« PreviousContinue »
THE FLYING FISH.
A FISH with wings, flying in the air-how strange it scems to us! Were we told that thousands of fishes are seen at the same time sailing above the waters, and did we not know that the account was true, we should turn away from it as false.
The flying fish, of which you see the picture, is found in the Indian sea. It is about one foot seven inches long. It is of a silvery brown colour on the back, and pale orange below. Its fins are large, and spread out like wings: they seem like silver gauze. Altogether it is a beautiful little creature.
The sailors often see, from their ships, shoals of these flying fishes quietly moving on the top of the waters. In a moment they rise like a flock of birds, and sport in the air, and then they again dive into the But at other times, a dolphin in search of food spies a shoal of these fish, and darts in among them. Away they rise and spread out their wing-like fins, and cleave like birds through the air. Their flight, however, is short, for their delicate wings soon get dry, and they take to the water to moisten them. Then again, at the sight of their enemy, they rise, and shine as silver in the light of the sun. And so, now in the water, and then flying above it, they seek to escape the pursuer. But the poor flying fishes do not always find safety in the air; sea birds are on the watch, and, suddenly darting down, make them their easy prey. Thus they have enemies both in the water and in the air.
THE LITTLE GIRL WHO TOOK CARE OF HER
I THINK I hear some youthful voice exclaim, "Why, it is mothers who take care of little girls, and not little girls who take care of mothers." And so it is generally, and very poorly off should most of us have been, if in our early years we had not had the care of a wise and tender mother. I am going, however, to tell of a little German girl, whom I shall call Beldina; for, though I believe the story to be quite true, I do not know what her real name was.
In England, a cottage girl of eleven years old is thought to be very useful, if, when her mother is out or busy, she sweeps up the kitchen, and makes the beds, and takes care of the baby. And little girls of the same age, who have rich parents, and have nursemaids and governesses to see after them, are not expected generally to do anything but learn their lessons and behave properly to those about them. If they are taught the duty of being unselfish, they will sometimes play with baby even when he is fretful and hard to please, or they will help to make a frock for some poor child, though they may not like plain sewing so well as crochet or an amusing book. Still, it is but seldom you find that a child under twelve years of age ever does anything very much out of the way in helping others, and especially the one to whose care and labour she herself looks.
And now I will tell you the "true story:"
It was a stormy night at Boulogne, and it was with difficulty that the steam-packet for London could
battle her way out of the harbour. The passengers had hurried on board about midnight, and in the darkness and confusion some of them stumbled over a mass of something that seemed to be alive, but hidden from sight by coarse woollen cloaks. Too tired to stop to examine from what, or from how many creatures those low cries of complaint proceeded, they hurried to their cabins, and thought with pity all too late of the poor deck passengers, exposed to that cold night wind and soaking salt spray.
When morning dawned, the cabin passengers began to walk the deck, and the bundle of life still lay under its coarse and ragged coverings. At last it stirred, and a small and childish, but even careworn face, looked out. It was the face of a young girl, about eleven years old, who with a gentle hand and soft whispers roused a pale and thin little boy, who seemed to wake up in a sort of fright. The kind sister smoothed his hair and ragged dress, and, breathing on his hands, rubbed them with her own sleeve. After a while, the larger cloak stirred, and the white-faced mother of these two children arose from her comfortless bed. She seemed to be quite as dependent as her little boy on the loving care of her daughter, who in German fashion kissed her hand, and arranged her hair and dress as she had done her brother's.
The passengers, one after another, went down to breakfast in the cabin, or, in humbler fashion, partook of it on deck; but the quiet, desolate-looking family seemed to have neither food nor the means of getting any. One kind gentleman offered the little boy a biscuit; but he would not take it from any but his
sister's hands. She divided it into three parts, keeping the smallest for herself, and they all began to eat it eagerly. Soon, through the kindness of the passengers, a plentiful breakfast was placed before them, and the girl with the utmost care divided and arranged it on their laps, evidently thinking of the others far more than herself.
Their story was asked; but it was impossible to understand anything, except from the girl, who spoke a little English as well as French. The dialogue was after this fashion :
"Where are you from, my little girl ?" "Is it me, sir ? Oh, I am from New York.” "From New York! What were you doing there ?" "Keeping my father's room, sir; he is a journeyman."
"And what brings you to Europe ?"
My father sent me to bring my mother." "Sent you!"
"Yes, sir; and because my brother could not be left in the room all day, when my father was out at work, I took him with me."
"What! and you two little children crossed the ocean to fetch your mother ?"
"Oh! that is nothing: the ship brought us; we did not come. It was worse when we landed in London; for there were so many people there, and so many houses, it was just as if we had to find our way without a ship through the waves of the sea." "And what were you to do in London ?"
"I was to find a countryman of ours, who was to get me a passage to France. But nobody we met in