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the toe to the heel. The bar is firmly fixed to the foot part of the skate, and, being perfectly smooth and flat, helps the skater to glide smoothly over the ice.
Now for the sledge ! A child's sledge is a piece of wood about three feet long, and a little more than a foot wide, placed upon upright pieces of iron which are fixed to two other pieces something like those on the skates, only very much larger and thicker and broader. This seat is raised about nine inches from the ground, and a string is fastened to the front, by which the child can drag the sledge after him.
Now, would you like to hear how the boy uses his sledge ? He takes it to the brow of a hill, then sits down on the plank, takes the string in his hands, and sways himself backwards and forwards a little while, to get a start. Then, off he goes down the hill as happy as a bird
Sometimes he gets to the bottom quite safely; at other times, both sledge and rider are upset in the snow ; this however
a in beds to the native lake
he does not mind in the least, indeed he rather likes it, for it adds to the fun.
I must not forget the skating on the lakes! You know that a lake is water with land all round it. In Sweden, there are many lakes, and they are so large, that they cover a great part of the country. In the winter they are frozen very hard; so hard that people drive over them from one side to the other, just as they drive on dry land.
When the children are tired of sliding down hill on their sledges, they go off to the lakes. Now they will want their skates. These are put on at the lake's side, and away the young ones go, seeming almost to fly over the ice. Some make up races among themselves, while others either teach the smaller ones to skate, or give them rides on their sledges.
They must not stand still more than a few minutes at a time, for the cold is so great, that if they are not constantly moving about, their little faces get frost-bitten. They do not always know when this happens themselves; but
some of their play-fellows are sure to see it, because the frozen part looks so much whiter than the rest of the face.
Perhaps you will wonder what a child does when his little cheek or nose is frozen. I suppose you would run home and sit by the fire! But he knows better than to do this : if he did so, the frozen part would never get well : he just stoops down, and takes up a good handful of snow, and rubs the place as hard as he can, till it quite smarts. He does not mind the pain much, because he knows that the part must be rubbed in this way to make it well.
When it is dark, and in the winter it grows dark earlier in Sweden than it does in England,—you may see the children running home with their skates and their sledges, which they clean and rub quite dry, and put away for another dav's use.
MORE ABOUT SWEDEN. I hope that you have not forgotten your merry little Swedish friends, and that you will be glad to hear more about them.
Last time we saw them at play; we will now look at them at work, for it is not “all play and no work” with these little folk, any more than it should be with you. Shall we pay a visit to one of their cottages and see what is going on there ?
What an odd looking cottage it is ! It is made of long wooden planks, and painted red all over, roof and all, except just round the windows, where it is white. These little red cottages look very pretty, peeping up among the dark green fir-trees, or dotted about among the snow.
Let us see wbat is going on inside one of them. I am sure the inmates will be glad to see us, for, the Swedish people are always ready to give a hearty welcome to strangers.
In the room that we enter first, there are two people at work: the one is a woman sitting at her loom weaving; and her little girl is busy spinning thread of different colours.
From time to time, she gives a gentle push to the cradle at her side, which is hanging from a beam in the roof. I am sure you are thinking that this is a funny way to rock a baby. Let us peep into the cradle. What a pretty little baby! but how straight and stiff he is lying. Why have they rolled him up so tight ?
It is because his mother thinks that binding him up tightly in this way will make him grow straight.
In England we like our little babies to use their arms and legs as much as they like, for we believe that this is the best way to make them grow straight and strong.
We have just seen the mother weaving at her loom. I must tell you that in most of the houses in the country parts, the mother weaves the cloth to make clothes for her family ; because in Sweden clothes are very dear.