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My Garden Acquaintance.
1. Dr. Watts's statement that "birds in their little nests agree," like too many others intended to form the infant mind, is very far from being true. On the contrary, the most peaceful relation of the different species to each other is that of armed neutrality. They are very jealous of neighbors.
2. A few years ago I was much interested in the housebuilding of a pair of summer yellowbirds. They had chosen a very pretty site near the top of a tall white lilac, within easy eyeshot of a chamber-window. A very pleasant thing it was to see their little home growing with mutual help, to watch their industrious skill interrupted only by little flirts and snatches of endearment, frugally cut short by the common-sense of the tiny housewife.
3. They had brought their work nearly to an end, and had already begun to line it with fern-down, the gathering of which demanded more distant journeys and longer absences. But, alas! the syringa, immemorial manor of the catbirds, was not more than twenty feet away, and these "giddy neighbors " had, as it appeared, been all along jealously watchful, though silent, witnesses of what they deemed an intrusion of squatters.
4. No sooner were the pretty mates fairly gone for a new load of lining, than
"To their unguarded nest these weasel Scots
Silently they flew back and forth, each giving a vengeful dab at the nest in passing. They did not fall-to and deliberately destroy it, for they might have been caught at their mischief. As it was, whenever the yellowbirds came back, their enemies were hidden in their own sight-proof bush. Several times their unconscious victims repaired damages; but at length, after counsel taken together, they gave it up.
5. The robins, by constant attacks and annoyances, have succeeded in driving off the bluejays who used to build in our pines, their gay colors and quaint, noisy ways making them welcome and amusing neighbors. I once had the chance of doing a kindness to a household of them, which they received with very friendly condescension. I had had my eye for some time upon a nest, and was puzzled by a constant fluttering of what seemed full-grown wings in it whenever I drew nigh. At last I climbed the tree, in spite of angry protests from the old birds against my intrusion. The mystery had a very simple solution. In building the nest, a long piece of pack-thread had been somewhat loosely woven in. Three of the young had contrived to entangle themselves in it and had become fullgrown without being able to launch themselves upon the air. One was unharmed; another had so tightly twisted the cord about its shank that one foot was curled up and seemed paralyzed; the third, in its struggles to escape, had sawn through the flesh of the thigh and so much harmed itself that I thought it humane to put an end to its misery.
6. When I took out my knife to cut their hempen bonds, the heads of the family seemed to divine my friendly intent. Suddenly ceasing their cries and threats, they
perched quietly within reach of my hand, and watched me in my work of manumission. This, owing to the fluttering terror of the prisoners, was an affair of some delicacy; but ere long I was rewarded by seeing one of them fly away to a neighboring tree, while the cripple, making a parachute of his wings, came lightly to the ground, and hopped off as well as he could with one leg, obsequiously waited on by his elders. A week later, I had the satisfaction of meeting him in the pine walk, in good spirits, and already so far recovered as to be able to balance himself with the lame foot. I have no doubt that in his old age he accounted for his lameness by some handsome story of a wound received at the famous Battle of the Pines, when our tribe, overcome by numbers, was driven from its ancient camping-ground.
7. Of late years the jays have visited us only at intervals; and in winter their bright plumage, set off by the snow, and their cheerful cry, are especially welcome. They would have furnished Æsop with a fable, for the feathered crest in which they seem to take so much satisfaction is often their fatal snare. Country boys make a hole with their finger in the snow-crust just large enough to admit the jay's head, and, hollowing it out somewhat beneath, bait it with a few kernels of corn. The crest slips easily into the trap, but refuses to be pulled out again, and he who came to feast remains a prey.
8. Twice have the crow-blackbirds attempted a settlement in my pines, and twice have the robins, who claim a right of pre-emption, so successfully played the part of border-ruffians as to drive them away,-to my great regret, for they are the best substitute we have for rooks. At Shady Hill (now, alas! empty of its so long-loved household) they build by hundreds, and nothing can be more cheery than their creaking clatter (like a convention of old
fashioned tavern-signs) as they gather at evening to debate in mass-meeting their windy politics, or to gossip at their tent-doors over the events of the day. Their port is grave, and their stalk across the turf as martial as that of a serond-rate ghost in "Hamlet." They never meddled with my corn, so far as I could discover.
9. For a few years I had crows; but their nests are an irresistible bait for boys, and their settlement was broken up. They grew so wonted as to throw off a great part of their shyness, and to tolerate my near approach. One very hot day I stood for some time within twenty feet of a mother and three children, who sat on an elm-bough over my head, gasping in the sultry air, and holding their wings half spread for coolness.
10. There are few things to my ear more melodious than a crow's caw of a clear winter morning as it drops to you filtered through five hundred fathoms of crisp blue air. The hostility of all smaller birds makes the moral character of the crow, for all his deaconlike demeanor and garb, somewhat questionable. He could never sally forth without insult. The golden robins, especially, would chase him as far as I could follow with my eye, making him duck clumsily to avoid their importunate bills. I do not believe, however, that he robbed any nests hereabouts, for the refuse of the gas-works, which, in our free-and-easy community, is allowed to poison the river, supplied him with dead alewives in abundance. I used to watch him making his periodical visits to the salt-marshes, and coming back with a fish in his beak to his young savages, who, no doubt, like it in that condition which makes it savory to the Kanakas and other corvine races of men.
JAMES RUSSELI. LOWELL. James Russell Lowell was born at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in
1819 and died August 12, 1891. He was known as a poet, humorist, and literary critic. That he was also a sympathetic student of nature is shown by this Lesson.
Dr. (Isaac) Watts (1), born 1674, died 1748, was an English Protestant minister, and a writer of hymns and other religious poems. "He who came to feast remains a prey " (7) is a parody on the line in Goldsmith's "Deserted Village": "fools who came to scoff remained to pray"; "border-ruffians" (8) were the men of either political party who respectively endeavored to exclude or to introduce slavery into Kansas, at the time of its admission as a State. "Convention of old-fashioned tavern-signs" (8) is an allusion to the old creaking signs which used to hang before taverns or inns; "Kanakas" (10) are the natives of the Sandwich Islands.
1. trå dĭ' tion a rỹ; a. relating to tradition, that is, the unwritten doctrines, belief, etc.. that are handed down from father to son, or from ancestors to posterity. 1. hẽr' mit aġè; n. a retired 16. ǎb' ju rā' tion; n. solemn residence.
3. ĕn thủ' şi ăst; n. an ardent and imaginative person. 3. å bǎshed'; v. confused. 6. re It'ĕr at ed; v. repeated. 12. săl'lîèş; n. quick rushes for the purpose of attack.
Venerable Joan of Arc.
Upon the death of Henry V. Charles the Dauphin laid claim to the throne of France. In consequence, England declared war, and the English forces were everywhere successful. The English at last, under the Earl of Suffolk, laid siege to Orleans, the "key of South France." The Dauphin's cause seemed lost; his friends were falling off; Orleans was on the point of surrendering, when Joan of Arc, a simple peasant girl of Domremi in the department of Vosges, "having pity on France," came forth from her obscurity, and became the savior of her country. On January 27, 1894, the Church enrolled the name of the Maid of Orleans in the ranks of those who are entitled to be called the Venerable Servants of God.
1. Joan of Arc was born about the year 1412. Her education did not differ from that of the other poor girls in