Written by Richard Barnum
“Well, I never expected to see you here!” exclaimed a whinnying voice as Tinkle was led into his stall. The little pony looked up in surprise and saw a big horse.
“Oh! Why, hello, Hobble!” cried Tinkle, as he saw the horse that used to live on the stock farm with him.
“My name isn’t Hobble any more—it’s Prince.”
“Oh, well. Hello, then, Prince!” called Tinkle in a cordial, off-hand manner, for he now felt quite grown up. Had he not been hitched up, and had he not carried a boy on his back? “I didn’t know you were here.”
“And I didn’t know you were coming,” observed Prince. “How is everything back on the farm?”
“Oh, there’s not much change. I was sorry to come away and leave my father and mother.”
“Well, that’s the way things happen in this world,” said Prince. “We are colts for a little while, and then some of us grow to be big horses or grown-up ponies and have to go away from our friends. It’s just the same with men and women, I’ve heard. But you’ll like it here.”
“Is it nice?” asked Tinkle.
“Nice? I should say it is! Of course, I miss being out in the big, green, grassy meadow. But I get plenty to eat here, and every day a man scratches my back—”
“Scratches your back?” cried Tinkle. “I don’t believe I should like that!”
“Oh, yes you will,” said Prince. “You can’t imagine how your back begins to itch and ache when you’ve been in the harness all day. And when a man uses a brush and comb on you—”
“A brush and comb!” cried Tinkle. “Come on, you’re joking! I know men and women, as well as boys and girls, use brushes and combs, but ponies or horses—”
“Yes, we really have our own brushes and combs, though they are different from those which humans use,” said Prince. “The brush is a big one, more like a broom, and the comb is made of iron and it’s called a currycomb. But they make your skin nice and clean and shiny. You’ll like them.”
“Maybe,” said Tinkle. “Is anything else different here from what it was on the farm?”
“Oh, lots and lots of things. You have to have shoes on your feet.”
“Oh, now I’m sure you’re fooling me!” cried Tinkle in horse-talk. “Who ever heard of ponies having shoes!”
“Well, of course they’re not leather shoes, such as boys and girls wear,” went on Prince. “They are made of iron, and they are nailed on your hoofs.”
“Nailed on!” cried Tinkle. “Oh, doesn’t that hurt?”
“Not a bit when a good blacksmith does it,” explained Prince. “You see our hoofs are just like the finger nails of boys and girls. It doesn’t hurt to cut their fingernails, if they don’t cut them down too close, and it doesn’t hurt to fasten the iron shoes on our hoofs with sharp nails. Don’t you remember how Dapple Gray used to tell about his iron shoes making sparks on the paving stones in the city when he ran and pulled that funny shiny wagon with the chimney?”
“Oh, yes,” answered Tinkle; “I do remember. Well, I suppose I’ll have to be shod then.”
“Of course,” returned Prince. “If you don’t have the iron shoes on your hooves they would get sore when you ran around on the stony streets. A city is not like our green meadow. There are very few soft dirt roads here. That is one thing I don’t like about a city. Still there is always something going on here, and lots to see and do, and that makes up for it, I guess.”
“I wonder how I shall like it,” thought Tinkle. “But first I must see what my new home is like.”
He looked around the stable. It was a large one, and there were a number of stalls in it. In each one was a horse, like Prince, munching his oats or chewing hay. Tinkle saw that his stall was different from the others. It was like a big box, and, in fact, was called a “box stall.” Tinkle did not have to be tied fast with a rope or a strap to the manger, which is the place where the feed for the ponies and horses is put. There was a manger in Tinkle’s stall and he could walk up to it whenever he felt hungry.
Tinkle did not remember much about the stable at home on the farm, as he was hardly ever in it. Night and day, during the warm Summer, he stayed out in the green meadow, sleeping near his mother under a tree.
Tinkle was kicking the straw around in his stall, making a nice soft bed on which he could lie down and go to sleep, when George, who had gone into the house to get something to eat after driving with his father from the stock farm, came running out to the stable again.
“How’s my pony?” cried George. “How’s my Tinkle?”
Tinkle made a sort of laughing sound—whinnying—for he knew now George’s voice and he liked the little boy.
“Here’s something nice for you!” cried George.
“Oh, what are you going to give him?” asked Mabel, who had come home from school and who had also hurried out to see Tinkle.
“I’m going to give him some sugar,” answered George. “I took some lumps from the bowl on the table. Mother said I might.”
“Are you going to let him eat them out of your hand?” asked the little girl.
“Of course,” answered George.
“Won’t he bite you?”
“Not if you hold out your hand flat, like a board,” said George. “The man at the farm showed me. Put the sugar on the palm of your hand, open it out flat and a horse can pick up a lump of sugar, or an apple without biting you a teeny weeny bit. Look!”
George opened the top half of the door to the box stall where Tinkle had his home and held out on his hand the lump of sugar. Tinkle came over, smelled of the lump to make sure it was good for him to eat, and then he gently took it in his soft lips, and began to chew the sweet stuff.
“Oh, isn’t that cute!” cried Mabel. “Let me feed Tinkle some sugar.”
Her brother gave her a lump, and she held it out on her hand. Tinkle, having eaten the first lump, which he liked very much, was quite ready for the second. He took it from Mabel’s hand as gently as he had taken it from George’s.
“Oh, he is a lovely pony!” cried the little girl. “How soon can we have a ride on him?”
“Well, you can ride him around the yard now,” said her father, who had come out to the stable. “But before he is driven around the city streets he must be shod. I’ll send him to a blacksmith. But for a while now you and George may take turns riding him. I’ll have Patrick saddle him for you.”
Patrick was Mr. Farley’s coachman, and knew a great deal about horses and ponies. The pony cart which Mr. Farley had bought from the stockman, together with a harness and saddle for Tinkle, had been put away. Patrick now brought out the saddle, and, after putting a blanket on the pony, fastened on the saddle with straps.
“Now who’s to ride first?” asked the coachman.
“Let Mabel,” said George, politely. “Ladies always go first.”
“I’d rather you’d go first so I can see how you do it,” said the little girl, and George was glad, for he did want very much to get on Tinkle’s back again. He had ridden a little at the stock farm and, oh! it was such fun!
Patrick helped George into the saddle, and then led Tinkle about the yard, for Mr. Farley wanted to make sure the pony would be safe for his little boy to ride.
“I’ll be very careful,” said Tinkle to himself. “George and his sister are going to be kind to me, I’m sure. I’ll not run away.”
Tinkle remembered what his father and mother had told him about behaving when he was in the harness, or had a saddle on.
“And if I’m good,” thought the pony, “maybe I’ll get more lumps of sugar.”
“Let him go now and see if I can drive him,” said George to Patrick. So the coachman stepped aside and George held the reins in his own hands.
“Gid-dap, Tinkle!” cried George, and the pony knew this meant to go a little faster. So he began to trot on the soft, green grass of the big yard about the Farley home.
“Oh, how nice!” cried Mabel, clapping her hands.
“Yes, it’s lots of fun!” laughed George. “Go on, Tinkle.”
When George had ridden twice around the yard it was Mabel’s turn. At first she was a little afraid, but her father held her in the saddle, and she could soon sit on alone and guide Tinkle, who did not go as fast with her as he had gone with George.
“For she might fall off, and I wouldn’t want that to happen,” thought Tinkle. “They might say it was my fault, and give me no more lumps of sugar.”
While Mabel was riding, another boy and a girl came into the yard. They were Tommie and Nellie Hall, who lived next door.
“Oh, what a lovely pony!” they cried. “Where did you get him?”
“My father bought him for Mabel and me,” explained George. “See how soft his hair is,” and he patted Tinkle. Tommie and Nellie also patted the pony and called him all sorts of nice names.
“My! I think I am going to like it here,” thought Tinkle. “I have four new, good, little friends. I will try to make them love me.”
Every morning, as soon as he had eaten his breakfast, George would run out to the stable to see Tinkle. He would rub the soft, velvety nose of his pet pony, or bring him a piece of bread or a lump of sugar. Sometimes Mabel, too, would come out with her brother to look at Tinkle before she went to school.
“And when we come back from school we’ll have a ride on your back,” said George, waving his hand to Tinkle.
A few days after he had been brought to his new home Tinkle had been taken to a blacksmith’s shop and small iron shoes had been fastened to the pony’s hooves.
At first Tinkle was afraid he was going to be hurt, but he thought of what Dapple Gray and the other horses had told him and made up his mind—if ponies have minds—that he would stand a little pain if he had to. But he did not. The blacksmith was kind and gentle, and though it felt a bit funny at first, when he lifted up one of Tinkle’s legs, the pony soon grew used to it.
It felt strange, too, when the iron shoes were nailed on. And when Tinkle stood on his four newly shod feet he hardly knew whether he could step out properly or not. But he soon found that it was all right.
“I’m taller with my new shoes on than in my bare hoofs,” said Tinkle to himself, and he was taller—about an inch I guess. The clatter and clang of his iron shoes on the paving stones sounded like music to Tinkle, and he soon found that it was better for him to have iron shoes on than to run over the stones in his hoofs, which would soon have worn down so that his feet would have hurt.
“Now Tinkle is ready to give us a ride in the little cart!” cried George when his pony had come home from the blacksmith shop.
“Take Patrick with you so as to make sure you know how to drive, and how to handle Tinkle,” said Mrs. Farley, as George and Mabel made ready for their first real drive—outside the yard this time.
George and Mabel got into the pony cart, George taking the reins, and Mabel sat beside him. Patrick, the coachman, sat in the back of the cart, ready to help if he were needed.
“Gid-dap!” called George, and he headed the pony down the driveway. “Gid-dap, Tinkle,” and Tinkle trotted along.
“Don’t they look cute!” exclaimed Mrs. Farley to her husband as they watched the children from the dining room window. “I hope nothing happens to them.”
“Oh, they’ll be all right,” said her husband. “Tinkle is a kind and gentle pony. Besides there is Patrick. He’ll know just what to do if anything should happen.”
“Well, I hope nothing does,” said Mrs. Farley. “There! they’ve stopped! I wonder what for.”
The pony cart had stopped at the driveway gates, and Patrick, with a strange smile on his face, came walking back.
“What is it?” asked Mrs. Farley. “Did anything happen—and so soon?”
“No,” replied the coachman, “but George wants to know if you’d like to have him bring anything from the store. He says he’d like to buy something for you.”
“Oh!” and Mrs. Farley laughed. “Well, I don’t know that I need any groceries. But I suppose he wants to do an errand in the new cart. So tell him he may get a pound of loaf sugar. He and Mabel can feed the lumps to Tinkle.”
“Very well, I’ll tell him,” and, touching his hat, Patrick went back to George and Mabel.
“Well, I guess everything is alright,” thought Tinkle to himself as he trotted along in front of the pony cart, hauling George, Mabel and Patrick. “It’s a good deal easier than I thought, and my new iron shoes feel fine!”
So he trotted along merrily, and George and his sister, sitting in the pony cart, enjoyed their ride very much. George drove Tinkle along the streets, turning him now to the left, by pulling on the left rein, and again to the other side by pulling gently on the right rein.
“Am I doing all right, Patrick?” asked the little boy.
“Fine, George,” answered the coachman. “You drive as well as anybody.”
“I’ll let you take a turn soon, Mabel,” said George.
“Oh, I don’t want to—just yet,” replied the little girl. “I want to watch and see how you do it. Besides, I’d be afraid to drive where there are so many horses and wagons,” for they were on the main street of the city.
“You’ll soon get so you can do as well as George,” declared Patrick. “Tinkle is an easy pony to manage.”
As George and Mabel traveled on in their pony cart, they met several of their playmates who waved their hands to the Farley children.
“Oh, what a nice pony cart!” cried the boys and girls.
“I’ll give you a ride, some day,” promised George.
I had some old mulberry-trees in my garden. My grandfather had planted them. In the fall I was given a small amount of silkworm eggs, and was advised to hatch them and raise silkworms. These eggs are dark gray and so small that in that amount I received I counted 5,835 of them. They are smaller than the tiniest pin-head. They are quite still; and only when you crush them do they crack.
The eggs had been lying around on my table, and I had almost forgotten all about them.
One day, in the spring, I went into the orchard and noticed the buds swelling on the mulberry-trees, and where the sun beat down, the leaves were out. I thought of the silkworm eggs, and took them apart at home and gave them more room. The majority of the eggs were no longer dark gray, as before, but some were light gray, while others were lighter still, with a milky shade.
The next morning, I looked at the eggs, and saw that some of the worms had hatched out, while other eggs were quite swollen. Evidently they felt in their shells that their food was ripening.
The worms were black and shaggy, and so small that it was hard to see them. I looked at them through a magnifying-glass, and saw that in the eggs they lay curled up in rings, and when they came out they straightened themselves out. I went to the garden for some mulberry leaves; I got about three handfuls of leaves, which I put on my table, and began to fix a place for the worms, as I had been taught to do.
While I was fixing the paper, the worms smelled their food and started to crawl toward it. I pushed it away, and began to entice the worms to a leaf, and they made for it, as dogs make for a piece of meat, crawling after the leaf over the cloth of the table and across pencils, scissors, and papers. Then I cut off a piece of paper, stuck holes through it with a penknife, placed the leaf on top of it, and with the leaf put it down on the worms. The worms crawled through the holes, climbed onto the leaf, and started to eat.
When the other worms hatched out, I again put a piece of paper with a leaf on them, and all crawled through the holes and began to eat. The worms gathered on each leaf and nibbled at it from its edges. Then, when they had eaten everything, they crawled on the paper and looked for more food. Then I put on them new sheets of perforated paper with mulberry leaves upon them, and they crawled over to the new food.
They were lying on my shelf, and when there was no leaf, they climbed about the shelf, and came to its very edge, but they never fell down, even though they are blind. The moment a worm comes to an edge, it lets out a web from its mouth before descending, and then it attaches itself to it and lets itself down; it hangs awhile in the air, and watches, and if it wants to get down farther, it does so, and if not, it pulls itself up by its web.
For days at a time the worms did nothing but eat. I had to give them more and more leaves. When a new leaf was brought, and they transferred themselves to it, they made a noise as though a rain were falling on leaves,—that was when they began to eat the new leaf.
Thus the older worms lived for five days. They had grown very large and began to eat ten times as much as ever. On the fifth day, I knew, they would fall asleep, and waited for that to happen. Toward evening, on the fifth day, one of the older worms stuck to the paper and stopped eating and stirring.
The whole next day I watched it for a long time. I knew that worms moulted several times, because they grew up and found it too close in their old skin, and so put on a new one.
My friend and I watched it by turns. In the evening my friend called out:
“It has begun to undress itself,—come!”
I went up to him, and saw that the worm had stuck with its old skin to the paper, had torn a hole at the mouth, and pushed forth its head, and was wiggling and working to get out, but the old skin held it fast. I watched it for a long time as it wiggled and could not get out, and I wanted to help it. I barely touched it with my nail, but soon saw that I had done something very foolish. Under my nail there was something liquid, and the worm didn’t make it. At first I thought that it was blood, but later I learned that the worm has a liquid mass under its skin, so that the skin may come off easier. With my nail I had disturbed the new skin, for, though the worm crawled out, it soon died.
The other worms I did not touch. All of them came out of their skins in the same manner; only a few didn’t make it, and nearly all came out safely, though they struggled hard for a long time.
After shedding their skins, the worms began to eat more voraciously, and more leaves were devoured. Four days later they again fell asleep, and again crawled out of their skins. A still larger quantity of leaves was now consumed by them, and they were now a quarter of an inch in length. Six days later they fell asleep once more, and once more came out in new skins, and now were very large and fat, and we had barely time to get leaves ready for them.
On the ninth day the oldest worms quit eating entirely and climbed up the shelves and rods. I gathered them in and gave them fresh leaves, but they turned their heads away from them, and continued climbing. Then I remembered that when the worms get ready to roll up into larvæ, they stop eating and climb upward.
I left them alone, and began to watch what they would do.
The eldest worms climbed to the ceiling, scattered about, crawled in all directions, and began to draw out single threads in various directions. I watched one of them. It went into a corner, put forth about six threads each two inches long, hung down from them, bent over in a horseshoe, and began to turn its head and let out a silk web which began to cover it all over. Toward evening it was covered by it as though in a mist; the worm could scarcely be seen. On the following morning the worm could no longer be seen; it was all wrapped in silk, and still it spun out more.
Three days later it finished spinning, and quieted down. Later I learned how much web it had spun in those three days. If the whole web were to be unravelled, it would be more than half a mile in length, seldom less. And if we figure out how many times the worm has to toss its head in these three days in order to let out all the web, it will appear that in these three days the worm tosses its head 300,000 times. Consequently, it makes one turn a second, without stopping. But after the work, when we took down a cocoon and broke them open, we found inside the worms all dried up and white, looking like pieces of wax.
I knew that from these larvæ with their white, waxen bodies would come butterflies; but as I looked at them, I could not believe it. None the less I went to look at them on the twentieth day, to see what had become of them.
On the twentieth day, I knew, there was to be a change. Nothing was to be seen, and I was beginning to think that something was wrong, when suddenly I noticed that the end of one of the cocoons grew dark and moist. I thought that it had probably spoiled, and wanted to throw it away. But then I thought that perhaps it began that way, and so I watched to see what would happen. And, indeed, something began to move at the wet end. For a long time I could not make out what it was. Later there appeared something like a head with whiskers. The whiskers moved. Then I noticed a leg sticking out through the hole, then another, and the legs scrambled to get out of the cocoon. It came out more and more, and I saw a wet butterfly. When all six legs scrambled out, the back jumped out, too, and the butterfly crawled out and stopped. When it dried it was white; it straightened its wings, flew away, circled around, and alighted on the window.
Two days later the butterfly on the window-sill laid eggs in a row, and stuck them fast. The eggs were yellow. Twenty-five butterflies laid eggs. I collected five thousand eggs. The following year I raised more worms, and had more silk spun.
Written by Richard Barnum
“George! George! Come away!” cried his father. “That pony may kick or bite you!”
“Oh, no, Tinkle won’t do that,” said Mr. Carter. “Tinkle is a gentle pony, which is more than I can say of some I have. A few of them are quite wild. But the only bad thing Tinkle ever did was, one day, to leave the meadow and get stuck in a swamp. But I got him out.”
“He wasn’t really bad, was he?” asked George, who was standing near the pony, patting him.
“Well, no, I guess you couldn’t call it that exactly,” said the stockman with a smile. “Tinkle just didn’t know any better. He wanted to have some fun, perhaps; but I guess he won’t do that again.”
“I won’t let him run away when I have him,” said George.
“Oh, ho!” cried Mr. Farley with a laugh. “So you think you are going to have Tinkle for your own, do you?”
“Won’t you get him for me?” begged the little boy. “Mabel and I could have such fun riding and driving him.” Mabel was George’s sister. She was a year younger than him.
“Do you think it would be safe for a little boy like mine to have a pony?” asked Mr. Farley.
“Why, yes, after Tinkle is trained a bit,” said Mr. Carter. “He has never been ridden or driven, but I could soon get him trained so he would be safe to use both ways. Do you think you want to buy him?”
“Well, I might,” said Mr. Farley slowly. He was thinking whether it would be best or not. He did not want either of his little children to be hurt by a pony that might run away.
“I’ll tell you what we’ll do,” said the owner of the stock farm. “I’ll sell you a horse for yourself, and then I’ll start at once to teach Tinkle what it means to have someone on his back, and also how he must act when he is hitched to a pony cart. I am going to train some of the other ponies, and I’ll train him also. He is old enough now to be trained. Then you and your little boy come back in about two weeks and we’ll see how George likes Tinkle then,” finished Mr. Carter.
“Oh, I’ll love him all the more!” cried George. “I love him now, and I want him for my very own! He is a fine pony!” and once more George patted the little creature.
“You couldn’t do that to some of the ponies,” said Mr. Carter, as he and George’s father walked back toward the house. “They would be too wild, and would not stand still. But Tinkle is a smart little pony.”
“Good-by!” called George to Tinkle as the small boy walked away with his father. “I’ll come back to see you soon,” and he waved his hand at Tinkle and Tinkle waved his tail at George. At least George thought so, though I imagine that Tinkle was only brushing off a tickling fly.
But one thing I do know, and that was that Tinkle really liked the little boy who patted him so nicely.
“He has very soft, nice hands,” said Tinkle to Curley Mane, another pony, as they cropped the sweet grass together. “I’m sure he would be good to me.”
“Are you going to live with him?” asked Curley Mane.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Tinkle answered. “But I’ve always noticed that whenever any strange men or boys come to the farm here, in a few days afterward some of the horses or ponies go away, and I guess the men and boys take them.”
“Yes, that is right,” said old Dapple Gray walking up beside the two ponies. “You’ve guessed it, Tinkle. The Man, here, raises us horses to sell. I’ve been sold more than once.”
“Is it nice to be sold?” asked Tinkle.
“Well, it all depends,” was the answer. “The first place I was sold to was not nice. I had to draw a grocery wagon through the streets, and the boy who sat on the seat used to treat me not very well.”
“What did you do?” asked Curley Mane.
“Well, I’m sorry to say I ran away. It wasn’t the right thing to do, only I couldn’t help it. The boy fell off the seat of the wagon, I ran so fast, and he bumped his nose. Then the wagon was smashed and I was cut and bruised and I had a terrible time,” said Dapple Gray.
“Then the grocery man brought me back here, saying he didn’t want me, and after that I was sold to some men that made me draw the big shiny wagon that had a chimney spouting flames and smoke. I was treated well there. I had a nice stall with plenty of hay to eat and clean straw to sleep on. Sometimes I had oats, and I got so I could run very fast indeed.
“But it was hard work, and I soon grew tired. So they brought me back here again. That’s what being sold means. You never can tell where you’re going.”
“Do you think some of the horses here were sold to that man and little boy?” asked Tinkle.
“We can tell pretty soon,” answered Dapple Gray, “by watching to see if any horses or ponies are taken away.”
And, surely enough, the next day one of the men on the stock farm took away one of the horses. He was called Hobble by the other horses because, when he was a colt, he hurt his foot on a sharp stone and had to hobble for a week or two. But he soon got over that. And Hobble was the horse George’s father had bought for himself, though Mr. Carter named the horse Prince.
“Good-by!” called Hobble, or as we must call him, Prince, to his friends as he was led away from the stock farm. “Maybe I’ll see some of you again before long.”
“I don’t believe so,” called back Dapple Gray. But neither he nor anyone else knew what was going to happen to Tinkle.
When Prince had been driven to a big city, a few miles away from the stock farm, he was taken into a nice clean stable where there were one or two other horses.
“Ah, so that’s the new horse I bought, is it?” asked a voice, and looking behind him, from where he was tied in his stall, Prince saw Mr. Farley. Of course Prince did not know the man’s name but he knew he was the same one who had been at the stock farm.
“I wonder,” thought Prince, “where the little boy is that was patting Tinkle.”
He did not have to wonder long for he soon heard another voice calling:
“Oh, Daddy! Did the new horse come?”
“Yes, he’s in his stall,” said Mr. Farley.
“And did he bring Tinkle?” asked George.
“No, not yet. Tinkle won’t be ready for a week or so. And I am not sure I am going to get him for you.”
“Oh, yes you are, Daddy! I know you are when you smile that way!” cried Mabel, who, with her little brother, had come out to the stable. “Won’t we have fun, George,” she cried, “when we have a pony of our own?”
“We surely will!” said George.
“Don’t be too sure,” returned Mr. Farley, but he could not keep his eyes from laughing, even if his lips did not smile.
Prince soon made friends with the other horses in Mr. Farley’s stable, and they rubbed noses and talked among themselves in a way that all horses have.
And now I must go back to the stock farm to see how Tinkle is getting on, for this story is mostly about him.
“Well,” said Mr. Carter to one of his men a day or two after Prince had been sold and taken to Mr. Farley, “I think it is time we started to train Tinkle, if that little boy George is to have him. We want to get the pony used to having a saddle on his back, and also teach him how to draw a pony cart.”
So Tinkle began to have his first lessons, for animals like horses and dogs, as well as trained animals in a circus, have to be taught lessons, just as you are taught lessons in school. Only, of course, the lessons are different.
Tinkle was driven into the stable yard and while one of the men was patting him and giving him some oats to eat—which Tinkle liked very much—another man slipped some leather straps over the pony’s head. Tinkle did not like this, for never, in all his life, had he felt anything tied on his head before. He tried to run away and shake it off, but he found himself held tightly by a long strap, which was fast to the other straps on his head.
“I wonder what in the world this is?” thought Tinkle, when he found he could not shake off the straps. Afterward he learned it was a halter, which is the rope, or strap, that is used to keep a horse or pony tied in his stall.
So this is what Tinkle was held fast by, and when he found that no amount of pulling or shaking would get it off his head he stood quietly.
“Maybe if I am good they’ll take it off anyhow,” he thought.
But Tinkle had many more lessons to learn. I will not tell you all about them here, because I know lessons aren’t too much fun, though we all have to learn them.
So I’ll just say that after Tinkle had become used to the halter he was given a bridle. This was not so nice, as there was an iron thing fast to it, called a “bit,” and this had to go in Tinkle’s mouth so he could be driven.
“Oh, I don’t like this at all!” cried Tinkle as he tried to get the bit out from between his teeth. But it was held fast by straps, and a man pulled gently first on one strap, and then on the other, moving Tinkle’s head to the left or right. Soon the pony found that when his bit was pulled to the left it meant he was to walk or run that way, and so, also, when the other strap, or rein, was pulled, he must go to the right. After a while he did not mind the bit at all.
Next Tinkle had to learn to have a saddle fastened to his back. First a blanket was strapped on him, and Tinkle tried to get this off by rolling over and over. But the blanket stayed on, for it was fastened by straps, and soon the little pony did not mind at all. Then when the saddle was put on he thought it was only another kind of blanket at first, and when he came to know (for his mother told him) that all horses and ponies had to wear saddles part of the time Tinkle did not mind.
Tinkle was frightened when one of the boys on the stock farm got in the saddle on the pony’s back to have a ride. It was the first time Tinkle had ever had anyone on his back and he really was quite frightened. But he soon grew used to that also, and trotted around, walking and running as the boy told him to.
“Well, Tinkle is learning quickly!” said Mr. Carter one day. “As soon as he learns to draw a pony cart he will be ready for that boy George to drive.”
Being hitched to a cart, with harness straps all over him, did not feel comfortable to Tinkle at first.
“I don’t like this at all!” he thought. “It isn’t any fun!” But he found he could not get away from the cart, which followed him everywhere because he was hitched fast to it. Then he was driven about, made to turn around, and to the left and to the right by a boy who rode in the pony cart.
“Well, I might as well make up my mind to it,” said Tinkle, telling the other ponies what had happened to him.
“Yes, indeed,” remarked Dapple Gray. “That is what you ponies and we horses are for—to give people rides, or to pull their wagons. That is our life and if you are good you will be treated kindly.”
“Then I am going to be good,” said Tinkle.
In another week the pony could be ridden or driven very easily, and Mr. Carter sent word to Mr. Farley to come and bring George with him to the stock farm.
“Oh, what a fine pony he is!” cried the little boy as he saw how easily Tinkle was ridden and driven. “Do get him for me, Daddy!”
“Yes, I think I’ll buy him,” said Mr. Farley, so he paid Mr. Carter for the pony. Tinkle was taken to his new home, George and his father riding in the pony cart. Mr. Farley drove, but let George hold the reins part of the time.
“For you must learn to drive if you are going to have a real live pony,” said George’s father.
So Tinkle left the stock farm, and went to live in his new home, a big city stable.
Written by Johnny Gruelle
Grandpa had finished building the chicken coop and he walked out in front of the house to speak to a neighbor.
Johnny and Janey, who had been watching Grandpa with such interest, grew tired of waiting for his return.
“Let’s build a Flying Machine,” Johnny said after a while. “Grandpa has finished and will not need the boards that are left and we can find plenty of nails.”
“Do you think we can build a Flying Machine?” asked Janey, delighted at the idea.
“Easily!” Johnny told her. “Of course we can’t make one that will really fly, but we can pretend that it goes ’way up in the air.”
“It will be loads of fun!” cried Janey, and she jumped up and down and smiled.
So Johnny got an old box and nailed four or five boards to the sides for wings.
“It should have a sail,” Janey said.
“Yes, it needs a sail and a mast and a rudder,” replied Johnny. “Run in and ask Grandma for an old sheet to make the sail of, will you, Janey? I’ll be putting on a mast and the rudder.”
When Janey came running back with an old sheet she said, “I just thought! We must have something to start and stop the Flying Machine with, so Grandma gave me two empty spools. We can use them.”
“Just the thing!” Johnny answered. “I’ll put them at the front of the box and label one ‘Start’ and the other ‘Stop.’”
“How can we guide the Flying Machine when we get to flying?” Janey asked. “When we make believe we’re flying, I mean.”
“I’ve put only one nail in the rudder,” Johnny replied, “so that by pulling on these strings we can guide it. See?” And Johnny showed his sister how the board with only one nail in it turned from side to side as he pulled the strings.
“Oh! That’s fine!” Janey exclaimed. “I’ll ask Grandma if we may have some lunch to take with us on our trip,” and she ran into the house.
When Janey came out with a tiny basket of lunch Johnny had marked “Polly Ann” on both sides of the box. He had fastened the sail made from the old sheet to a stick and ran a string through a screw-eye, so that the sail could be raised or lowered whenever they might wish.
“Let’s see!” Johnny mused. “Have we everything we need?”
“Well, here are the wings, the rudder, the ‘Start’ and ‘Stop’ spools and the sail,” Janey told him. “I think that is all, don’t you?”
“All right, then, Sis! Put the lunch on one of the sails. No!” and Johnny hammered a nail on one side of the box, “hang the basket of lunch there and climb in. It’s going to be a tight squeeze for both of us. But it won’t take this Flying Machine long to get to Mars or Venus or the Moon, and we can get out and rest on some of the Stars if we get tired.”
“Let’s go to the Moon first, and then to the Milky Way!” Janey cried.
“All right, if you are ready!” Johnny agreed, as he sat in the bottom of the box, in front of Janey. “Hold your hat, Sis, for here she goes!”
And Johnny turned one of the spools in the front of the box.
“Oh! isn’t the view grand from up here, Johnny!” Janey cried. “See, there is Grandma’s house ’way down below, and we are getting closer to the Moon all the time!”
“Those are strange birds flying by, Sis,” said Johnny, who could make believe any way he liked. “Can you make out what they are?”
“Yes,” Janey answered, as she looked at the chickens in the yard, “they are Eagles. See that beautiful big one with the red comb? That’s a Roc!”
“My, I wish this Flying Machine would really Fly!” Johnny said, a little later. “But it’s fun pretending anyways. Let’s get out at the next Star, Sis, and eat our lunch. I didn’t eat much breakfast and I’m hungry!”
“All right!” said Janey, who wasn’t tired of the play either. “Wait a minute!” as Johnny started to climb out of the box. “You forgot to stop the Flying Machine.”
“Well, I’ll bring it to a stop very slowly,” Johnny told her. “So that we won’t strike these mountain tops and tip over!”
And he turned the “Stop” spool a fraction of an inch.
Neither of the children was prepared for what followed.
The Polly Ann shot up over the fence, suddenly, scattering the startled chickens in all directions, and as Johnny and Janey crouched low in the box the familiar objects about the farm whizzed by them like bullets.
“We are really going!” Janey gasped, as they sped upward. “I feel as if I’d like to jump!”
At this Johnny caught his sister’s foot and held it tight.
“Don’t look over the side until you get used to flying!” he cautioned her, very wisely.
“Twist the other spool!” Janey told him. “I don’t like to be up so high. Everything seems so small.”
Johnny gave the other spool a twist and the Flying Machine swept ahead at twice its former speed.
“You’re twisting the wrong spool!” Janey screamed.
“You must have been twisting the wrong one all the time, somehow. See, you’ve been twisting the one marked ‘Start.’”
“Sure enough! That’s just what I did,” Johnny admitted. “Well, I’ll twist the other now.”
The Flying Machine came to such a sudden halt that the children were almost thrown from the box, and the basket of lunch was whirled off its nail so suddenly that it flew straight ahead of the Flying Machine for nearly a hundred feet before it curved to the earth.
The children watched it curve and circle as it fell. Then the paper came off and there was a regular shower of sandwiches, doughnuts and small cakes.
“Now, Mister! You be careful or we’ll never get back!” Janey cried as she clutched her brother tightly by the collar. “Send the Flying Machine down to the ground again, Johnny. Please do!”
But the Flying Machine, when it stopped, hung suspended in the air although when Johnny gently twisted the “Start” spool and it started off again, it went in the opposite direction from the earth.
“It won’t go down,” cried Johnny, as he brought the Flying Machine to a stop again. “What shall we do?”
“Well, if it won’t go down, there’s nothing we do but go on!” Janey answered. “It’s all your fault for building the Flying Machine!”
“Now, Sis, that isn’t fair!” cried Johnny. “You know you suggested putting on the spools, and if we’d left them off we shouldn’t have started. What we should have thought of was something to make the Flying Machine go up or down as we wanted. Now it only goes ahead or stops.”
“Try guiding it with the rudder,” Janey suggested.
So Johnny twisted the “Start” spool, and as the Flying Machine started forward he pulled one of the rudder strings. The Flying Machine slowly turned and flew in a large circle.
“We can’t do it!” Janey cried, the tears coming to her eyes. “We can’t make it go down as we want to! We’re only flying in a circle above Grandma’s farm. See! Grandma and Grandpa and a lot of other people are out looking at us!”
Sure enough, so far below that they looked like tiny specks of dust, the children could see their grandparents and many of the neighbors watching them as they sailed.
Johnny brought the Flying Machine to a stop directly over Grandma and Grandpa and the neighbors, and they could hear Grandpa calling to them quite distinctly. The children called back at the top of their voices, but they couldn’t make Grandma and Grandpa hear.
Johnny tried twisting first one spool and then the other, but this jerked the Flying Machine so much that his sister objected. She said she would rather go on than stay just where they were, doing nothing. So the children took off their hats and waved farewell to the people below, and Johnny, twisting the “Start” spool gently at first, increased the speed until the Flying Machine sped along like a meteor, leaving the farm far below and behind.
The different colors in the fields gave the Earth a sort of patchwork effect, but as the Flying Machine climbed higher and higher the yellows and greens and blues blended together until the Earth was more the color of an opal. In fact, the children now saw a continuous change of colors, ranging from a deep yellow to a bluish purple, with every now and then a speck of crimson as the sunlight glanced along a hill.
“Isn’t it beautiful!” Janey cried. “I don’t feel as if I wished to jump any more, do you?”
“No, I don’t feel like jumping,” her brother answered, and he stopped the Flying Machine so that he could see better. “Look, Sis, what causes that yellow blaze down there?”
They both looked over the side of the Flying Machine and saw the Earth bathed in a sheen of gold, with here and there glimpses of brilliant purple showing.
“Oh! I know what it is now!” Janey cried, presently. “A thunder storm has just passed between us and the Earth and the sun is shining on the Clouds. Look! See the lightning?”
A faint rumble came up to them like someone rolling potatoes down a wooden trough, and a vivid streak of blue zigzagged through the yellow of the clouds.
“The purple we see is the Earth in shadow beneath the clouds,” Johnny concluded, after a while.
The children watched the strange sight for a long time
before they decided to go on. Then they looked away for a moment, and when they looked back toward the Earth they could not find it at once. They had traveled so far that the Earth now seemed no larger than a bright Star, and but for the fact that it was almost beneath them they would never have recognized it at all.
Lots of other Stars could be plainly seen now. The Moon had grown to an enormous size; in fact, it almost filled the sky behind them. The children were greatly surprised to see it. They had been watching the Stars in front of them and they had not once turned their heads the other way.
“What is that?” Janey cried suddenly, as she grasped her brother’s arm and pulled one of the rudder strings so that the Flying Machine swung around to face the Moon.
Johnny was so startled at the wonderful sight that he gave the “Stop” spool a twist and brought the Flying Machine to a stop with a jerk.
“It must be the Moon!” said Johnny, in an awed voice, after he had looked at the enormous object in speechless amazement for fully five minutes.
“It is the Moon!” Janey agreed. “See, there is the Man in the Moon’s face as plain as day, and there are mountains and valleys, too. See?”
The Moon, seen from where the children viewed it, was of a pale bluish-greenish tint, except where the rays of the Sun slanted across the mountain peaks and into the deep valleys. It seemed to Johnny and Janey as though they were looking through beautiful blue-green glass down into a dark well; for wherever the Sun did not shine or was not reflected from the mountains into the valleys the Moon’s surface was black—so black that it made the rest of the Moon seem transparent. This seemed to the children very strange.
“Say, Sis,” Johnny exclaimed, “this can’t be the Moon after all! It must be some extra big Star.”
“I believe it is the Moon,” said his sister, “for, you can see the face of the Man in the Moon quite plainly. But it is a great deal larger than it usually is, and it doesn’t look quite as it does from the earth. But see! There are the Man’s eyes and nose and mouth.”
“Yes, I see it now,” Johnny admitted. “But it isn’t exactly the same view we have from the Earth.”
“You are right, Johnny!” said Janey, after a moment. “It isn’t the same view. We must have passed to the other side of the Moon!”
Johnny started the Flying Machine again and steered it toward the Moon. And as they whirled around the side of the Moon the part that resembled a man’s face twisted about until it disappeared.
“I can’t tell whether we are getting closer to the Moon or not!” cried Johnny anxiously.
Presently, however, they saw the face of the Man in the Moon coming around from the other side.
“We must have made a complete circuit of the Moon,” Janey decided. “See, Johnny, the rudder is pulled over to one side! That’s the reason!”
Johnny pulled the rudder string until the Flying Machine was aimed right at the Moon, and they approached it at great speed.
“Slow down, Johnny!” Janey cried, when they could make out all the mountain tops and valleys very distinctly. “It feels too much as if we were falling when we go so fast.”
So Johnny twisted the “Start” spool backwards until they were flying very slowly and seemed to be floating down toward the Moon’s surface as lightly as a feather.
The Flying Machine was still headed directly toward the Moon, and this gave the children the impression that they were falling. But Johnny, by pulling the rudder about occasionally, steered the Flying Machine so that they landed among large mushrooms and strange ferns, instead of on the mountain tops or in the deep valleys they had seen on the other side of the Moon.
For, although the children did not know this, they had passed around the side of the Moon that always faces the Earth and had landed in the Magical Land of Noom.
Written by Thorton Burgess
Shadow the Weasel was a prisoner. He who always had been free to go and come as he pleased and to do as he pleased was now in a little narrow cage and quite helpless. For once he had been careless, and this was the result. Farmer Brown’s boy had caught him in a trap. Of course, he should have known better than to visit the henhouse a second time. He should have known that Farmer Brown’s boy would be sure to do something about it. The truth is, he had yielded to temptation when common sense had warned him not to. So he had no one to blame for his present difficulty but himself, and he knew it.
At first he had been in a terrible rage and had bitten at the wires until he had made his mouth sore. When he had made sure that the wires were stronger than his teeth, he wisely stopped trying to get out in that way, and made up his mind that the only thing to do was to watch for a chance to slip out, if the door of the cage should happen to be left unfastened.
Of course it hurt his pride terribly to be made fun of by those who always had feared him. Happy Jack Squirrel was the first one of these to see him. Farmer Brown’s boy had put the cage down near the foot of the big maple tree in which Happy Jack was living, because Shadow had driven him out of the Green Forest. As soon as Happy Jack had made sure that Shadow really and truly was a prisoner and so quite harmless, he had acted as if he were crazy. Perhaps he was—crazy with joy. You see, he no longer had anything to be really afraid of, for there was no one but Shadow from whom he could not get away by running into his house. Billy Mink was the only other who could follow him there, and Billy was not likely to come climbing up a tree so close to Farmer Brown’s house.
So Happy Jack raced up and down the tree in the very greatest excitement, and his tongue went quite as fast as his legs. He wanted everybody to know that Shadow was a prisoner at last. At first he did not dare to go very close to the cage. You see, he had so long feared Shadow that he was still afraid of him even though he was so helpless. But little by little Happy Jack grew bolder and came very close.
Of course Happy Jack hastened to tell everybody he met all about Shadow, so it wasn’t long before Shadow began to receive many visitors. Whenever Farmer Brown’s boy was not around there was sure to be one or more of the little people who had feared Shadow to come and see him. Somehow it seems as if always it is that way when people get into trouble. You know it is very easy to appear to be bold and brave when there is nothing to be afraid of. Of course that isn’t bravery at all, though many seem to think it is.
Now what do you think that right down in their hearts all these little people who came to see Shadow the Weasel hoped they would see? Why, they hoped they would see Shadow afraid. Yes, Sir, that is what they hoped. But they didn’t and that is where they were disappointed. Not once did Shadow show the least sign of fear. He didn’t know what Farmer Brown’s boy would do with him, and he had every reason to fear that if he was not to be kept a prisoner for the rest of his natural life, something else would happen. But he was too proud and too brave to let anyone know that any such fear ever entered his mind. Whatever his faults, Shadow is no coward. He boldly took bits of meat which Farmer Brown’s boy brought to him, and not once appeared in the least afraid, so that, much as he disliked him, Farmer Brown’s boy actually had to admire him. He was a prisoner, but he kept just as stout a heart as ever.
When the little people of the Green Forest and Green Meadows who fear Shadow the Weasel found that he was a prisoner, many of them took particular pains to visit him when the way was clear, just to tell him that they were not afraid of him and that they were glad that he was a prisoner. Shadow never said a word in reply. He was too wise to do that. He just turned his back on them. But all the time he was storing up in his mind all these things, and he meant, if ever he got free again, to make life very uncomfortable for those whose silly tongues were trying to make him more miserable than he already felt.
But these little people didn’t stop to think of what might happen. They just took it for granted that Shadow never again would run wild and free in the Green Forest, and so they just let their tongues run and enjoyed doing it. Perhaps they wouldn’t have, if they could have known just what was going on in the mind of Farmer Brown’s boy. Ever since he had found Shadow in the trap which he had set for him in the henhouse, Farmer Brown’s boy had been puzzling over what he should do with his prisoner. At first he had thought he would keep him in the cage the rest of his life. But somehow, whenever he looked into Shadow’s fierce little eyes and saw how unafraid they looked, he got to thinking of how terrible it must be to be shut up in a little narrow cage when one has had all the Green Forest in which to go and come.
He remembered that after all Shadow was one of Old Mother Nature’s little people, and that he must serve some purpose in Mother Nature’s great plan. Bad as he seemed, she must have some use for him. Perhaps it was to teach others through fear of him how to be smarter and take better care of themselves and so be better fitted to do their parts. The more he thought of this, the harder it was for Farmer Brown’s boy to make up his mind. But if he couldn’t keep him as a prisoner, what could he do?
He was scowling down at Shadow one morning and puzzling over this when a happy idea came to him. “I know what I’ll do!” he exclaimed and without another word he picked up the cage with Shadow in it and started off across the Green Meadows, which now, you know, were not green at all but covered with snow. Happy Jack watched him out of sight. He had gone in the direction of the Old Pasture. He was gone a long time, and when he did return, the cage was empty.
Happy Jack blinked at the empty cage. Then he began to ask in a scolding tone, “What did you do with him? What did you do with him?”
Farmer Brown’s boy just smiled and tossed a nut to Happy Jack. And far up in the Old Pasture, Shadow the Weasel was once more free. It was well for Happy Jack’s peace of mind that he didn’t know that.
Taking things for granted doesn’t do at all in this world. To take a thing for granted is to think that it is so without taking the trouble to find out whether it is or not. It is apt not only to get you yourself into trouble, but to make trouble for other people as well. Happy Jack saw Farmer Brown’s boy carry Shadow the Weasel away in a cage, and he saw him bring back the cage empty. What could he have done with Shadow? For a while he tried to get Farmer Brown’s boy to tell him, but of course Farmer Brown’s boy didn’t understand Happy Jack’s language.
Now Happy Jack knew just what he would like to believe. He would like to believe that Farmer Brown’s boy had taken Shadow away and that he would never see him again. And because he wanted to believe that, it wasn’t very hard to believe it. There was the empty cage. Of course Farmer Brown’s boy wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of trapping Shadow unless he intended to get rid of him for good.
“He’s gotten rid of him, that’s what he’s done!” said Happy Jack to himself, because that is what he would have done if he had been in Farmer Brown’s boy’s place. So having made up his mind that this is what had been done with Shadow, he at once told all his friends that it was so, and was himself supremely happy. You see, he felt that he no longer had anything to worry about. Yes, Sir, Happy Jack was happy. He liked the house Farmer Brown’s boy had made for him in the big maple tree close by his own house. He was sure of plenty to eat, because Farmer Brown’s boy always looked out for that, and as a result Happy Jack was growing fat. None of his enemies of the Green Forest dared come so near to Farmer Brown’s house, and the only one he had to watch out for at all was Black Cat. By this time he wasn’t afraid of her; not a bit. In fact, he rather enjoyed teasing her and getting her to chase him. When she was dozing on the doorstep he liked to sneak up very close, wake her with a sharp bark, and then race for the nearest tree, and there scold her to his heart’s content. He had made friends with Mrs. Brown and with Farmer Brown, and he even felt almost friends with Bowser the Hound. Sometimes he would climb up on the roof of Bowser’s little house and drop nutshells on Bowser’s head when he was asleep. The funny thing was Bowser never seemed to mind. He would lazily open his eyes and wink one of them at Happy Jack and thump with his tail. He seemed to feel that now Happy Jack was one of the family, just as he was.
So Happy Jack was just as happy as a fat Gray Squirrel with nothing to worry him could be. He was so happy that Sammy Jay actually became jealous. You know Sammy is a born trouble maker. He visited Happy Jack every morning, and while he helped himself to the good things that he always found spread for him, for Farmer Brown’s boy always had something for the little feathered folk to eat, he would hint that such goodness and kindness was not to be trusted, and that something was sure to happen. That is just the way with some folks; they are always suspicious.
But nothing that Sammy Jay could say troubled Happy Jack; and Sammy would fly away quite put out because he couldn’t spoil Happy Jack’s happiness the least little bit.
Sammy Jay chuckled as he flew across the snow-covered Green Meadows on his way to his home in the Green Forest. He chuckled and he chuckled. To have heard him you would have thought that either he had thought of something very pleasant, or something very pleasant had happened to him. Once he turned in the direction of Farmer Brown’s house, but changed his mind as he saw the Black Shadows creeping out from the Purple Hills, and once more headed for the Green Forest.
“Too late to-day. Time I was home now. It’ll keep until to-morrow,” he muttered. Then he chuckled, and he was still chuckling when he reached the big hemlock tree, among the thick branches of which he spent each night.
“Don’t know what started me off to the Old Pasture this afternoon, but I’m glad I went. My, my, my, but I’m glad I went,” said he, as he fluffed out his feathers and prepared to tuck his head under his wing. “It pays to snoop around in this world and see what is going on. I learned a long time ago not to believe everything I hear, and that the surest way to make sure of things is to find out for myself. Nothing like using my own eyes and my own ears. Well, I must get to sleep.” He began to chuckle again, and he was still chuckling as he fell asleep.
The next morning Sammy Jay was astir at the very first sign of light. He waited just long enough to see that every feather was in place, for Sammy is a bit vain, and very particular about his dress. Then he headed straight for Farmer Brown’s house. Just as he expected he found Happy Jack Squirrel was awake, for Happy Jack is an early riser.
“Good morning,” said Sammy Jay, and tried very hard to make his voice sound smooth and pleasant, a very hard thing for Sammy to do, for his voice, you know, is naturally harsh and unpleasant. “You seem to be looking as happy as ever.”
“Of course I am,” replied Happy Jack. “Why shouldn’t I be? I haven’t a thing to worry about. Of course I’m happy, and I hope you’re just as happy as I am. I’m going to get my breakfast now, and then I’ll be happier still.”
“That’s so. There’s nothing like a good breakfast to make one happy,” said Sammy Jay, helping himself to some suet tied to a branch of the maple tree. “By the way, I saw an old friend of yours yesterday. He inquired after you particularly. He didn’t exactly send his love, but he said that he hoped you are as well and fat as ever, and that he will see you again some time. He said that he didn’t know of anyone he likes to look at better than you.”
Happy Jack looked flattered. “That was very nice of him,” he said. “Who was it?”
“Guess,” replied Sammy.
Happy Jack scratched his head thoughtfully. There were not many friends in winter. Most of them were asleep or had gone to the far away southland.
“Peter Rabbit,” he ventured.
Sammy shook his head.
Again Sammy shook his head.
“Jumper the Hare!”
“Guess again,” said Sammy, chuckling.
“Little Joe Otter!”
“Wrong,” replied Sammy.
“I give up. Who was it? Do tell me,” begged Happy Jack.
“It was Shadow the Weasel!” cried Sammy, triumphantly.
Happy Jack dropped the nut he was just going to eat, and in place of happiness something very like fear grew and grew in his eyes. “I—I don’t believe you,” he stammered. “Farmer Brown’s boy took him away. I saw him take him.”
“But you didn’t see what he did with Shadow,” declared Sammy, “He took him ‘way up in the Old Pasture and let him go, and I saw him up there yesterday. That’s what comes of guessing at things. Shadow is alive and well. Well, I must be going along. I hope you’ll enjoy your breakfast.”
And with this, off flew Sammy Jay.
As for Happy Jack, he worried for a little while, but as Shadow didn’t come, and there was nothing else to worry about, little by little Happy Jack’s high spirits returned, until he was as happy as ever.
It was a most respectable old lamp, which had seen many, many years of service and now was to retire with a pension. It was this very evening at its post for the last time, giving light to the street. Its feelings were something like those of an old dancer at the theater who is dancing for the last time and knows that on the morrow she will be in her room, alone and forgotten.
The lamp had very great anxiety about the next day, for it knew that it had to appear for the first time at the town hall to be inspected by the mayor and the council, who were to decide whether it was fit for further service; whether it was good enough to be used to light the inhabitants of one of the suburbs, or in the country, at some factory. If the lamp could not be used for one of these purposes, it would be sent at once to an iron foundry to be melted down. In this latter case it might be turned into anything, and it wondered very much whether it would then be able to remember that it had once been a street lamp.
Whatever might happen, it seemed certain that the lamp would be separated from the watchman and his wife, whose family it looked upon as its own. The lamp had first been hung up on the very evening that the watchman, then a robust young man, had entered upon the duties of his office. Ah, well! it was a very long time since one became a lamp and the other a watchman. His wife had some little pride in those days; she condescended to glance at the lamp only when she passed by in the evening—never in the daytime. But in later years, when all of them—the watchman, the wife, and the lamp—had grown old, she had attended to it, cleaning it and keeping it supplied with oil. The old people were thoroughly honest; they had never cheated the lamp of a single drop of the oil provided for it.
This was the lamp’s last night in the street, and to-morrow it must go to the town hall—two very dark things to think of. No wonder it did not burn brightly. How many persons it had lighted on their way, and how much it had seen! As much, very likely, as the mayor and corporations themselves! None of these thoughts were uttered aloud, however, for the lamp was good and honorable and would not willingly do harm to any one, especially to those in authority. As one thing after another was recalled to its mind, the light would flash up with sudden brightness. At such moments the lamp had a conviction that it would be remembered.
“There was a handsome young man, once,” thought the lamp; “it is certainly a long while ago, but I remember that he had a little note, written on pink paper with a gold edge. The writing was elegant, evidently a lady’s. Twice he read it through, and kissed it, and then looked up at me with eyes that said quite plainly, ‘I am the happiest of men!’ Only he and I know what was written on this, his first letter from his lady-love. Ah, yes, and there was another pair of eyes that I remember; it is really wonderful how the thoughts jump from one thing to another! A funeral passed through the street. A young and beautiful woman lay on a bier decked of garlands of flowers, and attended by torches which quite overpowered my light. All along the street stood the people from the houses, in crowds, ready to join the procession. But when the torches had passed from before me and I could look around, I saw one person standing alone, leaning against my post and weeping. Never shall I forget the sorrowful eyes that looked up at me.”
These and similar memories occupied the old street lamp on this the last time that its light would shine. The sentry, when he is relieved from his post, knows, at least, who will be his successor, and may whisper a few words to him. But the lamp did not know its successor, or it might have given him a few hints respecting rain or mist and might have informed him how far the moon’s rays would reach, and from which side the wind generally blew, and so on.
On the bridge over the canal stood three persons who wished to recommend themselves to the lamp, for they thought it could give the office to whomever it chose. The first was a herring’s head, which could emit light in the darkness. He remarked that it would be a great saving of oil if they placed him on the lamp-post. Number two was a piece of rotten wood, which also shines in the dark. He considered himself descended from an old stem, once the pride of the forest. The third was a glowworm, and how he found his way there the lamp could not imagine; yet there he was, and could really give light as well as the others. But the rotten wood and the herring’s head declared most seriously, by all they held sacred, that the glowworm only gave light at certain times and must not be allowed to compete with them. The old lamp assured them that not one of them could give sufficient light to fill the position of a street lamp, but they would believe nothing that it said. When they discovered that it had not the power of naming its successor, they said they were very glad to hear it, for the old lamp was too old and worn out to make a proper choice.
At this moment the wind came rushing round the corner of the street and through the air-holes of the old lamp. “What is this I hear?” it asked. “Are you going away to-morrow? Is this evening the last time we shall meet? Then I must present you with a farewell gift. I will blow it into your brain, so that in future not only shall you be able to remember all that you have seen or heard in the past, but your light within shall be so bright that you will be able to understand all that is said or done in your presence.”
“Oh, that is really a very, very great gift,” said the old lamp. “I thank you most heartily. I only hope I shall not be melted down.”
“That is not likely to happen yet,” said the wind. “I will also blow a memory into you, so that, should you receive other similar presents, your old age will pass very pleasantly.”
“That is, if I am not melted down,” said the lamp. “But should I, in that case, still retain my memory?”
“Do be reasonable, old lamp,” said the wind, puffing away.
At this moment the moon burst forth from the clouds. “What will you give the old lamp?” asked the wind.
“I can give nothing,” she replied. “I am on the wane, and no lamps have ever given me light, while I have frequently shone upon them.” With these words the moon hid herself again behind the clouds, that she might be saved from further annoyances. Just then a drop fell on the lamp from the roof of the house, but the drop explained that it was a gift from those gray clouds and perhaps the best of all gifts. “I shall penetrate you so thoroughly,” it said, “that you will have the power of becoming rusty, and, if you wish it, can crumble into dust in one night.”
But this seemed to the lamp a very shabby present, and the wind thought so, too. “Does no one give any more? Will no one give any more?” shouted the breath of the wind, as loud as it could. Then a bright, falling star came down, leaving a broad, luminous streak behind it.
“What was that?” cried the herring’s head.
“Did not a star fall? I really believe it went into the lamp. Certainly, when such high-born personages try for the office we may as well go home.”
And so they did, all three, while the old lamp threw a wonderfully strong light all around.
“This is a glorious gift,” it said. “The bright stars have always been a joy to me and have always shone more brilliantly than I ever could shine, though I have tried with my whole might. Now they have noticed me, a poor old lamp, and have sent me a gift that will enable me to clearly see everything that I remember, as if it still stood before me, and to let it be seen by all those who love me. And herein lies the truest happiness, for pleasures which we cannot share with others are only half enjoyed.”
“That sentiment does you honor,” said the wind; “but for this purpose wax lights will be necessary. If these are not lighted in you, your peculiar faculties will not benefit others in the least. The stars have not thought of this. They suppose that you and every other light must be a wax taper. But I must go down now.” So it laid itself to rest.
“Wax tapers, indeed!” said the lamp; “I have never yet had these, nor is it likely I ever shall. If I could only be sure of not being melted down!”
The next day—well, perhaps we had better pass over the next day. The evening had come, and the lamp was resting in a grandfather’s chair; and guess where! Why, at the old watchman’s house. He had begged as a favor that the mayor and corporation would allow him to keep the street lamp in consideration of his long and faithful service, as he had himself hung it up and lighted it on the day he first commenced his duties, four and twenty years ago. He looked upon it almost as his own child. He had no children, so the lamp was given to him.
There lay the lamp in the great armchair near the warm stove. It seemed almost to have grown larger, for it appeared quite to fill the chair. The old people sat at their supper, casting friendly glances at it, and would willingly have admitted it to a place at the table. It is quite true that they dwelt in a cellar two yards below ground, and had to cross a stone passage to get to their room. But within, it was warm and comfortable, and strips of list had been nailed round the door. The bed and the little window had curtains, and everything looked clean and neat. On the window seat stood two curious flowerpots, which a sailor named Christian had brought from the East or West Indies. They were of clay, and in the form of two elephants with open backs; they were filled with earth, and through the open space flowers bloomed. In one grew some very fine chives or leeks; this was the kitchen garden. The other, which contained a beautiful geranium, they called their flower garden. On the wall hung a large colored print, representing the Congress of Vienna and all the kings and emperors. A clock with heavy weights hung on the wall and went “tick, tick, tick,” steadily enough; yet it was always rather too fast, which, however, the old people said was better than being too slow. They were now eating their supper, while the old street lamp, as we have heard, lay in the grandfather’s armchair near the stove.
It seemed to the lamp as if the whole world had turned round. But after a while the old watchman looked at the lamp and spoke of what they had both gone through together—in rain and in fog, during the short, bright nights of summer or in the long winter nights, through the drifting snow storms when he longed to be at home in the cellar. Then the lamp felt that all was well again. It saw everything that had happened quite clearly, as if the events were passing before it. Surely the wind had given it an excellent gift!
The old people were very active and industrious; they were never idle for even a single hour. On Sunday afternoons they would bring out some books, generally a book of travels which they greatly liked. The old man would read aloud about Africa, with its great forests and the wild elephants, while his wife would listen attentively, stealing a glance now and then at the clay elephants which served as flower pots. “I can almost imagine I am seeing it all,” she said.
Ah! how the lamp wished for a wax taper to be lighted in it, for then the old woman would have seen the smallest detail as clearly as it did itself; the lofty trees, with their thickly entwined branches, and whole herds of elephants treading down bamboo thickets with their broad, heavy feet.
“What is the use of all my capabilities,” sighed the old lamp, “when I cannot obtain any wax lights? They have only oil and tallow here, and these will not do.” One day a great heap of wax-candle ends found their way into the cellar. The larger pieces were burned, and the smaller ones the old woman kept for waxing her thread. So there were now candles enough, but it never occurred to any one to put a little piece in the lamp.
“Here I am now, with my rare powers,” thought the lamp. “I have faculties within me, but I cannot share them. They do not know that I could cover these white walls with beautiful tapestry, or change them into noble forests or, indeed, to anything else they might wish.”
The lamp, however, was always kept clean and shining in a corner, where it attracted all eyes. Strangers looked upon it as lumber, but the old people did not care for that; they loved it. One day—it was the watchman’s birthday—the old woman approached the lamp, smiling to herself, and said, “I will have an illumination to-day, in honor of my old man.” The lamp rattled in its metal frame, for it thought, “Now at last I shall have a light within me.” But, after all, no wax light was placed in the lamp—only oil, as usual.
The lamp burned through the whole evening and began to perceive too clearly that the gift of the stars would remain a hidden treasure all its life. Then it had a dream; for to one with its faculties, dreaming was not difficult. It dreamed that the old people were gone and that it had been taken to the iron foundry to be melted down. This caused the lamp quite as much anxiety as on the day when it had been called upon to appear before the mayor and the council at the town hall. But though it had been endowed with the power of falling into decay from rust when it pleased, it did not make use of this power. It was therefore put into the melting furnace and changed into an elegant iron candlestick, as elegant as you could wish to see—one intended to hold a wax taper. The candlestick was in the form of an angel holding a nosegay, in the center of which the wax taper was to be placed. It was to stand on a green writing table in a very pleasant room, where there were many books scattered about and splendid paintings on the walls.
The owner of the room was a poet and a man of intellect. Everything he thought or wrote was pictured around him. Nature showed herself to him sometimes in the dark forests, sometimes in cheerful meadows where the storks were strutting about, or on the deck of a ship sailing across the foaming sea, with the clear, blue sky above, or at night in the glittering stars.
“What powers I possess!” said the lamp, awakening from its dream. “I could almost wish to be melted down; but no, that must not be while the old people live. They love me for myself alone; they keep me bright and supply me with oil. I am as well off as the picture of the Congress, in which they take so much pleasure.” And from that time it felt at rest in itself, and not more so than such an honorable old lamp really deserved to be.
Written by Thornton Burgess
Isn’t it strange how hard it seems to be for some boys to go to bed at the proper time and how much harder it is for them to get up in the morning? It was just so with Farmer Brown’s boy. I suppose he wouldn’t have been a real boy if it hadn’t been so. Of course, while he was sick with the mumps, he didn’t have to get up, and while he was getting over the mumps his mother let him sleep as long as he wanted to in the morning. That was very nice, but it made it all the harder to get up when he should after he was well again. In summer it wasn’t so bad getting up early, but in winter—well, that was the one thing about winter that Farmer Brown’s boy didn’t like.
On this particular morning Farmer Brown had called him, and he had replied with a sleepy “All right.” and then had rolled over and promptly gone to sleep again. In two minutes he was dreaming just as if there were no such things as duties to be done. For a while they were very pleasant dreams, very pleasant indeed. But suddenly they changed. He was being chased in his dream. He couldn’t see what it was behind him but he felt he had to run. In his dream he ran and ran. Then he tripped and fell, and couldn’t get back up. He could feel something coming closer and closer.
With a yell, Farmer Brown’s boy woke up and sprang out of bed. For a minute he couldn’t think where he was. Then with a sigh of relief he realized that he was safe in his own snug little room with the first Jolly Little Sunbeam creeping in at the window to wish him good morning and chide him for being such a lazy fellow. A thump and a scurry of little feet caught his attention, and he turned to see a Gray Squirrel running for the open window. It jumped up on the sill, looked out, then jumped down inside again, and ran over to a corner of the room, where he crouched as if in great fear. It was clear that he had been badly frightened by the yell of Farmer Brown’s boy, and that he was still more frightened by something he had seen when he looked out of the window.
A great light broke over Farmer Brown’s boy. “Happy Jack, you little rascal, I believe you are the thing that scared me so!” he exclaimed. But what is wrong? You look so frightened.”
He went over to the window and looked out. A movement in the big maple tree just outside caught his attention. He saw a long, slim white form dart down the tree and disappear. He knew who it was. It was Shadow the Weasel.
“So that pesky Weasel has been after you again, and you came to me for help,” said he gently, as he coaxed Happy Jack to come to him. “This is the place to come to every time. Poor little chap, you’re all of a tremble.” He gently stroked Happy Jack as he talked, and Happy Jack let him.
“Breakfast!” called a voice from downstairs.
“Coming!” replied Farmer Brown’s boy as he put Happy Jack on the table by a dish of nuts and began to scramble into his clothes.
Happy Jack didn’t dare go home. Can you think of anything more dreadful than to be afraid to go to your own home? Why, home is the dearest place in the world, and it should be the safest. Just think how you would feel if you should be away from home, and then you should learn that it wouldn’t be safe for you to go back there again, and you had no other place to go. It often happens that way with the little people of the Green Meadows and the Green Forest. It was that way with Happy Jack Squirrel now.
You see, Happy Jack knew that Shadow the Weasel is not one to give up easily. Shadow has one very good trait, and that is persistence. He is not easily discouraged. When he sets out to do a thing, usually he does it. No, he isn’t easily discouraged. Happy Jack knows this. No one knows it better. So Happy Jack didn’t dare to go home. He knew that any minute of night or day Shadow might surprise him there. He more than half suspected that Shadow was at that very time hiding somewhere along the way ready to spring out on him if he should try to go back home.
He had stayed in the room of Farmer Brown’s boy until Mrs. Brown had come to make the bed. Then he jumped out of the window into the big maple tree. He wasn’t quite sure of Mrs. Brown yet. She had kindly eyes. They were just like the eyes of Farmer Brown’s boy. But he didn’t feel really acquainted yet, and he felt safer outside than inside the room while she was there.
“Oh dear, oh dear! What shall I do?
I have no home, and so
To keep me warm and snug and safe
I have no place to go!”
Happy Jack said this over and over as he sat in the maple tree, trying to decide what was to be done.
“I wonder what ails that Squirrel. He seems to be doing a lot of scolding,” said Mrs. Brown, as she looked out of the window. And that shows how easy it is to misunderstand people when we don’t know all about their affairs. Mrs. Brown thought that Happy Jack was scolding, when all the time he was just frightened and worried and wondering where he could go and what he could do to feel safe from Shadow the Weasel.
Because he didn’t dare to go back to the Green Forest, he spent most of the day in the big maple tree close to Farmer Brown’s house. The window had been closed, so he couldn’t go inside. He looked at it longingly a great many times during the day, hoping that he would find it open. But he didn’t. You see, it was opened only at night when Farmer Brown’s boy went to bed, so that he would have plenty of fresh air all night. Of course Happy Jack didn’t know that. All his life he had had plenty of fresh air all the time, and couldn’t understand how people could live in houses all closed up.
Late that afternoon Farmer Brown’s boy, who had been at school all day, came whistling into the yard. He noticed Happy Jack right away. “Hello! You back again! Isn’t one good meal a day enough?” he exclaimed.
“He’s been there all day,” said his mother, who had come to the door just in time to overhear him. “I don’t know what is bothering him.”
Then Farmer Brown’s boy noticed how unhappy Happy Jack looked. He remembered Happy Jack’s fright that morning.
“I know what’s the matter!” he cried. “It’s that Weasel. The poor little chap is afraid to go home. We must see what we can do for him. I wonder if he will stay if I make a new house for him. I believe I’ll try it and see.”
Certainly things couldn’t look much darker than they did to Happy Jack Squirrel as he sat in the big maple tree at the side of Farmer Brown’s house, and saw jolly, round, red Mr. Sun getting ready to go to bed behind the Purple Hills. He was afraid to go to his home in the Green Forest because Shadow the Weasel might be waiting for him there. He was afraid of the night which would soon come. He was cold, and he was hungry. Altogether he was as miserable a little Squirrel as ever was seen.
He had just made up his mind that he would have to go look for a hollow in one of the trees in the Old Orchard in which to spend the night, when around the corner of the house came Farmer Brown’s boy with something under one arm and dragging a ladder. He whistled cheerily to Happy Jack as he put the ladder against the tree and climbed up. By this time Happy Jack had grown so timid that he was just a little afraid of Farmer Brown’s boy, so he climbed as high up in the tree as he could get and watched what was going on below. Even if he was afraid, there was comfort in having Farmer Brown’s boy near.
For some time Farmer Brown’s boy worked busily at the place where the branch that Happy Jack knew so well started out from the trunk of the tree towards the window of Farmer Brown’s boy’s room. When he had fixed things to suit him, he went down the ladder and carried it away with him. In the crook of the tree he had left the strange thing that he had brought under his arm. In spite of his fears, Happy Jack was curious. Little by little he crept nearer. What he saw was a box with a round hole, just about big enough for him to go through, in one end, and in front of it a little shelf. On the shelf were some of the nuts that he liked best.
For a long time Happy Jack looked and looked. Was it a trap? Somehow he couldn’t believe that it was. What would Farmer Brown’s boy try to trap him for when they were such good friends? At last the sight of the nuts was too much for him. It certainly was safe enough to help himself to those. How good they tasted! Almost before he knew it, they were gone. Then he got up courage enough to peep inside. The box was filled with soft hay. It certainly did look inviting in there to a fellow who had no home and no place to go. He put his head inside. Finally he went wholly in. It was just as nice as it looked.
“I believe,” thought Happy Jack, “that he made this little house just for me, and that he put all this hay in here for my bed. He doesn’t know much about making a bed, but I guess he means well.”
With that he went to work happily to make up a bed to suit him, and by the time the first Black Shadow had crept as far as the big maple tree, Happy Jack was curled up fast asleep in his new house.
Happy Jack Squirrel was happy once more. He liked his new house, the house that Farmer Brown’s boy had made for him and fastened in the big maple tree close by the house in which he himself lived. Happy Jack and Farmer Brown’s boy were getting to be greater friends than ever. Every morning Happy Jack jumped over to the window-sill and then in at the open window of the room of Farmer Brown’s boy. There he was sure to find a good breakfast of fat hickory nuts. When Farmer Brown’s boy overslept, as he did sometimes, Happy Jack would jump up on the bed and wake him. He thought this was great fun. So did Farmer Brown’s boy, though sometimes when he was very sleepy he pretended to scold, especially on Sunday mornings when he did not have to get up as early as on other days.
Of course, the Black cat had soon discovered that Happy Jack was living in the big maple tree, and she spent a great deal of time sitting at the foot of it and glaring up at him with a hungry look in her eyes. Several times she climbed up in the tree and tried to catch him. At first he had been afraid, but he had soon found out that the Black cat was not at all at home in a tree as he was. After that, he rather enjoyed having her try to catch him. It was almost like a game. It was great fun to scold at her and let her get very near him and then, just as she was sure that she was going to catch him, to jump out of her reach. After a while she was content to sit at the foot of the tree and just glare at him.
Happy Jack had only one worry now, and this didn’t trouble him a great deal. It was possible that Shadow the Weasel might take it into his head to try to surprise him some night. Happy Jack knew that by this time Shadow must know where he was living, for of course Sammy Jay had found out, and Sammy is one of those who tells all he knows. Still, being so close to Farmer Brown’s boy gave Happy Jack a very comfortable feeling.
Now all this time Farmer Brown’s boy had not forgotten Shadow the Weasel and how he had driven Happy Jack out of the Green Forest, and he had wondered a great many times if it wouldn’t be a kindness to the other little people if he should catch Shadow and take him out of the forest. But you know he had given up trapping, and somehow he didn’t like to think of setting a trap, even for such a mischief-maker as Shadow. Then something happened that made Farmer Brown’s boy very, very angry. One morning, when he went to feed the chickens, he found that Shadow had visited the henhouse in the night and three of his best chickens were missing. That decided it. He felt sure that Shadow would come again, and he meant to give Shadow a surprise. He looked until he found the little hole through which Shadow had gotten into the henhouse, and there he set a trap.
“I don’t like to do it, but I’ve got to,” he said. “It is time that something was done to get rid of him.”
The very next morning Happy Jack saw Farmer Brown’s boy coming from the henhouse with something under his arm. He came straight over to the foot of the big maple tree and put the thing he was carrying down on the ground. He whistled to Happy Jack, and as Happy Jack came down to see what it was all about, Farmer Brown’s boy grinned. “Here’s a friend of yours you probably will be glad to see,” he said.
At first, all Happy Jack could make out was a kind of wire box. Then he saw something white inside, and it moved. Very suspiciously Happy Jack came nearer. Then his heart gave a great leap. That wire box was a cage, and glaring between the wires was Shadow the Weasel! He had been caught! Right away Happy Jack was so excited that he acted as if he were crazy. He no longer had a single thing to be afraid of. Can you understand why he was so excited?
In the corner of the barnyard was a pile of manure which was to be put upon the garden and plowed in. This would make the ground better for all the good things growing in it, but now it was waiting behind the high board fence, and many happy insects lived in it. There were big Bugs and little Bugs, fat Bugs and slim Bugs, young Bugs and old Bugs, good Bugs and—well, one does not like to say that there were bad Bugs, but there were certainly some not so good as others.
Among all these, however, there were none who worked harder or thought more of each other than the Tumble-bugs. One couple, especially, were thrifty and devoted. They had been married in June, when each was just one day old. June weddings were the fashion among their people.
Mr. Tumble-bug believed in early marriages. “I have known Tumble-bugs,” he said, “who did not marry until they were two days old, but I think that was a great mistake. Each becomes so used to having his own way that it is very hard for husband and wife to agree on anything. Now Mrs. Tumble-bug and I always think alike.” Then he smiled at Mrs. Tumble-bug and Mrs. Tumble-bug smiled at him. They were nearly always together and busy. Perhaps it was because they worked together every day that they cared so much for each other. You know that it makes a great difference, and if one had worked all the time while the other was playing, they would soon have come to care for other things and people.
One hot summer morning, Mrs. Tumble-bug said to her husband, who was just finishing his breakfast, “I have found the loveliest place you ever saw for burying an egg-ball. Do hurry up! I can hardly wait to begin work.”
Mr. Tumble-bug gulped down his last mouthful and answered, “I’m ready now.”
“Follow me then,” she cried, and led the way over all sorts of little things which littered up the ground of the barnyard. No Horse was there just then, and she felt safe. Mr. Tumble-bug followed close behind her, and a very neat-looking couple they made. Both were flat-backed and all of shining black. “We do not dress so showily as some Bugs,” they were in the habit of saying, “but black always looks well.” And that was true. Although they spent most of their days working in the earth, they were ever clean and shining, with smiling, shovel-shaped faces.
“There!” said Mrs. Tumble-bug, as she stopped for breath and pointed with her right fore-leg to the ground just ahead of her. “Did you ever see a finer place?” She could point in this way, you know, without falling over, because she had five other legs on which to stand. There are some very pleasant things about having six legs, and the only tumbling she and her husband did was part of their work.
“Excellent!” exclaimed Mr. Tumble-bug. “And the ground is so soft that it will not tire you very much to dig in it.” He did not have to think whether it would tire him, because he never helped in that part of the work. His wife always liked to do that alone.
Then both Tumble-bugs scurried back to the manure heap. “I cannot see why some of our neighbors are so silly,” said she. “There is a Beetle now, laying her eggs right in this pile. She will leave them there, too, and as likely as not some hungry fellow will come along before the sun goes down and eat every one of them. She might much better take a little trouble, put her egg in a mass of food, and roll it away to a safe place. When my children hatch out into soft little Grubs, I intend they shall have a chance to grow up safely and comfortably. Such Beetles do not deserve to have children.”
“Well, they won’t have many,” said her husband. “Perhaps only a small little family of twenty or thirty.”
“Now,” exclaimed Mrs. Tumble-bug, “We must get to work. Help me roll this ball of manure. I have laid an egg in it while we were talking, so that time was not wasted.”
Together they rolled a ball which was bigger than both of them when it started, and grew larger and larger as they got it away from the heap and the dust of the ground stuck to it and crusted it over.
Mrs. Tumble-bug stood on top of the ball, and, creeping far out on it, pulled it forward with her hind feet, while he stood on his head behind it and pushed with his hind legs. Of course if Mrs. Tumble-bug had not been climbing backward all the time, the ball would have rolled right over her. To pull forward with part of your legs and climb backward with all of them at the same time, and that when your head is a good deal lower than your heels, is pretty hard work and takes much planning. Mrs. Tumble-bug had very little breath for talking, but she did not lose her temper. And that shows what an excellent Bug she was. “Harder!” she would call out to Mr. Tumble-bug. “We are coming to a little hill.”
Then Mr. Tumble-bug, who, you will remember, had to stand on his head all the time, and really did the hardest part of the work, would brace himself more firmly and push until it seemed as though his legs would break. He could never see just where they were going unless he let go of the ball, and Mrs. Tumble-bug did not believe in turning out for anything.
“What if there is a hill?” she often said. “Can’t we go over it?” And over it they always went, although they might much more easily have gone around it. Mrs. Tumble-bug did not want anybody to think she was afraid of work, and she knew her husband would have a chance to rest while she was burying the ball. Once in a while, when the ball came down suddenly on the farther side of a twig or chip, it rolled quite on top of her, and Mr. Tumble-bug would be greatly alarmed. Some people thought this served her quite right for insisting that they should go over things instead of around them. Still, one hardly likes to say a thing like that.
If it were much of a hill, she would climb down from the ball and talk with him. Then they would put their shovel-shaped heads together under the back side of the ball, and, pushing at the same time, send it over. “Two heads are better than one,” they would say, “and this needs a great deal of head-work.”
At last the ball had reached the spot where they intended to have it buried. Both were hot and tired. “Many legs make light work,” said Mrs. Tumble-bug, as she carefully cleaned hers before eating dinner, “and if there is anything I enjoy, it is finishing a good job like this!”
Mr. Tumble-bug sighed heavily and said he thought he would go for a walk with some of his friends that afternoon. “All work and no play would make me a dull Bug,” he said. Then he called out “Good-by” to his wife, and told her not to work too hard.
Mrs. Tumble-bug looked after him lovingly. “Now, isn’t he good?” she said to herself. “There are not many Bugs who will help their wives at all, and most of them never look at an egg, much less see to getting it well placed.” And that is true, for the Tumble-bugs are the model Bug fathers.
Now, indeed, Mrs. Tumble-bug was at her best. She hurried down her dinner, taking mouthfuls which were much too large for good manners, and began plowing the earth around the ball as it lay there. She plowed so deep that sometimes she was almost buried in the loose earth. At last she came up, took a good look around, knocked some grains of dust off her shining back, then dived in again upside down, and pulled the ball in after her by holding it tightly with her middle legs. All the time she was kicking the earth away with her two hind legs and her two front ones, which were stout diggers, so that little by little she sank deeper into the ground.
She made a much larger hole for the ball than it really needed. “I might just as well, while I am about it,” she said. “And I should so dislike to have anyone think I am afraid of work.”
At last she finished and crawled away, covering the place neatly over, so that nobody could see where she went in or out. “There!” she said. “Now I am ready to play.”
A stray Chicken came along and she hurried under a chip to be safe. The Chicken was lost and calling to his mother. “Mother!” he cried. “Mother Hen, I want to get home and go to sleep under your wings.”
“Dear me!” exclaimed Mrs. Tumble-bug. “Is it time for Chickens to go to sleep?” She looked through a crack in the fence and across the lawn to the big house. The shadows lay long upon the short grass. “It certainly is,” she said. “And here I have spent all day burying that egg properly. I think it is very strange that I cannot get more time for rest and play.” So she had to eat her supper and go straight to bed to get rested for the next day’s work.
Mrs. Tumble-bug did not understand then, and perhaps never will learn, that if she would stop doing things in the hardest way and begin doing them in the easiest way, she might get a great deal of work done in a day and still have time to rest. If one were to tell her so, she might think that meant laziness, but it would not, you know. It is always worthwhile to make one’s head save one’s feet, and when a single head could save six feet it would certainly be worthwhile. Still, although Mrs. Tumble-bug never dreamed of such a thing, she probably enjoyed work about as much as her neighbors enjoyed play.
Written by Thornton Burgess
Somehow Happy Jack’s day had been spoiled. He knew that he had no business to allow it to be spoiled, but it was, just the same. You see, he had been all puffed up with pride because he thought himself a very bold fellow because he had really been inside Farmer Brown’s house. He couldn’t help feeling quite puffed up about it. But when he told Tommy T the Chickadee about it, Tommy had said, “Pooh! I’ve done that often.”
That was what had spoiled the day for Happy Jack. He knew that if Tommy T said that he had done a thing, he had, for Tommy always tells the truth and nothing but the truth. So Happy Jack hadn’t been so dreadfully bold, after all, and had nothing to brag about. It made him feel quite put out. He actually tried to make himself feel that it was all the fault of Tommy T, and that he wanted to get even with him. He thought about it all the rest of the day, and just before he fell asleep that night an idea came to him.
“I know what I’ll do! I’ll dare Tommy to go as far inside Farmer Brown’s house as I do!” he went to sleep to dream that he was the boldest, bravest squirrel that ever lived.
The next morning when he reached the tree close by Farmer Brown’s house, he found Tommy T already there, flitting about impatiently and calling his loudest, which wasn’t very loud, for you know Tommy is a very little fellow, and his voice is not very loud. But he was doing his best to call Farmer Brown’s boy. You see, there wasn’t a single nut on the window-sill, and the window was closed. Pretty soon Farmer Brown’s boy came to the window and opened it. But he didn’t put out any nuts. Tommy T at once flew over to the sill, and to show that he was just as bold, Happy Jack followed. Looking inside, they saw Farmer Brown’s boy standing in the middle of the room, holding out a dish of nuts and smiling at them. This was the chance Happy Jack wanted to try the plan he had thought of the night before.
“I dare you to go way in there and get a nut,” he said to Tommy T. He hoped that Tommy would be afraid.
But Tommy wasn’t anything of the kind. “Dee, dee, dee! Come on!” he cried, and flitted over and helped himself to a cracked nut and was back with it before Happy Jack could make up his mind to jump down inside. Of course now that he had dared Tommy T, and Tommy had taken the dare, he just had to do it too. It looked a long way in to where Farmer Brown’s boy was standing. Twice he started and turned back. Then he heard Tommy T chuckle. That was too much. He wouldn’t be laughed at. He just wouldn’t. He scampered across, grabbed a nut, and rushed back to the window-sill, where he ate the nut. It was easier to go after the second nut, and when he went for the third, he had made up his mind that it was perfectly safe in there, and so he sat up on a chair and ate it. Presently he felt quite at home, and when he had eaten all the nuts he wanted, he ran all around the room, examining all the strange little things.
This was a little more than Tommy T could make up his mind to do. He wasn’t afraid to fly in for a nut and then fly out again, but he couldn’t feel easy inside a house like that. Of course, this made Happy Jack feel good all over. You see, he felt that now he really did have something to boast about. No one else in all the Green Forest or on the Green Meadows could say that they had been all over Farmer Brown’s boy’s room as he had. Happy Jack swelled himself out at the thought. Now everybody would say, “What a bold fellow!”
Very few people can be all puffed up with pride without showing it. Happy Jack Squirrel couldn’t. Just to have looked at him you would have known that he was feeling very, very good about something. When he thought no one was looking, he would actually strut. And it was all because he considered himself a very bold fellow. This was a new feeling for Happy Jack. He knew that all his neighbors considered him rather timid, and many a time he had envied, actually envied Jimmy Skunk and Reddy Fox and Unc’ Billy Possum and even Sammy Jay because they did such bold things and had dared to visit Farmer Brown’s dooryard and henhouse in spite of Bowser the Hound.
But now he felt that he dared do a thing that not one of them dared do. He dared go right into Farmer Brown’s house and make himself quite at home in the room of Farmer Brown’s boy. He felt that he was a tremendously brave fellow. You see, he quite forgot one thing. He forgot that he had found out that love destroys fear, and that though it might look to others like a very bold thing to walk right into Farmer Brown’s house, it really wasn’t bold at all, because all the time he knew that no harm would come to him. It had been brave of him to go in at that open window the first time, because then he had been afraid, but now he wasn’t afraid, and so it was no longer either brave or bold of him.
Tommy T the Chickadee knew all this, and he used to chuckle to himself as he saw how proud of himself Happy Jack was, but he said nothing to any one about it. Of course, it wasn’t long before others began to notice Happy Jack’s pride. One of the first was Sammy Jay. There is very little that escapes Sammy Jay’s sharp eyes. Silently stealing through the Green Forest early one morning, he surprised Happy Jack strutting.
“Huh,” he said, “what are you feeling so big about?”
Like a flash the thought came to Happy Jack that here was a chance to show what a bold fellow he had become. “Hello, Sammy!” he exclaimed. “Are you feeling very brave this morning?”
“Me feeling brave? What are you talking about? If I was as timid as you are, I wouldn’t ever talk about bravery to other people. If there is anything you dare to do that I don’t, I’ve never heard of it,” replied Sammy Jay.
“Come on!” cried Happy Jack. “I’m going to get my breakfast, and I dare you to follow me!”
Sammy Jay actually laughed right out. “Go ahead. Wherever you go, I’ll go,” he declared.
Happy Jack started right away for Farmer Brown’s house, and Sammy followed. Through the Old Orchard, across the dooryard and into the big maple tree Happy Jack led the way, and Sammy followed, all the time wondering what was up. He had been there many times. In fact, he had had many a good meal of suet there during the cold weather, for Farmer Brown’s boy had kept a big piece tied to a branch of the maple tree for those who were hungry.
Sammy was a little surprised when he saw Happy Jack jump over onto the window-sill. Still, he had been on that window-sill more than once himself, when he had made sure that no one was near, and had helped himself to the cracked nuts he had found there.
“Come on!” called Happy Jack, his eyes twinkling.
Sammy Jay chuckled. “He thinks I don’t dare go over there,” he thought. “Well, I’ll fool him.”
With a hasty look to see that no danger was near, he spread his wings to follow Happy Jack on to the window-sill. Happy Jack waited to make sure that he really was coming and then slipped in at the open window and scampered over to a table on the farther side of the room and helped himself from a dish of nuts there.
When Sammy saw Happy Jack disappear inside he gave a little gasp. When he looked inside and saw Happy Jack making himself quite at home, he gasped again. And when he saw a door open and Farmer Brown’s boy enter, and still Happy Jack did not run, he was too upset for words. He didn’t dare stay to see more, and for once in his life was quite speechless as he flew back to the Green Forest.
Which is worse, to have a very beautiful dream never come true, or to have a bad dream really come true? Happy Jack Squirrel says the latter is worse, much worse. Dreams do come true once in a great while, you know. One of Happy Jack’s did. It came true, and it made a great difference in Happy Jack’s life. You see, it was like this:
Happy Jack had had so many things to think of that he had almost forgotten about Shadow the Weasel. Happy Jack hadn’t seen or heard anything of him since Farmer Brown’s boy had chased him into the Green Forest and saved Happy Jack’s life. Since then life had been too full of pleasant things to think of anything so unpleasant as Shadow the Weasel. But one night Happy Jack had a bad dream. Yes, Sir, it was a very bad dream. He dreamed that once more Shadow the Weasel was after him, and this time there was no Farmer Brown’s boy to run to for help. Shadow was right at his heels and in one more jump would catch him. Happy Jack opened his mouth to scream, and—woke up.
He was all a shake with fright. It was a great relief to find that it was only a dream, but even then he couldn’t get over it right away. He was glad that it was almost morning, and just as soon as it was light enough to see, he crept out. It was too early to go over to Farmer Brown’s house; Farmer Brown’s boy wouldn’t be up yet. So Happy Jack ran over to one of his favorite lookouts, a tall chestnut tree, and there, with his back against the trunk, high above the ground, he watched the Green Forest wake as the first Sunbeams stole through it. But all the time he kept thinking of that dreadful dream.
A little spot of black moving against the white snow caught his sharp eyes. What was it? He leaned forward and held his breath, as he tried to make sure. Ah, now he could see! Just ahead of that black thing was a long, slim fellow all in white, and that black spot was his tail. If it hadn’t been for that, Happy Jack very likely wouldn’t have seen him at all. It was Shadow the Weasel! He was running swiftly, first to one side and then to the other, with his nose to the snow. He was looking for breakfast.
Happy Jack’s eyes grew wide with fear. Would Shadow find his tracks? It looked as if Shadow was heading for Happy Jack’s house, and Happy Jack was very glad that that bad dream had woken him and he had come out. Otherwise he might have been caught in his own bed. Shadow was almost at Happy Jack’s house when he stopped abruptly with his nose to the snow and sniffed eagerly. Then he turned, and with his nose to the snow, started straight toward the tree where Happy Jack was. Happy Jack waited to see no more. He knew now that Shadow had found his trail and that it would need to run.
“My dream has come true!” he sobbed as he ran. “My dream has come true, and I don’t know what to do!” But all the time he kept on running as fast as ever he could, which really was the only thing to do.
Frightened and breathless, running with all his might from Shadow the Weasel, Happy Jack Squirrel was in despair. He didn’t know what to do or where to go. The last time he had run from Shadow he had run to Farmer Brown’s boy, who just happened to be near, and Farmer Brown’s boy had chased Shadow the Weasel away. But now it was too early in the morning for him to expect to meet Farmer Brown’s boy. In fact, jolly, round, red Mr. Sun had hardly kicked his bedclothes off yet, and Happy Jack was very sure that Farmer Brown’s boy was still asleep.
Now most of us are creatures of habit. We do the thing that we have been in the habit of doing, and do it without thinking anything about it. This is why good habits are such a blessing. Happy Jack Squirrel is just like the rest of us. He has habits, both good and bad. Of late, he had been in the habit of getting his breakfast at Farmer Brown’s house every morning, so now when he has began to run from Shadow the Weasel he just naturally ran in the direction of Farmer Brown’s house from force of habit. In fact, he was halfway there before he realized in which direction he was running.
Right then a thought came to him. It gave him a wee bit of hope, and seemed to help him run just a little faster. If the window of Farmer Brown’s boy’s room was open, he would run in there, and perhaps Shadow the Weasel wouldn’t dare follow! How he did hope that that window would be open! He knew that it was his only chance. He wasn’t quite sure that it really was a chance, for Shadow was such a bold fellow that he might not be afraid to follow him right in, but it was worth trying.
Along the stone wall beside the Old Orchard raced Happy Jack to the dooryard of Farmer Brown, and after him ran Shadow the Weasel, and Shadow looked as if he was enjoying himself. No doubt he was. He knew just as well as Happy Jack did that there was small chance of meeting Farmer Brown’s boy so early in the morning, so he felt very sure how that chase was going to end.
By the time Happy Jack reached the dooryard, Shadow was only a few jumps behind him, and Happy Jack was pretty well out of breath. He didn’t stop to look to see if the way was clear. There wasn’t time for that. Besides, there could be no greater danger in front than was almost at his heels, and so, without looking one way or another, he scampered across the dooryard and up the big maple tree close to the house. Shadow the Weasel was surprised. He had not dreamed that Happy Jack would come over here. But Shadow is a bold fellow, and it made little difference to him where Happy Jack went. At least, that is what he thought.
So he followed Happy Jack across the dooryard and up the maple tree. He took his time about it, for he knew by the way Happy Jack had run that he was pretty nearly at the end of his strength. “He’ll never get out of this tree,” thought Shadow, as he started to climb it. He fully expected to find Happy Jack huddled in a little heap somewhere near the top. Just imagine how surprised he was when he discovered that Happy Jack wasn’t to be seen. He rubbed his little red eyes, and they grew angrier and redder than before.
“Must be a hollow up here somewhere,” he muttered. “I’ll just follow the scent of his feet, and that will lead me to him.”
But when that scent led him out on a branch the tip of which brushed against Farmer Brown’s house Shadow got another surprise. There was no sign of Happy Jack. He couldn’t have reached the roof. There was no place he could have gone unless—. Shadow stared across at a window open about two inches.
“He couldn’t have!” muttered Shadow. “He wouldn’t dare. He couldn’t have!”
But Happy Jack had. He had gone inside that window.