Helen Campbell.

The American girl's home book of work and play online

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There is only one method of proceeding under such cir-
cumstances. Turn on the back at once, kick out the leg in
the air, disregarding the pain, and rub the spot smartly with
one hand, while the other is employed in paddling towards

These directions are easy enough to give, but most diffi-
cult to be obeyed. Cramp seems to deprive the sufferers
from it of all reason, for the time, and to overpower them
with mingled pain and terror. Still, there is no other hope
of reaching shore than that which is here given.

The causes of cramp are generally twofold. The princi-
pal cause lies in indigestion, for it is seldom that a person in
really good health is attacked by this malady. The second
reason is over-exertion of muscles that have been little used ;
and therefore too strong a leg-stroke should always be avoided.

Another thing which demands great practice is the method
of saving a drowning person. The chief difficulty lies in
the fact that a person who cannot swim feels, in deep water,
much as if he were falling through air, and consequently
clutches instinctively at the nearest object. And, if he suc-
ceeds in fixing a grasp upon the person who is trying to save
him, both will probably sink together.


Therefore, every precaution should be taken to prevent
such a misfortune ; and the drowning man should always be
seized from behind, and pushed, as it were, in front. Should
he succeed in fixing his grasp, the only remedy is to dive,
when it will be found that he will loosen his hold on finding
himself below the surface, and will allow his rescuer to take
a better position. This art has often been practised by a
swimming party ; each, in turn, enacting the part of a drown-
ing person, and trying to grasp a companion who was trying
to bring one ashore. It is capital practice, and one that is
much to be recommended.




SWIMMING having been mastered, there are few as pleas-
ant forms of gymnastics as a row in a light and well-made
boat. The dress should be light and loose ; dark flannel
being the best, or some wash goods, as the bottom of a boat
is always more or less dirty, and the skirt is always in con-
tact with it. The jersey at present worn makes a pretty
boating-dress with a dark skirt, as, while fitting well, it yields
to every motion. Freedom for the arms must be insisted
on. The sleeves themselves need not be very loose ; but
the seams where they are joined to the body must be made
so as not to chafe at all, or in a very short time your arm
will be too sore to row with. Shoes with rubber soles are
convenient and comfortable in a boat : such as are worn for
tennis are the right kind. A shady straw hat will be found
a useful preventive of sunburn ; but I am afraid that rowing
is not a pursuit for those who are very particular about their
complexions. Do not wear any thing very tight round the

Blisters are a great nuisance when you begin rowing : you
may prevent them by rowing in gloves. You need not be
ashamed of this, as many good oarsmen do it. Cutting off
the tops of the fingers and thumb makes the glove cooler,
and does not impair its usefulness. Always take off your
rings before you begin to row : you will be sure to blister
your hands if you keep them on.


Learn all the parts of a boat thoroughly in your first les-
son or two, which ought to be taken from some experienced
person, in order to avoid forming bad habits which it may
be hard to get rid of later on.


The fore-part of a boat is called the bows ; and the after-
part, the stern. To a ring in the bows is generally attached
the painter, a short rope which serves to tie up the boat
when not in use. It should be coiled up carefully in the
bows when the boat is under way : it looks very slovenly
when allowed to trail overboard.

The thwarts are boards which cross the boat, and strength-
en it, besides forming the seats. The fore-thwart has often
a hole in it, in which the mast may be stepped. Small
mats are often tied on the thwarts to sit on, but are quite

The gunwale (pronounce "gunnel") is the top of the side
of the boat, and on it are fastened the rowlocks (pronounce
" rullocks"), in which the oars rest when rowing. They are
either fixed directly on the gunwale, or, in the case of nar-
row boats, are supported outside by iron outriggers : this is
to give the rower sufficient leverage. A boat thus fitted is
said to be outrigged.

The use of the word oar is (or ought to be) confined to
the larger kind, which are used with both hands : sculls
are used one in each hand. Both have a button of leather
fastened to them to prevent them from slipping out through
the rowlocks.

The rudder is the means of steering the boat, and is
worked by lines attached to the yoke, or crosspiece at its
head. See that the lines are not crossed behind your back.
You have to pull the line on the side to which you wish to go.


The boat-hook is an invaluable aid when setting out, or
coming to shore. There should be two, especially if there
are locks to be passed ; and they should be kept, ready for
use, in the bow and stern. The kind of boat-hook with a
paddle on it is often useful in getting out of a lock.

A convenient boat for general use would hold about five,
two seated in the stern (one of whom steers), one on each
of the two thwarts, and one reclining in the bows. The two
who are engaged in rowing may each use, either one oar or a
pair of sculls : the latter arrangement is termed dotible scull-
ing, and is often adopted on the Thames, especially by ladies,
who do not seem to take to an oar as easily as to sculls.

At the same time such a boat will not be too large for one
person to scull about easily, and it may be perfectly safe
without being at all cumbrous.

What is called a Randan is a very popular way of arran-
ging the work in a rather large boat. In this case there are
three rowers ; the one in the middle using a pair of sculls,
and the others an oar each.

The oarsman next to the cockswain is called stroke, and it
is he who gives time to the others. The one in the bows is
termed bow. If there are more than this, as is usually the
case in boating-clubs, as at Vassar or Wellesley, they are
numbered, the one next to bow being two ; and so on until
the one next to stroke is reached : in an eight-oar this would
be seven.

A few short rules sum up the necessary points in all boat-

1. Straighten the arms before bending the body forward.

2. Drop the oar cleanly in the water.

3. Draw it straight through at the same depth.

4. Feather neatly, and without bringing the oar out before
doing so.


5. Use the back and shoulders freely, keeping arms as
straight as possible.

6. Keep the eyes fixed on the rower before one, and avoid
looking out of the boat ; as, if one does, the body will not
swing backwards and forwards in a straight line.

The first thing to do after seating yourself in the boat is
to see that your stretcher is of the right length. (The
stretcher is a board against which your feet press.) It should
be adjusted so that your knees are only slightly bent. Then
see that the oar is well greased where it works in the row-
locks, or it will creak in a very unpleasant way.

The hands should grasp the oar easily and naturally while
its blade lies flat on the water. The head must be kept up-
right, and the elbows close to the side. When you are ready
to begin, lean forward as far as you can, with your arms quite
straight in front of you, still keeping the blade flat. When
you are quite forward, turn the hands down from the wrist
(this will turn the oar so that the blade will be at right angles
to the water) : at the same time dip the blade by slightly
raising the hands. The blade must be only just covered :
any excess in this direction is called rowing deep. The blade
is then to be pulled through the water by throwing the body
back as soon as the oar dips. The arms are to be kept
quite straight, and the pull done with the body only, until
you are nearly at the end of the stroke, when the arms may
be bent to pull the remainder. 1

When the stroke is over, drop your hands, still grasping
the oar, into your lap, at the same time turning them up
again, so that the blade will come forward edgewise, or
feathered, when you shoot them out. You must get out
your hands as quickly as possible, and, when your arms are

1 Cuts of the various strokes, etc., can be found in any manual of boating. Koutledge
has one.


straight, come forward with your body, and repeat the whole
series of movements.

You can row in as slow time as you like, but the whole
motion must be continuous. There must be no pause at the
end of the stroke, but you must come forward directly for
the next : nor must you wait after you have come forward :
this fault is called hanging over the stretcher.

Backing water is a very necessary stroke if there is any
danger of collision, or where the space to be entered or left
is very narrow. It is simply reversing the stroke, which, of
course, sends the boat in an opposite direction from the one
it has been heading. Where there is no rudder, steering
is also done in this way, using but one oar.

For girls, who may not care to aim at any very scientific
rowing, the main fault to be avoided is "rowing with the
arms." This may sound rather a paradox; but it means only
that the chief pull is to come from the back, the leverage
being gained by pressing the feet against the stretcher, and
the arms serving, for the greater part of the stroke, merely
to transmit the power from the back to the oar.

Nothing is more ludicrous to any one who knows what
rowing ought to be than to see a girl sitting upright in a
boat, and working entirely with her arms.

Most of these remarks apply also to sculling. You will
find, that at the middle of the stroke your hands will overlap
each other, and you must take care at first that you do not
hurt your fingers. Do not scull at first with your thumbs
on the end of the sculls, or you will be likely to bruise them
seriously : when you have gained a mastery over the thing,
you may put your thumbs where you like.

Of course, when your hands overlap, they must be one in
front of the other, and not one over the other, which would
dip one blade deeper than it should be dipped. It is imma-
terial which hand is first.


Rowing-boats are often fitted with a mast and sail, and
though their performance under sail is, as a rule, extremely
bad, it may be as well to speak of the care which should be
taken under these circumstances. They are, as a rule, very
dangerous ; as they are not meant for sailing, and have no
keel worth mentioning. This defect, besides rendering them
liable to upset, makes beating against the wind an impossi-
bility ; and it will be found no saving of time or labor to
hoist sail in a rowing-boat, unless the wind is very nearly
dead astern.

The rope by which the sail is hoisted is called the hal-
liards (pronounce halyards) ; and it should be pulled quite
tight, or the sail will not set properly. The rope fastened
to the foot of the sail, by which it is regulated according to
the direction of the wind, is called the sheet. It is the
incautious fastening of this rope which leads to many acci-
dents, even in boats intended specially for sailing. It should
be generally held in the hand, or, at any rate, so fastened
that it can be let go at a moment's notice. The wind is
powerless to upset the boat when this rope is let go, as the
sail then is edgewise to the wind, which has no action on it.
In rivers especially, this caution is required, as the wind
there is generally unsteady and in puffs, owing to the trees,
houses, etc., on the bank.

In rowing on large rivers near cities, as on the Hudson or
Potomac, great care must be taken in looking out for other
boats. The swell of a large steamer sometimes swamps a
small boat, and often one is likely to be run into by begin-
ners who cannot manage a boat. Quiet streams in the
country are safest in every way. In a long expedition it is
often very convenient to tow, instead of rowing, especially
when the boat is heavily laden, or the stream very strong.
At such times, one person walking on the bank can tow, with


very little exertion, a boat which would hardly make any
way with several rowing. The line for towing should be
long (fifty yards or more), as the towing-path is often not
quite close to the river ; while at times the boat has to sheer
out to avoid shallow water, other boats, and the like. It
need not be thick or heavy, as but little strain is put on it
if the starting be done gradually ; and a very light line will
tow a very heavy boat. To one end is attached a shoulder-
strap of webbing : this is put on over the shoulder farthest
from the water. The other end is fastened to the boat, and
there ought to be a towing-mast for this purpose. It should
be about five feet long, the lower end passing through a hole
in the fore-thwart, and fitting into a step, or square hole, in
the bottom timbers of the boat. The upper end has a hole
to receive the tow-rope, which is passed through it, and fas-
tened to the fore-rowlock on the side away from the towing-
path. It should be tied in a knot which will come undone
with a pull at the loose end, as it is often necessary to cast
it off at a moment's notice.

While towing, the boat must be carefully steered. Keep
as near to the bank as you can ; for this materially lightens
the work, which will be a very pleasant change after the
monotony of a long row, especially if the accommodation in
the boat is at all limited. When the rope has to be cast off,
it had better be done from the boat, and not from the shore.
It should then be coiled in neatly by the tower, ready to
throw to the boat again if wanted, or to stow away ready
for use on the next occasion. Never put away a rope in a
tangle, which means a great deal of trouble the next time
you want it.

Always be careful to see that every thing you may want
is in the boat before you start. . It is best to have a list for
this purpose. If you leave the boat anywhere, tie it se-


curely, and turn the cushions upside down in case of rain.
A rowing-tour can be very delightful, and a week spent in
this way can include many pleasant things. Camping may
form part of it, or stops may be made at villages for the
night. The Upper Connecticut has been explored in this
way by a party of girls, who came home sunburnt, but run-
ning over with health and pure happiness from the lovely days
they had had in secret wild places. Happiness and sound
health are tolerably certain to go hand in hand, and plenty
of outdoor life means both one and the other.




THE insects which are generally collected by girls and boys
are butterflies and moths, and it is to these chiefly that this
article will be devoted. This preference arises from several
reasons. In the first place, these insects are attractive in
themselves, and there is nothing repulsive about them ; then,
many of them are common, and easily obtained, and do not
require the collector to search all manner of unpleasant places.

Perhaps the first fact which forces itself upon us in con-
nection with butterflies and moths is, that very few know
exactly how to distinguish accurately between them. To
such people, a butterfly is a brightly colored insect which
flutters about, and leaves a quantity of feathery dust on your
hands when you attempt to catch it. It is harmless and
pretty. A moth, however, is neither. It is a dingy insect,
with a propensity for devouring clothes ; and grave doubts
are entertained as to its biting and stinging powers. Some
of the moth tribe bear, at first sight, a striking resemblance
to wasps and bees ; and it is possible that the idea that they
are able to sting arose from this likeness. When, however,
we examine these insects more closely, we find that the bodies
are covered with the usual fine, feathery powder, and that the
wings are not transparent all over, as in the case of bees. It
is, perhaps, hardly necessary to say that all moths and butter-
flies are absolutely harmless, and may be handled with perfect


The scientific name for moths and butterflies is lepidoptera,
or scale-winged insects, and is derived from the feathery pow-
der before alluded to, which covers the body (and, in most
cases, the wings), and under a moderately powerful micro-
scope is seen to consist of small scales.

Most of you must have noticed the small " feelers " (as
they are sometimes called) which project from the head of
an insect. These are scientifically called " antennae ; " and
much time and ingenuity have been employed in discussions
as to their use to their owners. The point is not yet settled.
But they have a value to the collector, as they form the most
obvious distinction between a moth and a butterfly. The
latter have always small knobs on the ends of the antennae ;
the former, never. There are many other differences. A
moth often hides its antennae under its wings : a butterfly
cannot do this. A butterfly cannot fold its hind wings, but
sits with its wings erect over its back ; while a moth folds
the hind wings, and covers them with the front pair, which
are flat against any surface it may be resting on.

It is well known that these insects pass through four stages
of existence, the egg, the chrysalis, the caterpillar, and
the perfect insect ; and in each of these stages they may be
sought for by the collector.

The eggs are deposited on the trees or plants which form
the food of the future caterpillar. They are extremely dif-
ferent in shape and size, even when belonging to insects,
which, in the perfect state, closely resemble one another.
The substance of the egg-shell is peculiar, but alike in all
species. It resembles thin horn, and is very tough, elastic,
and pliable.

This shell is transparent ; and, when the caterpillar ap-
proaches the time of emerging, its color becomes plainly
visible. Before this time the color of the eggs is generally
pale green or yellow, but in some cases pure white.


When the caterpillar (scientific name, larva) emerges, it
often eats the egg-shell which it has just left, and then pro-
ceeds to its natural food. The amount which it will eat is
truly enormous, often many times its own weight in a day.
But its life is not one unbroken feast ; for it is subject to
periodical attacks of illness, arising from the fact that the
body grows too large for the skin, which must therefore be
got rid of. This occurs from three to six times during its
existence, and often proves fatal. We can hardly wonder at
this when we consider that not only does the caterpillar shed
its skin, but also a horny covering from the head and throat,
and the lining of its stomach and lungs, together with the
air-passages attached to the latter. It aids itself in this sort
of moulting by spinning a small carpet, to which it attaches
itself by two hooks, with which its last segment is furnished.
After the skin is cast, it remains for some time in a very
weak state ; but the new skin soon attains the hardness of
the old one, and the insect falls to its food with renewed

Finally it changes to the chrysalis, or pupa as it is usually
called by entomologists ; and in this state it is either bare,
or enclosed in a silken cocoon. The last skin is found rolled
up inside the cocoon. The chrysalis of a butterfly is found
in one of three situations :

1. Suspended by the tail, with the head downwards.

2. Attached to grass or twigs by the tail, and also sup-
ported by a silken thread round the body : in this case the
head is uppermost.

3. In a silken cocoon.

All these should be sought for on or near the food-plant.
If a wall is at hand, the caterpillars are very likely to crawl
up it, and attach themselves to the under surface of the pro-
jection of the coping-stone or other masonry. The pupae


of moths are found either in a cocoon, or unprotected. In
addition to the silk, of which the cocoon is spun, many spe
cies cover the outside with earth, bark, leaves, etc. ; and this
renders it often extremely difficult to distinguish it from the
surrounding objects. They may be found almost anywhere,
- under moss, in decayed stumps of trees, behind loose bark,
or between dead leaves ; but by far the most important, and
those which chiefly interest the collector, are found buried
in the earth at the foot of trees. The caterpillar, when
ready to effect the change, descends the trunk, and burrows
into the earth, where it either spins a cocoon, or becomes a
chrysalis without this protection. The search for these is
called " pupa-digging," and should be conducted among
the moss and loose leaves at the foot of the tree, and in the
earth for about four inches deep.

This is a most excellent way of obtaining specimens, but
you must be prepared to undergo very many disappointments
before you become proficient. You must carefully examine
all the debris first, then turn up the earth, paying special
attention to the portions nearest the tree. Each sod must
be carefully tapped with the trowel (pupae will sometimes fall
from it during this process) : it must then be carefully torn
asunder by hand, and every portion of it scanned with the
utmost attention.

The north side of a tree will be found the most produc-
tive. The reason for this may be, that, in descending the
tree, the caterpillar avoids the wind, and, our prevailing
wind being the south-west, he descends on the north side.
This, however, is merely conjecture ; but the fact remains,
and is undoubted. Solitary trees will be found best for the
purpose ; and this mode of collecting has the advantage chat
it may be carried on during the winter, when neithei the
larva nor the perfect insect can be obtained.


The collector may, if she pleases, search for eggs on the
leaves of the food-plant, bearing in mind that they are
almost always deposited on the under side of the leaf. This
method of collecting is by no means easy, as the eggs are
with difficulty distinguished ; and it is doubtful if it repays
you for the trouble taken. Moreover, the caterpillars, on
their first appearance, are so small that the difficulty of
successfully rearing them is immense.

Searching for caterpillars is a first-rate way of getting
specimens, a.nd opens a large field of operations to the col-
lector. You may search either by day or night, and, if
careful, will seldom fail to find a sufficiency on almost any
shrub. The examination of grass will also prove profitable.
Much depends on quickness of eye, which will wonderfully
improve by practice. But there is a method which does not
demand such skill, and is even more advantageous : it is
known as " beating." The process is carried on by beating
the bushes with a stout stick, while an open umbrella is held
inverted beneath in order to catch the falling larvae.

In the umbrella will be found a mixture of dead leaves,
earwigs, bits of stick, spiders, beetles, and caterpillars. The
latter must be carefully picked out, and placed in boxes to
be taken home. The umbrella used for this purpose should
be of some stout material, or it will soon become torn and
useless. In rearing the caterpillars they must be kept in
a cool place, well supplied with air : any box covered with
gauze will answer the purpose. They must be fed on their
proper food-plant, which should be gathered fresh, and con-
stantly changed. When they are about to become pupae,
some earth and moss should be placed in the box for them
to spin up in. The moss must be boiled, and the earth
baked, before using it for this purpose. The object of this
is to destroy insects, which would feed on the pupae. These


latter require no attention beyond keeping in a cool place,
out of the reach of mice and insects : they will come out
in their proper season.

The great charm of rearing insects in this manner is the
perfection of the specimens obtained. A moth or butterfly

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Online LibraryHelen CampbellThe American girl's home book of work and play → online text (page 13 of 28)