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Harriet at the same instant, as the glass was shivered to pieces by the weight of the air.
25. “I think you can now understand that if a fly has the power to withdraw the air from under its feet as it moves along, the pressure of the atmosphere is sufficient to hold it fast to any surface, however smooth, and however much inclined to the horizon."
26. “If the fly can do that, he is more of a philosopher than I took him for,” said William. “But I am impatient to see how he accomplishes the feat."
27. “Here is the leg of a common fly, that I have placed in the solar microscope; I will bring it to the proper focus. It is now so much magnified that we can examine the various parts of it with ease."
28. “What a strange-looking thing it is, and so large ; my arm is nothing to it. How I should like to see an elephant put into a microscope."
29. “What an idea, Harriet! why an elephant would appear as large as one of the Alps !” exclaimed William.
30. “Microscopes are used only to examine bodies that are too small for the naked eye to see. You will observe a line of light running up the middle of the leg. This line of light shows that the leg is hollow. On the foot you can distinctly observe a flap or membrane, to which are attached two points, one in front and the other behind. These the fly can move at pleasure, and can extend or contract the flap just as it pleases. When the fly wishes to move without the trouble of raising himself in the air, he stretches out these points, tightens the flap, draws the air from under it, through the tube in the legs, and moves along the polished surface of the glass with as much ease and security as you do on the garden walk.”
31. “How delightful! How beautiful! How ingenious ! ” they all exclaimed at once.
"I shall never see a fly again without feeling an interest in him.”
LXXXVIII.- THE SPARROW'S NEST ON THE
RAFTER BEAM. 1. The bare old rafter beam, in this empty ferry-house waiting-shed did not seem like the most inviting place for a home. But the sparrows had determined, after looking carefully around, to settle there for the season. The tramp of feet and the rattle of wheels, with the rush and clank of the ever-going, ever-coming ferry-boats, had stopped for awhile.
2. The place grew very quiet, with just a little splash of the waves against the green, mossy pier logs; so Mrs. Trill, with her head under her wing, fell to thinking things all over, which is just the very best way to do; for in the “ all over" there is sure to be some comfort.
3. Building began next day, and, with the prospect of making a home out of it, the dingy old rafter seemed less desolate. They would see plenty of people, and be at a safe distance, too. . To be sure there was fun in the exciting rock and in the sway of tree-life in a storm; but here they were safe, and even birds can not have everything in this life.
4. So, cheerfully and earnestly they went on with their work, never noticing that again and again during the day, while waiting for the boat, crowds of eager faces were turned with kindly interest toward them. A wisp of hay, from a cart rolling off the boat, caught on a corner of a beam and lodged at a safe distance from the floor.
5. Just what they wanted at this stage of the building, for a cellar beam. Mr. Trill tried to lift it alone, but it was too large;.so up he flew for bonnie Mrs. Trill. Two are better than one in some cases, of which burden-bearing, for instance, is one.
6. How they worked and tugged! Half-way up Mrs. Trill lost her breath and stopped, and dropped her end
of the load. Mr. Trill had to let his end go too, and the straw fluttered down again. But what matter? There was no scolding nor fretting, and with good-natured
perseverance they took hold again.
7. Though the way was long, and their building blocks hard to manage, they worked on patiently and gladly till into their voices there came a tone that made people look up and say, “Why, I never heard such music from English sparrows before. There is something truly sweet in the ring of that constant, cheery chirp."
8. In time, they built for themselves a snug, sound home, strong and serviceable and full of softness within, and the attractive beauty of a rustic summer-house outside.
9. Constant travelers over the ferry stepped out of their way to see how the birdies were getting on. Anà here is just one little corner of the many into which the echoes of their glad, helpful songs entered.
10. Had you stopped that busy little man on a certain morning, he would have said, “ Can't wait now; bless you, I haven't a single minute to spare !” in such a jerky, good-natured way, that you would not have attempted to keep him. But, though he is truthful, he actually lost a boat in his anxiety to watch the lifting of that hay wisp.
11. All that building time he carried home nightly accounts of the birds, and their bright good nature always made such a gleam in his story, that, somehow, a spirit of forbearance seemed to shine and lighten up his own girls and boys in their intercourse with each other the next day.
12. In the hurry of business during the week, the memory of the birds' helpfulness and patience jogged his conscience so that he found himself at the desk of his new boy clerk, helping him along with his burden of puzzling figures.
13. How far the music of those little workers has gone, we can never know; but if we work on earnestly, we shall some day know that the grandest and best way to “help the world along," is to turn to the first work at hand, which is often just the very hardest to do, because it seems so simple and common-place.
LXXXIX. DO THE DUTY THAT LIETH
NEAREST THY HAND.
1. Do the duty that lieth nearest thy hand,
And seek not thy mission o'er all the wide land;
Shall claim thee, that claim is thy mission's loud call. 2. O that I could tell thee, in words that would burn,
Of chances now lost that will never return !
3. Where now thou’rt abiding, seek work for the Lord, While thy heart and thy hands move in cheerful
XC.-TURNING THE GRINDSTONE.
1. When I was a little boy, I remember, one cold winter's morning, I was accosted by a smiling man with an ax on his shoulder.
2. “My pretty boy,” said he, “ has your father a grindstone?"
3. “Yes, sir,” said I.
4. “You are a fine little fellow,” said he; "will you let me grind my ax on it ?”
5. Pleased with the compliment of “fine little fellow,” “O yes, sir,” I answered. “It is down in the shop.”
6. “And will you, my man,” said he, patting me on the head, "get me a little hot water?"
7. How could I refuse? I ran and soon brought a kettleful.
8. “How old are you, and what's your name?” continued he, without waiting for a reply ; “I am sure you are one of the finest lads that I have ever seen; will
you just turn a few minutes for me?”
9. Tickled with the flatuery, like a little fool, I went to work, and bitterly did I rue the day. It was a new ax, and I toiled and tugged till I was almost tired to death. The school-bell rang, and I could not get away; my hands were blistered, and the ax was not half ground.
10. At length, however, it was sharpened; and the man turned to me with, “Now, you little rascal, you've played truant; scud to the school, or you'll rue it.”
11. “Alas!” thought I," it was hard enough to turn a grindstone this cold day, but now to be called a little rascal is too much.” It sunk deep into my mind, and often have I thought of it since.
12. When I see a merchant over polite to his customers, I think, “ That man has an ax to grind."