The Project Gutenberg eBook of Tales out of school

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Title: Tales out of school

Author: Frank R. Stockton

Release date: September 23, 2023 [eBook #71711]

Language: English

Original publication: New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1875

Credits: Bob Taylor, Tim Lindell and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)








Copyright 1875

Copyright 1903


[Pg i]



It is not generally considered proper to tell tales out of school, but I shall venture it in this book. And if any of the Arabs, or tigers, or Cabordmen, that I tell tales about, do not like it, they can come to me and find as much fault as they please. I shall be glad to hear what they have to say.

But I shall not tell all the tales myself. The lady who in “Round-about Rambles,” took you to Pompeii and many strange and interesting places, will tell you some of these stories.

[Pg ii]

[Pg iii]



Colonel Myles’ Adventures in Africa and India 1
A Sugar Camp 31
Silver Plating 34
Very Ancient Animals 37
Iturim and His Fortunes 42
Large Houses for Small Tenants 54
The Wonderful Adventures of Gutefundus 61
Some Big Guns 70
Tom Reynolds and Moriyama 74
Luminous Insects 93
Owls On a Frolic 96
Common and Uncommon Sponges 98
Maghar’s Leap 101
The Sea Cow 120
Two Extremes 123
A Snow Storm in the Tropics 130
How Three Men Went to the Moon 140
Tartar Horses and Horsemen 153
Two Happy Men 156
The Wonderful Ash Tree 162
Work and Water 174
The Land of the White Elephant[Pg iv] 178
Curiosities of Vegetable Life 183
Bron and Kruge 203
The Mirage 222
Coral 225
The Great Eastern 232
Kangaroos 238
The Story of Polargno 241
Turtles and Their Eggs 265
A Few Volcanoes 269
The Absent-Minded Botanist 273
Something True About the Moon 282
A Voyage to the Lower Amazon 287
The Bedouin Arabs 298
Fool-hardy Carl Hofer and the Water Lady 302
Water and Milk from Plants 311
The Jolly Cabordmen 317

[Pg 1]



He had shot many a buffalo. Indeed he sometimes thought that he had shot too many, for out on our Western prairies it was often impossible for him to use the meat, or even to take the skins of the animals that fell before his generally unerring rifle. And the Colonel was very much opposed to the useless slaughter of wild animals. If the buffaloes did any harm while alive or could be put to any use when dead it was all very well to shoot them. Otherwise, not.

And yet, whenever Colonel Myles saw a buffalo he could not help shooting at it, if he happened to have his gun with him.

So he made up his mind that he would go abroad and hunt animals that ought to be killed.

Now you understand how the Colonel happened to go to Africa.


His sporting experiences did not commence as soon as he set foot [Pg 3]on “Afric’s burning shores,” and indeed it was several months before he could make all the arrangements for a trip through those portions of the country where wild and savage beasts, worthy the bullets of such a hunter, were to be found.

Some parts of his journey were very pleasant, even when he saw no game, because of the novel modes of traveling.

For instance he was carried many miles in a sort of portable lounge which was borne on the heads of four negroes. The Colonel lay at ease on this elevated conveyance, which had a little fence on each side to keep him from rolling off, and hoops so arranged that when it rained or the sun shone too brightly, a canopy might be thrown over him without interfering with his comfort.

Here he could lie and read or smoke while his swift-footed bearers carried him along at a rate which would have obliged a horse to hurry himself considerably in order to keep up with them.

Another time, accompanied by a number of negro soldiers, and preceded by a set of fantastic savages who danced before him with horns on their heads and shields and spears in their hands, he rode for many miles upon a well trained native bull.

This steed was not very fast, but he had great endurance and traveled very easily and pleasantly, without seeming to mind in the least the black fellows who leaped and shouted in front of him in a way that would have frightened the soberest old horse that ever hauled a sand cart.

Perhaps the bull knew that these men were merely trying to impress upon the mind of the Colonel that they were wonderfully brave, and that with their spears and their yells they could scare away any enemy that might be encountered, while in fact a white man with a couple of pistols could have frightened them out of their wits in about half a minute.


But whether the bull knew this or not, he paid no attention to the [Pg 5]dancing braves, and carried the Colonel faithfully for many a long mile.

But Colonel Myles did not always travel on bulls or in hammocks. After a time he found an admirable horse, on which he rode on many a hunting expedition.

Among the first large animals he hunted—he did not count deer and such small game—were rhinoceroses, of which there were a great many in that part of the country.

One of his first hunts of the kind began in rather a curious manner.

He had heard that there were rhinoceroses to be found in a certain hilly part of the country, and, accompanied by two negroes, he started on his horse quite early in the morning.

Reaching some very rough ground, he thought it better to climb over the rocks on foot, so he tied his horse to the branch of a tree and set off with his companions to reconnoitre. They walked up and down through the bushes, and over gullies, searching for the big animals they were after, but not a horn of one of them could they see.

At last, returning somewhat discouraged, they reached the top of a little hill, and there their eyes were greeted with an unexpected sight.

They saw a rhinoceros, a big fellow too, but he was not hunted,—he was hunting!

And what was especially startling was that he was hunting the Colonel’s horse!

The great beast had caught sight of the horse, tied to the tree, and was charging down upon him at full speed.

When they arrived on the scene, the rhinoceros was quite near the horse, who was rearing and pitching with terror, and pulling furiously at his bridle. The rhinoceros had his head down and his long sharp horn seemed to be almost under the poor horse.

Another second and the horse would certainly perish.

[Pg 6]


[Pg 7]

But in that second the Colonel’s rifle was at his shoulder and a sharp shot rang out in the air.

The ball struck the great beast just behind his shoulder. It did not kill him, but it stopped his onward course. He turned toward the hill, and at that moment the horse tore himself loose and galloped away.

The rhinoceros now advanced towards the three men. But he found them very different kind of game from a poor horse tied to a tree.

Again the Colonel’s rifle rang out and Mr. Thick-hide rolled over dead.

This was the first rhinoceros Colonel Myles had ever shot, and he was proud of his achievement, as well he might be, for it is not an easy thing to kill a rhinoceros.

If you do not hit him in exactly the right place you might as well fire at a brick wall.

But Colonel Myles was a capital shot, although he had never had such difficult creatures to shoot as this great animal which now lay at his feet. Perhaps his alligator hunts in Florida had taught him how to aim at iron-clad game, but there is a difference between shooting alligators and rhinoceroses. If you miss the alligator there is generally an end of the matter, for he will plunge into the water as soon as he can, and disappear. But if you miss the rhinoceros he will plunge after you, and if you cannot disappear very rapidly there may be an end of the matter, but in the wrong way.

The horse did not run very far, and one of the swift-footed negroes soon caught him.

This was not the only occasion when a rhinoceros proved a very dangerous animal to hunt. One day the Colonel was out with a large party. One man besides himself was mounted on a horse, and there were half-a-dozen negroes on foot, well armed with guns.

[Pg 8]


[Pg 9]

For some time they scoured the country without finding any signs of a rhinoceros, but at last the tracks of one were discovered, and he was followed up to his retreat.

When Colonel Myles first caught sight of him he was standing quietly under a tree. Our hunter took a good aim at him and fired, but just as he fired, his horse, apparently bitten by a fly, gave a start, and the ball struck the rhinoceros on one of his heavy flaps of skin, with just enough effect to make him turn around to see who was there.

Then the Colonel fired again—he had a double-barreled rifle—and this time the ball struck the rhinoceros fair on the nose, and it made him mad. Without stopping to consider the matter, he turned squarely round and charged down straight upon the hunters.

The Colonel had no time to reload his gun, so he put spurs to his horse and dashed away as fast as he could go.

The other man on horseback did not wait for the savage beast to come after him but galloped off in another direction. As to the negroes, they seemed to forget that they had guns, or else they thought that if the Colonel could not hit the beast in the right spot there was no use in their trying to do it. At any rate they took to their heels. As the rhinoceros dashed on, he ran right over one negro, knocking him heels over head, and he came after the Colonel and his horse at a rate that gave good reason to expect that in a minute or two he would get his horn under the horse and toss him over.

But the horse was a good one and he kept ahead of the beast until his rider loaded again. Then the Colonel turned and as he was so near the rhinoceros he put a ball into him that rolled him over dead.

This was one of the most dangerous hunting expeditions in which Colonel Myles ever engaged. Had his horse been a poor one, or had he stumbled, there would have been no more hunts in Africa—or anywhere else—for our hero.

[Pg 10]

He soon had another rhinoceros hunt, which was not dangerous, but very peculiar.

He started out with four negroes on horseback, and none of them were armed with anything but the swords of the country, which are not exactly the things with which to cut sheet-iron, or rhinoceros hides.

The Colonel was well mounted, and of course had his rifle. Before long two rhinoceroses were started up together, and they rushed out of the bushes so suddenly and dashed away in such a frightened way that the Colonel could not get a shot at them. Whichever way they ran there was always a negro between his gun and the flying beast.

Perceiving that the rhinoceroses were trying their best to get away, the negroes became very brave, and rode after them as if they intended to chop them up into little pieces, if they could only get some fair cracks at them.

In fact they were so enthusiastic, and kept so close to the rhinoceroses that it was impossible for the Colonel to fire at the animals without running the risk of killing a black man, and so on they went as hard as they all could gallop. The rhinoceroses seemed like a couple of great fat hogs, but they could run famously, and it was as much as the hunters could do to keep up with them.

One darkey kept ahead of the rest, and quite close to the flying beasts, and he whacked away at their thick hides, with no other effect than to make them run faster.

The other negroes shouted and yelled as if they were trying to frighten the rhinoceroses; and, at any rate, to make them run as fast as they could.

The Colonel held his gun ready to fire if he could get around where he could have a fair shot, but his shouts to the negroes to fall back and leave the beasts to him were totally disregarded. They had found some game that was afraid of them, and they were going to chase it, as long as it would run away.

[Pg 11]


[Pg 12]

The result of it all was that the rhinoceroses ran into some heavy brushwood where the Colonel’s horse could not follow them, and he did not get even one shot at them.

It was very disappointing to him, after having been so close to the game. But he made up his mind that he would never again go hunting when there were mounted negroes in the party. They put themselves forward entirely too prominently.

These negroes were excellent fellows to run after any thing which was not apt to run after them.

The Colonel once saw a very funny incident which exhibited this quality in the natives in a very striking manner.

In a village where Colonel Myles was staying, making arrangements for a hunt, there was a large elephant, which belonged to another village some forty miles away.

This elephant was rather an unruly beast, and did not at all like his new quarters, or the new driver who had charge of him.

He seemed to be home-sick, and he gave a great deal of trouble by his uneasy disposition. One day he broke loose, and no sooner did he find himself at liberty than he determined to go home.

So off he started at the top of his speed, but he had not gone far before his flight was discovered, and six or eight negroes, snatching up their swords, immediately gave chase.

They were all on foot, but they could run so fast that they soon caught up with the elephant.

But then all their trouble commenced. He wouldn’t stop!

They shouted, they yelled, they brandished their swords, and running before the great beast, they tried their best to make him stop.

But the elephant, with his trunk and his tail in the air, strode along at a tremendous pace. He did not seem to like his company, for he bellowed loudly as he ran, but they could no more stop him than a lot[Pg 13] of spring chickens could stop you if you took it in your head to run home some day in recess-time.

The negroes sprang in front of the elephant, until it seemed as if he certainly would run over them, and they dashed at him from all sides, waving their swords in his face as they shouted to him to halt, but he kept bravely on until the Colonel lost sight of the party.

Together, they ran four or five miles, and then the negroes thought they might as well give up that chase as a bad job, and the elephant went on to his home unmolested.


[Pg 14]

If he had known what he ought to do, he would have turned on those darkies and chased them about half a mile. In that way he would have managed very soon to relieve himself of his troublesome pursuers. They would have gone home quite as rapidly as he wanted to go to his home.

Colonel Myles staid in Africa nearly a year and sometimes had a good deal of exciting hunting, and at other times weeks would pass when he was obliged to stay in some native village for want of transportation and guides.

Sometimes too, he found himself in a part of the country where there was no large game worth mentioning.

He tried hard to find a gorilla, but never succeeded. He often heard lions in the night, and once came upon a big fellow who was lying down by the side of a fallen tree in the very road over which he and his followers were traveling. The tree was of a yellowish brown color and the lion was of very much the same color, so the Colonel did not see him until he came quite near to him.

As quickly as possible he jerked his rifle from his shoulder, but his horse started and reared, and the lion sprang to his feet, and giving one hasty look at the advancing party, disappeared in the bushes.

The Colonel was very much disappointed at this mishap, and it was shortly after he had made up his mind that he never would get a good shot at a lion, that he concluded to go to India.

A party of traders were on their way to the coast, and the Colonel joined them.

Reaching the coast he found a vessel nearly ready to sail, and in it he took passage to Bombay.

He was in India nearly two months before he had an opportunity to try his favorite rifle on any large game.

He preferred to hunt tigers, for tigers are such scourges to the localities in which they are found that he felt justified in killing as many[Pg 15] of them as he could. But it turned out that his first hunt was a buffalo hunt—and not only his first but his second and third, and a good many after that.

He got in a part of the country in which there were a good many buffaloes, and as they were needed as food it paid very well to hunt them, and there were always natives enough who were willing to help if they might have a large share of the meat.

One day one of these natives had a little more buffalo hunting than he wanted. The colonel perceived a very large fine bull buffalo standing in an open space and was just about to take a good aim at him when the animal began to trot off towards a dense thicket. The colonel was afraid of losing him and so he fired too quickly. If he hit the buffalo at all he merely wounded him very slightly, for he dashed off into the thicket.

The native attendant, however, was quite sure that the buffalo had been fairly hit and would soon drop, so off he rushed to find him.

While he was pushing his way through the thicket he heard a crashing noise, and looking around saw the savage bull charging down upon him from a little eminence where there was a comparatively open space.

The man had a gun, but it was not loaded. There was no chance of his running away, for the bushes and reeds were too close and strong to allow of that. There was no tree near but one very thick one, up which he had no time to climb.

The bull stopped for an instant, and then put down his head for another charge.

The man had no time to do much thinking. Whatever he did in self-defence must be done quickly, that he knew well. So he darted behind the tree, and jerking his blanket from his back he put it on his gun-barrel and waved it about.

The buffalo immediately accepted the challenge, and came at him[Pg 16] full tear. He rushed at the cloth, and as he passed he took it away on his horns. Then the native hurried off as fast as he could go in the opposite direction.

The colonel, who had loaded up and was waiting for his attendant to return, was very much astonished to see a buffalo rush out of the thicket with a blanket twisted about his horns.

The animal evidently did not notice him, and so he raised his rifle and shot him dead without the slightest trouble.


As soon as the buffalo was quite dead, the native appeared from the thicket and immediately began to boast of the share he had had in killing the animal.

It is quite certain that had he not succeeded in his very clever trick[Pg 17] the buffalo would either have killed him or would have got away safely.

A week or two after this the Colonel was invited by an officer in the English army, named Major Alden, to go wild boar-hunting with him.

The Colonel was quite willing, and so they set out together for the river, some three miles away, where they expected to find a wild boar or two. A crowd of natives preceded them, beating up the bushes to drive out the boars.

Our hunters were both well mounted and armed with long spears instead of guns. The Major, who wore an undress uniform, carried also a short sword.

They had scarcely reached the river-bank when they saw a boar rush out of some underbrush and make rapidly for the river.

Both horsemen dashed off in pursuit, Major Alden in advance. Just as he reached the edge of the high bank the Major thought that he had better rein up, but he did not think soon enough. He stopped quite near the brink of the bank, and was on the point of turning back, when the earth caved in beneath his horse, and down into the water and mud, some ten feet below, went horse and rider!

Fortunately the river was not very deep at that place, but it was deep enough. The Major went head foremost over his horse’s neck into the water, and the horse with a tremendous splash, went into the mud as far as his legs would let him go.

Just in time, our Colonel reined up, and below him he beheld a doleful sight.

The Major had risen to his feet but was dripping with mud and water that fell in little cascades from his face, head, and hands and every part of his body.

The horse was plunging wildly in the river and the poor Major did not seem to be able to see how to find his way to dry land.

[Pg 18]


If the Colonel had been a boy he would have had a good laugh at this mishap of his companion, but as he was a man he tried not to add to the discomfiture of the Major by making fun of him. But when the native beaters came up they set up a shout of laughter, and that[Pg 19] made the Major angry enough, and as he wobbled slowly to shore he growled out to the “black rascals” a command to stop their noise, and get his horse out.

The black rascals, although they did see a good deal of fun in this unfortunate tumble, proved themselves very useful, for they cleaned the horse and saddle, and while the Major took a bath in the river, (at a place where it was deeper and with a better bottom) they dried his clothes and brushed them with bunches of twigs until they looked quite presentable, and in the afternoon they all set out again on their hunt.

But the Major seemed doomed to misfortune that day. He had no spear, for his weapon had been broken in the fall of the morning, and he had sent one of the men back to the village to get him another.

But before the man returned a boar was started up and Colonel Myles started off in pursuit. The boar dashed into the underbrush, the Colonel and a dozen natives after him full tilt, and the farther that boar ran the madder he got.

He didn’t like being chased, and I suppose no sensible boar would like it.

Directly he made a sharp turn and rushed out of the bushes to the river bank where the Major was sitting on his horse waiting for his spear.

Seeing a man on a horse the boar very naturally thought that he must be the person who had been after him, and so, full of vengeance, he dashed at him at full speed, his horrid tusks glistening in the sunlight.

Instantly the Major pulled his feet out of the stirrups and drew his sword. There was no time to ride away.

But the sword was short, and the boar was very close to the horse, who snorted and plunged so that the Major could scarcely keep his seat, much less get a fair crack at the boar.

[Pg 20]


If the savage beast had succeeded in getting under the horse he would have wounded him desperately.

But Major Alden was a cool and a brave man. He kept the horse away from the boar as well as he could, and at last he got a good chance, and down came his sword on the boar’s neck.

But this cut did not seem to cool the boar’s courage very much.[Pg 21] The savage animal still charged, the horse plunged and the Major slashed, and so the fight went on—charge, plunge, slash, until the Colonel came riding up with his spear, and soon put an end to the career of the ferocious boar.

The next time the Major and Colonel Myles went out to hunt they went after tigers.

Tiger hunting is very popular among the white residents of India, and it is well that it is, for the natives do not often succeed so well in their hunts after tigers, as the tigers succeed in their hunts after the natives.

It is astonishing to read, in the government reports, how many people are annually killed by tigers in some parts of India.

The Colonel’s first tiger hunt was not a very ambitious one. He did not go out into the jungle on an elephant in company with forty or fifty natives, but he and the Major, with two or three followers, started off on foot. They walked a long distance without seeing a sign of tigers, although they were in a place where two bullocks had been killed by these animals the previous night.

Towards noon, however, one of the natives discovered the plain tracks of a tiger, and the party followed the trail until they lost it in a mass of rocks. In these rocks, however, was a large cave, and the natives assured them that they would find the animal in this cave.

No one was particularly anxious to go into it to see if the tiger was there, but, peering carefully in at the entrance of the cave, the Colonel was sure that he saw something gleaming far back in the darkness, and he thought that the bright spot must be one of the tiger’s eyes.

To be sure, unless it was a one-eyed tiger, he ought to see two bright spots, but he did not stop to consider this point, but took deliberate aim at the spot and fired.

Nothing happened. No tiger jumped out.

Then the Major fired, although he was not quite certain that he did[Pg 22] see a shining spot. Still there was no sign of a tiger having been shot. Even if the beast had been fairly hit by either of the shots, it is likely that he would have made some disturbance inside the cave, for tigers are very hard to kill.

Several other shots were fired without effect, and the hunters came to the conclusion that there was no tiger in the cave.


However, they consented to let the natives try a plan that they suggested. This was to smoke the tiger out of his hole. So great quantities of dried leaves and twigs were collected, and thrust into the mouth of the cave. While this work was going on, the men were very enthusiastic about it, and ran up with their arms full of leaves and sticks, seeming to entirely forget what a predicament they would be[Pg 23] in if a tiger should be within, and if he should make up his mind to come out before they had finished their job.

When all was ready the dry stuff was fired, and very soon a great smoke arose, and as the wind blew towards the rocks, most of the smoke went into the cave.

In about three minutes a horrid growl was heard, and every darkey took to his heels, one of them making about five jumps towards a distant tree, up which he climbed like a monkey.

And they were none too quick. Out of the cave sprang an enormous tiger.

The two white men had their rifles to their shoulders in an instant, and they fired almost simultaneously. The tiger did not stop, however, but rushed on, apparently after one of the natives. But before he reached him the Colonel fired the second barrel of his rifle, and rolled the beast over. One or two more shots finished him.

This hunt was considered a great success, for the tiger was a very large one, and was no doubt, the murderer of the bullocks. The natives were delighted, and went to work to take off the skin, which was awarded to our Colonel, who had fired the decisive shot.

While in the cave the tiger had probably been lying behind some rocks, with only part of his head exposed. He had not cared to leave his entrenchments while they were firing at him, but he evidently did not like smoke.

The next time the Colonel and Major Alden went out after tigers they were on an elephant. They rode in a large wooden box on the elephant’s back, in which they could stand and fire without much fear of a tiger getting at them. They had wonderful success, for they came upon no less than five tigers, out in an open space. One of these was soon killed, and the others ran away in different directions, like enormous kittens.

But before they got entirely away another was shot dead, and two[Pg 24] more, that ran behind some great rocks, were followed up, and killed before night.

But one very large one slipped off, growling savagely, into some reeds by the river bank, and was lost. This tiger was the largest and most dangerous of the lot, and the man who drove the elephant said he knew him very well.

He asserted that this tiger was a man-eater, as a tiger is called that has once killed a human being. Ever afterward, according to the native traditions, he has a strong liking for a man for dinner.


The driver said he had seen him kill a man, and that he knew him by his peculiar markings. Whether this story was true or not, it was[Pg 25] evident that this was a very large and dangerous beast, and ought to be killed, if such a thing should prove possible.

So, a few days afterwards, a large hunt was organized, having for its object the destruction of this particular tiger. The party went out mounted on three elephants—two men in each howdah or box, and a driver on each elephant’s neck. Besides the riders, there were about fifty natives on foot, who went along to beat up the bushes and make themselves generally useful.

The Colonel and Major Alden were not together this time, but were on different elephants. Colonel Myles’ companion was a military man who was a very good shot and quite a noted tiger hunter. His name was Captain Harrison, and our friend was very glad to go with him, because he had the best elephants and was likely to see the best sport.

There is a very great difference in the elephants that are taken on tiger hunts. Some of them will get frightened and run away the moment they see or hear a tiger, and then the hunters on their backs have not much of a chance to get a shot at the beasts. But others will stand their ground bravely, and the elephant that carried the Colonel was said to be one of these.

They rode on, close to the river bank for many a mile under a dreadfully hot sun, and, a little after noon one of the men who had mounted a tall tree shouted out that he had seen the tiger among the reeds on the river bank not very far from the spot where our hunting party sat quietly on their elephants.

Stones were now thrown into the bushes and several shots were fired by the native hunters. But no tiger made his appearance. The thicket was full of thorns and was very dense, and there were other reasons for not entering it—one very good one.

So the shouting and the stone-throwing were continued, and that was about all that was done for fifteen or twenty minutes.

[Pg 26]

Then one of the followers, who had a gun, crept on his hands and knees to the edge of the thicket and peeped in under the bushes.

He looked all about and could see nothing, and then he cast his eyes to one side, and there lay the tiger not ten feet from him!

It is amazing how quickly he drew back, jumped up, and ran off at the top of his speed. As soon as he reached what he thought was a safe distance he turned and fired at the spot where he had seen the tiger.

And what was very astonishing indeed, he hit it.

Up jumped the beast in a rage, and in an instant he bounded out of the thicket into the open field.

He was all ready for a big fight, and he growled and gnashed his teeth in a way that would have made your blood run cold.

Every body leveled their guns at him, but he did not give them time to take a good aim, for he charged at headlong speed right for the foremost elephant. The animal on which the Colonel and his friend were mounted was a brave one, but he did not fancy such a tiger as this, and he turned to run away.

But he was not quick enough. The tiger bounded at him like a flash and had him by the trunk before he could lift it out of harm’s way.

The driver on the elephant’s neck drew up his legs in a hurry, and the hunters leaned over their box to try and get a shot. But the elephant’s head was in the way, and they could not get a fair sight at the tiger.

As for the poor elephant, he did not at all fancy having a tiger chewing away at his trunk. So he bellowed and floundered about at a great rate, but that did not seem to inconvenience the tiger, who held on like a good fellow.

The other elephants and hunters were coming up, but they did not come fast enough. The elephants seemed to be a little particular about their trunks, and were in no haste to get near the beast that was hanging so grimly to their big brother.

[Pg 27]


Then our elephant got tired of this sport. He gave his trunk a swing under him at the same time that he made a step forward.

This brought the tiger just in front of his right foreleg.

Down knelt the elephant with one great knee directly upon the tiger’s body.

The elephant weighed tons, and there was a dead tiger under his knee in less than twenty seconds.

So here was a dangerous and noted tiger killed without a shot from the brave hunters who went out after him. But they were none the less brave for that.

The only man who did hit him was a coward, and the elephant that[Pg 28] killed him, would have run away if he could. Things turn out this way sometimes.

I can only tell of one more of Colonel Myles’ hunts. He spent many months in India and killed a good many tigers, for which he had the thanks of the people and the approval of his own conscience—two things that hunters do not always have, I can assure you.

His last hunt, as far as we are concerned, was a bear hunt. He heard that a large bear had been seen a short distance from the place where he was then encamped, and early the next day after receiving the news, he went out with one native follower to see if he could find it. They followed the tracks of the beast until they reached a place where there were some very high rocks.

Mounting to the top of these they peeped over and saw, at the bottom of a ravine beneath, the mouth of a cave that appeared to extend under the rocks a short distance.

In this cave, lying with his head on his paws, they distinctly saw a large bear, fast asleep. He was, however, in such a position that it would be very hard to get a good shot at him.

The Colonel then thought of a plan to make him come out. To be sure they might have hurled stones at him or shouted, but in either case the bear might have been frightened and drawn himself into his cave, entirely out of sight, or he might have rushed up the rocks faster than they would like to have him come.

The Colonel wanted him to come out of his cave, but to stay down at the bottom of the ravine.

So he whispered to his man to unroll his long turban and to get out on the branches of a tree that overhung the mouth of the cave. Then he was to lower the turban down and tickle the bear’s nose.

The man did as he was told, and, as the turban was just long enough to reach the bear’s nose, he was able to tickle him nicely.

[Pg 29]

At first the bear just fidgeted a little and then he made a dab with his paw at the supposed fly that was worrying him.

But the turban continued to tickle him, and at last he woke up with a start. When he saw the turban hanging before him he made a snap at it, and then the man jerked it away.


Up jumped the bear, just like a cat after a handkerchief. He made a bound after the turban and seized it with his paws and teeth.

[Pg 30]

He jumped so suddenly and gave the turban such a vigorous pull that the man came very near being jerked out of the tree, which might have been bad for him, but our Colonel, who was ready with his rifle, fired and killed the bear instantly. He was a big fellow and had a splendid skin.

When the Colonel sailed for home he carried with him half a dozen bear and tiger skins. They were all fine ones, but the best of them, a magnificent skin that had once belonged to a very large and savage Bengal tiger, was a particular favorite with him, and he now has it on his library floor, just before the big grate where he sits and reads on winter evenings.

And yet he did not kill the tiger to which the skin belonged. He cannot point to it as an evidence of his bravery and skill in the jungles of India.

It is the skin of the tiger that the elephant killed with his knee.

[Pg 31]


When I was a boy I knew no more about a “sugar camp” than I knew of a molasses-candy fort.


In fact I would probably have thought one as ridiculous as the other, if it had been mentioned to me.

[Pg 32]

This was because I did not live in a maple-sugar country. I had eaten maple-sugar, but I had no idea how it was made, and when I first saw a sugar-camp, out in the woods, I was both surprised and interested.

In the first place it was not a camp at all—according to my idea—for what the people at the farm-house where I was visiting, called the camp was a house—a very rough one, but still a house. I expected to find tents and big camp-fires under the trees. I found a fire, but it was in the house.

It was in February that I went out to the camp, and although there was still snow on the ground, the day was mild and pleasant.

The men were all at work when I arrived, and I wandered about, looking at everything and asking questions.

The camp was in the middle of a large grove of sugar-maple trees, and in each of the large trees a hole had been bored, and a little spout, made of a piece of elder wood, with the pith scooped out, had been inserted in each hole. Through these spouts the sap was dripping into pans and wooden troughs, placed at the foot of each tree.

As fast as these pans and troughs were filled they were taken to the house and emptied into boilers that were suspended over the fire. Here the sap boiled away at a great rate, and the men took turns in stirring it so that it should not burn.

I found that this sugar-making was quite a tedious operation, as the sap had to be boiled twice, and a great deal of care and time was spent upon it before it cooled down into the hard, light-brown maple sugar of which most boys and girls are so fond.

But I saw enough to make me understand the principles of the business.

I found that when the sap began to rise in the trees, in the early spring, there was always enough of it to supply the needs of the tree, and a good deal besides to supply the needs of the sugar-makers.

[Pg 33]

I watched all the processes, and tasted the sap when it first flowed from the tree and in all its different stages. And when I went back to the farm-house, early in the afternoon, I thought that it would be a great thing to have a grove of sugar-maples, and to be able to make one’s own sugar, and to be independent, in that respect at least, of the grocery-store.

I had not yet taken a meal at the farm-house, for I had arrived that day after breakfast, and had gone out to the camp soon afterward.

When supper-time came—and long before in fact—I was very hungry, having had but a lunch in the woods. And so I ate bravely of the good things that were so bountifully spread upon the table. But when I came to drink my tea, which was sweetened with maple-sugar, I did not like it. And the more I drank the less I cared to own a sugar-maple grove, and brighter and brighter became the visions of the grocery store, with its savory smells, and its great bins of sugar from the sugar-canes of Louisiana and Cuba.

When supper was over I had not finished my cup of tea, but I had changed my mind completely about the desirableness of owning a sugar-maple grove, and making one’s own sugar.

[Pg 34]


The precious metals are gold, silver, and platinum. They are so called because they are rare and costly. Platinum is the most rare, and is used only to a very moderate extent. Gold is more plentiful; and silver much more abundant, though sufficiently rare to be considered a precious metal.


We do not often hear of articles of table service of solid gold, though solid silver is comparatively common. But, with the help of electricity, skilled workmen are able to cover the cheaper metals with one or more coatings of gold or silver, and the articles thus treated, look like solid gold or silver.

[Pg 35]

A very small quantity of the precious metals will plate a large number of articles; but even with this small amount of gold, the gold-plated substances are too costly to be in general use; though it is quite common to line silver-plated articles with a thin plate of gold.

Exceedingly beautiful things are made of silver-plated ware, for table service especially, but it is also much used for ornaments, and even statues and statuettes are made of it, as well as a great variety of useful things.

As you are in the habit of seeing so many silver-plated articles I think you will be interested if I tell you, briefly, how the plating is done. But you will understand my description better if you know something about the galvanic battery, and the laws which govern its action, and if you have not studied this matter, any one of your acquaintance who possesses an electrical machine, will no doubt take pleasure in explaining it to you.

I am supposing you did not know before that the same agent which causes the lightning to flash from the clouds, puts the silver on your tea-spoons.

After the article to be silver-plated has been formed out of some cheap metal, or a metallic composition, it is thoroughly cleansed; for there must not be the very slightest taint of greasiness or dirt upon the surface. The method of cleaning depends upon the metal; some are burned in the fire, and some are purified with alkalies. They are next washed in acids, then scoured with sand or pumice stone, and washed, and brushed. They are now clean, and are dried in sawdust to avoid handling and soiling.

All of these operations have to be carefully done. They are generally performed by women.

They are then taken to the gilder to receive their deposit of metal, whether zinc, copper, gold, or silver.

[Pg 36]

Our articles, you know, are to be silver-plated. They are therefore placed in a fluid chemical mixture contained in a box of wood, stoneware, or some other non-metallic substance, which is called the bath.

Through the liquid contained in this bath, the electrical current is passed in this way. The wires of a galvanic battery are connected with two metal rods lying across the box. The things to be plated are hung by metal hooks to one of these rods—which communicates with the negative pole of the battery. To the other rod, which communicates with the positive pole of the battery, is hung a piece of silver. This completes the circuit, and the electrical fluid passes from pole to pole, going from the battery into the rods, and through the metallic hooks, and articles hung upon them, into the liquid. The silver on the positive side is dissolved by the electricity, and deposited in a thin layer upon the articles on the negative side.

It requires a perfect knowledge of the business to know just how to manage all these matters, so that the deposit shall leave an even surface. There are many little secrets, known only to manufacturers, which enable them to increase the beauty of the plating.

But the articles are not ready for use as soon as plated. A good deal is to be done to them in the way of brushing, polishing, and burnishing. And then they often have to be ornamented in plain designs, or with garlands of flowers, or sprays of leaves. Sometimes figures of men or animals are moulded upon them. Occasionally, for splendid objects of art, the leaves and flowers are colored their natural tints.

[Pg 37]


If you boys never went on a “possum hunt” you have missed a good deal of fun. I really cannot tell which enjoys this hunt the most, men, or boys, or dogs. I think we can guess pretty well which enjoys it least—the opossum. If he gets safely off, though, as he does very often, I have no doubt he enjoys thinking over the chase, and laughs to himself at the way he outwitted dogs and men; for, of course, he would put the dogs first, as being of the greater importance in his eyes.


Moonlight nights are the times to hunt opossums. Where these animals go in the day-time I am sure I don’t know, but they roll themselves[Pg 38] up in a ball, and sleep soundly somewhere, entirely out of the way of everybody. But, at night, they are awake and active, and look up their food.

And then it is that we look them up for food; and for the fun of the hunt. More for the fun, I am afraid, than the food; for we get plenty to eat without going after wild animals; whereas the poor opossum looks for his food because he is really hungry.

We start off, on some fine moonlight night, a party of men and boys. We are in high spirits, and laugh and talk, and have a good time. The dogs are in high spirits too, and run and frisk gaily about. But when we approach the woods we grow quiet and begin to look around expectantly. The dogs understand perfectly what business we are upon, and know that we rely upon them to “tree” the game. So they trot soberly on before us, turning to the right or left as their scent leads them.

Presently they come upon an opossum. The animal starts off on a fast run. Then follows a mad stampede of dogs, boys and men. No need now to keep quiet. We crash through bushes and briers. Finally the opossum, seeing that the dogs are gaining upon him, takes refuge in a tree. Up he goes, like a flash, to the very topmost branches, curls his tail and legs around a limb, tucks his head under the fur of his breast, hangs limp, and pretends to be dead.

He thinks now he is safe, but we know we have him sure. For we have axes with us, and we cut down the tree. The opossum makes no effort to get away while the noise of cutting and the shaking of the tree is going on. And when the tree comes down, Mr. “Possum” is ours.

His flesh tastes like young pig, only more tender and delicate.

But, you will say, this picture is not like our opossums. It does not seem very much like one at first sight, but, on looking closer, you will see several points of resemblance. Our opossum carries its young[Pg 39] in a pouch sometimes, and sometimes on its back, and this one, you see, has its three cunning little young ones on its back, with their dear little tails curled lovingly around their mother’s big tail. It has a long prehensile tail, and long flexible feet, so that it can fasten itself to the branches of trees just as ours do. Its fur is pretty much the same. In some respects it is not like ours.


There are no opossums now just like this one. This species lived before the flood; and is, therefore, antediluvian. The animal in the picture was never hunted by men and dogs, because neither men nor dogs existed in his days. I think it should make us feel a little ashamed, when we are chasing opossums, to think that their ancestors had possession of the world before ours.

[Pg 40]

If men had lived in those days they would have had some queer game. How would you like to hunt a Labyrinthodon?

This remarkable beast lived about the same time as the antediluvian opossum. Not a very agreeable acquaintance to meet face to face. A glance at his teeth would be sufficient to make one’s hair stand on end. How awful he must have looked with his mouth open! I think he would have made but two mouthfuls of the Cardiff giant if he had had a bite at him before he turned into stone.


Do you notice the strange way his teeth are placed, working in and out of each other? This suggests a labyrinth, and hence his name, Labyrinthodon.

You may not recognise him as a toad, but such he was, and was as big as an ox.

So the toad in the fable, which, you remember, attempted to swell himself to the size of an ox, and came to grief thereby, was only trying to make himself such as his forefathers had been.

The opossum was about the best-looking animal on the earth in those days. The rest were nearly all frightful monsters. There was[Pg 41] the Ichthyosaurus, a great fish-lizard, thirty feet long, and ten times more dreadful than the present crocodiles. Then there was the Plesiosaurus, which had the body and feet of a turtle, only many times larger, a short stumpy tail, and a neck like a serpent, thirty feet long. And the Pterodactyls, like huge bats, with birds’ heads, and very long bills.

After this race of animals died off there appeared upon the earth a better-looking set. But these, too, all died long before the deluge, and we have none of them now.

One of these, the Anoplotherium, is supposed to have been something like our otter, but it was much larger; and I don’t think, myself from the pictures we have of him, that the likeness is very strong.

[Pg 42]


The Antis Indians live in the mountainous districts of Peru. They have a proverb: “From happiness to misfortune is only a flea-leap.”

Iturim proved the truth of this very early in life. He was a young Antis who had been so successful in his various journeys to the cities on the coast, where he sold apes and birds, that he was able to build and furnish a fine house; to adorn his person bravely; and to take a wife.

This lucky fellow did not even have to make a clearing in the woods for his house. He found in the forest, just in the right place, an open space, containing only a small grove of palms. These graceful trees would make a pleasant shade for his dwelling, and the forest was sufficiently distant not to make it close and hot.

If this clearing had been upon the bank of the river it would not have answered his purpose. For the Antis always make the clearings for their dwellings at a little distance from a water-course, taking care to have a thick growth between them and a river. Otherwise Indians who are not friendly to them would see the houses while paddling by in their canoes, and seize upon the first opportunity to steal everything they contained.

Iturim’s house, or ajoupa, as he called it, was very large, because he owned so much property. Stakes were driven into the ground for supports to a long, sloping roof, thatched with straw. The sides were made of mud, hardened in the sun. He had a large assortment of pots, pans, kettles, knives, &c., that he had brought up from the coast from time to time. He made a net-work of strong vine stalks near the roof, on which to hang provisions. Otherwise the ants which were sure to invade the premises would make sad havoc with the eatables. On the earthen floor he spread beautifully prepared tapir skins. There was not so handsome a residence in all the Antis region.


For his personal adornment, he had tattooed his face with three [Pg 44]dotted blue lines across each cheek, and a purple star in his forehead. He dressed partly in the European style, having learned this on the coast. His trowsers were of blue cotton, and his jacket of red cotton; on state occasions, he wore a long scarf cloak of white cotton about him, and put a conical cap on his head. I must not forget what he considered the most elegant part of his toilette—a small plate of highly polished silver, which hung from his nose. He daubed patches of red and black paint on his face, and thus attired, he went for his wife. She was slightly tattooed on her forehead and chin in blue and red plaids. Usually she was dressed in a long white sacque, but, on this occasion she wore a full skirt of white with a gay scarf wound around her shoulders. Her ornaments were colored seeds, and tapirs’ claws. She also put on a conical cap that Iturim had given her, ignorant of the fact that it was not a proper head-dress for a woman.

Miniqui, the bride, lived on the opposite side of the river from the palm grove; and, after the wedding feast, Iturim conducted her to her new home.

They crossed the river on a rude suspension bridge, made of osiers; and you may be sure Miniqui was pleased with the large, sumptuously furnished house she found in the palm grove. They were welcomed by a large pet ape, named Simuco. He was a very wise creature, and devotedly attached to his master.

For a short time all three lived together in the happiest manner. Iturim hunted and fished; Miniqui did the housework; and Simuco amused them both with his funny tricks.

But a tribe of Antis came up from the lower river, and challenged the Upper Antis to a canoe race. The elderly men were in favor of declining the challenge; but the younger ones, at the head of whom was Iturim, were eager for the contest; and so it was determined upon.


The rivers in the Antis country are mountain torrents. Even in [Pg 46]the places where the water seems to flow smoothly there are strong under-currents that call for a great degree of skill in navigation. And every few miles, the rivers dash over rocks, and form dangerous rapids. The Indians are very expert in managing their canoes in this kind of boating, which is called “shooting the rapids;” but with all their skill and practice, they cannot help fatal accidents occurring quite frequently. The mere upsetting of a boat is nothing, for the Antis is almost as much at home in the water as on the land; but it is impossible to swim in the whirling waters of the rapids, and the danger consists in being dashed against the rocks, or violently sucked under the waves.

The prize, to be given to the man who should first reach the goal in this race was one of those ingenious pocket knives that contain a number of tools in a small compass.

These savages had never seen anything like it until now when one was displayed; and to their ambition to distinguish themselves, was added a keen desire to possess this treasure.

The race was three miles long, and there were two rapids to “shoot.” The second one was very dangerous, and was full of jagged rocks. At some distance below this rapid the women and children of the two tribes assembled to watch the boats rush over the fall, and to see them come up to the goal. With them were the few men who did not join in the sport. There were eight canoes, with three men in each. One of these men was the leader; and it was his business to guide the boat with a paddle safely and swiftly through the rapids. These eight leaders were the candidates for the prize. The one whose boat first touched the beach at Toucan Point was to have the knife. It was the duty of the other men to row the boats until they approached the rapids. It seems to me that these men were also entitled to a prize; for, of course, the boats that first reached the rapids were most likely to win; and on the calm stretches of the river everything depended[Pg 47] upon the skill of the rowers. But the Antis have their own rules for boat racing.

It was a pretty sight to see the eight light, gracefully-pointed canoes abreast, at the start. But nobody was there to witness it, unless we allow Simuco, the monkey, to be a person. He sat upon the bank, and gravely watched the scene. What he thought of it I don’t know, but he perfectly understood that he was not to be of the party. He made no attempt to enter any of the boats, but as soon as the signal was given, and the canoes started off, he darted off also, running swiftly along the shore, or scrambling over rocks.

Where the boats started the river widened into a sort of lake, but it soon became too narrow for the boats to keep abreast. The Indians knew this, but they knew that they would not long keep abreast in any case. Before the first mile was passed the boats were much scattered. Four canoes went over the first rapid side by side. Two of them were so close that they came near crashing together, and their leaders yelled and scolded at each other furiously. One of these was Iturim, and the other a young man of the lower Antis, Altisquo. But the four canoes went over together, and swept into the calmer water with their bows in a straight line with each other.

During the next mile and a half of quiet water two of these canoes fell back, and were passed by some that had come over the rapid more slowly. The rowers of Iturim and Altisquo kept an even stroke with their oars. Occasionally a boat would pass them, but would soon give out, and the two canoes were still side by side when the last, and most dangerous rapid came in sight.

The rowers drew in their oars. Their task was done. Iturim and Altisquo stood each in the stern of his boat, and dexterously guided their frail crafts among the black rocks, turning aside from the whirling eddies that threatened to suck them in. Each was anxious to be the first to reach the narrowest and most perilous part of the voyage.

[Pg 48]


[Pg 49]

Iturim shot into this vortex of waters more than a boat’s length ahead of Altisquo. It was impossible now for the latter to pass him. The prize was virtually won. Iturim was full of joy, though the spray from the waves wet him from head to foot, and his canoe often grated against the rocks, or was tossed from side to side.

Altisquo saw that the swift rush of waters would now bear his rival over the fall before he could hope to overtake him; and his heart was filled with rage and hate. Suddenly an opportunity presented itself to him. His quick eye saw that he had one chance more. It was a wicked chance, but that did not matter to him. To the left of Iturim’s boat was a whirlpool. The waters swirled furiously around a rock, throwing up blinding sheets of spray. By a sudden movement Altisquo turned the stern of his boat around at the risk of breaking it against the rocks. This brought him into swift collision with the stern of Iturim’s boat, and turned the latter violently around towards the whirlpool, while his own canoe swung into the current, and rushed over the fall, stern foremost. It spun around two or three times after this fearful leap, then darted off bow foremost, and Altisquo was the first man who beached his boat at Toucan Point.

Fortunately Iturim’s boat was not quite as near the whirlpool as Altisquo supposed, and did not get drawn into it, as he had hoped. The shock it received sent it violently over the fall, dashing it against a rock, where it was broken to pieces, and the two rowers tumbled out. But they were in comparatively still water, and succeeded in swimming to the shore.

But, as Iturim was standing in the stern when the collision took place, he was thrown out of the boat with such violence that he fell into the whirlpool. He clutched fast hold of a projecting rock, but the waters were too strong for him. He could not drag himself out by the slippery rocks, and he would certainly have been sucked under and drowned, but for Simuco. The ape had reached the lower rapid[Pg 50] before the boats, and was watching the scene with a lively interest when the fatal collision occurred. He comprehended at once his master’s situation, and, springing quickly from rock to rock, seized Iturim by the hair, and held him with so firm a grip that he was enabled with some difficulty to scramble upon the rock, and was taken off by a boat.

The leaders, who were steering the two boats not far behind Altisquo, were too much occupied in making their own way through the dangerous pass to observe closely what had been done. But the four rowers of these canoes were not deceived by Altisquo’s quick movements. They saw very clearly how unfairly he had won the race, and the spectators suspected foul play from what they could observe of his manœuvres. After hearing all the testimony, the judges awarded the prize to Iturim. He had, virtually, won the race before the accident, and, as this was the result of a malicious assault, and not brought about by his own carelessness, it was decreed that the marvelous tool-knife should be his.

But alas for Iturim’s fine clothes! He had arrayed himself in his very best European costume in order to show off before the strangers, and now he was clad in rags. Simuco had snatched the high-pointed cap from the waves, and put it again on his master’s head, but its ambitious peak hung down, limp and forlorn. Iturim was rather crestfallen, at first, at the ridiculous figure he cut. He certainly did not look like a hero. But the knife consoled him, and he was in a jolly humor when he walked home with his prize in his pocket, and his faithful ape perched upon his shoulder.

This was at the end of the day, after a great feast in honor of his victory, in which both tribes of Antis had joined. The Lower Antis had bidden farewell, however, some time before, and were now on their way back to their own country.

Miniqui had left the river with the women and children, and had[Pg 51] gone home before Iturim. What was his surprise then when he met her in the woods some distance from the house. She came flying towards him, with her arms outstretched, and shrieking as she ran.

“Everything is gone!” she cried, as soon as she saw Iturim.

“What has happened?” he asked. “I don’t know,” said Miniqui, “but it is all gone—house and all! When I got home there was nothing there!”

Iturim ran to his grove at his best speed. His house had been torn to pieces, the stakes broken up, and the straw trampled in the mud. All his possessions, which he had been collecting for so many years, his pots, pans, baskets, beads, silver ornaments, clothes, tapir skins, everything had been taken away. The thieves had not left him so much as an old shoe.

He knew very well who had done it. Altisquo and his two rowers had been missed from the feast at an early hour, and it was supposed that they were too angry to remain, and had returned quietly home; and everybody was glad they had gone. But instead of that, they had been executing this vengeance upon their successful rival.

Iturim was now the poorest man in the Antis tribe, and only a few hours before he had been the richest.

“Only a flea-leap from happiness to misfortune,” he muttered.

You might suppose that this mean and shameful deed of Altisquo would arouse the whole tribe of the Upper Antis to make war upon the Lower Antis. That would have been the case with many Indian tribes. In civilized communities the friends of Iturim would have demanded that Altisquo should be tried, and properly punished. But the Antis did neither of these things. I am sorry to say that theft is so common among them, that robbing a house is considered rather a fine thing to do, provided, of course, that the house robbed is not one’s own. If an Antis, on returning home, finds his things have been stolen,[Pg 52] he says nothing, but watches his chance to make good his loss by stealing from any house belonging to another Antis tribe.

So Altisquo was not punished at that time for his theft, and he felt that he had compensated himself for the loss of the prize.


Iturim and Miniqui found shelter in her father’s house until they should be able to have another house of their own. Iturim set at once to work snaring birds, and catching monkeys, that he might take them down the river and sell them at a large settlement, whence they would be carried over the mountains to the coast. This was a profitable business, provided he was able to get his birds and monkeys there safely.

When he had got together some twenty birds, and three or four[Pg 53] monkeys, he made up his mind it was time for him to start upon his journey, and he considered what would be the best way to carry his menagerie. He hit upon the brilliant idea of building a raft, and taking them down the river in this way.

It seemed as if Iturim was again to be lucky in his ventures after fortune, for just as he had everything prepared to start, two English travelers arrived in the Antis country, and were glad enough to make a bargain with Iturim for a passage down the river for their baggage. He, on his part, was very glad to take the cargo, for there were a great many bundles and packages, and the sum paid him was as much as he expected to make from the sale of his animals.

He embarked at a place several miles below the Antis settlements, and, from that point, had a river clear of rapids, and made a safe and prosperous voyage. He had no difficulty in disposing of his birds and monkeys, and the proceeds of this sale, with the money the two Englishmen paid him, enabled him to load his raft with a variety of cooking utensils and other things for his house, and he returned safely to Miniqui with all the merchandise.

So, when the new house was built under the palms, it was almost as richly furnished as the first one had been, and Iturim came to the conclusion that he had again made his fortune. And he was right. He had all he wanted, and that is a fortune, always.

[Pg 54]


In Australia there is a bird—the Megapodius—that builds for its family an enormous dwelling. It is not a large bird, being about the size of our partridge, but it seems to have very lofty ideas. If a man built a house in the same proportion to his size, as that of this bird is to its size, his house would be twice as large as the Great Pyramid of Egypt. It would be very inconvenient to have such residences as these, and they would be very difficult to keep clean, to say nothing of the great expense of building them. A man would have to call in the aid of hundreds of workmen, and pay them well, and years would be required to complete such a mansion, and a great many different instruments would be called into use. Whereas two of these birds will build their huge dwelling in a few weeks, with no tools but their own beaks and claws, and with no expense whatever.

The Megapodius does not believe in gay clothes, and is always dressed in plain and sombre brown. It is an intelligent, patient, industrious, persevering little creature, as you will see from the way it constructs its nest.

It begins by gathering together a mass of leaves, branches, and plants. With these it spreads out on the ground, in the place it has selected for its nest, a thick bed of a circular form. Upon this it heaps up earth and stones, and packs them well together, continuing to labor perseveringly until it raises a mound from eight to fourteen feet high. Some of these mounds measure a hundred and fifty feet round the base, and as much as twenty-four feet up the slope. A circular opening is left in the center of this mound, and extends from the top to the ground.


In this opening herbs and leaves are heaped up; and, on this the [Pg 56]Megapodius places its eggs, eight in number, arranged in a circle, at equal distances from each other, with the points downward.

After the female has performed this task of arranging the eggs, both of the parent birds leave the nest, for they are of no use whatever to the young birds after they are hatched. So you see this great labor, in which they have shown so much skill is not for themselves, but for their children.

The leaves and herbs, enclosed in this great mass of compact earth, become so heated after a time that fermentation commences, and this heat hatches the eggs. How does the Megapodius know this? And how does it know what plants will produce poisonous vapors, so that it never brings these to its nest?

Most birds, you know, are born naked, or covered with a soft down, and they have to be fed for several weeks until their feathers grow, and they can be taught to fly. But the young Megapodius, we are told by travelers, comes out of its shell fully provided with feathers. They say that it throws off the hot leaves that surround it, and mounts to the top of the mound, looks about for a few minutes, flaps its wings, and then, at once, soars up in the air, and comes back to its nest no more. If this be true, it knows where to look for food, and how to take care of itself as soon as it is born.

Another Australian bird, the Telegalla, also builds a large nest, though, by no means equal in size to that of the Megapodius. The bird is larger, too. It is about the size of a turkey, and, like that fowl, carries itself with quite an important air. It works in the grassy fields. It cuts down grass by the handful; or rather, I should say, by the clawful. For, after it has gathered a small bunch of grass, it grasps it with one claw, and hops proudly along on the other claw to the spot it has chosen for its nest.


The male and female bird work for a long time in this way, and make a vast number of journeys to and fro, always bearing to the [Pg 58]nest a little bundle of grass. They heap this up, as haymakers build up their haycocks. In fact a Telegalla’s nest is not unlike a haycock, and is about the size of one.

Having reared up their nest as high as they think proper, the female carefully places her eggs in the center; and then, with her mate, takes her departure. They do not trouble their minds any more about either eggs or nest. They know, in some mysterious way, that the grass they have piled up will dry, when exposed to the sun, and that it will be heated by this process. And they know that this heat will hatch the eggs; and that the young birds will be able to take care of themselves as soon as they issue from the shell. So, why should they worry themselves about the matter?

In the Cape of Good Hope, Southern Africa, there are birds, not larger than our sparrows, that build cities to live in. They belong to the family of Grossbeaks, and these are called Social Grossbeaks, because they live in communities. Hundreds of birds will unite in building an immense nest, high up the trunk of some tree. They work away with twigs, and sticks, and grass, and feathers, and moss. And, when the structure is completed, it looks at a little distance as if men had built some great timber work around the tree trunk. It is in reality a city, consisting of rows of single nests, each one inhabited by a pair of birds.

There they lay their eggs, and hatch them, and raise their children, and teach them how to fly, and to get their living. Hundreds of families live thus peaceably together, and have a good time helping and visiting each other. Policemen do not seem to be necessary in these cities, where each bird behaves just as well as he knows how.


No doubt, after their hard work is done, they have fine fun at their parties, and merry-makings. Whether they have “town meetings,” and public lectures, and parades, I know not. Private lectures, and [Pg 60]concerts, I am sure they must have! And the liveliest jigs and waltzes among the branches of the trees!

A traveler in Africa once brought one of these nests away with him. It contained 340 little nests. So it had been inhabited by 340 pairs of birds, and their families. It was so heavy that several men were necessary to remove it from the tree; and it was taken away in a wagon.

[Pg 61]


Once upon a time—it was four hundred years ago—the great Gutefundus, of blessed memory, made up his mind that he would go all over the world, and do good to everybody. A great part of the world as we know it, had not then been discovered, and there were not so many people in those times as there are now. But still it was something of an undertaking to go all over the world, and do good to everybody.

Nevertheless, Gutefundus resolved to do it.

He decided, in the first place, that he would kill the great Sea Serpent. This was a snake three or four miles long, which amused itself by winding its coils around ships, thus crunching them up, after which it would eat the crews at its leisure. If it were not very hungry it would follow a ship a long time, rising out of the water occasionally, and picking off a man or two at a time, until it had made an end of the whole ship’s company.

Nobody ever knew where to find this snake, for it traveled all over the ocean with incredible swiftness; and, it had such an extremely hard and horny skin, that no dart or knife could pierce it. It was therefore not an easy thing either to find the Sea Serpent, or to kill it.

Nevertheless Gutefundus determined to find it and kill it.

He embarked on this expedition in mid-summer, in the very best vessel that could be made in those days, and with a crew of picked men. Fortune favored him, and in the second month of the cruise, the great Sea Serpent was after the ship of Gutefundus, little dreaming that that very ship was after him.

The sailors were frightened nearly out of their wits when they first saw the long line of this monster’s body rising and falling on the waves,[Pg 62] far in their rear. But the stout heart of Gutefundus knew no fear. He took in sail, and waited for his foe. But the serpent was in no hurry. He kept his distance for a couple of days, and then he sank into the water and disappeared. Gutefundus feared the snake had escaped him; but, a few days afterwards, it unexpectedly popped its head out of the water, close to the ship’s sides, and, in an instant, seized a sailor in its enormous jaws, and went down again with a tremendous splash.


At that moment Gutefundus thought that, so far, he had done no good to any body, and had been the means of leading the poor sailor to his death.

But he did not despair. The Sea Serpent would come again, he felt sure, and now that he knew the enemy’s tactics, he made his preparations. The next time the Sea Serpent reared his head over the ship’s side Gutefundus was ready for it. Barrels filled with water were arranged all along the sides of the deck, and the moment the[Pg 63] great head was level with the deck, Gutefundus was in front of it; and, in a twinkling, he rolled a barrel into the gaping mouth of the creature. The astonished snake gulped down this unusual morsel with some difficulty; and Gutefundus took advantage of this interval of choking to plunge his long spear into one of the eyes of the monster. It sank heavily into the water; and, for several days, the ship sailed over a sea reddened with its blood.

And that was the last of the great Sea Serpent. It is a pity that the Serpent’s body never rose to the surface, so that our hero might have had its skin.

The next expedition of Gutefundus was to the Orkney Islands. Wonderful trees grew in the marshes of those distant isles. They bore eggs for fruit! At the proper season these egg-like fruits opened, and out dropped little ducks into the water, where they immediately began to swim about. These trees were called Bird Trees.

It was rather a singular thing that, although the learned men wrote full accounts of these trees, and all the common people talked about them, nobody had ever seen one of them.

Now, in Gutefundus’ country it sometimes happened that the poor people had nothing to eat, and there would be a famine. He wisely thought that if he could get some roots and slips of this Duck Tree, and plant them along all the water courses, in a few years there would be ducks enough for the very poorest family.

It was considered a very dangerous thing to take a voyage to these savage islands, but Gutefundus decided he would do it.

And he did it. He met with some fearful adventures on the way, but, after many weary months, he arrived at the Orkneys. And there, sure enough, right before his eyes, was the wonderful Bird Tree! Its long trunk stretched far out over the water. Its branches were loaded with fruit. Some of this fruit was as close shut as an egg; but some of it was splitting open, and the little ducks coming out. Some[Pg 64] of the ducks were just ready to drop into the water, and others had only a small piece of bill stuck out of the egg. Hundreds had already fallen, and were swimming gaily about.


The delighted Gutefundus plucked some of the fruit that had not yet opened, and stored it away to take home to show to his countrymen. His next proceeding was to take measures for introducing the culture of bird-trees into his country. He concluded he would cut off some of the smaller branches, and some little twigs, and would put some of their native soil in tubs on the ship, and in these he would root his slips. From these few slips bird-trees could be spread over the country in a few years.

The task of choosing and cutting these slips he took upon himself, and climbed the tree for that purpose. But, no sooner had he cut the first little twig than he felt a great shudder running all through the[Pg 65] tree. It shook from top to bottom. The roots tore themselves loose from the soil with such a wrench that the whole tree fell violently forward into the water, and sank beneath the waves as if it were made of iron. The ducks that were swimming around went down with it, and were seen no more. Gutefundus, entangled in the branches, would inevitably have gone down also with the tree, had he not caught fast hold of some sedges on the shore, and, by a great effort, got his feet free from the branches.

He, and the ship’s company knew then that this was a magic tree. The gathered fruit they had, was therefore accursed, and they immediately threw it all overboard. On touching the water it burst with a great explosion. They then sailed away from the spot as quickly as possible.

From that day to this there has never been another bird tree found anywhere. And the poor people of Gutefundus’ country lived and died without ever tasting tree-ducks.

His next expedition was the greatest of all the undertakings of Gutefundus. Immense stores of gold, silver, and precious stones lay buried in the rocks of certain caverns in the mountains. But men could not go there to dig out the treasures, because the entrance to these caverns was guarded by a terrible dragon. A few daring individuals had ventured near this entrance, and, peeping in, had seen heaps of bones. These, no doubt, were all that was left of men, who, in some previous time had attempted to get the treasures. They even got a sight of the dragon, and represented it as a gigantic creature, partly beast, partly bird, and partly serpent.

These venturesome men were thankful to have escaped from the neighborhood without going any nearer the cave; and, from that time, no one had ever been within miles of it. But Gutefundus resolved that these treasures should no longer lie there useless. Mankind should have the benefit of them. Nobody believed he could conquer[Pg 66] this dragon. Nobody would accompany him on such a mad enterprise. It did seem like going to certain death. Nevertheless Gutefundus made up his mind to do it.

He set out alone. It took him three years to reach the forest that surrounded the mountain, of which he was in search. He had passed through strange countries, and had taken part in many a good fight, but he arrived at the edge of the forest, a day’s journey only from the caverns, well and in good spirits for the fight with the dragon.

But here something befell him more wonderful than all he had gone through in his life.

Night was approaching, and he looked about for a resting-place. He heard the tinkling sound of a little bell, and bent his steps in that direction. It led him some distance into the forest to a small hut, made of dried mud. A little wooden belfry was built upon this, and the bell was ringing at the close of day. Gutefundus, believing it to be the dwelling of some hermit, entered it to ask for a night’s lodging. There was no one there, and he wondered by what contrivance the bell rang itself. While waiting for the owner to appear, he stretched himself upon a couch of dried moss; and, being very tired, he soon fell asleep.

When he awoke, he started up, and looked around in surprise. He was still alone. His clothes were in rags; his feet were bare, for his shoes had fallen to pieces on the floor; the hut had crumbled until it was only a shattered mound; the wooden belfry lay around in broken bits; the little bell was half buried in the dried mud, by his side, and was nearly eaten up with rust. This reminded him of his sword, and he looked anxiously for it. He saw it directly, on the earthen floor close by him. It had, evidently, just fallen out of the scabbard, which, all full of rents, was still attached to his rusty belt. The sword was as bright as ever. He remembered now that it was the clattering it had made in falling that had awakened him. Just then the gleam of something[Pg 67] white crossed his eyes. It was his beard, grown very long, and perfectly grey. He was conscious then that his head felt cold. He clapped his hands there, and found he was bald!

He understood the whole matter now. He had been in a magic sleep! How many years he had slept he could not guess. Maybe two or three hundred years. Such instances were not so very uncommon. He recalled the names of several great men, who had slept for a hundred years and more. Some of them were sleeping still. It was clear that the dragon was a magician, and had led him into the wood to put him into a magic sleep.

Gutefundus, upon this, arrived at two comfortable reflections. Firstly, that the dragon was afraid of him, or it would not have sent this sleep upon him; and, secondly, that it had no power over his trusty sword, which was there by him unharmed. He took it up, felt the edge, and found it sharp and keen.

He walked out of the wood, and sought the nearest town. His appearance at first alarmed the people in the market place; but when he told who he was, and on what errand he had come, and what had befallen him, they received him with joy. They had heard all about him, but everybody supposed he had been killed by the dragon twenty years before.

He had slept for twenty years! He went into the hut a man in the prime of life. He came out of it an old, bald-headed man.

But he was as courageous as ever. The dragon, it appeared, was still alive, and no mortal man dared go near the treasures he guarded. No one would go with Gutefundus to attack the fearful beast. He could get no kind of armor in the town; and no suit to wear except a blouse, and a pair of baggy trowsers. Such was the costume of the place.

But he had his bright and trusty sword that had never yet failed him, and he marched boldly into the wood again after the dragon.

He entered the cavern, and had proceeded unmolested for some[Pg 68] distance, when he heard a fearful roar, and out upon him rushed the dragon. It stretched its beast’s body; opened its huge jaws; ran out its hissing, serpent tongue; flapped loudly its bird’s wings; and curled its snake tail.


[Pg 69]

But Gutefundus stood his ground undaunted. He felt from the tips of his toes to his bald crown that that serpent’s time had come. He swung his sword on high. Up rushed the dragon; down came the sword, whack! and cut the terrible head into two parts! The beast was stunned, but not killed. Another stroke severed the body; and the third cut off its tail.

The dragon was dead, and the treasures thus became the property of mankind.

Gutefundus contented himself with a small share of the spoils, and passed the rest of his days quietly at home. He had been pretty much all over the world; and, if he had not done good to everybody, he had certainly taken some of the evil out of the earth.

I suppose none of my readers believe that these adventures actually befell any man who ever lived upon the face of the earth. But I have told you nothing that was not held to be true at the time Gutefundus lived; and at a much later period too. Such wild legends were fully credited, and not by ignorant people only. The three pictures I have given in the story were drawn by the most learned men of that olden time; and they had no doubt whatever of the existence of the Dragon, the Sea Serpent, and the Bird Tree.

[Pg 70]


Ever since the invention of gunpowder, the men who have been devoting their attention to the science of gunnery for purposes of war have been making their cannon larger and larger.


[Pg 71]

This is not the case with the weapons that are carried by soldiers; for our rifles and muskets are much smaller than those used by our ancestors. A hundred or two years ago, the great flint-lock muskets and blunderbusses were twice as large as the rifles now used, although they did not carry a ball half the distance, or with any thing like the accuracy of our improved arms.

But the cannon that used to be in fashion were but little things compared to those of the present day.

You might put one of the old-fashioned cannon into one of our great columbiads and fire it out of it instead of a ball.

And while the cannon have been growing larger and larger, the defenses against cannon-shot are growing stronger and stronger.

Now our men-of-war are generally what are called “iron-clads.” The hull is covered with immense plates of iron or steel, which it is almost impossible to pierce with the heaviest balls or conical shot. And the forts are so constructed that the great masses of metal that are sometimes hurled against them in time of war seem to have but little effect upon their massive sides. And so the competition between the weapons of offense and the means of defense goes on. As the cannon are made larger, the iron plates on the ships are made thicker and stronger, and the forts are built with walls that are more massive and more thoroughly ball-proof.

Which party will succeed in this contest it is impossible to say.

If walls and ships could be constructed that would be impervious to the heaviest cannon balls, warfare would probably soon come to an end, for if a nation could have such forts and such ships it would be useless for any other nation to make attacks upon it.

And if cannon could be made that would send balls through the sides of any iron-clad, or through the walls of any fortification, war would probably soon cease, for no country could resist a hostile nation thus armed.

[Pg 72]

Therefore it is almost to be hoped that one of these parties—the manufacturers of great cannon or the builders of ships and forts will so far surpass the other that the trials between them in time of war will be considered useless.

But it seems very doubtful if a limit to the size and force of cannon, and the strength of iron-clads and forts will soon be found.


Although our cannon are so large, we hear stories of guns of the kind that were very large and yet not at all modern.

[Pg 73]

It is said that the Knights of the island of Malta had a tremendous cannon, which, when it was fired off, made everybody, even old gunners stop their ears for fear that they would be deafened by the terrific noise.

And the Chinese, who certainly invented gunpowder long before we thought of it, have a tradition that their country once possessed a most enormous cannon. It was constructed of pieces that were fastened together by great bands, like the hoops on our barrels and casks.

It is said that this enormous cannon, the bore of which was so large that you might sleep inside of it if you felt sure it was not to be used before you came out, was never fired but once, and the inhabitants of the locality where it stood (or still stands, for all I know,) believe that the ball is flying yet.

It would certainly be unpleasant if any of us happened to be taking a walk through a pleasant country, to meet this ball so suddenly that there would be no time to turn out for it.

But one of our great American guns, that carry a five-hundred pound ball for five or six miles, would certainly be able to knock this Chinese cannon into a thousand splinters, if it could but once get a fair crack at it.

I wonder what the ancients, with their battering rams, and catapults, and javelins, and slings, and arrows, would have thought, if an American field-battery had opened upon one of their bravest armies.

In that case I think that even Achilles would have thought it as necessary to take the same care of his whole body as he had before taken of his heel—which you remember was the only part of him that was vulnerable to the weapons of that day.

[Pg 74]


“Fun,” exclaimed Tom Reynolds, “You couldn’t have more fun than I had. No boy could stand it.”

This was said to a boy-friend after Tom had come home from Japan.

And Tom was right. He had had a splendid time.

Tom Reynolds was an American boy, whose father was engaged in business which made it necessary for him to visit Yokohama in Japan. It is probable that he would not have thought of taking Tom with him on this trip if it had not been for Moriyama. This yellow youth put the idea into Tom’s head, and Tom, who was as good a talker as he was a walker, which is saying a great deal, managed to convince his father that nothing would be of as great advantage to him as a journey to Japan.

School was nothing to a trip like this, Tom argued, and he argued so much that the end of it was he went to Japan.

Moriyama was a Japanese boy, and a first-rate fellow. He was one of the many Japanese youths who came to America to be educated, and he went to Tom’s school.

There these two boys became great friends. Moriyama was a very quick, bright youth. He could speak English very well, and he was rather better at English grammar than most of the other fellows in that school. The other fellows explained this by saying that Moriyama didn’t know anything about our grammar except what he had learned from books, and of course the books were right. But they had learned their grammar from all sorts of people, ever since they were little bits of chaps. And so they had learned all sorts of grammar, and had a good deal to unlearn when they came to the school.

But the fact was that Moriyama was as thoroughly in earnest about[Pg 75] his studies as most boys are about base-ball. So it was no wonder that he succeeded.

He was not a large boy nor was he very young. As Tom put it, he was a good deal smaller than he was young. There were plenty of fellows in the school who could have whipped him, if they had wanted to, but they didn’t want to, for two reasons. He was a quiet, obliging boy, who seldom offended any one, and if any one had tried to whip him they would first have had to whip Tom Reynolds, which was no easy job. Tom had a fist as heavy as one end of a dumb-bell, and the muscles on his arms swelled up a good deal like the other end of a dumb-bell.


Moriyama’s time at school was up, and he had to go to Japan. Tom’s time wasn’t up, but he promised to study ever so hard when[Pg 76] he came back—with his mind improved by travel—and so the three of them, Tom, Tom’s father, and Moriyama, sailed for Yokohama.

This story will not be long enough for me to tell anything about the journey—how they sailed from New York to Aspinwall, and went across the Isthmus of Panama by railroad, and then took another steamship and crossed the Pacific Ocean; and how, at last they steamed up the bay of Yedo, and saw towering up to the sky, the great extinct volcano, Fusi-yama, the sacred mountain of Japan.

I cannot even tell about their landing at Yokohama, nor even very much about Tom’s adventures in Japan, but I can give you some of his experiences, and if you ever meet him, he can tell you the rest. And he will be very apt to do it, too, if you are the right kind of a boy or girl, for Tom is a great talker, and very sociable.

When they arrived at Yokohama Tom’s father took lodgings for himself and his son at the house of an American merchant in the town, but Moriyama went into the country where his family lived.

Of course it was very natural that he should want to see his father and mother, and brothers and sisters, but Tom could not help feeling sorry about it. It would have been such a capital thing to have had Moriyama to take him around at the very beginning of his visit, and tell him about all the curious things he saw.

But Tom had to do his sight-seeing pretty much by himself, at first, for his father was very busy, and the Americans that he met did not have much time to go about with a boy.

But Tom was not a bad fellow to take care of himself, and as his father engaged for him a horse and a betto, as a man who attends horses in Japan is called, he had every opportunity of going about as much as he wanted to.

When Tom’s horse was brought out for him the first time there were two bettos in attendance. One of them had clothes enough on, but the other one looked as if he were just ready to take a swim.

[Pg 77]


[Pg 78]

This fellow was the one who accompanied Tom wherever he went. He was a good-natured man and very ready to talk, and if Tom could have understood a word he said, he might have been very interesting.

But they got along capitally together, and Tom rode about Yokohama all day, and came home at night, and asked questions of his father. In this way he got some information about the things he had seen, but in many cases he had to make up theories of his own about things. And some very curious theories he made.

There was a porter who had a lodge at the door of the house where they lived, and he used to strike on a gong every time any one entered. Sometimes he struck once, and sometimes two or three times, and Tom could not imagine what he did it for. He might have asked his father about this, but he made up his mind that he would find it out for himself.

You must not suppose that Tom’s father was not a good-natured man, or that he objected to giving information to his son. But the truth was that Mr. Reynolds was not only very busy all day, and very often at night, with his merchant friends, but he did not know a great deal about Japanese life himself.

As soon as he had got through with the most pressing part of his business, he intended to go about and see Japan. He had never been there before.

At first Tom thought that when he heard one crack on the gong it meant that that was the first time he had come in. But when he heard only one stroke the second and the third time, while some other people got two taps the first time they came, he knew that this must be a mistake.

Before he found out what these taps really meant Moriyama returned to town. Tom greeted him heartily enough, and as they went into the house together that morning the porter struck, first two taps, then one.

[Pg 79]

“What is that banging for?” cried Tom. “I’ve been trying to find out ever so long, but it’s too much for me.”

“Why two taps are for me and one is for you,” said Moriyama.

“How’s that?”

“He taps once for a citizen or a merchant,” said Moriyama, “and twice for an officer or an interpreter—I didn’t tell you I had been appointed an interpreter since I returned—and for a governor or a consul he’d strike three times, and four times for an admiral or higher officer.”

“Once for me and twice for you,” said Tom. “What a fool the man must be!”

“He does what he has to do, according to our laws,” said Moriyama.

“But anybody ought to know better than that,” cried Tom. “Look here! I’m going to talk to him and then you can interpret what I say, Mr. Two-taps.”

So Tom stepped up to the porter and remarked:

“I say old shaven head——how many bangs would he give for the Prince of Wales, Moriyama?”

“Four, I think.”

“Well then, old fellow, princes belong to the set that they take kings from, and I belong to the set that they take presidents from, and so we’re even, and I want you to pound four times every time I come in the house. Do you hear that? Tell him it, upside down, Moriyama.”

Moriyama, who was laughing at this speech, said something to the porter in Japanese, but I do not think that he translated Tom’s words.

But Tom never got but one bang when he came in, though he used to shake his fist at the porter every time he heard it.

Moriyama was very anxious that Tom should visit Yedo with him, and so after a few days spent in further sight-seeing in Yokohama, the two friends set off for the metropolis of Japan.

[Pg 80]


[Pg 81]

They traveled on horseback accompanied by their bettos and other servants. They rode along the Tokaido, or great highway of Japan, and they were by no means the only travelers, for the road was crowded with foot passengers, men on horseback, and people in palanquins. The whole road was one lively scene, and to Tom it was a very interesting one. And the best of it was, that there was nothing, no matter how curious or outlandish, that Moriyama could not explain to him.

They stopped on the way at a tavern, which was rather different from anything of the kind that Tom had ever imagined.

When they reached the door they found a group of three or four persons examining the goods of a man who seemed to be a peddler. He was very anxious that his goods—and he did not seem to have many of them—should be appreciated, and the bystanders were quietly and earnestly listening to what he had to say.

But no one took notice of the newly arrived party.

After a little while, the landlord made his appearance, and though he seemed glad to see them, and brought them a few eggs and some other trifling refreshments, he soon went away again, and they saw no more of him until several hours later when they took their leave.

But their own servants cooked them a good dinner of things they had with them, and seemed to make themselves perfectly at home in the household of the tavern.

Tom said it was a good deal like working your passage on a ship, but Moriyama could see no objection to it. He was sure, he said, that he would rather be waited on by his own servants than by any one likely to be found at a roadside tavern, and he was sure their own provisions were better than anything likely to be found there.

This was all true enough, but Tom could not help thinking what a row would be kicked up in an American tavern, no matter how small[Pg 82] and mean it might be, if the guests brought their own provisions, and cooked them in the tavern kitchen.

They stopped at other places, at one tea-house in particular, where there were plenty of waiters, plenty of guests, and a very great plenty of tea.

They were two days on the road, although the distance was only about thirty miles.

It is impossible to tell one half that these two boys did and saw in Yedo.

They saw all sorts of shops, with curious signs, tea-houses thronged with customers; people at work at various trades—in workshops that were entirely exposed to the view of passers-by, and almost everything arranged in a different way from what Tom thought was right and proper.


Here were a couple of blacksmiths with scarcely a stitch of clothes[Pg 83] on, sitting down to their work, and one of them blowing the bellows with his heel.


Then they came upon a troupe of boy-jugglers directed by a man who sang horribly sounding words in a rasping voice, while he played upon a tambourine with two drum-sticks.

[Pg 84]


The boys’ heads were stuck into bags surmounted by hideous masks, and as they twisted themselves into all sorts of distorted positions, one of them standing on his hands on the stomach of another, who leaned backwards until his hands touched the ground, Tom thought they would certainly dislocate their spines.

He had turned many a handspring, and was quite expert on the horizontal bar at the gymnasium, but he never saw such body-twisting as this.

He would have watched these boys as long as they chose to perform, if Moriyama had not forced him away to look at other things.

They visited the parade ground, where they saw the soldiers drilling and practising with swords and muskets. The Japanese soldiers now use firearms, but they still carry one or[Pg 85] two of their old-fashioned swords, and when they are in full costume they wear paper hats. Some of the fencing was very interesting to Tom. He had fenced a little at home, himself, but this vigorous work with swords was new to him.


The weather was quite warm during Tom’s visit to Yedo, and about the middle of the day the streets—especially the canals which take the place of streets, presented a very peculiar scene. Scarcely a soul was visible. Empty boats were fastened all along the shores, and all the houses, glistening in the hot sun, seemed as if they had been deserted.[Pg 86] Not a sound was to be heard; and it was but very seldom that a moving thing was to be seen.

It was very much, as Tom said, like the enchanted city in the Arabian Nights, where all the inhabitants were changed into stone.

“But if you were to go poking about into some of those houses,” said Moriyama, “you’d soon find that these people are not changed into stone.”

Here and there the boys could see, between the screens that stood at the entrances of the houses, the people inside eating their dinners. The straw table-cloth—if there can be such a thing where there is no table—was always spread upon the floor, and the family sat around it eating rice. Sometimes they had meat or fish and vegetables, but Moriyama said their principal food was rice. And from the way they were eating it, they seemed to like it.

One night the boys went out on one of the many bridges in the city, and saw hundreds of small boats cruising about in all directions, with different colored lanterns hung about them; and besides these there were rafts from which fireworks were continually set off. The scene was charming, and Tom would have enjoyed it thoroughly had it not been for the music. This was so unearthly and hideous that poor Tom would have put his fingers in his ears had he not been afraid of offending the people around him.

But before he left Japan he became used to this music, and sometimes even fancied that he could make out some kind of a tune from the curious sounds of the samsins and the gottos, which are Japanese guitars and harps.

One day the boys saw a very jolly sort of a game which Tom determined to introduce in his school when he returned to the United States.

A long cable was stretched over one of the bridges, and two parties were formed, with about a hundred men in each.

[Pg 87]

One of these parties went to one end of the bridge and the other to the opposite end, and then the men seized the rope, and each party endeavored to pull the other over the bridge.

They pulled and tugged and yelled, until one side, finding that it was losing ground, suddenly, at a signal, let go the rope and over backwards went every man on the other side, pell-mell in one great kicking heap. Sometimes, Moriyama said, the rope broke and then everybody went over backward.

When the game was finished, they all went off laughing to some of the nearest tea-houses, and had a jolly time together, friends and enemies, all in the same crowd.

Among the most interesting places visited was a Japanese school. This was the rarest school that Tom ever saw. The little shaven-headed boys and girls were all seated on the floor, and the master sat on the floor too. In front of him was an affair like a stunted music-stand, on which he put his book, and the old tyrant leaned forward and cracked the bad boys with his fan. Think of an American teacher whipping his scholars with a fan.

Some of the youngsters were bare-footed, and some wore stockings made something like mittens, with a separate place for the big toe. The books were full of such a curious mixture of what seemed to Tom like black blots and scratches that he thought the Japanese youngsters must be extraordinarily smart to be able to make any sense out of them.

When Tom heard that these characters were read from top to bottom of the page instead of across he expressed the opinion that the Japanese probably added up their letters as they stood in the columns so as to find out what the whole thing came to.

The more he learned about the language of Japan, its different dialects, and its two alphabets, the greater became his respect for those who obtained a Japanese education.

[Pg 88]

“It must take you all your lives to learn how to read and write,” said he to Moriyama.

“We believe,” said the Japanese boy, “that it takes all of a person’s life to learn anything.”


That this was a common opinion in Japan Tom soon found out for himself. Whatever the trade or profession in which a man was engaged,[Pg 89] he seemed to have been at it all his life, and ten to one his father and his great-grandfather before him had followed the same business, and each one of the family had given so much time and attention to his business that he became almost perfect in it—as far as Japanese perfection went.


For instance Tom went to a wrestling match, where the wrestlers, great powerful fellows, all belonged to a tribe or guild that according to their account, had existed ever since the third year of the first Mikado, which in our chronology would be the year 658 B.C.

[Pg 90]


[Pg 91]

At any rate, they were men whose ancestors for hundreds of years had been wrestlers, and they themselves gave up all their time and thought to the attainment of perfection in their art.

Consequently they were splendid wrestlers.

Other gymnastic performers were equally proficient in different lines. Some of them had great long noses fitted to their faces, and on these noses they balanced themselves and each other, and did many other astonishing feats.

One man laid on his back supporting on one foot a fellow who stood on his nose, while, on the prostrate man’s nose, another man stood, balancing on his nose an umbrella, while he kept five or six balls flying in the air, catching each one as it fell and tossing it up again, never allowing one of them to drop.

Each of these performers, no matter what else he was doing, held a fan in one hand, which was kept constantly in motion.

And in all the performances there was never a mishap or a mistake. Every man was absolutely perfect in his part.

When Tom went back to Yokohama he told his father that he had made up his mind that he was going to be absolutely perfect in some one thing. If the Japanese could succeed in this, he was sure he could.

He had not made up his mind what he would do, but it was to be something.

His father commended this resolution, and suggested arithmetic.

Tom did not feel altogether certain about arithmetic, but as soon as he could think of a good thing, he intended to commence the study of perfection.

When his father laughed a little at his enthusiasm Tom said that one great difficulty would be that he was afraid he could not find out what his father and grandfather had been perfect in. If he could do that, it would help him very much.

[Pg 92]

But we cannot mention all the curious things that Tom and Moriyama saw in Japan.

It would require a book to tell about the wonderful processions, such as that of the white elephant, which, by the way, Tom thought was a real animal, until he saw that its legs did not move, and that under each of its feet were two human legs belonging to the men who carried the huge stuffed creature—and the many other strange things that they saw in the streets and houses of Japan.


Suffice it to say, that since Tom came home—and it has been some years since his trip to Japan—he has earnestly endeavored to discover what particular thing it would be best for him to learn thoroughly and completely.

I am not sure that he has even yet made up his mind upon the subject, but he is convinced that if his experience among the Japanese had no better effect than to teach him that to know how to do something perfectly well, it is greatly to be desired, and well worth striving for—no matter how much time and toil it may require.

[Pg 93]


The fire-flies that flit about so merrily on our pleasant summer evenings, emit little sparkles of light, that seem like tiny stars, shining among the grass and trees. Sometimes the air is full of these twinkling lights, which are very pretty, though not sufficiently brilliant to help us to find our way on a dark night, or to bring into our houses to save the expense of candles or kerosene.


Occasionally we see, at night, in the grass by the roadside, or in a field, a very small trail of a bright-green light; and, on stooping down to examine into this singular appearance, we find on the ground an[Pg 94] insignificant little ugly worm, to which Nature has given the power of producing a lovely colored light. These glow-worms are somewhat rare in this country, but are common in England, where our fire-fly is unknown. The glow-worms of tropical countries are as large as good-sized caterpillars, and give out a light of corresponding size.

Some of the beetles of tropical countries are much more radiant than the glow-worms. They have a bright ring around their bodies, which sheds such a light that it is said that the negroes use them for lamps. These negroes we are told by travelers make small round cages of thin wooden slats placed near each other, and closed at the top and bottom. In these they put several beetles, and thus light up their rooms free of cost.


But the most splendidly illuminated insect in the world is the great lantern fly. Its monstrous head is a blaze of light. When it flies[Pg 95] through the air it is like a streamer of fire. When it alights upon a leaf, with its beautiful wings outstretched, and its head gleaming with star-like rays, that light up everything for some little distance, it is a gorgeous sight indeed.

But, although this insect is so bright-headed it is not so wise as some others whose heads are not brilliant at all. Perhaps this head is like some shops we have seen, where pretty much all the furniture is on the outside.

[Pg 96]



[Pg 97]

The owls are abroad on a mad carouse,
Waking the echoes far and wide;
They whirl in a crowd through the ruined church,
Or up to the belfry glide.
The little screech-owl makes a horrid din;
While the great white owl looks wise;
And the horned owl nods his head, and blinks;
As around the lamp he flies.
The lamp is a cup, half filled with oil,
That swings from a broken beam;
And, over the traveler sleeping below,
It throws but a dusky gleam.
The owls have no fear of the burning wick—
’Tis only a cotton loop—
They’re after the oil in the swinging cup,
And down on its brim they swoop.
The weary traveler, sound asleep,
Hears naught of the noise o’erhead,
A rickety chair as a bedstead serves,
His overcoat is his bed.
With the sweep of the wings the lamp upsets,
While the gurgling oil o’erflows
With a drip, and a rush, on the great owl’s tail,
A splash on the traveler’s nose.
He’s up in a trice, and, seizing a broom,
He arms himself for a fight.
But all is still in the ruined church;
For the owls are out—and his light.

[Pg 98]



They are all wonderful enough, no matter how common they may be. It takes thousands and thousands of minute creatures, to make a sponge, and these creatures are so little understood that about all we know of them is that they must belong to the very lowest order of[Pg 99] animal life, and that they do build sponges. That is not much to know, but it is not long since the sponge was first known to be an animal production at all, and our scientific men may yet find out something more definite about these curious little architects. Perhaps they may have lately found out something, and I have not heard of it. This would be the least wonderful thing about sponges.

The ordinary form of the sponge is familiar to nearly everybody who has ever been washed, and this picture gives a good idea of a fine large one, as it is found growing at the bottom of the sea. I say growing, because it seems to be growing there, like a vegetable. But it does not grow, in the ordinary sense of the word, any more than a wasp’s nest grows.

But there are sponges with which we are not at all familiar, and which are curious, apart from the manner of their construction. Such a one is the sponge called the “Cup of Neptune.”

This is several feet high, and is formed like a great goblet. It would make a very good cup for Neptune, if he drank brandy or rum, for it would soak up all that he poured into it, and he could not get a drop, unless he squeezed his cup pretty hard—and even then the liquor might all run out of the bottom.

As a rule, civilized and well educated people are more easily surprised and astonished at uncommon and wonderful works of nature than uncivilized or ignorant people, for the latter do not know enough to be astonished. They see nothing strange in the development of a plant from its seed—nothing grand in a high mountain, nor anything very beautiful in a flower. They look at these things as a child looks at his hand. The hand is a very curiously constructed instrument, full of intricate mechanism, but the child does not know or think of that. It is not until he grows older and his mind is cultured that he appreciates the wonderful construction and the varied action of his hand.

[Pg 100]

So it is with savages. They do not comprehend that many strange works of nature are worthy of admiration, and they take it for granted that things are as they are because they ought to be, just as they think of their own bodies, if they think of them at all.


But this great goblet-like sponge is strange enough to astonish even a savage.

[Pg 101]


It chanced upon a time, a very great many years ago, while fairies and magicians still dwelt upon earth, that a youth and maiden—brother and sister—were walking in a forest, talking about their recent misfortunes, and laying plans for their future. The youth was clad in armor, according to the warlike fashion of those times. But he had under his arm a book, which was not in accordance with the fashion of those times. The maiden wore a dress of some coarse woolen stuff; and, in her hands she held a sheet of parchment, and a pen.

Suddenly there broke into their quiet talk the sound of clashing arms, and the mad plunging of horses. Sybil, the maiden, stopped terrified.

“Oh!” she cried, “it is the noise of battle! Too well I know those sounds. Let us go quickly back!”

“Let us go forward a little way,” said Maghar, the youth, “to yon opening in the woods. Or, stop here, if you fear, and I will go alone and look out.”

“No,” said Sybil, “if you go I will follow.”

Together they looked out upon the open plain. Two hostile armies had met unexpectedly, and a fierce conflict had commenced.

“Alas!” said Sybil, shuddering. “There are the savage infidels that laid waste our home!”

“Yes,” said Maghar, excitedly, “and here, on this side, are our countrymen, and neighbors! I must bear a hand in this fight!”

“And leave me alone!” cried Sybil. “I have only you left! Your single arm will not count for much in a battle!”

“It would be a shame to me,” said Maghar, “to sneak off, like a coward, and leave our friends and Christian soldiers, when their forces[Pg 102] are few, and every warrior counts. Have I not my armor? I shall find shield and spear on the battle-field on some poor fellow who has already fallen in the fray. Do not fear, sister! Go back to Christern’s cottage. There you will be safe; and I will return in a few hours.”

So saying, he led Sybil back into the forest to the path leading to Christern’s cottage; gave the book into her hands; and, kissing her good-bye, he ran out of the woods as fast as the weight of his armor would allow.


But Sybil did not return to the cottage. She was too anxious about her brother; and, going to the entrance of the wood, she crouched among the trees, where she was hidden from view, and watched the[Pg 103] progress of the fight. She was ready to fly if the tide of battle brought the armies too near. But they seemed to be gradually moving away from her. She soon singled out her brother. He had secured a spear and shield, and mounted a riderless horse. In a few minutes he was lost in the throng, and she saw him no more.

Her mind was filled with sad forebodings. This Infidel army had invaded the country, and laid it waste; had killed her parents, and overthrown, and utterly ruined the beautiful castle that had been her home. A few things had been saved by old Christern, a much loved servant of the family, and these constituted the property of Maghar and Sybil. Old Christern’s cottage, in the depths of the forest, was the refuge of the orphans. There they had lived for several weeks, and no way of retrieving their fortunes seemed open to them. Maghar was a fine scholar. His father had had him taught to read his own language and Latin, and to write a very beautiful hand. That was the extent of his knowledge; and it was a great deal at a time when very few of the richest people knew their letters.

And now, in their poverty, there seemed to be very little use for his learning. Nobody cared anything about it. He might copy manuscript for some learned man, and get a living this way, for printing and paper had not then been invented; and all books were written on parchment. But Maghar had a contempt for a clerk, as he called a copyist, and did not fancy this method of supporting his sister and himself. Nevertheless, the two were that day on their way to the abode of a great and learned man to see if he wished anything of this kind done; and if he would buy their only book—a Latin volume, written on parchment, and beautifully illuminated and bound in wooden covers.

Sybil went over these things in her mind as she watched the battle, trying, in vain, to distinguish the form of her brother. She soon saw to her dismay, that the Infidel forces had turned the flank of the[Pg 104] Christian army, and that the ranks of the latter were broken, and they were retreating, closely followed by their enemies. She stood up now, and strained her eyes to watch them until they had all disappeared over the crest of a hill. Then she sadly returned to Christern’s cottage to tell the old man of this new and terrible misfortune.

Days passed away, and Maghar did not return. Christern learned that the Christian army was broken, and the soldiers scattered. Some had returned to their homes. The wounded were cared for among their friends. The dead were buried. But Maghar was with none of these. No one could tell anything about him, except that he had fought bravely.

Then Sybil determined to seek out the great and learned man to whom Maghar had intended to offer his services as copyist. She was somewhat afraid of him, for he was known to be a powerful magician. But he could, no doubt, tell her the fate of Maghar, and she would try to overcome her fears.

She took off the coarse peasant’s dress she had been wearing, and arrayed herself in her best robe of fine white cashmere, which was one of the things that Christern had managed to save. She loosened her beautiful hair, which fell nearly to her feet. This last she did to show the deep sorrow she was in. She also took with her the Latin volume, as a present, to propitiate the powerful magician.

The great man lived in the simplest manner in a rocky cavern. Sybil found him outside his dwelling, seated on a mossy stone, sorting some plants that lay in his lap. He did not look up as she approached, and she had a good opportunity to study his countenance, which was so sweet and gentle that her fear of him vanished; and she came forward quite boldly, greeted him, and presented her book.

But the magician waved the volume aside. “I know why you seek me, sister of Maghar,” he said, kindly.

“Oh, can you tell me aught of my brother?” cried Sybil.

[Pg 105]

“I know not where he is. The oracles would not enlighten me without your presence. Come into my dwelling, and we will consult them.”

So saying he conducted her into his cave through a low, dark passage way. Great was Sybil’s astonishment when she found herself in a vast room, with a lofty ceiling. Around the circular walls was a continuous row of lamps, kept constantly burning. Their light was reflected from myriads of stalactites that hung from the roof, glowing with all the colors of the rainbow, making the rough, rocky chamber as brilliant and gorgeous as a fairy palace. In the centre of the room stood a brazier, filled with burning coals, and near it, a large iron harp, with silver strings, and a sort of cupboard, made of iron. A few rough couches were scattered around. And this was all the furniture the room contained.

The magician invited Sybil to take a seat. He then proceeded to place on his head a crown, woven of vines of magical virtues. He took from the cupboard some singular-looking vessels, and mixed in them various powders and liquids. Then, pouring all their contents into a copper pot, he placed it on the coals, seated himself on a stone near it, drew his harp in front of him, and motioned to Sybil to stand before it. He looked so pleasantly upon her she did not feel afraid, but her heart beat fast, not knowing what fearful thing she might see.

She saw nothing whatever but the harp, and the old man; for, as soon as the clouds of fragrant white smoke that poured out from the brazier, had completely enveloped the two, the magician swept his fingers over his harp, and began to sing. Then Sybil forgot everything else, for his chant was of Maghar.


He sang of the great deeds Maghar had done in the battle, and how he had made himself famous. He was the last prisoner taken by the Infidels; and was now confined in a castle several leagues distant. The Infidel army was there encamped. They would like to slay [Pg 107]Maghar outright, but were afraid of the vengeance of the Christian armies near them if they murdered a man held in such esteem. He was at present undisturbed, but the probability was that, after a time, they would decide to starve him to death, and give out word that he had died from sickness. His sister had thus a little time in which to work to save him.

Here the song ended, and the weeping girl begged the great magician to save her brother. This he said was not in his power. She must find a good fairy, and make it her friend. The small creature could get into the castle, see her brother, and, together, they could devise a way of escape. He might, perhaps, be able to help them then. He told her what roads to follow to reach the castle; and, assuring her that such a good girl would surely find a good fairy to assist her in her trouble, he dismissed her with his blessing.

That very day Christern and Sybil set out for the castle. They reached the place after three days’ journey. They told no one what their errand was in that part of the country; and there were so many homeless people in the land that their appearance excited no surprise. Christern soon found employment among the wood-cutters, and fitted up a deserted hut as a temporary dwelling.

But though they could, every day, look upon the walls of the castle in which Maghar was confined, they seemed no nearer to him than before. He was in the hands of the cruel infidels, and where were there any fairies? There were plenty in that part of the country, the wood-cutters said, which, at first, was encouraging. But, on inquiry, it turned out that not one of them had ever seen a fairy, or knew anybody who ever had seen one. Sybil was in despair as the days went by, and she blamed her friend, the magician, that he had given her no help, after all.

She often walked through the woods, near nightfall, to meet Christern. One evening, as the two were returning together to their hut,[Pg 108] they saw a large wild boar approaching, followed by several young ones. As this creature is very savage when it has its young to defend, Christern and Sybil thought it wise to step aside among the trees, and leave the path to the boar and its interesting family. After these had passed they continued their way, but had not gone far when they saw a young boar lying in the path. Christern stooped over to examine it.


“It got in with that litter,” said he, “and did not belong to it, so the old boar has gored it badly. But it is not dead. I’ll take it home, make a sty for it, and, if it lives, I’ll fatten it, and kill it when it is fit for eating.”

The wounded animal lifted an appealing glance to Sybil. Its eyes[Pg 109] wore an almost human expression of suffering, and a most beseeching plea for help. The girl’s heart was touched.

“It is not badly hurt,” she said. “Its flesh is torn, but if I wash its wounds, and bind them up, and find a nice place in the woods, where I can make it comfortable, and feed it, it will get well. It is a free, wild creature, and must not be shut up in a close sty. Think of my dear brother shut up when he wants to be free!”

Christern thought Sybil’s plan a foolish one, but this last argument silenced him. He had not a word to say in reply. So the girl washed off the blood from the boar’s wounds with her fine cambric handkerchief, which she then tore into strips to bind them up. She found, in a secluded place, a soft cushion of moss on which she laid him, and partly covered him with leaves to keep him warm. She then brought from the hut some of her own scanty supper, and gave it to the little boar.

After this she visited her patient two or three times a day, nursing and feeding him. But, on the afternoon of the fourth day, he had disappeared, and Sybil returned to the hut feeling quite lonely at the loss of the little creature that had been so glad to see her.

The next night, as Christern was returning late from his work, trudging slowly through the forest, with his lantern swinging in his hand, and his wallet slung over his back on the end of his walking stick, something brushed close by the old man’s ear with a buzzing of tiny wings.

“That dragon-fly is out late,” said the old man to himself.

Very soon the wings brushed by him again with a louder whizzing.

“It is a bat!” said the old man, shaking his head. “Shoo! shoo!” But the third time the whirring wings flew almost into his face.

“Good evening, old Christern!” said a tiny voice, such as might come from a humming-bird, if it could speak.

The startled old man stopped and flashed the light of his lantern[Pg 110] around among the trees. And there, with wee wings outspread, was a fairy skimming through the air! Christern had never seen a fairy, but he knew this was one as soon as he saw him. And a jolly, rollicking fellow he was!


“You don’t know me, old fellow?” said the fairy.

Christern shook his head.

“Wanted to shut me up in a sty, and fatten me, eh? I wouldn’t be much of a mouthful now, would I? Don’t you wish you could get me?”

And the saucy fellow soared high up among the trees.

Christern nearly dropped his lantern in his astonishment. “You don’t ever mean to tell me that boars are fairies?” he said, at last.

[Pg 111]

“I mean to say nothing of the kind!” cried the fairy, indignantly. “Your horrid, beastly boars are no relations of ours, even! I’ll tell you how it was,” he said, coming nearer Christern, and speaking in a confidential tone. “Our fairies all have wings, and can fly, but there are other kinds without wings. Some of these are good, but some are bad, and they are full of spite against us because we are better off than they. I offended a tribe of these not long ago, and they had influence with a wicked old witch who changed me into a little boar. I was to remain in that shape for a week. She would have made the time longer, if she could. But they all thought I would be killed in that time. And so I should have been but for your Sybil. And there was another thing worse than death. If I was deprived of my liberty during that week, I could never again regain my natural shape. So, if you had put me in your sty, I would have been eaten up one of these days as a boar. From this awful fate your Sybil saved me. So I am doubly indebted to her, and I want to do something for her.”

“Oh, you are the good fairy, who is to save our Maghar!” cried the old man, joyfully.

Thereupon he related the whole sad story, and the fairy told him he would consult with his tribe that night; and, if he and Sybil would come to that spot on the following night he would let them know what could be done.

Sybil’s delight was unbounded. She now felt sure that her brother would be saved. But, nevertheless she accompanied Christern to the place of meeting, half fearing that the frisky fairy would play her some trick. But he was there, before them, and had dressed himself in his best suit of green in honor of the occasion.

As soon as they appeared he began chattering as fast as ever he could.

“We fairies have hit upon a splendid plan,” he said. “But there[Pg 112] is no time to lose. Sybil, I have seen your brother, but he did not see me. I was at the castle this morning before cock-crow. I flew in through a loop-hole. Nobody saw me. It took me a long time to find out in what room your brother was kept, but, at last, I made it out. I intended to stay until I did. He is in a room, high up in the north tower. He has been pretty well, but now his jailers have begun the plan of starving him; and he will soon be too weak to save himself as we propose, which is the only way open to him. It requires steady nerves, and great courage. But do not weep, for we will save him, only it must be done speedily. Do you, Christern, be ready to go with me to the castle at break of day. Pretend you are a beggar. There are so many of these you will pass unsuspected. I will point out to you a small postern door at the back of the castle, stay about that; and I will hide near it. I could slip inside easily enough, and tell Maghar what to do, but he does not know me, and would not trust me. So you must get inside the castle some way and see him. And, not only that, but you must get out again. And this is our plan for doing this. We fairies have three magical cocks. At a signal from me these cocks will appear on the crest of the hill at the back of the castle, and will sing a song. This will so astonish the sentinels that they will be thrown off their guard. I will then slip in through a loop-hole, unlock the postern door, and let you in. We will tell Maghar how he can escape. Then the cocks will appear again, and while the attention of the guards is distracted, we will get out of the castle. Remember now to be here at daybreak.”

And the fairy disappeared, much to Sybil’s regret, who had a hundred questions to ask him about her brother’s appearance, and treatment. He had not even told her what his plan was for her brother’s escape. But he did not come back, and she was obliged to be satisfied with the information she had.

The programme was carried out in every particular. Christern[Pg 113] acted his part of beggar so well that he managed to get near the postern door, unsuspected, with the fairy snugly tucked into a fold of his ragged dress. On arriving at the place the fairy concealed himself in some vines. At the appointed signal three magnificent cocks appeared abreast on the top of the hill.


The like of these cocks had never been seen in that country, and they immediately attracted the attention of everybody. But when they opened their mouths, and began to sing the words of a war song,[Pg 114] the sentinels forgot everything, and deserted their posts to get as near the wonderful songsters as possible without alarming them.

Now was the time to slip into the castle easily. But the whole plan had liked to have miscarried through a circumstance unforeseen by the fairies who had contrived it. Christern was fully as much delighted and astonished with the magical cocks, as the sentinels; and was on the point of rushing off with the men, when the fairy, fortunately, perceived his intention, and, darting out of the postern door, which was open, he pulled Christern’s hair so vigorously that the old man was reminded of his duty, and felt heartily ashamed that he had, for a moment, forgotten his dear young master.

The fairy conducted Christern, at once, to Maghar’s room. He had found out where the key of the door was kept, and Christern unlocked it. Maghar was lying on a bed of straw in a corner of a stone cell. He looked sick with despair. He did not move when the door opened, but, as soon as he heard Christern’s voice, he sprang up instantly. His pale face flushed, his dulled eyes brightened, and, from that moment, he was filled again with life, hope, and vigor.

The method of escape planned by the fairies was a desperate one. This was the reason the fairy had taken care to disappear before Sybil could ask him what it was. He knew she would think it impossible. But the fairies had full faith in its success, if only Maghar would have the nerve and the courage to go through his part.

At certain hours sentinels went the rounds of the castle rooms to see that all was right. The fairy knew this, and had planned this visit just after the morning round. These sentinels had rather a monotonous life, and were glad enough sometimes, especially of an evening, to stop awhile and have a chat with a prisoner who could tell them as much as Maghar; consequently he was to take occasion at the next visit of the sentinels to invite conversation; to skilfully introduce the subject of horseback riding; to boast of his own powers in[Pg 115] this line; and to declare that if he had a horse he knew of at his old home, he could make the leap from the top of the tower across the chasm, and land safely on the opposite side on the hill that he could see from his window. The sentinels would not credit this, but would talk of it in the court-yard, and, finally, it would reach the ears of the governor of the castle and his officers. Their curiosity would be aroused to see if he would really have the courage to make the attempt. As for the successful accomplishment of such a leap, they would consider it impossible. The young knight would be dashed to pieces at the foot of the tower. But it would be a good way to get rid of him. They could let it be known that he had perished through his own fool-hardiness. They would give him permission to make the leap, and ask where the horse was to be found. Maghar was to direct them to the cave of the magician, taking care not to let them know that he was anything more than a simple hermit. The magician would have a horse ready—one that he had endowed with such magical powers that it would make the leap with ease. And besides myriads of fairies would be hovering around, invisible to all eyes except Maghar’s, and these would help to keep up his courage. As for getting the horse up the castle stairs that was easily managed. Maghar had only to play an air on the flute, and the horse would follow him up stairs or down.

This was the plan of the fairies. Christern was appalled when he heard it. But Maghar embraced it at once. It was better, he told Christern, to be dashed to pieces at the bottom of the abyss than to suffer the slow torture of starvation.

The old man and the fairy, being in fear of discovery, made the interview as short as possible. They returned to the postern door, the fairy went outside through the loop-hole, gave his signal, and again the wonderful cocks appeared on the hill. This time they sang a merry song, and kept time to the music with their feet. Again the[Pg 116] sentinels were charmed into deserting their posts, and Christern and the fairy got safely away.

Maghar had his talk with the guards, and, by the next afternoon, everybody in the castle, from the governor to the stable boys, had heard of his great boast about the leap. Everything turned out just as the fairy had said. The governor, and his officers, glad to have some sport, proposed to Maghar that he should make good his boast. They felt certain he would be killed, and in that way they would happily be rid of him. But they did not tell him this. He agreed to the proposition, without manifesting any eagerness, but stipulated that he should have food, and drink to strengthen him, and that his sword and armor should be restored to him. These requests were granted. It was no longer necessary to starve him as he was to be killed another way.

The good magician had the horse ready for the messengers. The animal knew exactly what was expected of him; and, when Maghar was led down by his guards to the yard to see the steed, it rubbed its head against his shoulders as if glad to see him, which action convinced the spectators that the two were old acquaintances, whereas they had never seen each other until that moment.

It was a powerfully-built horse, of a roan color, with bright, intelligent eyes, and a flowing mane, and tail of pure white. Everybody admired it, and the next day the battlements of the castle were crowded with people to witness the daring feat of horsemanship. The top of the northern tower was left clear for the horse and rider. The top of the southern tower was reserved for the governor, and his officers.

These remained below, at first, to witness the ascent of the stairs, which, in itself, was a remarkable thing for a horse to do. Maghar walked up the stairs playing an inspiriting air on the flute, and the horse followed him readily but slowly up the long and winding ascent, to the very top of the northern tower.

[Pg 117]


[Pg 118]

The great personages then took their places on the other tower, and Maghar got upon the back of the horse.

Up to this moment he had been perfectly cool and self-possessed; but now, as he looked across the yawning chasm, forty feet wide, at the wall of the precipice opposite, a spasm of fear came over him. He did not see the cloud of fairies about him. His hand trembled, and he held the bridle so unsteadily that the horse stumbled on the narrow battlement. The stones of the old tower were loose, and several large ones went down into the abyss with a thundering sound, frightful to hear. One of the hind feet of the horse slipped over the edge of the wall, turning Maghar a little in the saddle, so that he looked down into the awful abyss.

At this sight he made a superhuman exertion to right himself in the saddle, and, by this violent impetus he threw the horse over so much to the opposite side that it was able to regain its foothold on the tower. Perhaps, too, the fairies helped it a little. Maghar saw these friendly little people now, and the sight gave him new courage.

The horse stepped carefully to the unbroken side of the tower. Maghar saw that the horse was standing firmly; and, then without allowing a moment for reflection, he urged the noble beast to the leap.

It sprang frantically into the air; or so it seemed to the spectators. But really it was not frantic at all, but a steady, powerful impetus that carried it clear across the great chasm.

Horse and rider landed safely on the opposite bank! Enemies and infidels though they were, the spectators cheered and shouted in admiration of this wonderful feat of horsemanship!

Maghar dismounted for a few moments, taking care to put the cover of a thick copse between himself and any arrow shots that might be sent after him. He wished to compose his own nerves, for they had been terribly shaken. But he soon mounted again, and was off like the wind.

[Pg 119]

He was not pursued. The infidels knew it to be useless, for he had a level country before him, and they must toil over rough ground, and high hills to reach his starting-place. And perhaps, too, they thought he had shown such courage and skill that he deserved his freedom.

For they never knew anything about the magical powers of the horse; and, though the infidels were long ago driven out of the country, and the old castle is a heap of ruins, the story of the wonderful leap of the knight Maghar is still related in the neighborhood.

[Pg 120]


This is a queer name for a fish. But then you must admit, after a glance at its portrait, that it is a very queer fish. It is not shaped much like a cow, but it gives milk; and it gets the name of cow from that circumstance.

It not only gives milk to its young, but it is warm-blooded, while fishes are, you know, cold-blooded. It also breathes through lungs instead of gills like fish. In all these things it resembles the whale. The fact is that neither whales or sea-cows are really fishes, though they are generally considered as such, as they live in the water and swim about like fishes.

Sometimes a sea-cow is found that measures fifteen feet, but, usually, they are much smaller. Perhaps you may have heard of this creature by the name of manatee.

Its body is oblong; it has a flat tail, which is quite broad; its fins are something like arms, and its head is small, with the most comical face you ever saw. I am afraid you would be so impolite as to laugh in its face if ever you saw one.

It has rather a stupid expression, in which respect it differs from its cousins of the seal family. But it has ideas of its own, and very good ones; and it is very playful when in its native element.

It is easy to capture these poor beasts, for they always swim in crowds; and, if one is hurt with the harpoon, the others, instead of taking themselves out of danger, stay by their wounded comrade, and do everything in their power to assist him. They will try to pull out the weapon, or bite at the rope attached to it, and in this way hunters can often secure a whole troupe of manatees.


The sea-cow has a thick skin, and a layer of fat under it to keep it warm. The arm-like fins are terminated by curious appendages [Pg 122]like fingers, except they are united by a sort of membrane, or skin. At the ends of these are nails, similar to finger nails. The resemblance of these fins to hands must be strongly marked, for it is from these it gets its name of manatee, from the Latin manus, a hand.

It is said by some that the female manatee carries her young in these arm-like fins, but this is not at all probable.

The sea-cow feeds upon plants, and is, therefore, generally found near the shores of rivers and lakes. It prefers a warm climate.

It is hunted for its oil, of which it yields a good supply of very excellent quality; and for its flesh, which is juicy and tender eating.

The female manatees are affectionate mothers. They take great care of their children, and keep them by them a long time, to train them in the way in which they should go.

[Pg 123]


The ostrich is the largest bird known to exist in the world. Its body is rather small in proportion to the length of its neck and its legs. The latter are very large and strong. The wings and tail are short, and the feathers are extremely beautiful.

For these feathers they are hunted; but their speed is so great that it is impossible for the swiftest horse to overtake them. The European hunters shoot them, and the native Africans have various expedients for entrapping them. They can run from a hunter as fast as the fleet-footed antelope.

It is said, that, on being pursued, the birds become very much frightened, and hide their heads in the sand, thinking that no one can see them, because they themselves cannot see, and that many are run down and captured in this way. But this account has been contradicted by travelers, and it is not at all probable that so sprightly-looking a bird is so very stupid.

The wings of the ostrich are not intended for flight, but they assist it in running. The bird cannot fly at all. If it could there would be no use for such prodigious legs as it has.

But the ostrich can run! It is estimated that one of these giant birds at full speed, travels at the rate of thirty miles an hour, which is as fast as most locomotives go! But then the bird gets tired after awhile, and the locomotive does not. The ostrich, however, can travel a very long distance before it gives out from fatigue.

It is a magnificent-looking bird when it is traveling over its native sands at full speed, with its head proudly erect; its bright eyes gleaming, its wings outspread, and its feet twinkling over the sand so fast you can scarcely see them.


In a public garden in Paris there is a fine ostrich, which is very [Pg 125]gentle, and good-natured. He allows himself to be harnessed to a carriage, in which little children ride about the grounds. He is not permitted to go very fast, as he would not keep in the road in that case; but a keeper walks by his side to regulate his gait; and one of the children acts as driver, holding the reins, which are passed around the lower part of the bird’s neck.

But, you may say, the ostrich is indeed very large, but it is not so very much like a bird, because it cannot fly.

The ostrich is certainly a bird; but, if you insist upon it that a bird must fly, we will take a look at the condor, and see how large he is.

He is intended for flight, you see, and has short legs, and long powerful wings. He is swifter on the wing than the ostrich on his feet, and will take a steady flight for miles without weariness. He has a large body to carry through the air, but, though large, it is light, and his wings are enormous.

A large full-grown condor, with its wings spread, measures from twelve to fourteen feet from tip to tip of the wings; and nine feet is the measure of very ordinary specimens.

It lives on the highest peaks of the Andes mountains in South America; and builds its nests on crags that are inaccessible to man. It cares nothing for snow and ice, nor for the great tempests of wind that sweep over these lofty summits. Among these cold, desolate rocks it makes its nest, and rears a hardy brood of young ones. When it wants food for its family, it perches upon a jutting rock, and sends its piercing glance far down into the cultivated valleys below. When it has singled out an object it comes down with a swift, grand swoop of its wings, and strikes its prey with unerring aim.

It has marvelously keen and long vision, and can see an object several miles distant with ease.


Seen thus upon the wing, the condor is a most majestic-looking bird; but when you get a near view of him you find he is nothing but [Pg 127]a great vulture, and has all the disagreeable features and traits of a vulture; being a cruel, greedy, and dirty creature, that is glad to feed upon carrion; and having an ugly, hooded head, fierce eyes, and a savage beak. His wings are his beauties.

The condor is fond of carrion, but it also feeds upon living animals, or, I should say, kills animals, and feeds upon the fresh flesh. It is very strong with its beak and talons; and two of them will sometimes attack and kill a sheep, or even a cow.

Having seen such very large birds, let us turn to the other extreme, and find out what we have in the way of small feathered creatures.

You have, no doubt, in the summer, watched the brilliantly-colored humming-birds flying around the flowers, and dipping their long bills into the blossoms to find the insects that may be there. They want these insects for their dinner, and they run their bills so deftly into the blossoms, and touch them so daintily that they do not injure them in the least. On the contrary they help them by eating the insects that would otherwise feed upon the flowers.

While doing this you will observe they make a little buzzing noise with their wings. From this they get their name.

When hovering over a flower they move with such rapidity that you can scarcely see any motion at all, and the birds look as if they were painted on the air.

You think these humming-birds very small; but in South America, the home of the condor, they have some humming-birds no larger than bumble-bees! It would be a curious sight to see one of these by the side of the condor! But, while the latter lives on the snowy mountain tops, the humming-birds stay in the warm valleys, where there are plenty of flowers and insects.

It is generally supposed that these birds live on the honey of the flowers. They do often eat the honey, but they prefer insects.


There are a great many species of these tiny birds, and nearly all [Pg 129]are brilliantly colored. The most gorgeous specimens are found in tropical countries. They are differently marked. Some have such bright spots on their tails that they are called “sparkling-tailed.”

Humming-birds build their diminutive nests on vines and low trees. Their eggs are the size of little peas, and white in color. The species I mentioned as being no larger than bees build the dearest little nests, no bigger than a walnut; and they put into them the cunningest little eggs, and hatch out their very small young ones, just as grandly as if they were great condors.

And they do not like confinement any better than the condors do. Shut up in cages they generally pine, and die. They are made for sunshine and flowers, free, out-door life and happiness.

[Pg 130]


“Father,” said George Moore, one stormy winter’s night, “won’t you please tell me of some one of your adventures?”


“You seem never to tire of my adventures,” said his father, smiling.[Pg 131] “Did I ever tell you how nearly I was lost once, in a snow-storm, in the tropics?”

“A snow-storm in the tropics! How could that be?”

“It happened when I was quite a young man, that, for several months, in the course of business, I had to stay at a lonely place on the coast of Peru. I was in a town, but it was a dull one, and only showed signs of life when some trading vessel would lie there for a day or two. My only amusement was seal fishing; but I soon tired of that, for I was not very successful. It was a sport that required more practice than I was able to give it. The boats are nothing but two bags of skin, connected by a narrow deck, and I did not consider them altogether safe, for me, at least.

“At last I thought I would vary the monotony of my life by a little trip up the Andes mountains. I could not go alone, of course, but a small sum was sufficient to hire a guide, and two men besides, and four mules. There were no hostile Indians to fear, and the guide was all that I needed, but I knew he would be better contented with some companions, and I felt, myself, that it would be a lonely sort of journey for two.

“It was my intention to make an early start, but it was quite late in the morning before I could get the lazy natives on the road. The first part of our march was across a sandy, stony desert, with the rays of a hot sun beating on our heads. My broad-brimmed Panama did not prevent my face from blistering, and the white cotton cape I wore did not seem to be much of a protection.

“We halted twice to take some refreshments, and short rests; and, before sunset, we arrived at a miserable sort of inn, where we remained for three hours, and rested ourselves and the mules; and both men and beasts ate hearty suppers. Then we continued our journey, for it was more pleasant to travel at night than in the day. It was evident that we were reaching higher ground, though the ascent was so easy[Pg 132] as scarcely to be perceptible. But the air gradually became fresher and cooler, and, at last, a woolen cloak was comfortable.

“When day came we found ourselves in a region almost as barren as the desert we had left the day before. We were on a rocky plain, high up on the hills, or, more properly, small mountains. No plants grew on this plain except a few species of cactus, which flourish in the poorest soils: there were no signs of life, but flocks of turtle-doves.”


[Pg 133]

“That must have been a pretty sight, though, father! I should like to see a great many turtle-doves together.”

“You would not, if you were a Peruvian farmer, for these poetical birds are the very mischief in the grain-fields. They only troubled us by their melancholy wail. Their sad notes made this dreary solitude still more awful.

“But I had a consolation. Before me rose grandly up the high peaks of the Andes. Their white tops seemed to touch the sky.

“After a time, to my surprise, we began to descend. In a few hours more we were in a lovely valley, filled with villages, and farms, and trees, and flowers. I staid there two days enjoying the valley, and inspecting its curiosities, which I will tell you about some time.”

“Was it warm in the valley?”

“Yes, but not oppressively hot. It was high up on the hills; and then it was the month of August, and the winter season.”

“Winter season in August?”

“Of course. I was south of the equator, where the seasons, you know, are just the reverse of ours. We commenced the ascent of the mountains in high spirits. The wind was cool and bracing; and the vegetation all around us was of great interest to me. But it began to change rapidly; and, before night, we were among huge stones, and jagged rocks, where only evergreens were seen.”

“How could you find the way?”

“There was a rough kind of road over the mountains. In many places I should never have been able to find it at all, but the guide knew all the landmarks.

“The first night we spent in an Indian cabin; and the next morning continued our journey, but we were not so gay as on the preceding day. It was bitter cold, and we needed all the wraps we had with us. I do not know how our two companions managed to wander away from the road, as they afterwards insisted that they did. I think[Pg 134] the cold was too much for their courage, and they grew tired of their bargain, and made up their minds to fall back of us, and watch a chance to turn around and go home. The guide and I soon missed them, and we rode about in various directions, calling them, and searching for them. But it was easy enough for them to conceal themselves behind a rock, or in a ravine, and we could not find them. We gave them up at last, hoping they would find their way back again.

“But we soon discovered that, in looking for them, we had lost our way. For hours we wandered about, and my guide could not find a trace of the road. This was serious, for we had but a small stock of provisions, as there were Indian huts scattered all along the regular route, on which we had relied for supplies. We could not travel over this rough country at night; and a night’s exposure to the cold was not to be thought of without a shudder. And besides, we might never find our way out of this frightful solitude.”

“Was there nothing anywhere about to show that any kind of people lived there?”

“No. It seemed to me we were the first human beings who had ever set foot there. In the midst of our perplexities my guide pointed silently to the sky. There were several small, thick, white clouds floating there. They did not look very terrible, but the guide said we would soon have a storm, and we must try to find shelter. Soon more white clouds floated into sight, and they increased until they hid the sun from us. We were now on smoother ground, and pressed forward as fast as we could, but there was no place of shelter to be seen, not even an overhanging rock.

“Soon the wind came with a rush; and then the thunder and lightning. Our mules broke into a gallop. We enveloped ourselves in the folds of our great woolen wrappers, called tapacaras, lifting our heads once in a while to see where we were going. Next we were treated to a shower of hail-stones. Fortunately they were not very[Pg 135] large, but we were rather severely thumped with them. The poor mules fared the worst.

“And then came the snow. The arctic regions could not furnish a better example of a snow-storm than this tropical place! It fell so thick and fast we could not see twenty steps in advance. My heart failed me then. I thought we were lost, and would be buried in snow drifts.

“But just then a dark object loomed up before us. ‘An Indian lodge!’ I cried in joy.

“The guide said nothing, but rode on before me, and called to me to dismount. I was glad enough to do this, and he pointed to the open doorway of the building. It was so low I had to crawl through it, but I was thankful to get in, in any fashion.”

“I wonder, father, that you were not afraid of finding something dreadful in there!”

“I did not stop to think about the matter. And then I knew there was something dreadful outside. So, in I went, and found the place entirely empty. The guide followed me as soon as he had covered the mules, and made them as comfortable as he could.”

“It was a deserted house, I suppose.”

“No, it was a tomb.”

“A tomb! Out in that lonely place!”

“Yes, but then the place had not always been lonely. I found out afterwards that that region was once inhabited by a tribe of Indians. They all perished before their country was discovered by Europeans, but some of their dwellings, and many of their tombs remained. These tombs were large stone buildings, with one room, lighted by a single window. This room was capable of holding ten or twelve dead bodies, placed in a sitting posture. These bodies were first embalmed—made into what we call mummies. When the tomb was full the door was sealed up. The Europeans opened these sepulchres that [Pg 137]had been sealed up for centuries; and carried the mummies away to put into museums.


“The tomb in which we had taken refuge had been despoiled of its mummies long before. The room inside was about ten feet square. It was built of very large stones, and had sloping walls. It was a cheerless place enough, but seemed sumptuous to us, after what we had passed through.

“In half an hour the storm ceased, and we proceeded on our journey, hoping to recover the road. But we could not, and night was approaching, with no prospect of a shelter. So we retraced our steps to the sepulchre once more, lighted a fire within, consumed the last of our provisions, gave the mules what was left of their provender and slept soundly all night.”

“Were you not afraid of wild beasts?”

“There were none in that region, or at least the guide knew of none. There were too many settlements among the mountains. And the guide still insisted upon it that we had not wandered far from the regular route. I had my doubts on the subject, but they did not prevent me from sleeping soundly, for I was very tired.

“The next morning was bright, and we set off in better spirits, and with renewed hope, though rather hungry. Our hunger became so great after a time that it quite conquered our spirits, and we stumbled about the rocks, sick and dispirited. We spared our mules all we could, for the poor beasts were nearly worn out and half starved. If they failed us we would indeed be in a bad plight.

“Finally, utterly exhausted, we all laid down, beasts and men together, to keep warm, and to rest. I was just dropping into a doze when I heard the sound of music. The guide heard it also, and we both started up, and felt new life in our veins. So suddenly did hope spring up in our hearts, that all fatigue dropped from us as if by magic. The mules too pricked up their ears at the sound. We sprang upon [Pg 139]their backs and were soon traveling towards the point from whence the music came. It was not long before we came upon the musician.


“A bare-legged Indian, in a gay striped cloak and broad Panama hat was running along at a rapid pace, and playing upon a mouth-organ. He led a bony horse which trotted gently after him. Across its back was a leathern bag.

“This man was a mail carrier, and was on his way from the sea-coast to some mountain town. So it turned out that the guide was right, and we had not been at any great distance from the settlements. Nevertheless, had it not been for the music of this poor little mouth-organ we might have wandered off in a contrary direction from the highway, and have lost ourselves in the forest, and perished there. Indeed we might never have awakened from the sleep into which we were falling when we heard the strain of music.”

“Did you go with the mail carrier, father?”

“No. He was not going to the place for which we were bound. But he told us that just behind the spur of the mountain we would find an Indian village. And there we rested for a day and refreshed ourselves, and filled our provision bags, and procured a guide to the road we wished to take. The rest of my journey was made in safety.”

“But, father, I don’t think that was a tropical snow-storm, when it happened in so cold a place. I always think of tropic as meaning hot.”

“It was a tropical snow-storm George, certainly, for we were in the tropics, only a few degrees south of the equator. The weather was cold because we were so high up in the air.”

[Pg 140]


That is, how it is said that they went to the moon. That no man ever did go is very certain, and that no one ever will go, is very probable, but true as these statements are, they did not prevent a Frenchman from writing a story about a trip to the moon, undertaken by two Americans, and one Frenchman.

I cannot tell you all this story, but I can give you a few of the incidents that occurred during the journey, and although these are purely imaginary, they are very interesting and amusing. If any one ever had made this journey he would probably have gone as these three people went in the story. Everything is described as minutely and carefully as if it had really happened.

The journey was made in an immense, hollow cannon ball, or rather a cylindrical shot, which was fired out of a great cannon, nine hundred feet long!

This cannon, which was pointed directly at the spot where the moon would be by the time the ball had time to reach it, was planted in the earth in Florida, where thousands of people congregated to see it fired off.

When the great load of gun-cotton was touched off by means of an electrical battery, there was a tremendous explosion, and away went the great hollow projectile, with the three travelers inside, directly towards the moon.

This projectile was very comfortably and conveniently arranged. The walls were padded and there were springs in the floor, so that the inmates might not receive too great a shock when they started. It was furnished with plenty of provisions, with contrivances for lighting and ventilating it, and a machine for manufacturing atmospheric[Pg 141] air, which is something that travelers do not expect to find at the moon.

There were thick plate-glass windows in the sides, and everything that could be thought of to make the trip comfortable and safe was found in this curious aerial car.


Not only were there three men in the projectile, but it contained[Pg 142] two dogs and some chickens. The picture shows the dogs, which were handsome creatures, and it will also give you an idea of the inside arrangements, with the telescope, and the guns hanging on the wall.

The distance from the earth to the moon was to be accomplished in about four days, and after the first shock of the starting, which was quite heavy, notwithstanding the springs and the cushions, our travelers began to make themselves at home.

They talked, they ate and drank and smoked. They took observations out of their windows, and watched the earth recede until it looked like a great moon, and saw the moon approach until it seemed like a little earth.

One of them, the Frenchman, was in such high spirits that if his companions would have allowed him he would have got outside of their little house and stood in triumph on the very top, as it went whizzing through the air.

The artist has given us a picture of how he would have looked if he had stood out there where he wanted to perch himself.

His idea was that as there was as much momentum in him as there was in the projectile, there was no danger of his falling off and being left behind.

But if any of you ever do go to the moon in a hollow cannon-ball, I would strongly recommend you not to get outside.

After a while they passed beyond the limit of the earth’s attraction, and began to enter that of the moon. But when they were about on the line between these two attractions, a very singular thing took place. Everything in the projectile, the men, the dog, (one of the dogs died the first day and was thrown out) the telescope, the chickens and every article that was not fastened down, seemed to lose all its gravity or weight.

As there is no reason why anything without weight should stay in[Pg 143] any particular place, unless it is fastened there by some mechanical means, these people and things began to float about in the air.


The men rose up and were wafted here and there by a touch.[Pg 144] Hats floated away and chickens and telescopes hung suspended between the floor and the roof, as thistledown, on a still summer’s day floats in the air.

Even the dog, who thought that he was sitting on the floor, was sitting in the air, several feet from the floor.


[Pg 145]

This was a most remarkable state of things, and it is no wonder that the travelers could not very soon get used to it.

To feel oneself soaring like a balloon must certainly be a curious sensation.

But these men expected all sorts of strange experiences, and so this did not frighten them, and the nearer they came to the moon, the more effect her gravity had upon them, and as the projectile gradually turned its heaviest end towards the moon its inmates gradually recovered their weight, and sat and stood like common people.

After journeying still further they had another very strange experience.

As they gradually neared the moon they found that they were also revolving around it. This was very unfortunate. If this motion continued, the result of their journey would be that their projectile would become a lunar satellite—a moon’s moon. They would go around and around forever, and never reach the moon or be able to get back to the earth.

After a while they got around to the shadow side of the moon, so that she was between them and the earth.

Then they were in total darkness excepting when they lighted their gas-burner, and they could not keep the gas burning all the time, as their supply was getting rather low.

But the darkness was not their chief trouble. It began to be very cold. And then it got colder and still colder, until they thought they should freeze into solid lumps. Their breath congealed so that it fell in the form of snow about them, and the poor dog, shivering under a cloak, lay upon the floor as cold as if he had been dropped into a deep hole in an ice-berg.

They thought it must be still colder outside, and so they lowered a thermometer through a small trap-door in the floor, and when they drew it in the mercury stood at 218 degrees below zero!

[Pg 146]

That was a very fine thermometer, and it is a Frenchman who tells this story.


At last they passed around the moon, and again found themselves upon its sunny side. Then they were happy. Light and heat, after the dreadful darkness and cold through which they had passed were[Pg 147] enough to make men happy, especially men so far away from home and all the comforts and conveniences of civilized society.

As they passed around the moon they had a fine opportunity of observing the lunar landscapes. They were not so far away but that with their glasses they could see the mountains and plains, and all sorts of curious caves, and wonderful formations like forts and castles, but which they knew to be nothing but great masses of the moon’s surface, thrown up in these strange shapes by volcanic action. It is probable that what is described in this story is very like what the real surface of the moon must be.

After they had revolved some time they found that they were getting farther and farther away from the moon, and this made them suppose that they were moving in an elliptical orbit. They were much discouraged by this idea, for they thought, and very justly too, that there was now no chance of the moon’s drawing them towards itself, so that they would fall upon its surface.

This they had hoped to do, and they did not expect to suffer from the fall, for the attraction of the moon is so much less than that of the earth that they thought they would descend rather gently on the moon’s surface. But now there seemed to be no chance of their getting there at all.

At last, however, they found that they were passing entirely out of the line of the moon’s attraction, and after that they perceived plainly that they were falling.

But not upon the moon. They were falling towards the earth!

This was dreadful. A fall of 240,000 miles! But they could not help it, and down they went.

Out in the Pacific ocean there was a United States steamship, taking soundings. The captain was astonished to find at the place where they were sailing, about two hundred miles from the coast of California, that the water was so deep that the longest sounding lines would scarcely reach the bottom.

[Pg 148]

As he and his officers were discussing this matter, a distant hissing sound was heard, like the escape of steam from a steam-pipe. But it sounded as if it were high up in the air. It came nearer and nearer and grew louder and louder, and as all eyes were turned upwards towards the point from which the hissing seemed to come, they saw what they thought was a great meteor, rapidly approaching them from the sky.


[Pg 149]

It seemed to be coming directly towards the ship. In a moment more they saw plainly that it was coming straight down on the ship!

Before they had time to do anything, or even to give warning to those who were below, it dashed into the sea just before the vessel, carrying away the bowsprit in its furious descent.

Fortunately that was all the damage it did. Had the vessel been a few yards farther in advance it would have been instantly sunk.

It was a most narrow escape, and everybody felt wonderfully relieved when this great object, which looked like a ball of fire as it came so rapidly through the air, sank hissing into the sea.

But the officers guessed what it was, when it had disappeared. They had heard of the wonderful trip to the moon that had been undertaken by the three adventurers, and they very sensibly supposed that this must be the projectile that had fallen back upon the earth.

When they had made up their minds about the matter, and this did not take them long, they began to think what they should do. The unfortunate men in the projectile might be yet alive, and measures should instantly be taken to rescue them, if they were living, and in any case, to raise the projectile and discover their fate.

But the vessel had no machinery by which this ponderous mass could be drawn up from the bottom of the sea, especially as the sea was at this spot about four miles deep.

So they determined to return as rapidly as possible to San Francisco and obtain the necessary machinery for the work. Fortunately they had been sounding and had a line out. So they fastened a buoy to this line to mark the place, and steamed away at the best speed of their vessel, for San Francisco.

When they reached this port the news was telegraphed to the proper authorities, and, indeed, all over the country, and of course it created a great excitement.

The officers of the Society which had been the means of sending off[Pg 150] these three men on their hazardous journey, went immediately to work, and in a few days the steamer, supplied with diving machinery and grappling irons, set out to return to the scene of the disaster.

There everybody worked rapidly and manfully. Diving bells were lowered and everything that could be done was done, but although they labored day and night, for several days no trace of the great projectile could be found on the bottom of the ocean, after searching carefully for a mile or two on every side of the buoy that had been left when they returned to San Francisco.

At last they became convinced that further search was useless, and much to the disappointment of everybody, and the intense grief of the friends of the unfortunate men who had come out on the vessel when it started on its errand of rescue, the Captain ordered the steamer to return to San Francisco.

When they had been sailing homeward for an hour or so, a sailor discovered, about a mile from the vessel, what seemed to be a large buoy, floating on the surface of the sea.

In an instant every glass in the vessel was directed towards this object. It was like a buoy, but it had a flag floating from the top of it!

The steamer immediately headed for it, and when they came near enough everybody saw what it was.

It was the great projectile quietly floating on the waves!

The air which it contained had made it so buoyant that although it probably sank to the bottom of the ocean in its rapid descent, it had risen again, and was now riding on the surface of the ocean like a corked bottle.

But were the men alive? This must be settled instantly.

In a very few minutes two boats were launched and were soon speeding towards the floating projectile as fast as strong arms could pull them.

[Pg 151]

When the first boat reached the great hollow iron cannon-shot they saw that one of its windows, which was some distance above the water, was open.

Two of the boat’s crew stood up and looked in.

Our three moon-travelers were quietly sitting inside playing dominoes!


The great depth of the ocean had broken their fall, and they were all safe and uninjured. They knew some one would come for them, and they were making themselves as comfortable as they could.

[Pg 152]

Of course they were speedily taken out of their iron house, in which they had lived for nearly a month, and in which they had met with such strange adventures and such narrow escapes.

Then with our three friends on board, the steamer started back for San Francisco, where our adventurers were received with the wildest enthusiasm, which indeed attended them during all their journey to their homes in the Atlantic States.

And so ended this trip to the moon.

It was a very wonderful thing for any one to even imagine such a journey as this, and I do not believe that any one but a Frenchman would have imagined it.

[Pg 153]


The people of Toorkistan, or Independent Tartary, are splendid riders. They have fine horses, of which they take the greatest care. But their way of taking care of horses is very different from ours.

The saddles are never taken off, night or day; and many Tartars will not allow their horses to lie down at all because they say the corn settles in their legs, and makes them lame! They are walked about a great part of the time they are not on the road, sometimes for four or five hours after coming in. At the beginning of the day’s march they are allowed a full drink of water, but none during the day, while the sun is hot. On first coming in from a journey, they are walked up and down a long time, after which without being unsaddled, the bit is taken out, and they are tied up, and covered from head to tail with thick horse cloths, even in hot weather. Then they are fed with barley, and Indian corn, and a very little grass.

We would think it cruel to keep a horse saddled and tied up in this way, but the Tartar horses seem to thrive on this treatment. Their saddles are more comfortable for the horse than ours, being well raised above the back bone. These saddles are of wood, with a high peak in front; and the rich Tartars cover them with embroidered cloths, and silver mountings.

The horses are kept beautifully clean, and their coats are as smooth and glossy as satin. In order to test whether his horse has been properly groomed, the owner will wet the white sleeve of his shirt, and rub it upon the horse’s coat. If there is not the least mark on the sleeve he is satisfied.

The Tartars hunt birds on horseback, with great success. In the case of partridges they gallop after the birds until they run them down, and tire them out, when they can catch them alive.

[Pg 154]


[Pg 155]

They have several games which they play on horseback. In one of them the riders all try to get possession of each other’s turbans! This seems rather childish, but it is no child’s sport to accomplish this, and the players perform most surprising feats of horsemanship.

They also have wrestling matches on horseback, trying to dislodge one another from the saddle, while the horses are galloping furiously and jumping ditches.

I suppose it would be almost an impossibility for a horse to throw a Tartar rider.

[Pg 156]


When we have our minds set upon some pursuit in which we are resolved to excel, we are likely to forget any little disagreeable thing that troubles us at other times, and we are happy in our work. What pleasure a boy takes in fashioning his kite! What delight is it to a girl to put together ends of silks, ribbons and laces into a pretty bonnet for her doll! There is even pleasure in learning a Latin lesson, or in working out a difficult problem when we are interested, and are determined to do it well. The reason why so many grown persons are unhappy is because they have no occupation at all, or because they are engaged in some business which they do not like.

The best cure for this is to take up some business, and make up your mind you will like it, and try to do your very best.

When a man’s business is in any branch of what we call Art he is, perhaps, happier than he could be at anything else; for, besides the satisfaction of doing the work, it is a pleasure to see beautiful things grow under our hands.

I am going to tell you about two very happy men, who both lived in the same place—a small city in Peru. One was an artist, who spent all his time painting pictures. Let me introduce you into his home, that you may see in what kind of place this happy mortal passed his days.


The room in which he painted—his studio—was below the level of the ground. To reach it from the street you went down three broken stone steps. Pretty much all the light the artist had came from the ever-open doorway. The floor was covered with straw, and scraps of vegetables, among which chickens and guinea-pigs picked up a living. His two best friends, a dog and a cat, usually shared the room with [Pg 158]him. The cat had lost its ears and its tail, but was not the less liked by her master on that account. She was very fond of getting on his shoulder as he bent over his work, and sometimes would take a quite comfortable nap there.

Certainly it was not a beautiful home that made the artist happy.

He had the misfortune to be married to a woman who would have made most men miserable. She scolded from morning to night. The artist never could please her. No matter what he did, it was sure to be wrong in her eyes. She would stop while stirring the pot, and rail at him, shaking her greasy spoon to give emphasis to what she was saying. But the artist answered her never a word. He was so absorbed in his work that it is probable he did not hear her, half the time.

And so it was not pleasant companionship, and loving words that made him happy.

He could not even procure the proper materials for the work he loved so much. There were no shops in all that region where such things were sold. In our cities there are shops in which an artist can buy everything he needs. But our happy man could only pick up a few colors from the apothecary—the others he got himself from earths and stones he found among the mountains. From the grocer he obtained oil. The smoke of his candle furnished him with black, and his brushes he manufactured himself from the hair of the dogs killed in the city. Instead of canvas he used white cotton cloth, which he prepared in some sort of fashion; and then stretched, and tacked to a board.

With these materials, and under such disadvantages did our artist work. And he painted very good pictures too. Some of them were taken to Europe, and to the United States, and sold for twenty times more than was paid to our artist for them. But he did not know this; and the small sums he received sufficed for his simple wants.

He was always happy because his painting was to him a perpetual delight. His business was his pleasure.

[Pg 159]


[Pg 160]

The other happy man was also an artist. He was a sculptor. His statues were very singular-looking; and to our eyes, very ugly. But the people in that Peruvian town admired them greatly, and the sculptor himself thought them beautiful, and so it was all the same, as far as he was concerned, as if they really had been beautiful.

Clothed in rags and tatters, he worked faithfully in his studio, piecing together legs, and arms, and bodies, and heads, until he had an image of a man, woman, or child, that satisfied him. His room was a little better than the painter’s, but the walls were of rough stone; and, as for furniture, he would have laughed at the idea of having any.

He had such strongly marked Indian features that his face was not pleasant at first sight, but he was always in such a good humor that one soon forgot he was not handsome.

This sculptor worked in plaster. He moulded different parts of the body, and hung them up on his walls. The legs, arms, &c. were provided with wooden pegs, so that they could be properly fastened together. When he wanted to make an image he would take down the different members he required, and put them together. If they did not fit properly he would cut out blocks of plaster, and patch them up.

These statues were all colored, and the sculptor had as much difficulty in getting his colors as the painter, only he did not require so many.

One of the queer things about his statues was that they all had glass eyes! And this is the way he made them. He put fragments of window glass, cut in the shape of eyes, into a frying pan pierced with holes about an inch in diameter. As soon as the heat softened the glass sufficiently he would press the pieces down into the holes with a metal stick, and thus they would be rounded like eyes.

He procured his tools how and where he could. Old nails, old brushes, worn-out knife blades, and even sheep bones, furnished him materials.

[Pg 161]

But he took great pleasure in making these images that he thought so lovely, and which charmed his neighbors. And, occupied in this fascinating business, he had no time to think of his poverty, and troubles. He was as happy as the day is long.

[Pg 162]


The people who used to live in the northern parts of Europe were not very pleasant people, if we are to believe all the blood-thirsty stories we have heard about them, but they had a religion, although it was rather a queer one. There is one thing, however, to be said of their gods and goddesses, which is very much in their favor. They were generally honest, and tolerably strong-minded, which is much more than we can say about some of the gods of ancient Greece and Rome. Mercury, you know, was a great thief, and even Jupiter was none too good.


The Scandinavians believed that Ymer was the very first god of all, and he made his appearance in the following manner. Before the world was created heavy mists filled all the dark space. This space must have been[Pg 163] have been very cold, for the frosty air condensed the mists, and out of this compressed fog, the god Ymer came into existence.

But his brain does not seem to have been at all foggy; for, after a short time, becoming tired of being alone, he set his wits to work to find out how he could have the company of other beings like himself. He made a very good guess as to how he had taken shape; and, gathering the mists around him into foggy masses, he shaped them into forms like his own; and then waited to see what would happen. Soon the cold winds came and congealed the mists, and behold! a number of gigantic companions for the lonely god! He took good care, however, to make them smaller than himself; for, although they were twice the height of the tallest mountains on our earth, yet Ymer himself, when he laid down (if he ever did lie down) required about half the world for his bed.

Ymer was so much pleased with his success that he concluded he would make some more things out of the mists. He spread some of it out in great smooth surfaces, some he collected in small piles, and some he heaped up in great masses of many curious shapes. And that is the way the valleys, mountains, and hills were created.

The foggy material that was left fell down to an immense depth, and became the ocean.

Ymer made nothing more, for he did not know how to work in anything but mists, and they were all gone.

What he and his companions did in the way of employment or amusement I cannot say. Let us hope they took comfort in striding around the world—a walk of an hour or so—and in talking with each other. They could not see anything except by occasional gleams of lightning, for there was no light anywhere.

Monstrous creatures, such as dragons, hydras, griffins, and the like, now made their appearance in the world, but there is no account of their creation, and they must have come of their own accord.

[Pg 164]

One day a marvelous thing happened. Ymer and his giants saw a pink flush spreading over the black sky. This grew brighter, and brighter, until the whole firmament was a brilliant flame color. And, while they were wondering what this could mean, whizz! came in sight a great ball of fire! This was nothing less than a new god, named Odin. Where he came from nobody knew, but there he was. He descended upon the mountains, and took possession of Ymer’s world.

He brought with him the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars. He told the Sun to light up the world, and to warm up things generally, and to be sure to melt the ice that covered a great part of the earth. The Moon and the Stars were to take care of the earth during the night.

Odin brought with him also, a large number of followers; and, according to the invariable rule of all discoverers of new countries, he proceeded to kill all the original inhabitants; beginning with great Ymer himself, and ending with the land and sea monsters. That is, he intended to kill them all, and he thought he had. But one of the giants escaped, and also a wolf, named Fenris (a terrible creature that made nothing of crushing a mountain with his teeth). And the great sea-serpent Iormungandur was not slain.

The warmth of the sun soon called into life the grasses, the flowers, and the trees; springs welled up in the woods; and brooks and rivers flowed through the plains to the sea; and a great variety of animals took possession of the world, now so beautiful.

Odin was charmed with all this, but not quite satisfied. He wanted some beings on the earth that should be less than gods, and yet of a finer intelligence than the beasts. Thinking about this one day, as he walked by the sea-shore, his eyes chanced to fall upon a large branch that had blown off a tree into the water. This put a bright idea into his mind. He drew the wood towards him; and, splitting it in two, made a man and a woman out of the two parts. From this couple,[Pg 165] according to the Scandinavian legends, all the people in the world are descended.

People increased so fast, and were so rude and savage, and quarrelled and fought so much, that Odin found he had his hands too full of business, and he thought it was about time for his lazy followers to help him. So he set them all to work.

Forseti was to make peace among men. Vali was to teach them the use of the bow, not for the purpose of killing each other, but for slaughtering game for food. Uller was to teach skating. The goddess Gefione taught men to labor, and how to break up the earth for seed, and to raise crops. I think you will agree with me that she was one of the very best of all the Scandinavian gods, and goddesses.


Egir was a very important god. He showed men how to build[Pg 166] ships, and how to manage the sails, and the rudder. And not only did he do this, but, he very obligingly, blew the vessels along with his powerful breath, so that men were not afraid to trust themselves on the rivers in these frail-looking crafts, but even boldly launched out upon the ocean.

Widar taught people a most excellent thing—when to hold their tongues. This he did by his example, for he was dumb, and could not talk at all.

Balder was called the Bright God. He was the most beloved of them all. He put good thoughts into the hearts of men, and encouraged them to be loving and patient with each other. A beautiful silvery light always shone around him.

Now, where do you suppose all these gods lived? You would probably answer that they dwelt up in the sky, or on the tops of high mountains. No. They lived in an ash tree!

This wonderful tree bore the name of Ygdrasil. Its branches overshadowed the whole world; its top supported the sky, and its roots went so far down that no one could find the end. This tree was the home of Odin and his gods, and there they stayed, except when business called them elsewhere.

This is the way the gods found out what was going on in the world, while they were having a good time in Ygdrasil. Two ravens were always flying to and fro through the Universe, and, once a day, they would perch on Odin’s shoulders and tell him the news. A little squirrel darted swiftly up and down the tree, and picked up all the scraps of gossip it could. Near the top of the tree a great eagle kept perpetual watch, and on the very topmost branch perched a vulture; and these birds, which could see to the horizon on every side cried out, and flapped their wings when any strange thing happened.

Besides all these there was the watch-god, Heimdall. His sight and hearing were marvelous. He could hear the grass grow in the[Pg 167] fields, and hear the wool grow on the backs of the sheep. He could not only watch a fly from the one end of the world to the other, but could count the spots on its wings, and the joints in its little legs, if it was at the opposite side of the universe from himself. He could see the smallest atom that moved at the bottom of the ocean. And, what was the most astonishing of all, he could see in the darkest night as well as in the brightest day.

It is a pity this god is not living now, for he could describe to us the bottom of the ocean, and tell us if there is an open sea at the North Pole, and an icy continent at the South Pole, and a great many things we want very much to know, and have not been able to find out.


This Heimdall had golden teeth. He had also a son, named Jarl, who was a very famous god. When he was only a child he could give heavy blows with a great club, and swim like a fish, and ride on horseback as swiftly as the wind. And he understood the language of birds and beasts, and could converse with them.

[Pg 168]

There were some very queer things about these gods. We might suppose these powerful beings would be perfectly formed, but they were not. Heimdall, as we have seen, had false teeth; Tyr had but one hand; Widar was dumb; Hoder was blind; and the great Odin himself had but one eye. And it seems, too, that they did not know everything there was to be known, as the following story will show you.

There lived in the world, in those days, a very wise man, named Kvasir. He noticed how much trouble men had in expressing their thoughts in any way but speech. If one wanted to send a message to another he could only make a rude drawing on a piece of stone to represent what he wanted to say, or paint it in certain colors that stood for certain things. There was not much of this done, for not only was this process troublesome, but it was easy to misunderstand these messages; and they caused a great deal of confusion, and many quarrels, and much fighting. Kvasir wanted to remedy this; and, after a great deal of hard study, and many experiments he invented the art of writing. He also invented poetry. He called his verses runes, and he wrote them on beech bark, which he made into tablets.

The gods had never thought of doing anything like this.

There is no knowing how much Kvasir would have done if he had lived longer. Perhaps he would have invented printing and paper; which, as matters turned out, nobody thought of doing until many hundred years later.

But this wise and good man was killed by two wicked dwarfs. They did this in order to steal from him this treasure of poetry, and the art of writing. You may wonder how they were going to get at the treasure, for, after they had killed him, there could be no more poetry; and they could not pick it out of his brain as a thief takes a pocket-book out of the pocket. But these dwarfs were magicians, and such people, you know, have a pretty good idea what they are[Pg 169] about. They collected his blood, and mixed it with honey in three separate proportions. These they put into three jars which they closely sealed, and buried in a cave which had never been seen either by gods or men.

These three compounds were Logic, Eloquence, and Poetry. We shall never know what the dwarfs were going to do with them, for I am happy to say that they were not allowed to keep them.


Odin’s two ravens had witnessed the whole performance of the dwarfs, and the sensible birds concluded this must be a great treasure, or it would not be worth so much trouble. So they flew straight to Odin, and told him all about it. Odin sent the squirrel up the tree[Pg 170] Ygdrasil with an order for the eagle to leave his post, to fly to the cave, and to bring the jars to him.

This the eagle accomplished in a very short space of time, and Odin immediately opened each jar, and tasted the contents. He at once commenced reasoning eloquently in the most ravishing strains of poetry. His daughter Saga, and his son Bragi, were with their father; and, seeing how he enjoyed these new dishes, they wanted some too. Odin politely offered the first jar to Saga, but it probably did not taste pleasantly, as she declined to do more than just touch its contents to her lips. But Bragi drank up all his father had left, and immediately began to sing a magnificent chant. From that time he was called the god of poetry.

Bragi was not stingy with his treasure, but gave some of it to men, and thus the invention of the good Kvasir was used as he would have used it had he lived; and men learned to write, and to sing.

The greatest of the gods, next to Odin, was his son Thor. He was the god of tempests. He held thunderbolts shut up in his fists, and flung lightning from his fingers’ ends. He had a mighty hammer with which he reconstructed the world after Ymer had been killed. He splintered up the mountains, and made them all over again, and he knocked away at the crust of the earth, and made valleys and caves, and sometimes he amused himself by splitting open the earth, and tumbling a mountain or two into the abyss. And that was the way earthquakes came about. He made holes in some of the mountains, and let the imprisoned fire out of them.

Odin gave Thor three wonderful gifts. The first was his great hammer. It would go out of his hand to do his bidding, and then return of its own accord. The second was a pair of iron gloves. He had only to put these on, and his spear would come back into his hand after having destroyed his victim. The third was a war belt, which made him stronger than any other being while he wore it.

[Pg 171]

It is no great wonder that with all these things to help him Thor succeeded in killing off Ymer, and his race of giants, for he did most of this work.


But, you remember, in the account given of the destruction of the giants, and the land and sea monsters, that one giant escaped, and the wolf Fenris, and the great sea-serpent, Iormungandur. And, by these[Pg 172] three, after a great number of years, Odin and his gods came to grief.

The gods all understood that their fates depended upon the god of love, the bright and beautiful Balder. If he died they must die. Think then how troubled they must have been, when, one day, they heard a great cry ringing through the earth, and up to the very top of the ash tree, where was placed their highest heaven, called Walhalla. This piercing cry was: “Balder, fair Balder is going to die!” They had never thought before that their beloved Balder could die, but now they were sore afraid, not only for him, but for themselves. They were told by some wise woman that Balder would surely die unless all substances that could inflict death were made powerless. Upon hearing this his mother, Frigg, travelled over the whole world, and asked the rocks, and the pebbles, frost and rain, and wood and iron; everything, in short, to spare her son. And they all promised not to hurt him.

There was great joy among the gods when Frigg returned with this good news. So Balder was not to die, after all. And there was a great feast held in Walhalla to celebrate the glad tiding. In the midst of the merriment it was proposed to try some of these things that had promised not to hurt Balder, to see how they would avoid injuring him. One of the gods threw a clod of earth at Balder, and it broke into a cloud of dust before it reached him. Another poured a pitcher of water over him, and the water formed a cascade over him without wetting his clothes. Then they tried more dangerous weapons; a rock; a club; a sword; and Vali shot an arrow at him. All passed by him, or fell harmless. Even Thor’s mighty hammer refused to hit Balder.

At last a brother of Balder’s approached, holding in his hand a small bunch of leaves. All laughed at the sight of this harmless weapon. But alas! when the leaves struck Balder’s breast he fell,[Pg 173] and died instantly. They were mistletoe leaves, and when Frigg had asked the oak tree to spare her son, she forgot to ask the mistletoe, which grows upon the oak. So the mistletoe had given no promise; and now Balder was dead. The brother who had thrown the leaves was greatly distressed, and all Walhalla was filled with mourning.

Balder being dead, the other gods must die. The giant, who had escaped Thor’s hammer, killed some of them, and others died in various ways. Finally Thor was killed by the sea-serpent; and the great Odin was torn in pieces by the wolf Fenris.

And that was the end of the Scandinavian gods.

Then the Druid priests brought their religion into the country; and, after many years, the Romans came, and taught the Scandinavians the gospel of Jesus Christ.

[Pg 174]


It is so easy for most of us to get a drink of water when we feel thirsty, that we are not apt to even think of the vast amount of thought and labor and money that is necessary in many parts of every country in the world in order to give people a glass or a cup of water when they want it.

And yet water is often a very costly thing, so much so indeed that there are lands where people, and civilized people too, cannot afford a drink of it every time they feel thirsty.

If we live in the country we go to our well, or our spring, or our pump from the cistern, and we get all the water we want. If we live in the city we have our hydrants, and perhaps have the water carried to every floor of the house. This is because we are Americans, and, as a nation, we believe that we cannot spend too much money in making ourselves comfortable, and having thing’s convenient around us.

We build great reservoirs and conduct into them the pure water from the streams, often far distant from our cities, and we have pipes running through every street, and into every house, so that even the poorest people can always have plenty of water, no matter what else they may have to go without.

But in many countries that were civilized and enlightened long before America was ever thought of, there are to-day no such conveniences for obtaining a drink of water.

In some places in Europe water is carried about from house to house, as the milk-man brings us milk, and some of the plans of carrying it are very curious.

In parts of Holland where the canals serve as roads, there are water-boats, that go up and down the canals serving water to everyone who wishes to buy it, and has money to pay for it. And sometimes[Pg 175] it is pretty stale water when the last families get their supply. But people who are not used to Croton water, or Schuylkill, or Cochituate water do not seem to care much for this. They are glad enough to get water at all.


1. Water Carrier of Malaga. 4. Water Carrier of Guaymas.
2. Pongo. 5. French Water Carrier.
3. Water Carrier of Mexico. 6. Arabian Woman at the Fountain.


In other parts of Europe, and in this continent too, the water is carried about by men and women.

In the opposite picture you may see how some of these water-carriers supply their customers.

In Malaga a jaunty Spaniard with a cigar in his mouth, and two jars of water hanging from his shoulders and arms, walks up and down the streets selling the precious fluid at so much a quart or a pint.

[Pg 176]

In Pongo the water is conveyed in a great leathern jar on the back of a stout, bare-legged fellow who carries a long funnel, so that he can pour the water into the pitcher and pails without taking his jar from his shoulders.

In parts of Mexico the jars are fastened to broad straps which pass around the water-carrier’s head, while in Guaymas, the carrier has no load at all himself, but puts two great skins of water on the back of a little donkey.

The French water-carrier has a stick on his shoulders with a pail of water on each end; and when one shoulder is tired he can shift his load to the other, which is, perhaps, the next best thing to having a donkey.

But the water-carriers of Arabia and Egypt, who very often are women, are the most graceful and in some respects the most sensible of all. They carry their jar of water on their heads.

As this makes it necessary for them to keep themselves very erect, it gives them fine, straight figures, and a graceful walk. The disadvantage of their plan is that they cannot carry very much water at a time.

Carrying water on the head reminds me of a little negro girl I once saw in the South. This girl had been to a spring to get a pail of water. The pail was so large and the girl was so small that she had a hard time of it as she staggered along, holding the handle of the pail with both hands, and with the greatest difficulty keeping it from touching the ground.

I pitied the poor little creature, for her load was a great deal too heavy for her.

But at length she reached a stump of a tree, and by great efforts she got the pail on the top of this. Then she stooped down and managed to slide the pail from the stump to the crown of her head.

Then she stood up. She was all right! She seemed to forget that[Pg 177] she had a load, and skipped away as if she had nothing heavier on her head than a spring bonnet. She did not go directly to the house where she was to carry the water, but trotted over to where some children were playing, and began running around in a perfectly easy and unconcerned way, not appearing to think at all of her pail. But she did not spill a drop of the water.

The Southern negroes are very dexterous in this matter of carrying things on their heads.

On some of the water-melon plantations there may sometimes be seen long lines of men walking from the fields to the boats which are to be loaded with these melons, and each man carries a water-melon under each arm and one on his head.

Sometimes one of these men will drop a water-melon from under his arm, but no one ever drops one from his head.

Such a thing would be considered a disgrace.

I think it is likely that very few of us would ever have a pail of water or a water-melon, if we were obliged to carry either of them very far on our heads.

[Pg 178]


This is the kingdom of Siam in Southern Asia. It has this name because the white elephant is the national emblem, and is represented on the Siamese flag, as the eagle is on the American flag.

Siam is a very pleasant country to live in, and a good many Europeans have from time to time had their homes there, so that the Siamese, who seem to be a teachable people, have learned a great deal from them, and have copied some of their ways. The missionaries, too, have done very much to improve the manners and customs of the Siamese. But still they retain many of their old customs, and the result is a queer sort of mixture—in some things the people show themselves to be manly and intelligent, and, in others, they appear very ignorant, and degraded.

For instance, a fine-looking Siamese gentleman will be standing by your side, conversing with you. He is a nobleman of the country, dressed in silk and diamonds. He will talk with you about foreign countries, perhaps about books, and you will be astonished at his information, and will regard him as a very superior man; as, indeed, he is. But suddenly, he will go down on his hands and knees, right in the dust. What has happened? The King has appeared upon the scene! If he wishes to speak to the king this nobleman will crawl up to him on all fours, and, as long as he is in the king’s presence, if it is for two or three hours, he remains in this degrading position. The king may be a very well-informed, and a kind-hearted man, but it has never occurred to him that this old custom of his country is ridiculous and disgraceful.

The Siamese are very fond of ornament. On the next page is a portrait of one of the little princes of the royal family.


His silken suit is covered with gold and silver embroidery, and with[Pg 179] rows of precious stones. I hope that high pointed affair he has upon his head is not very heavy. It would be a very inconvenient thing to take off when he wished to make a bow to a lady. But then he never does wish to make a bow to a lady. That is a piece of good manners that no Siamese boy is ever taught.

When this young prince has his meals his attendants crouch before him on their hands and knees. When he wishes anything they crawl towards him with the articles. To stand erect in his presence would be an unheard of impropriety.

[Pg 180]

When he goes out for an airing he rides upon an elephant. Perhaps you think that would not be a very agreeable way of traveling, but there you are mistaken. The motion of an elephant is very easy, and pleasant to the rider; and it is a much more intelligent animal than the horse, and quite as gentle, and docile. A little child can lead a well-trained, tame elephant. The disadvantage of this kind of steed is that when it does take it into its great head to behave badly, it is sometimes very difficult to control, for it is exceedingly strong, and capable of doing a great deal of mischief. But these trained elephants of the Siamese seldom get into tantrums.

When the young prince takes his ride he has, at least, one attendant to walk by the elephant, and keep things all straight. The prince sits in a little ornamental tower on the beast’s back. From this lofty seat he gets a good view of the surrounding country.

Near Ayuthia, in Siam, there is a large stockade, into which the king’s elephants are driven once a year, and the finest ones are selected for use during the ensuing year. This stockade is made of posts of teak wood, driven firmly into the ground, a few feet apart. In the middle of the enclosure, thus made, is a small tower-like house, built on poles, and surrounded by strong stakes. In this are the men who are to secure the animals after they are chosen.

The king and his nobles are on a raised platform near the stockade; and they select those of the animals that have been driven into the enclosure, that they consider the most desirable.

The fine points in an elephant are these: a color approaching to white or red, black nails on the toes, and tails that have not been injured. Elephants are so fond of fighting each other that it is a rare thing to find one in a herd that has not lost some portion of its tail in a battle.


It occasionally happens, when a hunting party is out, that a white elephant is captured. This is considered a very fortunate circumstance, [Pg 182]as the possession of a white elephant by the king is supposed to bring prosperity upon the whole kingdom. The fortunate finder of this precious animal is received with great honor upon his return to court, and is magnificently rewarded.

The elephant is placed in a large enclosure, and treated with great distinction. It is caparisoned with cloth of gold; and is fed with all the dainties that elephants like. Rings of gold are placed on its tusks, and a diadem on its head. When it is sick the court physician attends it, the priests pray for it; and when it dies the whole kingdom mourns.

Of late years the people of Siam have grown less superstitious, and do not pay as many honors to white elephants as they did while in an entirely uncivilized state. But they still retain the white elephant on their flag as the emblem of their country.

[Pg 183]


It is not necessary to travel in order to find a great many curious things in vegetable growth. They lie around us everywhere.

We will find a great deal to surprise us, if we study the habits of the trees and plants about us. Some have very peculiar methods of growth; some go to sleep, and wake up at regular hours; some set little traps for catching insects; some often change the colors of their flowers; and many other curious ways they have.

But men, who travel in various countries, and study the vegetable growth of all climates, meet with very marvelous things indeed. Let us follow them about the world for awhile. But we will have to travel very swiftly, and to skip from one country to another, and back again, perhaps, with great haste.

We will first look at some trees that surprise us by their size.

On Mount Etna, in Sicily, there is a famous chestnut tree. It stands on one of the lower slopes of the mountain, so that it is often visited. There are quite a number of huge chestnut trees in that neighborhood, each of which has a distinctive name. But the “Chestnut of a Hundred Horses” is much larger than any of the others. It is a very, very old tree, and the people who now live near it, are not sure how it first got its name. Some say it was named many years ago by a Spanish queen because its thick wide branches once sheltered her and her party of a hundred horsemen, from the rain. Others say it is so called because a hundred horses can be sheltered within, and around it. It is now the home of a shepherd, who has built a hut for himself, and a fold for his sheep, within the hollow of the tree.

The trunk measures 190 feet around. It looks as if there were several trees growing together, but it is known to be all one tree.


In the centre of a graveyard, in the village of Allouville, in Normandy, [Pg 185]there stands an oak that is over nine-hundred years old. Near the ground its trunk measures thirty feet in circumference. Two hundred years ago it was fitted up as a little chapel, and is used for that purpose to this day.

The tree is hollow, as are all these very old trees. The lower part of this hollow is lined with wood, carefully plastered and wainscoted. This is the chapel. Above it, is a second story, and in this room lives a solitary man—a hermit. Above, in the branches, is a belfry, ornamented with a cross.

In another part of France, there is an oak that is known to be fifteen hundred years old. It also is hollow, but every year, like the Hundred Horse Chestnut, and the Allouville Oak, it covers itself with thick and luxuriant foliage. The circumference of this oak is over 80 feet, and its branches spread over a circumference of 380 feet.

The inside of this tree is used for a dining hall by pleasure parties. A circular bench has been cut out of the wood, and a dozen persons can sit comfortably around the table. The room has a glass door, and a window. Beautiful ferns and mosses spring out of the sides of the tree, and decorate this hall.

Not far from Smyrna, in Asia Minor, there is a very old, and a very large Plane tree. It has three stems from one root. These join into one trunk at the height of about twenty feet from the ground, thus forming a gateway. The main road runs right through this gateway, and cavalcades of horsemen, and camel riders, and vehicles pass under this singular arch.

There is another Plane tree in the island of Cos, which is almost as well known as that of Smyrna. Its spreading branches cover the whole of a large square of a city, and are so heavy that the old trunk is not able to bear their weight. The inhabitants of the city, proud of their tree, and anxious to keep it, have built columns of marble under the branches to support them.

[Pg 186]


[Pg 187]

We have been visiting single trees of different kinds. There is a family of trees, every member of which attains a great size. The Baobabs ought to be large, for they require 800 years to attain their full growth. They then measure, usually, from 70 to 77 feet in girth. Enormous branches spread out from the central stem, each one of which is a respectable size for a tree. So these trees give a splendid shade, covering a space of ground 300 feet in circumference. They do not grow very tall. These trees are found chiefly in Africa.

The Baobabs remind us of another marvel of the vegetable kingdom—the great age of some trees. We have mentioned one 900 years old, and another 1,500. The ages of these are known because the trees have been traced back historically for that length of time. But these are babies in age by the side of the Baobabs. Botanists calculate the ages of the largest Baobabs to be over 5,000 years! We must remember this is calculation, not certainty. It is positively known, however, that some of them are several hundred years old; and there are olive trees known to have lived over a thousand years. This is a very good old age when we consider that man seldom lives to a hundred.


The height to which some tropical plants that are not trees grow is[Pg 188] surprising. You have, no doubt, all seen the queer fleshy-leaved cactus that is cultivated in green-houses. This plant has no woody stem, and yet one species of it grows to the height of twenty and thirty feet.


It is called the giant candle, and it certainly looks like one.

The great height of this plant is the more surprising because it grows right out of crevices of rocks where no soil can be seen, and pushes its straight, fleshy stem up into the air without anything to shelter it from the furious winds that often sweep over the country. But it braves the winds, and grows, and grows; and every year puts forth its large white flowers, and bears upon its queer stalk a very savory fruit.

The largest palms rise to a height of 45 feet, and more or sometimes as high as 70 feet—before putting out a single branch. Then they spread out a great plume of[Pg 189] feathery leaves. The wax palm of the Andes is said to grow to the height of 200 feet.

In New Zealand, the ferns, that are here so fragile and delicate, grow so high that they look, at a little distance like small palms.

The tallest trees in the world are the giant trees of California. These are from 300 to 350 feet high; and one that was cut down was 450 feet high.

We cannot very well speak of the height of vines, but there are species of these that grow to a very great length. Sometimes one stalk will stretch itself out to the length of 150 yards. Some of the sea-weeds, thrown upon the shore, measure 500 yards in a single strip.

We must again go to the tropics if we want to find large leaves. You have, no doubt, heard of the great water-lily—the Victoria Regia, but I think you would open your eyes if you could get a sight of a river filled with these floating mammoths of leaves. They are from four to eight feet in diameter. They are, in shape, almost circular, and are turned up a little around the edges.

The strength of these leaves is almost as surprising as their size. The fibres are large, and are so woven together on the under side that they form a solid framework to support the upper part of the leaf, which is of a beautiful green, and thick, and velvety. The water-fowl choose these leaves often for sleeping places in the hot nights, and find it very pleasant, doubtless, to be thus rocked on the cool water, in a velvet bed, that will not sink.

Palms have ridges running lengthwise of their leaves, as you may see by examining a palm leaf fan. One ridged leaf of the talipot palm, when well grown, it is said, will shelter forty persons. This sounds like a traveler’s story, but single leaves of this tree have been brought to this country, and one of them will completely cover the ceiling of a good-sized room.

[Pg 190]


[Pg 191]

The leaves of the cocoanut palm are several feet long.

The juices of many vegetables possess very singular properties. The cow-tree, is so called because the sap that flows from it closely resembles milk, and is used as such by the natives.

A substance, with which you are very familiar, India-rubber, is nothing but the sap of a tree. A very useful sap it is; and, when hardened, and properly prepared, is impervious to water; and shoes, coats, coverlets, &c., are made of it. Put through another hardening process it takes a fine polish, and is made up into beautiful ornaments and useful articles.

India-rubber trees are found in South America, the East Indies, and in some parts of Africa.

In the same countries there grows a beautiful tree, which yields a thick sap, called gutta-percha. This is similar, in substance, to India-rubber, and is used for a great variety of purposes, from making lifeboats to knife-handles.

Sugar and molasses are made from the juice of a cane; maple sugar from the sap of a tree that grows plentifully in all our mountain districts. You think it wonderful that milk can be taken from a tree. Is it not quite as strange to find sugar there? I suppose you will reply to this that the milk is ready prepared, while we have to make the sugar. That is true, but we add nothing to what we take from the tree. We simply apply heat to the sap, and behold the sugar! The chief reason, I think, why we are not surprised at this sugar tree is that we are familiar with it. The inhabitants of Central America do not see anything strange in the fact of a tree bearing milk.

But there is a tree that produces sugar ready-made. This is the manna tree of Sicily. The sap hardens on the trunk and branches into sugary particles, which are scraped off with wooden knives. This kind of sugar is used principally in medicine. It is insipid in taste.

[Pg 192]

A species of Laurel in India contains camphor in all its juices. Break up twigs, stems, and leaves of this tree, and heat them, and the liquid that comes from them will soon condense into camphor gum.

The seeds of one kind of palm produce a fine oil; and the stalks of another give us wax, of which candles are made. This wax forms on the outside of the stalk, at the places where the leaves join the stem. From another palm is extracted a juice that when exposed to the air for a short time, becomes wine.

In arid deserts, and in unwholesome marshes plants flourish luxuriantly, the leaves of which contain pure, sweet, freshwater, always ready for the thirsty traveler.

So far we have only spoken of the wholesome juices of plants and trees, but a large number are full of deadly poisons. Many of these grow in our own woods and fields. Some of the poisons have been utilized in medicines, for it has been found that, properly prepared, and given in small quantities, they can frequently arrest disease. Such is opium, which we get from the poppy, strychnine, and prussic acid. All of these are terrible poisons, but when administered by a physician in small doses, they relieve pain, and help to cure disease.

Other vegetable poisons seem to be only destructive. If a man should, ignorantly take refuge under a Machineel tree from a shower, and remain there for any length of time after the rain began to drip upon him, he would suddenly discover that blisters were breaking out on his skin, and that sharp pains were running through his limbs, and he might well feel thankful if he escaped without a fit of sickness. This, at least is the story that the savages tell who live in the regions where the Machineel grows. It is probable that they exaggerate the facts, but they will none of them go near a tree of this species if they can help it; and there is no doubt that it is very poisonous.


The most celebrated of the poison-trees is the Upas, which grows [Pg 194]in several tropical countries, but chiefly in the island of Java. The accounts given of the Machineel tree are nothing compared to the wonderful stories told of the Upas. No plant, not even grass, will grow under one of these trees, or anywhere near it. A drop of water falling from a leaf on any one beneath it, will produce inflammation. Whoever walks under one of these trees bare-headed, must expect to lose all his hair. To stay under it for a short time will cause sickness. To sleep under it is certain death. Birds fly over the tree with great difficulty, and if one should chance to alight upon it, woe be to him! Instantly he drops down dead. The wild beasts know the fatal tree, and shun it, but, if one venture beneath its shadow, he never comes forth again, but leaves his bones there.

These stories which the natives really believe, they told to travelers, and, for a long time they were supposed to be true. One thing which caused these accounts to be so readily credited was the condition of things in a valley in Java, where these trees were found in abundance.

The natives of Java told the Europeans of a wonderful valley that they called the Valley of Death, because the air was so poisoned with the noxious vapors of the Upas trees that no animal ever went through the valley. It dropped dead before the short journey was completed, and the ground was strewn with the bones of creatures that had perished there. The natives were willing to conduct their visitors to a hill that overlooked this valley at a safe distance. When they arrived at this hill, there, sure enough, was the valley, Upas trees, dead grass, bones, and all, just as the savages had described it. This settled the matter for a great many years in regard to the death dealing Upas tree. Other travelers to Java, rode up this hill, looked at the Valley of Death, shuddered, and rode down again.

At last there arrived on the hill-top a man who made up his mind he would ride through this valley! And so he did! Everybody said[Pg 195] he was going to his death, but he was resolved to solve the mystery of the valley. He rode into it, and through it, and back again, and came out alive and well! Nevertheless he found the skeletons of wild animals, and of birds strewn the whole length of the valley.

It was a mystery, but it was all cleared up afterwards. The valley was fatal to all animals except man. But the Upas tree had nothing to do with it. The valley was filled with carbonic acid gas to the height of a couple of feet from the ground.

I cannot explain to you in this place how this gas is formed by plants. It would be a good plan for you to study up this subject, for it is quite curious, and very interesting. The gas is fatal to animal life. Neither man, beast, or bird can breathe it for even a short time and live. But the gas is heavier than the common air, and sinks in it. In this valley, as I have said, it extended only about two feet above the ground, and a man’s lungs were above it, so he could not inhale it. On horseback of course he was far above it. But low animals, and birds that alighted on the ground at once fell victims to it.

This led to an examination of the Upas tree stories, and most of them were found to be fables. Grass and flowers do grow around these trees in most places; birds sport upon their branches, and lizards run up and down unhurt; and it is possible to remain under them without injury of any kind.

But it is true that the juice of the upas is a powerful poison. The savages use it as a weapon to kill their enemies in war, and to slay the wild beasts. They dip the points of their spears and arrows in the poisonous sap. An animal dies in five or six minutes after being struck with one of these poisoned weapons. They take great precautions in collecting the sap, so terrible is their fear of this tree.

On some plants the blossoms are so small they can scarcely be seen by the naked eye, and on others they are of enormous proportions.

An African flower, the Aristolochia, has a large and curiously shaped[Pg 196] blossom. It is shaped like a helmet with flaring edges, and the opening is so large that it will admit the head of a man, and can be worn as a hat.

The flowers of the Victoria Regia, which are shaped very much like those of our water lily, are a yard in circumference.

But the giant of blossoms is the Rafflesia Arnoldi. This is a long name, but the flower can bear it very well.


It grows in the islands of Java and Sumatra, and the buds and blossoms seem to be pretty much all there is of the plant. And quite enough too. The full blown flower is a yard wide. Each of its five petals is a foot long, and they stand at about the distance of a foot from each other. In the centre there is a deep honey-cup, which is capable of holding a dozen pints of fluid. The whole weighs fifteen pounds. The central cup is violet and red, and the petals are of a brilliant orange color, so that it makes a gorgeous display indeed.

But this flower, so magnificent in size and color, has such a disagreeable smell, that after having satisfied your curiosity by looking at its gigantic blossom, you will be glad to get away from its neighborhood.

[Pg 197]

From the bark of a tree, the Cinchona, we get one of our most useful and powerful medicines. The bark is known under the name of Peruvian bark, and there are several preparations from it—quinine being the one most generally used. It is a valuable medicine everywhere, but is especially so in the hot countries where it grows, for very malignant fevers prevail in those localities. It got its name, Cinchona, from the first European who used it. The Countess Chinchon of Spain, while living in Peru was attacked by one of the terrible fevers of the country, and was near dying, when she heard that in such fevers the natives cured themselves with the bark of a tree. She tried it, and recovered; and, after she got well, she took pains to make known the virtues of this bark, and gave away great quantities of it. It is now a very important article of export from Peru, and a source of great wealth.

There are other barks of plants and trees used in medicine. A great many are useful as dyes. The inner bark of a species of oak furnishes us with corks. Some trees have aromatic barks. The black birch of our own woods is highly spiced. Of some the flavor is so pleasant that they are used as spices. Cinnamon bark, for instance, which, of course, you know all about.

So you see that even in the bark of vegetables there are pleasant things stored away, and wonderful secrets, if we choose to take the trouble to get at them.

The fragrance of a plant, if it has any, we expect to find in its blossoms. But this quality is not confined to the flowers. It is found sometimes in the leaves, occasionally in the bark, and very frequently in the fruit. We are familiar with the fragrance of strawberries, raspberries, peaches, grapes, bananas, lemons, and oranges; and many others might be named. In fact nearly all eatable fruits have some sort of a pleasant odor, though in some it is very faint.

Sometimes the fragrance is in the nuts. There are but few examples[Pg 198] of this. The Black Walnut has an agreeable smell. The most famous of fragrant nuts is the Nutmeg, with which we are all familiar in the spice-boxes. But perhaps you don’t know how beautifully it looks growing upon the tree. So we will break off a branch for you to look at.


This nut ripens under the hot sun of India. Not only is the nut itself fragrant, but the second coat of its envelope, or shell, that you see in the picture, also has a pleasing perfume of its own, entirely distinct[Pg 199] from its nut. This you are also familiar with in the spice box, broken up into thin yellow chips, and called Mace.

No more delicious fragrance can be found than that of a South American bean, the Vanilla.

As for leaves, you can think of a great many fragrant kinds in a few minutes, not only green-house plants, like some of the geraniums, but many of the weeds of the fields.

Some vegetables produce very remarkable fruits.


A species of fig-tree bears loaves of bread! It is quite a large tree, about forty feet high, and has wide spreading branches, thickly covered with very large leaves. It bears fruit abundantly, and during[Pg 200] eight months of the year, there is always some ripe fruit to be found on the boughs.

This fruit is round; is larger than a child’s head; weighs three or four pounds, and is rough and hairy on the outside.

The thick green rind encloses a pulp, which is as white as wheat bread, and, when cooked, tastes very much like it, and is equally nourishing. To prepare it to be eaten, it is cut into thick slices, and laid upon a gridiron over a bed of hot coals. In a few minutes the “bread” is ready.

Thus the natives of the countries where this fruit grows have bread for eight months of the year with very little trouble. If they did not have this kind they would not have any bread at all, for wheat and rye will not grow there.

But they want bread the rest of the year too. So they take advantage of the time when the fruit is most abundant, and, from that which they do not want for immediate use, they prepare a paste that can be kept a long time without turning sour. And, during the four months the tree is without ripe fruit, they live upon this preparation.

Tapioca is the singular production of a vegetable root. It is singular because, though wholesome and nutritious as food, it is produced from a strong poison. It is prepared as follows by native women.

Roots of the manioc plant are gathered, and bruised into pulp with a wooden pestle. This pulp is wrapped in a net made of lily leaves. This is stuck upon a fork, and a heavy weight tied to the bottom of the net so as to press it tightly to squeeze out the manioc juice. A calabash receives the juice, which is very poisonous. Arrows and spear heads are dipped into it to make them certainly fatal. While this is going on the liquid is all the time depositing a white, starch-like substance in the bottom of the calabash. When all of this that the poisonous liquid contains is deposited, the juice is poured off, and the white substance is passed through clear water, and becomes tapioca.

[Pg 201]


[Pg 202]

When we are in the tropics we must not forget to visit the Mangroves. These trees grow thickly together in the ocean mud near the shore, and are very queer specimens of the vegetable world. To look at them from a little distance you would hardly know whether they were trees, or fishes, or sea-serpents. Their upper branches and trunks are like the first, their lower branches covered with oysters and other shell-fish appear like the second; and their long curiously twisted roots, standing partly out of the water, seem like the third. Sometimes, in passing over wet and swampy places, men walk on these roots. In such a case, a naked savage gets along much more easily than an European, with his boots and clothes, and perhaps a heavy gun.

But there is a strange thing about this tree, apart from its uncommon growth. And that is the way that its seeds germinate. We put a seed into the ground, and when it sends up its little stalk and leaves we say it has germinated or sprouted. Now the mangrove seeds germinate on the branches, in the fruit. The seed sends forth the little stalk which grows up there until it is a foot long. This stalk is shaped like a pointed club and is quite heavy. When it is ready to fall, it goes plump down through the leaves and branches of the tree, sharp end downwards, and sticks itself firmly upright in the mud at the bottom of the water. And, after some time, it thrusts itself above the surface, and grows into a comical mangrove tree.

If you will study the marvels of vegetable life you will find strange things of which I have said nothing.

Many wonderful plants grow high up in the air on the branches of trees; and many very curious ones thrive only in the water.

[Pg 203]



Old King Rhine sat upon his rocky throne among the reeds. He had given his kingly word that for three months his river, the Rhine, should not overflow its banks, and that there should be no manner of tempest upon its waters. The old gentleman was sad and gloomy. A month had passed since he gave this promise, and all that time he had had nothing to do. This was hard upon him, for he had led a very busy life. Many an army had he helped across his river, and many a one had he broken to pieces with floods, and tempests. Christians and savages, knights and nobles, and men of low degree had fought upon his banks. Men had built castles, and he had swept them away, or crumbled them into ruins. And, sometimes, he had helped beautify them, and spread grass and flowers all around them. And he had occupied himself in many other ways.

And now there was nothing for him to do. He looked up and down the length of the stream. The waters were still and blue, and vessels glided over them, and the little boats rocked gaily on the swelling waves. At the wharves of the cities men were busy loading and unloading the ships, and all rejoiced in the pleasant and prosperous season. On the hill-sides the vineyards were as full of grapes as ever they could be, and the vines found their way up the very walls of the ruined castles, and hung their purple clusters on the loosened stones.

[Pg 204]

It was very pretty, and the old king took pleasure in it, but he always liked to have something going on that was not quite in the ordinary way.

Suddenly he remembered that there were other creatures under his care besides men. There were Nixies, and Fairies, and Gnomes, and Dwarfs, and Undines, and Elves, and Sylphs, and Peris, and Nymphs, and Dryads, and Giants.


Giants! Here was something for him to attend to! There were not a great many giants left on the banks of the Rhine, but the few that were there were capable of doing a great deal of mischief; and king Rhine had been hearing bad reports of them for a long time. But he had been so busy with men and their affairs that he had neglected[Pg 205] looking after anything else. It was high time that these giants were taught better manners.

But who was to teach them? Who should he employ to subdue these giants, who were as tall as oak trees? Men could do nothing against them. Since the death of Jack the Giant-Killer no man had ever been known to conquer a giant.

In his perplexity he summoned a wise woman, who lived on the highest peak of the highest mountain on the river, and who always gave wise counsel; but would never leave her rocky home except when some one was in great need of good advice. She came to the king at his bidding and this is what she said:

“Good dwarfs can conquer bad giants.”

Not another word would she utter. She made this same answer to every question the king put to her, until, finally, he flew into a rage, and shook his reedy sceptre at her. Whereupon this wise woman disappeared.

The king spent several days thinking about this matter. He could not fight the giants himself, for that would be beneath the dignity of a king. As for what the wise woman had said about the dwarfs, that was ridiculous. A little creature, scarcely a foot high, to conquer a mighty giant! But, after considering the matter a good while, it did not seem quite so absurd. He recalled to mind something the gnomes had done some years before.

Now a gnome is as small a being as a dwarf, and his home is under the ground, so that he seldom sees the light of day. Consequently he is not as bright and quick-witted as a dwarf. And yet a few of these creatures had first astonished all the civilized nations on the globe, and then set them all to quarreling. In order to make you understand how this was I must go back for a minute to the world before the Flood.


A long time before the Flood, before man was created, the world [Pg 207]was inhabited by beasts, fishes, and reptiles of enormous size; very much larger than any at present upon the earth. We know this because parts of the skeletons of these animals have been found in various places; and the learned men of different countries have written a great deal about them.

Now it happened that some years before this trouble had arisen between King Rhine and the giants, and before his talk with the wise woman, some gnomes while digging in a cave for gold, found buried in the earth the skeleton of an immense head. Astonished at this sight they determined to let gold hunting alone for a while, and to see if they could not find the rest of the animal to which the head belonged. They worked carefully and industriously for many months with their little picks and spades, and, finally they laid bare the whole skeleton of a monstrous creature of the very queerest shape the gnomes had ever seen. I say the whole of it, but there were a few bones wanting here and there, for which the gnomes searched in vain in the earth around the spot where the creature lay.

This animal measured thirty-three feet in length. It was shaped somewhat like a great lizard, but it had the back-bone of a fish, and the fins of a dolphin, with the head and teeth of a crocodile. But what eyes it must have had while living! The gnomes amused themselves by crawling in and out of the sockets! The ball of the eye must have been as large as a man’s head!

When the gnomes had finished this great piece of work they did not know what to do with the huge creature they had found. It was of no use to them, and, after they had taken a few of the smallest bones for drum-sticks, they would have nothing more to do with it. After a time, the sight of this terrible, fleshless monster was hateful to them, and they could not move it away.

In this dilemma they went to King Rhine to know what it was best to do with this fruit of their long labors. He told them they had been[Pg 208] very foolish gnomes to spend so much time on a thing that was of no use to anybody, and that ought to be covered up from the sight of men. He advised them to put all the earth and stones back again, and bury the horrid creature.

The gnomes could not make up their minds to do this, and they moved out of the cave into another part of the same mountain, and left the lizard in possession of their old home.

Soon after a wood-cutter, being caught in a storm, took refuge in this cave; and the sight of this gigantic skeleton frightened him more than the storm. He ran to his village with the wonderful news. A very learned man who lived there, hearing the story, went to look at the skeleton, and was filled with astonishment, for he had never even imagined such an animal.

He immediately wrote a book about it.

And then old Rhine found that, in this case, the gnomes were wiser than their king. For, so far from this creature they had dug out of the ground being of no account, it caused a greater stir than anything that had happened in his kingdom since the last army had been driven across the river a good many years ago. People flocked from all quarters to the cave, and business was lively the whole length of the river.

Learned men came from every country in the civilized world. And each one wrote a book about the lizard-fish. But the worst of it was that no two of them agreed as to what it was. They disputed so long, and so earnestly over this skeleton that, at last, the unlearned took up the quarrel, each country feeling bound to support its own learned men. And in this way the governments were drawn into the dispute, and there had liked to have been a war over the old bones. Letters of instruction to Consuls were flying about, and there was a great examination into treaties; when, all at once, it became known that the learned men all agreed that the animal was the Ichthyosaurus, and[Pg 209] that the last one had died thousands of years ago. So the war was happily averted.

Then the dispute was as to who had first found out this fact, but this was amicably settled by the discovery that all the learned men had found it out at precisely the same time.

During all this the gnomes had worked away in their new home at their own affairs, and knew nothing of the great commotion they had caused. But king Rhine nodded his old head, and said to himself; “The gnomes are a very little people, but they have managed to set the whole world by the ears.”

He recalled all this now, and thought perhaps the wise woman meant what she said about the dwarfs and giants.

He despatched a trusty messenger to a colony of dwarfs who lived in a large ruined castle. These dwarfs, or Kobolds, as they are called in that part of the country, sleep all day, and do their work at night. Therefore the king chose an owl, venerable with age and wisdom, for his messenger. He was to travel in the night-time, and rest in the day.

On the second night, quite early, the owl arrived at the castle. He flew quietly into the ruin, so as not to frighten the dwarfs, but he found they had already gone. He was afraid he was too late; and that they had all dispersed to perform their several duties; but, hearing a great noise outside, on the opposite wall from that he had entered, he flew up into a narrow window where there was no glass, and looked solemnly down, with his great staring eyes, upon a very merry scene.


The little kobolds were having a frolic before they separated for the night’s adventures. They were chiefly employed in running up and down the wall, chasing lizards, though some were dancing on the grass at the foot of the castle, and others were swinging on the vines, and gathering grapes. They were making such a hubbub that the [Pg 211]owl thought he had better wait for them to get quiet before attempting to make himself heard.

He soon noticed that there were three dwarfs who took no part in the fun, and these sat upon the root of a tree near the castle talking very earnestly together. The owl knew something of the habits of the kobolds, and he supposed this trio to be the Council, chosen yearly by the colony. It was the business of the Council to assign to each dwarf his nightly task, and the affairs of the colony were mainly placed in its hands.

While the three are holding counsel together, and the owl is waiting, I will tell you something about these dwarfs.

They were generally larger than Fairies, although some of them were very small indeed.

There were three or four kinds of these little people, all called dwarfs, although there was a great difference in their characters, and labors. Some were wicked, and thought only of doing spiteful tricks; some were lazy drones, some mingled publicly with men, and became kings’ fools; some would never show themselves to human beings; and some were gnomes and worked underground.

The kobolds were the brightest, and most industrious of all the dwarfs, and were famed for being good-tempered and obliging. Every night these little creatures were busy in the fields, and the stables, and the kitchens of the neighborhood. They never quarrelled among themselves, and they gave nobody any trouble. Hence they were spoken of as the Peaceful People.

Sometimes field laborers, on going out in the morning to weed, or to reap, would find the work already done. A poor farmer’s wife coming into her kitchen in the morning to make the fire would find the wood all cut, and laid in order, and a pail of water brought from the spring. Sometimes the little people would go into the dining room, and wash the glasses, and clean the silver. Occasionally they[Pg 212] would go to work, and drive all the mice and spiders out of a house. They washed dishes, and cleaned vegetables, and made themselves useful about the house in every possible way. All they required in return was a little food. A bowl of milk, or some nice fresh bread, was set upon the kitchen table, and that was supper enough for a kobold.


Some of them preferred to work in stables. They would curry the horses; comb out their manes; shake down straw for the litters, and clean the stables. But this is hard work, and the little things would get very tired. So the coachmen, and the farmers used to tie knots in the manes of the horses to afford resting places for the kobolds. They would sit in these to rest their weary limbs and often take a little nap there to refresh themselves.

They visited the sheep in the fold, or on the hill-sides, and kept the fleeces white and clean.

There were many other things the kobolds did, but I have told enough to give you an idea of the busy, and helpful life they led; and will now return to the colony that lived in the old castle.

The owl looked down and watched the frolic of the dwarfs for nearly an hour. Then one of the three dwarfs, who formed the Council, blew a shrill blast upon a whistle. At this signal the whole colony gathered into a group in front of the Council. Now all were quiet, and the owl knew this was his time to speak, for the tasks of the night were to be given out, and as each one received his commission, he would go away.

The owl flapped his wings, and they all looked up. Some of them had seen him before, and knew him to be one of the king’s messengers.[Pg 213] So they invited him to a seat on a rock near them, and listened with respectful attention while he told them of the bad behavior of the giants, and of the advice of the wise woman. He took good care not to tell them that the king at first thought this advice ridiculous, but made it appear that his majesty relied upon the good dwarfs to conquer the giants, and to make them behave peaceably. The method of accomplishing this he left entirely to their wisdom.

It was a very flattering speech, and the owl looked so grave while delivering his message that the dwarfs believed every word of it. Never in all the history of kobolds had anything like this happened. The giants were the beings that the dwarfs feared more than any other creatures, and they took very good care always to keep out of their way. And now their king thought them capable of vanquishing these gigantic enemies! The whole colony became at once puffed up with pride and vanity, and clamored to the Council to lead them forth immediately to fight the giants.

Two of the members of the Council had their wits completely carried away by the enthusiasm of the colony, and waved their hats, and shouted, “On to the giants!” But the third member sat quiet until all the company had shouted themselves hoarse, and were still once more. Then he said:

“My friends, we can never conquer the giants in an open fight. One of these huge creatures could crush a dozen of us at a time with one foot, and a giant’s club would knock our whole colony higher than a kite. Moreover we know nothing about fighting. The kobolds have been peaceable people from the beginning of time, and all warfare is distasteful to us. The giants are big and strong, but everybody knows they have not much wit, while our small heads are full of brains. The giants do nothing but mischief, and any fool can do that. But we spend our time in work that requires intelligence and skill. The king has honored us by selecting us to punish the giants for their[Pg 214] bad behavior, and I feel sure we can conquer them; but we must do it by using our brains, and not with weapons of war.”

The name of the dwarf who thus spoke, was Bron, and he was looked upon by the whole colony as the brightest wit among them. So they listened attentively to all he had to say. But they were not in the humor for following this good advice. The king evidently expected them to fight the giants, and fight them they would.

They sent a message back to the king that they were going forth to battle, and, in three days, would bring to him, as a trophy, the head of Kruge, the chief giant.

The dwarfs now consulted as to a plan of action. It was agreed that they should, in a body, march upon the stronghold of Kruge, surprise him while asleep, and tie him down, fast and firm, with a great number of small cords. Then they would cut off his head.

If Kruge was killed, or submitted to them, the remaining giants were as good as conquered, for they all depended upon Kruge.

The kobolds sharpened their little swords that had only been used for cutting twigs, and strings. They made bows and arrows, and gathered sharp sticks, and armed themselves with brooms, and hoes, and spades, and reaping-hooks. They organized companies, and drilled, and marched, and counter-marched all night long; and enjoyed it immensely. They slept soundly the next day; and by night, they were ready for action.

They marched gaily forth in four bands of a hundred each. The first band was assigned to Bron. He did not approve of the expedition any more than at first, and his heart was sad, for he thought his tribe was marching to certain death. But, as they were determined to fight, he resolved to go with them, and do his best. It was better to die with them than to live alone.

Kruge lived a long distance from the castle, and, as the dwarfs had to rest most of the day, it was late in the second night when they drew[Pg 215] near the great cave where the giant dwelt. Fortune favored them, for Kruge lay outside of the cave stretched upon the ground fast asleep. He did not hear the delicate footfalls of the tiny creatures who had come to him with such evil intent, and they could easily tie him down without awaking him. But the dwarfs saw that their small cords would avail nothing when the giant did awake. He would snap them in a minute. And the probability was that as soon as they commenced sawing at his throat to cut his head off he would wake up. What would become of them then? He could crush half a dozen of them with one hand. His size too, was appalling! They had forgotten he was so very big when they sent the king word they would cut off his head.

While they whispered these things to each other, and became more frightened every moment, Bron tried to rally them into some sort of order, and some show of courage.

Suddenly the giant drew in his breath, and sent it out again in a most tremendous snore. The sound was as loud and terrible to the kobolds as the roarings of a lion is to men. Those standing in front of the giant’s mouth were blown by his breath to the distance of a hundred yards, and fell, badly bruised. And then commenced a mad stampede. The dwarfs fairly tumbled over each other in their haste to get away, and they did not stop to take breath until they reached the friendly shelter of a field of mushrooms, fully a mile from the giant’s cave. Some of the very little ones finding their legs failing them, sprang upon the backs of butterflies, and bees, and made the rest of the journey in that fashion.

The dwarfs were obliged to acknowledge that their expedition had failed; and they were so heartily ashamed of this attempt at warfare that they told Bron he might arrange the affair with the giants according to his best wisdom, and they would faithfully do as he bade them.

Bron pondered over the matter for several days. He thought of a[Pg 216] great many stratagems for conquering the giants, but dismissed them from his mind one after another. A giant was a very unwieldy object to manage. At last he made up his mind he would consult a very cunning fox, who lived near.


The fox said to him; “You know that turkeys roost on trees?”

“Yes,” said Bron, wondering what that had to do with the matter.

“And you know that foxes can’t climb trees?”


“Did you never observe that I can get a turkey whenever I want one?”

[Pg 217]


“Now, how do you suppose I get that turkey when it is high up on the tree, and I can’t climb to it?”

“I never thought anything about it,” said Bron, “but it is curious, now I do think of it.”

“This is the way I do it. I walk round and round that tree. The silly turkey turns its head round and round to look after me. Pretty soon it gets dizzy, and falls off.”

“I see,” said Bron. “Thank you.”

He went at once to the dwarfs, and told them he had resolved to conquer the giant himself, in single combat.

They tried to dissuade him, and told him he would never come out from that fight alive, and that the colony could not get along without him. It would be better to send word to king Rhine that the task he had assigned the dwarfs was too hard, and that they could not do it.

But Bron said the honor of the kobolds was at stake, and he was resolved to fight Kruge.

The king laughed when Bron made his proposition. He challenged the giant Kruge to single combat. If he succeeded in cutting off the forelock of the giant’s head; Kruge, and all the giants, were to be servants to the kobolds. If he failed to do this, the kobolds were to be servants to the giants.

The giants laughed when they accepted the challenge. And all the Dryads, and Nixies, and Elves, and Sylphs, and Fairies laughed when they heard the news.

In a few days a great concourse of these creatures assembled to witness the sport. The combat took place in a grassy field on the bank of the river. All the giants were there. But the kobolds thought it best not to attend. The gnomes however, crept out of their dark homes, anxious for the fate of their cousins, the kobolds.

Bron and Kruge entered the open field, and, for a moment, stood,[Pg 218] and looked steadfastly at each other. The dwarf had to strain his eyes a little to look up so far as the giant’s head. Bron was pale, but he had a resolute air. As for Kruge, he burst into a loud laugh at the ridiculous figure cut by his small antagonist. He laughed so that he had to bend over, and hold his sides. Everybody laughed except the gnomes. The king, himself, could not restrain a smile.


Bron now slowly walked around the giant, as if examining him. The giant looked after him. Presently Bron began to walk more swiftly, and the giant turned round and round to see what the little fellow was going to do. Soon Bron was running, and the giant, much amused at this mode of warfare, turned and turned until he got tired of the sport. “I will catch the pigmy up and hold him tightly in my fist,” he thought; and he made a step forward for this purpose. He was so dizzy, by this time, that he fell headlong upon the ground. As quick as thought, Bron cut off the forelock from the giant’s head, and held it up with a shout of triumph.

All but the giants clapped their hands, and shouted. The crowd surrounded the plucky little fellow, and bore him to the king, who immediately conferred upon him a vast estate, consisting of several acres of marsh grass.

Kruge now offered to Bron the services of himself and of the other giants, according to the terms of agreement. But Bron modestly said that he was only an individual member of a community, and that the dwarfs in a body must decide upon the duties of the giants. He therefore requested Kruge to carry him on his hand to the home of[Pg 219] the kobolds, where they would settle this affair. The giant was very angry, but he was forced to comply. Bron stood up on the palm of the giant’s hand, and Kruge reached the old castle in a few strides. Bron desired to be put down in front of the cellar door, and he then marched high up in the ruined tower to a great hall, where the kobolds held their solemn meetings. As for the giant his head just reached the hall when he stood upon the ground.


Bron found the whole tribe of kobolds there assembled, talking over the wonderful event. They were very much startled, and not a little frightened at this sudden appearance of Kruge in their midst, especially[Pg 220] as he did not look at them very pleasantly. But Bron with a very grand air, presented the giant to them as his captive, and lawful prize, won in single combat.

It was then decided by the dwarfs that the giants should lay aside their swords, clubs, and spears, and should become peaceable citizens. That they should thenceforth work for what they ate, and wore, and not seize it by plunder. That they should learn the useful arts of farming, housework, and stable-cleaning. In short that they should become like the kobolds themselves.


The giants served the dwarfs in these ways for a long time, but it was very distasteful work. They felt so ashamed and so degraded at serving these tiny creatures that they shunned all living beings as much as possible, and hid in the depths of the forest. They knew they were a laughing-stock to all men, and fairies, and water-spirits, and wood-nymphs. Kruge fared worst of all. All these people when they saw him would point at him, and say: “There goes the giant[Pg 221] whose head was turned by a pigmy!” He would sit for hours, when he was not at work, holding his head, tearing his hair, and grinding his teeth with rage. It would have been a grievous thing to him to have been conquered by another giant, but to have been vanquished by a pigmy was too humiliating!

He finally proposed to the giants that they should all quit that country. This they did. Thus the king was happily rid of these wicked and troublesome subjects; and not a giant has been seen on the banks of the Rhine from that time to the present.

[Pg 222]


The small caravan slowly wound its way over the burning sands of the desert. Fifteen days of unbroken desert travel had greatly weakened the little band which had left the last oasis in such gay spirits.

The Syrian merchant, Ahmed, was the leader of this band, and with him was Calvert, a European, and several Arabs. On some of the camels Ahmed had merchandise that would bring high prices in Damascus. Calvert was traveling for pleasure.

By some unaccountable means the caravan had wandered from the regular route, and Ahmed had no idea where they were. The compass told them in what direction to go, but how were they ever to find any particular spot in this trackless waste? Eight days from the last oasis should have brought them to the next on the regular route. Now it was the fifteenth day. The twelfth day found their supply of water reduced so low that only a very small quantity could be given to each individual, Ahmed and Calvert, (to their praise be it told) taking no more than the others.

As for the camels they had nothing to drink, but they would not suffer for a long time, as they had an internal arrangement of water-sacks from which to refresh themselves.

And now, on the fifteenth day, there was not a drop of water. Ahmed would have given all his merchandise for a pint of the precious fluid. Death stared them in the face.

The caravan halted. One of the Arab attendants had fallen upon the sands. He was the first to succumb to the sufferings of thirst, increased by the burning heat of the desert. Most of the men dismounted, and gathered around him, but they could do little for him.

A loud shout from a couple of men on the camels caused the whole party to look up. The men pointed to the westward. Exclamations[Pg 223] of delight burst from the lips of all; for there, not two miles away, lay an oasis, a palm grove in the midst of a clear lake, whose waters sparkled invitingly in the sunlight.


[Pg 224]

Even the sick Arab turned his dim eyes thither, and his feeble lips uttered a faint cry of joy. The sight so revived him that he was able, lying on a camel’s back, to go with the others to this oasis.

But, alas! the nearer they drew to the palm grove the more distant it appeared; and, at last, they lost sight of it altogether.

Then the travelers knew it to have been a mirage, and they looked at each other in despair. But Calvert encouraged them. A mirage, he said, was a picture of some object painted in the air by the refraction of the sun’s rays through a peculiar atmosphere. It was a deceptive appearance, but it was caused by a real thing. In order to produce the picture of an oasis in the sky the oasis itself must be somewhere. True, it might be at a long distance from them; but he thought it more probable that it was quite near. And he indicated in what direction it was likely they would find it.

Calvert spoke so earnestly that the courage of the party revived. They immediately started off again under his direction. And, after seven hours’ march, they did come upon a real oasis. Whether it was the one they had seen pictured in the air they did not know, but this was no matter. It was smaller than the picture, but images of things are often distorted.

The sick Arab recovered after a couple of days’ rest, and the caravan renewed its march, men and beasts strengthened and refreshed. They took with them a liberal supply of water.

At this oasis they also found guides, who conducted them into the regular caravan route; and they all arrived safely at Damascus.

[Pg 225]


Coral had been used many hundreds of years before men found out what it was. The savages used to fashion it into ornaments for their knife and axe handles; and, when men were more civilized, and had learned to work in iron, and to make armor, they liked to adorn their shields and helmets with coral. Women made of this beautiful red substance, necklaces for the neck, bracelets for the arms, and ornaments for the hair. But it is not likely that any of these savages or partially civilized people made any attempt to find out what kind of substance this coral was. They gathered it near the surface of the sea, and never stopped to think how it got there.

But when men became still more highly civilized they thought more deeply about things, and began to ask each other what caused day, and night; and heat, and cold; why the Moon grew from a little bright streak into the brilliant full orb, and a multitude of other questions. There was no one to answer these questions, and so the wisest men set to work to study it all out. They found out a great deal, but, of course they made a great many mistakes that had to be set right afterwards by other learned men.

Very early they made investigations into the nature of coral. For a long time they were sorely puzzled. In the first place they decided it was a mineral because it was so very hard, and took such a beautiful polish. But, after further examination the wise men all came to the conclusion that it was a plant.

It looked like a plant. There could be no doubt about that. The large specimens examined had trunks composed of layers or rings, very much like many trees. From this trunk were branches, covered with a rose-colored bark in which were some curious depressions.

[Pg 226]


[Pg 227]

Others made a still closer examination, and discovered that these depressions were really little star-shaped flowers, with several colored rays. This settled the question. Of course, if coral produced flowers it must be a plant; and, as a plant, it was spoken of, and written about for two thousand years.

“But,” it was asked, “how can a plant grow into a substance as hard as a stone? There is nothing else of such growth known in nature. It is impossible.”

The sailors and coral fishers answered this question by asserting that the coral was in a soft state under the water, like any other plant; but when it was exposed to the air it became petrified—that is, turned into stone. It would not have been a very difficult thing for the learned men to have investigated this matter, and tried for themselves whether it was soft and flexible under the water. But they never did, and so that question was settled.

It was settled for twenty centuries. At the close of that long period of time a French physician, named Peyssonnel, while traveling along the Mediterranean coast, became much interested in the coral fisheries carried on there. He examined the coral flowers with great care, and found that they were not flowers at all, but animals! The ancients had been deceived by their flower-like form, for they were unlike flowers in every other respect, having no stamens, or pistils, or pollen, and producing no seed.

But the opinions of people were not to be overturned all at once by a country doctor. Was it reasonable to suppose he should know more about this matter than all the learned men who had ever lived, or who were living then? So everybody, but Peyssonnel himself, went on believing that coral was a plant, and bore flowers; that it grew in the sea like other marine plants; and that, when broken off, and brought to the surface, it suddenly hardened into stone.

Not long, however, did they continue in this belief. Nicolai, an Inspector[Pg 228] of coral fisheries, thought it was about time that an investigation should be made deep down in the ocean to see whether the coral there was flexible, and soft. He sent down one of his best divers, and the man brought back word that the coral was just as hard in the sea, as in the air. This was such surprising news that Nicolai went down himself to make sure of the fact. There was no doubt about it. The coral in the ocean was as hard as a stone.


[Pg 229]

For hundreds of years wise men had been accepting the statements of ignorant fishermen without investigation.

Further research into the subject proved Peyssonnel to be right. The little star-like ornaments on the coral branches are animals. We show here a section of a coral branch as it looks under a magnifying glass, that you may understand how easy it would be for an ordinary observer to suppose the little stars to be blossoms. You can also see the different stages of development of the very singular little coral animal. B is the ovule, or egg, from which it comes, C the larva, or young creature before it undergoes its last change, and A is the full-grown animal.


Since then, the habits of these coral animals have been more carefully studied, and their ways are truly wonderful.

They are so small that it requires a magnifying glass to get a good view of them. They are in the form of tiny cylinders, at one end of which there is a mouth, surrounded by branching arms, called tentacles. These give them their flower-like form. With these tentacles they convey their food to their mouths. The food consists of the smallest particles of dead fish, or other animal matter that may have escaped the jaws of the larger fish. But, although they feed in this manner and must therefore possess the senses of touch and taste, there is no indication that they can see, or hear, or that they are sensitive when handled. They cannot move about, but remain always in the place where they were born.


And yet this minute being, which belongs to the very lowest class of animals, not only makes the branching masses of coral that look [Pg 231]like great stone forests under the water, but they also build immense walls, and piles of rocks, sometimes hundreds of miles in extent. The coral is made from a lime-like substance within the animal, which soon becomes very hard, and also from their lime-like bodies after they die.

Coral reefs are found only in the warm regions of the globe, for the little workmen cannot endure the cold of the northern ocean. They cannot live in the air, and so they never work above the surface of the water.

Of the branching coral there are three kinds; white, red, and pink. The white is the most porous and the least valuable, and the pink is the rarest, and most costly.

These animals are called polyps, or polypi. In some parts of the ocean there are islands that were formed by them. That is, the coral builders commenced the business by gradually piling up in the wave a mass of coral. This they began upon some sand bar far down in the ocean, and they kept at work until they got a rocky wall up to the surface of the water; and then they could go no farther. These walls are generally circular.

When the rocky coral walls reach the surface, the waves rush over them constantly, carrying with them sand, and broken fragments of corals. Some of these are left on the rocks, until, finally, they are piled up so high that the waves cannot roll over them. Thus is formed a singular-looking island, consisting of a circle of rock, with a pond of still water in the centre. This little lake is called a lagoon. Sand is strewn by the waves over the rocky reef, and rolled down into the lake, which it fills up, and, after a long time the soil becomes of sufficient depth to support coarse grasses, and sea plants. These die, and enrich the soil; and the winds, bringing from other shores the seeds of palm trees, and various plants, scatter them over the island, which is soon crowned with verdure and flowers.

[Pg 232]


The Great Eastern is the largest steamship in the world; and is, indeed, the largest vessel of any kind in the world. You can see from the portion of the deck given in the picture that the whole ship must be of an enormous size.

The scene on the deck is a busy one, for the vessel is being prepared for a voyage; the workmen are putting on the finishing touches in the way of carpenter-work and painting; and the sailors are busy with the sails and rigging. Hundreds of people are employed with steam engines, hoisting cranes, and various machines, and yet there is plenty of room for them to do their work without confusion.

For the upper deck of this great steamer measures 680 feet from stem to stern, which is twice the length of the largest of other ocean steamers. The deck, in the widest part, is 82 feet wide. From this deck rise six great masts, and five smoke stacks.

Great care has been taken to make the vessel proof against very heavy seas. The hull is double, and is made of iron plates. Ten thousand tons of iron were used to build the hull, and it took no less than 3,000,000 rivets to fasten on the iron plates.

The Great Eastern carries a cargo of 28,500 tons; and can accommodate 10,000 passengers. So, if you went across the ocean in her, when she has her full complement of passengers, it is not at all likely that you would know all your fellow-voyagers. It would be very strange if you were even to see them all.



She is an English vessel, and has been to this country several times. She was visited by crowds of people while lying at the wharf in New York. She also went to Norfolk, and Baltimore. And, everywhere she was an object of curiosity and wonder. But the expense of sailing so monstrous a vessel is very great, and her owners have not [Pg 234]always known exactly what to do with their ship. She was very useful in laying the Atlantic Telegraph Cable a few years ago. She was the only ship that could conveniently carry such a tremendous[Pg 235] weight as this cable which was to cross the Atlantic Ocean, and connect two continents.

The vessel, as you see her in the picture, does not lie close to the wharf, and small steamers are employed to take the passengers out to the ship when she is ready to sail. These steamers seem like baby vessels when they are lying alongside the Great Eastern. Her great hull rises far above their chimneys. The “gangway” is a long flight of stairs; and it is quite a slow process to get all the people out of the small steamers, up the stairs, and on to the deck of the Great Eastern.

The great deck is pretty well filled during the embarkation. The passengers are all there; and their friends who have come to bid them good-bye; and there are piles of baggage of every description. But, after the small steamers have gone back to the shore with the visitors, the decks are cleared, and the baggage stowed away in the proper places for it; and everything is trim and orderly.

Every arrangement is made for the comfort of the passengers. There are two saloons, a large, and a small one. These are beautiful rooms lighted by sky-lights, and elegantly ornamented, and furnished. There are a great number of state-rooms; and three dining-rooms. In these last are long rows of tables.

But one of the advantages that the Great Eastern possesses is that she does not roll and pitch much, even in stormy weather, because she is so large and heavy. Consequently people are not so apt to be sea-sick on this ship, as on most of the ocean steamers.

The great saloon is a very pleasant place for promenading, conversation or reading, when it is too cold or stormy to be on deck. People meet here from all parts of the world, perhaps. They get acquainted and have long talks with each other, and have music, and get up games to help pass away the time. And, when the voyage is over, they separate, with no expectation of ever meeting again, unless some chance should make them fellow-travelers another time.

[Pg 236]

All the children on board are sure to make friends with each other; and they have plenty of room to play on the long decks, and in the saloons, without interfering with the comfort of older persons.


It would be a delightful thing to take a voyage on such a magnificent steamer as this. Apart from the pleasure that the ship itself, with all[Pg 237] its great machinery and its splendid appointments would afford, there would be the satisfaction of knowing that there is some chance of escaping sea-sickness when on board of the Great Eastern.

And any one who ever has been sea-sick would be very apt to appreciate the advantages of a vessel that does not pitch and toss on every ordinary wave.

[Pg 238]


In the continent of Australia where there are so many queer plants and animals, lives the numerous, and droll-looking family of the kangaroos.

There are several varieties of this family, but all have the same general characteristics; a very large tail, very long hind legs, and very short fore legs.

Kangaroos can out-jump the very best jumpers you ever saw, or heard of. They use their long hind legs something in the grasshopper style; and their tails are not only big, but strong, and are of great assistance to them in their leaps.

Their flesh is good to eat, and so they are hunted a great deal. Instead of running from their pursuers like the swift-footed hares and antelopes, they jump away from them, and in this manner they get over a great extent of country in a very short time. Running would be impossible to creatures with such ridiculously short front legs; but leaping answers the same purpose; and, as this is their natural mode of progression, they do not get tired any sooner than other animals do by running.

The kangaroos are by no means ugly animals; and, though they look awkward when standing on all fours (which they seldom do) they are very graceful while making their leaps.

One of the prettiest species of the kangaroo family is called the antelope kangaroo. Its head and ears are similar to those of the antelope in appearance.


Kangaroos are common enough in menageries, and the next time you visit such a place look for one. It seems a pity to shut them up in cages, where they have no room to take even the smallest jump. [Pg 240]But, then, if they were not caged there is no knowing where they would jump to. Some of the old kangaroos are rough customers when brought to bay. A big fellow will sometimes seize a dog in his short fore legs and with one of his great hind feet give him a scrape that will make him wish he had never seen a kangaroo.

Just as you have seen a quiet peaceable boy when he had been worried and annoyed by a teasing and quarrelsome fellow, suddenly blaze up and astonish the young rascal by giving him a good thrashing.

[Pg 241]


Polargno was an Esquimaux boy. At the time the things happened to him that I am going to relate to you he was sixteen years old, and as merry a fellow as you could find anywhere. Here is his portrait.


Perhaps you think him ugly, but our ideas of beauty depend a good deal upon what we are accustomed to see around us. You like a white skin, regular features, and fine, soft, wavy hair. But the negroes of Central Africa do not admire this style in the least. They prefer thick lips, flat noses, shining black skins, and hair as tightly twisted and as wiry as possible. And Polargno’s friends looked upon him as a boy of a remarkably fine appearance, for they considered it very proper that he should have a stubby nose, thick lips, small eyes, and lank, coarse hair. His parents thought him handsome, but his mother was grieved because he was not quite as fat as other Esquimaux boys of his age. To be very beautiful in the eyes of an Esquimaux one must be very fat. Polargno’s father was not much taller than his son, but he was very much broader. He consoled his wife, however, by assuring her that he was no larger than Polargno at the same age.

In this picture, Polargno is dressed in the suit he wears out of doors[Pg 242] in the winter. It is a complete suit of seal-skin, with the fur outside. This is put on over the in-door suit, boots and all. This in-door suit is also of seal-skin, but it is made up with the fur turned inside. To make the costume complete, he should have on his head a fur hood. People have to dress warmly in the Esquimaux country where the ground is covered with snow three-fourths of the year.

Polargno’s father owned a winter and a summer residence; which sounds very grandly, to be sure, but he was no richer than the rest of the tribe. There was much similarity among the families of the settlement in regard to wealth. One family might possess a few more skins than the others, or softer beds, or an extra lamp; but, on the whole, one man was about as well off as his neighbors, and they visited each other in the most sociable manner, knowing nothing of rank and riches.

The winter residence of Loonerkoo, the father of Polargno, was constructed in the following manner: Blocks of snow two feet long, and six inches wide and several inches thick, were cut out from the great snow heaps that abounded everywhere. These were carefully pared with a large knife and made even and smooth. They were then built into a dome. A good many layers of blocks were used to make the walls very thick and solid. There were two windows in this dome, and what do you think they were made of? Each one was a single, inch thick square of transparent, fresh water ice. There was not the least danger of its melting from the heat of the house, the outside cold being too intense for that to happen.

There was no door to this house, but there was quite a large doorway. A hole was left in the wall. It was not more than three feet high, and everybody, except very little children crawled into it on their hands and knees. The passage way was no higher, and was about sixteen feet long, so that this crawling back and forth was somewhat wearing on the clothes, although the floor was of ice and snow instead of the[Pg 243] rough ground. This entrance was made low and narrow, so as to shut out as much cold air as possible.

The next thing was to make a chimney. This was easy enough. They simply cut a hole in the roof of the dome of snow. This contrivance did not always work well, as the wind sometimes blew the smoke back into the room as fast as it came out of it, but the Esquimaux are used to smoke in their houses; and, supposing it to be one of the necessary evils of life, are quite content to have it when it cannot be helped.

Inside of this dome there was one large, circular room. In most Esquimaux houses this was reception-room, dining-room, bed-room, and kitchen, all in one. But a few very elegant dwellings, and, among them Loonerkoo’s, had curtains of skins hung up so as to make a couple of bed-rooms.

It may make you shiver when I tell you how they made their bedsteads. These were blocks of snow, making a platform a couple of feet high, and five and six feet long. On them whalebones and seal skins were laid for mattresses. The coverlets consisted of nice, warm furs.

Exactly in the middle of the large room a circular platform was made with blocks of snow. On this stood the lamp for cooking purposes, and over it was a wooden scaffolding on which the cooking utensils were hung.

The lamp was nothing but a dish, filled with whale oil and blubber, with a long wick of dry moss.

Around the walls the weapons and clothes of the family were hung.

This was all the furniture the house contained, and it was quite enough for these simple people. Warm clothing, plenty to eat, and comfortable places to sleep were all they required.

It is difficult for us to believe that these snow houses are comfortable, but they are very warm indeed; or, rather, I should say they are[Pg 244] the warmest houses that could be made for the very severe climate of Greenland. The Esquimaux is hardened to the cold, and can bear it much better than we can. He wraps himself up in his furs, and lays down on his icy couch, and sleeps as peacefully and comfortably as we do on our soft mattresses.

It only required a few hours to build the winter house of Loonerkoo, and to put it into perfect order.

A still shorter time sufficed for constructing his summer residence, which was nothing more than a large tent, made of dressed skins.

The Arctic summer is short. It really lasts only about six weeks. For, after the worst of the wintry weather is over, it takes the sun a good while to melt the heavy masses of snow and ice, and to send them floating down the rivers and bays, and out into the ocean, where they finally disappear. This season is scarcely warm enough to call Spring; it is, more properly, the breaking up of Winter. It is a time when icebergs abound, and boating is a very dangerous amusement.

But, after the ground is freed from its icy envelope, everything starts into life, and grows with the most astonishing rapidity. A plant will spring up, grow two or three feet high perhaps, bud, blossom, and bear fruit in the time our plants of the temperate zone will be producing a foot or so of stalk and leaves. In a few days after the fir trees have dropped the last of their snow-wreaths their branches will be covered with delicate spears of fresh green. A field that a week or two before was white with snow will be carpeted with flowers. The reason of this growth, which seems magical, is that in the Arctic zone, after the sun once gets well up above the horizon, it stays up—it does not set again for a long time, but shines steadily on, day and night.


I use the words day and night in the sense we generally use them to mark the division of time into twenty-four hours. In our latitude this division of time also marks the periods of light and darkness, but [Pg 246]it is not so in the Arctic countries. There, you know, the day is six months long, and the night six months. But the Esquimaux have their regular times for sleeping, for, of course, they can’t stay awake six months, or sleep six months; but they naturally spend more time in sleep in their dreary winter than during their beautiful summer.

It was on Polargno’s sixteenth birth-day that he had his adventure with the fox. It was mid-winter, and consequently midnight—that is the middle of the six months’ night—the seventh of January, I think, that his birth-day came around.

I don’t know that the Esquimaux are in the habit of remembering, or celebrating birth-days, but it was easy for Polargno’s parents to remember his birth-day, because he was the only child they had. His father, that morning, gave him a bright, new hatchet, that he had bought from the fur traders, and Polargno was so delighted with it that he started off as soon as he had his breakfast to use it in making a new trap, and to mend his old ones which were getting to be rather shaky.

The only persons he found astir in the village were two boys about his own age, and the three proceeded together to inspect their traps. They took no dogs with them, as they were of no use on such an expedition, and were apt to be troublesome.

At this season, trap-making and trap-baiting were about the only amusements that the boys had, for the cold was too severe for hunting. The men of the settlement had their traps too. These traps were made of different sizes and forms, and baited with several sorts of food, to attract all hungry animals, large and small, that might be prowling around. The Esquimaux had many ingenious ways of concealing the traps from the cautious creatures, and thus leading them suddenly to destruction. The fur of all the animals they captured in this way was valuable, and was bought up readily by the fur traders once a year. But some kinds these traders were very anxious to get,[Pg 247] and paid for them what to the simple Esquimaux were enormous prices, though, in reality, they were almost nothing compared to the prices these traders got from the fur dealers.

Among the most valuable of these animals is the silver fox.

The boys first visited their traps near the village, but there was nothing in them; and they went on to the more distant ones, which were more likely to have tenants. They were in high spirits and walked briskly along the shore. It was quite light, although they had not had a glimpse of the sun for weeks, for the moon and stars shone brightly, and the reflection from the snow was brilliant.

Suddenly a red light flashed up from the horizon, and ran across the sky, quickly followed by other flashes of various colors. This circumstance did not alarm the boys, for it had happened often enough before, and they knew it to be the commencement of what we call an Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. We see them sometimes in this part of the world, but ours are very feeble compared to those in the Arctic zone. This proved to be such a magnificent display that even these Esquimaux boys were touched with the sense of its beauty, and paused for awhile, and gazed upward with delight. White, red, yellow, green and blue lines crossed each other all over the sky in bewildering confusion. These would suddenly vanish, and great spears of flaming red would stand marshalled in rows. Then yellow and green banners waved across them, and extinguished them, and the whole air seemed filled with undulating waves of color. Finally, these took form, and hung, high up in the vault of heaven, a gorgeous canopy that seemed to be formed of crystal pendants, and jewelled columns, glittering with every conceivable shade and color. Every peak and crag was touched with light. Even the little stones on the beach gleamed like gems.


The boys could not have described the scene to give you any idea of it, as I have tried to do, but they enjoyed it. It never occurred to [Pg 249]them to ask what it was, or where it came from. They accepted it as they did their six months’ day and night, and great snows, and volcanoes, and all the other forms of Nature. If they thought about it at all, they probably supposed that all the world was just like Greenland.

After a little while they grew tired of the Aurora, and turned their attention once more to the traps. Polargno’s were on a point of land, shielded somewhat by a large rock. He had no less than four, and he usually found them all empty. As the boys silently approached this rock they caught sight of an animal, which was circling about the outside of one of the traps. All saw it at the same instant, and all knew it to be one of the most valuable of their Arctic animals. Their seal-skin boots had made no noise on the smooth ice, and the animal was not aware of their approach. They were not on his windward side, and therefore he was not likely to detect them by scent. The boys stood still behind the rock, and cautiously peered around it, watching every movement of the creature. They were afraid to draw a long breath lest he should hear them.

Polargno’s eyes gleamed with satisfaction. Here was a prize indeed! This was a fine Arctic fox, and he had never caught so valuable an animal! It was seldom that anybody did, for the Arctic fox is quite as wise and cautious as his brethren of warmer climes. He imagined himself returning to the village with this trophy, and thought with pride of the excitement he would cause, and how the people would gather around him, and congratulate him, and how the fur traders would praise him. And then he began to think what fine things he would get from them in exchange for the skin.

But still he was anxious; for, all this time, the animal was on the wrong side of the trap. If he did not go inside of it, farewell to Polargno’s visions, for the boys had no guns, and they would not have done much with them, if they had had them, for they were not skilful in the use of firearms. The animal was evidently suspicious of the[Pg 250] fir boughs thrown so carelessly down, and lightly covered with snow; but he was also very hungry, and eager for the food under this arrangement. His hunger proved too great for his prudence, and, after investigating the trap on all sides, and thinking over the matter for a time that seemed very long to the watching boys, he cautiously placed one foot over the spot where the bait lay. This was enough. Click went a wooden spring, concealed among the branches, and down went the fox through a wooden trap underneath, that snapped together again, and shut him in.

“Hi,” cried Polargno, as he rushed out from behind the rock, followed by both boys. But he was in too great a hurry. He stumbled over a stone. His feet went up into the air, and his back and head went crashing down into the trap, sending fir boughs and splints of wood flying in all directions.

The fox snapped at him, but, fortunately missed his face; and having snipped a little piece out of the boy’s ear, evidently came to the conclusion that running away was better than revenge. He therefore ran over Polargno’s prostrate body, and up his elevated legs, and, making a tremendous spring from the quivering feet, he darted away at his utmost speed.

The boys left Polargno to get out of his trap as best he could, and immediately gave chase to the fox. But they knew it was useless. They might as well try to catch the wind. If they had brought the dogs the fox would probably have had the worst of it. But, as it was, he escaped—hungry, but safe.

This was Polargno’s adventure with the fox.

The next summer, Polargno had a very surprising adventure with a seal. He was in a cave alone on the bay. He had paddled out a short distance from the shore because he had nothing else to do just then. He paddled up and down until he got tired, and then he rested on his oars, and looked about him. The scene was very different[Pg 251] from what it had been when he and the fox had caught each other. Now the bay was entirely free from ice, and the waves leaped and danced as if rejoicing to be free once more. There was not a cloud in the sky, where the sun shone brightly far above the horizon in the same place, apparently, that it had been for several days and nights. Flowers bloomed in the grassy fields, birds perched upon the rocks, and the noise of insects could be faintly heard.


But a Greenlander is never free from the sight of snow; and, even now, in mid-summer, every high mountain peak had its white cap; and on the tallest mountains the snow extended far down the sides.

Polargno took pleasure in the summer warmth and life, but I do not suppose he thought much about the objects he saw around him. His mind was busy with the prospect of the good time he would have[Pg 252] when two whaling ships that were cruising some miles below in the bay, should come up as high as their settlement. There was a report, too, that a large school of whales was making its way northward.

Thinking of these things while he idly looked about him, he suddenly felt that he was being lifted into the air. Before he could recover from his surprise at this rapid elevation he found that his canoe was being borne swiftly over the surface of the water. Instinctively he tightened his hold upon the paddle that he might not lose it, and this action caused one end of it to strike an animal under the boat, which immediately flapped itself free, and rolled off to a little distance, where it remained, as motionless as a log, evidently waiting to see what would happen next.

The thing that came near happening was the upsetting of Polargno’s canoe, for the blow it received from the flap of the creature’s tail sent it spinning around like a top. Polargno would not have been much alarmed if it had upset, for he could swim like a fish; but still he was very glad it remained right side up.

As soon as he could gather together his scattered wits he found that the animal which had given him this unceremonious ride was not a sea-lion, as he had at first supposed, but a large specimen of the common seal. Its bouncing up under his boat was an unpremeditated act on the part of the seal, who was quite as much alarmed as the boy, and quite as glad to get away.

But should he get away? This question came into Polargno’s mind. The Esquimaux boats at this season were kept prepared for whaling expeditions, and in the bow of this one there laid a harpoon with a nice long coil of rope. The boy glanced from this to the shining back of the seal that lay so temptingly just above the surface of the water. He knew all about seals. He had helped kill many a one. That was very different from fighting one entirely alone, but then the glory would be so much greater if he conquered.

[Pg 253]

A seal is a timid animal, but when brought to bay it can fight boldly and fiercely enough, and Polargno knew well that there was a chance of his coming to grief if he once began the combat. But then again the glory was so much the greater if he conquered.

He wished to wipe out the memory of his ridiculous adventure with the Arctic fox, which had brought upon him the laughter of the whole village, and was a joke against him to that very day.

These thoughts passed swiftly through his mind, and he made his determination. He cautiously paddled towards the seal, but this act alarmed the creature, and it sank into the water out of sight. Polargno knew it would come up again to breathe, and he uncoiled the harpoon line, and held the weapon all prepared to throw. Meantime the canoe drifted down to the very spot where the seal had sunk, and Polargno looked down into the deep green water, thinking he might see it coming up. But it rose in an entirely different place, on the other side of the boat, and at quite a distance. Polargno was by no means sure of his aim in making such a long throw; but, putting himself into the attitude he had seen experienced harpooners assume, he sent the harpoon whizzing through the air with a straight, steady motion that carried it with a wide sweeping curved line into the back of the seal, just above the tail.

Down into the water went the animal with a rush that made Polargno’s canoe reel and dance. If it had been a small whale, or even a sea-lion, that the boy had undertaken to capture in this fashion, it would have dragged down the canoe, harpoon, rope, and all, leaving to Polargno the pleasant task of swimming home and telling the news. But the seal was not quite strong enough for this, though it did its best; and, each time that it rose to the surface after “sounding,” Polargno wound the line tighter and tighter around the strong supports to which it was fastened. In this way he brought the seal nearer and nearer the canoe. By the time its strength was pretty well spent it[Pg 254] had so short a line that it could dive only a few feet below the surface. And then Polargno began to wonder how he should get it to the shore when it was dead. It would be too heavy a body for him to manage alone, and there was no one in sight on the shore to whom he could call for help. He did not wish to cut the body adrift, for then he was not likely to get it again.

Suddenly there flashed into his mind a brilliant thought. The seal should take itself to the shore, and take him too! He seated himself firmly in the boat, and took up the paddle. With this he hit the seal a whack on the side, and, in darting away to the opposite direction from the blow, the animal headed for the shore. It could not dive, but it made a grand rush through the water, drawing the boat swiftly along. A few such rushes brought it to the shore. Whenever it made a turn to the right or left, the paddle reminded it to keep the straight path. Polargno had never heard of Neptune’s chariot with its dolphin steeds, and was therefore unconscious that he was working out a poetical idea, but he was very proud of the success of his stratagem, especially as it possessed an element of danger. If his charger had taken it into its head to back against the boat, and to give it a blow with its tail, it would have stove it in, and if it had given Polargno a whack at the same time it would probably have killed him. But the seal was too weak from loss of blood, or too ignorant to think of any such revenge, and rushed upon the beach at last, dragging Polargno’s boat up with such violence that he was shot out of it in a twinkling.

He fell upon the soft sand and was not hurt. When he stood upon his feet he found that his father, and one of the neighbors had come to the shore to look after the boats, and had witnessed the last part of his extraordinary journey. He was very glad of this, for he had thought his story would not be believed in the village.

The seal was soon killed, and yielded a good deal of oil and blubber.

[Pg 255]

After this, the people of the village looked upon Polargno as a very clever and brave fellow, and they laughed at him no more about the trick the fox had played him.


In due course of time, the whales came up, and, after them came the whaling ships. There were whales enough for both the Esquimaux and the whalers. The former laid in large supplies for winter use, and the latter loaded their ships with oil. But the fishing was so very good that one of the whalers staid rather late for such a very northern latitude. From time to time the captain had resolved to go, but a fresh temptation in the shape of a big whale would induce him to defer his departure; and the last of September found the ship still cruising about in that latitude.


By that time the whales were gone, and the vessel was full, and they were really on the point of departure, when, unfortunately, there came upon them a few days of excessively cold weather that was very unusual so early in the season. In a short time the bay was frozen, and the vessel tightly enclosed in the ice. The sailors now began seriously to fear that they would have to winter in that dreadful climate, when, to their joy, the weather moderated somewhat, and [Pg 257]the ice broke up. They soon found, however, that this condition of things was worse than the other, for there was great danger of the ship being crushed by the huge masses of loose ice that pressed upon it on every side. The crew worked hard to save the ship, but it is doubtful whether they would have succeeded had it not been for the help of the friendly Esquimaux, who did everything in their power for their visitors.

At one time, they all gave up the ship as lost. The ice closed around them with such a crushing force, that the captain and crew fled to the shelter of the Esquimaux snow houses, where they were most hospitably received, and preparations were made to entertain them all winter.

But the vessel escaped, it seemed, almost by a miracle, and the crew returned to it very soon. Then the ice broke up into smaller pieces and drifted away towards the open sea, and the ship prepared to follow as soon as the channel should be sufficiently open. The Esquimaux bade farewell to the whalers, and went off on an expedition, partly for hunting, but chiefly to gather in their dogs and reindeer under shelter for the winter, leaving a few old men and boys to guard the settlement.

Polargno happened to be one of the boys left behind. The day after the expedition started he walked down to the shore to see if the bay was sufficiently open for the ship to start on its voyage. He found that the vessel was enclosed in thin ice which extended for quite a distance beyond in a solid sheet. But, as the weather was still moderating, this ice would probably break up in a few hours. Some sailors were packing up their things in a tent they had occupied on the shore. They evidently expected certainly to get away this time. But, before Polargno reached the place, they ran out of the tent, and down towards the beach with exclamations of horror. Polargno ran after them, and soon discovered the cause of their excitement.

[Pg 258]

Lower down could be seen the open sea, and, rising and falling on the waves were blocks of ice, some large and some small. On one of the largest floes stood a sailor, trying to ward off the attack of a polar bear. The bear had evidently just arrived upon the scene, and was walking around the man, preparatory to making a rush upon him. If he once closed with the sailor there was small chance of the latter escaping with his life. The ice floe, on which they both stood, was now almost stationary, having become wedged in a mass of light, loose pieces that were swaying back and forth on the water.

Having taken in this situation at a glance, Polargno did not hesitate an instant, but ran down the shore at his best speed to a spot opposite the ice-floe. The four sailors followed, but they could not equal the speed of the Esquimaux boy, and when they arrived he had taken off his outer suit and boots, retaining only his in-door suit, and light seal-skin boots. The sailors could not imagine what the boy was about, but their attention was absorbed in their comrade who was in such deadly peril, and they paid little heed to Polargno. Two of them had guns, but they found to their dismay, that these were of no use. The distance was too great for them to aim at any particular spot of the beast’s body, and a polar bear is very hard to kill, unless a vital part is struck. If he were only wounded he would be so infuriated that the sailor’s case would be hopeless. And, besides, the bear was now on the farther side of the block of ice, and was thus partly covered from their fire by the man’s body.

All this had passed in the space of a very few minutes; and now, while they were wondering what they could do, and watching for a chance to fire, the sailors suddenly discovered that the Esquimaux boy was far on his way to the help of their comrade. He had made no boast of what he was going to do. He had asked for no help. He knew they could not give him any. The thin cakes of ice, which dipped into the water under his light tread, would have sunk with[Pg 259] the weight of one of the sailors. He saw that a fellow-creature was in danger of being killed by a ferocious animal; and, at once, without a care for his own personal safety, he went to the rescue. He had, in his belt, his knife and his hatchet, and, on these, and his dexterity and quickness, and knowledge of the ways of polar bears, he relied for success.

The sailors watched him, full of admiration for his courage, and for his skill in jumping the floating cakes of ice that one would scarcely expect to bear the weight of a bird. He seemed to select the largest and strongest pieces, by a sort of quick instinct, and bounded from one to another as lightly as a cat. A foot went into the water at nearly every step, but he did not sink.

Meantime the bear had advanced upon the sailor, who, it now was seen, had a knife in his hand, prepared to do his best.

The Esquimaux boy had now reached the pack of loose ice against which the ice floe had rested. This was firm, and he paused an instant, before springing on to the floe. The sailors thought his courage had failed at the last moment. But no! Polargno knew there was no time to lose, and he required only this instant to see where he could best strike the bear. There was no vital part at which he could get a good stroke. All he could do at first was to divert the bear’s attention from the sailor to himself.

He threw his hatchet straight at the side of the bear that was exposed to him. It sank through the tough skin into the flesh, but the wound was not a very severe one. The astonished animal turned, and, seeing the boy who had now sprung upon the ice floe, not a dozen yards from him, he made towards this new comer in a great rage.

But Polargno was ready for him. He sprang aside, and quickly struck his knife into the side of the bear. The animal fell, but was not killed, and it tried to stagger up again; but, by this time, the[Pg 260] sailor had recovered his senses, for he had stood apparently stupefied when the bear left him. He now came to the boy’s assistance, and, together, they soon put an end to their formidable foe.

Polargno pulled off his hood, and waved it in the air, and shouted “Hurrah!” This word and action he had learned from the sailors. By this time the whole crew had come down from the ship, and they also joyfully waved their hats, and shouted “Hurrah!”

But the two must be taken off the ice-floe before it went sailing out into the sea. The pack of ice was, even now, moving faster, and gave signs of breaking up. So a boat was got down from the ship as speedily as possible, and some of the sailors, steering in and out of the floating ice, went to their relief, and took them safely to the shore. They intended to leave the carcass of the bear, but it went to Polargno’s heart to see so much good meat wasted, and he begged so hard for it, that the sailors waited long enough to tow it to shore, though they were in a hurry to get back before the upper ice field broke up.

You may wonder how the sailor and the bear got off on this ice-floe together; as you, no doubt, feel sure they did not make an appointment to meet there. The sailor told how he came there. It happened this way: The day before, he had lost a small wallet, containing some of his valuables, among the ice hummocks near the shore. As soon as he discovered his loss he searched for the bag, and his companions aided him. It could not be found, and, this day, while the men were occupied in packing up the last of their effects, he went out on the ice to look once more among the hummocks for his wallet. He wandered some distance out, but the ice was solid and firm. Suddenly he heard a noise like a sharp thunder clap, and the next instant he was floating out into the open sea, with blocks of ice swirling and tumbling about him in all directions. The ice had broken loose, and there was no way for him to reach the shore. He[Pg 261] called and shouted, but his cries did not reach the ship, or the men in the tent. He was afraid the floe he was on would go to pieces before he could be rescued, and he knew it would be impossible for him to swim through the masses of loose ice. His swift course was fortunately arrested by the ice-pack, and he hoped there would be time to rescue him before it was all swept away by the waves, as he was sure he must soon be missed by his companions in the tent. Just as he was comforting himself with this thought, he turned, and saw a large polar bear sitting upon its haunches very near him, and regarding him attentively.

As the polar bear is dead, and as he was not able to tell his own story, either living or dead, in any language that we could understand, I cannot inform you how he came to be sailing out to sea on a cake of ice. But there he was, and greatly alarmed was the sailor when he caught sight of him. He had the presence of mind, however, not to make any sudden motion, and hoped by keeping very still, to persuade the bear that he was only an inanimate object. But the creature knew better than that. It is probable he had been observing the sailor for some time, and the reason the man did not notice the beast was because it was so nearly the color of the ice hummocks. It soon crossed over to his ice-floe, and it was then that the men in the tent first saw what had happened to their companion.


You may be sure the sailor was deeply grateful to the Esquimaux boy. He had nothing to give his preserver, but he wanted to take him home with him to New England, and take care of him ever after. But nothing would induce Polargno to leave his beloved Greenland. The captain, and such of the crew as had anything to give, loaded Polargno and his parents with gifts. The parents took them all, but I think they were very much surprised at this munificence, and at the praise that the white men showered upon the boy for his brave deed. They were very much pleased that he should have behaved so well[Pg 262] when called upon to do his duty; but it did not occur to them, apparently,[Pg 263] that he could possibly have done otherwise than he did, though they admitted that it was a bold deed to go out single-handed to fight a polar bear. The Esquimaux are a very brave people. Courage is such a common quality among them that it excites no surprise. But, of all their foes, the one they dread most is the polar bear. But then here was a man in danger of being killed by a bear, and the boy went to his assistance as a matter of course. That was the way they looked at it.

They all had plenty of time to talk this over, for the ship did not get away for a week after the hunting party returned. The ice closed around it again; and again the sailors made up their minds to winter there. The Esquimaux had told them of two ships that had remained there too late the years before, and had become enclosed in icebergs. Great masses of these icy mountains, descended upon the doomed ships. The crews worked hard to get the ships free, even dragging them out from among the icebergs on one occasion with ropes. But it was all in vain. The vessels were destroyed, and the crews lost all they had. The Esquimaux took them in their sledges to a lower settlement, where they found a whaling ship that conveyed them home. The ships were probably all gone now, and if this vessel was in like manner destroyed, these sailors would be compelled to stay all the season with the Esquimaux.

But, one day, the ice broke up with a great noise, and disappeared as suddenly as it came, and the vessel sailed out of the bay in a clear channel, the sailors having promised to return next year if they could.

And, in a short time, snow and ice, and winter, and darkness enveloped the place.

But the Esquimaux did not care. They were used to it. They did what work they could. They had abundant stores for the winter. And they sat around their lamps, and told stories of the wonderful adventures they had passed through, or heard of.

[Pg 264]

Polargno, we are agreed, is not handsome to our American eyes; and he does not know how to read and write; and never even heard of geography and arithmetic. And yet, I wonder how many well-taught American boys would so bravely and unselfishly risk their lives to save the life of another.


[Pg 265]



How would you like this pretty creature for a pet? He can be domesticated, and will stay with you very contentedly, if you put him in a place where he can’t get away. If you leave an open gateway, however, the chances are he will walk out of it some day, and return no more. He does not go away because he is tired of being petted, for he likes that; or because he does not like you, for perhaps, in his heart, (if he has one) he is sorry to part from you. He goes simply because he can. This restless disposition moves him to extend his travels; and, no doubt, he intends to return at some future day. But he never does.

[Pg 266]

If you have him in any place where he can do mischief you had better keep an eye on him; otherwise he will be poking his long nose into things that do not concern him in the least.

His two ends are not well balanced, his neck being so very long, and his tail so very short! The fringe-like appendage hanging from his neck gives it somewhat the appearance of a great centipede.

His small eyes have not a very intelligent expression, but our matamata has quite sense enough to take very good care of himself.

His shell is really very pretty. It looks as if it were hung loosely upon him for a canopy, and as if he might be just as well off without it, especially as it must be somewhat heavy to carry around on all occasions. But, if you consulted him upon the matter of removing it, he would, at once, object. Probably he would draw his long neck instantly within his shell, leaving not so much as the tip of his sharp nose visible; then he would whisk in his ridiculous tail; and, lastly, in would go his fat legs and feet; and there he would have as tight and snug a house as possible.

Did you ever eat any turtles’ eggs? If not, I advise you to do so on the first opportunity, for they are very good.

The turtles lay their eggs in the sand that the heat of the sun and sand combined may hatch them at the proper time. As soon as they are hatched the young turtles make their way to the water, where they know how to provide their own living, without instruction. But, in the warm countries, where turtles abound, it is a wonder that any young ones manage to get out of their eggs.

For the eggs are esteemed such a luxury, that, as soon as the laying season of the turtles is over, the natives turn out in great numbers, and search the sands for eggs, which they collect by the thousands, for sale, and for their own eating.


It is at this laying season that the South American Indians capture great numbers of turtles. The turtles come out of the water at night, [Pg 268]in crowds, for the purpose of depositing their eggs. They dig trenches in the sand; and, having placed their eggs in these, and covered them, they all make a grand rush back to the water. Then the Indians, who are on the watch, run after them, seize as many as they can get hold of by the tails, and throw them over on their backs. In this position a turtle is helpless, and the Indians can easily kill them.

The flesh is excellent food; but what the Indians chiefly desire to possess is the fine yellow fat with which the turtles are well supplied. From this fat the Indians manufacture a superior kind of oil, for which they find a ready sale.

If these turtles were as large as some of the West Indian turtles that have been brought to this country, the Indians would not have an easy task in turning them over.

[Pg 269]


A mountain with its great cone smoking like a chimney, or sending up into the clouds a grand sheaf of flame, must be a splendid sight, and one never to be forgotten. But when it begins to pour forth rivers of hot lava it is time to get entirely out of sight of it, if you can. For these streams of lava are sometimes very long.


A hundred years ago Etna poured forth such an immense river of fiery stones, and liquid lava, and threw it out with such violence that[Pg 270] it rushed in cascades and whirling torrents for fifteen miles, burning up everything in its course, until it finally plunged into the sea.


This volcano has an eruption once in a while, but does not often give the world such a terrible one as this. Sometimes the lava only destroys the fields and vineyards near the mountain. It is a small volcano, but it has done a good deal of damage. Two hundred years ago it entirely destroyed the town of Catania.

At a short distance from it stands another small volcano, which is famous for the ruin it has caused. You have no doubt read of the destruction of the city of Pompeii; and how it was entirely buried under the ashes thrown from Vesuvius during an eruption. Nearly everybody in the place at that time perished, and now people have to dig many feet under the ground to find the houses of the buried city. A smaller city in the neighborhood, Herculaneum, was buried at the same time, by the shower of ashes.

[Pg 271]

This happened eighteen hundred years ago. But Vesuvius has not been quiet ever since that time. There have been several eruptions. In 1794 it hurled out torrents of fire from its top which rolled over a town, a few miles distant, and burned it into ruins. Strange to say, the town was rebuilt; and, a few years ago, Vesuvius visited it again with a fiery flood, which, however, only destroyed part of the town.

A very much larger volcano, Cotopaxi, has, at different times, had most frightful eruptions, but on account of its situation, has not done so much damage as Etna and Vesuvius.

Just before an eruption occurs dull roars are heard inside of the mountain, which seems to shake with the action of the lava boiling up within it. Presently columns of smoke shoot up, then sheafs of flame rise into the air with masses of cinders, and burning rocks. And then the lava-streams pour over the sides, and roll down into the plains.

Some volcanoes are always smoking when not in active eruption, but the active volcanoes usually take long rests. The people who live on, or near these burning mountains rely upon this fact for safety. But it is not a very safe reliance, for their periods of rest are very irregular; and they may break forth when least expected.

The greater number of these mountains throw out flames and lava, but some send out hot mud instead, and others boiling water.

There are volcanoes that seem to have burned themselves out, and are said to be extinct. Men can go down into the craters of these, from whence the flames, and lava formerly issued, and examine them. Some of these immense holes, or craters are now filled with forests, and in others there are lakes. Others again are nothing but rocky ravines.

Orizaba, in Mexico, is an extinct volcano, with a monstrous crater.[Pg 272] Persons standing on the opposite sides of this crater can barely see each other, the distance between them is so great.


The small volcanoes are more active than the large ones. Little Stromboli is nearly always sending up flames, while the lofty Cotopaxi is quiet sometimes for a century.

[Pg 273]


The learned Mr. Nathaniel P. Reed, a native of New Jersey, and a man well known to all the botanical and agricultural societies of the civilized world, had, in the course of some thirty years spent in patient and careful investigation into the structure and habits of plants, acquired the power of completely abstracting his mind from all its surroundings while engaged in his favorite pursuit. This was often a very fortunate thing for him. But then, again, sometimes it was very unfortunate.

He traveled everywhere, searching for specimens of plants. He never seemed to get tired of this study. Over hot, sandy deserts, and through savage forests he went undaunted; and, if he found a new flower, or tree, he felt he was fully rewarded.

At last, he reached Cape Town in Southern Africa, a region he had never before visited. A party of European hunters was just on the point of starting on an expedition into the woods and jungles, and, in an evil hour for them, asked Mr. Reed to join them. He at once accepted the invitation, for it was a fine opportunity to hunt up new plants.

I say it was in an evil hour that the hunters asked him because he gave them so much trouble through his absent-mindedness. He was a very entertaining traveling companion when not engaged in his botanical studies, and so good-humored, and obliging that his comrades did not grumble very much at the trouble he gave them. But, nevertheless, he did cause them great anxiety, for they found out that when he was searching for plants, or had a flower in his hand analyzing it, he would put himself into situations of great peril without knowing anything about it. And so, at least one of their number always had to be on the lookout for Mr. Reed, to keep him out of mischief.

[Pg 274]

For one thing, he would stray away from the main body. This was against the rules of the expedition, for, in a forest full of wild beasts it was necessary to keep together. Generally, when he wandered off this way, he would be missed, and brought back before he had got entirely out of sight. But, on three occasions, he managed to get lost, without intending anything of the kind, and each time, he met with a remarkable adventure.

The party had been out but a few days when he was lost for the first time. He must have been absent two hours, when his companions first missed him. At least no one could remember having seen him for that length of time. What might not have happened to him in those two hours, everywhere surrounded by dangers? They immediately commenced the search for him.

They went back over the route they had traveled, and, at last, found the place where Mr. Reed had left the caravan. They knew it by the trampled bushes, and by the twigs broken off here and there, and plants pulled up by the roots. Following these marks of his progress they suddenly came out upon the banks of a river. And there they saw the botanist. And, at the same time, all were struck with horror at his situation. He, alone, was happily serene, unconscious that any danger was near him.

Seated on a mossy bank, in the midst of tall reeds, on a peninsula that extended pretty far out into the river, was their botanist. He had an umbrella over his head to shield him from the sun, and was busily engaged, arranging some “specimens” in his book of plants, which he called an Herbarium. His back was towards the river, and so absorbed was he in his occupation that he had not discovered that a whole colony of crocodiles had come to pay him a visit. Neither did he hear or see his companions although his face was turned directly towards them.

The crocodiles had arranged themselves in a long row, with their[Pg 275] heads above the water, watching the botanist with great interest, and evidently, meditating an attack upon him. How long they had been there could not, of course, be known, but, in a few moments after the hunters appeared upon the scene, the nearest crocodile seemed to have made up his mind that a botanist was good to eat, and made straight towards the land, followed by another huge beast.


Mr. Reed continued calmly to arrange his specimens.

Two men from the hunting party at once rushed forward upon the[Pg 276] peninsula, and fired upon the crocodiles. It was quite time, for two of the foremost ones had reached the land. They rolled over into the water, and all of the great beasts at once disappeared under the surface of the river.

The shots did arouse Mr. Reed’s attention, or else he had finished his work; for he looked up, and said to his companions, who now surrounded him:

“I have found one of the rarest of plants—the Iscodextiana—and it has twelve stamens, just as I have always maintained.”

“I wonder if it would have agreed with the stomach of a crocodile!” said one of the hunters.

Mr. Reed was so alarmed at the account of the peril to which he had exposed himself, that it was a long time before he again wandered from the caravan. The party had then formed a camp on what was considered good hunting ground—that is in a forest frequented by wild beasts. The hunters were successful in killing a good many of these, and enjoyed the dangerous sport very greatly. Meanwhile Mr. Reed continued his peaceful hunting of the wild flowers, which grew all around in the most lavish profusion.

There were always some men left in the camp to guard it. One day, when the hunters had returned, and were gathering around the supper table, they missed Mr. Reed. On questioning the men who had had charge of the camp, they could not remember when they had last seen him. It was evident that he had wandered off to a distance. If he got into one of his fits of abstraction there was no knowing when he would ever find out he was lost, and try to get back again.

Hastily swallowing some supper, a party of men went out in search of the lost botanist, but were obliged to return to the camp without him, for night came on, and the darkness was intense, and they could not continue the search.

[Pg 277]

They retired to rest with heavy hearts, for they greatly feared their very troublesome but very pleasant companion would fall a prey to some wild beast. The sentinels on guard kept peering out into the black forest, hoping to see the figure of their missing companion. They kept up great fires as beacons to guide him to the camp.

In the middle of the night the whole camp was aroused by the cries of the sentinels. The forest to the south of them was on fire. The wind was high, and as there were many dead trees, and a great deal of dry wood lying on the ground, the flames spread with great rapidity. The hunters were not afraid that it would come their way, as the wind blew it in an opposite direction. So they enjoyed the grand spectacle.

In an hour the fire had extended through the woods for several miles. The howls, and shrieks, and bellowings of hyenas, jackals, lions, and tigers filled the air, as the frightened animals rushed out of the flaming forest. A huge black form would sometimes loom up against the red sky, and then seem to sink away into the darkness. This was an elephant seeking refuge from the flames.

The hunters had watched the conflagration some time, when they saw the figure of a man running towards them from the burning woods. It was Mr. Reed! He had not been able to find the camp, he said, until the fiery forest had made everything so bright that he clearly saw the huts and tents from a long distance.

It appeared that he had lost his way while botanizing, but had started on his return, confident he could follow his own trail back. But he soon saw what he considered to be a flower. If so, it was larger than any known to botanists. However he was not sure but it might be a brilliantly colored mushroom. He forgot everything while examining this, until, to his surprise, he found he could not see it. Night had come on! He collected a quantity of dry wood into a heap, and taking a match from his pocket applied it to the wood. This gave him a bright light for the further examination of the plant.

[Pg 278]

He did not know how long it was after this that he discovered he was nearly surrounded by burning wood, and that the forest was roaring and crackling in front of him. He beat a retreat with all speed.


And so it was, our absent-minded botanist who had got up this[Pg 279] mighty conflagration, and frightened all the wild beasts out of their senses. It was lucky for him that he lighted the fire, otherwise it is more than probable some one of the wild beasts would have made short work of him in the course of the night.

His next adventure was a very serious one, and yet it was very funny too. It happened when the expedition was returning to Cape Town. By that time Mr. Reed’s herbarium was filled with specimens. It was of more value, he said, than diamonds. He expected to astonish and delight the scientific world with that book of plants. He would never trust it to any one else for more than a few moments at a time. He slept with it under his pillow.

And yet he allowed this precious book to be stolen from him.

And by whom?

By a baboon!

In one of his fits of abstraction he had again wandered out of sight of his companions. He had the herbarium open, and, as he walked along, was studying his contents. Suddenly a great, black, hairy paw was thrust right under his nose, and the book snatched out of his hand in a twinkling.

Looking up, he saw in the tree far above his head, a large baboon, grinning and chattering, and turning over the leaves of his beloved herbarium with no gentle hand. But Mr. Reed had no idea of losing his book, and immediately began to climb the tree. The baboon grasped his stolen property, firmly, and swung himself lightly to the next tree.

Seeing the folly of attempting to follow the animal, Mr. Reed returned to his companions, finding his way with some difficulty; and implored them to recover for him this lost treasure.

They laughed at him, but good-naturedly accompanied him to the place of the theft, though they did not expect to find the monkey there; much less did they suppose the book to be still entire.

[Pg 280]

But, on reaching the spot, there, on a low branch of a tree, was the baboon, busily engaged in turning the book over and over, as if anxious to make out what manner of thing he had got hold of.


He did not take any notice of the party of men, and it would have[Pg 281] been easy to have shot him. But the botanist made this impossible, for no sooner did he get a sight of the thief, thus displaying his booty, than he rushed forward to seize his precious volume; in this way getting between the gun and the animal.

The baboon, instead of retreating, as he had done before, sprang to the ground, and rushed upon the botanist. A fierce battle ensued. Sometimes the baboon was uppermost, and sometimes Mr. Reed. But the monkey had weapons in its claws, whereas the man had nothing but his fists, and great physical strength. The hunters tried to shoot the baboon, but this they found they could not do without danger to Mr. Reed.

Finally one of them, watching his chance, when the beast was uppermost, split its head with a hatchet, and ended the combat.

Early in the fight Mr. Reed had got hold of his book. It was somewhat crushed, and a few of the specimens destroyed, but, on the whole, it was in pretty good condition.

This was the last serious adventure that befell Mr. Reed. He met with some mishaps, but these he did not mind, and soon forgot them after his return to Cape Town, where he had the pleasure of showing his beloved herbarium, and of describing to his friends the plants he had found, and their characteristics.

[Pg 282]



[Pg 283]

In another part of this book I told you something about the moon, which did not even pretend to be true. No body can go to the moon, although very many people have traveled more miles than the distance between the earth and its lunar companion. Any one who has sailed from New York to Liverpool and back forty times has gone over a greater distance than that from here to the moon, which is less than 240,000 miles away.

Many a sea-captain has sailed more miles than these. A ship came into New York Bay very recently that had sailed, in one voyage over 110,000 miles.

But we cannot visit the moon because there is no atmospheric air between that planet and the earth. If air existed in this vast space in which a balloon might float, and which a man might breathe, I think that some of us would manage to get to the moon before any one reaches the North Pole. The journey would be longer, but there would be no ice to block up the way.

But notwithstanding the fact that we cannot go to the moon, we know a great deal about that planet, especially as it affects the earth. And with the great telescopes that have been constructed, in late years, we can see much of the general configuration of that side of the moon which is turned towards us, and it appears very like the picture at the head of this article. Here we see depressions and elevations, and plain surfaces which may be, and probably are, mountains and beds of dried up oceans and vast plains, which, in all probability, are barren and desolate.

For scientific men feel quite certain that the moon has no atmosphere, and of course if there is no air, we have no reason to suppose that there is any life there.

But our principal interest in the moon relates to its effects upon ourselves, and our own planet, and therefore we should all understand it as we see and enjoy it from our stand-point.

[Pg 284]

We all know that sometimes the moon is full and bright, flooding the earth with its lovely light, and that, at other times it is quite dim, just a curved strip of light in the sky, and at still other times it seems to be absent altogether.

Though we have noticed all this, it is very probable indeed that some of us do not entirely understand these changes, and so I shall briefly explain them.

When we cannot see the moon at all, which is the case for two or three days every month, it is because the sun is not shining on that side of the moon which is turned to us. And we might as well remember that although the moon moves around the earth once every four weeks, it always turns the same side to us. We never have seen the other side, with telescopes, or in any other way.

When the moon is between us and the sun, the side towards us must of course be dark. Then it is that we do not see the moon at all.

But as the moon moves gradually to one side we begin to see a little strip of the bright portion as you notice in Fig. 1. This represents the moon in its first phase.

I suppose you have noticed at such times, when the new moon is very small, that we can often see the whole disk of the moon, although the principal portion of it is very dim indeed. Still we can see a faint light shining upon it which makes it comparatively easy for us to discern its outlines.


This pale light is “earth-light.” The earth is then “full” to the moon-folk, (if there be any such creatures who can live without air,) and its brilliancy is partially reflected back to us from the surface of the moon.

The bright portion of the moon now grows larger and larger until,[Pg 285] in about seven or eight days, we see it as it is shown in Figure 2. Then it is said to be in its first quarter.

At this time the spots and various markings on its surface are generally seen very distinctly.

For seven days the bright portion of the moon continues to grow larger and larger, and during a part of this time it presents the appearance shown in Figure 3.


At last, after about fifteen days of active increase of bright surface the moon reaches that point where the sun shines directly upon the side presented to the earth, and then it is “full moon.” Of course it must, at this time, be on the side of the earth farthest from the sun so that the sun can shine on it, and at the same time, we can see it.


Figure 4 is a small picture of the full moon.

But the moon does not remain full very long, as many of us who delight in moonlight rambles, and boat-rides, know to our sorrow. It soon begins to wane, and then assumes very much the same forms that it presented when on the increase, with this difference; its lighted portion is always turned the other way.


It now rises later and later. When it was full it rose at about the time that the sun set, and set about sunrise. But now it rises later and later until at last it rises just before the sun, and is of course soon invisible in his brighter rays.

[Pg 286]

Figures 5, 6 and 7 will give you an idea of the various phases assumed by the moon when in its wane, or decrease.


So now we have seen the moon in its various phases, which is nothing more than we can see in the heavens when the sky is clear, but it is better always to understand what we see.

We should remember, then, that one half of the moon is always bright. When it is between us and the sun (not on an exact line, however, for that would make an eclipse of the sun) we cannot see it at all, and then we say “there is no moon to-night.” When it moves around so that we can see a little of the bright side, it is “new moon,” and when it gets around behind us, so to speak, so that we can see the sun shining full upon one side of it, it is “full moon.”

If one of us could live upon that part of the surface of the moon that is always turned toward us, he could see the same changes taking place upon our planet as we see on the moon.

There would be “new earth,” and “quarter earth,” and “full earth,” which last would be truly grand!

Think of a bright orb of light in the heavens fourteen times larger than the full moon, and you will have an idea of how our earth would sometimes appear to observers on the moon,—were there any one there to see.

[Pg 287]


In another part of this volume there is an adventure related by Mr. Moore, in which he encountered a snow storm in a tropical country.

Mr. Moore had spent the earlier part of his life in South America; and, in after years, he was very fond of talking about these youthful days with his son George, who was a delighted listener to the travels and exploits of his father.

On one occasion Mr. Moore gave George an account of the first voyage he took on the lower part of the Amazon river, and I think it will prove almost as full of interest to my readers as it was to George Moore.

So here it is.

“I had made up my mind,” said Mr. Moore, “to overhaul the boat of Miguel Espartero. He was a Spanish South American, and captain of the sloop Bella Donna, which sloop, I had been told, was to start that very day on its voyage down the river to Para, to which place it was conveying coffee and chocolate, the produce of the river farms.

“I had some acquaintance with Captain Espartero; and I knew he did not want me on his sloop, and I guessed the reason. His ideas of hospitality would compel him to offer me his state-room, and he feared I would accept the offer. That was the reason he pretended not to see me when I first came in sight of him in the gapo. He rowed with all his might and main, without turning his head in my direction. But I thought if I could overtake him, and convince him I did not want his state-room, he would be very glad of my company.


“So I bribed my Indian rower to his best speed. The captain’s boat was several lengths ahead, and was lighter than ours, but he was [Pg 289]not as much accustomed to rowing as my Indian, and I felt pretty sure of overtaking him in the gapo.

“What is a gapo?” said George.

“At certain seasons the Amazon river overflows its banks; and the forest land, covered by the waters, is called a gapo, and Captain Espartero was rowing through one of these to get to his sloop in the open river, and I was following him. I was afraid he would hoist sail, and away before I could reach the sloop, so I made up my mind to overhaul his boat.

“We overtook him after a little rapid rowing, and I made a bargain with him to take me down the river. He was in a hurry, he said, but I was all ready; and in half an hour we were on board the Bella Donna.”

“Why!” exclaimed George, “that is the name of a medicine!”

“The sloop was not named after the medicine, but Bella Donna is Spanish for Beautiful Lady.

“For several hours we drifted with the tide, which was running pretty fast; and then we stopped at a town to take on some chocolate. Here there were farm-houses on both banks of the river—low whitewashed buildings, looking very picturesque in the midst of the pretty cacao or chocolate trees.

“After leaving here, our progress was very slow; and, before night, we came to a dead stop. Our pilot had steered us upon a sand-bank! There was nothing for it but to wait for the tide to float us off. Fortunately we could go to sleep, and we did.

“It was a warm night, and I wrapped myself in my cloak, and laid down on some cushions on the deck. After a long time I was awakened by a splashing noise, and, lying quite still in the moonlight, I listened. There seemed to be many creatures swimming around our sloop. And then I plainly smelled a musky odor. I knew by that sign who our visitors were. I got up and looked over the side of the vessel.

[Pg 290]

“Yes, there they were! I was sure of it! Their long, villainous-looking heads were thrust out of the water, as if enjoying the moonlight. These were several alligators looking for something to eat, no doubt, and I was very glad they were not going to have a chance to eat me. I was safely out of their reach on the deck of the sloop, but the idea of having so many of these disgusting and ravenous beasts so near me disturbed my rest for a long time. So that my first night on the sloop was not particularly pleasant.

“But the second was worse. We floated off the sand-bar about daybreak, and made very good progress through the day. Very early in the night I retired to my little room in the cabin, and was soon sound asleep.

“After some time I awoke. I was conscious of a disagreeable sensation. I soon found that my hammock was rocking at a furious rate. Presently it gave a tremendous lurch, and banged my head against the wall. With some difficulty I managed to get out of the hammock, and, as soon as I put my feet on the floor, I fell down. The room was pitchy dark, and the vessel was evidently very pitchy too, though in a different way. On the deck there was a great trampling of feet.

“I scrambled up in haste, and was eager to get out of the cabin, and to see what had happened. But I could not find the door. I felt around the walls, but the door seemed to have vanished. I imagined that the ship was on fire and that I should be burned up in that little cell. I kicked, and pounded, and shrieked; and, after a long time, the uproar I made was heard on deck. Somebody came, and let me out.


“Then I found that a fearful storm was upon us. The scene had been entirely changed in an hour. All day it had been calm. There was not breeze enough to move a sail, and scarcely to ruffle the water. Now the wind was blowing violently, bending the trees until it seemed as if they would be torn up by the roots. The air was filled with whirling leaves. The river was lashed into waves, and white with [Pg 292]foam. The lightning was almost incessant, sometimes in blinding sheets, and sometimes with flaming lines crossing each other.

“The sloop was flying over the waves as gaily as a bird. There was not a thread of canvas out. We were rushing along under bare poles.

“The Indian sailors were of no use whatever—worse than useless, for they were in an agony of terror. They were all in the shrouds and rigging, holding on for dear life. If it had not been for the pilot, the captain, and one white sailor, I don’t know what would have become of us.

“The captain assured me there was no danger, so I secured myself on deck, and watched the tempest, admiring the fine display it made, but wishing from my heart it would stop. For I preferred the certainty of safety to the captain’s assurance that we were safe.

“Fearing that the wind would blow me off the slippery deck, I had tied one end of a rope around the mast, and the other end around my waist. I suppose I did not tie it firmly, for the rope slipped from me; and I felt that I was sliding swiftly over the wet deck, on my way to the river. The sloop was tipped up at such a high angle I could not save myself. I gave a shriek; there was a crash; and down I went into the raging waters!

“For an instant I had no sensation but that of terror. Then the horror of my situation forced me to think how to save myself. I was in the midst of this boiling river, at the mercy of the furious waves, and still more furious wind. The vessel was going at a frantic speed, and would soon be far away from me. At such a time I would not be missed; and, even if I were my companions could not save me. They could do nothing except to throw me a rope, and try to hold me up until I could get to the ship’s side, when there was a possibility they might haul me up. But all this was not probable.

“These thoughts flew through my mind in a moment. Then I[Pg 293] found I was close to the ship, but I could not see distinctly. The lightning flashes seemed to have grown very faint, and everything was obscure. The only thing I could do was to try to get up the ship’s side, and I made a desperate clutch at it. My hands failed to get hold of anything, and down I went into the water again. But I did not sink. I seemed to be borne up on the top of the waves all the time. But, of course, I did not reflect upon the strangeness of this. I made another attempt to scramble up the side of the sloop; and this time, I caught hold of an iron ring!

“How desperately I clutched it! And how I shrieked for help! But the gale made such a noise no one heard me. I found to my surprise that the rolling of the vessel dipped only my feet in the water, and that the waves did not dash over me. My situation then did not seem to be quite so hopeless, and I redoubled my cries for help.

“Soon I heard the gruff voice of the Captain calling down to me:

‘What is the matter there?’”

“‘I am overboard, and drowning,’ I shrieked in reply.

“Upon this instead of lowering a rope, he extended me his hands, and helped me up—out of the cabin!

“The crash I had heard was the cabin hatchway, and I had fallen through it into the room below, and into about two feet of water! The iron ring was a hammock ring. No wonder I did not see the lightning flashes down in that hole.

“The raging waves, and the tossing about in the wind, and the vessel scudding away from me had only existed in my imagination. I was so certain that I had fallen into the river that I imagined the rest.

“The tempest soon ceased, but not the laugh at me. That lasted all the way to Para. Somehow my adventure seemed more ridiculous to the Captain and the sailors than it did to me!


“We had lovely weather during the remainder of our trip. Our Bella Donna behaved very well except that she would get on a sand-bar [Pg 295]occasionally. This was partly the pilot’s fault, and partly the fault of the river in having so many sand-bars.

‘Did not the Captain try to get his sloop off the sand-bars?’ George inquired.

“Yes, the sailors would try to work the vessel off, sometimes getting into the water, and working like Trojans. But they never did get her off; and we would just stick there until the next tide which invariably floated us on our way.

“I took advantage of these detentions to visit the shores, and explore the country. In this way I became acquainted with some very strange Indian tribes. But I saw nothing of the Amazons—the female warriors you have read of. Nor did I meet with any one who ever had seen any of them. I did find a ruined fortress, but I never heard that the Amazons had anything to do with fortresses. They trusted to their bows and spears.

“In the place of these warlike females are gentle, inoffensive Indian women, who will sell you delicious fruits, or make you a hammock for a small sum of money, or a few ornaments.

“Immense forests stretch along both banks, filled with luxuriant vegetation. To a resident, a trip on the river, sailing between these lines of forests, is tedious, and monotonous. But a stranger is constantly interested in the beautiful and wonderful plants around him.

“There are also farms along the river, and occasionally a white settlement—usually a village; rarely a town.

“And, if the vessel gets on sand-bars as often as our good sloop, the Bella Donna, the stranger will have an opportunity of seeing some of the animals of the country, Some of them are not very pleasant to meet, especially the jaguar. But the monkeys are amusing.

“At some of the mission stations among the Indians he will also see a good deal to interest him. The Indians have been taught something of agriculture, and have some very primitive machines.

[Pg 296]

“In one of my rambles I came across a sugar-cane mill, in which three Indians were at work.


“It was an enormous affair, but worked entirely by man-power. The great wheels were made to revolve by a single man working in each, very much in the style in which squirrels turn toy wheels in their cages.

[Pg 297]

“With the exception of my sad adventure during the tempest, I enjoyed the ten days’ trip on the Bella Donna very much. But ten days is enough for such a journey, and I was not sorry when I reached Para, and the sea coast.”

[Pg 298]


Fine stories are told of the Bedouin Arabs. We have heard a great deal about these wandering tribes of the desert; of their hospitality to strangers; of their generosity; of their gratitude; of their affection for their fleet and beautiful horses; of the wild free life they lead. They will not allow themselves to be cooped up in towns, they will not even live in houses, but spend their lives in breezy tents, out on the wilds.

When girls and boys read these accounts their hearts glow at the thought of the happy life of the Arab children. No lessons to learn, no school to attend, no work to do. They course around on splendid horses, and their whole life is one delightful “camping out.” When they get tired of living in one place, they go to another. They dress gorgeously too! A loose, and gracefully flowing costume, made of “rich stuffs,” and costly camel’s hair cloth.

And then besides the horse they have the docile and intelligent camel to bear their burdens, and to be their companions.

Such are the pictures often drawn of Bedouin life; and, no doubt you have thought when you read them, that if these ignorant, lazy, heathen Arabs were so good, and so happy, why should you be sent to school, and taught to be industrious, and trained to follow the precepts of the Bible? To be good, and to be happy are certainly the main things, and if these Arabs have learned the secret of commanding these we had better take lessons from them.

Let us look at the accounts of reliable travelers, and see how far the descriptions of the story-writers are true.


On the next page we have an Arab chief. How do you like his looks? That long robe he has over his white cotton skirt, and the [Pg 300]scarf on his head are of camel’s hair—there is no doubt about that—but, if you admire his bare legs and arms, and old slippers, it is more than I do. And I can tell you of something that you can’t see in the picture. The whole dress is shockingly dirty, and greasy.

Did you ever reflect how these “noble Arabs” get anything to eat? They must eat, you know, and they won’t work; so, how do they procure their food? Why, they steal it. They despise their brethren who dwell in houses, and plow and plant seed. They think work is degrading. But after the farmers have got their fields in good order, and the grain is ready to cut; down comes a tribe of Bedouins and carries off the harvest!

They entertain strangers, but only to beg from them, and what they fail to get by begging they will steal, if they have a chance.

Their generosity seems to be a reckless wasting and giving away of what they ought to save; and no people can drive so hard a bargain, or cheat more readily.

As for gratitude—well—if a man has done them a favor they perhaps tell him fewer lies, and cheat him less than they do others.

The camel is a very important animal in the deserts where the Bedouins live, for he can easily tread the sands, and can live a long time without water, and can bear heavy burdens. But he is very, very stupid, and ill-natured, and obstinate. Perhaps the poor beasts would do better if they had better masters, for the Bedouins half starve them, and constantly ill-treat them; and I don’t blame the camels for resenting such conduct.

It is not likely that such a race of people would treat horses any better than they do their camels. Horses could not bear such treatment long, however. It would kill them. And in fact, the Bedouins have very few horses. The fleet and beautiful Arab steeds are owned by the Arabs who dwell in the villages and try to live somewhat as we do.

[Pg 301]


Tent life is very pleasant, for a few days, when you go out into the green woods with a party of friends. But it would be a very different thing, you would find, if you were compelled to spend your life that way; sometimes under the shade of palms, but, more frequently on the hot desert sands. Dirt and discomfort belong to an Arab tent; and legions of fleas take up their abode there.

If you were to stay with these Bedouins for awhile I think you would gladly go back to civilization and work; and you would come to the conclusion that schools and wash-tubs were good institutions.

[Pg 302]


A good many years ago, on the banks of the Rhine, there lived a boy named Carl Hofer. “Climbing Carl” he was often called because he excelled in climbing; and, quite as frequently, he was called “Fool-hardy Carl,” because he would put himself in very unsafe places, where no sensible person would venture. Everybody said he would be killed some day; and the wonder was that he had reached the age of fourteen years without breaking his neck. His father and mother had tried every means of curing him of these foolish ways; but, although he was a pretty good boy in regard to most things, he was very disobedient about climbing.

His parents were willing he should climb even the tallest trees; and they were quite proud at the gymnasium to see him run lightly up the long ladders, and across the open framework, near the roof. You might say that this also was a dangerous thing to do. That is true, but Carl’s skill in this art, and his long practice made it next to impossible that he should fall. But he would go up places where no amount of skill or practice could save him in case of accident. He would climb a dead tree, for instance, though he knew a rotten branch might break at any moment, and throw him headlong to the ground, or he would go up a tottering wall. It is courageous to put yourself into possible danger, for the sake of accomplishing some good. No boy can learn to ride, or climb, or swim without incurring possible danger. But that is very different from putting yourself into almost certain danger just for the sake of doing a thing when no good is to come of it. When people act in this way they are fool-hardy.

And Carl was not content to be courageous, which is a very good thing, but he must also be fool-hardy, which is a very silly thing.

[Pg 303]


One day he set out alone for a long walk down the river. It was a holiday, so he had plenty of time before him. He walked a very long time before he sat down to rest; and then he looked around him to see where he was. The place was strange[Pg 304] to him, so that he knew he must be a long way from home. There was no house near, and no person was in sight. But Carl was not afraid, for he was used to rambling about the woods, and he felt sure there was nothing there to hurt him.

There was nothing to hurt him but his own foolish self.

Close by him was a beautiful hill, down which fell a little cascade. It was not very high, but rose up almost perpendicularly from where he was sitting. He felt a great desire to see what was on the other side of that hill. He could easily have gone around it, on the inland side, but that did not suit his taste. He remembered that he had given his promise to his mother, that morning, that he would not do one fool-hardy thing that day. But was this fool-hardy? The hill was very steep, but there were trees and saplings to help him in the ascent. He did not hesitate long. He started up the hill. If he had continued up the side he began upon, it would not have been so very bad, for if his foot had slipped he might have had his fall so broken by bushes and tufts of grass that there would have been a possibility of his reaching the ground without any great injury. But he soon found that the side of the hill by the river was even more steep than the one he was on, and he swung himself round by the tree branches until he reached that side. Up he went, digging hands and heels into the spongy turf, and catching hold of the saplings, and bushes that came in his way. If his foot had slipped then, he would have gone plump into the river.

But his foot did not slip, and he reached the top in safety. A little ravine lay at his feet, and on the other side of this, close to the river bank, there stood a stone tower. Eager to examine this curiosity, Carl partly ran, and partly slid down the hill, which was much less steep on that side, and ran across the ravine to the base of the tower.

It was all that was left of an old castle. Many of the stones had fallen from the top, and some from its sides, and it was a very shaky-looking[Pg 305] affair. But Carl did not care for this. The walls were very thick, and he felt sure the large broken pinnacle at the top was broad enough for him to stand on. It would be great fun to stand on that! He forgot his promise to his mother, and began at once to climb; sometimes lifting himself up by taking hold of projecting stones, and sometimes working up by putting feet and hands into crevices in the wall.

He was not half way up when he made a mis-step. He felt that he was slipping, and clutched frantically at a projecting stone. He grasped the stone with both hands, but alas! it shook with the grasp, and Carl knew that it was giving way. He hung thus but a moment, though it seemed a long period to him, for he had time to think of his home, and his father, and mother, and little sisters, and that he should never see them more. He wondered if they would ever know what had become of him, and would learn, that he did die, finally, in a fool-hardy adventure, as everybody had always said he would. Then the stone rolled out from the wall, and out of Carl’s hands, falling some thirty feet, and plunging into the water with great force. And down went Carl, right in its track.

This part of the river was the home of a kind, and beautiful Water-Lady, called by the Germans a Nix. Looking up through the water (for she spent nearly all her time at the bottom of the river) she saw Carl climb the hill, and was so much pleased with his skilful climbing and his bright face, that when he reached the top of the hill, she floated up to the surface of the water to see what he would do next. She watched him down the hill, and across the ravine; but, when he stood looking up to the top of the ruined tower, the Nix guessed that he was thinking of climbing it; and she determined to draw him away from this dangerous place.

The Nixies play upon the harp lovely music that mortals may not hope to play. So the Nix went down to the bottom of the river and[Pg 306] soon reappeared on the surface with a graceful harp, made of beaten gold. She left the river, and, standing among the water plants at the foot of the hill Carl had climbed, she played soft, sweet strains of fairy music on her harp. In this way she thought she would beguile him from the dangerous tower back to the hill; and, when he was safe, she would disappear; for the Nixies do not care to be seen of mortals.

But Carl was so absorbed in his foolish project of scaling the wall, and the music was so very soft, he did not heed it. Twice in his ascent he paused to listen to what he imagined to be lovely strains of music. This was when the Nix, on peeping around the curve made by the hill, saw that the boy had already started on his perilous journey, and played louder to call him back. But Carl concluded he was mistaken, and that the melodious sound was the wind rustling among the vines.

When the Nix heard the plunge into the water she supposed that all was over; and, standing her harp against a rock, she leaned her head upon her hand, and thought sorrowfully of the bright boy who had come to such a sudden end through his own folly.

But Carl was not dead. The force with which he struck the water sent him far down into its depths, and rendered him unconscious. So that when he rose to the surface again he lay on the water without motion, and, apparently, without life. In this condition he floated to the spot where the Nix was standing. For a moment she gazed at him sorrowfully, and then her face suddenly brightened. For she saw that the boy was still living, though he was insensible to everything around him.

Quickly she seized her harp, and played the liveliest, merriest music that the fairies know. The notes seemed to be dancing, and jumping, and rolling and tumbling over each other in great glee, and yet it was true music, and perfect harmony. So penetrating and so stirring was it that it reached Carl’s benumbed senses. He opened his eyes,[Pg 307] and seeing a beautiful lady in white robes, holding a golden harp, and playing this lovely music, no wonder he thought he was in heaven.


This delusion lasted but a moment, however, for he soon felt himself sinking again into the cold water. But he was able now to make an effort to save himself, and he grasped tightly the long reed stems that lay near him. This prevented his sinking far into the water, and the Nix left her harp, and gliding swiftly into the river, supported Carl so that his head and arms were out of the water, and he could[Pg 308] make some attempt to swim. And, in this way, the Nix helped him to the bank.

He was so weak from fright, and the long time he had been in the water, that he could not even speak to the Nix to thank her for saving his life. He could only look his gratitude as he lay panting on the grass. But as soon as he revived a little and had uttered the first word to the lady she faded from his sight, and he only saw a wreath of white mist gliding over the reeds.

Carl sprang up in astonishment. The waves parted as if some one had gently sunk into them, and he thought that he saw, for a moment a gleam of bright hair. Not till then did he know that the beautiful lady, who had preserved him, was a Nix.

Close to his side stood her harp. The Nix had forgotten it! Here was a prize! There was gold enough in it for a moderate fortune, and Carl was poor. Carl had always had a great desire to be a musician, and this gold would send him to Berlin or Vienna to study at a Conservatory of Music; and do a great deal besides for his father, and mother, and sisters. But the boy was honest, and he knew he had no right to take away the property of another, even if the owner was only a Nix. But he thought he might be allowed to play upon it. He had learned to play two or three tunes on the harp. No sooner did he touch the strings, however, than he found he did not play his own music at all, but the magical music the Nix played. Carl was in ecstacies, and his fingers flew over the strings, wandering through one fairy melody after another until his arm ached, and he saw that the sun had set, and twilight was coming on.

He must go home. But now he felt a stronger desire than ever to take the harp with him. How he would astonish all the town with his music! He would give concerts in the great hall, and, perhaps, the fame of his wonderful music would reach the king and queen, and they would come to hear him. But all this did not make it right for him to[Pg 309] take what was not his own; and it would be a poor return to make the Nix for her kindness to steal her harp.

But, perhaps she left it there, intending he should have it! How was he to know? He called to her to tell him if the harp was his, but there was no reply.

He resolved he would leave it where it stood, but would return to the spot the next day. If the harp was still there he might fairly conclude that the Nix intended he should have it.

He left the harp reluctantly, and started on his homeward journey, but had not gone far before he had to lie down and rest. His head ached, and all his limbs felt tired and sore. It is probable he would have been obliged to spend the night in the forest, if some marketmen had not come along the road, and taken him home in their wagon.

He related his adventures to the family, and the next day his father accompanied him to the old tower. Everything was exactly as Carl had described it. The place whence the stone had fallen out of the wall was plainly to be seen, with the freshly loosened mortar strewn about. But there was no golden harp. And there was neither sight nor sound of Nix or Fairy Music.


From that day Carl lost all desire for fool-hardy adventures. His[Pg 310] love of music grew stronger and stronger, and his parents had some trouble in getting him to attend properly to his other studies. He said the Nix had left her harp with him for a short time that he might take from it an inspiration of melody that would be his forever; and that she had then taken the harp away lest he should learn too much, and play such music as only the angels could understand.

All the beautiful things he saw; all the sweet sounds of Nature; all the noble thoughts that God put into his heart; he wrote down in strains of music that were sung and played in all parts of the world, and that charmed everybody who heard them.

Carl was famous. But men declared that he had never seen the Nix, or played upon the golden harp, but had dreamed the whole story when he was in a half-conscious state on the bank, after he had managed to crawl out of the river by the help of the reeds. This narrow escape from death, they said, had given a more serious turn to his mind, and from thenceforth he had given up boyish frolics, and his thoughts had naturally turned to music—the art he best loved.

But Carl, himself, always believed that the Nix had bestowed upon him the wonderful gift of melody he possessed.

[Pg 311]



There are upon the earth great sandy tracts, where there are no springs, or brooks. When the rain falls, which it seldom does in these[Pg 312] places, the parched earth drinks it all up, and no pools are formed at which the thirsty traveler can get a drink. And yet men are often obliged to travel over these plains to reach some place where their business calls them. They go in companies, and take with them provisions, and a large supply of water. This last they regard as the most precious of their possessions, and use it as sparingly as possible. But, notwithstanding all their care, it often gives out before they reach the end of their journey. And then, too, they frequently lose their way, and wander about over the hot sand, under a burning sun until they become sick and weak from thirst, and they sometimes die for want of water. This would happen much oftener than it does were it not for a little plant that a kind Providence has caused to grow in these desolate sandy plains.

The picture of this plant, which we show you, was taken from one that grew in a garden, but it was transplanted there from the desert, where it is found in great abundance.

This plant grows two or three feet high, and, at the end of each one of its broad dark green leaves, there is a strong tendril that holds up a cup of the same substance as the leaves. During the night the dew on the plant fills the cup with pure, clear, sweet water, which slowly evaporates during the day. You can easily imagine how glad the thirsty traveler is to find these cups of fresh water, all filled ready for his drinking.

The name of this plant is Nepenthes, but we generally call it the Pitcher Plant.

In other parts of the earth there are great marshy forests, where the pools of water are stagnant and impure; and, if people drink from them, they are made sick. A man might wander through these woods for days, and not find a drop of pure, wholesome water, were it not for the Sarracenia, or Amphora-plant.

In this the leaves are the cups. They have narrow necks, and[Pg 313] flaring tips, from which it is easy to drink the clear water contained in the wonderful leaves. The full grown leaves of the larger species hold a pint of water.


We have this same plant, on a much smaller scale, in our own marshes. It grows in damp, shaded places, and I advise you to look for it in your summer rambles, for it is a very singular plant. The leaves of our Sarracenia are so small they will scarcely hold a gill of water. But we have plenty of cool springs, and limpid brooks in our country, and do not need the large cups of water the Amphora-plant offers to its visitors in South America.


The common name of our Sarracenia is Pitcher-plant; but, as you [Pg 315]can see by comparing the two, it is very unlike the Pitcher-plant of the Eastern deserts.

But then you know pitchers are of a great many different shapes, and sizes, and are only alike in being able to hold water.

But the most wonderful of all the plants that give men water to drink is a tree that is said to have been found some years ago in one of the Canary islands. It was seen at different times by different travelers, and they all told the same story about it. The leaves grew thickly on its spreading branches, and, from each leaf the drops fell so rapidly that all together they formed a steady shower of rain.

It was called the Weeping Tree.

The water fell so copiously that it formed a pond at the foot of the tree, and the people who lived in the neighborhood got from it all the water they used. This is certainly a very wonderful tree if the accounts of it are true.

There is a plant of the Arum family, with broad, heart-shaped leaves that constantly throws from the end of each leaf a drop of water. These drops sometimes follow each other so fast that there is a little jet of water formed in the air above the leaf.

But water is not the only drink that we get from trees. In Central and South America grows the cow-tree, which gives milk! This milk can be obtained during all seasons, but is much more abundant in the spring. If a deep cut is made with a hatchet in the bark of the tree a stream of milk gushes out, and flows freely. It yields the greatest quantity at sunrise, and, at that hour, in the places where this tree grows, men and women come from all directions to the tree nearest their homes to get a supply of this refreshing drink. They bring pitchers with them, and take some of the milk back to their families.

This white fluid is like cow’s milk in appearance, but it is not equally good from all trees. But it is just so with the cows, you know. Some of these animals give rich yellow milk, and some of the milk is blue-white,[Pg 316] and thin. Some give a great deal, and others very little. And some cow trees yield richer and yellower milk than others, but it is all sweet and wholesome, and of a pleasant smell. It tastes, in fact, almost exactly like cow’s milk. Like that it is used for making custards, puddings, &c.; and, when boiled, behaves just as ordinary milk does, and will run over the vessel in a minute, if not watched. When allowed to stand for a time cream forms on the top. This is taken off, and made into a sort of cheese, not very different from our cheeses.


This is a very nice kind of cow to have—this vegetable cow—as it requires no feeding, or care, and, when it dies others spring up in its place. It seems a pity that we cannot have these economical cows in our country.

We have plants here that yield a milky juice when the stalks are broken or cut, but you must not be beguiled into drinking any of these milky saps, for they are very disagreeable in taste, being sharp and bitter; and many of them are poisonous.

[Pg 317]


There was once a nation of remarkably genial people who knew no evil and would not have practiced it if they had known it. They were very industrious, and their days were so busy and they took such an interest in their work, that they had no time to be wicked or sad.

They were called Cabordmen, for what reason I know not, for the name of their country was not Cabord. Their principal industry was tilling the soil, and they generally worked with a will.


When they first settled their country the land was poor and very little grew upon it that was worth having. But, year by year, the soil became richer, on account of the care they took of it, and all sorts of valuable grains, and grasses, and vegetables, and fruits were grown, and these Cabordmen had all and more than they wanted of the good things of the earth.

So they waxed rich and happy, and there never was a time when[Pg 318] a man was hungry that he did not have some good things to eat, and it very seldom happened that any of these hard workers found himself without an appetite at meal-time.

For people who work hard and well are very apt to have all they want and to want all they have. If they do not want it to use themselves, they want it to sell or give away.

So, in time the people of this country became not only very comfortable but very wealthy.

They had great barns full of grain and vast stores of everything needful for their use and livelihood, and as they often sold their surplus productions to other nations, they had great vaults full of money.

But they all worked away every day, just the same as they used to, because they were so accustomed to toil, that they would not have been happy without work.

So, of course, they became richer and richer, and jollier and jollier until at last they became so prosperous and happy that other nations began to take notice of them. It was rather unusual, in those days to see a whole nation so jolly.

The people in the adjoining countries were by no means so happy and prosperous. Most of them were much better pleased with fighting than with work, and it, therefore, often happened that they were hungry when there was very little to eat.

For war is a very bad thing for crops. It is sometimes as injurious as a long drought. For somebody must plant and hoe or there will be little to eat in a land, and if the people spend most of their time in warfare there cannot be much agricultural work going on.

But these outside people, especially those who lived in the land of Voldor to the north of the country of the Cabordmen, had an idea that it was a great deal easier to make war and capture supplies than to raise crops themselves.

This is why, after having carefully watched the Cabordmen for some[Pg 319] years, and noting their great possessions, they resolved to make war upon these industrious and jolly people.

So they gathered together an army, which was an easy thing for them to do, and invaded the country of the Cabordmen.

Our jolly friends were much astounded and distressed when the great army of the Voldorites marched over their borders.


Now the poor Cabordmen knew not what to do. They were not soldiers, and, indeed, there was not so much as a single sword or spear or shield in the whole country. They never had gone to war and they were not prepared for it, nor did they know anything about fighting. It was altogether a new business to them.

They gathered together and held hasty consultations, but they could decide upon no plan to repel the invaders. What could they—a nation[Pg 320] of simple, jolly husbandmen—do against a great army of well armed and practised warriors?

There seemed to be nothing left for them but to surrender at once, and let the Voldorites help themselves to whatever they wanted. In this case the poor Cabordmen and their families would not only be stripped of every thing, but it was very likely indeed that the invaders would carry off many of them as prisoners, and take them to Voldor, and make them cultivate the land of their captors.

This was terrible to think of. But they could devise no plan to escape this dreadful fate.

The Voldorites were now encamped upon the northern edge of their territory, which was yet uninhabited and barren. The enemy so far had met with none of the Cabordmen, but many of the latter had seen the great army from afar without having made themselves visible.

Night came on while the people were in this fearful condition of fear and suspense. Less than a day’s march would bring the fierce enemy into their midst. No one went to bed, for who could sleep at such a time? No fires or lamps were lighted. They all gathered together by the faint light of the new moon, and bewailed their sad condition.

There was only one person among them who seemed to have retained his courage and thoughtfulness. This was a young man named Adar Gan Ip.

He was named Adar because he was a painter. Ip was his family name, and he was called Gan after his grandfather. He was the only painter in the whole nation, and he had learned his trade in a neighboring country, where he had been to sell grain.

He principally painted signs and portraits. He did not paint many portraits, because the people had but little time to sit for them, but he painted a good many signs on barns and granaries. People liked to[Pg 321] have their names on their barns. He had no paint but one pot of white paint. So when he painted portraits he painted only old men, so that the white paint would do for their hair and beards as well as for their faces. Having no colored paint for eyes, he always painted portraits with the faces turned around, so that the eyes could not be seen.

This young man was, as I have said, the only person among the Cabordmen who seemed to have his wits about him.

He conceived a plan of safety, and lost no time in putting it in execution.

The Cabordmen placed great confidence in him because of the excellence of his portraits, and so when he told them his plan—or that part of it which they were to carry out—they agreed to it at once.

What they were to do was very simple; each person was to take two days’ provision, and to clear out of the country, every man, woman, and child of them. They were to march away as fast as they could over the south border, and to stay there until they heard from Adar Ip. They were to take nothing with them but their two days’ provision and the clothes they wore, which were generally scanty, as the climate was mild, and were to leave their houses and fields, and everything just as they were at that time. Doors all open, and everything lying where it had been last used.

So up got every man, woman and child, took food for two days, and departed, leaving Adar Ip behind. They were all great walkers, being so accustomed to activity in the field, and before morning they had all passed out of sight over the south border of the land.

Then with his pot of white paint in one hand, and his brush in the other, went Adar Ip, at the first peep of day, to the grave-yards of the Cabordmen. There were three of these, not very far from the centre of their country, which was a small country as you may well imagine.

The Cabordmen, being very healthy, seldom died of any disease but[Pg 322] old age; and there were not very many persons buried in the three grave yards. In the first, and largest, there were seventy-two graves; in the second, forty-one, and the third, a new one, only thirteen. The graves were all leveled and sodded over, so that the surface of the grave yard seemed like a beautiful lawn.

In one enclosure were the grandfathers, in another the grandmothers, and in the third the very old maids and bachelors who had died. There were no grave-stones or anything of the kind, but at the gate of each enclosure was a board, stating how many persons were buried therein. Every time it was necessary, which was very seldom, Adar Ip painted out the old number on the board and put in a new one.

When our young painter reached the first grave yard he quickly painted three ciphers after the figures on the board by the gate. Then running to the second enclosure he painted a three and two ciphers on that board, and on the third, he painted a six and a five and a four after the figures that were already there. Then he hurried away and hid himself.

In the course of the morning the Voldorite army reached the settlements of the Cabordmen. They did not stop long at the first houses, but hurried on, carefully looking out on every side for some sign of resistance from the people. But they saw no such sign, and they saw no people. This naturally surprised them very much. And the farther they went the more they were surprised.

At last the leaders ordered a halt, and gathered together for consultation.

“I cannot imagine,” said the chief, “what this means. We must look out for some ambush or trap. By the way, has any one seen any of these Cabordmen?”

Careful inquiries were made, but no one had seen a Cabordman since they had entered the country,

“This is indeed remarkable,” said the chief of the Voldorites. “I[Pg 323] cannot imagine what it means. No ambush has been discovered, no fortifications, no people. The houses are all open. Everything seems as if no enemy were expected. All their valuables are here. Where are they?”

Nobody knew, but just then a man who had been in the vicinity of the grave-yards came running to the place where the officers were gathered together, and he urged them to come back with him and see what he had seen.

They all followed him, and when they saw the boards at the entrance of the enclosures they were utterly astounded.

“What!” cried the chief, walking from one enclosure to another, “Here lie buried seventy-two thousand Cabordmen, and here forty-one thousand and three hundred Cabordwomen, and here thirteen thousand, six hundred and fifty-four unmarried Cabordmen and women! Comrades, we have found them! The whole nation lies buried here!”

A deep silence fell upon the group of officers, and upon the vast body of soldiers that had gathered around them.

At length the chief spoke again:

“It must have been a terrible pestilence,” he said. “The whole nation lies buried here. I have added up these figures. I know there were not more than one hundred and twenty-six thousand nine hundred and fifty-four of them all put together. They are all dead and buried here. It must have been awful!”

Some of the officers and soldiers then began to whisper together. Then some one said out loud that this must be a dreadfully unhealthy country. Then some of them began to move away as if they were going to the rear to attend to something important in that direction. Then the chief mounted his horse and rode away, and in ten minutes that whole army made up its mind that it would be exceedingly imprudent to remain any longer in such an unwholesome country, and away they all marched towards Voldor.

[Pg 324]

The farther they went the more frightened they became, and soon a perfect panic pervaded the army, and they set off at the top of their speed, horsemen and footmen for their own barren but salubrious land.


Away they went over the hills and the plains, and in two hours there was not a Voldorite in the land of the Cabordmen.

Then uprose Adar Ip, and fled towards the southern border to inform his countrymen of their happy deliverance.

They all returned quickly and found everything as it had been left. Nothing had been taken, for none of the invaders wanted anything that had been in a land where such a terrible mortality had prevailed.

Great was the joy and great the gratitude exhibited towards the ingenious young Ip. The people presented him with a well filled granary,[Pg 325] and ordered him to paint on its walls at the public expense, the history of his exploit.

“I wonder,” said one old man, “who they thought buried all these people, if everybody was dead.”

“I don’t know,” said Adar Ip. “But I think that they had such a high opinion of the industry and prudence of our people that they supposed we had doubtless made suitable arrangements for a contingency of this kind.”

After this, the Cabordmen were never again disturbed, and they became jollier than ever.

Transcriber’s Notes