Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

to the bottom of the case. I was now a cripple indeed, and, after moulting for the last time on the 5th of March, was glad to be removed to a jar by myself, and afterward to a wire frame fastened in a board, on which I made a web, poor enough, but yet something to hang from ,

On the 26th of March, the Doctor noticed for the first time that my hinder leg, the end of which had been cut off, was again possessed of at least one claw, not so good as the first, but better than none at all. He spoke then of wishing to see how it looked, and wondering whether it would be reproduced a second time; but I never thought he would do such a horrible and wicked thing as to cut it off again. But he did, with a great dull pair of scissors, and all the satisfaction I had was in knowing that he looked at it through a glass for half an hour. After this injury, I could hardly get along at all. All I could do with that leg was to hook the stump over a thread or wire ; and my body was now so heavy and full of eggs that I grew weary and sick.

But it seemed as if I was fated to bear all possible trials; for only a week after this, my poor body was put in a kind of stocks, with my head and jaws and legs all on one side of a partition, and my abdomen on the other, so that I could not help myself, or touch the silk which hung out of my spinners; the Doctor now fastened the end of this to a little wheel, and turned it, and pulled out all the silk I had, and which I meant to use in making a cocoon for my eggs. It was downright stealing, I think. I would like to bite him now for it.

This, of course, put me into a bad humor, the consequence of which was, that when, on the 28th of April, a week ago, he took me between his thumb and finger, and pinched me a little, I opened my jaws and tried to bite ; and when the ley of a little kitten, a few days old, was put against my head, I bit it as hard as I could, and the kitten jerked her paw away, and I fell heavily to the floor, which bruised me badly. I was picked up, but now I had lost my temper and needed no pinching, but bit the poor kitten again, and drew blood, and again I was thrown to the floor.

The Doctor was now satisfied, and put me back into my web; but I was so weak that, after a few days, I fell to the bottom of the box, injuring me still more, so that yesterday I was laid upon this soft cushion to die. I found that it would be impossible for me to lay my eggs, and so I have spent my last moments —

NOTE BY THE TRANSLATOR. — It would seem that our unhappy cripple made her story so long that she could not add the parting words of advice proper to the melancholy occasion. But perhaps she would have said : “Do not be in too much haste to be rid of your old clothes; for in this my misfortunes began. Do not impose upon your weaker neighbors; for this cost me a leg, which I could ill spare after losing two and a half before. Do not lose your temper because you are pinched a little ; for this was the cause of my untimely death.” The kitten is still alive and well.

Burt G. Wilder, M. D.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

a retired town of New England was a certain little green hollow among high hills; and in this

little hollow stood an old brown farm-house.

It was built two stories high in front, but the roof van W o en sloped a long way down behind, till it came so near the

w at ground that any one of you might have jumped off from it without frightening the most anxious mamma.

As I have said, this house stood in a little hollow formed by ever so many high hills, which rose around it much as waves rise around a little boat in stormy weather; they looked, in fact, like green waves that had been suddenly stopped and hardened into mountains and hills. Upon their sides grew forests of pines, besides chestnut, hickory, ash, and maple trees, which gave them a charming variety through most of the months of the year.

The rocks, too, in many places were perfectly veiled and covered with the bright, glossy green leaves of the rose-laurel, while underneath the crevices were full of fern, saxifrage, rock-columbine, and all sorts of lovely things, which were most charming to explore, if one had energy enough to hunt them up.

The house had no yard round it, but stood on a smooth green turfy knoll, and was shaded by a great elm-tree, whose long branches arched over, and seemed like a broad, leafy sky. In summer this was pleasant enough, for the morning sun sent straight arrows of gold hither and thither between the boughs and branches, and carried some of the greenness as they went into the chambers of the old house, and at night the moon and stars winked and twinkled, and made a thousand pretty plays of light and shadow

as they sent their rays dancing over, under, and through the elm-boughs to the little brown house.

It was somewhere about the first of March, I believe, when there was quite a stir in the ground-floor bedroom of this little brown house, because a very small young lady had just made her appearance in this world, who was the first daughter that had ever been given to John and Martha Primrose ; and, of course, her coming was a great event. Four of the most respectable old matrons in the vicinity were solemnly taking tea and quince preserves in Martha's bedroom, in honor of the great event which had just transpired, while a little bundle of flannel was carefully trotted and tended in the lap of the oldest of them, who every now and then opened the folds and peered in through her spectacles at a very red, sleepy little face that lay inside.

“Well,” said Dame Toothacre, the eldest, “ did I ever know such a spell of warm weather as we had the last fortnight?"

“ Yes," said Ma'am Trowbridge, “it has fairly started the buds. Look, that pussy willow by the window is quite out.”

“My Mary says she has seen a liverwort blossom,” said Dame Toothacre ; "and I've heard blue-birds these two weeks, – it's a most uncommon season.”

“ If the warm weather holds on, Martha will have a good getting-up,” said Dame Johnson. “She's got as plump and likely a little girl as I should want to see.”

And so, after a time, night settled down in the bedroom, and one after another of the good old gossips went home, and the little bundle of flannel was tucked warmly into bed, and nurse Toothacre was snoring loudly on a cot-bed in the corner, and the moon streamed through the willow-bush by the window, and marked the shadow of all the little pussy buds on it clearly on the white, clean floor, — when something happened that nobody must know of but you and me, dear little folks ; and what it was I shall relate.

There came in on the moonbeams a stream of fairy folk and wood spirits, to see what they could do for the new baby. You must know that everything that grows has its spirit, and these spirits not only attend on their own plants, but now and then do a good turn for mortals, -as, when plants have good and healing properties, they come to us by the ministry of these plant spirits.

In the winter, when the plant seems dead, these spirits dwell dormant under ground; but the warm suns of spring thaw them, and renew their strength, and out they come happy and strong as ever. Now it was so early in March that, if there had not been a most uncommonly warm season for a week or two past, there would not have been a plant spirit stirring, and the new baby would have had to go without the gifts and graces which they bring. As it was, there came slipping down on the moonbeam, first, old Mother Fern, all rolled up in a woollen shawl, with a woollen hood on her head, but with a face brimful of benevolence towards the new baby. Little Mistress Liverwort came trembling after her; for it was scarcely warm

enough yet to justify her putting on her spring clothes, and she did it only at the urgent solicitations of Blue-bird, who had been besieging her doors for a fortnight. And, finally, there was Pussy Willow, who prudently kept on her furs, and moved so velvet-footed that nobody would even suspect she was there; but they undrew the curtains to get a look at the new baby.

“Bless its heart !” said Mother Fern, peering down at it through her glasses. “It's as downy as any of

[graphic]

us."

" I should think it might be a young blue-bird,” said Liverwort, looking down out of her gray hood; “it looks as much like one as anything. Come, what shall we give it? I 'll give it blue eyes, – real violet-blue, - and if that is n't a good gift, I don't know what is.”

“And I 'll give her some of my thrift and prudence,” said Mother Fern. “We Ferns have no blossoms to speak of, but we are a well-to-do family, as everybody knows, and can get our living on any soil where it pleases Heaven to put us; and so thrift shall be my gift for this little lady. Thrift will surely lead to riches and honor.”

“I will give her a better thing than that,” said Pussy Willow. “I grow under the windows here, and mean to adopt her. She shall be called Little Pussy Willow, and I shall give her the gift of always seeing the bright side of everything. That gift will be more to her than beauty or riches or honors. It is not so much matter what color one's eyes are, as what one sees with them. There is a bright side to everything, if people only knew it, and the best eyes are those which are able always to see this best side.”

“I must say, friend Pussy,” said Mother Fern, “that you are a most sensibly-spoken bush, for a bush of your age. You always did seem to me to have a most remarkable faculty in that line; for I have remarked how you seize on the first ray of sunshine, and get your pussies out before any of us dare make a movement. Many a time I have said, “Well, I guess Miss Pussy Willow 'll find herself mistaken in the weather this year'; but, taking one year with another, I think you have gained time by being always on hand, and believing in the pleasant weather.”

“Well,” said Pussy, “if I should hang back with my buds as our old Father Elm-tree does, I should miss a deal of pleasure, and people would miss a deal of pleasure from me. The children, dear souls ! I 'm always in a hurry to get out in the spring because it pleases them. 'O, here's Pussy Willow come back !' they cry when they see me. Now the winter is over !! And no matter if there is a little dash of sleet or snow or frost after that, I stand it with a good heart, because I know it is summer that is coming, and not winter, and that things are certain to grow better, and not worse. I'm not handsome, I know; I'm not elegant ; nobody thinks much of me; and my only good points are my cheerfulness and my faith in good things to come ; — so these are the gifts I bring to my little god-child.”

With that, Pussy Willow stooped and rubbed her downy cheek over the little downy cheek of the baby, and the tiny face smiled in its sleep as if it knew that something good was being done for it. But just then Nurse Toothacre, who bad been snoring very regularly for some time, gave such a loud and sudden snort that it waked her up, and she sat bolt upright in bed. “Was that a dog barking ?” she exclaimed. “I thought I heard a dog."

Whisk! went all the little fairies up the ladder of moonshine ; but Pussy Willow laughed softly as she softly patted her velvet tip against the window, and said,

Nicht Dearie

Night

Good

Harriet Beecher Stowe.

A SUMMER IN LESLIE GOLDTHWAITE'S LIFE.

IX. THE “by-and-by” people came at last, – Jeannie, and Elinor, and Sin

1 Saxon, and the Arnalls, and Josie Scherman.' They wanted Leslie, - to tell and ask her half a hundred things about the projected tableaux. If it had only been Miss Craydocke and the Josselyns sitting together, with Dakie Thayne, how would that have concerned them, — the later comers ? It would only have been a bit of “the pines ” preoccupied : they would have found a place for themselves, and gone on with their own chatter. But Leslie's presence made all the difference. The little group became the nucleus of the enlarging circle. Miss Craydocke had known very well how this would be.

They asked this and that of Leslie which they had come to ask; and she would keep turning to the Josselyns and appealing to them; so they were drawn in. There was a curtain to be made, first of all. Miss Craydocke would undertake that, drafting Leslie and the Miss Josselyns to help her ; they should all come to her room early to-morrow, and they would have it

« PoprzedniaDalej »