Harper's Young People, April 4, 1882 online

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Produced by Annie R. McGuire


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Tuesday, April 4, 1882. Copyright, 1882, by HARPER & BROTHERS. $1.50 per
Year, in Advance.

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"Why, we could start a circus jest as easy as a wink, Toby, 'cause you
know all about one; an' all you'd have to do would be to tell us fellers
what to do, an' we'd 'tend to the rest."

"Yes; but you see we hain't got a tent, or hosses, or wagons, or
nothin', an' I don't see how you could get a circus up that way;" and
the speaker hugged his knees as he rocked himself to and fro in a musing
way on the rather sharp point of a large rock, on which he had seated
himself in order to hear what his companion had to say that was so

"Will you come down with me to Bob Atwood's, an' see what he says about

"Yes, I'll do that if you'll come out afterward for a game of I-spy
round the meetin'-house."

"All right; if we can find enough of the other fellers, I will."

Then the boys slipped down from the rocks, found the cows, and drove
them home as the preface to their visit to Bob Atwood's.

The boy who was so anxious to start a circus was a little fellow with
such a wonderful amount of remarkably red hair that he was seldom called
anything but Reddy, although his name was known - by his parents, at
least - to be Walter Grant. His companion was Toby Tyler, a boy who, a
year before, had thought it would be a very pleasant thing to run away
from his uncle Daniel and the town of Guilford in order to be with a
circus, and who, in ten weeks, was only too glad to run back home as
rapidly as possible.

During the first few months after his return many brilliant offers had
been made Toby by his companions to induce him to aid them in starting
an amateur circus; but he had refused to have anything to do with the
schemes, and for several reasons. During the ten weeks he had been away
he had seen quite as much of a circus life as he cared to see, without
even such a mild dose as this amateur show would be; and again, whenever
he thought of the matter, the remembrance of the death of his monkey,
Mr. Stubbs, would come upon him so vividly, and cause him so much
sorrow, that he resolutely put the matter from his mind.

Now, however, it had been a year since the monkey was killed; school had
closed during the summer season; and he was rather more disposed to
listen to the requests of his friends. On this particular night Reddy
Grant had offered to go with him for the cows - an act of generosity
which Toby accounted for only on the theory that Reddy wanted some of
the strawberries which grew so plentifully in Uncle Daniel's pasture.
But when they arrived there the strawberries were neglected for the
circus question; and Toby then showed he was at least willing to talk
about it.

There was no doubt that Bob Atwood knew Reddy was going to try to induce
Toby to help start a circus, and Bob knew also that Reddy and Toby would
visit him, although he appeared very much surprised when he saw them
coming up the hill toward his house. He was at home, evidently waiting
for something, at an hour when all the other boys were out playing; and
that in itself would have made Toby suspicious if he had paid much
attention to the matter.

Bob was perfectly willing to talk about a circus - so willing, that,
almost before Toby was aware of it, he was laying plans with the others
for such a show as could be given with the material at hand.

"You see, we'd have to get a tent the first thing," said Toby, as he
seated himself on the saw-horse as a sort of place of honor, and
proceeded to give his companions the benefit of his experience in the
circus line. "I s'pose we could get along without a fat woman or a
skeleton; but we'd have to have the tent anyway, so's folks couldn't
look right in an' see the show for nothin'."

Reddy had decided some time before how that trifling matter could be
arranged. In fact, he had spent several sleepless nights thinking it
over, and as he went industriously to work making shavings out of a
portion of a shingle he said:

"I've got all that settled, Toby; an' when you say you're willin' to go
ahead an' fix up the show, I'll be on hand with a tent that'll make your
eyes stick out over a foot."

Bob nodded his head to show he was convinced Reddy could do just as he
had promised; but Toby was anxious for more particulars, and insisted on
knowing where this very necessary portion of a circus was coming from.

"You see, a tent is a big thing," he said, seriously, "an' it would cost
more money than the fellers in this town could raise if they should pick
all the strawberries in Uncle Dan'l's pasture."

"Oh, I don't say as the tent Reddy's got his eye on is a reg'lar one
like a real circus has," said Bob, slowly and candidly, as he began to
draw on the side of the wood-shed a picture of what he probably intended
should represent a horse; "but he knows how he can rig one up that'll be
big enough, an' look stavin'."

With this information Toby was obliged to be satisfied, and with the
view of learning more of the details, in case his companions had
arranged for them, he asked:

"Where you goin' to get the company - the folks that ride, an' turn
hand-springs, an' all them things?"

"Ben Cushing can turn twice as many hand-springs as any feller you ever
saw, an' he can walk on his hands twice round the engine-house. I guess
you couldn't find many circuses that could beat him, an' he's been
practicing in his barn all the chance he could get for more'n a week."

Without intending to do so, Bob had thus let the secret out that the
scheme had already been talked up before Toby was consulted, and then
there was no longer any reason for concealment.

"You see, we thought we'd kinder get things fixed," said Reddy, quickly,
anxious to explain away the seeming deception he had been guilty of,
"an' we wouldn't say anything to you till we knew whether we could get
one up or not."

"An' we're goin' to ask three cents to come in, an' lots of the fellers
have promised to buy tickets if we'll let 'em do some of the ridin', or
else lead the hosses."

"But how are you goin' to get any hosses?" asked Toby, thoroughly
surprised at the way in which the scheme had already been developed.

"Reddy can get Jack Douglass's blind one, an' we can train him so's
he'll go 'round the ring all right, an' your uncle Dan'l will let you
have his old white one that's lame, if you ask him. I ain't sure but I
can get one of Chandler Merrill's ponies," continued Bob, now so excited
by his subject that he left his picture while it was yet a three-legged
horse, and stood in front of his friends; "an' if we could sell tickets
enough, we could hire one of Rube Rowe's hosses for you to ride."

"An' Bob's goin' to be the clown, an' his mother's goin' to make him a
suit of clothes out of one of his grandmother's curtains," added Reddy,
as he snapped an imaginary whip with so many unnecessary flourishes that
he tumbled over the saw-horse, thereby mixing a large quantity of
sawdust in his brilliantly colored hair.

"An' Reddy's goin' to be ring-master," explained Bob, as he assisted his
friend to rise, and acted the part of Good Samaritan by trying to get
the sawdust from his hair with a curry-comb. "Joe Robinson says he'll
sell tickets, an' 'tend the door, an' hold the hoops for you to jump

"Leander Leighton's goin' to be the band. He's got a pair of clappers;
an' Mrs. Doak's goin' to show him how to play on the accordion with one
finger, so's he'll know how to make an awful lot of noise," said Reddy,
as he gave up the task of extracting the sawdust, and devoted his entire
attention to the scheme.

"An' we can have some animals," said Bob, with the air of one who adds
the crowning glory to some brilliant work.

Toby had been surprised at the resources of the town for a circus, of
which he had not even dreamed; and at Bob's last remark he left his
saw-horse seat, as if to enable him to hear more distinctly.

"Yes," continued Bob, "we can get a good many of some kinds. Old Mrs.
Simpson has got a three-legged cat with four kittens, an' Ben Cushing
has got a hen that crows; an' we can take my calf for a grizzly bear,
an' Jack Havener's two lambs for white bears. I've caught six mice, an'
I'll have more'n a dozen before the show comes off; an' Reddy's goin' to
bring his cat that ain't got any tail. Leander Leighton's goin' to bring
four of his rabbits, an' make believe they're wolves; an' Joe Robinson's
goin' to catch all the squirrels he can - we'll have the largest for
foxes, an' the smallest for hyenas; an' Joe'll keep howlin' while he's
'tendin' the door, so's to make 'em sound right."

"Bob's sister's goin' to show him how to sing a couple of songs, an'
he's goin' to write 'em out on paper, so's to have a book to sell,"
added Reddy, delighted at the surprise expressed in Toby's face. "Nahum
Baker says if we have any kind of a show, he'll bring up some lemonade
an' some pies to sell, an' pass 'em round jest as they do in a reg'lar

This last information was indeed surprising, for inasmuch as Nahum Baker
was a man who had an apology for a fruit store near the wharves, it lent
an air of realism to the plan, this having a grown man connected with
them in the enterprise.

"But he mustn't get any of the boys to help him, an' then treat them as
Job Lord did me," said Toby, earnestly, the scheme having grown so in
the half-hour that he began to fear it might be too much like the circus
with which he had spent ten of the longest and most dreary weeks he had
ever known.

"I'll look out for that," said Bob, confidently. "If he tries any of
them games, we'll make him leave, no matter how good a trade he's

"Now where we goin' to have the show?" and from the way Toby asked the
question it was easily seen that he had decided to accept the position
of manager which had been so delicately offered him.

"That's jest what we ain't fixed about," said Bob, as if he blamed
himself severely for not having already attended to this portion of the
business. "You see, if your uncle Dan'l would let us have it up by his
barn, that would be jest the place, an' I almost know he'd say yes if
you asked him."

"Do you s'pose it would be big enough? You know, when there's a circus
in town everybody comes from all around to see it, an' it wouldn't do to
have a place where they couldn't all get in;" and Toby spoke as if there
could be no doubt as to the crowds that would collect to see this
wonderful show of theirs.

"It'll have to be big enough, if we use the tent I'm goin' to get," said
Reddy, decidedly; "for you see that won't be so awful large, an' it
would make it look kinder small if we put it where the other circuses
put theirs."

"Well, then, I s'pose we'll have to make that do, an' we can have two or
three shows if there are too many to come in at one time," said Toby, in
a satisfied way that matters could be arranged so easily; and then, with
a big sigh, he added: "If only Mr. Stubbs hadn't got killed, what a show
we could have! I never saw him ride, but I know he could have done
better than any one else that ever tried it, if he wanted to, an' if we
had him we could have a reg'lar circus without anybody else."

Then the boys bewailed the untimely fate of Mr. Stubbs, until they saw
that Toby was fast getting into a mood altogether too sad for the proper
transaction of circus business, and Bob proposed that a visit be paid
Ben Cushing, for the purpose of having him give them a private
exhibition of his skill, in order that Toby might see some of the talent
which was to help make their circus a glorious success.




I remember as well as though it were yesterday how, years and years ago,
when I was a very little girl, I once went roaming through the beautiful
woods of Southern Ohio, hunting for a certain wild flower.

The object of my search was a flower not often found, which we children
called the Indian moccasin. It did look like a moccasin, indeed, with
its round blunt toe and yellow, leathery, shoe-shaped pouch. I wonder if
any prospector ever looked for signs of gold with more intense
excitement than I felt when searching for my little golden shoe?
Everywhere I turned, in my breathless haste, yellow moccasins seemed
dancing before my eyes, and I hardly knew, till my eager hands had
grasped the stem, whether it was a real flower I had found or not. I
hardly think I could have valued it more if I had known what I have
since learned about the wonderful ways of the orchids, to which family
my moccasin belonged.

[Illustration: FIG. 1. - LADY'S-SLIPPER.]

You may never have found this particular plant in your rambles, and yet
may know some other of the orchid tribe which grows wild in our woods.
The common names are so different in different places that it is hard to
tell you how to know them when you see them. The putty-root, and the
lady's-slipper like that in Fig. 1, are some of them. Not the
touch-me-not, a plant whose seed-pods snap and curl up if you touch
them, and which is sometimes called lady's-slipper.

The orchids are an eccentric family. There is scarcely one of them which
is not "queer" in some way or other. They seem always to be trying to
look or to act like something besides flowers. They imitate all sorts of
things besides little Indian shoes. I wish I could take you into an
orchid greenhouse and let you look around. You would think you had been
invited to a fancy-dress party of the flowers.

There is one that looks for all the world like a swan, with its long
curved neck; there is a beautiful butterfly with spotted golden wings;
over yonder stands a scarlet flamingo, in a meditative attitude, on one
red leg. Bees and spiders, done in brown and yellow, or perhaps more
gorgeous colors, are all around. Here is a long spike of waxen flowers,
and in the cup of each nestles a pure white dove with outspreading
wings. The Spaniards have given it a name which means the flower of the
Holy Ghost, from its resemblance to a dove.

These strange likenesses to other things are, however, the least
wonderful thing about orchids. They differ from ordinary plants in many
singular ways. Many of them, instead of growing in the ground, and
drawing from it their food and drink, grow in the air, and take
nourishment from it by means of their naked dangling roots. It seems
sometimes as if living as they do high up on the bark of trees had put
the notion into their heads of trying to look like birds and butterflies
and bees.

The air manages to supply them with food, but they have to depend upon
getting drink in some other way. Plants are a good deal like people in
that respect; they can manage to get along somehow with very little
food, but they soon die of thirst if deprived of water.


In a wild state, the air-plants grow on the bark of trees or on other
substances, but they send their little roots into the moist bark or moss
to get water. They do not feed on the juices of the trees, as parasites
like the mistletoe do; they only want a standing-place, something to
push against as they grow, and water. In the greenhouse they are usually
planted in pots filled with bits of stone and damp moss, or they grow
attached to the parent plant, as you may see in Fig. 2, and send their
roots out into the air for food. A few of them - the Indian moccasin, for
instance - grow like common plants in the ground.

It would almost seem as if the orchids had an eye to business in their
imitation of insects. At any rate, there seems to be a very good
understanding between them, and constant business relations are kept up.
The flowers always have a little pouch somewhere about them in which
they keep a stock of honey on hand. Their beautiful colors and delicious
smell attract, by day and night, bees, butterflies, and moths. In return
for the "treat" which the flowers give, the insects render a valuable
service to the plants.

I must remind you of something we have looked into before in "Picciola"
(February 14, 1882), and that is that every perfect seed is the result
of a partnership entered into by the pollen grains and the ovules of a
flower. The pollen is the yellow dust which it is so easy to see on
lilies and some other flowers; the ovules are little round bodies lying
in the swollen part of a flower where it joins the stem. Above the
ovules, and connected with them, is the pistil, sometimes standing up
like the lily pistil of the geranium, sometimes only a sticky little
pad, as it is in the orchids. Some plants get along perfectly well if
this partnership is entirely a family affair, and the pollen of a flower
falls on its own pistil, and makes a union with its own ovules, but this
is not always the case. Certain plants require that the pollen shall be
from another plant if the seed is to be sound and healthy. Orchids
require this _cross-fertilization_, as it is called, and without the
help of insects it could not be effected.

Bees and butterflies, it has been found out, always go in a single
excursion from one flower of a kind to another of the same kind. They do
not mix their drinks. This instinct not only serves to keep the honey
stored by the bees pure, but it enables the insects to carry the pollen
just where it will be useful. The pollen of a morning-glory would die if
put on the rose pistil. It must be placed on a flower of the same family
as the one it came from, or very nearly related to it, or it will do no

[Illustration: FIG. 3. - HONEY POUCH AND POLLEN PODS.]

Now look at Fig. 2, and you will see that the flowers have a hollow tube
in the centre, with a projecting lower lip. This tube is a single flower
leaf curled over to make a tunnel, and through this tunnel is the only
path to the honey pouch. When a butterfly feels like taking a drink, and
one of these orchids is near, he lights on the lower lip of the tube,
and pushing his long proboscis or trunk through it into the pouch, sucks
up the honey. Now look at Fig. 3. This is a picture of the tube with its
near wall cut away so that you can see the inside arrangement. As he
works his proboscis down into the honey pouch, _N_, it is pressed
against _r_, and touches a spring there; the little cap at _r_ snaps
open, and leaves a sticky ball resting on the proboscis. As the
butterfly goes on sucking, this ball dries as if it were glued to his
trunk. When he draws his head out, this proboscis is ornamented with one
or two little tufts which look like the trees in a child's toy village,
as you will see in the illustration.


Now look at the fragment of a flower in the lower part of the same
illustration. Suppose the pollen tuft to stay just where it is when the
butterfly comes out of the flower. You can see by looking at the figure
that it would strike _r_ in the next flower it entered, and that would
do no good; _s_ is the place it should strike; _s_ is the pistil. Now
take an orchid flower, if you can get one; if not, look at Fig. 4, and
see what will happen. I push into it a sharpened lead-pencil, and it
comes out with the pollen tuft standing up as it does on the butterfly's
trunk. Watch it a minute. As it dries, the stem of the tuft bends down,
toward the point of the pencil. Now push it into another flower. Wait a
little while - a minute perhaps - and take the pencil out. You will see
that the pollen has been pulled out of its little case. If you tear open
the flower, you will find the pollen sticking so tight on the pistil,
_s_, that you can scarcely brush it off. In this upper flower the
drawing is from Mr. Darwin's book; but the lower one is one of the
flowers in Fig. 2, which I picked off the plant after drawing it, and
tried with a pencil myself. _r_ in the lower drawing looks like a little
purple velvet pouch swung lightly on its stalk. The pencil came out,
leaving the little bag empty, and the pollen glued fast to its side. But
they were not glued so fast that they were not pulled off by the next
flower that the pencil entered.


Some of the orchids have two pistils, one on each side. In these, if you
push into the tube a bristle or needle, the two pollen cases come out as
in Fig. 4; as they dry, they spread apart, and bend forward so that both
pistils are struck at once as it is pushed into the next blossom. The
contrivances by which each orchid receives on just the right spot
exactly the right pollen are perfectly marvellous. I have only told you
a very few of the simplest facts in regard to the help the insects give
to the flowers. Many a poor butterfly goes through life having its
proboscis loaded down with the glued-on pollen cases (Fig. 5). It is one
of those business arrangements which does not work equally well for both
parties. All this is beautiful for the flowers, but it seems rather hard
on the butterflies.



I should like to be an animal. Not an insect, of course, nor a snake,
but a nice kind of animal, like an elephant or a dog with a good master.

Animals are awfully intelligent, but they haven't any souls. There was
once an elephant in a circus, and one day a boy said to him, "Want a
lump of sugar, old fellow?" The elephant he nodded, and felt real
grateful, for elephants are very fond of lump-sugar, which is what they
live on in their native forests. But the boy put a cigar instead of a
lump of sugar in his mouth.

The sagacious animal, instead of eating up the cigar or trying to smoke
it and making himself dreadfully sick, took it and carried it across the
circus to a man who kept a candy and cigar stand, and made signs that
he'd sell the cigar for twelve lumps of sugar. The man gave the elephant
the sugar and took the cigar, and then the intelligent animal sat down
on his hind-legs and laughed at the boy who had tried to play a joke on
him, until the boy felt that much ashamed that he went right home and
went to bed.

In the days when there were fairies - only I don't believe there ever
were any fairies, and Mr. Travers says they were rubbish - boys were
frequently changed into animals. There was once a boy who did something
that made a wicked fairy angry, and she changed him into a cat, and
thought she had punished him dreadfully. But the boy after he was a cat
used to come and get on her back fence and yowl as if he was ten or
twelve cats all night long, and she couldn't get a wink of sleep, and
fell into a fever, and had to take lots of castor-oil and dreadful

So she sent for the boy who was a cat, you understand, and said she'd
change him back again. But he said, "Oh no; I'd much rather be a cat,
for I'm so fond of singing on the back fence." And the end of it was
that she had to give him a tremendous pile of money before he'd consent
to be changed back into a boy again.

Boys can play being animals, and it's great fun, only the other boys who
don't play they are animals get punished for it, and I say it's unjust,
especially as I never meant any harm at all, and was doing my very best
to amuse the children.

This is the way it happened. Aunt Sarah came to see us the other day,
and brought her three boys with her. I don't think you ever heard of
Aunt Sarah, and I wish I never had. She's one of father's sisters, and
he thinks a great deal more of her than I would if she was my sister,
and I don't think it's much credit to anybody to be a sister anyway. The
boys are twins, that is, two of them are, and they are all about three
or four years old.

Well, one day just before Christmas, when it was almost as warm
out-doors as it is in summer, Aunt Sarah said:

"Jimmy, I want you to take the dear children out and amuse them a few
hours. I know you're so fond of your dear little cousins and what a fine
manly boy you are!" So I took them out, though I didn't want to waste my
time with little children, for we are responsible for wasting time, and
ought to use every minute to improve ourselves.

The boys wanted to see the pigs that belong to Mr. Taylor, who lives

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Online LibraryVariousHarper's Young People, April 4, 1882 → online text (page 1 of 4)