Title: Harper's Young People, December 9, 1879
Release date: March 5, 2009 [eBook #28250]
Most recently updated: January 4, 2021
Credits: Produced by Annie McGuire
|TWENTY MILES AN HOUR.
|THE BRAVE SWISS BOY.
|THE HISTORY OF PHOTOGEN AND NYCTERIS.
|TRAVELLING BAG FOR PETS.
|OUR POST-OFFICE BOX
|THE CAT SHOW.
|Vol. I.—No. 6.
|Published by HARPER & BROTHERS, New York.
|Price Four Cents.
|Tuesday, December 9, 1879.
|Copyright, 1879, by Harper & Brothers.
|$1.50 per Year, in Advance.
It was the 6th of January, that great holiday in Russia, when the river Neva is consecrated with pomp and ceremony, when soldiers parade and priests say mass, and the Emperor is visible, and the cannon roar. And it was a gloriously bright and beautiful day; but Ivan and Olga, looking out on the broad street and the glittering pinnacles of the palace chapel, watching the sledges fly by with people all muffled in furs, were two very disconsolate children. They had an English governess—for Russian children have to study English as Americans do French—and they had been so unruly, so impatient, and indifferent to lessons, that Miss Stanley had forbidden their going out to see the sights. This was hard indeed, but it was needful: that the children could not understand, and they walked from the great porcelain stove, which reached to the ceiling, over to the double windows, all packed with sand, and having curious little paper cornucopias of salt stuck in it to keep the frost from making pictures on the glass, to and fro, to and fro, in great unhappiness. Outside, the thermometer was away below zero, but inside, thanks to the stoves and the great copper heaters, it was as warm as toast.
"Now, Olga," said Ivan, after an hour or two of this tiresome way of spending time, "I am not going to stand this any longer; if I can not go to the Neva, I am going to have a ride on one of the ice mountains, and if you want to, you may go with me."
"Oh, Ivan, how would you dare? You know we are not allowed to go alone, and Marie is at church, and we have no sledges."
"Tut, tut! have I not fifty kopeks [about fifty cents], and can I not hire an isvochtchik [driver] to take us? and we can be home again before they come from chapel. Come, Olga, let us have some fun."
Olga's conscience said "no," but the temptation was overpowering, and after repeated urging from Ivan they both crept down softly to the little apartment in the large hall where were kept their fur cloaks and bashlyks, or cloth hoods, which are put over hats and ears. No one saw them. Every one was at church, and the dvornik, or porter who guarded the front door, was snoozing soundly, wrapped up in his sheep-skins, near the heater. They got their fur mittens and tippets and cloaks down from the pegs where they were hanging in the heated air, and put them on in silence. In silence, too, they lifted the huge bolts, and slipped out into the street. It was too cold to speak, for the air would have frozen on their lips, and they hurried to a corner where usually there were to be found sledges, whose drivers can endure any amount of cold, and who even sleep out at night at theatre and opera while waiting for their masters. Here Ivan found what he wanted, though the man's dull gaze seemed to question the propriety of taking two children to the pleasure-garden which Ivan indicated. The kopeks, however, were forth-coming, and that was all he cared about; so in they jumped, and tucked the furs about them, and away they went over the broad street, flying past troiskas, with their three horses, and gay little sledges of every description. Their route took them away from the Neva, where was the greatest crowd, and they soon reached the entrance of the pleasure-garden, climbed the great flight of wooden stairs to the pavilion on top, where Ivan hired a sled, and paid for a glass of tea hot from the big brass samovar, which is always boiling and ready for use. Olga had scarcely time to think what she was about before she was seated behind Ivan, and away they flew down the side of the frozen mountain, all as hard as glass. But now it began to snow fast, thick, and furious, and the people could not keep it off the ice. Ivan was getting tired, too, and his hands were cold. This fun of going twenty miles an hour had filled him with glee; but Olga lost her bashlyk, and he found it hard to guide his sled. Suddenly he made a swerve to the left, and, with a fearful jerk, over they went. It was a dreadful blow, and had it not been for the kindness of the people in charge, both might have been badly injured; but they were picked up and carried to the pavilion, rubbed with snow on their noses and ears, and finally packed in a sledge and driven home. How differently they looked at the glittering crowd, and watched the animated scene! They had gone out full of excitement and daring; resolved as Ivan was to resist authority, he now was full of shame that he had gotten himself into a scrape. His fingers ached, and Olga was crying and complaining of her ears. As they neared their home a troiska drove up with ladies wrapped in sables, and their mother and Miss Stanley alighted.
"Ivan! Olga! where have you been? what have you been doing?"
They told their story when they got in-doors, and Ivan had begged some kopeks with which to pay the waiting isvochtchik—for his money had been exhausted; and it was settled that they had been sufficiently punished when it was discovered that Ivan's fingers and Olga's ears were frost-bitten.
Both were sent to bed for fear of further harm from the cold, which is considered by Russians the root of all evil in the way of disease; and as they sipped their hot tea again, and nibbled the slice of lemon which floated on the surface, Ivan said to Olga: "It is great fun to go twenty miles an hour, but it don't pay to be bad. I'm going to work to-morrow at those old English verbs, and I'll conquer or die."
The Trap-door Spider.—One of the most singular specimens of insect life is the trap-door spider of Jamaica. His burrow is lined with silk, and closed by a trap-door with a hinge. The door exactly fits the entrance to the burrow, and when closed, so precisely corresponds with the surrounding earth that it can hardly be distinguished,[Pg 42] even when its position is known. It is a strange sight to see the earth open, a little lid raised, some hairy legs protrude, and gradually, the whole form of the spider show itself. These spiders generally hunt for food by night, and in the daytime they are very chary of opening the door of their domicile, and if the trap be raised from the outside, they run to the spot, hitch the claws of their fore-feet in the lining of the burrow, and so resist with all their might. The strength of the spider is wonderfully great in proportion to its size.
Upon a time—I do not know
Exactly when, but long ago—
A man whose riches were untold,
Silver and precious stones and gold.
Within an Eastern city dwelt;
But not a moment's peace he felt,
For fear that thieves should force his door,
And rob him of his treasured store.
In spite of armèd slaves on guard,
And doors and windows locked and barred,
His life was one continual fright;
He hardly slept a wink by night,
And had so little rest by day
That he grew prematurely gray.
At last he dug a monstrous pit
To hold his wealth, and buried it
By night, alone; then smoothed the ground
So that the spot could not be found.
But he gained nothing by his labor:
A curious, prying, envious neighbor,
Who marked the hiding, went and told
The Sultan where to find the gold.
A troop of soldiers came next day,
And bore the hoarded wealth away.
Some precious jewels still remained,
For which a goodly price he gained,
Then left the city, quite by stealth,
To save the remnant of his wealth;
But now, by hard experience taught,
A better way to keep it sought.
Broad lands he bought, and wisely tilled;
With fruits and grain his barns he filled;
He used his wealth with liberal hand;
His plenty flowed through all the land;
And, hid no longer under-ground,
Spread honest comfort all around.
Thus calm and prosperous pass the years,
Till on a fated day he hears
The Sultan's mandate, short and dread,
"Present thyself, or lose thy head!"
Fearful and trembling, he obeys,
For Sultans have their little ways,
And wretches who affront their lord
Brave bastinado, sack, or cord.
Before the dreaded throne he bowed
Where sat the Sultan, grim and proud,
And thought, "My head must surely fall,
And then my master will seize all
My wealth again." But from the throne
There came a calm and kindly tone:
"My son, well pleased am I to see
Thy dealings in prosperity;
May Allah keep thee in good health!
Well hast thou learned the use of wealth.
No longer buried under-ground,
Its comforts spread to all around.
The poor man's blessings on thy name
Are better far than worldly fame.
I called thee hither. Now, behold,
Here are the silver, gems, and gold
I took from thee in other days;
Receive them back, and go thy ways,
For thou hast learned this truth at last—
Would that it might be sown broadcast!—
That riches are but worthless pelf
When hoarded only for one's self."
S. S. C.
Toni Hirzel recovered but slowly from the injuries he had suffered, and the entire winter passed away before he found himself able to make use of his limbs again. But the doctor's fears that he would never be able to resume the life of a mountaineer were unfortunately confirmed. He never properly recovered the use of his foot; and Toni often cast a sorrowful glance at the gun now hanging useless on the wall. To this cause of regret there was added anxiety for the future. The chase, which had hitherto so materially assisted in supplying his wants, could no longer be followed; and although Walter had grown tall and strong, he was not experienced enough to take his father's place. In addition to this, Hirzel had expressly forbidden his boy to have anything more to do with hunting, which sooner or later would be sure to lead to a violent and dreadful death; and in order to remove temptation as much as possible from him, he sold his gun to one of his neighbors.
"Now, Watty," said he, putting the eighty francs which he had received into a drawer, "we have got nearly money enough for another cow, and we must see if we can't raise the remainder, that we may have at least milk and butter."
"We have got plenty of money, father," replied Watty. "There is the hundred francs that Mr. Seymour gave me lying useless in the desk, and I insist upon your taking the half of it at least, to replenish the byre. But," added he, with a sigh, "without chamois-hunting I do not see how matters are to go with us. Do you know, father, I have been thinking that I might do something to earn my living."
"In what way, Watty?"
"Well, I might go down to the inn every day, and offer my services to the visitors as a guide. I know all the roads, and can show the people the way to the Blue Grotto, or conduct them to the peaks of the Wellhorn and Engelhorn; and as the landlord is always so friendly, I'm sure he would recommend me."
"Not a bad idea," replied Hirzel. "To be sure, it is only for the summer; but as there are always a good many travellers, you might be able to save enough to carry you through the winter. Turn guide, then, Watty," he added, after a little more consideration, "and I will stay at home and attend to the house and the cow. Let us be thankful I'm strong enough for that, at any rate."
The plan of operations which was thus arranged was not, however, destined to be carried into effect, for the next day Frieshardt came to pay a visit to the cottage, with a proposal of quite a different kind. He had shown himself very attentive and neighborly since Hirzel's accident, and had given him proofs of kindly feeling during the period of his convalescence. The old friendship had therefore been fully restored, and the affair of the cow and the borrowed money had been long since forgotten. Hirzel rose as Frieshardt entered, and gave him a hearty welcome, in which he was cordially joined by Walter.
"I have got a suggestion to make to you, neighbor," said the well-to-do farmer, seating himself near the fire.
"To me!" exclaimed Hirzel. "What can a poor man like me do to serve you?"
"I don't mean you so much as Watty," continued Frieshardt. "He has grown a tall, sensible fellow now, and I know he is honest, every inch of him."
"Ah! you are right there, neighbor, although I say it to his face," replied Hirzel.—"You don't need to blush, boy. It is nothing more than your duty to behave honestly.—But what can Watty do for you?"
"Well, the long and the short of the matter is this," said the farmer. "I've got sixty head of cattle down in Meyringen, which I am going to send to France to sell. A drover has been recommended to me who understands the business, but I should like to send some reliable person with him to look after the money, and see that everything is properly attended to. I think Walter would be the man for me, if he will agree to it. He shall have good wages, and everything done to make him comfortable."
Father and son exchanged looks, and each saw in the countenance of the other that the proposal was a good one. "If my father is satisfied," said the youth, "I shall be delighted to go."
"Well said," replied Frieshardt, evidently pleased. "Now let's hear what you want for the journey."
"I would rather you would say what you will give," answered Walter. "I don't understand such things very well."
"Well, then, I'll pay all your expenses there and back, and give you a hundred francs into the bargain. Are you satisfied with that?"
"Yes, more than satisfied," replied the boy. "But I should like it better if you would give father a cow now, instead of giving me the money afterward. I should be glad indeed if he could get one before I go away."
"But what would you want for yourself when you come back?"
"Nothing, neighbor. If you will only grant my request I shall be quite contented and thankful."
"Well," said Frieshardt, "you are a dutiful and kind-hearted son, and I'm sure you will be a faithful servant. You shall have my cow Black Elsy, and your father can fetch her whenever he chooses. Meanwhile, you must be ready to go to Meyringen to-morrow morning," continued Frieshardt. "I will go with you, and give you all the instructions you will require. It won't be a difficult affair, and I'm sure you will manage it easily. Adieu, till morning."
With these cheering words the farmer left Walter and his father to talk over the unexpected change in their fortunes.
Shortly afterward Walter repaired to Frieshardt's farm, and came back leading Black Elsy in triumph; and after taking farewell of his father, returned to Frieshardt's house on the following morning. The route which Walter's employer chose led them past the splendid waterfalls of the Reichenbach to the charming village of Meyringen, where the cattle were collected. When they reached the village they found a drover of the name of Seppi waiting for them; and to the latter, as well as to Walter, the farmer gave the necessary instructions regarding the treatment of the herd during the ensuing journey.
Our young hero entered upon the journey actuated by the best of motives, the duty of looking after the cattle absorbing so much of his attention that he had very little opportunity for increasing his acquaintance with his travelling companion. The fact was, however, that he did not feel himself much drawn toward Seppi, from whom he had received anything but a very friendly welcome when they first met; the drover had, moreover, a rough and uncultivated manner, which was somewhat repulsive. His treatment of the animals was unduly harsh when any of them became restive and obstinate, and he seemed angry when Walter checked his cruel behavior, and pointed out to him that the dumb animals intrusted to his care should be treated with kindness and patience. But by degrees the young men became more reconciled to each other; and as Walter accustomed himself to the ungainly appearance of his companion, he came to the generous conclusion that Seppi had an honest and well-meaning heart in spite of his rough and unpolished ways.
They soon reached the French frontier, and after a long journey found themselves in the outskirts of Paris. Walter had arranged the stages so well that the animals were in admirable condition, and warranted the expectation of a good and prompt sale. Seppi was of the same opinion, and said he thought they would sell for even more than the price Frieshardt had named.
"I think they will," assented Walter, cheerfully. "The cattle are in splendid order, and we'll see if we can't astonish Mr. Frieshardt when we get home."
"Ay, ay; we shall see," echoed Seppi, with a peculiar expression of voice.
The cattle were all sold at high prices within three days, and Walter decided to start for home the next morning.[Pg 43]
"But why need we be in such a hurry?" inquired Seppi.
"Because we've nothing more to stay for, and the longer we stay here, the more expense we shall cause to Mr. Frieshardt, and that would be very wrong."
The drover shrugged his shoulders, and after a long interval added, cautiously, "You must be very soft, Walter. If you were only a little more wide-awake, we might make a good thing for ourselves out of this affair, and no one be any the wiser."
"In what way?"
"Don't you see what I mean?" continued Seppi, with a cunning smile. "You've got about one-third more cash than Frieshardt expects. What is there to hinder us from dividing it between us? It would be a good thing for us, and nobody could ever find it out, because we should both keep it dark."
"I hope you are only joking," said Walter, with a serious look. "Do you think I am going to swindle my master because he has put so much confidence in me? You can't surely be in earnest, Seppi. You only want to test my honesty."
"Bother your honesty," returned Seppi. "Sharpness is better than honesty nowadays. You've got more than thirty thousand francs in that belt round your waist; we've only got to divide it between us, and then we could lead a glorious life in Paris. No one could ever find us out, for the city is so large that Frieshardt might search for weeks before getting on our track. Look at that, Walter! You'll perhaps never have such a splendid chance again as long as you live. What have you to lose at home? Nothing. You'll only be a poor half-starved fellow if you go back. Now's your time. Seize the opportunity at once, like a man."
Walter refused, with great indignation, to heed this infamous advice. His earnest words were followed by a loud burst of laughter from his companion. "Don't fly into a rage, comrade, and excite yourself that way," said Seppi. "You don't seem to know what a joke is. Just as if we could pocket all that money without the police being at our heels directly. Why, we should get at least ten years' imprisonment without any manner of doubt. No, no; I merely wanted to see whether you were really as honest and straightforward as Frieshardt made you out to be, and I see he didn't praise you more than you deserve. Give me your hand, old fellow, and believe me when I tell you that you shall never be tried this way again. If you like, I will leave Paris with you this very night, to prove to you that I was only making fun."
Walter drew a long breath. "Thank God that it was only a joke!" said he, returning the friendly grasp of Seppi, of whose thorough sincerity he seemed to entertain no longer any doubt. "I am quite agreeable to start to-night, for so much money makes me feel anxious, and I sha'n't be comfortable till it is in the hands of our master."
"Well, we can get off at once," assented Seppi, "and then we shall get to Boissy before nightfall. I know a cheap and comfortable inn there; so the sooner we're off the better."
Much pleased that his companion should agree so readily to leave Paris, Walter felt sorry that he had entertained any doubts of his character, even for a moment. Their simple preparations were speedily made, and half an hour afterward they set out upon their return, and took the road to Boissy.
It was dark by the time they reached their destination; but as Seppi knew the village well, he had no difficulty in finding the inn, which was about ten minutes' walk from the high-road. The house was old and uncomfortable in its appearance, and produced a very unfavorable impression upon Walter; but the welcome they received from the landlord was so cordial that the impression was at once removed. An old married couple and a young and powerfully built fellow seemed to be the only occupants of the large building. At Seppi's order a bottle of wine was brought, and Walter, being somewhat fatigued with the journey, was easily persuaded to take more than his usual allowance. Overpowered with drowsiness, his head sunk down upon the table, and in a few seconds the unsuspecting youth was in a profound slumber.
"There's a snorer for you!" said Seppi to the man who had waited upon them. "Lend me a hand to get him to bed, André."
Whereupon they carried him up stairs, and along a passage, to a small room at the farther end, and laid him on a bed just as he was. Having struck a light, André was about to leave the room, when he was detained by the other.
"Look here," said Seppi, taking some money from his pocket. "I am going away again to-morrow morning before daybreak, and may not be back until the day after. Here is payment for our supper and night's lodging. My friend will stay here, and you must not on any account allow him to go away till I come back. Give him anything he asks for; but keep an eye on him, for he is not right in his head, and must either have some one always with him, or be locked in his room. I can't take him with me in the morning, and so I have brought him here, where I know he will be in good hands. You will promise to attend to what I have told you, André?"
"Your instructions shall be attended to," replied the other, slipping the gold coin which Seppi tendered him into his pocket. "You shall have no reason to complain."
"That's well. When I come back you shall have another gold piece if I find everything right. And look here: only bolt the outer door to-night instead of locking it, or else leave the key in the lock, so that I can get away in the morning without waking anybody."
The man promised to attend to that also, and quitted the apartment. When he was gone, Seppi bolted the room door, and gazed at his unconscious companion with a malicious scowl.
"Fool!" said he, "I made you a fair offer when I proposed to go halves with the money; but as you were idiot enough to decline, so much the better for me. When you wake in the morning you'll be sorry you let the chance slip."
Thus muttering to himself, he unbuckled the money-belt that was round the waist of the sleeping man, and fastened it securely round his own. He then abstracted Walter's passport and the other papers that were in his pockets, without arousing him.
"He lies there like a dead dog," thought the drover; "and, with the dose I gave him, is not likely to trouble any one till morning."
Waiting impatiently for more than an hour, until every one was in bed and the house silent, Seppi quitted the room on tiptoe, locked the door on the outside, and crept noiselessly along the passage and down the stairs. André had not forgotten to leave the outer door unlocked, and pushing back the bolt with the greatest caution, the ruffian slipped out, and as soon as he had got clear of the village hurried away at the top of his speed.
The Swiss drover had shown great cunning in his scheme to get possession of the money from Walter, and he carried it out with equal boldness. He had often helped to drive cattle to Paris before, and knew the roads well. He had frequently been at the inn at Boissy, and its distance from Paris, and the character of the man who attended to the business, recommended it as well suited to his purpose. André, like many others of his kind, was greedy of money, and the golden bribe quieted all his doubts as to the truth of the story about his companion. Seppi, on his side, knowing that the sleeping powder which he had secretly mixed with Walter's wine was sufficient to prevent him waking for nearly a whole day, gave himself no further trouble as to what might happen in the way of pursuit. It was enough for him that his stratagem had been successful, and he hastened along the well-known by-paths until he had left Boissy far behind.
Some time during the seventeenth century, about two hundred years ago, Portuguese sailors saw swimming in the lakes and rivers of China and Japan a very beautiful variety of fish, which glistened like gold. They captured some specimens, and brought them to Portugal. The little fish found the lakes of Europe as pleasant to live in as the lakes of China, and they at once domesticated themselves, and raised their little families, until the European streams became well stocked with these beautiful creatures. They are also found in many brooks and streams in the United States.
The glistening gold-color of these fishes made them much sought for as household ornaments, and the demand for them became so general that establishments were opened for raising them for the market. One of the largest and most celebrated of these places for gold-fish breeding is in Oldenburg, Germany, where more than a hundred small ponds contain the fish in all stages of growth, from the tiniest baby to the big stout fellow eight and even ten inches long. The little ones are carefully kept apart from larger ones, for the gold-fish is a wicked cannibal, and devours its little brothers and sisters, and even its own children, whenever it has an opportunity. At the same time it is a great coward, and will hide away from fish much smaller than itself that have the spirit to attack it. A gentleman who possessed an aquarium in which were several large gold-fish, once placed a tiny "pumpkin-seed," or sunfish, about the size of a silver half dollar, in the water. Watching anxiously to see that the gold-fish did not injure it, what was his astonishment to see the "pumpkin-seed" dart furiously at the larger fish, which huddled themselves in a corner, or scurried hastily through the water to hide among the stones and mimic grottoes of the aquarium! From that moment the "pumpkin-seed" remained lord of the field, scarcely allowing his companions to come to the surface, as they are fond of doing, or to take a mouthful of food until he had satisfied his own hunger. Finally he had to be removed from the aquarium, to save the gold-fish from dying of fright.
The enormous demand for gold-fish is shown by the fact that from the establishment at Oldenburg alone over three hundred thousand fish are sent to market every year. Their price varies according to their size and beauty, for there are grades of beauty in gold-fish as well as in all other things. They are very pretty household ornaments, and by caring for them and carefully watching their habits, boys and girls may learn their first lesson in natural history. If kept in a glass globe, nothing can be more interesting than to watch them, for, as Mr. White says, in Selborne, "The double refraction of the glass and water represents them, when moving, in a shifting and changeable variety of dimensions, shades, and colors, while the two mediums, assisted by the concavo-convex shape of the vessel, magnify and distort them vastly." Still, the fish may be healthier if kept in an aquarium, as it allows more surface to the water, and consequently more air and ventilation. In any case, fresh water should be given the fish at least every other day, and if the globe or aquarium be ornamented with rocks and water-grasses, the fish should be carefully dipped out once a week, and the rocks thoroughly cleansed from all impurities.
Although the fish draw nourishment from animalcules supplied by the water, and will live a long time without other food, it is advisable to feed them by throwing bread-crumbs, or flies and other small insects, on the surface of the water. The eagerness with which they dart for them proves them to be welcome. Care should be taken not to scatter more bread-crumbs than will be immediately eaten, for bread sours very quickly, and renders the water impure. In changing the water the fish should never be subjected to any sudden variation of temperature, as the shock produced by a violent change from water of medium temperature, which is always best, to ice-cold, might ruin the whole stock of an aquarium in an instant.
The ingenious Chinese make great pets of their gold-fish, and with patience teach them many tricks, such as eating from their hands, or rushing to be fed at the tinkle of a bell.
The gold-fish belongs to the genus Cyprinus, or the great carp family, and is sometimes called the golden carp.
Watho having given orders, took it for granted they were obeyed, and that Falca was all night long with Nycteris, whose day it was. But Falca could not get into the habit of sleeping through the day, and would often leave her alone half the night. Then it seemed to Nycteris that the white lamp was watching over her. As it was never permitted to go out—while she was awake at least—Nycteris, except by shutting her eyes, knew less about darkness than she did about light. Also, the lamp being fixed high overhead, and in the centre of everything, she did not know much about shadows either. The few there were fell almost entirely on the floor, or kept like mice about the foot of the walls.
Once, when she was thus alone, there came the noise of a far-off rumbling: she had never before heard a sound of which she did not know the origin, and here, therefore, was a new sign of something beyond these chambers. Then came a trembling, then a shaking; the lamp dropped from the ceiling to the floor with a great crash, and she felt as if both her eyes were hard shut and both her hands over them. She concluded that it was the darkness that had made the rumbling and the shaking, and rushing into the room, had thrown down the lamp. She sat trembling. The noise and the shaking ceased, but the light did not return. The darkness had eaten it up!
Her lamp gone, the desire at once awoke to get out of her prison. She scarcely knew what out meant; out of one room into another, where there was not even a dividing door, only an open arch, was all she knew of the world. But suddenly she remembered that she had heard Falca speak of the lamp going out: this must be what she had meant. And if the lamp had gone out, where had it gone? Surely where Falca went, and like her it would come again. But she could not wait. The desire to go out grew irresistible. She must follow her beautiful lamp! She must find it! She must see what it was about!
Now there was a curtain covering a recess in the wall, where some of her toys and gymnastic things were kept; and from behind that curtain Watho and Falca always appeared, and behind it they vanished. How they came out of solid wall, she had not an idea; all up to the wall was open space, and all beyond it seemed wall; but clearly the first and only thing she could do was to feel her way behind the curtain. It was so dark that a cat could not have caught the largest of mice.[Pg 45] Nycteris could see better than any cat, but now her great eyes were not of the smallest use to her. As she went she trod upon a piece of the broken lamp. She had never worn shoes or stockings, and the fragment, though, being of soft alabaster, it did not cut, yet hurt her foot. She did not know what it was, but, as it had not been there before the darkness came, she suspected that it had to do with the lamp. She knelt, therefore, and searched with her hands, and bringing two large pieces together, recognized the shape of the lamp. Therewith it flashed upon her that the lamp was dead, that this brokenness was the death of which she had read without understanding, that the darkness had killed the lamp. What, then, could Falca have meant when she spoke of the lamp going out? There was the lamp—dead, indeed, and so changed that she would never have taken it for a lamp but for the shape. No, it was not the lamp any more now it was dead, for all that made it a lamp was gone, namely, the bright shining of it. Then it must be the shine, the light, that had gone out! That must be what Falca meant—and it must be somewhere in the other place in the wall. She started afresh after it, and groped her way to the curtain.
Now she had never in her life tried to get out, and did not know how; but instinctively she began to move her hands about over one of the walls behind the curtain, half expecting them to go into it, as she supposed Watho and Falca did. But the wall repelled her with inexorable hardness, and she turned to the one opposite. In so doing she set her foot upon an ivory die, and as it met sharply the same spot the broken alabaster had already hurt, she fell forward with her outstretched hands against the wall. Something gave way, and she tumbled out of the cavern.
But, alas! out was very much like in, for the same enemy, the darkness, was here also. The next moment, however, came a great gladness—a fire-fly, which had wandered in from the garden. She saw the tiny spark in the distance. With slow pulsing ebb and throb of light, it came pushing itself through the air, drawing nearer and nearer, with that motion which more resembles swimming than flying, and the light seemed the source of its own motion.
"My lamp! my lamp!" cried Nycteris. "It is the shiningness of my lamp, which the cruel darkness drove out. My good lamp has been waiting for me here all the time! It knew I would come after it, and waited to take me with it."
She followed the fire-fly, which, like herself, was seeking the way out. If it did not know the way, it was yet light; and because all light is one, any light may serve to guide to more light. If she was mistaken in thinking it the spirit of her lamp, it was of the same spirit as her lamp—and had wings. The gold-green jet boat, driven by light, went throbbing before her through a long narrow passage. Suddenly it rose higher, and the same moment Nycteris fell upon an ascending stair. She had never seen a stair before, and found going up a curious sensation. Just as she reached what seemed the top, the fire-fly ceased to shine, and so disappeared. She was in utter darkness once more. But when we are following the light, even its extinction is a guide. If the fire-fly had gone on shining, Nycteris would have seen the stair turn, and would have gone up to Watho's bedroom; whereas now, feeling straight before her, she came to a latched door, which after a good deal of trying she managed to open—and stood in a maze of wondering perplexity, awe, and delight. What was it? Was it outside of her, or something taking place in her head? Before her was a very long and very narrow passage, broken up she could not tell how, and spreading out above and on all sides to an infinite height and breadth and distance—as if space itself were growing out of a trough. It was brighter than her rooms had ever been, brighter than if six alabaster lamps had been burning in them. There was a quantity of strange streaking and mottling about it, very different from the shapes on her walls. She was in a dream of pleasant perplexity, of delightful bewilderment. She could not tell whether she was upon her feet or drifting about like the fire-fly, driven by the pulses of an inward bliss. But she knew little as yet of her inheritance. Unconsciously she took one step forward from the threshold, and the girl who had been from her very birth a troglodyte stood in the ravishing glory of a Southern night, lit by a perfect moon—not the moon of our Northern clime, but a moon like silver glowing in a furnace—a moon one could see to be a globe—not far off, a mere flat disk on the face of the blue, but hanging down half way, and looking as if one could see all round it by a mere bending of the neck.
"It is my lamp!" she said, and stood dumb with parted lips. She looked and felt as if she had been standing there in silent ecstasy from the beginning.
"No, it is not my lamp," she said, after a while; "it is the mother of all the lamps."
And with that she fell on her knees, and spread out her hands to the moon. She could not in the least have told what was in her mind, but the action was in reality just a begging of the moon to be what she was—that precise incredible splendor hung in the far-off roof, that very glory essential to the being of poor girls born and bred in caverns. It was a resurrection—nay, a birth itself—to Nycteris. What the vast blue sky, studded with tiny sparks like the heads of diamond nails, could be; what the moon, looking so absolutely content with light—why, she knew less about them than you and I! but the greatest of astronomers might envy the rapture of such a first impression at the age of sixteen. Immeasurably imperfect it was, but false the impression could not be, for she saw with the eyes made for seeing, and saw indeed what many men are too wise to see.
As she knelt, something softly flapped her, embraced her, stroked her, fondled her. She rose to her feet, but saw nothing, did not know what it was. It was likest a woman's breath. For she knew nothing of the air even, had never breathed the still new-born freshness of the world. Her breath had come to her only through long passages and spirals in the rock. Still less did she know of the air alive with motion—of that thrice blessed thing, the wind of a summer night. It was like a spiritual wine, filling her whole being with an intoxication of purest joy. To breathe was a perfect existence. It seemed to her the light itself she drew into her lungs. Possessed by the power of the gorgeous night, she seemed at one and the same moment annihilated and glorified.
She was in the open passage or gallery that ran round the top of the garden walls, between the cleft battlements, but she did not once look down to see what lay beneath. Her soul was drawn to the vault above her, with its lamp and its endless room. At last she burst into tears, and her heart was relieved, as the night itself is relieved by its lightning and rain.
And now she grew thoughtful. She must hoard this splendor. What a little ignorance her jailers had made of her! Life was a mighty bliss, and they had scraped hers to the bare bone. They must not know that she knew. She must hide her knowledge—hide it even from her own eyes, keeping it close in her bosom, content to know that she had it, even when she could not brood on its presence, feasting her eyes with its glory. She turned from the vision, therefore, with a sigh of utter bliss, and with soft quiet steps and groping hands stole back into the darkness of the rock. What was darkness or the laziness of Time's feet to one who had seen what she had that night seen? She was lifted above all weariness, above all wrong.
When Falca entered, she uttered a cry of terror. But Nycteris called to her not to be afraid, and told her how there had come a rumbling and a shaking, and the lamp had fallen. Then Falca went and told her mistress, and within an hour a new globe hung in the place of the old one. Nycteris thought it did not look so bright and clear as the former, but she made no lamentation over the change; she was far too rich to heed it. For now, prisoner as she knew herself, her heart was full of glory and gladness; at times she had to hold herself from jumping up and going dancing and singing about the room. When she slept, instead of dull dreams, she had splendid visions. There were times, it is true, when she became restless, and impatient to look upon her riches, but then she would reason with herself, saying, "What does it matter if I sit here for ages with my poor pale lamp, when out there a lamp is burning at which ten thousand little lamps are glowing with wonder?"
She never doubted she had looked upon the day and the sun, of which she had read; and always[Pg 46] when she read of the day and the sun, she had the night and the moon in her mind; and when she read of the night and the moon, she thought only of the cave and the lamp that hung there.
It was some time before she had a second opportunity of going out, for Falca, since the fall of the lamp, had been a little more careful, and seldom left her for long. But one night, having a little headache, Nycteris lay down upon her bed, and was lying with her eyes closed, when she heard Falca come to her, and felt she was bending over her. Disinclined to talk, she did not open her eyes, and lay quite still. Satisfied that she was asleep, Falca left her, moving so softly that her very caution made Nycteris open her eyes and look after her—just in time to see her vanish—through a picture, as it seemed, that hung on the wall a long way from the usual place of issue. She jumped up, her headache forgotten, and ran in the opposite direction; got out, groped her way to the stair, climbed, and reached the top of the wall.—Alas! the great room was not so light as the little one she had left. Why? Sorrow of sorrows! the great lamp was gone! Had its globe fallen? and its lovely light gone out upon great wings, a resplendent fire-fly, soaring itself through a yet grander and lovelier room? She looked down to see if it lay anywhere broken to pieces on the carpet below, but she could not even see the carpet. But surely nothing very dreadful could have happened—no rumbling or shaking, for there were all the little lamps shining brighter than before, not one of them looking as if any unusual matter had befallen. What if each of those little lamps was growing into a big lamp, and after being a big lamp for a while, had to go out and grow a bigger lamp still—out there, beyond this out?—Ah! here was the living thing that would not be seen, come to her again—bigger to-night!—with such loving kisses, and such liquid strokings of her cheeks and forehead, gently tossing her hair, and delicately toying with it! But it ceased, and all was still. Had it gone out? What would happen next? Perhaps the little lamps had not to grow great lamps, but to fall one by one and go out first?—With that came from below a sweet scent, then another, and another. Ah, how delicious! Perhaps they were all coming to her only on their way out after the great lamp!—Then came the music of the river, which she had been too absorbed in the sky to note the first time. What was it? Alas! alas! another sweet living thing on its way out. They were all marching slowly out in long lovely file, one after the other, each taking its leave of her as it passed! It must be so: here were more and more sweet sounds, following and fading! The whole of the Out was going out again; it was all going after the great lovely lamp! She would be left the only creature in the solitary day! Was there nobody to hang up a new lamp for the old one, and keep the creatures from going?—She crept back to her rock very sad. She tried to comfort herself by saying that anyhow there would be room out there; but as she said it she shuddered at the thought of empty room.
When next she succeeded in getting out, a half-moon hung in the east: a new lamp had come, she thought, and all would be well.
It would be endless to describe the phases of feeling through which Nycteris passed, more numerous and delicate than those of a thousand changing moons. A fresh bliss bloomed in her soul with every varying aspect of infinite nature. Ere long she began to suspect that the new moon was the old moon, gone out and come in again, like herself; also that, unlike herself, it wasted and grew again; that it was indeed a live thing, subject like herself to caverns, and keepers, and solitudes, escaping and shining when it could. Was it a prison like hers it was shut in? and did it grow dark when the lamp left it? Where could be the way into it?—With that, first she began to look below, as well as above and around her, and then first noted the tops of the trees between her and the floor. There were palms with their red-fingered hands full of fruit, eucalyptus-trees crowded with little boxes of powder puffs, oleanders with their half-caste roses, and orange-trees with their clouds of young silver stars and their aged balls of gold. Her eyes could see colors invisible to ours in the moonlight, and all these she could distinguish well, though at first she took them for the shapes and colors of the carpet of the great room. She longed to get down among them, now she saw they were real creatures, but she did not know how. She went along the whole length of the wall to the end that crossed the river, but found no way of going down. Above the river she stopped to gaze with awe upon the rushing water. She knew nothing of water but from what she drank and what she bathed in; and as the moon shone on the dark, swift stream, singing lustily as it flowed, she did not doubt the river was alive, a swift rushing serpent of life, going—out?—whither? And then she wondered if what was brought into her rooms had been killed that she might drink it, and have her bath in it.
Once when she stepped out upon the wall, it was into the midst of a fierce wind. The trees were all roaring. Great clouds were rushing along the skies, and tumbling over the little lamps: the great lamp had not come yet. All was in tumult. The wind seized her garments and hair, and shook them as if it would tear them from her. What could she have done to make the gentle creature so angry? Or was this another creature altogether—of the same kind, but hugely bigger, and of a very different temper and behavior? But the whole place was angry! Or was it that the creatures dwelling in it, the wind, and the trees, and the clouds, and the river, had all quarrelled, each with all the rest? Would the whole come to confusion and disorder? But as she gazed, wondering and disquieted, the moon, larger than ever she had seen her, came lifting herself above the horizon to look, broad and red as if she too were swollen with anger that she had been roused from her rest by their noise, and compelled to hurry up to see what her children were about, thus rioting in her absence, lest they should rack the whole frame of things. And as she rose, the loud wind grew quieter, and scolded less fiercely, the trees grew stiller, and moaned with a lower complaint, and the clouds hunted and hurled themselves less wildly across the sky. And as if she were pleased that her children obeyed her very presence, the moon grew smaller as she ascended the heavenly stair; her puffed cheeks sank, her complexion grew clearer, and a sweet smile spread over her countenance, as peacefully she rose and rose. But there was treason and rebellion in her court; for ere she reached the top of her great stairs the clouds had assembled, forgetting their late wars, and very still they were as they laid their heads together and conspired. Then combining, and lying silently in wait until she came near, they threw themselves upon her, and swallowed her up. Down from the roof came spots of wet, faster and faster, and they wetted the cheeks of Nycteris; and what could they be but the tears of the moon, crying because her children were smothering her? Nycteris wept too, and not knowing what to think, stole back in dismay to her room.
The next time she came out in fear and trembling. There was the moon still! away in the west—poor, indeed, and old, and looking dreadfully worn, as if all the wild beasts in the sky had been gnawing at her; but there she was, alive still, and able to shine.
The Royal Fern.—A legend has been handed down from the time of the Danish invasions of Britain, explanatory of the generic name of Osmunda—an island, covered with large specimens of this fern, figuring prominently in the story. Osmund, the ferryman of Loch Tyne, had a beautiful child, who was the pride of his life and the joy of his heart. In those days, when the merciless Danes were making their terrible descents upon the coasts of Great Britain, slaughtering the peaceful inhabitants, and pillaging wherever they went, no man could say how long he would be free from molestation and outrage. But Osmund, throughout the troublous times, had lived quietly in his country home with his wife and beautiful daughter.
The peaceful calm of his life was, however, destined to be broken. One evening the ferryman was sitting, with his wife and child, on the margin of the lake, after his day's work. The setting sun was tingeing with roseate glory the fleecy banks of cloud, piled up against the horizon, silvering the surface of the rippling lake, and adding a richer hue to the golden locks of Osmund's darling child. Suddenly the sound of hurrying footsteps startled the quiet group. Men, women, and children came hastening from the neighboring village, and breathlessly, as they passed, they told the ferryman that the terrible Danes were coming. Quick as thought Osmund sprang to his feet, seized his wife and child, and hurried them into his ferry-boat. Away he rowed with them pulling for very life—in the direction of a small island in the loch, densely covered with the tall and stately fronds of the royal fern. He quickly hid his precious charges amongst the clustering fronds, and then rowed rapidly back to his ferry place. He had rightly divined that the Danes needed his assistance, and would not hurt him.
For many hours of the ensuing night he worked with might and main to carry the fierce invaders across the ferry. When they had all disappeared on the opposite bank, Osmund returned to his trembling wife and child, and brought them safely back to his cottage. In commemoration, it is said, of this event, the fair daughter of Osmund gave the great island fern her father's name. Those who care not to accept this fanciful origin of the name Osmunda, will perhaps incline to another suggestion which has been made, that the generic name had been derived from an old Saxon word signifying strength, the specific name indicating its royal or stately habit of growth.
Little girls who like to carry their pets with them on a journey will be glad to know how to make this pretty and convenient bag, by means of which Fido and Mutt can travel like princes. The bag is made of black leather, and is closed on the side with a lock and key and clamps. The pocket for holding the dog is fifteen inches wide and nine inches and a half high. The front is cut out, leaving a margin on the edges an inch and a half wide, and the opening is filled with a wire screen, through which the little prisoner can see and breathe freely. For protection, the screen is covered by two leather flaps, fastened one at the bottom and one at the top of the bag, which overlap each other, and are secured by steel clasps.[Pg 47]
We do not print all letters received, as some are too long, and others simply ask a question, to which we give an answer. Here is a pretty letter which needs no comments:
I am a little boy eleven years old, and have been living in South Carolina, but last summer I got hurt while playing with the boys, and have been sick ever since. I have not walked for five months. My parents have brought me to Salem, Massachusetts, where I could have good doctor's care. My cousin, who lives in New York, very kindly sends me Harper's Young People, and I want to tell you how much I enjoy it. I am very lonely lying still all the time, but the boys come to see me, and one of them has two rabbits for me when I am able to take care of them. I wish all the little boys and girls could have your paper, it is so nice.
Horace F. Hutchinson.
"Fred," of Montclair, New Jersey, writes:
I have a handsome yellow cat named Goldy. My cousins Howard and Charlie have a cat named Blacky, and a dog named Jack. Papa reads us Harper's Young People every Sunday, and I like it very much.
Here are some very pleasant words from J. E. Woodbridge, Duluth, Minnesota:
I wish to tell you how I like your paper. I do really like it. I wish you would put boys' pieces in the paper for speaking in school. I live in Duluth, on the shore of a very big lake—the biggest in the world, I think. I am seven years old. I have a little yellow dog, and he grins when he is pleased.
James Long.—The examinations for admission to the school-ship St. Mary's are easily passed by any school-boy of moderate ability, but it is indispensable that the applicant be physically sound, and of good moral character. Neither money nor influence is needed to gain admission, and the expense on entering is confined to the cost of outfit and uniform. You can make fuller inquiries of David R. Wetmore, Esq., chairman of the Committee on Nautical School, of the New York City Board of Education, or on board the St. Mary's, which is now in winter-quarters at the foot of East Twenty-third Street, New York city.
C. D. F.—The measurement of glasses for "Boy's Telescope" refers to the focus, not to the size of glass. Any reliable optician will supply you with the lenses.
Agnes P.—Your answers to puzzles are correct. We do not know the address of Lulu W., but will print it if she will send it to us.
"Louise," Dubuque.—Your account of Sir Rowland Hill is correct, and very neatly written, but as it is almost the same as those we have already printed, we do not give it.
"Max."—Your numerical charade is very good, but contains too many repetitions of the same letter to be perfect; therefore we do not print it.
Answers sent by R. Dunlop Foster, Chicago, to mathematical puzzles are correct, with the exception of No. 2, which is not carried back to the original amount possessed by the poor old man when the water-spirit made his first offer.
M. A. C., Rochester, writes: I have commenced taking your little paper, and I write now to tell you that I am delighted with it. I read it to my brothers and sisters, who are very much interested in the story of "The Brave Swiss Boy."
J. E. B., another bright little girl, gives us a scolding, which we hope she will retract before long.
H. A. T.—We can not give any puzzles not accompanied by full name and address of the sender, as well as the answers.
The following communication from a youthful reader in Washington, D. C., will be of interest to young bicyclists in other cities:
Here in the City of Magnificent Distances, where many of the streets are 100 feet wide and the avenues 160, the speed of the bicycle surpasses even that of the horse.
Many of the streets are "concrete," and a run over them is sure to be attended with boundless pleasure, and often a race.
There are about thirty bicyclists in the city, twenty of whom have formed a club. To see them, with their blue caps and leather leggings, six abreast, coming down the Avenue with their arms folded, causes many an equestrian to spur up his horse in vain.
Through the surrounding villages it is a common occurrence to see eight or ten bicyclists pass, especially on public holidays.
Many riders have a small bell attached to the handle, which is rung as an alarm to pedestrians, for the approach of the bicycle is as devoid of noise as that of the tiger. In the evening a lantern also is hung on the axle of the driving-wheel between the spokes, and the noiseless and rapid approach of such a red light might suggest to a stranger thoughts of the infernal regions.
In conclusion, I will say that bicycling is the most exhilarating and invigorating pastime for boys ever yet discovered.
N. L. C.
"Yes, next month comes that old, everlasting Thanksgiving-day. I wonder why we have to spend more than half of it at the dinner table!"
"Suppose we don't? Let us strike out on a new lead."
"What can we do? Grandmother's pumpkin pies must be eaten, and grandfather's great turkey must be carved."
"Well, Charlie, I like originality."
"What is that, Sue?—anything in the candy shop?"
"You dreadful boy! You are just too—"
"Sweet for anything," put in Charlie.
Sue jumped up and tried to box his ears; but she chased him out into the hall, and tripped over the mats, and away he went up the stairs, and stood laughing at her as she gathered up her worsted-work.
"If I were a gentleman," said Sue, in her haughtiest manner, "I would assist my friends when misfortune overtook them."
"Hear! hear!" cried Charlie.
"I had the nicest little plan to propose," she went on.
"What was it, Sue?" said Charlie, whose curiosity was aroused.
"Not a word more to one so ungallant, so very rude."
"Ah, Sue dear," coaxed Charlie, coming down and putting his arm around her, "you are the nicest little sister in the world, if you did want to box my ears. Now tell us the plan, that's a darling."
"Well, it isn't much, after all; it is only that I want to make Thanksgiving a little more of a reality, and I thought—now, Charlie, don't laugh at me—that if we could do something for somebody, which would make him thankful, wouldn't it be nicer."
"And who did you think of?"
"I thought of old black Betsey and her husband, they both are so old and so poor. Suppose we give them a dinner?"
"All by ourselves? Where would we get the money?"
"We will have an exhibition of cats. I will borrow Aunt May's old tabby, and John's big Tom, and Lulie Bell's five white kittens, and we have our own, and you can get others, and we will rig up a room in the barn, and put placards up, and I will tie bright ribbons on all their necks, and we'll charge ten cents for grown people and five cents for children, and—oh, I don't know what else."
The idea suited Charlie, and no time must be lost. Every day was valuable. Mother was consulted, and had no objections. Father gave permission to use the harness-room. The cats were borrowed: big cats and little cats, sleepy old pussies and lively young kits, gray cats, white cats, and "cherry-colored cats," as the placard read. "For one day only," was also on the placard. Charlie was door-keeper, and a busy time had Sue in keeping peace among the pussies. They screamed and scratched, and kept up a perfect Pinafore chorus, until the child wished she was deaf, or could give them all opium; but the day wore on, and all the children of their acquaintance enjoyed the sport, and not a few of the elders looked in upon them. By evening Charlie was rejoicing in the possession of a full money-box, but his face grew long as he counted the pennies. In reply to Sue's eager query of "How much?"
"Only two dollars and a half," was his dejected reply.
"Well, we can buy lots of things with that," said Sue, whose knowledge of marketing was limited.
"I am afraid it will take all for the turkey."
"Then we'll get chickens," said Sue.
"And how about cranberry jelly?"
"Mother will give us apples from her barrel."
"And celery, and sweet-potatoes, and all the other goodies?"
"We must make it all do. I will go to Mr. Scott, the grocer, and tell him we want everything at the very lowest price."
"Well, I leave it all to you," said Charlie, with masculine disdain of details, and scorn for so small a sum.
"That is right. You'll see how I will manage," said Sue, confidently.[Pg 48]
And manage she did.
Thanksgiving was a cold, bleak day, and old black Betsey had no idea of leaving her fireside for church.
"I can give my tanks jist as well one place as anodder," said she, in reply to a sweet coaxing voice which was urging her to go out.
"Now please just go to oblige me, Aunt Betsey," said Sue; "Charlie and I want you and Uncle Jake to go to church for a very particular reason. You can not refuse me, I am sure."
The old woman grumbled and scolded and shuffled about in a discontented way, but the pleading little Sue stood firm, and gave an exulting shout as she finally closed the door upon both of them.
"Hurrah!" exclaimed Charlie, and then they both went to work.
The poor little cabin had to be swept and dusted, and all the cracked crockery well wiped, but Sue had tied on a great big apron, and Charlie pinned on a huge towel, and declared himself head waiter. Then the market-basket, carefully concealed in the wood-shed, had to be unpacked, and Sue's mother had given a bright red table-cover, and all sorts of nice little things to fill up corners; and when at last everything was set out, and green boughs hung over the doors, and the ready-cooked turkey was fizzing over again in the oven, and the dinner was ready, Sue and Charlie hid themselves behind a door and waited for Aunt Betsey and Uncle Jake. Slowly the old people came grumbling home as they had grumbled out. They were old and stiff and poor, and what was there to be thankful for? For the rheumatism? Yes, if God willed it, said Aunt Betsey, who, however, was far from cheerful.
They pushed open the door, and the savory smell of cooking saluted them.
"Hi, Uncle Jake, what you tink o' dis? what's de meanin' of all dis yer?" said Aunt Betsey.
Uncle Jake's mouth opened wide, as if the better to inhale the rich odors.
"Who's bin hiyar? What dose chillen bin about? Good gracious me! if dis ain't a dinner fit fur a king."
Uncle Jake's grin burst into a laugh.
"Oh my! dey meant we should hab a Tanksgivin' in yearnest;" and the two old souls shook their sides with laughter.
"De good Lord bress dose chillen, an' give 'em as tankful hearts as we hab dis day!" said Aunt Betsey.
Sue and Charlie had meant to give a glorious war-whoop and shout, but their voices would not come, and when they looked at each other the tears came welling up from their tender little hearts.
"Come, Sue," said Charlie, "let us get away without their seeing us. Who ever thought a cat show would make two people so glad!"
They went home to their own dinner with a new idea of Thanksgiving-day; it seemed a better and a fresher feast; and after the day was done and the stars came out twinkling their thanks, and the children, tired with play and glad to rest, laid down their sleepy heads on their pillows, their angels whispered softly dreams of peace and joy.
The Hottest Spot on Earth.—One of the hottest regions on earth is along the Persian Gulf, where little or no rain falls. At Bahrein the arid shore has no fresh water, yet a comparatively numerous population contrive to live there, thanks to the copious springs which break forth from the bottom of the sea. The fresh water is got by diving. The diver, sitting in his boat, winds a great goat-skin bag around his left arm, the hand grasping its mouth; then takes in his right hand a heavy stone, to which is attached a strong line, and thus equipped he plunges in, and quickly reaches the bottom. Instantly opening the bag over the strong jet of fresh water, he springs up the ascending current, at the same time closing the bag, and is helped aboard. The stone is then hauled up, and the diver, after taking a breath, plunges again. The source of the copious submarine springs is thought to be in the green hills of Osman, some 500 or 600 miles distant.
Acres of Perfume.—Some idea of the magnitude of the business of raising sweet-scented flowers for their perfume may be gathered from the fact that Europe and British India alone consume about 150,000 gallons of handkerchief perfume yearly. There is one great perfume distillery at Cannes, in France, which uses yearly about 100,000 pounds of acacia flowers, 140,000 pounds of rare flower leaves, 32,000 pounds of jasmine blossoms, and 20,000 pounds of tuberose blossoms, together with an immense quantity of other material used for perfume. Victoria, in New South Wales, is a noted place for the production of perfume-yielding plants, because such plants as the mignonette, sweet verbena, jasmine, rose, lavender, acacia, heliotrope, rosemary, wallflower, laurel, orange, and the sweet-scented geraniums grow there in greater perfection than in any other part of the world. South Australia, it is believed, would also be a good place for the growing of perfume-producing plants, though at present not much cultivated.
The other evening, seated around the table as usual, we had a hearty laugh over a new idea that Bob had learned from one of his school-mates.
"Now you all take a pencil and piece of paper," he directed, "and try to draw a pig with your eyes shut."
"I can't draw a pig with my eyes open," said Mamie.
"That's just the reason," said Bob. "Now look here: begin at the ears, then draw the nose, and go on drawing the legs and the back, and when you think you've got round to the ears again, put in the eye, and then the tail; but you must keep your eyes shut tight."
So we each tried a pig, and—well, I would never eat roast pork or fried ham again if I thought real pigs were shaped like ours.
Just try making one some dull evening, and see if you do not have a good laugh, that is all.
Face-Painting.—Chinese men do not paint their faces, either on the stage or elsewhere, but in Japan actors in certain plays are painted on the face with bright streaks of red paint, put on usually on each side of the eyes. The kind of painting is exactly that of savages. It is a curious fact that this form of painting, surviving in adults on the stage, is still used elsewhere for the decoration of young children. It is quite common to see children on festive occasions, when elaborately dressed by their parents, further adorned with one or two transverse narrow streaks of bright red paint, leading outward from the outer corner of their eyes, or placed near that position. Such a form of painting possibly existed in ancient times in China—perhaps to distinguish fighting men.
No. 1.—The first man had 7 sheep; the second man had 5 sheep.
No. 2.—The old man had 21 cents when the water-spirit first appeared to him.
No. 3.—The grocer had 31 eggs; the first woman bought 16, the second woman bought 8, the third 4, and the fourth 2.
No. 4.—Each son received $7000.
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