and was held
to be as respectably kept an establishment as there
was in the whole forest. Even Miss Jenny Wren, the
greatest gossip of the neighbourhood, never found
anything to criticise in its arrangements; and old Par-
son Too-whit, a venerable owl who inhabited a branch
somewhat more exalted, as became his profession, was
in the habit of saving himself much trouble in his
parochial exhortations by telling his parishioners in
short to â€œlook at the Nutcrackersâ€ if they wanted to
see what it was to live a virtuous life. Everything
30 THE NUTCRACKERS OF NUTCRACKER LODGE,
had gone on prosperously with them, and they had
reared many successive families of young Nutcrackers,
who went forth to assume their places in the forest
of life, and to reflect credit on their bringing up,â€”so
that naturally enough they began to have a very
easy way of considering themselves models of wis-
But at last it came along, in the course of events,
that they had a son named Featherhead, who was
destined to bring them a great deal of anxiety. No-
body knows what the reason is, but the fact was, that
Master Featherhead was as different from all the for-
mer children of this worthy couple as if he had been
dropped out of the moon into their nest, instead of
coming into it in the general way. Young Feather-
head was a squirrel of good parts and a lively dis-
position, but he was sulky and contrary and unreason-
able, and always finding matter of complaint in
everything his respectable papa and mamma did.
Instead of assisting in the cares of a family,â€”picking
up nuts and learning other lessons proper to a young
squirrel,â€”he seemed to settle himself from his earliest
years into a sort of lofty contempt for the Nutcrackers,
for Nutcracker Lodge, and for all the good old ways
and institutions of the domestic hole, which he declared
to be stupid and unreasonable, and entirely behind the
THE NUTCRACKERS OF NUTCRACKER LODGE. 31
times. To be sure, he was always on hand at meal-
times, and played a very lively tooth on the nuts
which his mother had collected, always selecting the
very best for himself; but he seasoned his nibbling -
with so much grumbling and discontent, and so many
severe remarks, as to give the impression that he con-
sidered himself a peculiarly ill-used squirrel in having
to â€œeat their old grub,â€ as he very unceremoniously
Papa Nutcracker, on these occasions, was often
fiercely indignant, and poor little Mamma Nut-
' eracker would shed tears, and beg her darling to be
a little more reasonable; but the young gentleman
seemed always to consider himself as the injured party.
Now nobody could tell why or wherefore Master
Featherhead looked upon himself as injured or ag-
grieved, since he was living in a good hole, with
plenty to eat, and without: the least care or labour of
his own; but he seemed rather to value himself upon
being gloomy and dissatisfied. While his parents and
brothers and sisters were cheerfully racing up and
down the branches, busy in their domestic toils, and
laying up stores for thÃ© winter, Featherhead sat
gloomily apart, declaring himself weary of existence,
and feeling himself at liberty to quarrel with everybody
and everything about him. Nobody understood him, he
32 THE NUTCRACKERS OF NUTCRACKER LODGE,
said ;â€”he was a squirrel of a peculiar nature, and
needed peculiar treatment, and nobody treated him in
a way that did not grate on the finer nerves of his
feelings. He had higher notions of existence than
could be bounded by that old rotten hole in a hollow
tree; he had thoughts that soared far above the
miserable, petty details of every-day life, and he could -
not and would not bring down these soaring aspirations
to the contemptible toil of laying up a few chestnuts
or hickory-nuts for winter.
â€œDepend upon it, my dear,â€ said Mrs. Nutcracker
solemnly, â€œthat fellow must be a genius.â€
â€œFiddlestick on his genius!â€ said old Mr. Nut-
cracker ; â€œwhat does he do?â€
â€œOh, nothing, of course; thatâ€™s one of the first
marks of genius. Geniuses, you know, never can
come down to common life,â€
â€œHe eats enough for any two,â€ remarked old Nut-
cracker, â€œand he never helps to gather nuts.â€
â€œMy dear, ask Parson Too-whit. He has conversed
with him, and quite agrees with me that he says very
uncommon things for a squirrel of his age; he has
such fine feelings,â€”so much above those of the
â€œFine feelings be hanged!â€ said old Nutcracker.
â€œWhen a fellow eats all the nuts that his mother
THE NUTCRACKERS OF NUTCRACKER LODGE, 33 |
gives him, and then grumbles at her, I donâ€™t believe
much in his fine feelings. Why donâ€™t he set himself
about something? Iâ€™m going to tell my fine young.
gentleman that, if he doesnâ€™t behave himself, Tl
tumble him out of the nest, neck and crop, and see if
hunger won't do something towards bringing down his
But then Mrs. Nutcracker fell on her husbandâ€™s
neck with both paws, and wept, and besought him so
piteously to have patience with her darling, that old
Nutcracker, who was himself a soft-hearted old squirrel,
was prevailed upon to put up with the airs and graces
of his young scapegrace a little longer; and secretly
in his silly old heart he revolved the question whether
possibly it might not be that a great genius was
actually to come of his household.
The Nutcrackers belonged to the old-established
race of the Grays, but they were sociable, friendly
people, and kept on the best of terms with all branches
of the Nutcracker family. The Chipmunks of Chip-
munk Hollow were a very lively, cheerful, sociable
race, and on the very best of terms with the Nutcracker
Grays. Young Tip Chipmunk, the oldest son, was in
all respects a perfect contrast to Master Featherhead.
He was always lively and cheerful, and so very alert
in providing for the family, that old Mr. and Mrs.
34 THE NUTCRACKERS OF NUTCRACKER LODGE,
Chipmunk had very little care, but could sit sociably
at the door of their hole and chat with neighbours,
quite sure that Tip would bring everything out right
for them, and have plenty laid up for winter.
Now Featherhead took it wpon him, for some reason
or other, to look down upon Tip Chipmunk, and on
every occasion to disparage him in the social circle, as
a very common kind of squirrel, with whom it would
be best not to associate too freely.
â€œMy dear,â€ said Mrs. Nutcracker one day, when
he was expressing these ideas, â€œit seems to me that
you are too hard on poor Tip; he is a most excellent
son and brother, and I wish you would be civil to
â€œOh, I donâ€™t doubt that Tip is good enough,â€ said
Featherhead carelessly; â€œbut then he is so very
common! he hasnâ€™t an idea in his skull above his nuts
and his hole. He is good-natured enough, to be sureâ€”
these very ordinary people often are good-natured,
â€”but he wants manner; he has really no manner at
all; and as to the deeper feelings, Tip hasnâ€™t the
remotest idea of them. I mean always to be civil to
Tip when he comes in my way, but I think the less
we see of that sort of people the better; and I hope,
mother, you wonâ€™t invite the Chipmunks at Christmas,
â€”these family dinners are such a bore!â€
THE NUTCRACKERS OF NUTCRACKER LODGE. 35
â€œBut, my dear, your father thinks a great deal of
the Chipmunks; and it is an old family custom to
have all the relatives here at Christmas.â€
â€œAnd an awful bore it is! Why must people of
refinement and elevation be for ever tied down because
of some distant relationship? Now there are our
cousins the High-Flyers,â€”if we could get them, there
would be some sense in it. Young Whisk rather
promised me for Christmas; but itâ€™s seldom now you
can get a flying squirrel to show himself in our parts,
and if we are intimate with the Chipmunks it isnâ€™t to
â€œConfound him for a puppy!â€ said old Nutcracker,
when his wife repeated these sayings tohim. â€œFeather-
head is a fool. Common, forsooth! I wish good, in-
dustrious, painstaking sons like Tip Chipmunk were
common. For my part, I find these uncommon people
the most tiresome. They are not content with letting
us carry the whole load, but they sit on it, and scold
at us while we carry them.â€
But old Mr. Nutcracker, like many other good old
gentlemen squirrels, found that Christmas dinners and
other things were apt to go as his wife said, and his
wife was apt to go as young Featherhead said; and
so, when Christmas came, the Chipmunks were not
invited, for the first time in many years, The Chip-
36 THE NUTCRACKERS OF NUTCRACKER LODGE.
munks, however, took all pleasantly, and accepted poor
old Mrs. Nutecrackerâ€™s awkward apologies with the
best possible grace; and young Tip looked in on
Christmas morning with the compliments of the
season and a few beech-nuts, which he had secured as
a great dainty. The fact was, that Tipâ€™s little striped
fur coat was so filled up and overflowing with cheerful
good-will to all, that he never could be made to under-
stand that any of his relations could want to cut him;
and therefore Featherhead looked down on him with
contempt, and said he had no tact, and couldnâ€™t see
when he was not wanted.
It was wonderful to see how, by means of persisting
in remarks like these, young Featherhead at last got
all his family to look up to him as something un-
common. Though he added nothing to the family,
and required more to be done for him than all the
others put together,â€”though he showed not the
smallest real perseverance or ability in anything use-
ful,â€”yet somehow all.his brothers and sisters, and
his poor foolish old mother, got into a way of regard-
ing him as something wonderful, and delighting in his
sharp sayings as if they had been the wisest things in
But at last old papa declared that it was time for
Featherhead to settle himself to some business in life,
THE NUTCRACKERS OF NUTCRACKER LODGE. 37
roundly declaring that he could not always have him
as a hanger-on in the paternal hole.
â€œWhat are you going to do, my boy?â€ said Tip
Chipmunk to him one day. â€œWe are driving now a
thriving trade in hickory-nuts, and if you would like
to join usâ€”â€
â€œThank you,â€ said Featherhead; â€œbut I confess
I have no fancy for anything so slow as the hickory
trade; I never was made to grub and delve in that
The fact was that Featherhead had lately been
forming alliances such as no reputable squirrel should
even think of. He had more than once been seen
going out- evenings with the Rats of Rat Hollow,â€”a
race whose reputation for honesty was more than
doubtful. The fact was, further, that old Longtooth
Rat, an old sharper and money-lender, had long had
his eye on Featherhead as just about silly enough for
their purposes,â€”engaging him in what he called a
speculation, but which was neither more nor less than
Near by the chestnut-tree where Nutcracker Lodge
was situated was a large barn filled with corn and
grain, besides many bushels of hazel-nuts, chestnuts,
and walnuts. Now old Longtooth proposed to young
Featherhead that he should nibble a passage into this
38 THE NUTCRACKERS OF NUTCRACKER LODGE.
loft, and there establish himself in the commission
business, passing the nuts and corn to him as he
wanted them. Old Longtooth knew what he was
about in the proposal, for he had heard talk of a brisk
Scotch terrier that was about to be bought to keep
the rats from the grain; but you may be sure he kept
his knowledge to himself, so that Featherhead was
none the wiser for it.
â€œThe nonsense of fellows like Tip Chipmunk !â€
said Featherhead to his admiring brothers and sisters
â€”â€˜the perfectly stupid nonsense! There he goes,
delving and poking, picking up a nut here and a
grain there, when J step into property at once.â€
â€œ But I hope, my son, you are careful to be honest
in your dealings,â€ said old Nutcracker, who was a very
With that, young Featherhead threw his tail saucily
over one shoulder, winked knowingly at his brothers,
and said, â€œCertainly, sir! If honesty consists in
getting what you can while it is going, I mean to be
Very soon Featherhead appeared to his admiring
companions in the height of prosperity. He had a
splendid hole in the midst of a heap of chestnuts, and
he literally seemed to be rolling in wealth; he never
came home without showering lavish gifts on his
ENEMIES IN WAITING.
THE NUTCRACKERS OF NUTCRACKER LODGE. 41
mother and sisters; he wore his tail over his back
with a buckish air, and patronized Tip Chipmunk
with a gracious nod whenever he met him, and
thought that the world was going well with him.
But one luckless day, as Featherhead was lolling in
his hole, up came two boys with the friskiest, wiriest
Scotch terrier you ever saw. His eyes blazed like
torches, and poor Featherheadâ€™s heart died within him
as he heard the boys say, â€œ Now we'll see if we canâ€™t
catch the rascal that eats our grain.â€
Featherhead tried to slink out at the hole he had
gnawed to come in by, but found it stopped.
â€œOh, you are there, are you, mister?â€ said the boy.
â€œWell, you donâ€™t get out; and now for a chase!â€
And, sure enough, poor Featherhead ran distracted
with terror up and down, through the bundles of hay,
between barrels, and over casks, but with the barking
terrier ever at his heels, and the boys running, shout-
ing, and cheering his pursuer on. He was glad at
last to escape through a crack, though he left half of
his fine brush behind him; for Master Wasp the
terrier made a snap at it just as he was going, and
cleaned all the hair off of it, so that it was bare as a
Poor Featherhead limped off, bruised and beaten
and bedraggled, with the boys and dog still after him;
42 THE NUTCRACKERS OF NUTCRACKER LODGE,
and they would have caught him, after all, if Tip
Chipmunkâ€™s hole had not stood hospitably open to
receive him. Tip took him in, like a good-natured
fellow as he was, and took the. best of care of him;
but the glory of Featherheadâ€™s tail had departed for
ever. He had sprained his left paw, and got a chronic
rheumatism, and the fright and fatigue which he had
gone through had broken up his constitution, so that
he never again could be what he had been; but Tip
gave him a situation as under-clerk in his establish-
ment, and from that time he was a sadder and a wiser
squirrel than he ever had been before.
THE HISTORY OF TIP-TOP.
Unper the window of a certain pretty little cottage
there grew a great old apple-tree, which in the spring
had thousands and thousands of lovely pink blossoms
on it, and in the autumn had about half as many
bright red apples as it had blossoms in the spring.
The nursery of this cottage was a little bower of a
room, papered with mossy-green paper, and curtained
with white muslin; and here five little children used
to come, in their white nightgowns, to be dressed and
have their hair brushed and curled every morning.
First, there were Alice and Mary, bright-eyed,
laughing little girls, of seven and eight years; and
then came stout little Jamie, and Charlie; and finally
little Puss, whose real name was Ellen, but who was
called Puss, and Pussy, and Birdie, and Toddlie, and
any other pet name that came to mind.
Now it used to happen, every morning, that the
five little heads would be peeping out of the window,
44 | THE HISTORY OF TIP-TOP.
together, into the flowery boughs of the apple-tree ;
and the reason was this. A pair of robins had built
a very pretty, smooth-lined nest in a fork of the
limb that came directly under the window, and the Â©
building of this nest had been superintended, day by
day, by the five pairs of bright eyes of these five
children. The robins at first had been rather shy of â€”
this inspection; but as they got better acquainted,
they seemed to think no more of the little curly heads
in the window than of the pink blossoms about them, or
the daisies and buttercups at the foot of the tree.
All the little hands were forward to help; some
threw out flossy bits of cotton,â€”-for which, we grieve
to say, Charlie had cut a hole in the crib quilt,â€”
and some threw out bits of thread and yarn, and
Allie ravelled out a considerable piece from one of her
garters, which she threw out as a contribution; and
they exulted in seeing the skill with which the little
builders wove everything in. â€œLittle birds, little
birds,â€ they would say, â€œyou shall be kept warm, for
we have given you cotton out of our crib quilt, and
yarn out of our stockings.â€ Nay, so far did this
generosity proceed, that Charlie cut a flossy, golden
curl from Toddlieâ€™s head and threw it out; and when
the birds caught it up the whole flock laughed to see
Toddlieâ€™s golden hair figuring in a birdâ€™s-nest.
THE HISTORY OF TIP-TOP. 45
When the little thing was finished, it was so neat,
and trim, and workman-like, that the children all
exulted over it, and called it â€œour nest,â€ and the two
robins they called â€œour birds.â€ But wonderful was
the joy when the little eyes, opening one morning, saw :
in the nest a beautiful pale-green egg; and the joy
grew from day to day, for every day there came
- another egg, and so on till there were five little eggs ;
and then the oldest girl, Alice, said, â€œThere are five
eggs: that makes one for each of us, and each of us
will have a little bird by-and-by ;â€â€”at which all the
children laughed and jumped for glee.
When the five little eggs were all laid, the mother-
bird began to sit on them; and at any time of day or
night, when a little head peeped out of the nursery
window, might be seen a round, bright, patient pair of
birdâ€™s eyes contentedly waiting for the young birds to
come. It seemed a long time for the children to wait; Â©
but every day they put some bread and cake from their
luncheon on the window-sill, so that the birds might
have something to eat; but still there she was, pa-
tiently sitting !
â€œHow long, long, long she waits!â€ said Jamie
impatiently. â€œI donâ€™t believe sheâ€™s ever going to
â€œOh, yes she is!â€ said grave little Alice. â€œJamie,
46 THE HISTORY OF TIP-TOP,
you donâ€™t understand about these things; it takes a
long, long time to hatch eggs. Old Sam says his hens
sit three weeks ;â€”only think, almost a month!â€
Three weeks looked a long time to the five bright
pairs of little watching eyes; but Jamie said the eggs
were so much smaller than hensâ€™ eggs that it wouldnâ€™t
take so long to hatch them, he knew. Jamie always
thought he knew all about everything, and was so
sure of it that he rather took the lead among the
children. But one morning, when they pushed their
five heads out of the window, the round, patient little
bird-eyes were gone, and there seemed to be nothing
in the nest but a bunch of something hairy.
Upon this they all cried out, â€œO mamma, do come
here! the bird is gone and left her nest!â€ And
when they cried out, they saw five wide little red
mouths open in the nest, and saw that the hairy
bunch of stuff was indeed the first of five little
â€œThey are dreadful-looking things,â€ said Mary ;
â€œT didnâ€™t know that little birds began by looking so
â€œThey seem to be all mouth,â€ said Jamie.
â€œWe must feed them,â€ said Charlieâ€”â€”* Here, little
birds, hereâ€™s some gingerbread for you,â€ he said; and
he threw a bit of his gingerbread, which fortunately
ee e a
â€œhg , at
WOâ€ ff pannel cow
Boe RVI AN ONY
Wg LQ =) Ce My
Me 2% :
ys f Ltedetdider essai se,
THE NEST IN THE APPLE-TREE.
THE HISTORY OF TIP-TOP; 49
only hit the nest on the outside, and fell down among
the buttercups, where two crickets made a meal of
it, and agreed that it was as excellent gingerbread
as if old Mother Cricket herself had made it,
â€œTake care, Charlie,â€ said his mamma; â€œwe do not
know enough to feed young birds) We must leave
that to their papa and mamma, who probably started
out bright and early in the morning to get breakfast
Sure enough, while they were speaking, back came
Mr. and Mrs. Robin, whirring through the green
shadows of the apple tree; and thereupon all the five
little red mouths flew open, and the birds put some-
thing into each.
It was great amusement, after this, to watch the
daily feeding of the little birds, and to observe how,
when not feeding them, the mother sat brooding on
the nest, warming them under her soft wings, while
the father-bird sat on the topmost bough of the apple-
tree and sang to them. In time they grew and grew,
and, instead of a nest full of little red mouths, there
was a nest full of little, fat, speckled robins, with round,
bright, cunning eyes, Just like their parents ; and the
children began to talk together about their birds.
â€œTm. going to give my robin a name,â€ said Mary.
â€œT call him Brown-Eyes.â€
50 THE HISTORY OF TIP-TOP,
Â« And I call mine Tip-Top,â€ said Jamie, â€œ because I
know he'll be a tip-top bird.â€
Â« And I call mine Singer,â€ said Alice.
â€œT â€™all mine Toddy,â€ said little Toddlie, who would
not be behindhand in anything that was going on.
â€œHurrah for Toddlie!â€ said Charlie; â€œhers is the
pest of all. For my part, I call mine Speckle.â€
So then the birds were all made separate characters
by having each a separate name given it.
Brown-Eyes, Tip-Top, Singer, Toddy, and Speckle
made, as they grew bigger, a very crowded nestful of
Now the children had early been taught to say in
a little hymn :â€”
â€œ Birds in their little nests agree;
And â€™tis a shameful sight
When children of one family
Fall out, and chide, and fight ;â€â€”
and they thought anything really written and printed
in a hymn must be true; therefore they were very
much astonished to see, from day to day, that their
little birds in their nest did not agree.
Tip-Top was the biggest and â€˜strongest bird, and he
was always shuffling and crowding the others, and
clamouring for the most food; and when Mrs. Robin
came in with a nice bit of anything, Tip-Topâ€™s red .
THE HISTORY OF TIP-TOP. 51
mouth opened so wide, and he was so noisy, that one
would think the nest was all his, His mother used
to correct him for these gluttonous ways, and some-
times made him wait till all the rest were helped
before she gave him a mouthful; but he generally
revenged himself in her absence by crowding the
others and making the nest generally uncomfortable.
Speckle, however, was a bird of spirit, and he used to
peck at Tip-Top; so they would sometimes have a
regular sparring-match across poor Brown-Eyes, who
was a meek, tender little fellow, and would sit winking
and blinking in fear while his big brothers quarrelled.
As to Toddy and Singer, they turned out to be sister
birds, and showed quite a feminine talent for chatter-
ing ; they used to scold their badly behaving brothers
in a way that made the nest quite lively.
On the whole Mr. and Mrs. Robin did not find their
family circle the peaceable place the poet represents.
â€œT say,â€™ said Tip-Top one day to them, â€œthis old
nest is a dull, mean, crowded hole, and itâ€™s quite time
some of us were out of it. Just give us lessons in
flying, wonâ€™t you? and let us go.â€
â€œMy dear boy,â€ said Mother Robin, â€œwe shall teach
you to fly as soon as your wings are strong enough.â€
â€œYou are a very little bird,â€ said his father, â€œand
ought to be good and obedient, and wait patiently till
52 THE HISTORY OF TIP-TOP.
your wing-feathers grow; and then you can soar away
to some purpose.â€
â€œ Wait for my wing-feathers? Humbug!â€ Tip-Top
would say, as he sat balancing with his little short tail
on the edge of the nest, and looking down through
the grass and clover-heads below, and up into the blue
clouds above. â€œFather and mother are slow old
- birds; they keep a fellow back with their confounded
notions. If they donâ€™t hurry up, I'll take matters into
my own claws, and be off some day before they know
it. Look at those swallows, skimming and diving
through. the blue air! Thatâ€™s the way I want to
â€œ But, dear brother, the way to learn to do that is
to be good and obedient while we are little, and wait
till our parents think it best for us to begin.â€
â€œ Shut up your preaching,â€ said Tip-Top ; â€œwhat do
you girls know of flying ?â€
â€œ About as much. 8s you,â€ said Speckle. â€œHowever,
Iâ€™m sure I donâ€™t care how soon you take yourself off,
for you take up more room than all the rest put
â€œYou mind yourself, Master Speckle, or you'll get
something you donâ€™t like,â€ said Tip-Top, still strutting
in a very cavalier way on the edge of the nest, and
sticking up his little short tail quite valiantly.
THE HISTORY OF TIP-TOP. 53
â€œO my darlings,â€ said their mamma, now fluttering
home, â€œcannot I ever teach you to live in love 2?â€
â€œTtâ€™s all Tip-Topâ€™s fault,â€ screamed the other birds
in a flutter.
â€œMy fault? Of course, everything in this nest
that goes wrong is laid to me,â€ said Tip-Top; â€œand
Pll leave it to anybody, now, if I crowd anybody.
Iâ€™ve been sitting outside, on the very edge of the nest,
and thereâ€™s Speckle has got my place.â€
â€œWho wants your place?â€ said Speckle. â€œIâ€™m sure
you can come in, if you please.â€ ;
â€œMy dear boy,â€ said the mother, â€œdo go into the
nest and be a good little bird, and then you will be
â€œThatâ€™s always the talk,â€ said Tip-Top. â€œIâ€™m too
big for the nest, and I want to see the world. Itâ€™s
full of beautiful things, I know. Now thereâ€™s the
most lovely creature, with bright eyes, that comes
under the tree every day, and wants me to come down
in the grass and play with her.â€
â€œMy son, my son, beware!â€ said the frightened
mother ; â€œthat lovely-seeming creature is our dreadful
enemy, the cat,â€”a horrid monster, with teeth and
At this, all the little birds shuddered and cuddled
deeper in the nest; only Tip-Top in his heart disbe-
54 THE HISTORY OF TIP-TOP.
lieved it. â€œIâ€™m too old a bird,â€ said he to himself,
â€œto believe that story; mother is chaffing me. But_
Tâ€™ll show her that I can take care of myself.â€
So the next morning, after the father and mother
were gone, Tip-Top got on the edge of the nest again,
and looked over and saw lovely Miss Pussy washing
her face among the daisies under the tree, and her
hair was sleek and white as the daisies, and her eyes
were yellow and beautiful to behold, and she looked up
to the tree bewitchingly, and said, â€œ Little birds, little
birds, come down; Pussy wants to play with you.â€
â€œOnly look at her!â€ said Tip-Top; â€œher eyes are
â€œ No, donâ€™t look,â€ said Singer and Speckle. â€œShe
will bewitch you, and then eat you up.â€
â€œTâ€™d like to see her try to eat me up,â€ said Tip-Top,
again balancing his short tail over the nest. â€œJust as
if she would. Sheâ€™s just the nicest, most innocent
creature going, and only wants us to have fun. We
never do have any fun in this old nest!â€
Then the yellow eyes below shot a bewildering light
into Tip-Topâ€™s eyes, and a voice sounded sweet as
silver: â€œLittle birds, little birds, come down; Pussy
wants to play with you.â€
â€œHer paws are as white as velvet,â€ said Tip-Top,
â€œand so soft! I donâ€™t believe she has any claws.â€
THE HISTORY OF TIP-TOP. 55
â€œDonâ€™t go, brother, donâ€™t!â€ screamed both sisters.
Ali we know about it is, that a moment after a
direful scream was heard from the nursery window.
â€œO mamma, mamma, do come here! Tip-Topâ€™s fallen
out of the nest, and the cat has got him!â€
- Away ran Pussy with foolish little Tip-Top in her
mouth, and he squeaked dolefully when he felt her
sharp teeth. Wicked Miss Pussy had no mind to eat
him at once; she meant just as she said, to â€œ play with
him.â€ So she ran off to a private place among the
currant-bushes, while all the little curly heads were
scattered up and down looking for her.
Did you ever see a cat play with a bird or a mouse?
She sets it down, and seems to go off and leave it;
but the moment it makes the first movement to get
away,â€”pounce! she springs on it, and shakes it in her
mouth; and so she teases and tantalizes it, till she
gets ready to kill and eat it. I canâ€™t say why she
does it, except that it is a catâ€™s nature; and it isa
very bad nature for foolish young robins to get
â€œOh, where is he? where is he? Do find my poor
Tip-Top,â€ said Jamie, crying as loud as he could scream.
â€œTl kill that horrid cat,â€”I'll kill her!â€
Mr. and Mrs. Robin, who had come home meantime,
joined their plaintive chirping to the general confusion;
56. THE HISTORY OF TIP-TOP.
and Mrs. Robinâ€™s bright eyes soon discovered her poor
little son, where Pussy was patting and rolling him
from one paw to the other under the currant-bushes ;
and settling on the bush above, she called the little
folks to the spot by her cries.
Jamie plunged under the bush, and caught the cat
with luckless Tip-Top in her mouth ; and, with one or
two good thumps, he obliged her to let him go. Tip-
Top was not dead, but in a sadly draggled and torn
state. Some of his feathers were torn out,.and one of
his wings was broken, and hung down in a melancholy
â€œOh, what shall we do for him? He will die.
Poor Tip-Top!â€ said the children.
â€œLetâ€™s put him back into the nest, children,â€ said
mamma. â€œHis mother will know best what to do
So a ladder was got, and papa climbed up and put
poor Tip-Top safely into the nest. The cat had
shaken all the nonsense well out of him; he was a
dreadfully humbled young robin.
The time came at last when all the other birds
in the nest learned to fly, and fluttered and flew
about everywhere; but poor melancholy Tip-Top
was still confined to the nest with a broken wing.
Finally, as it became evident that it would be
\ i ay
MW MNT SASS
Mega ve a .
TUN SMG as. AN
TIP-TOP IN BAD COMPANY.
THE HISTORY OF TIP-TOP. 59
long before he could fly, Jamie took him out of
the nest, and made a nice little cage for him, and
used to feed him every day, and he would hop
about and seem tolerably contented; but it was
evident that he would be a lame-winged robin all
his days. |
Jamieâ€™s mother told him that Tip-Topâ€™s history was
â€œT donâ€™t know what you mean, mamma,â€ said
â€œWhen something in a birdâ€™s life is like something
in a boyâ€™s life, or when a story is similar in its mean-
ing to reality, we call it an allegory. Little boys,
when they are about half grown up, sometimes do just
as Tip-Top did. They are in a great hurry to get
away from home into the great world; and then
temptation comes, with bright eyes and smooth velvet
paws, and promises them fun; and they go to bad
places; they get to smoking, and then to drinking;
and, finally, the bad habit gets them in its teeth and
claws, and plays with them as a cat does with a mouse.
They try to reform, just as your robin tried to get
away from the cat; but their bad habits pounce on
them and drag them back. And so, when the time
comes that they want to begin life, they are miserable,
60 THE HISTORY OF TIP-TOP,
broken -down creatures, like your broken - winged
â€œSo, Jamie, remember, and donâ€™t try to be a man
before your time, and let your parents judge for you
while you are young; and never believe in any soft
white Pussy, with golden eyes, that comes and wants
to tempt you to come down and play with her. Ifa
big boy offers to teach you to smoke a cigar, that is
Pussy. If a boy wants you to go into a billiard-saloon,
that is Pussy. Ifa boy wants you to learn to drink
anything with spirit in it, however sweetened and dis-
guised, remember Pussy is there. And Pussyâ€™s claws
are long, and Pussyâ€™s teeth are strong; and if she
gives you one shake in your youth, you will be like a
broken-winged robin all your days.â€
MISS KATY-DID AND MISS CRICKET.
Miss Katy-p1p sat on the branch of a flowering
azalea, in her best suit of fine green and silver, with
wings of point-lace from Mother Natureâ€™s finest
Miss Katy was in the very highest possible spirits,
because her gallant cousin, Colonel Katy-did, had
looked in to make her a morning visit. It was a fine
morning, too, which goes for as much among the
Katy-dids as among men and women. It was, in
fact, a morning that Miss Katy thought must have
been made on purpose for her to enjoy herself in.
There had been a patter of rain the night before,
which had kept the leaves awake talking to each
other till nearly morning; but by dawn the small
winds had blown brisk little puffs, and whisked the
heavens clear and bright with their tiny wings, as
you have seen Susan clear away the cobwebs in your
mammaâ€™s parlour; and so now there were only left a
62 MISS KATY-DID AND MISS CRICKET.
thousand blinking, burning water-drops, hanging like
convex mirrors at the end of each leaf, and Miss Katy
admired herself in each one.
â€œCertainly I am a pretty creature,â€ she said to
herself ; and when the gallant colonel said something
about being dazzled by her beauty, she only tossed
her head and took it as quite a matter of course.
â€œThe fact is, my dear colonel,â€ she said, â€œI am
thinking of giving a party, and you must help me
to make out the lists.â€
â€œMy dear, you make me the happiest of Katy-
â€œNow,â€ said Miss Katy-did, drawing an azalea-leaf
towards her, â€œlet us seeâ€”whom shall we have? The
Fireflies, of course; everybody wants them, they are |
so brilliantâ€”a little unsteady, to be sure, but quite
in the higher circles.â€
â€œYes, we must have the Fireflies,â€ echoed the
â€œWell, then, and the Butterflies and the Moths.
Now, thereâ€™s a trouble. Thereâ€™s such an everlasting
tribe of those Moths; and if you invite dull people
theyâ€™re always sure all to come, every one of them.
Still, if you have the Butterflies, you canâ€™t leave out
the Moths.â€ ae
â€œOld Mrs: Moth has been laid up lately with a
MISS KATY-DID AND MISS CRICKET, 63
gastric fever, and that may keep two or three of the
Misses Moth at home,â€ said the colonel.
â€œWhatever could give the old lady such a turn?â€
said Miss Katy. â€œI thought she never was sick.â€
â€œTJ suspect itâ€™s high living. I understand she and
her family ate up a whole ermine cape last month,
and it disagreed with them.â€
â€œFor my part, I canâ€™t conceive how the Moths can
live as they do,â€ said Miss Katy, with a face of
disgust. â€œWhy, I could no more eat worsted and fur,
as they doâ€”â€ .
â€œThat is quite evident from the fairy-like delicacy
of your appearance,â€ said the colonel. â€œOne can see
that nothing so gross or material has ever entered
into your system.â€
â€œTm sure,â€ said Miss Katy, â€œmamma says she
donâ€™t know what does keep me alive; half a dewdrop
and a little bit of the nicest part of a rose-leaf, I
assure you, often last me for a day. But we are
forgetting our list. Letâ€™s seeâ€”the Fireflies, Butter-
flies, Moths. The Bees must come, I suppose.â€
â€œThe Bees are a worthy family,â€ said the colonel.
â€œWorthy enough, but dreadfully humdrum,â€ said
Miss Katy. â€œThey never talk about anything but
honey and housekeeping; still, they are a class of
people one cannot neglect.â€
64 MISS KATY-DID AND MISS CRICKET.
â€œWell, then, there are the Bumble-Bees.â€
â€œOh, I dote on them! General Bumble is one of
the most dashing, brilliant fellows of the day.â€
â€œJ think he is shockingly corpulent,â€ said Colonel
Katy-did, not at all pleased to hear him praised ;
â€œJT donâ€™t know but he Â¢s a little stout,â€ said Miss
Katy; â€œbut so distinguished and elegant in his
mannersâ€”something quite martial and breezy about
â€œWell, if you invite the Bumble-Bees, you must
have the Hornets.â€
â€œThose spiteful Hornets! I detest them !â€-
â€œ Nevertheless, dear Miss Katy, one does not like
to offend the Hornets.â€
â€œNo, one canâ€™t. There are those five Misses Hornet
â€”dreadful old maids!â€”as full of spite as they can
live. You may be sure they will every one come,
and be looking about to make spiteful remarks. Put
down the Hornets, though.â€
â€œHow about the Mosquitoes!â€ said the colonel.
â€œThose horrid Mosquitoesâ€”they are dreadfully
plebeian! Canâ€™t one cut them?â€
â€œWell, dear Miss Katy,â€ said the colonel, â€œif
you ask my candid opinion as a friend, I should say
mot. Thereâ€™s young Mosquito, who graduated last
MISS KATY-DID AND MISS CRICKET. 65
year, has gone into literature, and is connected with
some of our leading papers, and they say he carries
the sharpest pen of all the writers. It wonâ€™t do to
â€œAnd so I suppose we must have his old aunts,
and all six of his sisters, and all his dreadfully
â€œTt is a pity,â€ said the colonel: â€œbut one must pay
oneâ€™s tax to society.â€
Just at this moment the conference was inter-
rupted by a visitor, Miss Keziah Cricket, who came
in with her work-bag on her arm to ask a subscrip-
tion for a poor family of Ants who had just had their
house hoed up in clearing the garden-walks.
â€œHow stupid of them,â€ said Katy, â€œnot to know
better than to put their house in the garden-walk ;
thatâ€™s just like those Ants.â€
â€œWell, they are in great trouble; all their stores
destroyed, and their father killedâ€”cut quite in two
by a hoe.â€
â€œHow very shocking! I donâ€™t like to hear of such
disagreeable things; it affects my nerves terribly.
Well, Iâ€™m sure I havenâ€™t anything to give. Mamma
said yesterday she was sure she didnâ€™t know how our
bills were to be paid; and thereâ€™s my green satin
with point-lace yet to come home.â€ And Miss Katy-
66 MISS KATY-DID AND MISS CRICKET.
did shrugged her shoulders and affected to be very
busy with Colonel Katy-did, in just the way that |
young ladies sometimes do when they wish to signify
to visitors that they had better leave.
Little Miss Cricket perceived how the case stood,
and so hopped briskly off, without giving herself even
timne to be offended. â€œPoor extravagant little thing!â€
said she to herself, â€œit was hardly worth while to
ask her.â€ .
â€œ Pray, shall you invite the Crickets?â€ said Colonel
â€œWho? I? Why, colonel, what a question!
Invite the Crickets? Of what can you be think-
â€œAnd shall you not ask the Locusts, and the
â€œCertainly. The Locusts, of course,â€”a very old
and distinguished family ; and the Grasshoppers are
pretty well, and ought to be asked. But we must
draw a line somewhere,â€”and the Crickets! why, itâ€™s
shocking even to think of!â€
â€œTI thought they were nice, respectable people.â€
â€œOh, perfectly nice and respectableâ€”very good
people, in fact, so far as that goes. But then you
must see the difficulty.â€
â€œMy dear cousin, I am afraid you must explain.â€
MISS KATY-DID AND MISS CRICKET. 67
â€œWhy, their colowr, to be sure. Donâ€™t you
â€œOh!â€ said the colonel. â€œThat's it, is it? Excuse
me, but I have been living in France, where these
distinctions are wholly unknown, and I have not yet
got myself in the train of fashionable ideas here.â€
â€œWell, then, let me teach you,â€ said Miss Katy.
â€œYou know we republicans go for no distinctions
except those created by Nature herself, and we found
our rank upon colowr, because that is clearly a thing
that none has any hand in but our Maker. You see?â€
â€œYes; but who decides what colour shall be the
reigning colour ?â€
â€œTm surprised to hear the question! The only
â€˜true colourâ€”the only proper oneâ€”is our colour, to
be sure. A lovely pea-green is the precise shade on ;
which to found aristocratic distinction. But then we
are liberal ;â€”-we associate with the Moths, who are
gray; with the Butterflies, who are blue-and-gold
coloured; with the Grasshoppers, yellow and brown;
and society would become dreadfully mixed if it
were not fortunately ordered that the Crickets are
black as jet. The fact is, that a class to be looked
down upon is necessary to all elegant society; and if
the Crickets were not black, we could not keep them
down, because, as everybody knows, they are often a
. 68 MISS KATY-DID AND MISS ORICKET.
great deal cleverer than we are. They have a vast
_talent for music and dancing; they are very quick
at learning, and would be getting to the very top of
the ladder if we once allowed them to climb. But
their being black is a convenience ; because, as long
as we are green and they black, we have a superiority
that can never be taken from us. Donâ€™t you see now?â€
â€œOh yes, I see exactly,â€ said the colonel.
â€œNow that Keziah Cricket, who just came in here,
is quite a musician, and her old father plays the
violin beautifully ;â€”by the way, we might engage
him for our orchestra.â€
And so Miss Katyâ€™s ball came off, and the per-
formers kept it up from sundown till daybreak, so
that it seemed as if every leaf in. the forest were alive.
The Katy-dids and the Mosquitoes, and the Locusts,
and a full orchestra of Crickets made the air perfectly
vibrate, insomuch that old Parson Too-Whit, who was
preaching a Thursday evening lecture to a very small
audience, announced to his hearers that he should
certainly write a discourse against dancing for the
next weekly occasion.
The good doctor was even with his word in the
matter, and gave out some very sonorous discourses,
without in the least stopping the round of gaieties kept
. MISS KATY-DID AND MISS CRICKET, 69 |
up by these dissipated Katy-dids, which ran on, night -
after night, till the celebrated Jack Frost epidemic,
which occurred somewhere about the first of September.
Poor Miss Katy, with her flimsy green satin and
point-lace, was one of the first victims, and fell from
the bough in company with a sad shower of last
yearâ€™s leaves. The worthy Cricket family, however,
avoided Jack Frost by emigrating in time to the
chimney-corner of a nice little cottage that had been
built in the wood that summer.
There good old Mr. and Mrs. Cricket, with sprightly
Miss Keziah and her brothers and sisters, found a
warm and welcome home; and when the storm howled
without, and lashed the poor naked trees, the Crickets
on the warm hearth would chirp out cheery welcome
. to papa as he came in from the snowy path, or
mamma as she sat at her work-basket.
â€œCheep, cheep, cheep!â€ little Freddy would say.
â€œMamma, who is it says â€˜cheepâ€™ ?â€
â€œDear Freddy, itâ€™s our own dear little cricket, who
loves us and comes to sing to us when the snow is on
So when poor Miss Katy-didâ€™s satin and lace were
all swept away, the warm home-talents of the Crickets
made for them a welcome refuge.
MOTHER MAGPIEâ€™S MISCHIEF
OLD Mother Magpie was about the busiest character
in the forest. But you must know that there is a
great difference between being busy and being indus-
trious. One may be very busy all the time, and
yet not in the least industrious; and this was the
case with Mother Magpie.
She was always full of everybodyâ€™s business but
her ownâ€”up and down, here and there, everywhere
but in her own nest, knowing every oneâ€™s affairs, tell-
ing what everybody had been doing or ought to do,
and ready to cast her advice gratis at every bird and
beast of the woods.
Now she bustled up to the parsonage at the top of
the oak-tree, to tell old Parson Too-Whit what she
thought he ought to preach for his next sermon, and
how dreadful the morals of the parish were becoming. ~
Then, having perfectly bewildered the poor old gentle-
man, who was always sleepy of a Monday morning,
MOTHER MAGPIEâ€™S MISCHIEF. 71
Mother Magpie would take a peep into Mrs. Orioleâ€™s
â€˜nest, sit chattering on a bough above, and pour forth
floods of advice, which, poor little Mrs. Oriole used to
say to her husband, bewildered her more than a hard
â€œDepend upon it, my dear,â€™ Mother Magpie would
say, â€œthat this way of building your nest, swinging
like an old empty stocking from a bough, isnâ€™t at all
the thing. I never built one so in my life, and I
never have headaches. Now you complain always
that your head aches whenever I call upon you. Itâ€™s
all on account of this way of swinging and swaying
about in such an absurd manner.â€
â€œBut, my dear,â€ piped Mrs. Oriole timidly, â€œthe
â€˜Orioles always have built in this manner, and it suits
â€œ A fiddle on your constitution! How can you tell
what agrees with your constitution unless you try?
You own you are not well; you are subject to head-
aches; and every physician will tell you that a tilting
motion disorders the stomach and acts upon the brain.
Ask old Dr. Kite. I was talking with him about
your case only yesterday, and says he, â€˜ Mrs. Magpie,
I perfectly agree with you.â€™â€
â€œBut my husband prefers this style of building.â€
â€œThat's only because he isnâ€™t properly instructed.
72 MOTHER MAGPIEâ€™S MISCHIEF.
Pray, did you ever attend Dr. Kiteâ€™s lectures on the
nervous system ?â€
â€œNo, I have no time to attend lectures. Who
would sit on the eggs ?â€
â€œWhy, your husband, to be sure; donâ€™t he take
his turn in sitting? If he donâ€™t, he ought to. I
shall speak to him about it. _ My husband always sits
regularly half the time, that I may have time to go
about and: exercise.â€
â€œO Mrs. Magpie, pray donâ€™t speak to my husband;
he will think Iâ€™ve been complaining.â€
â€œNo, no, he won't. Let me alone. I understand
just how to say the thing. Iâ€™ve advised hundreds of
young husbands in my day, and I never gave of-
â€œBut I tell you, Mrs. Magpie, I donâ€™t want any
interference between my husband and me, and I will
not have it,â€ says Mrs. Oriole, with her little round
eyes flashing with indignation.
â€œDonâ€™t put yourself in a passion, my dear; the
more you talk, the more sure J am that your nervous
system is running down, or you wouldnâ€™t forget good
manners in this way. You'd better take my advice,
for I understand just what to do,â€™â€”and away sails
Mother Magpie; and presently young Oriole comes
home all in a flutter.
MOTHER MAGPIEâ€™S MISCHIEF. 73
â€œT say, my dear, if you will persist in gossiping
over our private femaly matters with that old Mother
â€œMy dear, I donâ€™t gossip. She comes and bores
me to death with talking, and then goes off and
mistakes what she has been saying for what I said.â€
â€œBut you must cut her.â€
â€œT try to, all I can; but she wonâ€™t be cut.â€
â€œItâ€™s enough to make a bird swear,â€ said Tommy
Tommy Oriole, to say the truth, had as good a
heart as ever beat under birdâ€™s feathers; but then he
had a weakness for concerts and general society,
because he was held to be, by all odds, the hand-
somest bird in the woods, and sung like an angel; and
so the truth was he didnâ€™t confine himself so much to
the domestic nest as Tom Titmouse or Billy Wren.
But he determined that he wouldnâ€™t have old Mother
Magpie interfering with his affairs.
â€œThe fact is,â€ quoth Tommy, â€œI am a society bird,
and Nature has marked out for me a course beyond
the range of the commonplace, and my wife must
learn to accommodate. If she has a brilliant husband,
whose success gratifies her ambition and places her in
a distinguished public position, she must pay some-
thing for it. Iâ€™m sure Billy Wrenâ€™s wife would give
74 MOTHER MAGPIEâ€™S MISCHIEF.
her very bill to see her husband in the circles where
I am quite at home. To say the truth, my wife was
all well enough content till old Mother Magpie inter-
fered. It is quite my duty to take strong ground,
and show that I cannot be dictated to.â€
So, after this, Tommy Oriole went to rather more
concerts, and spent less time at home than ever he
did before, which was all that Mother Magpie effected
in that quarter. I confess this was very bad in
Tommy; but then birds are no better than men in
domestic matters, and sometimes will take the most
unreasonable courses, if a meddlesome Magpie gets her
claw into their nest.
But old Mother Magpie had now got a new business
in hand in another quarter. She bustled off down to
Water-Dock Lane, where, as we said in a former
narrative, livedâ€™ the old music-teacher, Dr. Bullfrog.
The poor old doctor was a simple-minded, good, amiable
creature, who had played the double-bass and led the
forest choir on all public occasions since nobody knows
when. Latterly some youngsters had arisen who
sneered at his performances as behind the age. In
fact, since a great city had grown up in the vicinity
of the forest, tribes of wandering boys broke up the
simple tastes and quiet habits which old Mother
Nature had always kept up in those parts. They
MOTHER MAGPIEâ€™S MISCHIEF. 75
pulled the young checkerberry before it even had
time to blossom, rooted up the sassafras shrubs and
gnawed their roots, fired off guns at the birds, and on
several occasions, when old Dr. Bullfrog was leading
a concert, had dashed in and broken up the choir by
This was not the worst of it. The little varlets
had a way of jeering at the simple old doctor and his
concerts, and mimicking the tones of his bass-viol.
â€œThere you go, Paddy-go-donk, Paddy-go-donkâ€”
umphâ€”chunk,â€ some rascal of a boy would shout,
while poor old Bullfrogâ€™s yellow spectacles would be
bedewed with tears of honest indignation. In time,
the jeers of these little savages began to tell on the
society in the forest, and to corrupt their simple
manners; and it was whispered among the younger
and more heavy birds and squirrels that old Bullfrog
was a bore, and that it was time to get up a new
style of music in the parish, and to give the charge
of it to some more modern performer.
Poor old Dr. Bullfrog knew nothing of this, how-
ever, and was doing his simple best, in peace, when
Mother Magpie called in upon him one morning.
â€œWell, neighbour, how unreasonable people are!
Who would have thought that the youth of our
generation should have no more consideration for
76 MOTHER MAGPIEâ€™S MISCHIEF,
established merit? Now, for my part, J think your
music-teaching never was better; and as for our
choir, I maintain constantly that it never was in better
order, butâ€” Well, one may wear her tongue out, but
one can never make these young folks listen to reason.â€
â€œTI really donâ€™t understand you, maâ€™am,â€ said poor
Dr. Bullfrog. p
â€œWhat! you haven't heard of a committee that is
going to call on you, to ask you to resign the care of
the parish music?â€
â€œMadam,â€ said Dr. Bullfrog, with all that energy
of tone for which he was remarkable, â€œI donâ€™t believe
itI canâ€™t believe it. You must have made a
- â€œIT mistake! No, no, my good friend; I never
make mistakes. What I know, I know certainly.
Wasnâ€™t it I that said I knew there was an engage-
ment between Tim Chipmunk and Nancy Nibble, who
are married this very day? I knew that thing six
weeks before any bird or beast in our parts; and I
can tell you, you are going to be scandalously and
ungratefully treated, Dr. Bullfrog.â€
â€œ Bless me, we shall all be ruined!â€ said Mrs. Bull-
frog; â€œmy poor husbandâ€”â€
â€œOh, as to that, if you take things in time, and
listen to my advice,â€ said Mother Magpie, â€œwe may
MOTHER MAGPIEâ€™S MISCHIEF. T7
yet pull you through. You must alter your style a
little,-â€”adapt it to modern times. Everybody now is
a little touched with the operatic fever, and thereâ€™s
Tommy Oriole has been to New Orleans and brought
back a touch of the artistic. If you would try his
style a littleâ€”â€”something Tyrolean, you see.â€ _-
â€œDear madam, consider my voice. I never could
hit the high notes,â€
â€œHow do you know? Itâ€™s all practice; Tommy
Oriole says so. Just try the scales. As to your
voice, your manner of living has a great deal to do
with it. I always did tell you that your passion
for water injured your singing. Suppose Tommy
Oriole should sit half his days up to his hips in
water, as you do,â€”his voice would be as hoarse and
rough as yours. Come up on the bank and learn
to perch, as we birds do. We are the true musical
And so poor Mr. Bullfrog was persuaded to forego
his pleasant little cottage under the cat-tails, where
his green spectacles and honest round back had excited,
even in the minds of the boys, sentiments of respect
and compassion. He came up into the garden, and
_ established himself under a burdock, and began to
practise Italian scales.
The result was, that poor old Dr. Bullfrog, instead
78 MOTHER MAGPIES MISCHIEF.
of being considered as a respectable old bore, got him-
self universally laughed at for aping fashionable |
manners. Every bird and beast in the forest had a
gibe at him ; and even old Parson Too-Whit thought
it worth his while to make him a pastoral call, and
admonish him about courses unbefitting his age and
standing. As to Mother Magpie, you may be sure
that she assured every one how sorry she was that .
dear old Dr. Bullfrog had made such a fool of
himself; if he had taken her advice, he would
have kept on respectably as a nice old Bullfrog
But the tragedy for the poor old music-teacher
grew even more melancholy in its termination; for
one day, as he was sitting disconsolately under a
currant-bush in the garden, practising his poor old
notes in a quiet way, thump came a great blow of a
hoe, which nearly broke his back.
â€œHallo! what ugly beast have we got here?â€ said
Tom Noakes, the gardenerâ€™s boy. â€œHere, here, Wasp,
What a fright for a poor, quiet, old Bullfrog, as
little wiry, wicked Wasp came at him, barking and
yelping. He jumped with all his force sheer over a
patch of bushes into the river, and swam back to his
old home among the cat-tails. And always after that
MOTHER MAGPIEâ€™S MISCHIEF, 79
it was observable that he was very low-spirited, and
took very dark views of life; but nothing made him
so angry as any allusion to Mother Magpie, of whom,
from that time, he never spoke except as Old Mother
THE SQUIRRELS THAT LIVE IN A HOUSE.
ONCE upon a time a gentleman went out into a great
forest, and cut away the trees, and built there a very
nice little cottage. It was set very low on the ground,
and had very large bow-windows, and so much of it
was glass that one could look through it on every
side and see what was going on in the forest. You
could see the shadows of the fern-leaves, as they
flickered and wavered over the ground, and the scarlet
partridge-berry and winter-green plums that matted
round the roots of the trees, and the bright spots of
sunshine that fell through their branches and went
dancing about among the bushes and leaves at their
roots. You could see the chirping sparrows and the
thrushes and robins and bluebirds building their nests
here and there among the branches, and watch them
from day to day as they laid their eggs and hatched
their young. You could also see red squirrels, and
gray squirrels, and little striped chip-squirrels, darting
THE SQUIRRELS THAT LIVE IN A HOUSE, 81
and springing about, here and there and everywhere,
running races with each other from bough to bough,
and chattering at each other in the gayest possible
You may be sure that such a strange thing as a
house for human beings to live in did not come into
this wild wood without making quite a stir and ex-
citement among the inhabitants that lived there be-
fore. All the time it was building, there was the
greatest possible commotion in the breasts of all the
older population ; and there wasnâ€™t even a black ant,
or a cricket, that did not have his own opinion about
it, and did not tell the other ants and crickets just
what he thought the world was coming to in con-
Old Mrs. Rabbit declared that the hammering and
pounding made her nervous, and gave her most
melancholy forebodings of evil times. â€œDepend upon
it, children,â€ she said to her long-eared family, â€œno
good will come to us from this establishment. Where
man is, there comes always trouble for us poor
The old chestnut-tree, that grew on the edge of the
woodland ravine, drew a great sigh which shook all
his leaves, and expressed it as his conviction that no
good would ever come of it,â€”a conviction that at once
82 â€˜ THE SQUIRRELS THAT LIVE IN A HOUSE.
struck to the heart of every chestnut-burr. The
squirrels talked together of the dreadful state of
things that would ensue. â€œWhy!â€ said old Father
Gray, â€œitâ€™s evident that Nature made the nuts for us;
but one of these great human creatures will carry off
and gormandize upon what would keep a hundred
poor families of squirrels in comfort.â€ Old Ground-
mole said it did not require very sharp eyes to see
into the future, and it would just end in bringing
down the price of real estate in the whole vicinity, so
that every decent-minded and respectable quadruped
would be obliged to move away ;â€”for his part, he
was ready to sell out for anything he could get. The
bluebirds and bobolinks, it is true, took more cheerful
views of matters; but then, as old Mrs. Ground-mole
observed, they were a fliohty set,â€”half their time
careering and dissipating in the Southern States,â€”and
could not be expected to have that patriotic attachment:
to their native soil that those had who had grubbed
in it from their earliest days.
â€œThis race of man,â€ said the old chestnut-tree, â€œis
never ceasing in its restless warfare on Nature. In
our forest solitudes hitherto how peacefully, how
quietly, how regularly has everything gone on! Nota
flower has missed its appointed time of blossoming, or
failed to perfect its fruit. No matter how hard has
THE SQUIRRELS THAT LIVE IN A HOUSE. 83
been the winter, how loud the winds have roared,
and how high the snow-banks have been piled, all has
come right again in spring. Not the least root has
lost itself under the snows, so as not to be ready with
its fresh leaves and blossoms when the sun returns to
melt the frosty chains of winter. We have storms
sometimes that threaten to shake everything to pieces,
â€”the thunder roars, the lightning flashes, and the
winds howl and beat; but, when all is past, every-
thing comes out better and brighter than before,â€”not
a bird is killed, not the frailest flower destroyed.
But man comes, and in one day he will make a deso-
lation that centuries cannot repair. Ignorant boor
that he is, and all incapable of appreciating the glorious
works of Nature, it seems to be his glory to be able
to destroy in a few hours what it was the work of
ages to produce. The noble oak, that has been cut
away to build this contemptible human dwelling, had
a life older and wiser than that of any man in this
country. That tree has seen generations of men come
and go. It was a fresh young tree when Shakespeare
was born; it was hardly a middle-aged tree when he
died; it was growing here when the first ship brought
the white men to our shores, and hundreds and
hundreds of those whom they call bravest, wisest,
strongest,â€”warriors, statesmen, orators, and poets,â€”
84 THE SQUIRRELS THAT LIVE IN A HOUSE.
have been born, have grown up, lived, and died, while
yet it has outlived them all. It has seen more wisdom
than the best of them; but two or three hours of
brutal strength sufficed to lay it low. Which of these
dolts could make a tree? I'd like to see them do
anything like it. How noisy and clumsy are all their
movements,â€”chopping, pounding, rasping, hammering.
And, after all, what do they build? In the forest we
do everything so quietly. A tree would be ashamed
of itself that could not get its growth without making
such a noise and dust and fuss. Our life is the per-
fection of good manners. For my part, I feel degraded
at the mere presence of these human beings; but,
alas! I am old; a hollow place at my heart warns
â€˜me of the progress of decay, and probably it will be
seized upon by these rapacious creatures as an excuse
for laying me as low as my noble green brother.â€
In spite of all this disquiet about it, the little cottage
grew and was finished. The walls were covered with
pretty paper, the floors carpeted with pretty carpets ;
and, in fact, when it was all arranged, and the garden
walks laid out, and beds of flowers planted around, it
began to be confessed, even among the most critical,
that it was not after all so bad a thing as was to have
A black ant went in one day and made a tour of
THE SQUIRRELS THAT LIVE IN A HOUSE. 85
exploration up and down, over chairs and tables, up
the. ceilings and down again, and, coming out, wrote
an article for the Cricketsâ€™ Gazette, in which he
described the new abode'as a veritable palace. Sev-
eral butterflies fluttered in and sailed about and were
wonderfully delighted, and then a bumble-bee and two
or three honey-bees, who expressed themselves well
pleased with the house, but more especially enchanted
with the garden. In fact, when it was found that
the proprietors were very fond of the rural solitudes
of Nature, and had come out there for the purpose of
enjoying them undisturbed; that they watched and
spared the anemones, and the violets, and bloodroots,
and dogâ€™s-tooth violets, and little woolly rolls of fern
that began to grow up under the trees in spring;
that they never allowed a gun to be fired to scare the
birds, and watched the building of their nests with
the greatest interestâ€”â€”then an opinion in favour of
human beings began to gain ground, and every cricket
and bird and beast was loud in their praise.
â€œMamma,â€ said young Tit-bit, a frisky young
squirrel, to his mother one day, â€œwhy wonâ€™t you let
Frisky and me go into that pretty new cottage to
_â€œ My dear,â€ said his mother, who was a very wary
and careful old squirrel, â€œhow can you think of it?
86 THE SQUIRRELS THAT LIVE IN A HOUSE.
The race of man are full of devices for traps and
pitfalls, and who could say what might happen if
you put yourself in their power? If you had wings
like the butterflies and bees, you might fly in and
out again, and so gratify your curiosity; but, as
matters stand, itâ€™s best for you to keep well out of
â€œ But, mother, there is such a nice, good lady lives
there! I believe she is a good fairy, and she seems
to love us all so; she sits in the bow-window and
watches us for hours, and she scatters corn all round
at the roots of the tree for us to eat.â€
â€œShe is nice enough,â€ said the old mother-squirrel,
â€œif you keep far enough off; but I tell you, you can't
be too careful.â€
Now this good fairy that the squirrels discoursed
about was a nice little old lady that the children used
to call Aunt Esther, and she was a dear lover of birds
and squirrels, and all sorts of animals, and had studied
their little ways till she knew just what would please .
them ; and so she would every day throw out crumbs
for the sparrows, and little bits of bread and wool and
cotton to help the birds that were building their
nests, and would scatter corn and nuts for the squir-
rels; and while she sat at her work in the bow-window
she would smile to see the birds flying away with
THE SQUIRRELS THAT LIVE IN A HOUSE. 87
the wool, and the squirrels nibbling their nuts. After
a while the birds grew so tame that they would hop
into the bow-window and eat their crumbs off the
â€œThere, mamma,â€ said Tit-bit and Frisky, â€œonly
see! Jenny Wren and Cock Robin have been in at
the bow-window, and it didnâ€™t hurt them, and why
canâ€™t we go?â€
â€œWell, my dears,â€ said old Mother Squirrel, â€œyou
must do it very carefully; never forget that you
havenâ€™t wings like Jenny Wren and Cock Robin.â€
So the next day Aunt Esther laid a train of corn
from the roots of the trees to the bow-window, and
then from the bow-window to her work-basket, which
stood on the floor beside her; and then she put quite
a handful of corn in the work-basket, and sat down
by it, and seemed intent on her sewing. Very soon,
creep, creep, creep, came Tit-bit and Frisky to the
window, and then into the room, just as sly and as
still as could be, and Aunt Esther sat just like a statue
for fear of disturbing them. They looked all around
in high glee, and when they came to the basket it
seemed to them a wonderful little summer-house, made
on purpose for them to play in. They nosed about in
it; and turned over the scissors and the needle-book,
and took a nibble at her white wax, and jostled the
88 THE SQUIRRELS THAT LIVE IN A HOUSE.
spools, meanwhile stowing away the corn on each side
of their little chops, till they both of them looked as
if they had the mumps.
At last Aunt Esther put out her hand to touch
them, when, whisk-frisk, out they went, and up the
trees, chattering and laughing before she had time
even to wink.
But after this they used to come in every day,
and when she put corn in her hand and held it very
still they would eat out of it; and finally they would
get into her hand, until one day she gently closed it
over them, and Frisky and Tit-bit were fairly caught.
Oh, how their hearts beat! but the good fairy only
spoke gently to them, and soon unclosed her hand and
let them go again. So day after day they grew to
have more and more faith in her, till they would
climb into her work-basket, sit on her shoulder, or
nestle away in her lap as she sat sewing. They
made also long exploring voyages all over the house,
up and through all the chambers, till finally, I grieve
to say, poor Frisky came to an untimely end by being
drowned in the water-tank at the top of the house.
The dear good fairy passed away from the house
in time, and went to a land where the flowers never
fade and the birds never die; but the squirrels still
continue to make the place a favourite resort.
THE SQUIRRELS THAT LIVE IN A HOUSE. 91
â€œIn fact, my dear,â€ said old Mother Red one winter
to her mate, â€œwhat is the use of oneâ€™s living in this
cold, hollow tree, when these amiable people have
erected this pretty cottage, where there is plenty of
room for us and them too? Now I have examined
between the eaves, and there is a charming place
where we can store our nuts, and where we can whip
in and out of the garret, and have the free range of
the house; and, say what you will, these humans
have delightful ways of being warm and comfortable
So Mr. and Mrs. Red set up housekeeping in the
cottage, and had no end of nuts and other good things
stored up there. The trouble of all this was, that, as
Mrs. Red was a notable body, and got up to begin her
housekeeping operations, and woke up all her children,
at four oâ€™clock in the morning, the good people often
were disturbed by a great rattling and fuss in the
walls, while yet it seemed dark night. Then some-
times, too, I grieve to say, Mrs. Squirrel would give
her husband vigorous curtain lectures in the night,
which made him so indignant that he would rattle off
to another quarter of the garret to sleep by himself;
and all this broke the rest of the worthy people who
built the house.
What is to be done about this we donâ€™t know.
92 THE SQUIRRELS THAT LIVE IN A HOUSE,
What would you do about it? Would you let the
squirrels live in your house or not? When our good
people come down of a cold winter morning, and see
the squirrels dancing and frisking down the trees,
and chasing each other so merrily over the garden
chair between them, or sitting with their tails saucily
over their backs, they look so jolly and jaunty and
pretty that they almost forgive them for disturbing
their nightâ€™s rest, and think that they will not do
anything to drive them out of the garret to-day. And
so it goes on; but how long the squirrels will rent
the cottage in this fashion, Iâ€™m sure I dare not under-
take to say.
HUM, THE SON OF BUZ.
At Rye Beach, during our summerâ€™s vacation, there
came, as there always. will to seaside visitors, two or
three cold, chilly, rainy days,â€”days when the skies
_that long had not rained a drop seemed suddenly to
bethink themselves of their remissness, and to pour
down water, not by drops, but by pailfuls. The
chilly wind blew and whistled, the water dashed
along the ground and careered in foamy rills along
the roadside, and the bushes bent beneath the constant
flood. It was plain that there was to be no sea-bathing
on such a day, no walks, no rides; and so, shivering
and drawing our blanket-shawls close about us, we
sat down at the window to watch the storm outside.
The rose-bushes under the window hung dripping
under their load of moisture, each spray shedding a
constant shower on the spray below it. On one of
these lower sprays, under the perpetual drip, what
should we see but a poor little humming-bird, drawn
94 HUM, THE SON OF BUZ.
up into the tiniest shivering ball, and clinging with a
desperate grasp to his uncomfortable perch. A hum-_
ming-bird we knew him to be at once, though his
feathers were so matted and glued down by the rain
that he looked not much bigger than a honey-bee,
and as different as possible from the smart, pert, airy
little character that we had so often seen flirting with
the flowers. He was evidently a humming-bird in
adversity, and whether he ever would hum again
looked to us exceedingly doubtful. Immediately,
however, we sent out to have him taken in. When
the friendly hand seized him, he gave a little, faint,
watery squeak, evidently thinking that his last hour
was come, and that grim death was about to carry
him off to the land of dead birds. What a time we
had reviving him,â€”holding the little wet thing in
the warm hollow of our hands, and feeling him shiver
and palpitate! His eyes were fast closed; his tiny
claws, which looked slender as cobwebs, were knotted
close to his body, and it was long before one could |
feel the least motion in them. Finally, to our great
joy, we felt a brisk little kick, and then a flutter of
wings, and then a determined peck of the beak, which
showed that there was some bird left in him yet,
and that he meant at any rate to find out where he
HUM, THE SON OF BUZ. 95
Unclosing our hands a small space, out popped the
little head with a pair of round brilliant eyes. Then
we bethought ourselves of feeding him, and forthwith |
prepared him a stiff glass of sugar and water, a drop
of which we held to his bill. After turning his head
attentively, like a bird who knew what he was about
and didnâ€™t mean to be chaffed, he briskly put out a
long, flexible tongue, slightly forked at the end, and .
licked off the comfortable beverage with great relish.
Immediately he was pronounced out of danger by the
small humane society which had undertaken the charge
of his restoration, and we began to cast about for
getting him a settled establishment in our apartment.
I gave up my work-box to him for a sleeping-room,
and it was medically ordered that he should take a
nap. So we filled the box with cotton, and he was
formally put to bed, with a folded cambric handker-
chief round his neck, to keep him from beating his
wings. Out of his white wrappings he looked forth
green and grave as any judge with his bright round
eyes. Like a bird of discretion, he seemed to under-
stand what was being done to him, and resigned him-
self sensibly to go to sleep.
The box was covered with a sheet of paper per-
forated with holes for purposes of ventilation; for
even humming-birds have a little pair of lungs, and
96 HUM, THE SON OF BUZ.
need their own little portion of air to fill them, so
that they may make bright scarlet little drops of
blood to keep lifeâ€™s fire burning in their tiny bodies.
Our birdâ€™s lungs manufactured brilliant blood, as we
found out by experience; for in his first nap he
contrived to nestle himself into the cotton of which
his bed was made, and to get more of it than he
needed into his long bill, We pulled it out as care-
fully as we could, but there came out of his bill two
round, bright scarlet, little drops of blood. Our chief
medical authority looked grave, pronounced a probable
hemorrhage from the lungs, and gave him over at
once. We, less scientific, declared that we had only
cut his little tongue by drawing out the filaments of
cotton, and that he would do well enough in time,â€”
as it afterwards appeared he did, for from that day
there was no more bleeding. In the course of the Â»
second day he began to take short flights about the
room, though he seemed to prefer to return to us;
perching on our fingers or heads or shoulders, and
sometimes choosing to sit in this way for half an hour
at atime. â€œThese great giants,â€ he seemed to say to
himself, â€œare not bad people after all; they have a
comfortable way with them; how nicely they dried
and warmed me! Truly a bird might do worse than
to live with them.â€
HUM, THE SON OF BUZ. 97
â€˜So he made up his mind to form a fourth in the
little company of three that usually sat and read,
worked and sketched, in that apartment, and we
christened him â€œHum, the son of Buz.â€ He became
an individuality, a character, whose little doings formed
a part of every letter, and some extracts from these
will show what some of his little ways were :-â€”
â€œHum has learned to sit upon my finger, and eat
his sugar and water out of a teaspoon with most
Christian-like decorum. He has but one weaknessâ€”
he will occasionally jump into the spoon and sit in
his sugar and water, and then appear to wonder where
it goes to. His plumage is in rather a drabbled state,
owing to these performances. I have sketched him
as he sat to-day on a bit of Spireea which I brought
in for him. When absorbed in reflection, he sits with
his bill straight up in the air, as I have drawn him.
the wise air with which, perched on Jennyâ€™s thumb,
reads Macaulay to us, and you should see
he cocked his head now one side and then the other,
apparently listening with most critical attention. His
confidence in us seems unbounded: he lets us stroke
his head, smooth his feathers, without a flutter; and
is never better pleased than when sitting, as he has
been doing all this while, on my hand, turning up
his bill, and watching my face with great edification.
98 : HUM, THE SON OF BUZ,
â€œT have just been having a sort of maternal struggle
to make him go to bed in his box; but he evidently
considers himself sufficiently convalescent to make a
stand for his rights as a bird, and so scratched in-
dignantly out of his wrappings, and set himself up to
roost on the edge of the box, with an air worthy of a
turkey, at the very least. Having brought in a lamp,
he has opened his eyes round and wide, and sits
cocking his little head at me reflectively.â€
When the weather cleared away, and the sun came
out bright, Hum became entirely well, and seemed
resolved to take the measure of his new life with us.
Our windows were closed in the lower part of the
sash by frames with mosquito gauze, so that the sun
and air found free admission, and yet our little rover
could not pass out. On the first sunny day he took
an exact survey of our apartment from ceiling to
floor, humming about, examining every point with his
billâ€”all the crevices, mouldings, each little indentation
in the bed-posts, each window-pane, each chair and
â€˜ stand; and, as it was a very simply furnished seaside
apartment, his scrutiny was soon finished. We won-
dered at first what this was all about; but on
watching him more closely, we found that he was
actively engaged in getting his living, by darting out
his long tongue hither and thither, and drawing in all
HUM, THE SON OF BUZ 99
the tiny flies and insects which in summer time are
to be found in an apartment. In short, we found
that, though the nectar of flowers was his dessert, yet
he had his roast beef and mutton-chop to look after,
and that his bright, brilliant blood was not made out
of a simple vegetarian diet. Very shrewd and keen
he was, too, in measuring the size of insects before he
attempted to swallow them. The smallest class were
whisked off with lightning speed; but about larger ones
he would sometimes wheel and hum for some minutes,
darting hither and thither, and surveying them warily,
and if satisfied that they could be carried, he would
come down with a quick, central dart which would
finish the unfortunate at a snap. The larger flies
seemed to irritate him, especially when they intimated
to him that his plumage was sugary, by settling on
his wings and tail; when he would lay about him
spitefully, wielding his bill like a sword. A grass-
hopper that strayed in, and was sunning himself on
the window-seat, gave him great discomposure. Hum
evidently considered him an intruder, and seemed to
long to make a dive at him; but, with characteristic
prudence, confined himself to threatening movements,
which did not exactly hit. He saw evidently that
he could not swallow him whole, and what might ensue
from trying him piecemeal he wisely forbore to essay.
100 HUM, THE SON OF BUZ.
Hum had his own favourite places and perches.
From the first day he chose for his nightly roost a
towel-line which had been drawn across the corner
over the wash-stand, where he every night established
himself with one claw in the edge of the towel and
the other clasping the line, and, ruffling up his feathers
till he looked like a little chestnut-burr, he would
resion himself to the soundest sleep. He did not
tuck his head under his wing, but seemed to sink it
down between his shoulders, with his bill almost
straight up in the air. One evening one of us, going
to use the towel, jarred the line, and soon after found
that Hum had been thrown from his perch, and was
hanging head downward, fast asleep, still clinging to
the line. Another evening, being discomposed by
somebody coming to the towel-line after he had
settled himself, he fluttered off; but so sleepy that he
had not discretion to poise himself again, and was
found clinging, like a little bunch of green floss silk,
to the mosquito netting of the window.
A day after this we brought in a large green bough,
and put it up over the looking-glass. Hum noticed
it before it had been there five minutes, flew to it,
and began a recular survey, perching now here, now
there, till he seemed to find a twig that exactly suited
him; and after that he roosted there every night.
HUM, THE SON OF BUZ, 101
Who does not see in this change all the signs of
reflection and reason that are shown by us in thinking
over our circumstances, and trying to better them ?
It seemed to say in so many words: â€œThat towel-line
is an unsafe place for a bird; I get frightened, and _
wake from bad dreams to find myself head down-
wards; so I will find a better roost on this
When our little Jenny one day put on a clean
white muslin gown embellished with red sprigs, Hum
flew towards her, and with his bill made instant
examination of these new appearances; and one day,
being very affectionately disposed, perched himself on
her shoulder, and sat some time. On another occasion,
while Mr. Aâ€”â€”â€” was reading, Hum established him-
self on the top of his head just over the middle of his
forehead, in the precise place where our young belles
have lately worn stuffed humming-birds, making him
look as if dressed out for a party. Humâ€™s most
favourite perch was the back of the great rocking-
chair, which, being covered by a tidy, gave some hold
into which he could catch his little claws. There he
would sit, balancing himself cleverly if its occupant
chose to swing to and fro, and seeming to be listening
â€œto the conversation or reading.
Hum had his different moods, like human beings.
102 HUM, THE SON OF BUZ.
On cold, cloudy, gray days he appeared to be somewhat
depressed in spirits, hummed less about the room, and
sat humped up with his feathers ruffled, looking as
- much like a bird in a great-coat as possible. But on
hot, sunny days, every feather sleeked itself down,
and his little body looked natty and trim, his head
alert, his eyes bright, and it was impossible to come
near him, for his agility. Then let mosquitoes and
little flies look about them! Hum snapped them up
without mercy, and seemed to be all over the ceiling
in a moment, and resisted all our efforts at any
personal familiarity with a saucy alacrity.
Hum had his established institutions in our room,
the chief of which was a tumbler with a little sugar
and water mixed in it, and a spoon laid across, out of
which he helped himself whenever he felt in the mood
â€”-sitting on the edge of the tumbler, and dipping his
long bill, and lapping with his little forked tongue
like a kitten. When he found his spoon accidentally
dry, he would stoop over and dip his bill in the water
in the tumbler; which caused the prophecy on the
part of some of his guardians that he would fall
in some day and be drowned. For which reason it
was agreed to keep only an inch in depth of the fluid
at the bottom of the tumbler. A wise precaution this
proved ; for the next morning I was awaked, not by
HUM, THE SON OF BUZ. 103
the usual hum over my head, but by a sharp little
flutter, and found Mr. Hum beating his wings in
the tumblerâ€”having actually tumbled in during his
energetic efforts to get his morning coffee before I
Hum seemed perfectly happy and satisfied in his
quarters; but one day, when the door was left open, he
made a dart out, and so into the open sunshine. Then,
to be sure, we thought we had lost him. We took
the mosquito netting out of all the windows, and,
setting his tumbler of sugar and water in a conspicuous
place, went about our usual occupations. We saw
him joyous and brisk among the honeysuckles outside
the window, and it was gravely predicted that he
would return no more. But at dinner-time in came
Hum, familiar as possible, and sat down to his spoon
as if nothing had happened. Instantly we closed our
windows and had him secure once more.
At another time I was going to ride to the Atlantic
House, about a mile from my boarding-place. I left
all secure, as I supposed, at home. While gathering
moss on the walls there, I was surprised by a little
green humming-bird flying familiarly right towards
my face and humming above my head. I called out,
â€œHere is Humâ€™s very brother.â€ But, on returning
home, I saw that the door of the room was open, and .
104 HUM, THE SON OF BUZ.
Hum was gone. Now certainly we gave him up for
lost. I sat down to painting, and in a few minutes
in flew Hum, and settled on the edge of my tumbler
in a social, confidential way, which seemed to say,
â€œOh, you've got back then.â€ After taking his usual
drink of sugar and water, he began to fly about the
ceiling as usual, and we gladly shut him in.
When our five weeks at the seaside were up, and
it-was time to go home, we had great questionings
what was to be done with Hum. To get him home
with us was our desire; but who ever heard of a
-humming-bird travelling by railroad? Great were
filled up with cambric handkerchiefs, and a bottle of
sugar and water provided, and we started with him
for a dayâ€™s journey. When we arrived at night the
first care was to see what had become of Hum, who
had not been looked at since we fed him with sugar
and water in Boston. We found him alive and well,
but so dead asleep that we could not wake him to
roost; so we put him to bed on a toilet cushion, and
arranged his tumbler for morning. The next day
found him alive and humming, exploring the room
and pictures, perching now here and now there; but
as the weather was chilly, he sat for the most part of
the time in a humped-up state on the tip of a pair of
HUM, THE SON OF BUZ. 105
stagâ€™s horns. We moved him to a more sunny apart-
ment; but, alas! the equinoctial storm came on, and
there was no sun to be had for days) Hum was
blue; the pleasant seaside days were over; his room
was lonely, the pleasant three that had enlivened the
apartment at Rye no longer came in and out; evidently
he was lonesome, and gave way to depression. One
chilly morning he managed again to fall into his
tumbler, and wet himself through ; and notwithstand-
ing warm bathings and tender nursings, the poor little
fellow seemed to get diphtheria, or something quite
as bad for humming-birds.
We carried him to a neighbouring sunny parlour,
where ivy embowers all the walls and the sun lies all
day. There he revived a little, danced up and down,
perched on a green spray that was wreathed across
the breast of a Psyche, and looked then like a little
flitting soul returning to its rest. Towards evening
he drooped; and, having been nursed and warmed
and cared for, he was put to sleep on a green twig
laid on the piano. In that sleep the little head
droopedâ€”noddedâ€”fell ; and little Hum went where ;
other bright dreams goâ€”to the Land of the Here-
OUR COUNTRY NEIGHBOCRS.
WE have just built our house in rather an out-of-the-
way placeâ€”on the bank of a river, and under the
shade of a patch of woods which is a veritable remain
of quite an ancient forest. The checkerberry and
partridge-plum, with their glossy green leaves and
scarlet berries, still carpet the ground under its deep
shadows; and princeâ€™s-pine and other kindred ever-
greens declare its native wildness,â€”for these are
children of the wild woods, that never come after
plough and harrow have once broken a soil.
When we tried to look out the spot for our house,
we had to get a surveyor to go before us and cut
a path through the dense underbrush that was laced
together in a general network of boughs and leaves,
and grew so high as to overtop our heads. Where
the house stands, four or five great old oaks and
chestnuts had to be cut away to let it in; and now it
stands on the hank of the river, the edges of which
OUR COUNTRY NEIGHBOURS. 107
are still overhung with old forest-trees, chestnuts
and oaks, which look at themselves in the glassy
A little knoll near the house was chosen for a
garden-spot ; a dense, dark mass of trees above, of
bushes in mid-air, and of all sorts of ferns and wild-
flowers and creeping vines on the ground. All these
had to be cleared out, and a. dozen great trees cut
down and dragged off to a neighbouring saw-mill,
there to be transformed into boards to finish off our
house. Then, fetching a great machine, such as might
be used to pull a giantâ€™s teeth, with ropes, pulleys,
oxen, and men, and. might and main, we pulled out
the stumps, with their great prongs and their network
of roots and fibres; and then, alas! we had to begin
with all the pretty wild, lovely bushes, and the
checkerberries and ferns and wild blackberries and
huckleberry-bushes; and dig them up remorselessly,
that we might plant our corn and squashes. And so
we got a house and a garden right out of the heart of
our piece of wild wood, about a mile from the city
Well, then, people said it was a lonely place, and
far from neighbours,â€”by which they meant that it
was a good way for them to come to see us. But
we soon found that whoever goes into the woods to
108 OUR COUNTRY NEIGHBOURS.
live finds neighbours of a new kind, and some to
whom it is rather hard to become accustomed.
For instance, on a fine day early in April, as we
were crossing over to superintend the building of our
house, we were startled by a striped snake, with his
little bright eyes, raising himself to look at us, and
putting out his red, forked tongue. Now there is no |
more harm in these little garden-snakes than there is
in a robin or a squirrelâ€”they are poor little, peage-
able, timid creatures, which could not do any harm if
they would; but the prejudices of society are so
strong against them that one does not like to cultivate
too much intimacy with them. So we tried to turn
out of our path into a tangle of bushes; and there,
instead of one, we found four snakes. We turned on
the other side, and there were two more. In short,
everywhere we. looked, the dry leaves were rustling
and coiling with them; and we were in despair. In
vain we said that they were harmless as kittens, and
tried to persuade ourselves that their little bright eyes -
were pretty, and that their "serpentine movements
were in the exact line of beauty: for the life of us,
we could not help remembering their family name and
connections; we thought of those disagreeable gentle-
men the anacondas, the rattlesnakes, and the copper-
heads,.and all of that bad line, immediate family
OUR COUNTRY NEIGHBOURS. 109
friends of the old serpent to whom we are indebted
for all the mischief that is done in this world. So we
were quite apprehensive when we saw how our new
neighbourhood was infested by them, until a neighbour
calmed our fears by telling us that snakes always
crawled out of their holes to sun themselves in the
spring, and that in a day or two they would all be
So it proved. It was evident they were all out
merely to do their spring shopping, or something that
serves with them the same purpose that spring shop-
ping does with us; and where they went afterwards
we do not know. People speak of snakesâ€™ holes, and
we have seen them disappearing into such subter-
ranean chambers; but we never opened one to see
what sort of underground housekeeping went on there.
After the first few days of spring, a snake was a rare
visitor, though now and then one appeared.
One was discovered taking his noontide repast one
day in a manner which excited much prejudice. He
was, in fact, regaling himself by sucking down into
his maw a small frog, which he had begun to swallow
at the toes, and had drawn about half down. The
frog, it must be confessed, seemed to view this ar-
rangement with great indifference, making no struggle,
and sitting solemnly, with his great unwinking eyes,
110 OUR COUNTRY NEIGHBOURS.
to be sucked in at the leisure of his captor. There
was immense sympathy, however, excited for him in
the family circle; and it was voted that a snake
which indulged in such very disagreeable modes of
eating his dinner was not tq be tolerated in our
vicinity. So I have reason to believe that that was
his last meal.
Another of our wild woodland neighbours made us
some trouble. It was no other than a veritable wood- |
chuck, whose hole we had often wondered at when we
were scrambling through the underbrush after spring
flowers. The hole was about the size of a peck-
measure, and had two openings about six feet apart.
The occupant was a gentleman we never had had the
pleasure of seeing, but we soon learned his existence
from his ravages in our garden. He had a taste, it
appears, for the very kind of things we wanted to eat
ourselves, and helped himself without asking. We
had a row of fine, crisp heads of lettuce, which were
the pride of our gardening, and out of which he would
from day to day select for his table just the plants we
had marked for ours. He also nibbled our young
beans; and so at last we were reluctantly obliged to
let John Gardiner set a trap for him. Poor old simple-
minded hermit, he was too artless for this world!
He was caught at the very first snap, and found dead
OUR COUNTRY NEIGHBOURS. 111
in the trap,â€”the agitation and distress having broken
his poor woodland heart, and killed him. We â€œwere
grieved to the very soul when the poor fat old fellow
was dragged out, with his useless paws standing up
stiff and imploring. As it was, he was given to Denis,
our pig, which, without a single scruple of delicacy,
ate him up as thoroughly as he ate up the lettuce.
This business of eating, it appears, must go on all
through creation. We eat ducks, turkeys, and chickens,
though we donâ€™t swallow them whole, feathers and all.
Our four-footed friends, less civilized, take things with
more directness and simplicity, and chew each other
up without ceremony, or swallow each other alive.
Of these unceremonious habits we had other in-
Our house had a central court on the southern side,
into which looked the library, dining-room, and front
hall, as well as several of the upper chambers. It
was designed to be closed in with glass, to serve as a
conservatory in winter; and meanwhile we had filled
it with splendid plumy ferns, taken up out of the
_ neighbouring wood. In the centre was a fountain
surrounded by stones, shells, mosses, and various water-
plants. We had bought three little goldfish to swim
in our basin; and the spray of it, as it rose in the air
and rippled back into the water, was the pleasantest
112 OUR COUNTRY NEIGHBOURS.
possible sound of a hot day. We used to lie on the.
sofa in the hall, and look into the court, and fancy
we saw some scene of fairy-land, and water-sprites
coming up from the fountain. Suddenly a new-comer
presented himself,â€”no other than an immense bull-
frog, that had hopped up from the neighbouring river,
apparently with a view to making a permanent
settlement in and about our fountain. He was to be
seen, often for hours, sitting reflectively on the edge
of it, beneath the broad shadow of the calla-leaves.
When sometimes missed thence, he would be found
under the ample shield of a great bignonia, whose
striped leaves grew hard by.
The family were prejudiced against him. What
did he want there? It was surely some sinister motive
impelled him. He was probably watching for an
opportunity to gobble up the goldfish. We took his
part, however, and strenuously defended his moral
character, and patronized him in all ways. We gave
him the name of Unke, and maintained that he was
a well-conducted, philosophical old water-sprite, who
showed his good taste in wanting to take up his abode
in our conservatory. We even defended his personal
appearance, praised the invisible-green coat which he
wore on his back, and his gray vest, and solemn gold
spectacles; and though he always felt remarkably
OUR COUNTRY NEIGHBOURS. 113
slimy when we touched him, yet, as he would sit still
and allow us to stroke his head and pat his back, we
concluded his social feelings might be warm, notwith-
standing a cold exterior. Who knew, after all, but
he might be a beautiful young prince, enchanted there
till the princess should come to drop the golden ball
into the fountain, and so give him a chance to marry
her and turn into a man again? Such things, we are
credibly informed, are matters of frequent occurrence
in Germany. Why not here?
By-and-by there came to our fountain another
visitor,â€”a frisky, green young frog of the identical
kind spoken of by the poet :â€”
â€˜* There was a frog lived in a well,
Rig dum pully metakimo.â€
This thoughtless, dapper individual, with his bright
â€™ green coat, his faultless white vest, and sea-green
tights, became rather the popular favourite. He
seemed just rakish and gallant enough to fulfil the
conditions of the song :â€”
* The frog he would a-courting ride,
With sword and pistol by his side.â€
This lively young fellow, whom we shall call Cri-Cri,
like other frisky and gay young people, carried the day
114 / OUR COUNTRY NEIGHBOURS.
quite over the head of the solemn old philosopher
under the calla-leaves. At night, when all was still,
he would trill a joyous little note in his throat, while
old Unke would answer only with a cracked guttural
more singular than agreeable; and to all outward
appearance the two were as good friends as their
different natures would allow.
One day, however, the conservatory became the scene
of a tragedy of the deepest dye. We were summoned
below by shrieks and howls of horror. â€œDo pray
come down and see what this vile, nasty, horrid old
frog has been doing!â€ Down we came; and there
sat our virtuous old philosopher, with his poor little
brotherâ€™s hind legs still sticking out of the corner of,
his mouth, as if he were smoking them for a cigar,
all helplessly palpitating as they were. In fact, our
solemn old friend had done what many a solemn
hypocrite before has done,â€”swallowed his poor
brother, neck and crop,â€”and sat there with the most
brazen. indifference, looking as if he had done the most
proper and virtuous thing in the world.
Immediately he was marched out of the conser-
vatory at the point of a walking-stick, and made to
hop down to the river, into whose waters he splashed,
and we saw him no more. We regret to say that the
popular indignation was so precipitate in its results;
OUR COUNTRY NEIGHBOURS. 115
otherwise the special artist who sketched Hum, the
son of Buz, intended to have made a sketch of the old
villain, as he sat with his luckless victimâ€™s hind legs
projecting from his solemn mouth. With all his
moral faults, he was a good sitter, and would probably
have sat immovable any length of time that could be
Of other woodland neighbours there were some
which we saw occasionally. The shores of the river
were lined here and there with the holes of the musk-
rats; and in rowing by their settlements, we were
sometimes strongly reminded of them by the over-
powering odour of the perfume from which they get
their name. There were also owls, whose nests were
high up in some of the old chestnut-trees, Often in
the lonely hours of the night we could hear them
gibbering with a sort of wild, hollow laugh among the
distant trees. But one tenant of the woods made us
some trouble in the autumn. It was a little flying-
squirrel, who took to making excursions into our house
in the night season, coming down the chimney into
the chambers, rustling about among the clothes, crack-
ing nuts or nibbling at any morsels of anything that
suited his fancy. For a long time the inmates of the
rooms were awakened in the night by mysterious
noises, thumps, and rappings, and so lighted candles,
116 OUR COUNTRY NEIGHBOURS.
and searched in vain to find whence they came; for
the moment any. movement was made, the rogue
whipped up the chimney, and left us a prey to the
most mysterious alarms. What could it be?
But one night our fine gentleman bounced in at the
window of another room, which had no fireplace; and
the fair occupant, rising in the night, shut the window, .
' without suspecting that she had cut off the retreat of
any of her woodland neighbours. The next morning
she was startled by what she thought a gray rat run-
ning past her bed. She rose to pursue him, when he 7
ran up the wall, and clung against the plastering,
showing himself very plainly a gray flying-squirrel,
with large, soft eyes, and wings which consisted of a |
membrane uniting the fore paws to the hind ones, like
those of a bat. He was chased into the conservatory,
and a window being opened, out he flew upon the
ground, and made away for his native woods, and
thus put an end to many fears as to the nature of our
So you see how many neighbours we found by
living in the woods, and, after all, no worse ones than
are found in the great world.
THE DIVERTING HISTORY OF
AND now, at the last, I am going to tell you some-
thing of the ways and doings of one of the queer
little people, whom I shall call Whiskey.
You cannot imagine how pretty he is. His back
has the most beautiful smooth shining stripes of red-
dish brown and black, his eyes shine like bright glass
beads, and he sits up jauntily on his hind quarters,
with his little tail thrown over his back like a
And where does he live? Well, â€œthat is telling,â€
as we children say. It was somewhere up in the
mountains of Berkshire, in a queer, quaint, old-
fashioned garden, that I made Mr. Whiskey's ac-
Here there lives a young parson, who preaches
every Sunday in a little brown church, and during
week-days goes through all these hills and valleys,
118 THE DIVERTING HISTORY OF LITTLE WHISKEY.
visiting the poor, and gathering children into Sunday
His wife is a very small-sized ladyâ€”-not much
bigger than you, my little Maryâ€”but very fond of
all sorts of dumb animals; and by constantly watch-
ing their actions and ways, she has come to have quite
a strange power over them, as I shall relate.,
The little lady fixed her mind on Whiskey, and
gave him his name without consulting him upon the Â»
subject. She admired his bright eyes, and resolved to
cultivate his acquaintance.
By constant watching, she discovered that he had a
small hole of his own in the grass-plot a few paces
from her back-door. So she used to fill her pocket Â°
with hazel-nuts, and go out and sit in the back porch,
and make a little noise, such as squirrels make to each
other, to attract his attention.
In a minute or two up would pop the little head
with the bright eyes, in the grass-plot, and Master
Whiskey would sit on his haunches and listen, with
one small ear cocked towards her. Then she would
throw him a hazel-nut, and he would slip instantly
down into his hole again. In a minute or two, how-
ever, his curiosity would get the better of his pru-
dence; and she, sitting quiet, would see the little
brown-striped head slowly, slowly coming up again,
THE DIVERTING HISTORY OF LITTLE WHISKEY. 119
over the tiny green spikes of the grass-plot. Quick
as a flash he would dart at the nut, whisk it into a
little bag on one side of his jaws, which Madam
Nature has furnished him with for his provision-
pouch, and down into his hole again. An ungrateful,
suspicious little brute he was too; for though in this
way he bagged and carried off nut after nut, until the
patient little woman had used up a pound of hazel-
nuts, still he seemed to have the same wild fright at
sight of her, and would whisk off and hide himself in
his hole the moment she appeared. In vain she called,
â€œWhiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey,â€ in the most flattering
tones; in vain she coaxed and cajoled. No, no;
he was not to be caught napping. He had no ob-
jection to accepting her nuts, as many as she chose to
throw to him; but as to her taking any personal
liberty with him, you see, it was by no means to be
But at last patience and perseverance began to
have their reward. Little Master Whiskey said to
himself, â€œ Surely this is a nice, kind lady, to take so
much pains to give me nuts; she is certainly very
considerate ;â€ and with that he edged a little nearer
and nearer every day, until, quite to the delight of
the small lady, he would come and climb into her lap
and seize the nuts, when she rattled them there, and
120 THE DIVERTING HISTORY OF LITTLE WHISKEY.
after that he seemed to make exploring voyages all
over her person. He would climb up and sit on her
shoulder ; he would mount and perch himself on her
head ; and when she held a nut for him between her
teeth, he would take it out of her mouth,
After a while he began to make tours of discovery
in the house. He would suddenly appear on the
minister's writing-table when he was composing his
Sunday sermon, and sit cocking his little pert head at
him, seeming to wonder what he was about. But in
all his explorations he proved himself a true Yankee
squirrel, having always a shrewd eye on the main
chance. If the parson dropped a nut on the floor,
down went Whiskey after it, and into his provision-
bag it went, and then he would look up as if he
expected another ; for he had a wallet on each side of
his jaws, and he always wanted both sides handsomely
filled before he made for his hole. So busy and
active and always intent on this one object was he,
that before long the little lady found he had made
way with six pounds of hazel-nuts. His general rule
was to carry off four nuts at a timeâ€”three being
stuffed into the side-pockets of his jaws, and. the
fourth held in his teeth. When he had furnished
himself in this way, he would dart like lightning for
his hole, and disappear in a moment; but in a short
THE DIVERTING HISTORY OF LITTLE WHISKEY. 12]
time up he would come, brisk and wide-awake, and
ready for the next supply.
Once a person who had the curiosity to dig open a
chipping â€˜squirrelâ€™s hole found in it two quarts of
buckwheat, a quantity of grass-seed, nearly a peck of
â€˜acorns, some Indian corn, and a quart of walnuts 3 a
pretty handsome supply for a squirrelâ€™s winter store-
roomâ€”donâ€™t you think so ?
Whiskey learned in time to work for his living in
many artful ways that his young mistress devised.
Sometimes she would tie his nuts up in a paper
package, which he would attack with great energy,
gnawing the strings, and rustling the nuts out of the
paper in wonderfully quick time. Sometimes she
would tie a nut to the end of a bit of twine and
swing it backward and forward over his head ; and
after a succession of spry jumps, he would pounce
upon it, and hang swinging on the twine, till he had
gnawed the nut away.
Another squirrel, doubtless hearing of Whiskeyâ€™s
good luck, began to haunt the same yard; but
Whiskey would by no means allow him to cultivate
his young mistressâ€™s acquaintance. No indeed! he
evidently considered that the institution would not
support two. Sometimes he would appear to be con-
versing with the stranger on the most familiar and
122 THE DIVERTING HISTORY OF LITTLE WHISKEY.
amicable terms in the back-yard; but if his mistress
called his name, he would immediately start and chase
his companion quite out of sight, before he came back
So you see that self-seeking is not confined to men
alone, and that Whiskeyâ€™s fine little fur coat covers a
very selfish heart. :
' As winter comes on, Whiskey will go down into his
hole, which has many long galleries and winding
passages, and a snug little bedroom well lined with
leaves. Here he will doze and dream away his long
winter months, and nibble out the inside of his store
Tf I hear any more of his cunning tricks, I will tell
you of them.
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but always does exactly what is needed,
and earns general respect and confidence.
The Phantom Picture. By the
Hon. Mrs, Greene, Author of
â€œThe Grey House on the Hill,â€
â€œOn Angelsâ€™ Wings,â€ etc. With
Illustrations. Post 8vo, cloth
extra. Price 2s,
A story of two brothers and the misery
brought upon both by one of them dis-
obeying a command of their father. The
tnnocent boy ts for a while suspected and
made unhappy in consequence; but at
last truth prevails and all ends well.
Archie Digby; or, An Eton Boyâ€™s
Holidays. By G. E. W., Author
of â€˜â€˜Harry Bertram and his Eighth
Birthday.â€ Post 8vo, cl. ex. 2s.
A very interesting tale for boys. The
hero, a clever, thoughtless young Etonian,
learns during @ Christmas holiday time,
by humbling experience, lessons full of
value for all after life.
Rhodaâ€™s Reform; or, â€œOwe no
Man Anything.â€ By M. A.
Pavitt, Author of â€˜* Timâ€™s
Troubles,â€ â€˜The Childrenâ€™s
Tour,â€ etc. Post S8vyo, cloth
extra. Price 2s.
Martinâ€™s Inheritance; or, The
Story of a Lifeâ€™s Chances, A
Temperance Tale. By E. Van
Sommer, Author of â€œ Lionel
Franklinâ€™s Victory,â€ â€œBy Uphill
Paths,â€ etc. Post 8vo, cloth
extra. Price 2s. :
True Riches ; or, Wealth Without
Wings. By T. 8. Arruur. II-
lustrated. Post 8vo, cloth extra.
Price 2s. :
Teaches lessons such as cannot be
learned too early by those who are engaged
im the active and all-absorbing duties of
Culm Rock; or, Ready Work for
.Willing Hands. A Book for Boys.
By J. W. Brapizy. Foolscap
8vo. With Engravings, 2s,
It narrates the experiences and adven-
tures of a boy compelled by circumstances
to a hard life on a stern and stormy coast.
and Triumphs. By the Author
of, and forming a Sequel to,
â€œCulm Rock.â€ With Illustra-
tions. Foolscap 8vo, cloth extra.
An American tale, the sequel to â€œCulm
Rock,â€ showing how well Noll Trafford,
in after years, fulfilled the fair promise
of his early boyhood.
Conquest and Self-Conquest ; or,
Which Makes the Hero? Fools-
cap 8vo. Price 2s,
A tale very suitable for a lad under
Sifteen. It teaches the important lesson
that the greatest of victories is the victory
gained over self.
Home Principles in Boyhood.
Foolscap 8vo, cloth extra. 2s.
The story of a lad who, in spite of
apparent self-interest to the contrary,
held firmly to the principles in which
he had been instructed by Christian
T. NELSON AND SONS, LONDON EDINBURGH, AND NEW YORK,
Tales for Young People.
Side by Side, and Other Tales. | Wilful- Winnie. A Tale. By
By Pansy, Author of â€˜â€˜A Hedge
Fence,â€ etc. With Tlustrations,
Foolscap 8vo, cloth extra. 1s.
Compares the lives of two little girls
who sit â€œside by sideâ€ in Sunday school
and day school. One is poor and igno-
rant, the other rich and instructed.
They learn to love and help each other,
striving to carry out the words of Jesus
Striving to Help; or, The Brown-
ing Boys. By Pansy. Foolscap
8vo, cloth extra. Price 1s.
The story of two boys who are suffering
great poverty through their fatherâ€™s ill-
ness and loss of work, and who desire to
do something to help to keep the family
together. What they achieve, both through
their own earnest efforts and through the
trust they learn to place in a higher
Power, is well told. Hach chapter aims
to illustrate a Bible text.
A Hedge Fence. By Pansy,
Author of â€˜â€˜Side by Side,â€ etc.
With Illustrations. Foolscap
8vo, cloth. Price 1s.
A story of a boy whose purposes are
good, but whose impetuosity plunges him
into all kinds of mischief, as the boy him-
self expresses it, â€œâ€˜before he knows it.â€
One of the boys of this book, ruefully re-
flecting on the results of a boyish scrape,
wishes for something like Hedge Fence
to keep him from running into trouble.
The book will benefit and please every
boy who reads it, or to whom it is read.
Strive and Thrive; or, Stories for
the Example and Encouragement
of the Young. Royal 18mo. 1s.
Six short tales on cowrage and presence
of mind, truthfulness, decision of charac-
T. NELSON AND SONS, LONDON,
Anniz Â§. Sway, Author of
â€œThankful Rest,â€ â€˜ Aldersyde,â€
â€˜â€œâ€˜Carlowrie,â€ etc., etc. Foolscap
8vo, cloth. Price 1s.
The story of ao little girl whose wiiful
ways bring her into serious trouble. She
as brought to see the beauty of a meek,
quiet, obedient, unselfish spirit, while
laid aside by the effects of a painful
Truth and its Triumph; or, The
Story of the Jewish Twins. By
Mrs. Saran Â§. Baker, Author
of â€˜â€˜ The Children on the Plains,â€
etc. With Frontispiece. 1s.
A pretty domestic story, showing, in
the history and conversion of two brothers,
children of Jewish parents, the triumph
of the truth of Christianity as contrasted
The Two Watches, and Other
Stories. By the Author of
â€˜â€˜Copsley Annals,â€ etc. With
Coloured Frontispiece. Royal
18mo. Price 1s.
Three tales to â€œillustrate Scripture
The Ferrymanâ€™s Boy, and Other
Stories. By Crona TrEmp.e.
Foolscap 8vo, cloth. Price 1s.
Queer Little Folks. By Harriet
BrrcHerR Stowr, Author of
â€˜* Uncle Tomâ€™s Cabin,â€ etc. With
Illustrations. Foolscap8vo, cloth.
A charming book for children, the
â€œqueer little folksâ€ being mostly birds
or insects. Natural history could not
be taught in a more attractive manner.
The eight illustrations in etching are
EDINBURGH, AND NEW YORK.
Tales for the Young.
Aldaâ€™s Leap, and Other Stories.
By the Hon. Mrs. Greenn.
Foolscap 8vo, cloth extra. 1s,
â€œThe young reader will find a great
deal to delight him. The stories are
pretty and well told, and they deserve
The Babe?â€™ the Mill, and Zanina
â€™ the Flower-Girl of Florence.
By the Hon. Mrs. Greens.
Foolscap 8vo, cloth extra. Is.
â€œThe stories are strikingly original,
and have peculiar quaintness and fresh-
ness of incident and dialogue.â€ DUBLIN
The Adopted Brothers; or, Blessed
are the Peacemakers. By M. E.
Ciements, Author of â€˜â€˜The Story
of the Beacon Fire,â€ etc. Large
foolscap 8vo, cloth extra. 1s.
A healthy story of two boys. How one
by fostering jealousy in his heart brings:
much misery wpon himself and wun-
happiness to his parents. A severe
lesson clears away the mist, and the
story ends in sunshine.
Annals of the Poor. Complete
Edition, with Memoir of Lzcu
Ricumonp. Reyall8mo. ls.
A cheap edition of these well-known
Christian narratives, which so faithfully
portray true piety in humble life.
The Babes in the Basket; or,
Daph and Her Charge. By the
Author of â€˜Timid Lucy,â€ etc.
With Coloured Frontispiece and
numerous Engravings.. Royal
18mo. Price Is.
The Basket of Flowers ; or, Piety
and Truth Triumphant. TIllus-
trated. Royal 18mo. Price 1s.
A suitable story for a girl wnder
twelve. It shows that right principles
will sustain through greatest trials, Its
incidents are interesting without being
The Giants, and how to Fight
them. By the Rev. RrcHarp
Newton, D.D. With Coloured
Frontispiece and numerous En-
gravings. Royal 18mo. 1s.
Dr, Newton possesses in the highest de-
gree the art of interesting and instruct-
ing the young. The giants he here treats
of are Selfishness, Ill-temper, Intemper-
ance, and the like.
Godliness with Contentment. is
Great Gain, With Coloured
Frontispiece. Royal 18mo. 1s.
A book for little boys and girls.
The Harrington Girls; or, Faith
and Patience. By Sopay Win-
THROP. With Coloured Frontis-
piece. Royal 18mo. Price 1s.
On a@ very limited income three sisters
manage to maintain a comfortable and
cheerful home, and perform sundry
charitable actions which meet with their
due reward. ,
Hope On; or, The House that
Jack Built. With Coloured
Frontispiece and 25 Engravings.
Royal 18mo. Price 1s.
The story of two orphans, forsaken and
destitute in a great city: how God helped
them, and how they helped others in the
The Story of the Lost Emerald;
or, Overcome Evil with Good.
By Mrs. Emma MarsHatn, Au-
thor of â€˜Over the Down,â€ etc.
Large foolscap 8vo, cloth extra.
A very interesting story hangs round
this title. All who would hear of the
valuable gem, of the various hands it
passed through, and how it was alter-
nately a curse and a blessing to its
various possessors, should read tits littla
T. NELSON AND SONS, LONDON, EDINBURGH, AND NEW YORK.
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