Copyright
John Wilson.

Little Frank and other tales : chiefly in words of one syllable online

. (page 2 of 2)
Online LibraryJohn WilsonLittle Frank and other tales : chiefly in words of one syllable → online text (page 2 of 2)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


must not: I shall soon get out, and
then I will tell you what I have seen."



THE REED-BIRD. 51

" What can it be ?" thought Jesse.

While James is making his way out,
let me tell you what sort of a place it was
where he and Jesse were. There was
a flat field, or marsh, through the midst
of which ran a small clear brook ; tall
grass and rushes grew thick and close
over this marsh, and many trees marked
the course of the stream. Jesse was
on the edge of the marsh when first she
lost sight of James, who had heard the
chirp of a bird which was new to him,
and had crawled into the sedge to look
from whence it came.



52 THE REED-BIRD.

" Well," said Jesse, " so here you
are at last. What a mess you are in !"

" I do not care for that," said James,
" for I have seen something worth a
sight, and it was the first of the kind I
ever saw."

"Make haste and say what it was,"
said Jesse : " was it alive ?"

" Oh, yes, to be sure," said he.

" I thought," said Jesse, " that only
frogs and toads lived in the marsh."

" Then you thought wrong," said
James: " butif you can be still, I will tell
you what it was . While I stood here with



THE REED-BIRD. 53

you I heard such a strange chirp, and as
I did not know what bird's note it was,
I thought I would try and find the nest,
(not to touch it or take the eggs, of
course, but just to have a look at it.)
So I crept in very still, and went to
the place from whence the sound came.
In a short time I was close to it, and
there I saw such a sweet little nest ! it
was made of the dead leaves of the
rush and sedge, and a few pieces of
dry grass, and lined with the soft tops
of the reed. And, oh, Jesse ! I
wish you could have seen the eggs ;



54 THE REED-BIRD.

there were six of them, white, with
small red spots all over ; such tiny
things ! On the stem of a reed, close
by the nest, was the hen-bird, and her
mate was not far off ; but the noise you
made drove them away. '

" I did not mean to do harm, dear
James," said Jesse. " I wish I had
been with you, I would have been very
still then. But what is the name of the
bird?"

" Why, it must be the reed-bird,"
said James, " for I have seen a print
of one, and this was just like it ; and




" On the stem of a reed, close by the nest, was the
hen-bird."



THE REED-BIRD. 55

I have read of it too. It eats the seeds
of the reed, and young snails, and
flies."

" How large is it, James ?" said
Jesse.

" It is quite a small bird ; but from
its thick coat, and long tail and legs,
looks as large as a red-breast. Its bill
is very small."

" Oh dear,'' said Jesse, " did you
feel that ? was it not a drop of rain ?"

" Yes, that it was," said James,
" and a large drop, too : I think it will
soon pour. Come, we must run home



56 THE REED-BIRD.

fast, or that dark cloud will catch us."
So they set off, and just reached their
papa's door in time.



57



A TALE OF THE NORTH.

"SHUT the door, Hugh, and bring your
stool to the fire-side, and I will tell you
a tale. What sort of a one must it be ?"
said Mrs. Stone.

" Thank you, dear mamma ; a tale
of the north, if you please ; that cold
place, where there is so much snow and
ice. I like to hear of that, when I am
snug and warm by the fire ; and I feel
so glad I do not live there."

F 2



58 A TALE OF THE NORTH.

" And perhaps those whose home is
in that cold land, would not change
their lot with yours. They love their
close, round huts, their rough benches,
their furs and sledges, as much as we
do our nice house and fire-side, our
chairs and rugs/'

" Do tell me more of them I" said
Hugh.

" They are a small race of men, not
more than four or five feet high, with
dark faces, deep-sunk eyes, and straight
black hair. In the warm days they
live on the fruits of the chace, in the



A TALE OF THE NORTH. 59

winter on the dried flesh of the rein-
deer, salt-fish, and cheese. You know
I once told you what a long, dark win-
ter theirs is, when the sun is not seen
for many days/'

" Yes, mamma/' said Hugh, " and it
must be very dull for them, poor things.
But will you tell me about the rein-
deer?"

" Ah, I do not know what they
would do if they had not such a friend
as the rein-deer proves to them : from
it they get both milk, food, and warm
clothes. It feeds on a moss, of which



60 A TA.LE OF THE NORTH.

there is a great deal there ; and though
the snow may lie very thick upon the
ground, the rein-deer can tell where
his food grows, and with his fore-feet
and broad horns he digs through the
snow to get a meal/'

" Oh, mamma, how can he find it
out?" said Hugh.

" The quick sense of smell with
which the rein-deer is gifted, leads him
to the right spot, and he is never known
to search in vain. The men yoke them
to their sledges, which glide over the
smooth, hard snow at a great rate/'



A TALE OF THE NORTH. 61

" What sort of a thing is a sledge,
mamma ?' said Hugh.

"It is made of birch- wood, some-
thing in the shape of a boat, about six
feet long, with a high back ; and here,
wrapt up in his thick furs, the man sits
as snug as can be. They drive with a
cord tied to the horns of the rein-deer,
which flies over the ground at great
speed, with his light load. If you will
bring me that large book from the shelf
I can show you the print of one/'

" Oh, I see it," said Hugh, as his
mamma turned over the leaves ; " that



62 A TALE OF THE NORTH.

is a nice thing to ride in. But look
at that man, he is so wrapt up in
furs, I can only see his eyes. What a
droll cap he wears ! and see, mamma,
the rein-deer has such a gay thing
round his neck, with a bell hung in
front ; pray is that for use or show ?"

" I have read/' said Mrs. Stone,
" that the rein-deer likes the sound of
a bell; and also, when four or five
sledges travel at once, in the dark, or
in a snow-storm, it helps to keep them
all in one track/'



A TALE OF THE NORTH. 63

" It is of no use to make roads there,
for the snow would quite hide them,
would it not, mamma ?" said Hugh.

" Yes, my dear, the sun and the stars
guide them in the way they wish to go ;
but I cannot talk to you more now, for
I must write a note to your aunt, be-
fore post-time. You may try to draw
the sledge and rein-deer in your new
book, if you please ; but you must take
great pains/'

" Oh, yes, that I will, for I should
like to draw that much, to show papa



64 A TALE OF THE NORTH.

when he comes home/' said Hugh, as
he took his stool to his mamma's side,
that she might look at his work now
and then.



THE END.



Joseph Riekerby, Printer, Sherbourti Lane.



~*








2

Online LibraryJohn WilsonLittle Frank and other tales : chiefly in words of one syllable → online text (page 2 of 2)