George Streynsham Master.

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" I stopped at Casey's as I came on," he
said, at last. **Thet thar was one thing
as made me late. Thar's — thar's some-
thin' I hed on my mind fur him to do fur

" For Casev to do ? " she said.

He poureci his cofiee into his saucer
and answered with a heavy effort at speak-
ing unconcernedly.

"I'm agoin' to hev him fix the house,"
he said.

She was going to ask him what he meant
to have done, but he did not give her time.

" lanthy an' me," he said, " we'd useder
say we'd do it sometime, an' I'm agoin' to
do it now. The rooms, now, they're low —
whar they're not to say small, they're low
an' — an' old-timey. Thar aint no style to
*em. Them rooms to the Springs, now,
they've got style to 'em. An' rooms kin be
altered easy enough."

He drank his coffee slowly, set his saucer
down and went on with the same serious
air of having broached an ordinary sub-

" Goin' to the Springs has sorter started
me off," he said. " Seein' things diffrent
does start a man off. Casey an' his men'll
be here Monday."

" It seems so — sudden," Louisiana said.
She gave a slow, wondering glance at the
old smoke-stained room. " I can hardly
fancy it looking any other way than this.
It wont be the same place at all."

He glanced around, too, with a start
His glance was hurried and nervous.

" Why, no," he said, " it wont, but —it'll
be stylisher. It'll be kinder onfamil'ar at
first, but I dessay we shall get used to it —
an' it'll be stylisher. An' style— whar thar's
young folks, thet's what's wanted — style."

She was so puzzled by his manner that
she sat regardmg him with wonder. But
he went on talking steadily about his plans
until the meal was over. He talked of them
when they went back to the porch together
and sat in the moonlight He scarcely
gave her an opportunity to speak. Once or
twice the idea vaguely occiured to her that
for some reason he did not want her to talk.
It was a relief to her only to be called upon
to listen, but still she was puzzled.

" When we git fixed up," he said, " ye
kin hev your friends yere. Thar's them
folks, now, as was yere the other day from
the Springs — when we're fixed up ye mou^ht
invite 'era — next summer, fur instants. Like
as not I shall be away myself an' — ye'd
hev room a plenty. Ye wouldn't need me,
ye see. An', Lord ! how it'd serprise 'em
to come an' find ye all fixed."

" I should never ask them," she cried,
impetuously. " And — they woulon't come
if I did."

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" Mebbe they would," he responded, I " Don't ye," he said, in his quiet voice
gravely, " if ye was fixed up." " Don't ye, Louisianny ? "

" I don't want them," she said, passion

ately. " Let them keep their place,
don't want them."

And he seemed to sink into a reverie
and did not speak again for quite a long

(To be conduued.)




We can boast a greater assortment of
toads and firogs in this country than can any
other land. What a chorus goes up from
our ponds and marshes in spring 1 The like
of it cannot be heard anywhere else under
the sun. In Europe it would certainly have
made an impression upon the literature.
An attentive ear will detect first one variety,
then another, each occupying the stage
firom three or four days to a week. The
latter part of April, when the little peep-
ing fi-ogs — hylodes — are in full chorus, one
comes upon places in his drives or walks
late in the day, where the air fairly palpi-
tates with sound ; fi-om every litde marshy
hollow and spring run there rises up an im-
penetrable maze of cloud of shrill musical
voices. The most interesting and the most
shy and withdrawn of all our frogs and toads
is the tree toad — the creature that, from the
old apple or cherry-tree, or red cedar, an-
nounces the approach of rain, and baffles your
every effort to see or discover him. It has
not (as some people imagine) exactly the
power of the chameleon to render itself in-
visible by assuming the color of the object it
perches upon, but it sits very close and still,
and its mottled back, of different shades of
ashen gray, blends it perfectly with the
bark of nearly every tree. The only change
in its color I have ever noticed is that it is
lighter on a light colored tree, like the
beech or soft maple, and darker on the
apple, or cedar, or pine. Then it is usually
hidden in some cavity or hollow of the tree,
when its voice appears to come from tlie

Most of my observations upon the habits
of this creature run counter to the authorities
I have been able to consult on the subject.

In the first place, the tree toad is nocturnal
in its habits, like the common toad. By day

it remains motionless and concealed, by
night it is as alert and active as an owl, feed-
ing and moving about from tree to tree. I
have never known one to change its position
by day, and never knew one to fail to do
so by night. Last summer one was dis-
covered sitting against a window upon a
climbing rose-bush. The house had not
been occupied for some days, and when the
curtain was drawn, the toad was discovered
and closely observed. His light gray color
harmonized perfectly with the unpainted
wood work of the house. During the day
he never moved a muscle, but next morning
he was gone. A fiiend of mine caught one,
and placed it under a tumbler on his table
at night, leaving the edge of the glass
raised about the eighth of an inch to admit
the air. Di^ng the night he was awakened
by a strange sound in his room. Pat, pat»
pat, went some object, now here, now diere,
among the furniture, or upon the walls and
doors. On investigating the matter, he
found that by some means his tree toad had
escaped from under the glass and was leaping
in a very lively manner about the room, pro-
ducing the sound he had heard when it
alighted upon the door, or wall, or other
perpendicular surface.

The home of the tree toad, I am con-
vinced, is usually a hollow limb or other
cavity in the tree ; here he makes his head-
quarters, and passes most of the day. For
two years a pair of them frequented an old
apple-tree near my house, occasionally sit-
ting at the mouth of a cavity that led into
a large branch, but usually their voices
were heard from within the cavity itself.
On one occasion, while walking in the
woods in early May, I heard the voice of a
tree toad but a few yards from me. Cau-
tiously following up the sound, I decided,
after some delay, that it proceeded from
the trunk of a small soft maple; the tree
was hollow, the entrance to the interior
being a few feet from the ground. I could

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not discover the toad, but was so convinced
^hat it was concealed in the tree, that I
stopped up the hole, determined to return
iK^ith an ax, when I had time, and cut the
:trunk open. A week elapsed before 1 again
ivent to the woods, when, on cutting into
the cavity of the tree, I found a pair of tree
toads, male and female, and a large shelless
snail. Whether the presence of the snail
'was accidental, or whether these creatures
associated together for some purpose, I do
not know. The male toad was easily dis-
tinguished from the female by its large
head, and more thin, slender, and angular
body. The female was much the more
beautiful both in form and color. The
cavity, which was long and irregular, was
evidently their home; it had been nicely
cleaned out, and was a snug, safe apart-

The finding of the two sexes together
under such circumstances and at that time
of the year, suggests the inquiry whether
they do not breed away from the water, as
others of our loads are known at times to
do, and thus skip the tadpole state. I have
several times seen the ground, after a June
shower, swarming with minute toads, out to
wet their jackets. Some of them were no
larger than crickets. They were a long dis-
tance firom the water, and had evidently
been hatched on the land and had never
been polliwigs. Whether the tree toad
breeds in trees or on the land, yet remains
to be determined.

Another fact in the natural history of
this creature, not set down in the books, is
that they pass the winter in a torpid state in
the ground, or in stumps and hollow trees,
instead of in the mud of ponds and marshes,
like true frogs, as we have been taught. The
pair in the old apple-tree above referred to,
I heard on a warm, moist day late in Novem-
ber, and again early in April. On the latter
occasion, I reached my hand down into the
cavity of the tree and took out one of the
toads. It was the first I had heard, and I
am convinced it had passed the winter in the
moist, mud-like mass of rotten wood that
partially filled the cavity. It had a firesh,
delicate tint, aS if it had not before seen the
light that spring. The president of a West-
em college writes in " Science News " that
two of his students foimd one in the winter
in an old stump which they demolished, and
a person whose veracity I have no reason to
doubt sends me a specimen that he dug out
of the ground in December, while hunting
for Indian relics. The place was on the top

of a hill, under a pine tree. The ground
was frozen on the surface, and the toad
was, of course, torpid.

During the present season, I obtained ad-
ditional proof of the fact that the tree toad
hibernates on dry land. The 12th of No-
vember was a warm, spring-like day ; wind
south-west, with slight rain in the afternoon —
just the day to bring things out of their win-
ter retreats. As I was about to enter my
door at dusk, my eye fell upon what proved
to be the large tree toad in question, sitting
on some low stone-work at the foot of a ter-
race a few feet firom .the house. I paused
to observe his movements. Presently, he
started on his travels across the yard toward
the lawn in fi-ont He leaped about three
feet at a time, with long pauses between
each leap. For fear of losing him as it
grew darker, I captured him, and kept him
under the coal sieve till morning. He was
very active at night trying to escape. In
the morning, I amused myself with him
for some time in the kitchen. I found he
could adhere to a window-pane, but could
not ascend it ; gradually his hold yielded, till
he sprang ofi'on the casing. I observed that
in sitting upon the floor or upon the ground,
he avoided bringing his toes in contact
with the surface, as if they were too tender
or delicate for such coarse uses, but sat
upon the hind part of his feet Said toes
had a very bungling, awkward appearance
at such times ; they looked like hands, en-
cased in gray, woollen gloves much too large
for them. Their round, flattened ends, es-
pecially when not in use, have a comically
helpless look.

After a while I let my prisoner escape
into the open air. The weather had grown
much colder, and there was a hint of coming
frost The toad took the hint at once, and
after hopping a few yards from the door to
the edge of a grassy bank, began to pre-
pare for winter. It was a curious proceeding.
He went into the ground backward, elbow-
ing himself through the turf with the sharp
jomts of his hind legs, and going down in
a spiral manner. His progress was very
slow ; at night I could still see him by lifting
the grass, and as the weather changed again
to warm with southerly winds before morn-
ing, he stopped digging entirely. The next
day I took him out, and put him into safer
quarters, where I expect him to pass the

The little hylodes or peeping frogs lead
a sort of arborial life, too, a part of the season,
but they are quite difierent from the true

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It is a fact in the natural history of the
country that, in the South, birds run more
to beak and claw, and in the West to tail,
than they do in the North and East The
beak and claw, I take it, mean ferocity,
mean bowie knives and the Kuklux, and the
tail, I am loth to say, means brag. The
West is windy, and the South is fierce and



I STOOD on a high hill or ridge one
autumn day and saw a hound run a fox
through the fields far beneath me. What
odors that fox must have shaken out of
himself, I thought, to be traced thus easily,
and how great their specific gravity not to
have been blown away like smoke by the
breeze ! The fox ran a long distance down
the hill, keeping within a few feet of a stone
wall; then turned a right angle and led
off for the mountain, across a plowed field
and a succession of pasture lands. In about
fifteen minutes the hound came in full blast
with her nose in the air, and never once did
she put it to the ground while in my sight.
When she came to the stone wall she took
the other side from that taken by the fox,
and kept about the same distance from it,
being thus separated several yards firom his
track, with the fence between her and it.
At the point where the fox turned sharply
to the left, the hound overshot a few yards,
then wheeled, and feeling the air a moment
with her nose, took up the scent again and
was off on his trail as unerringly as Fate. It
seemed as if the fox must have sowed him-
self broadcast as he went along, and that
his scent was so rank and heavy that it
settled in the hollows and clung tenaciously
to the bushes and crevices in the fence. I
thought I ought to have caught a remnant
of it as I passed that way some minutes later,
but I did not But I suppose it was not
that the light-footed fox so impressed him-
self upon the ground he ran over, but that
the sense of Uie hound was so keen. To
her sensitive nose these tracks steamed like
hot cakes, and they would not have cooled
off so as to be undistinguishable for several
hours. For the time being she had but one
sense : her whole soul was concentrated in
her nose.

It is amusing when the hunter starts out
of a winter morning to see his hound probe
the old tracks to determine how recent they
are. He sinks his nose down deep in the
snow so as to exclude the air firom above,
then draws a long full breath, giving some-
times an audible snort If there remains the
least effluvium of the fox then the hound
will detect it. If it be very slight it only
sets his tail wagging ; if it be strong it un-
loosens his tongue.

Such things remind one of the waste, the
fiiction that is going on all about us, even
when the wheels of life run the most
smoothly. A fox cannot trip along the top
of a stone wall so lightly but that he will
leave enough of himself to betray his course
to the hound for hours afterward. When
the boys play " hare and hounds " the hare
scatters bits of paper to give a clew to the
pursuers, but he scatters himself much more
freely if only our sight and scent were sharp
enough to detect the fragments. Even the
fish leave a trail in the water, and it is said
the otter will pursue them by it. The birds
make a track in the air, only their enemies
hunt by sight rather than by scent. The
fox baffles the hound most upon a hard
crust of frozen snow ; the scent will not hold
to the smooth bead-like granules.

Judged by the eye alone, the fox is the
lightest and most buoyant creature that
runs. His soft wrapping of fur conceals the
muscular play and effort that is so obvious
in the hound that pursues him, and he
comes bounding along precisely as if blown
by a gentle wind. His massive tail is car-
ried as if it floated upon the air by its own

The hound is not remarkAble for his
fleetness, but how he will hang I— often run-
ning late into the night and sometimes till
morning, from ridge to ridge, ftom peak to
gpak ; now on the mountain, now crossing
the valley, now playing about a large slope
of uplying pasture fields. At times the
fox has a pretty well-defined orbit, and
the hunter knows where to intercept him.
Again he leads off like a comet, quite be-
yond the system of hills and ridges upon
which he was started, and his return is en-
tirely a matter of conjecture, but if the day
be not more than half spent, the chances
are that the fox will be back before night,
though the sportsman's patience seldom
holds out that long.

The hound is a most interesting dog.
How solemn and long-visaged he is — how
peaceful and well-disposed I He is the

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Quaker among dogs. All the viciousness
and currishness seem to have been weeded
out of him ; he seldom quarrels, or fights, or
plays, like other dogs. Two strange hounds,
meeting for the first time, behave as civilly
toward each other as two men. I know a
hound that has an ancient, wrinkled, hu-
man, far-away look that reminds one of* the
bust of Homer among the Elgin marbles.
He looks like the mountains toward which
his heart yearns so much.

The hound is a great puzzle to the farm
dog; the latter, attracted by his baying,
comes barking and snarling up through the
fields bent on picking a quarrel ; he inter-
cepts the^ hound, snubs and insults and
annoys him in every way possible, but the
hound heeds him not ; if the dog attacks
him he gets away as best he can, and goes
on with the trail ;»the cur bristles and barks
and struts about for a while, then goes back
to the house, evidendy thinking the hound
a lunatic, which he is for the time being — a
monomaniac, the slave and victim of one
idea. I saw the master of a hound one day
arrest him in full course, to give one of the
hunters time to get to a certain runway ; the
dog cried and struggled to free himself and
would listen neither to threats nor caress-
es. Knowing he must be hungry, I offered
him mjr lunch, but he would not touch it
I put It in his mouth, but he threw it con-
temptuously fix>m him. We coaxed and
petted and re-assured him, but he was under
a spell ; he was bereft of all thought or desire
but the one passion to pursue that trail.



The gardener and farmer often has occa-
sion to be surprised at the resources of Nat-
ure. It is an imequal game we play iiqjth
her ; her sleeve is full of cards, and many
of them are trumps. It is in her plan, for
instance, to keep the ground constantly cov-
ered with vegetation of some sort, and she
has layer upon layer of seeds in the soil for
this purpose, and the wonder is that each
kind lies dormant until it is wanted. Defeat
her on one, and she plays the next and the
next. Turn over the sward, and up spring
rag- weed and pig- weed and red-root; demol-
ish these, and up comes " pusley," a great,
fat, tender, lubberly weed ; sweep the board
of this trick, and down comes a bower in
the shape of twitch-grass, or fox-tail, or
some other pest Press her fiuther, and

probably she will go through the series a^^ain
and play rag-weed and red-root, or smart-
weed, next time. Sprinkle wood ashes upoo
the soil, and white clover springs up and
chokes your strawberries. In the spring I
covered some rocks with soil taken from a
depth of two or three feet in the earth ; be-
fore fall a good crop of weeds was flourish-
ing upon them.

Prevent the ^vild onion from multiplying
by seed at the top, and it will multiply at
the root Here, all about the fields, is the
wild carrot You cut off its head, just be-
fore it seeds, and you think you have squelched
it ; but this is just what Natiure— or the devil
— wanted you to do. In a week or so there
are five heads in room of this one; cut off
these, and before fall there are ten looking
defiance at you from the same spot. It is
like killing flies ; a dozen come to the funeral
of every one you kill.

Some fields, under the plow, are always
infested with cockle, or with blind nettle;
whenever the sward is broken they appear.
Yet it is pleasant to remember that, m our
climate, there is no weed so persistent and
lasting and universal as grass. Grass is the
natural covering of the fields. There are
but one or two weeds that it will not run out
in a good soil We crop it and mow it year
after year, and yet, if the season favors, it is
sure to come again. Turn a sod over, and
sometimes the grass will reverse itself and
grow up the other way. Fields that have
never known the plow and never been
seeded, are yet covered with grass. Weeds
are Nature's make-shift; they are quick and
hardy, and shade the ground while the grass
is slowly forming beneath them; they will
grow, aiso, on soil too poor or too dry for
grass. If your grass-seed takes and thrives,
all right; if it does not, behold the weeds
with which Natiue seeks to cover her naked-
ness I Most weeds have some virtues ; they
are not wholly malevolent. Even the hate-
ful toad-flax, which nothing will eat and
which on poor soil will run out the grass,
affords honey for the bumble-bee. Narrow-
leaved plantain is readily eaten by catde,
and the bee gathers much pollen fit)m it
The ox-eyed daisy makes tolerable hay, if
cut before it gets ripe. The cows will eat
the leaves of the burdock and the stinging
netdes in the woods. But what cannot a
cow's tongue stand ? She will crop the
poison ivy with impunity, and I think would
eat thistles, if she found them growing in
the garden. Leeks and garlics are leadfly
eaten by catde in the spring, and are said to

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be good for them. They kill the lice, but
spoU the milk. Weeds that yield neither
pasturage for bee nor herd, yet afiford seeds
for tlie fall and winter birds. This is true
of most of the obnoxious weeds of the gar-
den, and of thistles. Some of the most
troublesome and persistent weeds have es-
caped from cultivation, like " live- forever,"
a plant that defies the plow and the hoe and
the scythe, — for it is almost an air-plant, —
and one that nothing but grazing cattle
will exterminate. As soon as it comes to
the surface to breathe, they crop it, and
its root soon perishes. Weeds are like
rats and mice — ^they multiply and spread,
though every hand is against them. In this
country the highway is their great refuge.
Driven from the fields by the plow and the
scythe, they establish themselves by the road-
side, where they are seldom disturbed, and
whence they keep up a sort of guerrilla
warfare upon the farmer. Elecampane,
milk-weed, teasles, thisdes, golden-rod, and
many others keep a foothold here, and make
incursions upon the land. Weeds seem to
travel by the highway, too. Indeed, I think
they take the train from one section of the
country to another, like the Colorado beede,
as an incursion of a strange weed is often
first noticed along the line of the raikoad.
I was recently in a section of the country,
well known to me, where I had never seen
the wild carrot, and where the farmers said
it did not exist. But one day in my ram-
bles, I found two plants in bloom in a field
that lay high up on the'side of the mount-
ain, and wondered where they could have
come from. Not long after, in crossing a
mountain several miles distant, I beheld
a flourishing colony of the carrots by the
road-side. " Here is the camp," I said,
" and from here the pests will distribute
themselves over the land." Already I could
see little groups of them about the adjoining
meadows. In ten or a dozen years, the far-
mers of that section will be fighting the fire
that, so easy to squelch at its begmning, is
so baffling when once it gets under full blast.
Part of the duties of the road commissioner
of every township should be to see that
no noxious weeds are allowed to flourish
tmmolested by the highway.

There will be enough weeds left to fill up
the waste places, however vigorous the war-
fare we wage upon them. Nature seems
unduly upon their side. Where she has not
given them wings to fly with, or feet to walk
with, she has armed them with hooks and
claws to seize upon the skirts of every pass-
VoL. XIX.— 48.

ing object, and thus get themselves dissem-

Of human weeds I shall not now speak
except to observe how see<ly they are, how
they increase and multiply over the more
valuable and highly cultivated plants.


It is a very suggestive fact, which you
may read in any of the agricultural books,
that growing plants — grain, grass, trees, etc.,
draw from ninety-five to ninety-eight per
cent, of tlieir material from the atmosphere,
leaving a very small fraction to be taken
from the earth. It is quite startling. We
take great pains to give the melons, and
the corn, and the cauliflower good earth,
and yet they take but a crumb from the

Online LibraryGeorge Streynsham MasterThe Century, Volume 19 → online text (page 115 of 160)