Harper's Young People, January 20, 1880 online

. (page 1 of 4)
Online LibraryVariousHarper's Young People, January 20, 1880 → online text (page 1 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Produced by Annie McGuire

[Illustration: HARPER'S



* * * * *


Tuesday, January 20, 1880. Copyright, 1880, by HARPER & BROTHERS. $1.50
per Year, in Advance.

* * * * *


Poor pussy comes at break of day,
And wakes me up to make me play;
But I am such a sleepy head,
That I'd much rather stay in bed!


"As we have already," began the Professor, "had a talk about the stars
in general, let us this morning give a little attention to our own
particular star."

"Is there a star that we can call our own?" asked May, with unusual
animation. "How nice! I wonder if it can be the one I saw from our front
window last evening, that looked so bright and beautiful?"

"I am sure it was not," said the Professor, "if you saw it in the

"Is it hard to see our star, then?" she said.

"By no means," replied the Professor; "rather it is hard not to see it.
But you must be careful about looking directly at it, or your eyes will
be badly dazzled, it is so very bright. Our star is no other than the
sun. And we are right in calling it a star, because all the stars are
suns, and very likely give light and heat to worlds as large as our
earth, though they are all so far off that we can not see them. Our star
seems so much brighter and hotter than the others, only because it is so
much nearer to us than they are, though still it is some ninety-two
millions of miles away."

"How big is the sun?" asked Joe.

"You can get the clearest idea of its size by a comparison. The earth is
7920 miles in diameter, that is, as measured right through the centre.
Now suppose it to be only one inch, or about as large as a plum or a
half-grown peach; then we would have to regard the sun as three yards in
diameter, so that if it were in this room it would reach from the floor
to the ceiling."

"How do they find out the distance of the sun?" asked Joe.

"Until lately," replied the Professor, "the same method was pursued as
in surveying, that is, by measuring lines and angles. An angle, you
know, is the corner made by two lines coming together, as in the letter
V. But that method did not answer very well, as it did not make the
distance certain within several millions of miles. Quite recently
Professor Newcomb has found out a way of measuring the sun's distance by
the velocity of its light. He has invented a means of learning exactly
how fast light moves; and then, by comparing this with the time light
takes to come from the sun to us, he is able to tell how far off the sun
is. Thus, if a man knows how many miles he walks in an hour, and how
many hours it takes him to walk to a certain place, he can very easily
figure up the number of miles it is away."

"Why," said Gus, "that sounds just like what Bob Stebbins said the other
day in school. He has a big silver watch that he is mighty fond of
hauling out of his pocket before everybody. A caterpillar came crawling
through the door, and went right toward the teacher's desk at the other
end of the room. 'Now,' said Bob, 'if that fellow will only keep
straight ahead, I can tell how long the room is.' So out came the watch,
and Bob wrote down the time and how many inches the caterpillar
travelled in a minute. But just then Sally Smith came across his track
with her long dress, and swept him to Jericho. We boys all laughed out;
Sally blushed and got angry; and the teacher kept us in after school."

"Astronomers have the same kind of troubles," said the Professor. "They
incur great labor and expense to take some particular observation that
is possible only once in a number of years, and then for only a few
minutes. And after their instruments are all carefully set up, and their
calculations made, the clouds spread over the sky, and hide everything
they wish to see. People, too, are very apt to laugh at their

"There would, however, be no science of astronomy if those who pursued
it were discouraged by common difficulties. To explain the heavenly
bodies they sometimes try to make little systems or images of the sun
and the planets; but they are never able to show the sizes and distances
correctly. If they were to begin by making the sun one inch in diameter,
then the earth would have to be three yards off, and as small as a grain
of dust; some of the planets would have to be across the street, and
others away beyond the opposite houses. So when you look at these little
solar systems, as they are called, you must remember that the sizes and
distances are all wrong.

"Still, you can get from them some idea how the sun stands in the
middle, and the earth and other planets go round, and how the earth,
while going round the sun, keeps also turning itself around. You have
seen how a top, while spinning, sometimes runs round in a circle. That
is just the way our earth does. And if you imagine a candle in the
centre of the circle that the top makes, you will see why it is
sometimes day and sometimes night. When the side of the earth we are on
is turned toward the sun, we have day; and when we have spun past the
sun, night comes.

"The sun seems to go past us, and people used to think it really did.
But we know now that it is as if we were in a rail-car, and the trees
and houses seemed to be rushing along, when we ourselves are the ones
that are moving. The sun and all the stars seem to move through the sky
from east to west; but it is only our earth that is turning itself the
other way, and carrying us with it."

"What makes summer and winter?" asked Joe.

"I think that the top will help you to understand that too. You have
noticed that when it spins it does not always stand straight up, but
often leans over to one side. So sometimes the upper part of it would be
over toward the candle, and sometimes over away from it. The earth leans
over too in this same manner; and that is the reason why we have summer
and winter. When by this leaning our part of the earth is toward the
sun, we get more heat, and have a warm season; when we are leaning away
from the sun, and are more in the shadow, the cold weather comes, and
continues until we get into a good position to be warmed up again.

"A kind Providence brings this all around very regularly, and there is
no danger of our being kept so long in the cold that we would freeze to
death. Everything works like a clock that is never allowed to run down
or get out of order. In spinning, the earth carries us round twelve or
fifteen times as fast as the fastest railway train has ever yet been
made to run; and in making its circle round the sun, it moves as fast as
a shot from a gun."

"Oh! oh!" exclaimed the children; and Joe asked, "Why are we not all
dashed to pieces?"

"Because," said the Professor, "we do not run against anything large
enough to do any harm; and we do not realize how fast we are moving, or
that we are moving at all, because we do not pass near anything that is
standing still. You know that in riding we look at the trees and fences
by the road-side to see how rapidly we are going. The hills in the
distance do not show our speed, but seem to be following us. Unless we
look outside we can not know anything about it, excepting, perhaps, we
may guess from the noise and jostling of the vehicle. But as the earth
moves smoothly and without the least noise, we would think it stood
entirely still did not astronomers assure us of its wonderfully rapid
motion. It took them a great while to find it out. When they began to
suspect it there was a great dispute over it. Some said it moved; others
said it did not. The two parties were for a time very bitter against
each other; but now all agree in the belief of its rapid motion."

"A queer thing to quarrel about, I must say," remarked Gus. "I wouldn't
have cared a straw whether it moved or not, if I could only have been
allowed to move about on it as I pleased."

"I hope you are not getting uneasy, Gus," said Joe.

"There is evident reason," observed Jack, "to suspect that his
appreciation of the marvels of science is insufficient to preserve - "

"Oh, bother! Jack, don't give us your college stuff now, after the
Professor has told us so much. We like to hear him, of course. I do, for
one, a great deal better than I thought I should. But then a fellow
can't help getting tired."


When the baby's eyes are blue,
Think we of a summer day,
Violets, and dancing rills.
When the baby's eyes are gray,
Doves and dawn are brought to mind.
Brown - of gentle fawns we dream,
And ripe nuts in shady woods.
Black - of midnight skies that gleam
With bright stars. But blue or gray,
Black or brown, like flower or star,
Sweeter eyes can never be
To mamma than baby's are.

[Begun in No. 11 of HARPER'S YOUNG PEOPLE, January 13.]




"Infinite riches in a little room."

The words of the wise old woman of Hollowbush were true, then. Here was
a place where gems were more abundant than flowers; and as the child
stood on the threshold gazing into the diminutive but wondrously
beautiful apartment that had opened so suddenly before her, she saw that
she was indeed in the presence-chamber of a king.

The walls were of pure white marble, studded with diamonds, and from the
ceiling, which she could almost touch with her hand, hung slender
chandeliers of the same material. In each of these, instead of lamps,
were innumerable sapphires, throwing a soft blue light over all the
place. In every stone a star seemed to be burning steady and clear and
wonderfully brilliant. It was the asteria, or star sapphire, which was
alone considered worthy to light even the outer courts of the king over
a country so rich in gems as this.

The child clapped her hands, and would no doubt have shouted with
delight if she had not found herself encircled by tiny men, all looking
exactly alike, and all winking and blinking at her just as the
gate-keeper had done.

Before she could speak, or even clap her hands a second time, they had
entirely surrounded her, joining hands, and wheeling round and round,
singing as they went:

"Workers are we - one, two, three -
And merry men all, as you see, as you see;
Deep under the ground,
Where jewels are found,
We work, and we sing
While we dance in a ring.
But a mortal has come to the caves below,
So, merry men all, bow low, bow low,
For our sister she'll be - one, two, three."

Three times did these strange and merry little people sing their song,
and three times did they whirl around the new-comer, thus introducing
themselves and welcoming her to their dominions.


Then one of them, but whether the gate-keeper or another she could not
tell, stepped forward, and making a low bow, said. "I am the king of the
mineral-workers and the workers in stone. These are my people; but
because you are a mortal, we one and all bow before you."

At these words all the little people bowed and waved their hands. Then
the king continued:

"Henceforth you are to be known as the Princess Bébè;" and he mounted a
marble footstool that stood close by, standing on tiptoe, and placing on
the head of the new-made princess a tiny coronet of pearls. Dumb with
astonishment, the Princess Bébè listened quietly to all that was said to
her, and allowed herself to be led away by one of the little men, who
had been appointed her chamberlain.

It was now getting late, and she was glad enough to be shown to her own
room, that she might think over the many wonderful things which she had

But here were new wonder and new riches.

Instead of being covered with a carpet, the floor was laid in squares of
jasper, the windows were of pure white crystal instead of glass, and the
curtains were made of a fine net-work of gold, caught back with a double
row of amethysts.

The furniture was of gold and silver, exquisitely carved, and the quilt,
which lay in stiff folds over the bed, was a marvel of beautiful colors
that seemed to be now one thing and now another.

The Princess Bébè held her breath. "It will be like going to sleep on a
rainbow," she said to herself, for the opal bed was full of changing
colors, now red, now green, and then purple and soft rose-pink, and
then, perhaps, green again. "There was never anything so beautiful as
this!" exclaimed the princess, throwing herself down; but the next
moment she was ready to cry with vexation, for there was neither warmth
nor softness in the opal bed, and she lay awake all night, alternately
shivering and crying.

"I won't stay in this place another moment," she said, the next morning,
when the chamberlain knocked at her door.

The chamberlain bowed, and held before her a silver cup filled with
jewels. "These are a present from the king to the Princess Bébè," he
said, holding it up for her inspection.

There was first of all a diamond necklace, just what she had been
wishing for; then there were ear-rings and bracelets of lapis lazuli of
a beautiful azure color; string after string of pearls; emeralds set in
buckles for her shoes; amethysts; sapphires as blue as the sea; and last
of all a large topaz, which shone with a brilliant yellow light, as if
it had been sunshine which some one had caught and imprisoned for her.

The Princess Bébè forgot for a moment her hard bed and sleepless night,
and ran to the king to thank him for his presents.

"I am glad to find that you are pleased with your new home," said the
king, graciously. "Did the princess sleep well during the night?"

"Oh, not at all well," she answered, forgetting her errand. "And I was
very cold, besides."

"Cold? cold?" said the king, sharply. "We must see to that."

Turning to one of his attendants, who held a crystal cup on which were
engraved the arms of the royal family, he took from it a stone of a dark
orange color, and said,

"This is a jacinth, my dear princess. Whenever you are cold, you have
only to rub your hands against it, and you will feel a delicious sense
of warmth stealing through your limbs."

The princess rubbed her hands against the smooth stone as the king
suggested; but she almost immediately threw it away again, crying out
with pain.

"Oh, I don't like it at all," she exclaimed. "It pricks and hurts."

"It is nothing but the electricity," answered the king. "You will soon
get accustomed to it, and I have no doubt will be quite fond of your
electrical stove."

"I don't want to get accustomed to it," answered the princess. "I want
to go home."

Then the king's face grew dark, and his pale blue eyes winked and
blinked until they shone like two blazing lights.

"No one comes into our country to go away again," he said at length.
"You are the Princess Bébè, adopted daughter of the king of the
mineral-workers and the workers in stone, and with him you must stay for
the rest of your life."

In spite of her diamond necklace, the princess was actually crying,
although it is almost past belief that any one with a diamond necklace
could cry; but the merry little mineral-workers, seeing the tears in her
eyes, crowded around her, and tried their best to comfort her.

"Come into the garden," said one; and "Come to the gold chests," said
another, "and see the diamonds."

"Diamonds!" exclaimed the princess, angrily and ungratefully: "I hate
the very sight of them. But I would like to see the garden," she added,
more gently.

Aleck, the gate-keeper, offered to act as escort, and the princess dried
her eyes. He at least was her friend, she thought; and on the way to the
garden, being very hungry, she ventured to ask him when they were to
have breakfast.

"Breakfast!" he said. "Why, we don't have breakfasts here."

"Well, then, dinner," suggested the princess, meekly.

"Nor dinners either," replied the little man. "Why should we have

"But at least you have suppers," said the princess, desperately, and
feeling ready to cry again.

"What are you thinking of?" asked the gate-keeper, with an air of

Then the princess grew angry.

"What am I thinking of?" she cried, at the top of her voice. "I am
thinking of something to eat - that's what I'm thinking of, and I'm
almost starved."

The little gate-keeper looked up, with a curious smile on his face, and

"Well, then, my dear princess, if that is what makes you unhappy, pray
don't think of it any more. No one ever eats anything here. Indeed, I
can not imagine anything more absurd."

Then, being at heart a very kind and obliging little person, he came
close to the princess, and said:

"I am sorry for you - indeed I am, but don't give way to tears. They
won't turn stones into bread. I beseech you, my dear Princess Bébè, to
look at our fruit trees and flowers. They are considered very beautiful.
I have no doubt but the sight of them will help you to bear this strange
feeling which you call hunger." Then, kissing the princess's hand, he
added: "I must leave you now and go to the gate. Amuse yourself in the
garden, my dear princess, till I return."

It was a wondrously beautiful garden, as any one could see, but somehow
the Princess Bébè did not get much comfort from it.

"Oh, if those were only real apples!" she sighed, for there were what
seemed to be apple-trees in great abundance. But the apples were of
malachite - a hard opaque stone of two shades of green - and when she
tried to taste the grapes, she found they were only purple amethysts
arranged in graceful clusters. The cherries were all of stone, instead
of having a stone in the middle; and the plums were just as bad and just
as beautiful - the cherries were deep red rubies, and the plums were made
of chrysoprase. Nothing but hard glittering gems wherever she turned her

The poor princess seemed likely to die of starvation in spite of her
riches, but she thought she would be almost willing to endure hunger if
she could only have a rose that would smell like the sweet-brier roses
which grew in Hollowbush in her own little garden. For what she had at
first taken to be roses were, after all, nothing but pink coral
cunningly carved, the daffodils were of amber, and the forget-me-nots
were one and all made of the pale blue turquoise.

"It is very certain that I must die," said the princess, sadly, and she
covered her face with her hands, crying bitterly, and praying that if
death must come to her, it might come quickly.



Blinky was a poor dirty little puppy whom somebody had lost, and
somebody else had stolen, and whose miserable little life was a burden
to himself until Joe found him. It happened one warm day in July that
Joe, whose bright eyes were always pretty wide open, saw a group of
youngsters eagerly clustering about an object which appeared to interest
them very much. This object squirmed, gasped, and occasionally kicked,
to the great amusement of the little crowd, who liked excitement of any
sort. Joe put his head over the shoulders of the children, and saw a
wretched little dog in the agonies of a convulsion. Now, instead of
giving him pleasure, this sight pained him grievously, as did any
suffering, and Joe pushed his way through the crowd, asking whose dog it
was. No one claimed it; and Joe was watched with great interest, and
warned most zealously, as he took the poor little creature by the nape
of its neck to the nearest pump.

"You'd better look out. He's mad. See if he isn't."

"What yer goin' to do? - kill him? My father's got a pistol; I'll run and
get it."

"No, you needn't," said Joe.

There was no pound in the town, and so the dog was worthless, and after
a while the crowd of children found something else to interest them.

Joe bathed the little dog, and rubbed it, and soothed its violent
struggles, and carried it away to a quiet corner on the steps of a house
where a great elm-tree made a refreshing shade. Here he sat a long time,
watching his little patient, and glad to find it getting quieter and
quieter, until it fell fast asleep in his arms. Joe did not move, so
pleased was he to relieve the poor little creature, whose thin flanks
revealed a long course of suffering. There were few passers in the
street, and Joe had no school duties, thanks to its being vacation, so
he was free to do as he chose. After more than an hour the poor little
dog opened its eyes, which were so dazzled by the light that Joe at once
named him Blinky, and presently a hot red little tongue was licking
Joe's big brown hand. That was enough for Joe; it was as plain a "thank
you" as he wanted, and he carried his stray charge home to share his

From that day Joe was seldom seen without Blinky; and after many good
dinners, and plenty of sleep without terrible dreams of tins tied to his
tail, Blinky began to grow handsome, and Joe to be very proud of him.
Blinky slept under Joe's bed, woke him every morning with a sharp little
bark, as much as saying, "Wake up, lazy fellow, and have a frolic with
me," and then bounced up beside him for a game. And how he frisked when
Joe took him out! The only thing he did not enjoy was his weekly
scrubbing, and the combing with an old coarse toilet comb which
followed. But he bore it patiently for Joe's sake. Vacation came to an
end, and school began. This was as sore a trial to Blinky as to Joe, for
of course he could not be allowed in school, though he left Joe at the
door with most regretful and downcast looks, which said plainly, "This
is injustice; you and I should never be parted," and he was always
waiting when school was out.

Joe hated school; he would much rather have been chestnutting in the
woods, gay with their crimson and yellow leaves, or chasing the
squirrels with Blinky; but he knew he had to study, if ever he was to be
of any use in the world, and so he tried to forget the delights of
roaming, or the charms of Blinky's company. But when the first snow
came, how hard it was to stick at the old books! How delicious was the
frosty air, and how pure and fresh the new-fallen snow, waiting to be
made use of as Joe so well knew how!

"Duty first," said Joe to himself, as with shovel and broom he cleared
the path in the court-yard, and shovelled the kitchen steps clean. He
did it so well that his father tossed him some pennies - for he was
saving up to buy Blinky a collar - and he turned off with a light heart
for school, with Blinky at his heels.

The school-mistress had a hard time that day; all the boys were wild
with fun, one only of them not sharing the glee. This one was a little
chap whose parents had sent him up North from Georgia to his relatives,
the parents being too poor after the war to maintain their family. He
was a skinny little fellow, always shivering and snuffling, and his name
was Bob.

Now Bob wasn't a favorite. The boys liked to tease him, called him
"Little Reb," and he in turn disliked them, and was ever ready to report
their mischievous pranks to the teacher. If there was anything pleasant
about the boy, no one knew it, because no one took the trouble to find
out. Bob did not relish the snow; he was pinched and blue, and whenever
he had the chance was huddling up against the stove; besides, he liked
to read, and would rather have staid in all day with a book of fairy
tales than shared the gayest romp they could have suggested. This
afternoon Joe had made so many mistakes in his arithmetic examples that
he was obliged to stay late, and do them over; but he was sorely
annoyed and tempted at hearing the shouts and cries of joy with which
the boys saluted each other as they escaped from the school-room, and he
spoke very crossly when a little voice at his elbow said,

"Please may I go home with you?"

"No," said Joe.

"Ah, please!"

Joe turned, and saw that it was Bob. This provoked him still more. "I
said _no_, 'tell-tale.' What do I want to be bothered with you?"

Bob turned away, disappointed. Joe kept on at his lesson; it was very
perplexing, and he was out of humor. Besides, the fun outside was
increasing; he could hear the roars of laughter, the whiz of the flying
snow-balls, and the gleeful crows of the conquering heroes. He was the
only one in the school-room. Presently there was a hush, a sort of
premonitory symptom of more mischief brewing outside, which provoked his
curiosity to the utmost.

1 3 4

Online LibraryVariousHarper's Young People, January 20, 1880 → online text (page 1 of 4)