THE BUNCH OF GRAPES
"I am thinking what I shall do with this beautiful bunch of grapes," said Reka Lane as she sat on the bench near the arbor. Her real name was Rebecca; but they called her, for shortness, Reka.
"I know what I should do with it," said little Matilda, who had been wading in the brook, and was without shoes and stockings. "I should divide it among the present company."
"Good for Matty!" exclaimed brother Henry. "The best use you can put grapes to is to eat them before they spoil. Come, Reka, divide, divide."
"I am not sure that I shall do that," said Reka.
"Look at that queer dog!" said Matty. "He has crept under the shawl on the ground, and looks like a head with no body to it."
"That shawl was left there the other day by old Mrs. Merton," said Reka. "The dog is her son's terrier; and his name is Beauty."
"He is any thing but a beauty," said Matty. "I think him the ugliest dog I ever saw."
"I suppose they call him Beauty to make up for the bad word he gets from every one as being ugly," said Reka. "He is a good dog, nevertheless; and he knows that shawl belongs to his mistress. Don't you, Beauty?"
Here Beauty tore out from under the shawl, and began barking in a very intelligent manner.
"Now I will tell you what we will do," said Reka. "Put on your shoes and stockings, Matty, and we will all go and call on Mrs. Merton, who is ill; and we'll take back her shawl, and give her this beautiful bunch of grapes."
"Bow, wow, wow!" cried Beauty, jumping up, and trying to lick Reka's face.
When the children left Mrs. Merton's, after they had presented the grapes, Henry Lane made this remark, "I'll tell you what it is, girls, to see that old lady so pleased by our attention gave me more pleasure than a big feast on grapes, ice-creams, and sponge-cake, with lemonade thrown in."
THE SIX DUCKS
In the pond near Emily's house six tame ducks used to have a fine time swimming about, except in winter, when the pond was frozen. Emily had a name for each one of them. They used to run to her when she called; for they knew she loved them all, and would treat them well.
Among these six happy ducks there was a white one that was at one time of his life a wild duck. Emily named him Albus; for albus is Latin for white. I will tell you how Albus happened to become tamed.
He was once on his way to the South with a large flock of his wild companions, when, as they were alighting near a creek, Albus was shot in the wing by Dick Barker, a sportsman who was out gunning. Dick ran with his dog Spot to pick up the poor wounded bird; but Albus was not so much hurt that he could not fly a little.
He flew and flew till he came to Emily's little garden; and then he fell at her feet, faint, but not dead, as if pleading for protection. Emily took him up in her arms, though she soiled her apron with blood in so doing. Dick and Spot came up; and Dick said roughly, "Give me up that duck."
"The duck has flown to my feet for protection; and I would be shot myself before I would betray him and give him up," said Emily. "I shall keep him, and heal his wounds."
Mr. Dick Barker scolded wildly; but it was of no use. He had to go off duckless. As for Albus, he soon grew well under Emily's tender care; but his wing was not as strong as it used to be: so he concluded he would become a tame bird, and not try to fly off again with his wild companions. He had a happy home, a kind mistress, and pleasant duck acquaintances. So, like a good sensible waddler, he was content.
THE FISHERMEN'S CHILDREN
There were three children on the beach looking out to see the boats of the fishermen sail off to the fishing-grounds. Little Joe Bourne and his sister Susan stood side by side, watching their father's boat. Rachel, who was with them, was not their sister, but an orphan-child, whose grandfather, Mr. Harrison, was in one of the boats.
It was a windy day in November. The waves broke with a great noise on the shingly beach. Soon the wind rose higher: the sea rose too, and the rain fell fast. The children walked back to the village; and there the old men said, shaking their heads, "We shall have a storm."
That night, all the boats came safely back into the harbor, excepting the boat in which Rachel's grandfather had sailed. It was a long, sad night for poor Rachel. The next day and the next passed by; and no grandfather came back to take care of her, and find her in food and clothes, and carry her in his strong arms when she was tired out with walking.
Susan and Joe in their own house felt sad for the little orphan. One day their mother went to market. Baby was in the cradle, and Susan was rocking it, whilst Joe was cutting out a boat with an old jack-knife. The kettle on the stove began to sing; and Susan and Joe began to talk.
"Poor Rachel will have to be sent to the workhouse now," said Joe.
"I hope not," said Susan. "I hope father will give her a home in our own house."
"Why, he says he can hardly earn enough to feed his own family," said Joe.
"But can't we do something to help him?" asked Susan.
"I know of nothing children like us can do," said Joe.
When their mother came home, Susan begged so earnestly to have Rachel come and stay with them, that Mrs. Bourne at last replied, "Well, we will take her in for a week or two, and see; but mind, Susan, you must try and earn a little money somehow. You will now have less time to play on the sands, remember."
So Susan went and found Rachel, and brought her home to live with them all. The poor little orphan was a bright, joyous child. She had a strange hope that she should see her grandfather again; that he was not lost; for he had told her many stories of his escape from great dangers at sea.
"Why, grandfather was on a wreck once a whole week," said Rachel: "he was cast away once on an island where he had to live on clams a long while before he was rescued. I think we shall hear from him soon."
One day Joe caught a fine basket of perch from the rocks, and went round to try and sell them. But all the folks in the village told him they could get as many fish as they wanted without buying them. So Joe walked off to a town four miles away from the sea, and there he sold his fish.
He told a kind blind lady, to whom he sold some, that his sister wanted to get work, so that she could help a poor little orphan-girl. The kind lady sent Susan half a dozen handkerchiefs to hem; and the next morning Susan rose early, and sewed by candle-light, while the other children were in bed and asleep.
For three years the poor Bourne family gave Rachel a nice happy home in their little house; and they would have kept her longer, but one day, while the children were all playing on the beach, they heard a great shouting, and ran to see what it was about.
It was all in honor of Grandfather Harrison. He had come back, as Rachel had always said he would. He had been picked up at sea in his sinking boat by a ship bound for Australia. The old man was carried to that far country. He went to the mines, and helped some men dig gold. He made a good deal of money, thinking it would be a good thing if he could only be rich enough to send his dear little grand-daughter to school.
But Rachel was not the only one who was benefited by his good fortune. The Bournes shared in it. Joe and Susan, and all the rest of the children, were sent to school also; and they studied with a will. It was always a happy thought to Rachel that the great kindness of these good people did not miss its reward even in this life.
HOW NORMAN BECAME AN ARTIST
The landscape-painter sat on a camp-stool with an umbrella over his head. His palette and his box of paints were on the ground by his side. He was there to draw a picture of the village of F.
Hardly had he begun his crayon outline when he heard a boy's voice behind him. "May I look on? sir?" said the boy. "Yes, look as much as you please, but don't talk," said the painter without turning his head.
The boy had a basket strapped to his back, and stood looking intently, with both hands resting on his knees. His name was Norman Blake. Other boys, and a young woman, soon came up, and joined him as spectators.
Norman studied every movement of the painter's hand; and, when he got home, he took a piece of charcoal, and tried to draw a picture on the wall. Rather a rough picture it was, but pretty good for a first attempt.
The next day Norman went again, and looked on while the painter sketched. "You've got that line wrong," cried Norman all at once, forgetting that the painter had told him not to talk.
"What do you know about it, you young vagabond?" cried the painter angrily. "Out of this! Run, scamper, and don't show your rogue's face here again! But stop. Before you go, come here, and point out what struck you as wrong."
Norman pointed to a certain line which made the village church seem a little out of its right place in the picture. The landscape-painter seized him by the ear, and said, "You little scamp, how did you find that out? You are right, sir! But what business have you to criticise my picture? I am hesitating whether to thrash you, or to make a painter of you."
"Make a painter of me, by all means;" said Norman, laughing; for he saw that the honest painter was only half in earnest.
Well, the end of it was, that Norman accompanied the painter to the city, and began to study drawing and painting. He succeeded so well, that, after he had been studying six years, he one day brought to his friend the painter the sketch which we have had copied above.
"Do you remember that?" asked Norman.
"Of course I do!" said the painter. "It represents our first meeting. Little did I think that the young vagabond with the basket on his back would one day beat me in sketching."
WHAT I SAW AT THE SEASHORE
Last summer I went to spend a few weeks at a quiet little island on the New-England coast. Every morning I used to go to the beach, and sit on the sands, and watch the blue sea with its sparkling waves, and listen to the surf breaking in white foam all along the shore.
On pleasant days the beach was lively with bathers, shouting and laughing as they plunged into the cool waves; and little boys and girls playing in the clean sand, digging with their shovels, and loading and unloading their wagons, or picking up shells and sea-mosses to carry home.
On the brightest days of all, I noticed a pale-faced lady who came to sit a while in the sunshine, propped up with shawls and pillows. She always brought with her a little sky-terrier, of which she seemed as fond as if it had been a real baby.
After a while, I got acquainted with the invalid lady, and found that her name was Miss Dean, and that her dog was named Skye. He was a shaggy-looking little creature; but he had very bright eyes, and he knew almost as much as the children who played with him. He was very fond of his mistress, and very thoughtful of her comfort.
Let me tell you one thing about him that made me think so. Skye slept in the room with his mistress, on a soft cushion, with a little blanket spread over him; and in the morning, when he woke, if she was still asleep, he never disturbed her. He just sat up on his cushion as still as he could be, and watched her till she woke. As soon as she opened her eyes, he gave a little bark, for "good-morning," and sprang up on her bed, to be loved and petted.
Well, Skye was a good little dog; and we all learned to love him; and none of us would have hurt him for the world. But one day, as we were walking up from the beach, ladies and gentlemen and children and all, Skye ran down a lane, out of sight; and a thoughtless, wicked boy, who had a stone in his hand, and wanted to hit something with it, threw it with all his might at poor Skye, and broke one of his legs.
Skye cried out with the pain; and we all hurried back to see what was the matter. There we found him, whining and howling, and trying to limp along on three legs; and we just caught sight of the bad boy, running away far down the lane. Miss Dean picked up her poor little darling, and carried him home.
Now, it happened that there was a very skilful surgeon staying at the hotel, who had come down to the island for a short vacation. Miss Dean sent for him, and begged him to set poor Skye's broken leg. He was a kind-hearted man, and I could not refuse to use his skill to relieve the dumb little sufferer.
So Miss Dean took Skye on her lap, and stroked him gently, and talked lovingly to him, calling him "Poor doggy!" and "Dear Skye," while the doctor made the splints, and pressed the broken bones back into their place. Then the doctor sent for some plaster of Paris, and made a soft mortar of it, and put it all around the mended leg, and let it harden into a little case, so that the bones would have to stay just as he put them till they grew together again.
All the time the doctor was doing this, Skye kept as still as a mouse; but, when it was all done, the little creature laid his head on Miss Dean's shoulder, and cried great tears, just like a child. Miss Dean had to cry, too, at the helplessness of her poor dumb darling.
For a good many weeks, Skye could only hobble about on three legs, and had to keep still on his cushion, or lie on his mistress' lap, most of the time; but he was very patient. And at last, when the good doctor said it would do to remove the plaster and the splints, we did so; and Skye ran around the room as well and lively as ever. Wasn't he glad to have his liberty again !
A TRUE STORY ABOUT A DOG
I am a middle-aged gentleman who is blessed with only one child, a little girl now nearly six years old. Her name is Fanny; and her cousin Gracie, who is about the same age, lives with us.
Both of these little girls are very fond of having me tell them stories; and I have often told them about a dog I once had. They liked this story so much, that they made me promise I would send it to "The Nursery," so that a great many little girls and boys might hear it also. This is the story:
When I was a little boy, not more than eight years old, my mother consented to my having a dog which a friend offered to give me. He was a little pup then, not more than five weeks old. I fed him on milk for a while, and he grew very fast. I named him Cæsar.
When he got to be six months old, he became very mischievous. Things were constantly being missed from the house. Handkerchiefs, slippers, shoes, towels, aprons, and napkins disappeared; and no one could tell what became of them. One day Cæsar was seen going into the garden with a slipper in his mouth; and I followed him to a far-off corner where stood a large currant-bush.
I looked under the bush, and saw Cæsar digging a hole, into which he put the slipper, and then covered it up with earth. Upon digging under this bush, I found all the things that had been missed.
A neighbor's dog, called "Dr. Wiseman," was Cæsar's particular friend. One day we heard a loud scratching at the front-door; and, when we opened it, in walked Cæsar and Dr. Wiseman. Cæsar took the Doctor by the ear, and led him up to each of the family, just as if he were introducing him, and then led him into the garden, and treated him to a bone.
Although Cæsar did many naughty things, we all loved him; for he was quite affectionate as well as intelligent: but our neighbors complained of him because he chased their chickens, bit their pigs, and scared their horses. A farmer who came to our house one day with a load of potatoes took a great fancy to him. He wanted him for a watch-dog on his farm, which was only four miles from our house.
As he promised to treat him kindly, my mother thought it was best to let him have the dog; and I finally consented, although I believe I cried a good deal about it.
So Cæsar was put into the farmer's wagon, much against his will; and off he went into the country. About three months afterwards, when there was a foot of snow on the ground, there came a great scratching at the front-door of our house, early in the morning, before I was up; and, when the servant opened the door, in bounded Cæsar with a rope around his neck, and a large chunk of wood fastened to the other end of it.
He ran by the servant, and up the stairs, with the piece of wood going bump, bump, all the way, dashed into my room, jumped right up on my bed, and began licking my face.
I was very glad to see my dog again. He staid with us several days; and, when the farmer came for him, he lay down on the floor, closed his eyes, and pretended to be dead; but the farmer took him back to the farm in his wagon.
About a year and a half after that, when I came home for a vacation, we all went up to the farm, hoping to see Cæsar; but we never saw him again. The farmer had shot him, because he killed the chickens, and chased the sheep, and would not mind any thing that was said to him. Thus you see, children, that Cæsar came to a bad end, although he had every advantage of good society in his early youth.