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3. Through all the land the children
In the golden fields remain
A generous sheaf of grain.
They glean to the very least,
For the sparrows' Christmas feast.
There happens a wonderful thing:
For the children's offering.
The twittering crowds arrive,
With their chirping is all alive. 7. They perch upon roof and gable,
On porch and fence and tree;
And peer in curiously;
Who eagerly look out
And greet them with welcoming shout. 9. On the joyous Christmas morning,
In front of every door
Is set the birds before.
It would be hard to tell ;
Or the children who love them well!
11. How sweet that birds should remember,
With faith so full and sure,
The whole wide country o'er!
12. When this pretty story was told me,
By one who had helped to rear
In Norway, many a year,
13. I thought that our little children
Would like to know it too.
So blessed a thing to do,
14. To make God's innocent creatures see
In every child a friend,
L.-MY FIRST FISHING.
1. I remember my first fishing excursion as if it were but yesterday. I have been happy many times in my life, but never more intensely so than when I received that first fishing-pole from my uncle's hand, and trudged off with him through the woods and meadows.
2. It was a still, sweet day of early summer; the long afternoon shadows of the trees lay cool across our path; the leaves seemed greener, the flowers brighter, the birds merrier, than ever before. My uncle, who knew by long experience where were the best haunts of pickerel, considerately placed me at the most favorable point.
3. I threw out my line as I had so often seen others,
and waited anxiously for a bite, moving the bait in rapid jerks on the surface of the water in imitation of the leap of a frog. Nothing came of it. “Try again,” said my
* uncle. Suddenly the bait sank out of sight. “Now for it,” thought I; “here is a fish at last.”
4. I made a strong pull, and brought up a tangle of weeds. Again and again I cast out my line with aching arms, and drew it back empty. I looked to my uncle appealingly. “Try once more,” he said; “we fishermen must have patience.”
5. Suddenly something tugged at my line and swept off with it into deep water. Jerking it up, I saw a fine pickerel wriggling in the sun. “Uncle!” I cried, looking back in uncontrollable excitement, “I've got a fish!”
6. “Not yet,” said my uncle. As he spoke there was a plash in the water; I caught the arrowy gleam of a scared fish shooting into the middle of the stream; my hook hung empty from the line. I had lost my prize.
7. We are apt to speak of the sorrows of childhood as trifles in comparison with those of grown-up people; but, we may depend upon it, the young folks do not agree with us.
8. Our griefs, modified and restrained by reason, experience, and self-respect, keep the proprieties, and, if possible, avoid a scene; but the sorrow of childhood, unreasoning and all-absorbing, is a complete abandonment to the passion. The doll's nose is broken and the world breaks up with it; the marble rolls out of sight and the solid globe rolls off with the marble.
9. So, overcome by my great and bitter disappointment, I sat down on the nearest hassock, and for a time refused to be comforted even by my uncle's assurance that there were more fish in the brook. He refitted my bait, and, putting the pole again in my hands, told me to try my
luck once more.
10. “But remember, boy," he said, with his shrewd smile, “never brag of catching a fish until he is on dry ground. I've seen older folks doing that in more ways than one, and so making fools of themselves. It's no use to boast of any thing until it's done,-- nor then either, for it speaks for itself.”
11. How often since have I been reminded of the fish that I did not catch! When I hear people boasting of a work as yet undone, and trying to anticipate the credit which belongs only to actual achievement, I call to mind that scene by the brook-side; and the wise caution of my uncle in that particular instance takes the form of a proverb of universal application : “Never brag of your fish before you catch him."
JOHN G. WHITTIER.
LI.—THE COST OF A POCKET-KNIFE.
1. A boy may use his good, strong jack-knife with but very slight ideas of its cost. If you should ask him, he would perhaps say “half a dollar."
Stop your whittling a moment, my young friend, and let us look into the subject a little.
2. A knife does not come by nature, ready made. “But the iron does,” you say. Yes, iron is found in the earth, but very seldom pure, or fit for the blacksmith and the manufacturer. It is mixed with clay or some other substance.
3. These substances must be separated from it by intense heat; no ordinary fire will answer the purpose. Charcoal is put into a furnace with the iron ore and some limestone; then the charcoal is lighted at the lower end, and wind blown on it by powerful machinery, and the great heat melts the whole.
4. The iron being heavier than the other matter settles to the bottom, where the workman at the right time lets it out. It runs like water, through the hole he has prepared for it, into furrows made in sand, where it cools. These pieces are cast iron — they are called pigs of iron; but this iron must have other processes before it is fit for making a knife.
5. Cast iron can not be worked with the hammer, or sharpened to a nice cutting edge; it must be made into malleable iron for these purposes. Malleable iron is a kind of iron which, instead of melting in the fire, will soften, and thus allow itself to be hammered into the desired shape, or welded together smoothly.
6. But when the iron is made malleable by being heated and stirred and beaten or rolled, even then it is not nice enough for a first-rate knife — it is only iron; and you want your knife made of steel, so that it will bear a keen edge without either breaking or bending. To get that we must change our material again.
7. To this end the workman must cover up his iron in powdered charcoal and again give it a red heat, that it may get the property upon which the keenness of the knife depends. But he must be careful that the heat be not too great or too long continued, as then the steel could not be hammered or welded.
8. Steel must be tempered. To temper it, it is plunged, while very hot, into cold water, and kept there until it is quite cool. Then the workman brightens it, and, laying it upon a piece of hot iron, holds it to the fire till the color shows him it is in a proper state to be again plunged into water; and now it is hardened enough to be hammered into shape.
9. Then the knife-grinder takes the knife upon his immense wheels, which are turned by water or steam, and move so swiftly that they seem to almost stand still.