The Project Gutenberg eBook of Charley's Museum

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Title: Charley's Museum

Author: Unknown

Release date: December 5, 2007 [eBook #23742]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Jacqueline Jeremy, Janet Blenkinship and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
(This file was produced from images generously made
available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)




A Story



Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1855
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

[Pg 5]




Charley Carter was a bright, active lad, of twelve years old, the son of a farmer, who lived a few miles distant from Philadelphia. He was a very great favorite of his uncle Brown, his mother's brother, who was a wealthy merchant in the city. He was also a favorite of another brother of his mother, who[Pg 6] had been, for many years a sea captain, sailing to all parts of the world. So, you see, our Charley, with a kind father and mother, and two such uncles, was very well provided for.

Charley was a lively, inquiring boy, who liked to find out all he could about the animals he saw, whether they flew through the air, or swam through the water, or walked on the ground, or crawled in the dirt.


Luckily for our Charley, his uncle Brown had had, from boyhood, the same taste for Natural History, which our little friend was beginning[Pg 7] to have, and you can imagine how pleased his uncle was to see this taste in his little nephew. Our sea captain was pleased also, and so[Pg 8] was his father, and all three of them together, determined that our little boy should have the opportunity and the means to cultivate his taste.

So, as Mr. Carter had a big attic to his house, with two good sized windows fronting the south, he got a carpenter and had a nice room made for Charley, that should be his own Museum. Don't you think our Charley was pleased, that his father was so kind to him? When the room was all finished, uncle Brown, who had, for a long time, a bit of a Museum in his own house, in the city, brought out, one[Pg 9] day, a lot of shells to begin our Charley's Museum, with. And now I must try to tell something about these shells, and the creatures who used to have their homes in them. (But first I must tell you one thing, if you hav'nt guessed it already, that as soon as Charley began to lisp his words, his kind mother took him in her lap and taught him to repeat the Lord's Prayer, and, I can tell you, Charley, as he grew older, never went to sleep at night, until he had addressed this prayer to the great, good Being, who made and takes care of all of us. Remember this,[Pg 10] boys, for it is of more consequence than shells, or animals, or anything else.)


The first shell that Uncle Brown gave to Charley, was what is called a "money-cowry." It is an elegant shaped and beautifully marked shell and takes its name from the fact, that one species of them is used as money, both in Bengal and Guinea,[Pg 11] two places at a vast distance from each other. The value of these shells is small, in comparison with that of gold and silver, three thousand two hundred cowries amounting to a rupee, which equals fifty cents of our coin.


Next came a shell that Charley thought had a very funny name, "the Royal Staircase Wentle-trap." However, it was a very handsome shell, that uncle sea captain brought to uncle Brown from the far off Chinese and Indian seas, where the animals live. In old times this shell was prized so highly, that one,[Pg 12] two inches long, sold for five hundred dollars. And, even now, a fine specimen brings from thirty to thirty-five dollars. This shell Mr. Brown said, belongs to the class Turbo or Turbinidæ. The fisherman call all of this class, whelks.


After this, came another rather queer-named shell, the animal that lived in it, being called the "Com[Pg 13]mon Whelk," and belonging to a class of creatures entitled Buccinidae, from the Latin name for trumpet, because they were thought to look like a trumpet. These animals are very plentiful all along the British coasts, and are sold like oysters, in the London markets, besides being exported abroad for food.[Pg 14] They have a sort of proboscis, all full of sharp teeth, with which they bore through the shells of other mussels and eat up the creatures inside.

"Persons who collect shells and form cabinets of them for their amusement," said Mr. Brown, "are not naturalists. They care nothing about the animal which lived in the shell, when it was in the sea. All they wish for, is to have a pretty and complete collection, containing as many different kinds and as rare shells as possible."

"I should like to have a pretty collection," said Charley.[Pg 15]


[Pg 16]

"So you will," said Mr. Brown, "but I hope you will learn as much as you can of the natural history of the animals, to whom the shells wore once attached."

"I will try," said Charley.

"Now here is one," said Mr. Brown taking the shell from his pocket, "called the Bulla Ampulla." Observe it.

It is shaped much like an egg, though somewhat round, and is beautifully spotted with white, plum-color and reddish. It is said to exist in both the Indian and American Oceans. What you see[Pg 17] here is only the empty shell or covering of the animal.


It once contained a living animal, and the shell was formed by the hardening of the soft material of its body. It grew just as your hard finger nails grow. Here is another Bulla. This is the Bulla Velum.[Pg 18] You see its general shape is much like the other; but the markings are different.

"How beautiful it is!" said Charley. "Dear uncle, I can never repay you for your kindness in giving me such elegant things as these. And some of them are very costly too."

"They cost me nothing," said Mr. Brown. "They were brought and presented to me by sea captains, and supercargoes in my service. Even that Wentle-trap was a sea captain's gift; and when I told its real value, he insisted the more on my keeping it But most of the shells are[Pg 19] cheap.—But that is of no consequence.

"I will tell you, Charley," continued Mr. Brown, "how you can repay and gratify me. It is by industry and good conduct.

"I wish you to grow up to a first-rate man, you must begin by being a first rate boy. When I am out here, and happen to remember any thing that has, in any way, done me good in my life time, I will tell it to you, if you will promise to try to keep it in mind and to act upon it. Will you promise?"

"Oh yes, uncle, I will promise to[Pg 20] try to remember and do what you tell me."

"Well, then, I'll tell you one thing now, that happened when I was a school-boy, two or three years younger than you are even now. Our Master was a very good teacher and a very good man, and he liked to have his scholars go on learning and improving out of school, as well as in, and to behave well also. So he told all the boys and girls, except the little ones, to do, every week, two things, and let him see, each Monday, which had done them best.[Pg 21]

"One of these was to keep a diary. Do you know, Charley, what a Diary is?"

"I believe, uncle, I have seen the word somewhere, but I do not know what it means."

"Well, the Master meant this, that each scholar should have a blank book, and every evening should write down what they had seen and heard, and done and thought and felt during the day, at least as much as they could remember, that was of any consequence. He said, that by doing this carefully, they would improve the memory, and also learn[Pg 22] to express their thoughts well, either by writing or in speaking.

"So we did what he told us as well as we could, and used to carry what we had put down, through the week, for the master to examine, on Monday morning. Some of the scholars didn't write much or write it very well, but, I am pretty sure even that little was a benefit to them. I know, that it did me a great deal of good, which I found the advantage of, all my life. The President, John Quincy Adams, kept one of these Diaries, from the time he was a boy, till he died, over eighty years[Pg 23] old, and you have read what a wise and good man he was. Now I want you, Charley, to begin now and keep a Diary. Will you?"

"As I told you before, uncle, I'll try."

"Well, my dear boy, if you will try in real earnest, you will do well enough, I am very sure. And, to help you start, I will bring you out the very first pages I wrote, when I was only ten years old."

"Do, uncle, I shall be very glad to read what you wrote, when you were a little boy."

"Well, Charley, I told you there[Pg 24] was one more thing the master told us to do, out of school. This was, when we went to church, on Sunday, to listen very carefully to the minister's sermons, and when we got home, to put down the text and all the rest we could remember, and bring to him, on Monday morning, to be examined. He said this would improve us in the same ways, as keeping diaries would. We obeyed him, and some of the scholars became so skilful, that they could remember and write down more than half of both sermons. I think I have some of my notes, still left,[Pg 25] and if so I'll let you see them. Perhaps they will help you to make a beginning in this too. Now, Charley, I want you to try this, as well, as the other. Will you, for the sake of pleasing uncle Brown?"

"As sure, as I live, uncle, I will, and I'll begin the very next Sunday, and see what I can do; and if I don't make out very well at first, I'll keep trying till I can do better."

"Thank you, my boy. And now I won't tell you but one more of these things, at present, but leave them till other occasions. You don't know one of the strongest reasons,[Pg 26] why I wish you to have a Museum, and to get a knowledge of natural history."

"What is the reason, uncle? Won't you tell me?"

"It is, Charley, to prevent you, at least while you are so young, from forming the habit of reading the kinds of novels and stories, which are so plentiful now-a-days. I mean those, which are filled with all sorts of wild, horrible things. Reading such books would be very likely to make your mind sick, as taking poison would your body, and then you would'nt like to study or to read[Pg 27] at all, books that would make you wise and good. Why, sometimes such stories drive people actually crazy."

"I'll tell you something, that happened to me once, when I was quite a small boy, that made me almost crazy, for a while, and it is a wonder, that it didn't make me quite so.

"I heard a story told, one day, which of course was the same thing as reading it. This story was, that a traveller, being once on a journey through a wild country, full of woods and rocks, came by a large cave, in the side of a hill and partly under[Pg 28] ground, and for some reason went into it. He found there a horrible looking creature, a woman, as tall as a giant, down to the waist, and the lower part of her a long, monstrously large snake.

"I felt quite frightened, when I heard the story, and all the rest of the day, I couldn't help thinking uneasily of that gigantic woman snake. I was more frightened than ever, when the time came for me to go to bed at night. I slept then in the attic and used to go to bed without a light, for I had never been afraid of the dark. I went pretty[Pg 29] slowly, I tell you, till I got to the attic door, and there I stopped awhile, afraid to open it for fear of seeing something horrid. But my father called to me to go to bed instantly. I opened the door, and there I saw the woman snake, part reaching into the dark above. I saw her as plainly, as I see you now, and was terrified almost out of my senses.

"But my father called to me again, and I shut my eyes and rushed up stairs. Of course I didn't hit any thing for there was no such creature there. It was my fright at hearing[Pg 30] the story, that made me see what didn't exist.

"Now, Charley, do you think you had better read books, that can have such an effect as that?"

[Pg 31]


Uncle Brown had in his Museum, a great many Birds, as well as shells. I don't mean living birds, but stuffed birds. In the old countries there is a class of men, who, having been taught how to do it well, make it their regular trade to procure birds, and after having taken off their skins, with all the feathers on, to stuff them with some soft substance. They are exactly as if alive, and of the same size.[Pg 32]

There are some of these Taxidermists (as they are called) in this country, though not, I believe, very many. Uncle Brown got most of his birds from Europe, by means of uncle sea-captain, when he came home from his voyages.

Uncle Brown going out one day, to Charley's father's, carried several of these birds with him, which were so pretty, that Charley was greatly delighted.


The first he showed him was called "the Emerald Bird of Paradise," and was about as large as a jay. Its home is New Guinea and[Pg 34][Pg 33] some other parts of the hot regions of Asia. Its body, breast, and lower parts are of a deep, rich brown; the front is covered thickly with black feathers, mixed with green; the throat is of a splendid golden-green; the head is yellow; and the tail is made up of long, downy plumes of a soft yellow, together with a pair filaments almost two feet long.

"The bird is so vain of its beautiful plumage, that it will not let a speck of dirt stay on it; but is continually examining its feathers to see that they are perfectly clean. When wild, it always flies and sits[Pg 35] facing the wind, lest its elegant plumes should get ruffled.

"It lives partly on insects, such as grasshoppers, which it will not touch, unless it has killed them itself, but chiefly on the seeds of the teak tree and a kind of fig.

"There were once a great many strange stories about this bird. As the natives of Guinea used to cut off their legs, and dry them, and sell them, of course they reached Europe without feet. So the people there got up a report that the bird lived always in the air, floated by, its light feathers; that it used its[Pg 36] shoulders for its nest; that it rested only by hanging from a branch by its tail-filaments; that its food was morning dew; with other reports as droll as these. There are several kinds of Birds of Paradise, but the one in the cut is the most common, and is that of which these fables are told."


The next bird Uncle Brown showed Charley, was a very curious looking one, named the Toco Toucan, a native of the American tropics. It has, as you see, a monstrous sized bill, though it is not nearly so heavy, as it looks, being mostly of[Pg 38][Pg 37] a honey comb make. This bill seems to have in it a great many nerves and so to be very sensitive, as the bird scratches it with its foot, and also appears to enjoy holding meat and fruits, with its tip, both of which prove the bill to have feeling in it. It feeds on all sorts of eatable things, but is especially fond of mice and little birds, which it kills by a strong squeeze, and then tears to pieces and devours.

The topmost branch of a tall tree, called the Mora, when dead, is the favorite resort of the Toucan, where it cannot be reached by the gunner.[Pg 39] It seems to fancy itself more beautiful, when its tail is trimmed, and it therefore uses its beak to do this, as the barber employs his scissors to trim our hair. When asleep, the Toucan takes great care of its bill, covering it nicely with the back plumage, so that the whole bird looks like a great round ball of feathers. Its body is about eighteen inches long.

Next uncle Brown showed Charley a bird, called the Parrakeet. It was a very pretty one, with a green body, a red bill, and a rose-colored band round its neck, from which it[Pg 41][Pg 40] is sometimes named the Rose-ringed Parrakeet.


This bird is often tamed, and, from its gentle disposition and pleasant ways, is a great favorite. It seems very fond of ripe walnuts halved, and while picking out the meat, makes a little clucking noise, showing that it is pleased.

It is soon taught to repeat words and short sentences and to speak quite plainly. Sometimes, when angry, it screams loudly, and seems to practise any new accomplishment when it thinks that nobody can hear it.[Pg 42]

Another Bird, added to our Boy's Museum, was called the Brush Turkey, because it is found mostly in the thick brush-wood of New South Wales. The gentleman, who first made it known to the public, tells also of a very curious way, in which the bird makes its nest. It never uses its bill, as other birds do, but tears up grass and dirt and sticks with its foot and flings it backward into a heap, and thus clears the ground, for some distance round, so thoroughly, that hardly a grass blade or leaf is left.


Having finished the pile and[Pg 44][Pg 43] waited till it has become heated enough it lays its eggs, not side by side, as in common cases, but places them, with the large end upwards, from nine to twelve inches apart, perfectly upright and buried at nearly an arm's length. The eggs are covered up, as they are laid, and left until the heat hatches them. Sometimes a bushel of them are found in one heap, and are very fine eating. When this Turkey is disturbed, it runs swiftly through the under-brush, or springs upon the low branch of some tree, and leaps from limb to limb till it reaches the top.[Pg 45]

Another bird, called the Mound Making Megapode, from its big feet, is somewhat like the Brush Turkey, laying many eggs; it digs holes five or six feet deep and deposits the eggs at the bottom. The natives gets these eggs by scratching up the earth with their fingers—a very hard task, since the holes seldom run straight. Some of these mounds are enormously large, one of them being found to measure fifteen feet in height and sixty feet round the bottom. These birds live in the close thickets on the sea-shore and are never found far inland.[Pg 46]


[Pg 47]

Besides these birds Mr. Brown presented Charley with a glass case containing a number of different kinds of Humming Birds stuffed so as to look alive and some of them perched on artificial trees, and others attached to concealed wires, so as to appear as if they were flying. (See frontispiece.) This case of Humming Birds was the chief ornament of the Museum; greatly was Charley's delight at being its possessor.

Mr. Wilson, the great ornithologist, says, "I have seen the humming bird, for half an hour at a time, darting at those little groups of in[Pg 48]sects that dance in the air, on a fine summer evening, retiring to an adjoining twig to rest, and renewing the attack with a dexterity that set all other fly-catchers at defiance." Their feet are small and slender, but having long claws, and, in consequence they seldom alight upon the ground, but perch easily on branches, from which also they generally suspend themselves when sleeping, with their heads downwards. Their tail is broad. Their nests, about an inch in diameter, and as much in breadth, are very compactly formed, the outer coat of[Pg 49] grey lichen, and lined with the fine down plucked from the stalks of the fern and other herbs, and are fixed to the side of a branch or the moss-grown side of a tree so artificially, that they appear, when viewed from below, mere mossy knots, or accidental protuberances. They are bold and pugnacious, two males seldom meeting on the same bush or flower without a battle; and the intrepidity of the female, when defending her young, is not less remarkable. They attack the eyes of the larger birds, when their needle-like bill is truly a formidable weapon; and it[Pg 50] is affirmed, that if they perceive a man climbing the tree where their nests are, they fly at his face, and strike him also in the eyes. Most of the species lay only two eggs, and some of them only one. They have been tamed—a female, with her nest and eggs, brought from Jamaica to England, was fed with honey and water on the passage, and the young ones, when hatched, readily took honey from the lips of the lady to whom they were presented, and one, at least, survived two months after their arrival.[Pg 51]


After uncle Brown had gone home, Charley determined he would begin to be industrious at once. So he went up to his room, and began[Pg 52] to arrange his shelves, which his father had put up for the purpose. As he put each one in its place, he examined it very carefully, and tried to recall every thing his uncle had told him about it, so that it might be fixed fast and clear in his memory, for he wished to tell his father and mother and his favorite playmates the wonderful things he had heard. He looked sharp too, to find in them other curious things, which his uncle Brown hadn't mentioned, that he might ask him about them when he came out again, or[Pg 53] hunt them up in the books his uncle was to bring him.

As fast, as he put up a bird or shell, he wrote down, on a slip of stout paper, in a large, neat hand (for he was quite a nice penman) the place and name of the bird, or animal, that once lived in the shell, and where was its native place, and fastened it with tacks above it.

Though he worked very steadily, it occupied all his spare time, out of school, for several days.

Next he asked his father to get him a good sized blank book to make a catalogue of his Museum,[Pg 54] which his father did very willingly. Then Charley wrote down in this the name and the native place of each of his birds, and under this he recorded all his uncle told him about them. He left besides, under each name, a page or two blank, so that he might have room to set down whatever else he might find out about them.

All this took his spare hours for several days more, and after finishing his labels on his Museum and his Catalogue, he felt quite proud of their orderly and neat appearance and he had good reason to feel satis[Pg 55]fied for they made a very pretty show. Then he invited his father and mother to walk up and see what he had done, for he had before requested them not to come up, till he got ready for them. They were both very much pleased with all his doings, and praised him a good deal. They said, they hoped that he would be as neat and orderly in all he did, as he had been here, for it would help him very much in his studies or in his business matters. They told him there was a good saying, which he had better write down and put up over his little[Pg 56] desk, so that he could often see it, "A place for every thing, and every thing in its place." They said, too, it was an excellent plan to write down, as he had in his catalogue, all the particulars he knew about anything, for he could understand and remember them better, when they had once been all put on paper.

[Pg 57]


"Now, Charley," said Mr. Brown at his next visit, "I've got some new curiosities for your Museum; that is, stuffed animals. You know I told you, about your birds, that the skin was taken off carefully and filled out plumply with some dry, soft substance. Just so it is with these animals."


Here, first, look at this Ermine, which, for a very long while, has been so famous for its beautiful fur,[Pg 59][Pg 58] that kings and nobles have paid a high price for it to trim their robes, This fur in summer is dark colored, but in winter it is an elegant white, except on the tip of the tail, where it is jet black.

The Ermine lives in the northern parts of the Old and New Worlds, and it preys on hares and rabbits and almost every other creature it is strong enough to master.

I will tell you a story about the Ermine. Mr. Sturgis, of Boston, was formerly engaged in trading with the natives on the north west-coast of America, for furs.[Pg 60]

The natives had no currency. But the skin of the Ermine, found in limited numbers upon the northern part of the continent, was held in such universal estimation, and of such uniform value, among many tribes, that it in a measure supplied the place of currency. The skin of this little slender animal is from eight to twelve inches in length, perfectly white, except the tip of the tail, which is jet black.

Urged by some Indian friends, in 1802, Mr. Sturgis obtained and sent home a fine specimen, with a request that a quantity should be[Pg 61] ordered at the annual Leipsic fair, where he supposed they might be obtained. About five thousand were procured, which he took out with him on the next voyage, and arrived at Kigarnee, one of the principal trading places on the coast, early in 1804. Having previously encouraged the Indians to expect them, the first question was, if he had "clicks," (the Indian name for the Ermine skin) for sale, and being answered in the affirmative, great earnestness was manifested to obtain them, and it was on that occasion that he purchased five hun[Pg 62]dred and sixty prime sea-otter skins, at that time worth fifty dollars a piece at Canton, in a single fore-noon, giving for each five ermine skins, that cost less than thirty cents each in Boston. He succeeded in disposing of all his ermines at the same rate, before others carried them out—but in less than two years from that time, one hundred of them would not bring a sea-otter skin.


And here is a Pine Marten, which, as you see, has also very beautiful fur, which brings a high price. Notice what a long, slender body,[Pg 63] short muzzle, and sharp teeth it has. It is a great robber, and kills rabbits, birds, chickens, and young ducks in great numbers, creeping slyly up to them, darting at them, and piercing their necks with its sharp teeth. It is found almost all[Pg 64] over the world. Here is a story about the Marten which I have copied from a book.

There is another strong instinct which the Marten evinces even when tamed. It has an implacable hostility to cats, and lets slip no opportunity of springing upon them and giving them a mortal wound. In the forests, diminutive as it is in comparison, it battles stoutly with the wild cat; and we shall venture to quote from "The British Naturalist" an account of one of these battles, as from an eye witness. "In the year 1805, a gentleman, on[Pg 65] whose veracity we can depend, witnessed one of those combats in the Morven district of Argyleshire. In crossing the mountains from Loch Sunart southward, he passed along the bank of a very deep wooded dell, the hollow of which, though it occasionally showed green patches through trees and coppice, was one hundred and fifty or two hundred feet from the top. The dell is of difficult access, and contains nothing that would compensate the labor, and thus it is abandoned to wild animals, and, among others, to the Marten, which, though the skin[Pg 66] fetches a high price, is not so much hunted there as in more open places; because, though they might succeed in shooting it from the heights above, they could not be sure of removing the body. Thus it is left to contend with the mountain cat for the sovereignty of this particular dell, and both are safe, except when they approach the farm-house at the bottom of the hill. The contest then lasted for more than a half an hour, and both combatants, were too intent on each other's destruction to shun or fear observation. At last, however, the Marten succeeded[Pg 67] in falling upon the right side of the cat's neck, and jerking his long body over her, so as to be out of the reach of her claws; when, after a good deal of squeaking and struggling, by which the enemy could not be shaken off, the martial achievements of puss were ended in the field of glory."

Next comes a Ruffed Lemur, as it is called from the half-circle of white hair, which you see on each side of its face. Notice, too, Charley, the big patches of white on its back and sides, and its long bushy tail, longer even than its whole body.[Pg 68]


"It is a native of Madagascar, which, you see on your map, is an island south-east of Africa. It lives in the thick woods, and sleeps all day, but when night comes, it starts[Pg 69] forth after its food, which consists of fruits, insects, and small birds. It is a little bigger, you see, than a common cat. The Lemur, of which there are several varieties, is a good deal like a monkey in his habits and some of them look like monkeys.

"You've seen, Charley, tigers in the Menagerie. Notice how much this animal resembles a tiger, being shaped and striped like it, but a good deal smaller, and measuring three feet long and eighteen inches high. You can perceive, then, why it is sometimes called tiger-cat, though its most common name is[Pg 70] Ocelet. It is a native of Mexico and Peru, and if caught young, is easily tamed. When it is wild, it feeds mostly on Monkeys, which it takes by its cunning.


"Here's one more animal for you, Charley, called the Canada Lynx, which would make you laugh, if you[Pg 71] could see it alive and moving. It doesn't walk or run, but sticks up its back and jumps forward with all four feet in the air at once. If you apply that measuring rule of yours to it, you'll find it about three feet[Pg 72] long. It is a native of North America, and its skin is highly valued, so that eight or nine thousand of them are carried, every year to England. Muffs and tippets are made of the fur of the Lynx."

"I know that," said Charley, "for my mother's muff and tippet are made of Lynx skin."


"You notice, Charley, that most of the animals, that have nice furs, live in cold countries, some of them where is ice and snow through the whole year. What, my boy, do you suppose is the reason for this."

"Is it not, uncle, because the[Pg 73] people there need these warm furs to keep out the terrible cold?"

"Certainly, Charley, that's one reason, and it shows how the good God takes care of all the creatures he has made, wherever they are. But isn't there another reason?"

"I don't think of any other, uncle?"

"Why, Charley, don't these animals want this nice, thick fur to keep themselves warm?"

"Oh yes, yes, dear uncle, why didn't I think of that?"

"You see, then, Charley, that God provides for the animals he made,[Pg 74] as well as for men. So he gives fur to those living in very cold countries, while he does not give it, at least very thick, to those of warmer climates, because they would be uncomfortable with such a covering."

Here is a picture of a Caracal, which is a sort of Lynx.

[Pg 75]


When Mr. Brown next visited the farm, he brought another pocket full of shells, for Charley's Museum. When he was by alone with Charley in the little chamber where the Museum was to be formed, he began to take them from his pocket one by one and describe them.


"The Bulinus Haemastona," said Mr. Brown, "is very pretty, as you see. These animals live altogether on land. They feed on the tender leaves[Pg 78][Pg 77][Pg 76] of plants and are very fond of lettuces and cabbages. Through the day they lie half asleep, and towards evening move about, especially if warm and moist, and are evidently fond of moisture. In winter they lie torpid, and in spring deposit their eggs about two inches beneath the earth's surface.


"You have heard of King Midas, Charley. This shell is called Midas's Ear, or Auricula Midæ."

"I remember," said Charley, "that Midas was said to have ass's ears."


"Just so," said Mr. Brown, "all[Pg 79] the Auriculas and Haliotises, are a little turned in form. Here is a Haliotis, or Sea Ear. The shell was at first called the Haliotis, but because it is a little twisted, and looks, as you may see, something like the ear of an animal, it is now generally named the Sea Ear. This animal has a kind of fleshy foot projecting[Pg 80] from its body, with which it helps itself to move about. Some kinds of them are very beautiful. There are a great many shells named Sea Ear, by fishermen and sailors; and they are classed by naturalists with these two."

Mr. Brown went on taking more shells from his pocket and talking all the time.


Next came a couple of handsome shells, the Spiny Chiton and the Magnificent Chiton. The word Chiton, which in Greek means "shield," indicates the general shape of this shell, which resembles a shield.[Pg 81] "These animals are a good deal like common Limpets. Those found in our northern seas are small, but in the tropic seas they reach a large size. Their shell consists of several plates, which are arranged very[Pg 83][Pg 82] regularly behind each other by complicated ligaments and muscles.


"The Spiny Chiton is found in the south seas. It has a wide border, as you may see, furnished with long, sharp, blackish spines.

"The Magnificent Chiton grows five inches long, and is found in Chili, often in very exposed places, fixed to wave-beaten rocks. The soft part of all the Chitons, that is, you know, the animal when alive, is furnished with a sucker on the under part, by which it sticks hard to the rocks."


Uncle Brown next gave Charley[Pg 85][Pg 84] one of the most beautiful shells, that, he thought, he had ever seen. Our young readers will see whether Charley was not right, by looking at the cut of it. It is called by several different names, such as the Murex, Tenuispina, or Thin Spined Murex; The Thorny Woodcock; and Venus's Comb. It lives in the Indian Ocean, which, you know, is many thousand miles off from where we live.


With this he gave him four shells, two young, and two grown up ones, which are called the Pteroceras Scorpio; and three others besides,[Pg 87][Pg 86] one young and two grown up ones, which go by the name of Cypraea Exanthema.

He told Charley to put all these shells together in his Museum, because, in certain particulars, they are alike, and all have, besides their own special names, the same generic name of Gasteropoda. They are so called, because they have something like a foot proceeding from the body which they use for moving about. Some of them have a distinct head, furnished with feelers, and eyes, and some means of smelling and hearing. Commonly the shell has but one[Pg 89][Pg 88] valve, but sometimes more. Their shell is secreted or made out of their skin, which is called a mantle. I ought to tell you also, that all these shell-fish have another name, still more general, which is Mollusca, or Molluscs.


The Scallop Charley must have read about before his uncle gave it to him, for pilgrims to the Holy Land, many hundred years ago, used to wear it, as a badge on their hats or caps. It has two valves, like the oyster, which are united by a strong and very elastic hinge. It has also a strong muscle, by which it can, as[Pg 90] it pleases, open its valves or keep them tightly shut. It helps to move itself about by rapidly opening and closing its shell. It is found in the European seas and all along the southern coasts of England.


[Pg 91]

"Here, Charley," said uncle Brown, "is a very beautiful shell for you, called the Nautilus. The[Pg 92] animal is very plentiful in the Mediterranean Sea. It has several arms, which, people used to think, it stretched out like the sails of a ship, and so skimmed over the water in its shell. But this is a mistake, for it covers its shell with these arms, and in fact makes the shell by a secretion from them. It pushes itself through the water by throwing water from a tube, which it has.


"The shell is always elegant, but the colors of the living animal are very beautiful."

"Oh uncle," cried Charley, "what wonderful and nice things you have[Pg 93] told me? Can I find such things in books."

"Certainly, you can," replied the uncle, "for it is there I got most of what I have told you."

"Then," said, Charley, "I mean to read all the books, telling about these things, that I can get, if father will let me, for I should like to do that better, than to be a farmer or a merchant. Do you think, uncle, father will be willing, that I should study and go to college, like our minister Edward?"

"Why my lad," replied the uncle, "your father and I can manage it,[Pg 94] if you will be a good scholar and a well behaved boy. But remember, that in order to do this, you cannot be idle and careless and too fond of play, but you must be very industrious and study hard, for a good many years, to be a good scholar, and you must also be careful of what you do and say, and keep out of the company of mischievous and bad boys, or their example will lead you astray and make you as bad as themselves. Do you think you have resolution and perseverance enough for all these things?"

"I hope so uncle," answered[Pg 95] Charley, "and I believe so. Certainly I'll try."

"Well, my boy, let us see you try. It will be three or four years, before you will be old enough to go to college, but you are old enough to begin to study now, in order to get ready to go. Now is the time to form regular and industrious habits of study. Just at present, you had better go on and form a pretty good Museum, and I will bring you some more birds and shells for the purpose, and some books, that will tell you much more about them than what I have."[Pg 96]

How Charley found his Museum useful in improving his mind; and how he went to college, and became a very distinguished scholar we will relate to our young readers on some future occasion.

[Pg 97]