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St. Nicholas Magazine for Boys and Girls, Vol. V, August, 1878, No 10. online

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fairly swallowed; for she was anxious to make some return for the
pleasure he had given her.

"All right," responded Dick, "I'm ready."

So the thin little voice began again the old refrain; Gerty singing with
honest fervor, Dick listening in rapt attention. Following "Happy Land"
came "I want to be an angel," "Little drops of water," etc.; and when
full justice had been done to these well-worn tunes, Dick suggested a
change.

"Don't you sing 'Mulligan Guards'?" he questioned, at the close of one
of the hymns.

"No," said Gerty, perplexed. "They didn't sing that up to the
horspital."

"Oh, mebbe they don't sing it to the horspital; but I've heard 'em sing
it bully to the circus. I say," he went on suddenly, "was you ever
there - to the circus, I mean?"

"No," said Gerty, eagerly. "What do they do?"

"Oh, it's beautiful!" was Dick's answer. "All bright, you know, and
warm, and the wimmin is dressed awful fine, and the men, too; and the
horses prance around; and they have music and tumbling, and - oh, lots of
things!"

"My! and you've been there?"

"Oh yes, I've been!" Then, as he watched her sparkling eyes, "Look here,
I'll take you. I could carry you, you know, and we'd go early, and I'd
put you up against a post, and - - Don't you want to go?"

"Want to go?" she repeated with rapture. "Oh, it's too good to be true!
I was scared just a-thinkin' of it. Oh, if mother'd let me an' I could!
Wouldn't I be too heavy? Mother says I'm light as a feather, - and I
wouldn't weigh more'n I could help," she added, wistfully.

"Never you mind," was Dick's hearty reply. "I'll come to-night and see
the old lady, - your mother, I mean, - and we'll go next week, if she'll
let you."

So it was decided; and when Dick said "good-bye," and ran off, Gerty
settled back with a sigh, half of delight and half of anxiety, lest her
wild, wonderful hope should never be fulfilled.

But Dick came that night, and Gerty's mother, when she saw Dick's
honest, earnest face, and her little girl's eager, pleading eyes, gave
consent.

The next Monday night was fixed upon, and this was Thursday. "Four
days," counted Gerty on her fingers; and oh, they seemed so long! But
even four days _will_ crawl away, and Monday night came at last. By
seven o'clock, Dick appeared, his face clean and shining, radiant with
delight.

Gerty was dressed in the one dress owned by her mother beside her
working one, and the shrunken little figure looked pathetically absurd
in its ample proportions. It was much too long for her, of course, but
her mother pinned up the skirt. Good old Peggotty Winters, the
apple-woman, who lived in the back room, had lent her warm shawl for the
occasion, and the little French hair-dresser on the top floor had loaned
a knitted hood which had quite an elegant effect. So Gerty considered
herself dressed in a style befitting the event; and if she and Dick were
satisfied, no one else need criticise.

"Pooh!" was Dick's comment as he lifted her in his arms. "Like a baby,
aint you?"

"Oh, I'm so glad you don't think I'm heavy! It's the first time I ever
was glad to be thin," sighed Gerty, clinging around his neck.

Then away they went, out through alleys and across side-streets to the
main artery of travel, where Dick threaded his way slowly through
throngs of gay people. At length, after what seemed miles to Gerty, they
halted in front of a brilliantly lighted building, and in another
moment were in the dazzling entrance-way.

On went Dick slowly, patiently, with his burden, down the aisle, as near
to the front as possible, and - they were there!

Gerty was carefully set down in a corner place, and her shawl opened a
little to serve as a pillow; and then she began to look about her,
gazing with awe-struck curiosity at the great arena and the mysterious
doors.

After a while the house seemed full, the musicians came out and took
their places, the gas suddenly blazed more brightly, and the band struck
up a gay popular air. Gerty felt as if she must scream with delight and
expectation.

Presently, the music stopped, there was a bustle of preparation, a bell
tinkled, and the great doors slowly swung open. Gerty saw beautiful
ladies, all bright and glittering with spangles, and handsome horses in
gorgeous trappings, and great strong men in tights, all the wonders and
sights of the circus, and the funny jokes and antics of the clown and
pantaloon. And Gerty had never known anything half so fine; and there
was riding and jumping and tumbling, and all manner of fun, until the
doors shut again.

"Wasn't it lovely?" whispered Gerty. "Is that all?"

"Not half," said Dick; and Gerty leaned back to think it all over and
watch for the repetition. But the next scene was different; there came
an immense elephant, some little white poodle-dogs, and some mules, and
everybody clapped hands and laughed, and was delighted. At last, the
climax of ecstasy was reached, - a beautiful procession of all the gayly
dressed and glittering performers, with their wonderful steeds, the wise
old elephant, the queer little poodles, and the fun-provoking mules; and
the band struck up some stirring music, and Gerty was dumb with
admiration. But in another minute the arena was empty, the heavy doors
had shut out all the life and magnificence, the band was hushed, the
lights were dimmed, and Dick told her it was over.

Carefully he folded her in the shawl again, and once more the cold night
air blew in her face. Not a word could she say all the way home, but
when she sank in her mother's arms it was with the whisper, "I've seen
'Happy Land';" and Dick felt, somehow, as if no other comment were
needed.

And the winter days went on, Dick's faithful service and devotion never
ceasing. The window was mended, but Dick had a key to the door, and
spent many an hour with the sufferer. As spring approached, the two
watchers noted a change in the girl. She was weaker, and her pain
constant; and when Dick carried her out to the park in the April
sunshine, he was shocked to find her weight almost nothing in his arms.

Yes, Gerty was dying, slowly but surely; and Dick grew exceeding
sorrowful. By and by, she even could not be carried out-of-doors, but
lay all day on her little couch. Then Dick brought flowers and fruit,
and talked gayly of the next winter, when, said he, "We'll go every week
to the circus, Gerty."

[Illustration: AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE CIRCUS.]

"No, Dick," said the child, quietly, "I shall never go there again. But
oh! 't'll be suthin better!" - at which Dick rushed off hastily, and soon
after got into a quarrel with a fellow newsboy who had hinted that his
eyes were red. Anon he was back with some fresh gift, only to struggle
again with the choking grief.

And then came the end - quietly, peacefully. Near the close of a July
day, when the setting sun glorified every corner of the room, Gerty left
her pain, and, with a farewell sigh, was at rest.

"Oh, Gerty!" sobbed Dick, "don't forget me!"

Ah, Dick, you are held in everlasting remembrance, and more than one
angel is glad at thoughts of you, in the "Happy Land!"




THE CROW THAT THE CROW CROWED.

BY S. CONANT FOSTER.


"Ho! ho!"
Said the crow:
"So I'm not s'posed to know
Where the rye and the wheat
And the corn kernels grow -
Oh! no,
Ho! ho!

"He! he!
Farmer Lee,
When I fly from my tree,
Just you see where the tops
Of the corn-ears will be
Watch me!
He! he!"

Switch-swirch,
With a lurch,
Flopped the bird from his perch
As he spread out his wings
And set forth on his search -
His search -
Switch-swirch.

Click!-bang! -
How it rang,
How the small bullet sang
As it sped through the air -
And the crow, with a pang,
Went spang -
Chi-bang.

THE TAIL FEATHERS.

Now know,
That to crow
Often brings one to woe;
Which the lines up above
Have been put there to show,
And so,
Don't crow.




THE LONDON MILK-WOMAN.

BY ALEXANDER WAINWRIGHT.


Very sturdy in form and honest in face is the London milk-woman shown in
our picture. She has broad English features, smoothly parted hair, and a
nice white frill running round her old-fashioned, curtained bonnet. Her
boots are strong, and her dress is warm - the petticoats cut short to
prevent them from draggling in the mud. A wooden yoke fits to her
shoulders, which are almost as broad as a man's, and from the yoke hang
her cans, filled with milk and cream, the little ones being hooked to
the larger ones.

The London day has opened on a storm, and the snow lies thick on the
area railings, the lamp-posts and the roofs; but the morning is not too
cold or stormy for her. Oh, no! the mornings never are. It may rain, or
blow, or snow the hardest that ever was known, no inclemency of weather
keeps her from her morning round, and in the dull cold of London frosts
and the yellow obscurity of London fogs, she appears in the streets,
uttering her familiar cry, "Me-oh! me-oh!" which is her way of calling
milk.

Pretty kitchen-maids come up the area steps with their pitchers to meet
her, and detain her with much gossip. The one in the picture, whose arms
are comfortably folded under her white apron, may be telling her that
the mistress's baby is sick, and that the doctor despairs of its life.
She may even be saying to her: "The only thing it can swallow, poor
little dear, is a little milk and arrowroot, and the doctor says unless
it can have this it must die." A great deal of the London milk is
adulterated, and, perhaps, this honest-looking milk-woman knows that
water has been added to hers. May be, she has babies of her own, and
then her heart must be sore when she realizes that the little sick one
upstairs may perish through her employer's greed for undue profits.

[Illustration: AT THE AREA GATE.]

To-morrow, she may find the blinds drawn close down at that house, and
the maid-of-all-work red-eyed and tearful; then she will turn away,
bitterly feeling the pressure of her yoke on her shoulders, although,
from her looks, she herself appears to be incapable of dishonesty; she
is, and more than that, kindly, cheery, and industrious. Her cans are
polished to the brilliancy of burnished silver, and betoken the most
scrupulous cleanliness. Many breakfast-tables depend upon her for that
rich cream which emits a delicious flavor from her cans, in the sharp
morning air. "Me-oh! me-oh!" We turn over in bed when we hear her, and
know that it is time to get up.




[Illustration]

ALICE'S SUPPER.


Far down in the valley the wheat grows deep,
And the reapers are making the cradles sweep;
And this is the song that I hear them sing,
While cheery and loud their voices ring:
"'Tis the finest wheat that ever did grow,
And it is for Alice's supper - ho! ho!"

[Illustration]

Far down by the river the old mill stands,
And the miller is rubbing his dusty old hands;
And these are the words of the miller's lay,
As he watches the mill-stones grinding away:
"'Tis the finest flour that money can buy,
And it is for Alice's supper - hi! hi!"

[Illustration]

Down-stairs in the kitchen the fire doth glow,
And cook is a-kneading the soft white dough;
And this is the song she is singing to-day,
As merry and busy she's working away:
"'T is the finest dough whether near or afar,
And it is for Alice's supper - ha! ha!"

[Illustration]

To the nursery now comes mother, at last, -
And what in her hand is she bringing so fast?
'T is a plateful of something, all yellow and white,
And she sings as she comes, with her smile so bright:
"'T is the best bread and butter I ever did see,
And it is for Alice's supper - he! he!"




[Illustration]

JACK-IN-THE-PULPIT.


"Warm!" you say?

Don't mention it, but take it good-naturedly.

And, now, let's be quiet and have a talk about


HEARING FLIES WALK.

"Ho, ho; nobody can do that!"

But anybody _can_ do that, - with a microphone.

"And what's a microphone?"

Why, it's a machine by which very low sounds, that don't seem to be
sounds at all, may be made to grow so loud and clear that you can easily
hear them. If any of you come across one of these things, my dears, just
take it to some quiet green spot, and coax it to let you hear the grass
grow.

There's one feature of the microphone that is likely to be troublesome;
it makes loud noises sound hundreds of times louder. Something must be
done, therefore, to prevent the use of these machines on any Fourth of
July. That would be what nobody could stand, I should think.


A CRAB THAT MOWS GRASS.

Isn't this dreadful? In India - a long way off, I'm glad to say - there is
a kind of crab that eats the juicy stalks of grass, rice, and other
plants. He snips off the stalks with his sharp pincers, and, when he has
made a big enough sheaf, sidles off home with it to his burrow in the
ground, to feast upon it.

Ugh! I hope I shall never hear the cruel click of his pincers anywhere
near me!


WASHERWOMEN IN TUBS.

Over here, as I've heard, the clothes to be washed are put in tubs, and
the washerwomen or washermen stand outside at work. But I'm told that in
some parts of Europe the washerwomen themselves get into the tubs. They
do this to keep their feet dry. The tubs or barrels are empty, and are
set along the river banks in the water, and each washerwoman stands in
her tub and washes the clothes in the river, pounding, and soaping, and
rinsing them, on a board, without changing her position.


MICE IN A PIANO.


Chicago, Ill.

DEAR JACK: I have long wished to tell you of a little incident that
occurred in our family.

About a year ago we bought an upright grand piano, and after we had
had it a few months we noticed that one of the keys would stay down
when touched, unless struck very quickly and lightly, and the next
day another acted in the same way. That evening, after the boys had
gone to bed, father and myself were sitting by the grate fire, when
we thought we heard a nibbling in the corner of the room where the
piano stood. I exclaimed, "Do you think it possible a mouse can be
in the piano?" "Oh no!" he said; "it is probably behind it." We
moved the piano, and found a little of the carpet gnawed, and a few
nut-shells. Then we examined the piano inside, as far as possible,
but found no traces there. I played a noisy tune, to frighten the
mouse away, and we thought no more about it.

Two or three days after, more of the keys stayed down, and I said,
"That piano must be fixed." The tuner came, and the children all
stood around him, with curious eyes, as he took the instrument
apart. Presently I heard a great shout. What do you think? In one
corner, on the key-board, where every touch of the keys must have
jarred it, was a mouse's nest, with five young ones in it! Those
mice must have been fond of music! The mother mouse sprang out and
escaped; but the nest and the little ones were destroyed.

Well, what do you suppose the nest was made of? Bits of felt and
soft leather from the hammers and pedal; and the mouse had gnawed
in two most of the strips of leather that pull back the hammers!
So, when the piano had been fixed, there was a pretty heavy bill
for repairs. - Very truly yours,

P. L. S.


RATTLE-BOXES.

You'd hardly believe how old-fashioned rattle-boxes are, - those noisy
things that babies love to shake. Why, they are almost as old-fashioned
as some of the very first babies would look nowadays. A few very ancient
writers mention these toys, but, instead of calling them, simply,
"rattle-boxes," they refer to them as "symbols of eternal agitation,
which is necessary to life!"

Deacon Green says that this high-sounding saying may have been wise for
its times, when the sleepy young world needed shaking, perhaps, to get
it awake and keep it lively. "But, in these days," he adds, "the boot is
on the other leg. People are a little too go-ahead, if anything, and try
to do too much in too short time. Real rest, and plenty of it, is just
as necessary to life as agitation can be."

Remember this, my chicks, all through vacation; but don't mistake
laziness for rest.


A MOTHER WITH TWO MILLION CHILDREN.

No, not the old woman who lived in a shoe, - though old parties of the
kind I mean have been found with their houses fixed to old rubber
high-boots, - but a quiet old mother, who never utters a word, and whose
house is all door-way, as I'm told. Every year she opens the door and
turns two million wee bairns upon the world.

Away they rush, the door snaps shut behind them, and they can never come
back any more! They don't seem to mind that very much, however, for they
go dancing away in countless armies, without ever jostling, or meeting,
or even touching one another.

And how large a ball-room do you suppose a troop of them would need?
One drop of water is large enough for thousands upon thousands of them
to sport in!

The mother is the oyster, and her children are the little oysters, and a
curious family they must be, if all this is true, as I'm led to believe.


A CHINESE FLOATING VILLAGE.

The Little Schoolma'am wishes you a good and lively vacation, and sends
you a picture of a Chinese Floating Village, - a cool and pleasant kind
of village to live in through the summer, I've no doubt, with plashing
water, and fresh breezes, all about you. She goes on to say:

"In China, where there are about four hundred and fifty millions of
people, not only the land, but also much of the water, is covered with
towns and streets; and, although the Chinese are more than eleven times
as numerous as the people of the United States, their country is not
half as large as ours, - even leaving Alaska out of the count. So that
China is pretty well crowded.

[Illustration: A CHINESE FLOATING VILLAGE.]

"In the picture, the little boats belong to poor people, but the big
ones, called 'junks,' belong to folks who are better off. Sometimes
junks are used by rich people for traveling, and then they are built
almost as roomy, and fitted up quite as comfortably, as the homes on
shore.

"There are no railroads in China worth mentioning, so traveling has to
be done by highroad, or by river and canal; and, as this last, though
easy, is a very slow way, it is a good thing when, like the snail, a
traveler can take his house with him."


INFORMATION WANTED.

Providence, R. I.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit: SIR: I write to ask if any of your little birds
ever crossed the Equator; and, when just above it, whereabouts in
the sky did they look for the sun at noon?

If you will answer this you will oblige me very much, as I have
been wondering for about a month past.

Don't think this foolish.

EDWIN S. THOMPSON.

None of my feathered friends ever told me about this; but, perhaps, some
of you smart chicks who have just passed good examinations can answer
Edwin's question. If so, I'd be glad to hear from you; especially if
you'd let me know, also, what kind of a thing the equator _is_, and by
what marks or signs a bird or anybody might make sure he had pitched
upon it?


A BIRD THAT SEWS.

Sandy Spring, Md.

DEAR JACK: Have you ever heard of a bird that sews? Perhaps you
have, and some of your chicks have not. He is not much larger than
the humming-bird, and looks like a ball of yellow worsted flying
through the air. For his nest he chooses two leaves on the outside
of a tree, and these he sews firmly together, except at the
entrance, using a fiber for thread, and his long, sharp bill as a
needle. When this is done, he puts in some down plucked from his
breast, and his snug home is complete. He is sometimes called the
"tailor-bird." - Your friend,

M. B. T.


A BEE "SOLD."

Talk about the instinct of animals! I'm sure my little friends the bees
are as bright as any, yet I heard, the other day, a strange thing about
one. There was a flower-like sea-anemone, near the top of a little pool
of water, when a bee came buzzing along and alighted on the pretty
thing, no doubt mistaking it for a blossom. That anemone was an animal,
and had no honey. Now, where was the instinct of that bee? That's what I
want to know.




THE LETTER-BOX.

West Roxbury, Mass.

Dear St. Nicholas: I saw in your June number, in the "Letter-Box," an
account of a turtle; so I thought I would tell you about "Gopher Jimmy."
My uncle brought him from Florida. He is a gopher, and different from
the common kind of turtle. His back is yellow, with black ridges on it.
His feet are yellow and scaly. Gophers burrow in the ground; and, when
full grown, a man cannot pull one out of its burrow, and a child can
ride easily on its back. I feed mine on clover. He likes to bask in the
sun. My uncle named him "Gopher Jimmy." When full grown, they can move
with a weight of 200 pounds. Jimmy is a young one. - Your devoted reader,

FRANCIS H. ALLEN.


Baltimore, Md

DEAR ST. NICHOLAS: Perhaps the other readers of your magazine have heard
of "Tyrian purple," a dye which once sold in the shops of ancient Rome
for its own weight in silver. Well, after a while, the way to make this
dye was forgotten, - probably because those who had the secret died
without telling it to others. And now I want to let you know what I have
learned lately, in reading, about how the secret was found again, after
hundreds of years.

A French naturalist, named Lacazo Duthiers, was on board a ship, when,
one day, he saw a sailor marking his clothes and the sails of the ship
with a sharp-pointed stick, which, every now and then, he dipped into a
little shell held in his other hand. At first, the lines were only a
faint yellow in color; but, after being a few minutes in the sun, they
became greenish, then violet, and last of all, a bright, beautiful
purple, the exact shade called by the ancients "Tyrian purple" - a color
that never fades by washing, or exposure to heat or damp, but ever grows
brighter and clearer! The naturalist was rejoiced, and after trial found
that he really had discovered again the long-lost secret. He felt well
repaid for keeping his eyes open. The little shell was the "wide-mouthed
purpura," as some call it, some three inches long, found in the
Mediterranean Sea, and on the coasts of France, Ireland and Great
Britain. My book says that the difficulty of obtaining and preserving
these shells must always render "Tyrian purple" a rare and expensive
color.

I remember, too, that the Babylonians thought "Tyrian purple" too sacred
for the use of mortals, so they used it only in the dress of their
idols. Romulus, king of Rome, adopted it as the regal color, and the
Roman emperors forbade any besides themselves to wear it, on penalty of
death. - Yours truly, F. R. F.


The boys and girls who solved the poetical charade printed on page 639
of the July number, must have noticed that it is an unusually good one,
and we are sure that all our readers will admire the charade, after
comparing it with its solution, which we publish upon page 704 of this
number.


Alexandria, Ohio.

DEAR ST. NICHOLAS: I should like to know who would succeed to the throne
in case of Queen Victoria's and her eldest son's deaths. My brother and
I sold hickory-nuts and onions to get the St. Nicholas last fall. We
have taken it ever since it was published. I am ten years old.

WILLIE CASTLE.


Prince Albert Victor, the Prince of Wales's eldest son, if then alive,
would succeed to the English throne after Queen Victoria, in case of the
previous death of her eldest son, - the Prince of Wales. A general answer
to this question will be found in the "Letter-Box" for May, 1877 (Vol.
IV., page 509), in a reply to an inquiry from "Julia."


Brunswick, Maine.

DEAR ST. NICHOLAS: It has occurred to me that some of my St. Nicholas
friends may like to know what I have learned from ancient books about
the constellation Ursa Major, or the Dipper, which, in St. Nicholas for
January, 1877 (vol. iv., p. 168), Professor Proctor has likened to a
monkey climbing a pole. It is about the other title of this
constellation, "Great Bear." I need not describe the group itself, for
that has been done already by Professor Proctor in ST. NICHOLAS for


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Online LibraryVariousSt. Nicholas Magazine for Boys and Girls, Vol. V, August, 1878, No 10. → online text (page 9 of 11)