Слике страница
PDF
ePub

empire, France and the United States are republics, and they all engage in this business, and are constantly sending goods one to another; but there are other kingdoms, not put down on any map, that are just as busy as they, and in the same sort of work too.

13. The earth is one of the kingdoms, the water is another, and there is the great republic of the gases surrounding us on every side, only we can not see it, because its inhabitants have the fairy gift of walking invisible.

14. Each of these kingdoms has products to export, and is ready to trade with the others, if only some one will supply the means. Frenchmen might stand on their shores and hold out to us wines and prunes and silks and muslins, and we might stand on our shores and hold out to them gold and silver, but no exchange could thus be made, because there must be ships to carry the goods

across.

15. "Ah,” you may say, “that is not at all the case here; for the earth, the air and the water are all close to each other and close to us, and there is no need of ships; we can exchange hand to hand.”

XXXV.—THE CARRYING TRADE.

(CONCLUDED.) 1. But here comes a difficulty. Read carefully, and I think you will understand it. Here is Ruth, a little growing girl, who wants phosphate of lime to build bones with; for, as she grows, of course her bones must grow too. Very well, I answer, there is plenty of phos

, phate of lime in the earth; she can have all she wants. Yes, but does Ruth want to eat earth? Do you ? — does anybody?

[ocr errors]

2. Certainly not; so, although the food she needs is close beside her, even under her feet, she can not get it, any more than we can get the French goods, excepting by means of the carrying trade. Where now are the little ships that shall bring to Ruth the phosphate of lime she needs and can not reach, although it lies in her own father's field?

3. Let me show you how her father can build the ships that will bring it to her. He must go out into that field and plant wheat-seeds; and, as they grow, every little kernel gathers up phosphate of lime and becomes a tiny ship freighted with what his little daughter needs.

4. When that wheat is ground into flour and made into bread, Ruth will eat it; but she would not have been willing to taste of the phosphate of lime had not the useful little ships of the wheat-field brought it to her; and indeed it would have done her injury and not good if she had eaten it. .

5. Now let us send to the republic of the gases for some supplies, for we can not live without carbon and oxygen; and although we do breathe in oxygen with every breath we draw, we need to receive that and carbon, too, in other ways.

6. The sugar-cane and the maple-trees engage in the carrying trade to bring these gases to us. They take in carbon and oxygen by their leaves and send them through their bodies, and when they reach us they are sugar,- and a very pleasant food to most of you it is, I

[ocr errors]

dare say.

7. But we can not take all we need of these gases in the form of sugar, and there are many other ships that bring them to us. The corn gathers them up and offers them in the form of meal or of corn-starch puddings.

8. The grass brings them to the cow, since you and I refuse to take them from the grass ships, but the cow

Do you

offers them to us again in the form of milk, and we do not think of refusing ; the butcher offers them to us in the form of beef, and we do not say "No."

9. Alice wants some india-rubber shoes. think the kingdoms of air and water can send her a pair? The india-rubber tree in South America takes up water and separates from it hydrogen, of which india-rubber is partly composed, and, adding to it carbon from the air, it makes a gun which we can work into shoes and balls, buttons, tubes, cups, cloth, and a hundred other useful articles.

10. Then again, you and I, and every body else, must go to the world of gases for nitrogen to help build our bodies, to make muscle and blood and skin and hair; and so the peas and beans load their boat-shaped seeds full of nitrogen, and bring it to us so fresh and excellent that we enjoy eating it.

11. This useful carrying trade has also another branch well worth looking at. You remember hearing how many soldiers were sick in war-time at the South ; but perhaps you do not know that their best medicine was brought to them by a South American tree that gathered up from the earth and air bitter juices to make what we call quinine.

12. Then there is camphor, which I am sure you have all seen, sent by the East Indian camphor-tree to cure you when you are sick; and gum-arabic and all the other gums, and castor-oil, and most of the other medicines that you do not at all like,— all brought to us by the plants.

13. I might say a great deal more about this, but I will stop to tell you only a little of what we give back in payment for all that is brought us.

14. When England sends us hardware and woolen goods she expects us to repay her with cotton and sugar, that are just as valuable to us as hardware and woolens are to her; but see how differently we treat the kingdoms from which the plant-ships are all the time bringing us food and clothes and medicines.

15. All that we return to them is just what we can make no use of ourselves. We take in good fresh air, and breathe out impure and bad air. We throw back to the earth whatever will not nourish and strengthen us; and yet no complaint comes from the faithful plants. Do you wonder? I will let you into the secret of this.

16. The truth is, what is worthless to us is really just the food they need; and they do not at all know how little we value it ourselves. It is like the Chinese, of whom we might buy rice or silk or tea, and pay them in rats, which we are glad to be rid of, while they consider them good food.

17. Now I have given you only a peep into this carrying trade, but it is enough to show you how to learn more about it by using your eyes and ears.

XXXVI.—THE BIRDS PETITION.

To the Men and Boys of the United States :

1. We, the blue-birds, robins, wrens, larks, jaye, bobolinks, and other songsters, having come to give you a concert, do most humbly pray that you will not drive us away with guns and stones, nor destroy our nests, take our eggs, or kill our little ones. 2. We will not tax

you
for our songs.

The few cherries that we take we will pay well for in destroying worms and insects that, if left alone, would not allow you to raise any fruit at all. Would you not rather spare us a little than to have none yourselves ?

3. We will give you the choicest music, in the sweetest tones. We are all perfect in our parts, and we love to sing.

When other bands of music come out to play, you do not drive them away, but rather pay them to remain.

4. Please grant this our petition, and we will assist you by our labors, and cheer you with our songs. BLUE-BIRDS,

WRENS,
ROBINS,

LARKS,
BOBOLINKS,

JAYS,
AND MANY OTHER SONGSTERS.

5. It is a pity that we can not understand the language of birds, while we are delighted with the music of their songs. They evidently understand each other, and therefore they have a language.

6. How do we know, then, but the birds, while singing songs of praise for what they enjoy, are not also pleading with us to leave them unmolested? There is often sadness in their tones, which, if uttered by a child, would indicate sorrow, or fear, or a plea for mercy.

7. If a foreigner should sing sweet songs to us, the agh we might not understand a word of his language, we would gather his meaning from his tones, or, at any rate, we would be grateful to him for his harmonious notes. Do the birds do less for us? Do they not wake us early by their cheerful songs, and at sunset chant their evening melody?

8. If now and then there is a sad refrain, may we not reasonably suppose that they are mourning the loss of some child or companion of theirs, or that they are doing what they can to excite our sympathy, or secure our protection ? Listen to the morning and evening bird-songs, and they will inspire in you feelings of love and gratitude, of kindness and mercy.

a

[ocr errors]
« ПретходнаНастави »