One day, our little Harry spent the morning with his young playmate, Johnny Crane, who lived in a fine house, and on Sundays rode to church in the grandest carriage to be seen in all the country round.
When Harry returned home, he said, “Mother, Johnny has money in both pockets!”
“Has he, dear?”
“Yes, ma’am; and he says he could get ever so much more if he wanted it.”
“Well, now, that’s very pleasant for him,” I returned cheerfully, as a reply was plainly expected. “Very pleasant; don’t you think so?”
“Yes, ma’am; only—”
“Only what, Harry?”
“Why, he has a big popgun, and a watch, and a hobbyhorse, and lots of things.” And Harry looked up at my face with a disconsolate stare.
“Well, my boy, what of that?”
“Nothing, mother,” and the telltale tears sprang to his eyes, “only I guess we are very poor, aren’t we?”
“No, indeed, Harry, we are very far from being poor. We are not so rich as Mr. Crane’s family, if that is what you mean.”
“O mother!” insisted the little fellow, “I do think we are very poor; anyhow, I am!”
“O Harry!” I exclaimed reproachfully.
“Yes, ma’am, I am,” he sobbed; “I have scarcely anything—I mean anything that’s worth money—except things to eat and wear, and I’d have to have them anyway.”
“Have to have them?” I echoed, at the same time laying my sewing upon the table, so that I might reason with him on that point; “do you not know, my son—”
Just then Uncle Ben looked up frown the paper he had been reading: “Harry,” said he, “I want to find out something about eyes; so, if you will let me have yours, I will give you a dollar apiece for them.”
“For my eyes!” exclaimed Harry, very much astonished.
“Yes,” resumed Uncle Ben, quietly, “for your eyes. I will give you chloroform, so it will not hurt you in the least, and you shall have a beautiful glass pair for nothing, to wear in their place. Come, a dollar apiece, cash down! What do you say? I will take them out as quick as a wink.”
“Give you my eyes, uncle!” cried Harry, looking wild at the very thought, “I think not.” And the startled little fellow shook his head defiantly.
“Well, five, ten, twenty dollars, then.” Harry shook his head at every offer.
“No, sir! I wouldn’t let you have them for a thousand dollars! What could I do without my eyes? I couldn’t see mother, or the baby, or the flowers, or the horses, or anything,” added Harry, growing warmer and warmer.
“I will give you two thousand,” urged Uncle Ben, taking a roll of bank notes out of his pocket. Harry, standing at a safe distance, shouted that he never would do any such thing.
“Very well,” continued the uncle, with a serious air, at the same time writing something in his notebook, “I can’t afford to give you more than two thousand dollars, so I shall have to do without your eyes; but,” he added, “I will tell you what I will do, I will give you twenty dollars if you will let me put a few drops from this bottle in your ears. It will not hurt, but it will make you deaf. I want to try some experiments with deafness, you see. Come quickly, now! Here are the twenty dollars all ready for you.”
“Make me deaf!” shouted Harry, without even looking at the gold pieces temptingly displayed upon the table. “I guess you will not do that, either. Why, I couldn’t hear a single word if I were deaf, could I?”
“Probably not,” replied Uncle Ben. So, of course, Harry refused again. He would never give up his hearing, he said, “no, not for three thousand dollars.”
Uncle Ben made another note in his book, and then came out with large bids for “a right arm,” then “left arm,” “hands,” “feet,” “nose,” finally ending with an offer of ten thousand dollars for “mother,” and five thousand for “the baby.”
To all of these offers Harry shook his head, his eyes flashing, and exclamations of surprise and indignation bursting from his lips. At last, Uncle Ben said he must give up his experiments, for Harry’s prices were entirely too high.
“Ha! ha!” laughed the boy, exultingly, and he folded his dimpled arms and looked as if to say, “I’d like to see the man who could pay them!”
“Why, Harry, look here!” exclaimed Uncle Ben, peeping into his notebook, “here is a big addition sum, I tell you! ” He added the numbers, and they amounted to thirty-two thousand dollars.
“There, Harry,” said Uncle Ben, “don’t you think you are foolish not to accept some of my offers?” “No, sir, I don’t,” answered Harry, resolutely. “Then,” said Uncle Ben, “you talk of being poor, and by your own showing you have treasures for which you will not take thirty-two thousand dollars. What do you say to that?”
Harry didn’t know exactly what to say. So he blushed for a second, and just then tears came rolling down his cheeks, and he threw his chubby arms around my neck. “Mother,” he whispered, “isn’t God good to make everybody so rich?”
DEFINITIONS:—Disconsolate, filled with grief. Reproachfully, with censure or reproof. Chloroform, an oily liquid, the vapor of which causes insensibility. Startled, shocked. Defiantly, daringly. Afford, to be able to pay for. Experiments, acts performed to discover some truth. Exclamations, expressions of surprise, anger, etc. Exultingly, in a triumphant manner. Treasures, things which are very much valued.
A HAPPY NEW YEAR
By Margaret E. Sangster
Coming, coming, coming!
Listen! perhaps you’ll hear
Over the snow the bugles blow
To welcome the glad new year.
In the steeple tongues are swinging,
There are merry sleigh bells ringing,
And the people for joy are singing,
It’s coming, coming near.
Flying, sighing, dying,
Going away to-night,
Weary and old, its story told,
The year that was full and bright.
Oh, we are half sorry it’s leaving
Good-by has a sound of grieving;
But its work is done and its weaving;
God speed its parting flight!
Tripping, slipping, skipping,
Like a child in its wooing grace,
With never a tear and never a fear,
And a light in its laughing face;
With hands held out to greet us,
With gay little steps to meet us,
With sweet eyes that entreat us,
The new year comes to its place.
Coming, coming, coming!
Promising lovely things—
The gold and the gray of the summer day,
The winter with fleecy-wings;
Promising swift birds glancing,
And the patter of raindrops dancing,
And the sunbeam’s arrowy lancing,
Dear gifts the new year brings.
Coming, coming, coming!
The world is a vision of white;
From the powdered eaves to the sere-brown leaves
That are hidden out of sight.
In the steeple tongues are swinging,
The bells are merrily ringing,
And “Happy New-Year” we’re singing,
For the old year goes to-night.
JEANNETTE AND JO
By Mary Mapes Dodge
Two girls I know—Jeannette and Jo,
And one if always moping;
The other lassie, come what may,
Is ever bravely hoping.
Beauty of face and girlish grace
Are theirs, for joy or sorrow;
Jeannette takes brightly every day,
And Jo dreads each to-morrow.
One early morn they watched the dawn—
I saw them stand together;
Their whole day’s sport, ’twas very plain,
Depended on the weather.
“‘Twill storm! ‘ cried Jo. Jeannette spoke low,
“Yes, but ’twill soon be over.”
And, as she spoke, the sudden shower
Came, beating down the clover.
“I told you so!” cried angry Jo:
“It always is a-raining!”
Then hid her face in dire despair,
Lamenting and complaining.
But sweet Jeannette, quite hopeful yet,—
I tell it to her honor,—
Looked up and waited till the sun
Came streaming in upon her.
The broken clouds sailed off in crowds,
Across a sea of glory.
Jeannette and Jo ran, laughing, in—
Which ends my simple story.
Joy is divine. Come storm, come shine,
The hopeful are the gladdest;
And doubt and dread, children, believe
Of all things are the saddest.
In morning’s light, let youth be bright;
Take in the sunshine tender;
Then, at the close, shall life’s decline
Be full of sunset splendor.
And ye who fret, try, like Jeannette,
To shun all weak complaining;
And not, like Jo, cry out too soon—
“It always is a-raining!”
AN INDIAN LEGEND
Many years ago there lived in the west a tribe of Indians who called themselves Illinois. They were not savage and warlike, as the tribes around them were, but they liked to live in peace, hunting the deer in the great woods, and taking the fish from the shallow streams.
On the bank of a pretty little river that flows into the great Mississippi a small band of these Indians had built their wigwams. All along the stream were tall oaks and spreading walnut trees, with here and there a grove of wild plums or a thicket of hazel bushes. But only half a mile away began the great prairie, where there was neither tree nor bush, but only tall grass; and it stretched like a green sea as far as the eye could reach.
What there was on the other side of the prairie the Indians did not know. But they had been told that a fierce race of men lived there who loved only war.
“We will live quietly in our own place,” they said, “and then these strangers will not molest us.”
And so for many years they lived, in a careless, happy way by the side of the pretty river; and few of their young men dared to wander far from the friendly shelter of the woods.
One day in summer, when the woods were full of the songs of birds, and the prairie of the sweet odors of flowers, the Illinois had a festival under the oaks that shaded their village. The young people played merry games on the green, while their fathers and mothers sat in the doors of the wigwams and talked of the peaceful days that were past.
All at once a savage yell was heard in the hazel thicket by the river; then another from the edge of the prairie; and then a third from the lower end of the village. In a moment all was terror and confusion. Too well the Illinois knew the meaning of these cries. The strangers from beyond the prairie had come at last.
The attack had been so sudden and fierce that the Illinois could not defend themselves. They scattered and fled far into the woods on the other side of the little river. Then, one by one, they came together in a rocky glen where they could hide from danger. But even there they could hear the yells of their foes, and they could see the black smoke that rose from their burning wigwams.
What could they do, now that this ruin had at last come upon them? The bravest among them were in despair. They threw their bows upon the ground. The warriors were gloomy and silent. They said it was useless to fight with foes so strong and fierce. The women and children wept as though heartbroken.
But at the very moment when all seemed lost, a young girl stood up among them. She had been well known in the little village. Her thoughtful, quiet ways had endeared her to old and young alike. Her name was Watseka.
There were no tears in Watseka’s eyes as she turned her face toward the gloomy warriors. All her quietness of manner was gone. There was no fear in her voice as she spoke.
“Are you men,” she said, “and do you thus give up all hope? Turn your faces toward the village. Do you see the smoke of our burning homes? Our enemies are counting the scalps they have taken. They are eating the deer that you killed yesterday on your own hunting grounds. And do you stand here and do nothing?”
Some of the warriors turned their faces toward the burning village, but no one spoke.
“Very well,” said Watseka. “If you dare not, then I will show you what can be done. Follow me, women of the Illinois! The strangers shall not laugh because they have driven us so easily from our homes. They shall not feed upon the corn that we have raised. We will show them what the Illinois can do. Follow me!”
As Watseka spoke, her eyes sparkled with a light which filled every heart with new courage. With one accord the women and girls gathered around her.
“Lead us, Watseka!” they cried. “We will follow you. We are not afraid.”
They armed themselves with the bows and the hatchets which the warriors had thrown upon the ground. Those who could find nothing else, picked up stones and sticks. The boys joined them, their eyes flashing with eagerness. All felt that Watseka would lead them to victory.
Then it was that courage came into the hearts of the warriors.
“Are we men, and do we let the women and boys thus outdo us?” they cried. “No, we alone will drive our foes from our home. We alone will avenge our kinsmen whom they have slain. We will fear nothing. We will never rest until we have won back all that we have lost!”
And so Watseka and the women and boys did not go into battle. But the warriors of the Illinois in the darkness of the night crept silently back through the shadows of the wood. While their foes lay sleepng by the fires of the burning wigwams, they swept down upon them like a thunderbolt from the clear sky. Their revenge was swift and terrible.
And so the Illinois were again at peace, for the fierce warriors who dwelt on the other side of the prairie dared never molest them again. And they rebuilt their wigwams by the side of the pleasant river, and there they lived in comfort for many long years. Nor did they ever forget how the maiden, Watseka, had saved them in their hour of greatest need. The story of her bravery was told and retold a thousand times; the warriors talked of her beauty; the women praised her goodness; other tribes heard of her and talked about the hero maiden of the Illinois; and so long as there were Indians in that western land, the name of Watseka was remembered and honored.
DEFINITIONS:—Molest, harm. Prairie, a treeless plain. Wigwam, an Indian house.