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make remark on the absence of one or two articles mentioned in the prospectus of twelve months ago. Grandpapa has not given as he promised the “ Story of my Child-life," but he assures us he has not forgotten his promise, and says we may put it on our bill of fare for 1878 with a different result. The Editor, too, hopes to fill up “ The Children's Book-shelf” with works worth their reading and possessing. It has occurred to us that we have not catered sufficiently for our girl readers. Next year we shall have a nice tale for them by the author of " Manchester House,” and another from the pen of the charming writer of “ Ned's Search.” Our full prospectus for next year may be found on the fourth page of the wrapper. Will our friends please give it a careful reading, and then we have no doubt they will give in their names at once to their teacher or ministers as SUBSCRIBERS for 1878. We also ask them to be so kind as to show it to their friends and ask them to become purchasers. If teacher or minister is not accessible, the magazine can be obtained through any bookseller.
Wishing you all a cheerful Christmas and a happy New Year, we are yours very sincerely.
BIRDS IN WINTER.
Fow do the birds manage at night and in tempestuous weather ?” is a question often asked me.
Time was when it was believed that many of them hibernated - especially the swallows—burying themselves in the mud like frogs, or curling up in holes in rocks
like the bats; and the common phenomenon of the appearance of a few summer birds during " warm spells” in winter was assumed to prove that they had been torpid, but bad been waked up by the genial warmth, as bats often are. It was not three months ago that I saw in an English newspaper a letter from a man who claimed to have found a hedge-sparrow (I think) torpid somewhere in the mud. But the search for proofs of this theory discovered that the birds supposed to hibernate migrated, while of the birds which remained in this latitude through the cold months we saw more in warm, fine weather, for the natural reason that they then forsook the sheltered hollows and cozy recesses of the woods where they had retreated during stormy days, and came out into the sunlight The dense cedars and close branches of small spruces and other evergreens afford them close shelter, and thickets of brambles are made use of when these are not to be found ; hollow trees are natural houses in which large numbers huddle, and the cave-like holes under the roots of trees growing on steep banks are favourite hospices. The
grouse plunges through the snow down to the ground, where it scrapes bare a “form," or crawls under the hemlock and spruce boughs which droop to the earth with the weight of snow, and allows the white mantle to drift over it, subsisting the while on the sprucebuds ; when the storm ceases it can easily dig its way out, but sometimes a rain and hard frost follow which make such a crust on the snow that it cannot break its way up through, and so starves to death. The more domestic sparrows, robins, and flickers burrow into the hay.mow, find a warm roost in the barn near the cattle, or, attracted by the warmth of the furnace, creep under the eaves or into a chink next the chimney of the greenhouse or country dwelling, The meadow-lark and quail seek out sunny nooks in the fields and crouch down out of the blast; while the woodcock hides among the moss and ferns of the damp woods where only the severest cold chains the springs. Along the coast many birds go to the seashore for a milder climate.
It nevertheless happens, in spite of their high degree of warmth and vitality-probably not exceeded by any other animal in spite of the fact that they can draw themselves up into a perfect ball of feathers which are the best of clothing, and that they can shelter themselves from the driving storm—that birds often perish from cold in large numbers. Ordinarily, birds seem able to foretell a change of weather, and prepare. The reports of the United States Weather Bureau certainly show that, during the fall and winter, the ducks, geese, cranes, crows, and other notable species—and apparently generally-abandon their
former haunts upon the approach of a cold wave or severe winter storm for more southern localities, often passing beyond the reach of the severity of such storms, taking their departure often only a few hours before these unfavourable changes. The resident species, not caring, or able, to run away to warmer latitudes, ought to know enough to hide away from the fury of the gale ; and they do. But sometimes there come sudden, unpresaged changes—cold, icy gales, which charge down upon us after ihawingdays, converting the air, which was almost persuading the grass to revive, into an atmosphere which cuts the skin like the impinging of innumerable particles of frost, and shrivels every object with cold or buries it under dry and drifting snow. Then it is that the small birds, caught unprepared, suffer. At first such as are overcome seem unusually
active, running about apparently in search of food, but taking little notice of one's approach. “Should it attempt to fly," writes a recent observer, “it immedia:ely falls on its back as if shot. The legs and toes are stretched out to their farthest extent, and are quite rigid; the eyes protrude, are insensible to the touch, and the whole body quivers slightly. It remains in this state from one to two minutes, when it recovers suddenly, and seems as active as before. If taken in the hand, it will immediately go into convulsions, even if it has been in a warm room for several hours,
and has been supplied plentifully with food. Death usually puts an end to its suffering in a day or two."— Appletons' Journal (American).
BEN BARLOW'S BUDGET.
By Tom BROWN, Author of " A Year at School," 8°c., &c.
Letter No. 65.
From BEN BARLOW to CHARLIE THORNTON.
Waterside House, Worcester,
November 28th, 187MY DEAR CHARLIE,—
I am afraid you bave already begun to think I have forgotten you. When you had time to write frequently I used to write often, and I feel really ashamed that I should even appear to neglect you now that you have less leisure to remind me of my duty. I can honestly say, however, that though I have not written, I have frequently thought of you, and scarcely a day passes without Ted and I talking about you,
Well, now that I have begun to write, I have hardly anything to tell
you. We are, of course, working hard for the Christmas examination. I don't know whether you will easily believe it or not, but I take a pleasure in my lessons now. If I did not I shouldn't get on as well as I do in the playground. For, however well a lad can play at cricket and such like, he isn't thought much of here if he shirks his lessons.
What do you think? When the dark nights began Mr. Macpherson started a weekly entertainment. It is held in the schoolroom on Friday evenings. The Doctor took the chair the first night, Mr. Macpherson next, and since then the chairman has been elected by vote from among the boys. I proposed Ted Instone for the office at next Friday's meeting, and it was carried unanimously. During the week Mr. Macpherson gets the names of about twenty who are prepared to read, sing, or recite, and we go through the programme, and applaud and hiss just like a public andience. It is jolly, I can tell you. Mr. Henley-Stilts, you know-has read twice; but he always reads out of " Paradise Lost,” and I can never make out what it means. Mr. Macpherson generally gives two readings at each meeting, the first a grand piece; he read Scott's "Death of Marmion”once, and another time Macaulay's “ Horatius," and he finishes up with a funny bit, such as Hood's “ Ben Battle," or a selection from “Pickwick." I wish you were here to enjoy
Hoping you are going on all right at the office, and with kind regards to your father and mother, I remain, yours very truly,
Letter No. 66.
Old Mill, Woodbourne,
November 30th, 187—. MY DEAR BEN,
Thanks for your letter. I quite agree with you. Your schoolmaster was right to be strict on bonfire day. If he hadn't been you might have got hurt just as badly as Edgar Foster. He has come to school again. His face isn't quite well yet, though.
Mr. Jones started a drum and fife band last week. I play one of the kettledrums. We meet twice a week for practice. A musician comes from Tinbury to teach us the drum. Of course the master can teach the fife himself. There are over twenty of us in the band. If we get on well, Mr. Jones says we shall give a public performance at Christmas. I do like it. I can beat the drum pretty well already. But I have hardly got into rolling the sticks properly yet.
With kind regards to yourself and your friend İnstone, I am, yours very truly,
Letter No. 67.
Dicember 14th, 187—, DEER Master BEN,—
I rite too inform yoo thet sevral of yoor yung rabits hev dide latly. Fur a lung time I cudn't find out wot kild em. But at last I saw it wos ratts. Thay had nibbld a hole throo the back of the huch. So I hev made a bran noo penn, and fixt it in the wormest cornr of the hay loft. Thay'll do bettr ther this cold wether. I caut the ratt in a trapp.
I hop yoo think I get betur in ritin. I hev bene to the nite skool for the last too munths. Mistr Jones ses if I cud spel as wel as I can zite, I shud get alung furst clas. But wurds seme to be all speld contrairyways.
Yoo will soon be cumin home fur yoor hollydays. We shal be verry glad too sea yoo. I remane, yoor obedent survant, Вов.
Letter No. 68.
High Street, Woodbourne,
December 12th, 1874, MY DEAR BEN,
Your letter gave me a great deal of pleasure. I always felt! certain you were true to me at heart, though I couldn't help occasionally thinking you had forgotten me. I look every morning before I start to business among the letters addressed to our Post
Office to see if I can find among the big blue official envelopes a little white one, addressed in your plain, bold hand.
I can readily believe you have altered since you left here so as to be able to take a pleasure in your lessons, for I am very much changed myself. It sometimes seems as if I had been away from school years instead of months.
You say you hope I am going on all right at the office. Well, I am getting on pretty well, though everything isn't pleasant, of course. I have got one move already. It happened this way. The boy who was next above me had the keeping of the postage stamps.
Well, the older clerks thought there were more being used than there ought, so they took count of the letters sent to the post every night for a week, and in that way found there had been more than a shillingsworth too many stamps used. They accused him of taking them, searched him, and found some in his pockets, which he confessed belonged to the firm. They at once dismissed him, and handed his keys over to me, and, of course, there is another lad set on in my place. I was downright sorry for the boy who left. His mother is a poor widow, and, of course, he won't easily get another situation. He was about my age, but he had begun to smoke. I expect that was what took the
I got into a terrible row with one of our clerks last week. You of course remember Punch-the dog Old Peter gave me. Well, he doesn't approve
of my being away from him for twelve hours a day, and he has tried many a time to go with me to the office. Of course I drive him back. But last Wednesday he slipped off before me, and I found him waiting for me quite halfway to Tinbury. The trick was so cleverly done that I hadn't the heart to turn him back, so on we went together to the office. He was no trouble there at all. He is easier to manage than a child. I just to him to lie down in one corner, and there he lay as quietly and as comfortably as if he had been born there.
I was called out of the office just as the dinner bell rang, and on going back about five minutes later to get my dinner, I was struck to see one of the clerks aiming with a ruler at Punch, who lay growling in his corner.
I couldn't stand it, so I snatched the ruler out of his hand, threw it on the desk, and stood between him and the dog. This made him lose his temper, so, instead of telling me why he was hitting my dog, he began to box my ears well for my impudence. Of course I knew better than hit him again, and after all I didn't care a great deal. It didn't hurt me nearly so much as his thrashing Punch would have done.
After a bit, another clerk came in, and then he who was boxing my ears explained that he had left his dinner-a mutton-chop-on the table, and after going into the next office for some water he found it clean gone. Of course he said my dog had eaten it. I felt sure be
for Punch is as well behaved as any dog in the kingdom, and, besides, he had had a good breakfast that morning.