Title: Harper's Young People, December 2, 1879
Release date: March 4, 2009 [eBook #28246]
Most recently updated: January 4, 2021
Credits: Produced by Annie McGuire
|THE BRAVE SWISS BOY.
|THE PROFESSOR ON TWINKLING.
|THE HISTORY OF PHOTOGEN AND NYCTERIS.
|EMBROIDERED CANVAS RUG.
|OUR POST-OFFICE BOX
|Vol. I.—No. 5.
|Published by HARPER & BROTHERS, New York.
|Price Four Cents.
|Tuesday, December 2, 1879.
|Copyright, 1879, by Harper & Brothers.
|$1.50 per Year, in Advance.
Young bears have always been great favorites as pets, being playful and affectionate when kindly treated. They can be trained to perform all kinds of amusing tricks; and their antics when playing together or with children are very laughable. They have been taught to execute difficult parts in theatrical displays; among other things, to ring bells, pretend to fall dead when shot at, beat the drum, and go through the manual exercise of the soldier with the musket.
But though playful and harmless when young, they can not be trusted when their teeth and claws are full grown. Then their good nature can not be counted on; and many instances have occurred in which they have repaid friendly confidence with sudden treachery. It must be said in their favor, however, that their wildness is often the result of bad treatment or thoughtless teasing. There is a story in print of a planter in Louisiana who once picked up a young cub that had either been abandoned by its mother, or had run away from the parental den. He carried it home and threw it down in the yard, where it was immediately adopted by the little negroes. It became a great favorite with them, sharing their corn-bread, and taking part in all their sports. "Billy"—that was the name given to him—thrived and grew large and stout, and learned to box and wrestle with the boys so well that visitors to the plantation were always entertained with these droll exhibitions.
But one day, in the spring, when he had been about a year in captivity, Billy was detected in making free with the young cabbages in the garden. A stout negro man picked up a branch of rose-bush, and gave the marauder a playful stroke. Filled with rage, Billy sprang upon the man, shook him as if he had been a bundle of straw, and bit the poor fellow so severely that he died. Billy was at once shot. A pet that could not control his temper better than that was considered rather too dangerous to keep.
In a wild state, when in distress, young bears utter cries like those of a child in trouble. During an overflow of the Mississippi the inhabitants of a plantation were alarmed by the dreadful wailings, as was supposed, of some children in a swamp. After a careful search two little cubs were found in the hollow of an old tree, locked in each other's arms. The mother bear had been drowned or shot, and these funny little "babes in the woods" were crying with fright and hunger, and appeared to welcome the protection of man with real joy.
Bears are very fond of whiskey and other kinds of strong drink, and when intoxicated will act very much like a man in a similar condition.[Pg 34]
For a moment father and son stood silent on the brink of the crevasse, looking after the chamois.
"We can't get across here, father," said Walter, in a whisper; "let us try and find some other way."
"We can't find a better spot than this," replied his father, examining his gun.
"But what's the use of shooting him? What's the good of a dead chamois if we can't get him?"
"When he's once dead, boy, we'll soon find some means of getting at him," was the answer. "A board laid over the crevasse will be an easy way of recovering the venison."
"But we haven't got a board, father."
"That we'll see about. Just stand on one side, Watty."
The hunter cocked his gun, took aim for a moment, and was going to fire, when he turned suddenly pale, and dropped his arm.
"What's the matter, father? Do you feel ill?" inquired Walter, with anxiety.
"No," replied the huntsman; "but it seemed as if the ice was giving way just as I was going to fire. But it can't be," he continued, stamping his foot; "the ice is solid and firm enough."
"Let us go home, father," implored Walter. "I feel a presentiment that something will happen. Come home now, and we can try for the buck to-morrow."
But the old mountaineer had in the mean time become self-possessed again, and again raised his gun to fire. Just as he pulled the trigger, however, his foot slipped, and with an exclamation of horror, Walter saw him carried rapidly toward the rift in the ice, and suddenly disappear. With the recoil of the gun the hunter had lost his balance on the slippery ice, and at the same moment that his shot struck the chamois, he was hurled into the "rift."
"Father! father! father!" screamed Walter, throwing himself on the ice, horror-stricken, and peering wildly down the crevasse. "Father, speak!"
All was silent. Only a slight trickling, as if from some subterranean stream, reached his ear.
For several minutes the youth lay at the edge of the chasm, paralyzed with terror. When he recovered his consciousness, a feeling of alarm and distress overwhelmed him. He wept, and wrung his hands bitterly.
"Father!" he cried again into the abyss that yawned beneath him—"father, speak to me, for God's sake!"
A sudden thrill passed through his frame as a low murmur came up from the icy grave. He strained his ears to listen to the broken words. "I am alive, Watty," was the reply of the unfortunate man; "but my ankle is out of joint, and one of my arms broken. I shall never see the light of day again."
A cry of mingled joy and agony burst from Walter's lips.
"Don't be afraid, father," he exclaimed. "You shall be rescued, with God's help. Have you got your bag with you?"
"Yes, but my bottle is broken."
"Well, then, take mine. I'll lower it down with a cord. Have you got it?"
"Yes," was feebly answered. "I can hold out now for a while, unless the cold strikes me."
"Courage, father, till I run down to the village, and get the neighbors and shepherds to come with ropes and poles. Try to hold out for a couple of hours, and with the help of God you shall be saved."
"Ay, ay, dear boy," was the faint reply; "I will try to be patient till you come back." And with a godspeed Walter hurried off to rouse the neighbors to the rescue.
It was a dangerous journey that the brave boy undertook for his father's rescue; but courage, and the agility which is acquired by those who are accustomed to the mountains from childhood, enabled him to reach the valley in a wonderfully short time. Pale as death, with hands bleeding, and clothes torn to shreds, he rushed to the inn, which was the nearest spot where help could be found. His appearance naturally created consternation, and in answer to the numerous questions addressed to him he related in a few breathless words the dreadful accident which had befallen his father. A score of stalwart hands were instantly ready to rescue the unfortunate man from his dreadful position; the landlord of the inn ordered ropes, poles, and ladders to be got in readiness, and meanwhile pressed refreshment on the well-nigh exhausted youth. Moments were precious, but ere long the party reached the scene of the disaster, when Walter, leaning over the edge of the cleft, cried to his father, and was answered.
"Yes, I'm still alive," replied the mountaineer, in feeble tones; "but I am almost frozen to death, and in dreadful pain. Make haste and help me, if you can, for I'm losing my senses."
"Down with the rope!" shouted the landlord, who had himself come up with the party.—"Look out, Hirzel! Place the loop over your shoulders and under your arms, and try to draw it tight. There are plenty of strong arms here that will soon get you up."
The rope having been made fast to an iron stanchion driven into the ice, the looped end was lowered away into the chasm; but no sign was made by Hirzel that he had obeyed the directions, and fastened it round his body.
"Father, why don't you make haste?" exclaimed Walter in agony.
But there was no answer.
"He must have fainted at the last moment," said the landlord; "and if so, then may God have mercy upon him! for not a living creature could venture such a depth."
"I will venture it!" exclaimed Walter, seizing the rope. But twenty hands held him back. "Let me go!" he cried. "I must save my father!" and breaking loose with a sudden effort from the men who surrounded him, the courageous youth seized the rope and disappeared in sight of his horror-stricken companions.
A few terrible moments passed, when a shout from below was suddenly heard, and the cry, "All right! pull away, friends!" sent a thrill of joy through every heart.[Pg 35]
"Pull steadily, my men," cried the good landlord; "but pull as if your own lives depended on it. I can see them now!" exclaimed he, gazing into the gloomy abyss. "Hirzel seems to have fainted, just as I thought, but Watty has fastened the rope round him securely. Pull away! they will be at the top in a few seconds."
Encouraged by success, the men redoubled their efforts, and had soon the satisfaction of landing father and son safely on the ice.
A rough kind of stretcher having been hastily made of poles and ropes, the wounded hunter was laid upon it and carried home; and as there was no lack of stout hearts and sure feet, the journey was accomplished without accident. After setting his broken limbs and binding up his wounds, the doctor, who had been speedily called in, expressed the hope that Hirzel's life would be saved, but he doubted very much if he would ever be able to climb the mountains for chamois again. Walter was thankful to find that his father's life was in no danger, and had himself so far recovered his equanimity as to be able to relate how he had rescued him from his icy grave, and how he found that the rope, instead of having reached the wounded man, had actually rested on a ledge ten feet above the place where he lay. Walter, who felt devoutly thankful that his efforts had been so successful, was overwhelmed with praises for his heroism.
Nor was the chamois forgotten. The generous landlord had it brought down to the inn from the spot where it had fallen, and sent an ample equivalent to Hirzel's cottage.
Jack was delighted with the idea. Gus differed from him entirely. Joe and I, being girls, pronounced it—horrid.
"Papa wants us to, you know," said May, who always sets us straight.
Jack, who had recently joined one of the college societies, moved that the Professor be cordially supported. "His lecture last week was exceedingly entertaining," he argued. "That he should be so good as to come here and talk to us about his wonderful science in a pleasant familiar way, simply because he's papa's old friend, shows the interest he takes in the family."
"Do hush, Jack."
"My dear sister, I can not. What the Professor has to tell us about the heavenly bodies—"
"I hate the heavenly bodies," growls Gus.
"Is it jealousy, Augustus, because they are allowed to stay out late nights, while you are not?"
"Whatever it is, I agree with him," puts in Joe, who always stands by Gus. "I hate astronomy too."
"Feeling as I do, Josephine, that your knowledge in the science is confined to 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star,' and the fact that 'the moon is made of green cheese,' I am surprised at you."
"What makes them twinkle?" asked May.
The Professor heard this, for he was just coming up stairs.
"What makes them twinkle, May?" and the Professor seated himself in an easy-chair, as if ready to talk.
"I don't know, Sir. Won't you please tell us?"
"Pooh, May, don't bother the Professor with such juvenile questions. He'll think he's intrusted with the charge of the third form in an infant school."
"But," persisted May, "I would like very much to know, and I don't believe you can tell, if you have been to college. Now there!"
Jack was somewhat nonplussed at this, but after a moment's hesitation said, "Well, anyhow, the books I studied never told anything about the stars twinkling, and I don't believe they do twinkle. It's nothing but a baby notion."
All eyes are now intently fixed upon the Professor, who is expected first to settle the fact, and then to account for it.
"You, Jack, who have been to college," he began, "know that all vision or sight is produced by rays falling upon the eyes. These rays may be broken or turned from their natural course—the word astronomers use is refracted. Now the stars are so far away from us that through the largest telescope they are still only points of light. As the rays come down through space there is nothing to break or refract them, but when they reach our atmosphere, there is the tremulous agitation of the air and ascending vapors. By these the rays coming from the tiny points are at intervals turned aside from the narrow space of the pupil of the eye. When the eye is assisted with the wide opening of the object-glass of a telescope no such thing happens. So Jack is right; the stars don't twinkle. When viewed through a telescope, they are found to shine with a steady brightness, and hence the motion is only in appearance. Recent astronomers have little to say about it; but it is due, doubtless, as Sir Isaac Newton explains in his celebrated Principia, to the ascending vapors and tremulous movements of the atmosphere. You have seen how the heated air or gas rising from a stove will sometimes make things behind it tremble and dance. Now if a small candle were burning on the other side of the ascending vapor, its flame, though really steady, would seem to flicker."
"Then, Sir, the stars, being so very far off, appear so very little, and the rays of light they send are disturbed by atmospheric vapor, and thus to the naked eye they twinkle."
"Yes," said the Professor. "The sun and moon, as you know, present broad disks, with light radiating from every point—"
"Please, Professor," interrupted May, "tell us what a 'disk' is. Jack's big words are dreadful to understand; and this, although a little one, seems just as bad."
"I don't wonder I puzzled you, May. We use the word disk for the face or surface of a heavenly body which appears to have some size. You may always stop me when I use a word you don't understand; but when I have once told you, I shall want you to remember; for we can not know much about science unless we learn some of the hard words. I was saying that the sun and moon present broad disks, so that if some of the light is intercepted, the eye does not notice the loss. The same is true also of the planets, which appear large when they are magnified, but not of the stars, owing to their immense distances; and when the impurities in the atmosphere obscure or divert the narrow line of light they send to us, the eye perceives it at once. Some of the stars appear very brilliant through the large telescopes, but the light still seems to proceed from a single point. There are some four or five thousand stars that can be seen without a telescope."
"Why," interrupted Joe, "I thought there were more than anybody could count."
"So there are," replied the Professor, "but the number that can be distinctly perceived by the unassisted eye is found to be comparatively small when they are carefully looked after. On very clear nights the whole sky may seem to glisten when the eye is suddenly turned upward; and there are some portions of it where a confused light comes from a sort of star-cloud, which has received the name of 'Milky Way.' But the stars that can be seen separately are very easily counted. Some persons can see rather more than others, on account of their eye-sight being naturally better, or improved by use. A rough count of the number that could be seen through Herschel's famous telescope made it twenty thousand. The great telescopes more recently made would probably show as many as forty or fifty millions."
"I should think," said May, "that it would be awful tiresome to count so many things just alike, and that the man would often count the same one over and over without knowing it, and would never be sure that he had counted right."
"They are not all alike," said the Professor. "They differ greatly in brightness, and to some extent in color, and in other particulars. They have been divided according to their brilliancy into sixteen classes or magnitudes. The fifteen brightest stars are said to be of the first magnitude, the fifty next of the second, and so on to the sixth, which comprises the faintest stars visible to the unassisted eye. The brightest star of all visible in our latitude is the dogstar, which gives four times as much light as any other. In every age of the world there have been learned men interested enough in the stars to make catalogues of them, giving their magnitudes and their positions."
"I think they must have been very slow and stupid follows," said Gus, "or they would have found something better to do."
At this the Professor laughed.
"I think, Gus, you are hungry, and have your mind on mutton-chops. I shall not talk to you any more this morning; but, after lunch, if you will look in one of the great books in papa's library, which he will point out, you will find pictures of all the great telescopes in the world. The best one in our own country is that at the United States National Observatory at Washington. Without the aid of these wonderful instruments we should never have learned much about the stars."[Pg 36]
There was once a witch who desired to know everything. But the wiser a witch is, the harder she knocks her head against the wall when she comes to it. Her name was Watho, and she had a wolf in her mind. She cared for nothing in itself—only for knowing it. She was not naturally cruel, but the wolf had made her cruel.
She was tall and graceful, with a white skin, red hair, and black eyes, which had a red fire in them. She was straight and strong, but now and then would fall bent together, shudder, and sit for a moment with her head turned over her shoulder, as if the wolf had got out of her mind on to her back.
This witch got two ladies to visit her. One of them belonged to the court, and her husband had been sent on a far and difficult embassy. The other was a young widow whose husband had lately died, and who had since lost her sight. Watho lodged them in different parts of her castle, and they did not know of each other's existence.
The castle stood on the side of a hill sloping gently down into a narrow valley, in which was a river, with a pebbly channel and a continual song.
The garden went down to the bank of the river, inclosed by high walls, which crossed the river, and there stopped. Each wall had a double row of battlements, and between the rows was a narrow walk.
In the topmost story of the castle the Lady Aurora occupied a spacious apartment of several large rooms looking southward. The windows projected oriel-wise over the garden below, and there was a splendid view from them both up and down and across the river. The opposite side of the valley was steep, but not very high. Far away snow peaks were visible. These rooms Aurora seldom left, but their airy spaces, the brilliant landscape and sky, the plentiful sunlight, the musical instruments, books, pictures, curiosities, with the company of Watho, who made herself charming, precluded all dullness. She had venison and feathered game to eat, milk and pale sunny sparkling wine to drink.
She had hair of the yellow gold, waved and rippled; her skin was fair, not white like Watho's, and her eyes were of the blue of the heavens when bluest; her features were delicate but strong, her mouth large and finely curved, and haunted with smiles.
Behind the castle the hill rose abruptly; the northeastern tower, indeed, was in contact with the rock, and communicated with the interior of it. For in the rock was a series of chambers, known only to Watho and the one servant whom she trusted, called Falca. Some former owner had constructed these chambers after the tomb of an Egyptian king, and probably with the same design, for in the centre of one of them stood what could only be a sarcophagus, but that and others were walled off. The sides and roofs of them were carved in low relief, and curiously painted. Here the witch lodged the blind lady, whose name was Vesper. Her eyes were black, with long black lashes; her skin had a look of darkened silver, but was of purest tint and grain; her hair was black and fine and straight-flowing; her features were exquisitely formed, and if less beautiful, yet more lovely from sadness; she always looked as if she wanted to lie down and not rise again. She did not know she was lodged in a tomb, though now and then she wondered she never touched a window. There were many couches, covered with richest silk, and soft as her own cheek, for her to lie upon; and the carpets were so thick she might have cast herself down anywhere—as befitted a tomb. The place was dry and warm, and cunningly pierced for air, so that it was always fresh, and lacked only sunlight. There the witch fed her upon milk, and wine dark as a carbuncle, and pomegranates, and purple grapes, and birds that dwell in marshy places; and she played to her mournful tunes, and caused wailful violins to attend her, and told her sad tales, thus holding her ever in an atmosphere of sweet sorrow.
The witch at length had her desire, for witches often get what they want: a splendid boy was born to the fair Aurora. Just as the sun rose, he opened his eyes. Watho carried him immediately to a distant part of the castle, and persuaded the mother that he never cried but once, dying the moment he was born. Overcome with grief, Aurora left the castle as soon as she was able, and Watho never invited her again.
And now the witch's care was that the child should not know darkness. Persistently she trained him, until at last he never slept during the day, and never woke during the night. She never let him see anything black, and even kept all dull colors out of his way. Never, if she could help it, would she let a shadow fall upon him, watching against shadows as if they had been live things that would hurt him. All day he basked in the full splendor of the sun, in the same large rooms his mother had occupied. Watho used him to the sun until he could bear more of it than any dark-skinned African. In the hottest of every day she stripped him and laid him in it, that he might ripen like a peach; and the boy rejoiced in it, and would resist being dressed again. She brought all her knowledge to bear on making his muscles strong and elastic and swiftly responsive—that his soul, she said, laughing, might sit in every fibre, be all in every part, and awake the moment of call. His hair was of the red gold, but his eyes grew darker as he grew, until they were as black as Vesper's. He was the merriest of creatures, always laughing, always loving, for a moment raging, then laughing afresh. Watho called him Photogen.
Five or six months after the birth of Photogen, the dark lady also gave birth to a baby: in the windowless tomb of a blind mother, in the dead of night, under the feeble rays of a lamp in an alabaster globe, a girl came into the darkness with a wail. And just as she was born for the first time, Vesper was born for the second and[Pg 37] passed into a world as unknown to her as this was to her child—who would have to be born yet again before she could see her mother.
Watho called her Nycteris, and she grew as like Vesper as possible—in all but one particular. She had the same dark skin, dark eyelashes and brows, dark hair, and gentle, sad look; but she had just the eyes of Aurora, the mother of Photogen, and if they grew darker as she grew older, it was only a darker blue. Watho, with the help of Falca, took the greatest possible care of her—in every way consistent with her plans, that is, the main point in which was that she should never see any light but what came from the lamp. Hence her optic nerves, and indeed her whole apparatus for seeing, grew both larger and more sensitive; her eyes, indeed, stopped short only of being too large. She was a sadly dainty little creature. No one in the world except those two was aware of the being of the little bat. Watho trained her to sleep during the day, and wake during the night. She taught her music, and taught her scarcely anything else.
The hollow in which the castle of Watho lay was a cleft in a plain rather than a valley among hills, for at the top of its steep sides, both north and south, was a table-land large and wide. It was covered with rich grass and flowers, with here and there a wood, the outlying colony of a great forest. These grassy plains were the finest hunting grounds in the world. The chief of Watho's huntsmen was a fine fellow, and when Photogen began to outgrow the training she could give him, she handed him over to Fargu. He with a will set about teaching him all he knew. He got him pony after pony, larger and larger as he grew, every one less manageable than that which had preceded it, and advanced him from pony to horse, and from horse to horse, until he was equal to anything in that kind which the country produced. In similar fashion he trained him to the use of bow and arrow substituting every three months a stronger bow and longer arrows, and soon he became, even on horseback, a wonderful archer. Every day, almost as soon as the sun was up, he went out hunting, and would in general be out nearly the whole of the day. But Watho had laid upon Fargu just one commandment, namely, that Photogen should on no account, whatever the plea, be out until sun-down, or so near it as to wake in him the desire of seeing what was going to happen; and this commandment Fargu was anxiously careful not to break; for although he would not have trembled had a whole herd of bulls come down upon him, charging at full speed across the level, and not an arrow left in his quiver, he was more than afraid of his mistress. So that, as Photogen grew older, Fargu began to tremble, for he found it steadily growing harder to restrain him. He did not know what fear was, and that not because he did not know danger; for he had had a severe laceration from the razor-like tusk of a boar—whose spine, however, he had severed with one blow of his hunting-knife before Fargu could reach him with defense.
When the boy was approaching his sixteenth year, Fargu ventured to beg of Watho that she would lay her commands upon the youth himself, and release him from responsibility for him. One might as soon hold a tawny-maned lion as Photogen, he said. Watho called the youth, laid her command upon him never to be out when the rim of the sun should touch the horizon, accompanying the prohibition with hints of consequences none the less awful that they were obscure. Photogen listened respectfully, but knowing neither the taste of fear nor the temptation of the night, her words were but sounds to him.
The little education she intended Nycteris to have, Watho gave her by word of mouth. Not meaning she should have light enough to read by, she never put a book in her hands. Nycteris, however, saw so much better than Watho imagined, that the light she gave her was quite sufficient, and she managed to coax Falca into teaching her the letters, after which she taught herself to read, and Falca now and then brought her a child's book. But her chief pleasure was in her instrument. Her very fingers loved it, and would wander about over its keys like feeding sheep. She was not unhappy. She knew nothing of the world except the tomb in which she dwelt, and had some pleasure in everything she did. But she desired, nevertheless, something more or different. She did not know what it was, and the nearest she could come to expressing it to herself was—that she wanted more room. Watho and Falca would go from her beyond the shine of the lamp, and come again; therefore surely there must be more room somewhere. As often as she was left alone she would fall to poring over the colored bas-reliefs on the walls. These were intended to represent various of the powers of Nature under allegorical similitudes, and as nothing can be made that does not belong to the general scheme, she could not fail at least to imagine a flicker of relationship between some of them, and thus a shadow of the reality of things found its way to her.
There was one thing, however, which moved and taught her more than all the rest—the lamp, namely, that hung from the ceiling, which she always saw alight, though she never saw the flame, only the slight condensation toward the centre of the alabaster globe. And besides the operation of the light itself after its kind, the indefiniteness of the globe, and the softness of the light, giving her the feeling as if her eyes could go in and into its whiteness, were somehow also associated with the idea of space and room. She would sit for an hour together gazing up at the lamp, and her heart would swell as she gazed. She would wonder what had hurt her when she found her face wet with tears, and then would wonder how she could have been hurt without knowing it. She never looked thus at the lamp except when she was alone.
The pretty glove-case published in No. 2, November 11, was warmly welcomed, and our young friends are eagerly clamoring for more holiday gifts that they can make readily and cheaply. In compliance with their wish we will occasionally furnish fancy articles that can be manufactured by little hands. One of the most tasteful and useful presents that we can suggest is a handsome canvas rug, which can be easily made with the help of the accompanying pictures and description, and which is sure to prove a successful Christmas gift. The rug is made of écru linen Java canvas, which, with the border, can be bought cheaply in any large fancy store. The centre of the rug is twenty-eight inches long and nineteen inches wide, and is embroidered in loop stitch with claret-colored worsted. The border is four inches wide, and is worked in cross stitch with similar worsted. That useful periodical, Harper's Bazar, gives full directions for working these and many other stitches. Almost every little girl, however, knows how to make these simple stitches, or can find some one to show her. The rug is lined with gray drilling, and edged with fringe, of which the illustration Fig. 4 shows a full-sized section.
To make the fringe first twist together threads of claret-colored worsted. For this purpose use a wooden reel, the middle rod of which forms a movable handle. One side of the reel is furnished with brass hooks on the ends. Lay a thread of claret-colored worsted on the upper hook as shown by Fig. 2; turn the reel quickly, holding the thread double with the left hand and the handle of the reel with the right hand until the thread has been twisted long enough to be wound on the reel, with the hands in the position as shown by Fig. 3. When the threads have been twisted of sufficient length, wind them tight on a long wooden board four inches and seven-eighths in circumference (see Fig. 4), and for the heading of the fringe crochet on each thread 1 sc. (single crochet) with claret-colored worsted. Withdraw the board from the loops, twist these, and on the sc. work a second round of sc. with similar worsted, at the same time fastening in a chain stitch foundation worked with écru cotton. In doing this, work alternately 2 sc. on the foundation and 2 sc. without the foundation.
Another simple fringe is made by winding the worsted on a suitable-sized book, then cutting it through on one end, and knotting strands of four threads each into the edge of the rug.
Electric Ornaments.—Some curious trinkets, to which certain motions can be given at will by means of electricity, have recently been devised by an ingenious Frenchman, M. Trouvé. Two of these are scarf pins; one has a death's-head, gold or enamel, with diamond eyes and lower articulated jaw; the other has a rabbit seated upright on a box with a little bell before it, to be struck with two rods held in the animal's fore-paws. An invisible wire connects these objects with a small hermetically closed battery, the ebonite case of which is about the size of a cigarette. It is kept in the waistcoat pocket, and acts only when turned horizontally or inverted. When a person looks at the pin, the owner, slipping a finger into his pocket, moves the battery, whereupon the death's-head rolls its eyes and grinds its teeth, or the little rabbit beats the bell with its rods (through electro-magnetic action). A third kind of ornament is a small bird set with diamonds, to be fixed in a lady's hair, and the wings of which can be set in motion electrically.
The Great Wall of China.—An American engineer engaged in the construction of a railway in China, gives the following account of this wonderful work. The wall is 1728 miles long, 18 feet high, and 15 feet thick at the top. The foundation throughout is of solid granite, the remainder of compact masonry. At intervals of between two hundred and three hundred yards towers rise up, twenty-five to thirty feet high, and twenty-four feet in diameter. On the top of the wall and on both sides of it are masonry parapets to enable the defenders to pass unseen from one tower to another. The wall is carried from point to point in a straight line, across valleys, plains, and hills, sometimes plunging down into deep abysses. Rivers are bridged over by the wall, while on both banks of large streams strong flanking towers are placed.
"I will tell you the story," said Margotte, pausing in her knitting, as we leaned together over the white palings of her little garden. "Yes, there is a story, madame—a story of a wolf; but you have got it wrong, madame, and I must set you right."
Picture a sunset in the Pyrenees, a glorious crimson sky tipping the distant peaks with pale pink, and deepening the purple shadows on the nearer mountains—the mountains that inclose and overtop Margotte Nevaire's pretty home. I had come for a quiet month to this picturesque, secluded village, and though my month was over, I was tempted to linger day after day, for the sake of the sunshine and the mountains, and not least, perhaps, for the sake of these two peasant girls, with whom I lodged.
Margotte was the youngest of the two by fifteen years—the three boys who came between had died—and though it is very long since we leaned side by side over the white palings, I can always call her to mind as she stood knitting there.
She was tall and strong, and finely made, with a clear white skin, and brown hair waving in heavy masses under her white starched caps. She had beautiful eyes, heavy-lidded and dark-lashed, and a firm, sweet mouth—such a woman as you see sometimes amongst the desolate mountains, as if God had given to them a grander soul, to compensate for the blessings He denied.
Léontine was different; tall too, and active, but with heavier movements, and more of firmness than of sweetness in her scarred face. She had no girlish vanity in her glossy hair, or the cap starched to such absolute perfection, for so much of her youth and beauty had vanished with that scar—a deep blue line from brow to chin—that no loving arrangement of the hair by Margotte's deft fingers could hide.
So Margotte said to me that evening,[Pg 39] dropping her knitting into her apron pocket: "I will tell you the story of the wolf, madame. Léontine is out, and it is a grand story—a story I should like you to hear."
"It was night," said Margotte, "a cruel, cold winter night, such as we who live amongst the mountains have terrible cause to dread, for it means hunger and cold—sometimes absolute famine. It means the children crying for food when there is none to give them, and the wolves howling in the distance. Ah! those wolves, madame, how they make one shudder with their monotonous howls, that seem so near at first, and then die away into the far distance!
"Well, it was night, as I have said, and the baby was asleep, as it might be here, and Léontine was knitting on the hearth, and Marcelle, a friend of Léontine's, was chattering to her, kneeling on the stones, and the door was on the latch.
"That was the mischief, you see; but Léontine was young then, and Marcelle was a giddy, thoughtless chatterer, and she had run in with her shawl over her head for an hour's talk. Léontine has told me of it so often that I almost seem to see the two girls crouching by the fire that sent bright and flickering reflections on to the snow outside.
"Suddenly, as they talked, there came distinctly to them the howling of the wolves across the snow. Marcelle put her hands over her ears and shuddered. Léontine knelt up and stirred the fire.
"'Come closer, my friend,' she said; 'it is a dreary sound. Thank God, we are safe here!'
"'Are we safe, do you think?' asked Marcelle, with chattering teeth. 'I dare not go home to-night. Will your mother let me stay here, Léontine?'
"'Surely,' said Leontine.
"She was so brave, my sister, my dear, dear sister, madame, and so gentle! she took Marcelle's head upon her knee, and put her knitting aside to soothe her terror.
"'We are quite safe, Marcelle,' she said, 'and mother will soon be back. It is a dreary night.'
"It was a dreary night, dark and still and terribly cold; the white flakes were falling slowly to the earth, and covering the mother's footsteps on the path.
"Léontine walked over to the window and looked out; the fire-light was dancing and flickering on the snow outside, and making a cheerful patch of ruddy light in the darkness, which would guide the mother's steps for her home-coming. Through the darkness the howling of the wolves seemed nearer.
"'Ah, they are coming closer,' said Marcelle, starting upright. 'Can you see them, Léontine? I am afraid.'
"Léontine was leaning close to the glass, pressing her face against it.
"'Yes, I see shadows,' she said; 'they are coming to the light, Marcelle. No! it is only one shadow, after all; we must not frighten each other.'
"She turned with a faint smile to Marcelle's shuddering face, and tried to draw the curtains with her trembling hands, but the shadow on the snow was very near.
"'Do not be afraid, my dear,' she said, kneeling down upon the hearth again, and drawing Marcelle's cold hands into her own strong ones; 'be brave; we are quite safe, you know; the door is strong, and God is so good, Marcelle.'
"But Marcelle was sobbing.
"Her sobbing woke the baby, and it cried—little moaning cries that fretted Léontine, and that brought the dark shadow nearer to the door.
"Léontine rocked the baby, but could not hush its wailing cries; she knelt beside the cradle, singing her strange, weird songs in a voice that never trembled, and all the time that foolish Marcelle was sobbing and trembling at her feet.
"'Hush, for God's sake!' said Léontine at last, lifting her clear eyes, and trying to still the faltering of her voice. 'You frighten me, Marcelle, and you keep baby fretful. Mother will soon be home, and the night is not long, and we are quite safe, thank God.'
"But the words were still in her mouth when she heard a heavy shuffling in the snow outside, and a terrible howl that seemed to shake the little cottage to its foundations. Then—ah! think of it, madame—the door—this door against which you lean—was burst open, and out of the darkness a great wolf came bounding in, and paused for a minute on the threshold.
"Léontine was upright in an instant, standing before the cradle. Even Marcelle rose also, and stood shrieking on the hearth.
"But the great, lean, hungry wolf came slinking on—and it passed Léontine, and took the little baby from the cradle.
"Léontine had stood as if rooted to the spot, with her burning eyes fascinated by the awful sight; but now she strode to the table, and took a knife. And yet she dared not throw it, because of the baby, madame.
"They seemed so helpless all of a sudden, those two girls, while the great beast crept past them again, trotting to the door. Marcelle had taken a fagot from the fire, and cast it at him, but he only shook it off, and growled savagely, bounding out into the snow.
"Ah, madame, it was terrible—terrible; and yet, as Léontine always says, God is good.
"For while Marcelle was crying by the empty cradle, and the snow was sweeping into the room and putting out the fire, Léontine had sprung to the door, and had flung herself to the ground, with her brave white face not two inches from the wolf's glaring eyes; she stretched out her hands and caught him by his shaggy coat, twisting her strong fingers into his matted hair. She still held her knife firmly, but she dared not use it.
"She succeeded in her wish, madame, however; the wolf was surprised and angry. With a low, fierce growl, that made Marcelle's heart beat to suffocation, he dropped the baby.
"Léontine has told me often that she never knows how she came living out of that terrible struggle; she says she remembers crying aloud to God to keep the baby safe, and to take the life she offered up so willingly instead. She remembers striking with her knife at the great body that fell upon her, blinding and suffocating her; then there came to her ears a dim faint sound like music, and my cries—I was the baby, you have guessed, madame—and then silence, such silence as Léontine says she thinks will be like the silence of death.
"But it was not death. Ah, no—there is Léontine, you see, coming up with her pitcher from the well; and the wolf, the last wolf killed in St. Privât, lies buried not a foot from where we stand; but Léontine will carry her trophy of victory to her dying day. Some people say that her face would be very beautiful but for the scar; but for me, madame, I think that it is the scar that makes her face so beautiful."
Our young friends must not be impatient if their communications are not noticed immediately. Our space is limited, and we answer or print letters in the order in which they are received. The following pleasant note comes from a young correspondent in Paterson:
Dear "Young People,"—If all the boys and girls were as glad to see you as I was, you must have received a very flattering welcome. We have felt the want of a cheap, first-class weekly paper so much that we are able to appreciate you now that we have you. There are several weeklies published for the "young," but the great objection to them is that half are too dry, and the other half too sensational. You are neither, but very interesting.
In answer to a question accompanying the above note, we would say that there is no limit to the age of our contributors.
George S. Vail.—We will accept original puzzles if they are very good. They must, in all cases, be accompanied by a full solution. Your chicken story is very pretty, but we have no room to print it.
Chester B. Fernald.—The full operation in figures should be sent with all answers to mathematical puzzles.
Lyman C.—Your land-turtle will eat pieces of pear or sweet apple, bread, cake, and many other things. It will also live many months without eating at all. You can keep it in a box, and it will be happier if you give it a little earth to dig in. If the earth is deep enough, it will make a burrow and sleep in it until next spring. We knew a little girl who received a present of two land-turtles, which she placed in the yard. In a few days she was unable to find them, and gave them up for lost. The next spring, six months afterward, she was digging in her flower beds, when, to her astonishment, she found her two lost pets, who opened their eyes on being disturbed, and crawled sluggishly out of their hole. They had been asleep all through the cold weather, for turtles are very long lived, and they can easily give a whole winter to a single nap. Rev. Mr. Wood, in a note to White's Natural History of Selborne, gives a very interesting account of a tame turtle which he allowed to crawl about his study. This turtle showed a great genius for climbing, and at one time actually succeeded in scrambling upon a footstool. He says: "Its food consisted of bread and milk, which it ate several times a day, drinking the milk by scooping up some of it in its lower jaw, and then by throwing its head back the milk ran down its throat."
Young Chemist.—Spread on your paper first a solution of iodide of potassium, then a solution of nitrate of silver. Iodide of silver forms, and saturates the paper. The excess of nitrate of silver and the heavy yellow powder which forms are now washed off, and the paper is ready for the camera. The picture may be developed by a solution of gallic acid mixed with a very small quantity of an aqueous solution of acetic acid and nitrate of silver. The picture is fixed by washing with hyposulphite of soda. If you wish to derive any pleasure from photography, you would better drop the old-fashioned paper process, and turn your attention to ferrotypes, or negatives on glass, as with them good results are more easily obtained than with paper.
We acknowledge very pretty and neatly written letters from St. Clair Nichol, Listowel, Ontario, and Charles L. Benjamin (nine years old), Washington, D. C., both containing correct information respecting Sir Rowland Hill.
Clarissa H. H.—Your answer to No. 4 of the mathematical puzzles is right. If you look carefully you will discover why the others are wrong.
G. A. Page sends correct answers to Nos. 1, 3, and 4 of the mathematical puzzles in our second number; also to numerical charade. Many thanks to "an instructor and lover of young people" for her kind note. We are sorry it is anonymous.
A correspondent sends answers to puzzles which we have not considered, as no signature accompanies them. Our young friends will please sign their full names to communications, which we will not print if so requested.
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Published by HARPER & BROTHERS, New York.
☞ Harper's Young People and Harper's Weekly will be sent to any address for one year, commencing with the first number of Harper's Weekly for January, 1880, on receipt of $5.00 for the two Periodicals.[Pg 40]
"Little Polly, will you go a-walking to-day?"
"Indeed, little Susan, I will, if I may."
"Little Polly, your mother has said you may go:
She was nice to say 'Yes;' she should never say 'No.'"
Six little people out for a walk;
They would let you know where, if they only could talk.
Three tabbies took out their cats to tea,
As well-behaved tabbies as well could be:
Each sat in the chair that each preferred,
They mewed for their milk, and they sipped and purred.
Now tell me this (as these cats you've seen them)—
How many lives had these cats between them?
Yes, it is sad of them—
Shocking to me;
Bad—yes, it's bad of them—
Bad of all three.
Warnings they've had from me,
Still I repeat them—
Cold is the water—the
Fishes will eat them;
Yet they will row about;
Tho' I say "Fie!" to them;
Fathers may scold at it,
Mothers may cry to them.
Will you be my little wife,
If I ask you? Do!
I'll buy you such a Sunday frock,
A nice umbrella too.
And you shall have a little hat,
With such a long white feather,
A pair of gloves, and sandal shoes,
The softest kind of leather.
And you shall have a tiny house,
A bee-hive full of bees,
A little cow, a largish cat,
And green sage cheese.
Poor Dicky's dead!—The bell we toll,
And lay him in the deep, dark hole.
The sun may shine, the clouds may rain,
But Dick will never pipe again!
His quilt will be as sweet as ours—
Bright buttercups and cuckoo-flowers.