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"The bread tree grows abundantly. Its branches are well known to Europe
and America under the familiar name of _maccaroni_. The smaller twigs
are called _vermicelli_. They have a decided animal flavor, as may be
observed in the soups containing them. Maccaroni, being tubular, is the
favorite habitat of a very dangerous insect, which is rendered
peculiarly ferocious by being boiled. The government of the island,
therefore, never allows a stick of it to be exported without being
accompanied by a piston with which its cavity may at any time be
thoroughly swept out. These are commonly lost or stolen before the
maccaroni arrives among us. It, therefore, always contains many of these
insects, which, however, generally die of old age in the shops, so that
accidents from this source are comparatively rare.

"The fruit of the bread tree consists principally of hot rolls. The
buttered-muffin variety is supposed to be a hybrid with the cocoanut
palm, the cream found on the milk of the cocoanut exuding from the
hybrid in the shape of butter, just as the ripe fruit is splitting, so
as to fit it for the tea-table, where it is commonly served up with
cold - - "

There - I don't want to read any more of it. You see that many of these
statements are highly improbable. No, I shall not mention the
paper. - _The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table._


The old Master was talking about a concert he had been to hear.

- I don't like your chopped music anyway. That woman - she had more sense
in her little finger than forty medical societies - Florence
Nightingale - says that the music you _pour_ out is good for sick folks,
and the music you _pound_ out isn't. Not that exactly, but something
like it. I have been to hear some music-pounding. It was a young woman,
with as many white muslin flounces round her as the planet Saturn has
rings, that did it. She gave the music-stool a twirl or two and fluffed
down on to it like a whirl of soap-suds in a hand-basin. Then she pushed
up her cuffs as if she was going to fight for the champion's belt. Then
she worked her wrists and her hands, to limber 'em, I suppose, and
spread out her fingers till they looked as though they would pretty much
cover the keyboard, from the growling end to the little squeaky one.
Then those two hands of hers made a jump at the keys as if they were a
couple of tigers coming down on a flock of black-and-white sheep, and
the piano gave a great howl as if its tail had been trod on. Dead
stop - so still you could hear your hair growing. Then another jump, and
another howl, as if the piano had two tails and you had trod on both of
'em at once, and then a grand clatter and scramble and string of jumps,
up and down, back and forward, one hand over the other, like a stampede
of rats and mice more than like anything I call music. I like to hear a
woman sing, and I like to hear a fiddle sing, but these noises they
hammer out of their wood-and-ivory anvils - don't talk to me; I know the
difference between a bullfrog and a wood-thrush. - _The Poet at the
Breakfast Table._

* * * * *

"That is rather a shabby pair of trousers you have on, for a man in your

"Yes, sir; but clothes do not make the man. What if my trousers are
shabby and worn? They cover a warm heart, sir."



It is a good thing to live in the country. To escape from the
prison-walls of the metropolis - the great brickery we call "the
city" - and to live amid blossoms and leaves, in shadow and sunshine, in
moonlight and starlight, in rain, mist, dew, hoarfrost, and drought, out
in the open campaign and under the blue dome that is bounded by the
horizon only. It is a good thing to have a well with dripping buckets, a
porch with honey-buds and sweet-bells, a hive embroidered with nimble
bees, a sun-dial mossed over, ivy up to the eaves, curtains of dimity, a
tumbler of fresh flowers in your bedroom, a rooster on the roof, and a
dog under the piazza.

When Mrs. Sparrowgrass and I moved into the country, with our heads full
of fresh butter, and cool, crisp radishes for tea; with ideas entirely
lucid respecting milk, and a looseness of calculation as to the number
in family it would take a good laying hen to supply with fresh eggs
every morning; when Mrs. Sparrowgrass and I moved into the country, we
found some preconceived notions had to be abandoned, and some departures
made from the plans we had laid down in the little back parlor of Avenue

One of the first achievements in the country is early rising: with the
lark - with the sun - while the dew is on the grass, "under the opening
eye-lids of the morn," and so forth. Early rising! What can be done with
five or six o'clock in town? What may not be done at those hours in the
country? With the hoe, the rake, the dibble, the spade, the
watering-pot? To plant, prune, drill, transplant, graft, train, and
sprinkle! Mrs. S. and I agreed to rise _early_ in the country.

Richard and Robin were two pretty men,
They laid in bed till the clock struck ten;
Up jumped Richard and looked at the sky;
O, Brother Robin, the sun's _very_ high!

Early rising in the country is not an instinct; it is a sentiment, and
must be cultivated.

A friend recommended me to send to the south side of Long Island for
some very prolific potatoes - the real hippopotamus breed. Down went my
man, and what, with expenses of horse-hire, tavern bills, toll-gates,
and breaking a wagon, the hippopotami cost as much apiece as pineapples.
They were fine potatoes, though, with comely features, and large,
languishing eyes, that promised increase of family without delay. As I
worked my own garden (for which I hired a landscape gardener at two
dollars per day to give me instructions), I concluded that the object of
my first experiment in early rising should be the planting of the
hippopotamuses. I accordingly arose next morning at five, and it rained!
I rose next day at five, and it rained! The next, and it rained! It
rained for two weeks! We had splendid potatoes every day for dinner. "My
dear," said I to Mrs. Sparrowgrass, "where did you get these fine
potatoes?" "Why," said she, innocently, "out of that basket from Long
Island!" The last of the hippopotamuses were before me, peeled, and
boiled, and mashed, and baked, with a nice thin brown crust on the top.

I was more successful afterward. I did get some fine seed-potatoes in
the ground. But something was the matter; at the end of the season I did
not get as many out as I had put in.

Mrs. Sparrowgrass, who is a notable housewife, said to me one day, "Now,
my dear, we shall soon have plenty of eggs, for I have been buying a lot
of young chickens." There they were, each one with as many feathers as a
grasshopper, and a chirp not louder. Of course, we looked forward with
pleasant hopes to the period when the first cackle should announce the
milk-white egg, warmly deposited in the hay which we had provided
bountifully. They grew finely, and one day I ventured to remark that our
hens had remarkably large combs, to which Mrs. S. replied, "Yes, indeed,
she had observed that; but if I wanted to have a real treat I ought to
get up early in the morning and hear them crow." "Crow!" said I,
faintly, "our hens crowing! Then, by 'the cock that crowed in the morn,
to wake the priest all shaven and shorn,' we might as well give up all
hopes of having any eggs," said I; "for as sure as you live, Mrs. S.,
our hens are all roosters!" And so they were roosters! They grew up and
fought with the neighbors' chickens, until there was not a whole pair of
eyes on either side of the fence.

A _dog_ is a good thing to have in the country. I have one which I
raised from a pup. He is a good, stout fellow, and a hearty barker and
feeder. The man of whom I bought him said he was thoroughbred, but he
begins to have a mongrel look about him. He is a good watch-dog, though;
for the moment he sees any suspicious-looking person about the premises
he comes right into the kitchen and gets behind the stove. First, we
kept him in the house, and he scratched all night to get out. Then we
turned him out, and he scratched all night to get in. Then we tied him
up at the back of the garden, and he howled so that our neighbour shot
at him twice before daybreak. Finally we gave him away, and he came
back; and now he is just recovering from a fit, in which he has torn up
the patch that has been sown for our spring radishes.

A good, strong gate is a necessary article for your garden. A good,
strong, heavy gate, with a dislocated hinge, so that it will neither
open nor shut. Such a one have I. The grounds before my fence are in
common, and all the neighbors' cows pasture there. I remarked to Mrs.
S., as we stood at the window in a June sunset, how placid and
picturesque the cattle looked, as they strolled about, cropping the
green herbage. Next morning I found the innocent creatures in my
garden. They had not left a green thing in it. The corn in the milk, the
beans on the poles, the young cabbages, the tender lettuce, even the
thriving shoots on my young fruit trees had vanished. And there they
were, looking quietly on the ruin they had made. Our watch-dog, too, was
foregathering with them. It was too much; so I got a large stick and
drove them all out, except a young heifer, whom I chased all over the
flower-beds, breaking down my trellises, my woodbines and sweet-briers,
my roses and petunias, until I cornered her in the hotbed. I had to call
for assistance to extricate her from the sashes, and her owner has sued
me for damages. I believe I shall move in town.

* * * * *

Mrs. Sparrowgrass and I have concluded to try it once more; we are going
to give the country another chance. After all, birds in the spring are
lovely. First come little snowbirds, _avant-couriers_ of the feathered
army; then bluebirds in national uniforms, just graduated, perhaps, from
the ornithological corps of cadets with high honors in the topographical
class; then follows a detachment of flying artillery - swallows;
sand-martens, sappers and miners, begin their mines and countermines
under the sandy parapets; then cedar birds, in trim jackets faced with
yellow - aha, dragoons! And then the great rank and file of infantry,
robins, wrens, sparrows, chipping-birds; and lastly - the band!

From nature's old cathedral sweetly ring
The wild bird choirs - burst of the woodland band,
- who mid the blossoms sing;
Their leafy temple, gloomy, tall and grand,
Pillared with oaks, and roofed with Heaven's own hand.

There, there, that is Mario. Hear that magnificent chest note from the
chestnuts! then a crescendo, falling in silence - _à plomb!_

Hush! he begins again with a low, liquid monotone, mounting by degrees
and swelling into an infinitude of melody - the whole grove dilating, as
it were, with exquisite epithalamium.

Silence now - and how still!

Hush! the musical monologue begins anew; up, up into the tree-tops it
mounts, fairly lifting the leaves with its passionate effluence, it
trills through the upper branches - and then dripping down the listening
foliage, in a cadenza of matchless beauty, subsides into silence again.

"That's a he catbird," says my carpenter.

A catbird? Then Shakespeare and Shelley have wasted powder upon the
skylark; for never such "profuse strains of unpremeditated art" issued
from living bird before. Skylark! pooh! who would rise at dawn to hear
the skylark if a catbird were about after breakfast?

I have bought me a boat. A boat is a good thing to have in the country,
especially if there be any water near. There is a fine beach in front of
my house. When visitors come I usually propose to give them a row. I go
down - and find the boat full of water; then I send to the house for a
dipper and prepare to bail; and, what with bailing and swabbing her
with a mop and plugging up the cracks in her sides, and struggling to
get the rudder in its place, and unlocking the rusty padlock, my
strength is so much exhausted that it is almost impossible for me to
handle the oars. Meanwhile the poor guests sit on stones around the
beach with woe-begone faces.

"My dear," said Mrs. Sparrowgrass, "why don't you sell that boat?"

"Sell it? Ha! ha!"

One day a Quaker lady from Philadelphia paid us a visit. She was
uncommonly dignified, and walked down to the water in the most stately
manner, as is customary with Friends. It was just twilight, deepening
into darkness, when I set about preparing the boat. Meanwhile our Friend
seated herself upon _something_ on the beach. While I was engaged in
bailing, the wind shifted, and I became sensible of an unpleasant odor;
afraid that our Friend would perceive it, too, I whispered Mrs.
Sparrowgrass to coax her off and get her farther up the beach.

"Thank thee, no, Susan; I feel a smell hereabout and I am better where I

Mrs. S. came back and whispered mysteriously that our Friend was sitting
on a dead dog, at which I redoubled the bailing and got her out in deep
water as soon as possible.

Dogs have a remarkable scent. A dead setter one morning found his way to
our beach, and I towed him out in the middle of the river; but the
faithful creature came back in less than an hour - that dog's smell was
remarkable indeed.

I have bought me a fyke! A fyke is a good thing to have in the country.
A fyke is a fishnet, with long wings on each side; in shape like a
nightcap with ear lappets; in mechanism like a rat-trap. You put a stake
at the tip end of the nightcap, a stake at each end of the outspread
lappets; there are large hoops to keep the nightcap distended, sinkers
to keep the lower sides of the lappets under water, and floats as large
as muskmelons to keep the upper sides above the water. The stupid fish
come downstream, and, rubbing their noses against the wings, follow the
curve toward the fyke and swim into the trap. When they get in they
cannot get out. That is the philosophy of a fyke. I bought one of
Conroy. "Now," said I to Mrs. Sparrowgrass, "we shall have fresh fish
to-morrow for breakfast," and went out to set it. I drove the stakes in
the mud, spread the fyke in the boat, tied the end of one wing to the
stake, and cast the whole into the water. The tide carried it out in a
straight line. I got the loose end fastened to the boat, and found it
impossible to row back against the tide with the fyke. I then untied it,
and it went downstream, stake and all. I got it into the boat, rowed up,
and set the stake again. Then I tied one end to the stake and got out of
the boat myself in shoal water. Then the boat got away in deep water;
then I had to swim for the boat. Then I rowed back and untied the fyke.
Then the fyke got away. Then I jumped out of the boat to save the fyke,
and the boat got away. Then I had to swim again after the boat and row
after the fyke, and finally was glad to get my net on dry land, where I
left it for a week in the sun. Then I hired a man to set it, and he did,
but he said it was "rotted." Nevertheless, in it I caught two small
flounders and an eel. At last a brace of Irishmen came down to my beach
for a swim at high tide. One of them, a stout, athletic fellow, after
performing sundry aquatic gymnastics, dived under and disappeared for a
fearful length of time. The truth is, he had dived into my net. After
much turmoil in the water, he rose to the surface with the filaments
hanging over his head, and cried out, as if he had found a bird's nest:
"I say, Jimmy! begorra, here's a foike!" That unfeeling exclamation to
Jimmy, who was not the owner of the net, made me almost wish that it had
not been "rotted."

We are worried about our cucumbers. Mrs. S. is fond of cucumbers, so I
planted enough for ten families. The more they are picked, the faster
they grow; and if you do not pick them, they turn yellow and look ugly.
Our neighbor has plenty, too. He sent us some one morning, by way of a
present. What to do with them we did not know, with so many of our own.
To give them away was not polite; to throw them away was sinful; to eat
them was impossible. Mrs. S. said, "Save them for seed." So we did. Next
day, our neighbor sent us a dozen more. We thanked the messenger grimly
and took them in. Next morning another dozen came. It was getting to be
a serious matter; so I rose betimes the following morning, and when my
neighbor's cucumbers came I filled his man's basket with some of my own,
by way of exchange. This bit of pleasantry was resented by my neighbor,
who told his man to throw them to the hogs. His man told our girl, and
our girl told Mrs. S., and, in consequence, all intimacy between the two
families has ceased; the ladies do not speak, even at church.

We have another neighbor, whose name is Bates; he keeps cows. This year
our gate has been fixed; but my young peach trees near the fences are
accessible from the road; and Bates's cows walk along that road morning
and evening. The sound of a cow-bell is pleasant in the twilight.
Sometimes, after dark, we hear the mysterious curfew tolling along the
road, and then with a louder peal it stops before our fence and again
tolls itself off in the distance. The result is, my peach trees are as
bare as bean-poles. One day I saw Mr. Bates walking along, and I hailed
him: "Bates, those are your cows there, I believe?" "Yes, sir; nice
ones, ain't they?" "Yes," I replied, "they are _nice_ ones. Do you see
that tree there?" - and I pointed to a thrifty peach, with about as many
leaves as an exploded sky-rocket. "Yes, sir." "Well, Bates, that
red-and-white cow of yours yonder ate the top off that tree; I saw her
do it." Then I thought I had made Bates ashamed of himself, and had
wounded his feelings, perhaps, too much. I was afraid he would offer me
money for the tree, which I made up my mind to decline at once.
"Sparrowgrass," said he, "it don't hurt a tree a single mossel to chaw
it if it's a young tree. For my part, I'd rather have my young trees
chawed than not. I think it makes them grow a leetle better. I can't do
it with mine, but you can, because you can wait to have good trees, and
the only way to have good trees is to have, 'em chawed."

* * * * *

We have put a dumb-waiter in our house. A dumb-waiter is a good thing to
have in the country, on account of its convenience. If you have company,
everything can be sent up from the kitchen without any trouble; and if
the baby gets to be unbearable, on account of his teeth, you can dismiss
the complainant by stuffing him in one of the shelves and letting him
down upon the help. To provide for contingencies, we had all our floors
deafened. In consequence, you cannot hear anything that is going on in
the story below; and when you are in the upper room of the house there
might be a democratic ratification meeting in the cellar and you would
not know it. Therefore, if any one should break into the basement it
would not disturb us; but to please Mrs. Sparrowgrass, I put stout iron
bars in all the lower windows. Besides, Mrs. Sparrowgrass had bought a
rattle when she was in Philadelphia; such a rattle as watchmen carry
there. This is to alarm our neighbor, who, upon the signal, is to come
to the rescue with his revolver. He is a rash man, prone to pull trigger
first and make inquiries afterward.

One evening Mrs. S. had retired and I was busy writing, when it struck
me a glass of ice-water would be palatable. So I took the candle and a
pitcher and went down to the pump. Our pump is in the kitchen. A country
pump in the kitchen is more convenient; but a well with buckets is
certainly more picturesque. Unfortunately, our well water has not been
sweet since it was cleaned out. First I had to open a bolted door that
lets you into the basement hall, and then I went to the kitchen door,
which proved to be locked. Then I remembered that our girl always
carried the key to bed with her and slept with it under her pillow. Then
I retraced my steps, bolted the basement door, and went up into the
dining-room. As is always the case, I found, when I could not get any
water, I was thirstier than I supposed I was. Then I thought I would
wake our girl up. Then I concluded not to do it. Then I thought of the
well, but I gave that up on account of its flavor. Then I opened the
closet doors: there was no water there; and then I thought of the
dumb-waiter! The novelty of the idea made me smile. I took out two of
the movable shelves, stood the pitcher on the bottom of the dumb-waiter,
got in myself with the lamp; let myself down, until I supposed I was
within a foot of the floor below, and then let go!

We came down so suddenly that I was shot out of the apparatus as if it
had been a catapult; it broke the pitcher, extinguished the lamp, and
landed me in the middle of the kitchen at midnight, with no fire and the
air not much above the zero point. The truth is, I had miscalculated the
distance of the descent - instead of falling one foot, I had fallen five.
My first impulse was to ascend by the way I came down, but I found that
impracticable. Then I tried the kitchen door; it was locked. I tried to
force it open; it was made of two-inch stuff, and held its own. Then I
hoisted a window, and there were the rigid iron bars. If ever I felt
angry at anybody it was at myself for putting up those bars to please
Mrs. Sparrowgrass. I put them up, not to keep people in, but to keep
people out.

I laid my cheek against the ice-cold barriers and looked out at the sky;
not a star was visible; it was as black as ink overhead. Then I thought
of Baron Trenck and the prisoner of Chillon. Then I made a noise. I
shouted until I was hoarse, and ruined our preserving kettle with the
poker. That brought our dogs out in full bark, and between us we made
night hideous. Then I thought I heard a voice and listened - it was Mrs.
Sparrowgrass calling to me from the top of the staircase. I tried to
make her hear me, but the infernal dogs united with howl, and growl, and
bark, so as to drown my voice, which is naturally plaintive and tender.
Besides, there were two bolted doors and double-deafened floors between
us; how could she recognize my voice, even if she did hear it? Mrs.
Sparrowgrass called once or twice and then got frightened; the next
thing I heard was a sound as if the roof had fallen in, by which I
understood that Mrs. Sparrowgrass was springing the rattle! That called
out our neighbor, already wide awake; he came to the rescue with a
bull-terrier, a Newfoundland pup, a lantern, and a revolver. The moment
he saw me at the window he shot at me, but fortunately just missed me. I
threw myself under the kitchen table and ventured to expostulate with
him, but he would not listen to reason. In the excitement I had
forgotten his name, and that made matters worse. It was not until he had
roused up everybody around, broken in the basement door with an ax,
gotten into the kitchen with his cursed savage dogs and shooting-iron,
and seized me by the collar, that he recognized me - and then he wanted
me to explain it! But what kind of an explanation could I make to him? I
told him he would have to wait until my mind was composed, and then I
would let him understand the whole matter fully. But he never would have
had the particulars from me, for I do not approve of neighbors that
shoot at you, break in your door, and treat you, in your own house, as
if you were a jailbird. He knows all about it, however - somebody has
told him - _somebody_ tells everybody everything in our village. - _The
Sparrowgrass Papers._


They may talk of love in a cottage,
And bowers of trellised vine - -
Of nature bewitchingly simple,
And milkmaids half divine;
They may talk of the pleasure of sleeping
In the shade of a spreading tree,
And a walk in the fields at morning,
By the side of a footstep free!

But give me a sly flirtation
By the light of a chandelier - -
With music to play in the pauses,
And nobody very near;
Or a seat on a silken sofa,
With a glass of pure old wine,
And mamma too blind to discover
The small white hand in mine.

Your love in a cottage is hungry,
Your vine is a nest for flies - -
Your milkmaid shocks the Graces,
And simplicity talks of pies!
You lie down to your shady slumber
And wake with a bug in your ear,
And your damsel that walks in the morning
Is shod like a mountaineer.

True love is at home on a carpet,
And mightily likes his ease - -

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