The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Aunt Mai's Budget
MY DEAR CHILDREN,--So many nieces and nephews have lately written to me, that I can no longer, I am sorry to say, answer all personally, although I shall always do so if any questions are asked. Will you, therefore accept my thanks for your very welcome letters, and will you also continue to write me, telling me about your pets and your lessons?
Will you tell me this month what you intend to sow in your garden? Also how big your little plot of garden is, and if it is near a wall or railings so that you can grow sweet peas, or any other climbing plants.
My little children have each a small garden a yard and a half long, and two feet wide, with a railing behind it, which they are going to try to keep quite covered up during summer months. They will sow this month sweet peas, lupins, nasturtiums, mignonette, Larkspur, and French poppy, which will cost each child 3d., as two can join at a packet.
You can now help us, by telling me what you intend to do.
OUR LITTLE COOKS.
Holiday Pudding. Crusts of bread; 1 OZ. raisins; 1 OZ. brown sugar; 1 egg; little milk. 1. Put the crusts into cold water to soak. 2. When soft, squeeze out into basin. 3. Beat up with spoon. 4. Add raisins. 5. Add sugar, egg and little milk, and mix. 6. Grease basin or mould. 7. Pour in mixture, and steam for 1 to 1 1/4 hour.
Hot Pot. Meat; Potatoes. 1. Cut meat up. 2. Put at bottom of piedish. 3. Sprinkle a little salt over. 4. Peel potatoes. 5. Cut them in quarters. 6. Place them on the meat. 7. Half fill the dish with water. Bake in an oven 2 hours
The above recipes are given together, because they both take a long time to cook after being prepared, and the little cook can get them ready at the same time. The Hot Pot must be prepared first, and then the Holiday Pudding could be taken.
March is one of the busiest months for gardeners. The days seem too short for all the work that has to be done. Sowing of hardy annuals must be proceeded with that you may have early blooms. Sweet peas should be sown in succession, as they will keep on flowering till late autumn. Do not sow seeds too closely. Cutting of dahlias should now be made by cutting off the shoots close to the old stem, and planting in pots to strike. Though the worst of winter is over, the frosts at night are frequently sharp, and are very destructive to many plants that stood the intense cold of winter; carnations are particularly liable to die just as they are making fresh shoots. Rake over flower beds, and keep the soil smooth and loose, especially where autumn sown seeds are. Protect seeds from slugs and birds by sprinkling the ground with soot for the destruction of slugs; and to frighten the birds, twigs with paper, string, or scarlet wool attached, will be found very efficacious. The rays of the sun at this season are often too powerful for delicate plants, so care should be taken to shelter from the sun as well as from frosts by means of awnings.
Gravel paths and lawns should be rolled and kept tidy.
If the weather is mild the grass may be mown. Plant, prune and train roses. Do not be afraid to cut out the old and cankered twigs. If you have not already done so, make your chrysanthemum cuttings.
Admit plenty of fresh air into your greenhouse and frames. Remove all decayed leaves. Geranium cuttings that have stood in boxes all winter may now be potted off; heliotropes, calceolarias, &c., may be treated in the same way. Water the young plants as little as possible.
As March is the first month of a new volume of the Parents' Review, I will again repeat that the Club is intended to help girls from 14 to 18 in the choice of good books, to foster and encourage a love of what is best and highest in our literature. This year we are only taking the fiction of this century, and in January took Miss Edgeworth's "Angelina." In February Miss Mitford's "Our Village" was chosen on account of its delicacy of style. Four questions are given which the readers are requested to answer, and send to Mrs. Francis Steinthal, Wharfemead, Ilkley, on or before the 30th of the month.
Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott, is to be our book for March.
1. Give a short account of Sir Walter Scott's life.
2. Describe briefly the state of English Society in the time of Ivanhoe.
3. Who would you call the principal heroine of the tale? Describe her character.
4. Who was Locksley? What excuse can be made for his conduct and manner of life?
Very thoughtful papers have been sent on Miss Edgeworth's "Angelina or L'ami inconnnu," by Helen Crosland, Roberta Baxter and Lois Foot. More papers would have been written if the members had not found it so difficult to obtain the tale. Three letters said that the booksellers did not know it, and that they maintained it could only be bought in France. Surely it is time Miss Edgeworth was introduced to this generation.
Girls. The flannel petticoat. There are two classes in this competition, one for little girls under eleven, and another for girls from eleven to fourteen. The patterns in "My Dollie's Wardrobe" (I/-) by Madam Goudard are recommended. It contains robe, bonnet, cloak, and a complete set of underclothing, all made to fit a doll 26 inches high. The first in each class will receive a book.
To be sent on or before March 30th to Auntie Mai, Wharfemead, Ilkley.
Boys. 4,5,6 in cardboard modelling. This class is open to boys of all ages. The best book that can be obtained on the subject is Mr. Heaton's "Cardboard Modelling" (5/6), published by Newmann, Newman street, W. A book will be sent to the best worker.
These classes are open to the children of all parents who take in the Parents' Review, and no charge is made for membership. All competitors are requested to kindly fasten their name and address on each garment and enclose a stamp for the return postage.
CLASS I. Age 11 to 14. The First Prize is gained by Maud Gordon, 12, and a Second is divided between Jenny Adamson, 11, and Maud Baxter,11. Very excellent work was done by Leila Rendel, 11, Margery Dunthorne, 12, Leila Barrington, May W. Vernon, Edith Strode, Agnes Tolter, 13, and Marguerite Dowding, 13.
CLASS II. Age 10 and under. Emily P. Marsh, 6 1/2, deserves special mention for very good work done by very young fingers. Margaret Lawrence, 9, and Winifred Lee, 10, divide the prize. I must praise Dorothy Hannen, 6, and Dorothy Yeo, 6, for their patience and care. Also Letty Pumphrey, 9, Doris Robson, 8, Cecily Cholmondely, 8, Hilda Spafford, 9, Dorothy Senior, 9, Ruth Vera Turner, 10, Emmie Wilson, 10, Hilda Latham, 8, Hilda Whitfield, 8, Esme Penrose, 7, Kathleen Xieu, 7, Maude Spielman, 9, Rhoda W. Goddard, 9.
The following two lessons can be taken this month. They are intended to be a continuation of those given in last year's Parents' Review.
I. An empty reel. Take a small piece of clay or modelling paste (the term clay will be used to denote both) between the finger and thumb, and press it on to the board with the thumb. Then take a second piece and press it on to the first, and so on, until there is a lump as big as the stem of the reel. Take it up, and roll it between the palms of the hands until it looks like a firm, smooth cylinder or ruler. Place it on the board, and with the tool cut it sharply down both ends, leaving it the length of the centre of the reel. Proceed to take a piece of clay about the size of a cherry, roll it round and round between the palms to form a ball. Place it on the board and flatten with the thumb, until it is 1/4-inch thick. The it up between the finger and thumb of the left hand, and press the edge inwards, leaving the underneath part of the same size: i.e., make it the shape of the round top part of the reel. When this is finished, put it down and make a second one for the other end. Wet the end well with the damp sponge, and place it on the stem, or centre part; turn it up and add the other end. Take a slate pencil and carefully make a hole in the exact centre of the two ends. I do not advise you to push the pencil through, as the pressure would probably drag the reel out of shape.
1. Prepare stem by putting small pieces of clay together.
II. A skate. If paste is used, this must be made much smaller than the model; but the exact size can be copied in clay. It is alway much better for the children to make their copies as large as the models; it enables them to get truer proportions. The skate leads me to the lesson we intend in April on a shoe.
Place the skate, without straps, on the flat side, with the sole upwards. Lay small pieces of clay one on the top of the other, striving to keep the general outline of the skate, until the length and height is obtained. Then cut with the tool the outline, and proceed to model the roundness and form of the wooden part with them thumb. Cut the slits at the toes and heels with the tool sharply. Roll clay between the palm. Lay this roll on the board, and press flat, leaving it 1/4-inch thick. Cut the edges with the tool, rounding the toe part. Cut a slight incision in the wooden part of the skate down the line where the steel goes. Take a small piece of clay, roll it into a ball form; wet it, and put it near the heel where the screw ought to be. Wet the edge of the steel part, and the incision with a damp sponge, and place the steel in its place, carefully pressing it to make it firm. Finish by smoothing it with a wet thumb.
1. Lay small pieces of clay to four outline or skate.
2. Add clay for height.
3. Model with thumbs.
4. Cut slits with tool.
5. Roll clay into cylinder form.
6. Press it flat on board.
7. Cut edges with tool, rounding toe end.
8. Cut incision down centre of skate.
9. Roll small piece of clay for screw head.
10.Wet it, and place it on skate.
11.Wet edge of steel part and incision.
12.Press the former in its place.
13.Finish with wet thumb.
A ROBIN'S WEEK.
Where have you been to, Birdie bright,
Monday, I hopped on the woodbine bower,
Tuesday, at milk-maid's side I flew,
Wednesday, it rained, so I took to the barn,
A large black cat came back at his side
Thursday, I followed the steps so light
Friday, I joined the countless band,
Saturday, O! I tremble to think!
I had learnt from the egg-shell to beware
Sunday, I made the steeple my perch
But wherever I go, and whoever I see,
(The above was found in writing in an old lady's reticule, where it has lain at least forty years. As there is much dramatic action in the poem I offer it to the boys and girls of this generation. The Editor would be glad to hear from any reader who can give any information about the authorship, etc.)
By the Author of "The Cat's Lovers," "Midsummer Eve in an Oak," &c.
"Herkneth these blissful brides how they synge,
"A lightsome eye, a dauntless mien,
NOWHERE is the Springtime so lovely as in the woodland. Never shines the sky so deeply blue as through the greening tree-tops, where the roseate tinge still lingers; nor the clouds so pearly white as through their half-clad stems, when the merry breezes play about them, rippling the slopes of cuckoo-pint and garlic, celandine and primrose, and wrinkling the surface of the river flowing silently below.
On the bole of an old tree that hangs over the water with outstretched arms, sat the Linnet, an insignificant brown little bird, almost hidden by the young shoots; but how she sang! Her notes gushed forth with such sweet spontaneous rapture, as though she had at the same moment discovered the glory of the springtime and her own power of song."
The Sparrow, chirping cheerfully to his mate on her nest in the wall hard by, stopped to listen; that accomplished critic, the Starling, left his breakfast to perch on the bough beside her, nodding his head from side to side in involuntary approval and enjoyment. As for the Whinchat, he cried to himself before she had well begun the second stanza, "That is the mate for me!" and he could hardly wait till the end of her song to make his proposal. The Linnet heard him with bright-eyed surprise, but without any answer. She was so busy with her singing, she flew down to clear her throat with a draught from the river; then turned her note, and began again.
"You will do very well with practice"; said the Starling, condescendingly; and the Linnet was more than satisfied with his faint praise. She poured forth her song morning and evening, and her fame spread from tongue to tongue; birds thronged from afar to hear her; the Starling went about whistling her tunes, and she became the fashion. But none of the little crowd of suitors could persuade her to be his mate. She always shook her head. "For," said she to herself, looking down at her neighbour, the Sparrow, whose grey face was visible over the side of the nest, where she sat day after day, with persistent patience, "How could I bear to sit like that all the day long! Not to fly up into the open sky, or through the changing woods; not to play among the flowers, or rock on the waving bought; and to stop singing! Oh, the world is so beautiful, I can never sing enough."
Ere long the suitors flew off to seek other mates; all but the Whinchat, the Swallow, and the Starling. The two first were earnest rivals, but the Starling was only an admirer. He liked the Linnet's song, for he had a keen ear for music, and he liked her company, for she was a good listener; but he was too great a personage to mate with the Linnet. His reputation was unrivalled among the birds. As he had the poorest opinion of them all, they thought him wise; and as he expressed this opinion in the sharpest and most unhesitating manner, they called him a wit. He, himself, felt that he was meant for public life; that his talents would be invaluable in the Rook's Parliament; therefore he should marry the young widow Rook, whose lamented mate now dangled from the scarecrow in the wheat field, and whose father was a Cabinet Minister. Meanwhile, until Mrs. Rook's days of mourning were accomplished, the Linnet was a charming companion; and it was rather amusing to notice the jealousy of the Swallow and the Whinchat. The Swallow would bring her presents of insects, which she detested; he would dip under the wave, and play curious antics in the water, which frightened her; and he would prose for ever of the wonders he had seen in foreign lands, and the adventures he had encountered there. With these travellers' tales he entertained all his acquaintance; except (as the Starling observed) the other birds of passage. The Whinchat never talked much; though he often joined her in duets, and his voice blended sweetly with hers.
But whenever the cheerful, prying Cock Sparrow came chirping to her, with his "Well, my dear, well? Chosen a mate, eh, eh? Which is it to be, eh? Must take one of them, my dear; eh, eh?" She still shook her head. She liked the Whinchat the best, and-- who can tell?-- he might have prevailed; but one day, when the primrose clumps had made way for the hyacinths, and anemones were scattered like stars upon the slopes; when the coltsfoot, with with age, was supplanted by forget-me-nots along the bank; when layers green shut out the light over head; and the blue under foot looked as though the sky had fallen; when the river ran noisily in its shallower bed; one day, as she was pruning her wings after her bath, she beheld standing on a boulder, in the middle of the stream, a bird whose like she had never seen before. Such a bird! His brilliant colours blended and glowed with the tints of the rainbow. He stood quite still beneath her; his bill pointed downwards, his eyes fixed on the water. "Oh," breathed the Linnet, "if he would but look up!" and she began to warble her sweetest air to attract his attention. The stranger turned his jewelled head this way and that; then raised it, and looked full into the Linnet's eyes. She saw the shining plumage of his neck and breast, and the length of his slender bill. His beauty took her breath away; she stopped in her song. "Perhaps he will speak," she thought. No. His eyes dropped, and he bent over the stream again.
"He is thinking what an ugly little dowdy I am," thought the Linnet.
She was wrong, he was thinking of his dinner. Just then the Sparrow fluttered on to the bough beside her, and hearing the rustle, the strange bird took flight, passing down the stream like a winged flower.
"My dear," cried the Sparrow, breathlessly," the first egg has chipped! My feelings are so many! Think of it! Chipped right across! Are you not glad, eh, eh?"
"Yes, indeed!" murmured the Linnet, her eyes fixed on the distant curve of the river. "How beautiful! How wonderful!"
"Not so wonderful, my dear, if you consider. It's full time. My poor wife was beginning to look quite worn. But they will all be hatched by to-morrow. Then there'll be a pretty chirping! I shall have a fine search for grubs! Eh, eh? Well, I must go back now to Mrs. S., poor dear,"--
"Oh, stay one moment," cried the Linnet. "Tell me, who is that beautiful bird?"
"Eh, eh? Do you call herbeautiful, my dear?" asked the Sparrow, in some surprise, as following the Linnet's gesture, he caught sight of the Widow Rook, on the opposite shore of the river, taking her daily ride on a sheep's back, while the Starling walked at her side. "That's Mrs. Rook, some think her handsome, but"--
"Oh, no!" I mean the bird who stood on the boulder looking into the water, just as you came up."
"On that stone, eh? Didn't see. What was he like?"
"How shall I tell you? How can I describe him, he shone with all the colors of the sky at sunset."
"You don't say so! Why did you not point him out to me at once, eh, eh? I think there is not a bird in these parts I am not on speaking terms with, yet I do not know one who answers to your description. Was it a God-finch, my dear, eh?"
"Oh, no!" Far more beautiful!"
"You don't mean it!" said the little bird, full of curiosity. "Pray call me the next time you see him. Which way did he fly, eh?"
The Linnet pointed down the river.
"That way, eh? That's the way to the sea. He must be a foreigner. A foreigner, from over the sea, you know."
The Linnet watched all day long for the return of the brilliant stranger; never forsaking her tree, but to pay that congratulatory visit to the Mother-Sparrow, which must not be omitted; after this she returned to her post, to stare at the shimmering river, until she became so drowsy, that the evening star might have been a bright bird's eye, and the crescent moon his shining wing.
The next morning the Starling came as usual to listen to her carol. He would no more have missed that fresh, sweet song than he would have confessed the treat that it was to him. "Uncommonly well!" he said at the end. "You improve, you improve very fast for a beginner."
The Linnet thanked him, but turned to a subject more interesting now than her song.
"When you were walking in that field yesterday, did you see the bird who settled on that stone?"
"Sly minx!" said the Starling to himself; that is to let me know she saw me walking with Mrs. Rook. "The Kingfisher," he replied aloud, "Yes, I saw him. You see, Miss Linnet--hm, ha--the late Mr. Rook was a great friend of mine, and I was merely,--hm, ha,--walking with his widow, hm, hm, to inquire after the health of her father." The last part of this disconnected statement had no interest for the Linnet, but the first had.
"The Kingfisher she murmured; "I knew he was a king." And she liked him all the better.
The lengthening days passed on, filling the trees with leaves, and the groves with flowers; and the Linnet kept her watch by the river, at first hopefully, then longingly; for the water rose round the boulder, and the Kingfisher did not return to perch on its summit, and the little fussy sparrow received every morning the same answer to both his questions.
"Well, my dear; chosen a mate, eh? Seen the Kingfisher; eh, eh?"
Not that he connected the two ideas; but he always asked questions about everything; it was his way. And though he was trying at times, 'twas better than the indifference of the other birds, who never spoke of the Kingfisher, or saw him, or seemed to trouble their heads about him. They were all busy; building, and hatching, and chattering, and enjoying themselves; and they cared not a twig for anything outside their own woodland. It seemed most strange to the simple Linnet, that such a bright apparition should pass unnoticed; or once seen, should be forgotten. She longed to hear of his home, and way of life. Could it be that he had crossed the great waters of which the Swallow spoke, and would never come again? She would have gone to seek him, but for the fear of missing him by the way. Indeed, she could not even give her mind to her songs, lest through inattention, or mischance, he should flit past without her knowing it. And though the days from sunrise to moonrise seemed long to her, she would gladly have doubled their length to postpone the cold, cruel winter, that might drive the bright visitor over the seas, and remove him from her sight for ever. Thus she mused in the mid-day sun; the woods sleeping around her; the birds dozing in the shade; and the river flowing by without a sound. The very calm and stillness told her that Spring was on the wane; and she sat in her solitude, feeling very sweetly sad; when--Were you ever awakened from a sentimental dream by a barrel-organ, outside your window, striking up a lively "popular tune?" Imagine the Linnet's feelings! 'Twas as though every blade on the sward broke simultaneously into a shrill, sharp cry.
"Oh, jolly, jolly, jolly! Oh, jolly, jolly! Oh, jolly, jolly, jolly!" and so on, over and over again. The whole air rang with the noise. Yet all this untimely mirth came from one small Grig, who was swaying himself on a clover leaf, and expressing his opinion of the sun-warmth on his back.
Oh, jolly, jolly! Oh, jolly, jolly, jolly! Oh, jolly, jolly!" It was terrible.
"Would you mind moving on a little?" she pleaded gently. "My head aches, and I am very tired."
"Oh, jolly, jolly! Jolly, jolly, jolly!" cried the Grig, more shrilly than before.
"Where is the little wretch?" cried the Starling, awakening; "I'll change his tune!" And he pounced down on the Grig with a sudden snap, as though he would have swallowed him whole; but the Grig sprang away, and escaped among the grass.
"Oh, don't hurt him!" cried the Linnet; "after all I suppose he has as much right here as we."
"That's settled him, at any rate," observed the Starling, with satisfaction. "These Grigs are a public nuisance. When I get into Parliament I shall institute a killing day among them. What sort of a figure do you think I shall make in Parliament, Miss Linnet?"
"Very, indeed," said the Linnet absently. Was he going to sit there and chatter all day? He was worse than the Grig.
The Starling repeated his question distinctly, and obtained the compliment he expected. He talked well, and he liked to hear himself; he proceeded to give his opinion of the weather, which was good; of the neighbourhood, which was bad; and of the neighbours, who were detestable. The Linnet was forced to listen and to reply; the Starling would not be put off with half-attention like the Sparrow. If she must bear his conversation, she would try to turn it to the topic which interested her.
I think you said the Kingfisher was a neighbour of yours?"
"No, not a neighbour. A passing acquaintance. He comes up the river to fish. There's a stupid fellow for you! Lives on minnows and gudgeon, when there's plenty of good grain and fruit to be had. I would not give a cherry-stalk for all the fish in the river! But it shows how ignorant some birds are!"
The Linnet was surprised at this from the Starling; what could it matter what one ate! she thought. But he went off not a long discourse upon food; for he piqued himself on a fine taste in everything, from a concert to a dinner.
The Sparrow now joined them, and the Linnet for once, welcomed his interjectional small-talk, which always made conversation impossible. Not so the Starling. "Can anything be more irritating than such persistent cheerfulness?" cried he, almost before the Sparrow was out of hearing. "One would like a good heavy misfortune to befall that fellow, but he wouldn't feel it! People of his sort don't know good luck from bad."
The Linnet would not agree in wishing any ill to the Sparrow; he was a little wearisome at times, but a very kind neighbour, she said.
"Well, the Hawks preserve me from such neighbours!" ejaculated the Starling, as he made his bow.
Scarcely was he out of sight when a neat, pretty, important-looking, little creature hopped on to the branch, and after peeping doubtfully at the Linnet once or twice, cried out in a quick little voice, "Miss Linnet! my dear Miss Linnet! Is it really you?"
And the Linnet recognised her old play-mate, the Chaffinch, who flew to her, and rubbing her beak with effusive affection, declared she had sought her to this age. "For, my dear, I have a piece of news to tell you. I have chosen a mate, and my nest is almost built. I have been flying around, just taking a peep at other nests, to get ideas for decoration, but really, Love, you cannot think how untidily some birds build! Sticks and straw sticking out in all directions! And in such poor situations! The Pigeon has her nest at the top of a great fir-tree. Just think, if the young ones fell out! And the Lark has built flat on the damp ground. So unhealthy! And the nests are so comfortless inside. My mate and I are completely agreed in our notions of building; and that is a great thing. Nothing else is so important as agreeing about the nest, for I could not bear to have that ugly! But my mate is really charming! You shall see him. There is not a handsomer bird in the grove. He will look well standing beside the nest, and that is the important point. But, my Love, you look so dull and down, I had hardly known you! What is it, dear? You cannot have lost your mate?"
"No," answered the Linnet.
"Surely," asked the Chaffinch in an awe-struck whisper,"you have not lost your nest?"
No, the Linnet had neither chose a mate, nor built a nest.
"Why, my Love, you will be very late!" Perhaps, thought the Chaffinch, she cannot get a mate. She is very plain, poor thing. "Well, cheer up!" She added aloud, "You will have my experience to help you now. I shall look out a nice bird for you. You should be getting some twigs together. I did before I met the Chaffinch; and then I chose him at once; for I saw he would look well by the nest, and our views are so exactly the same as regards building. You see," she continued, including the hen-sparrow in her conversation, " I am a little particular. Some may call me house-proud, but I think a bird should have a little proper pride where her nest is concerned. It should be neat within and without. Just look at the Thrush's nest! You might as well, Mrs. Sparrow, lay eggs on bare boards! So comfortless! Now my ideas about warmth and lining are a little peculiar. Some use wool; but I don't know--you see one can never tell where wool has come from--I think a little, soft, clean, thistledown--But I must begone. My mate has awakened. I hear him calling. "Spink-wink" he says, "Spink-wink." Good-day Mrs. Sparrow, Good-day, my dear Linnet."
"I don't know what she means about nests," murmured the hen-sparrow, in a plaintive tone. "I am sure Mr. S. and I took a great deal of pains with our nest, and I'm sure, when it was done, we thought it looked very well. And when there were five sweet little eggs laid in it, Mr. S. said it was a sight to be proud of. But wail till she has five little fledglings! She'll find there's something else to be thought of, besides keeping the house fine!"
The pensive air and quiet manner of the Linnet made her more popular than ever with the birds. They were quite pleased with her for giving them something new to chirp about, when the interest in her singing was beginning to flag. Her levée was always well attended, and her ill-looks were the topic of conversation at every social gathering. Some said she pined for the Starling; others, that she had eaten what disagreed with her; and the rest were of opinion that she had sung herself ill; it didn't do to have more voice than was required for talking. Good advice was showered in upon her from all quarters. The Swallow recommended change to the sea-side; the Whinchat thought moorland air the best; and the Starling proposed a visit to the flower garden. He, as usual, carried his point. She consented to fly over the wall for a few minutes; but the bright faces of the flowers made her feel dull, and their colour reminded her too vividly of the Kingfisher, to be of much service. She felt that every moment she spent among the borders, he might be standing on the grey stone. She flew back as soon as she could."Now I have news that will really cheer you up, my dear!" cried the Sparrow, meeting her. "Our young ones have already down on their backs and heads, and Mrs. S. Thinks she may venture to let you peep." As they approached the nursery, they heard the hen-Sparrow conversing with her young, after the manner of mother birds.
MOTHER. "Who's a birdie-wirdie? Who's a popit-woppit? Who's full of intelligence?"
BROOD. "More! more! more!" (meaning not more caresses but more caterpillars.)
MOTHER. "Well, well; Father's coming. Father'll bring more for his chick-picks. "Ain't it wonderful how they understand each other?" cried the proud father. The Linnet thought it was; she bent over the nest, and each squeaking, open-mouthed fledgling was pushed in turn from under the mother's wing, for her inspection. She said what she could in their praise, touching each little fluffy head with her beak. "Poor thing," sighed the good-natured Sparrow when she was gone, "Nothing seems to do her good." He felt now that the case was really hopeless.
"She looks dull about the eyes," said the mother-bird. (What intelligence could there be in orbs that had found so little to admire in her lovely brood?) "Do you think she is sick, Mr. S.?"
"Eh? No," returned her mate. "Perhaps a bit of envy got in her eye. Though why anybody should begrudge you these spoilt little squeakers of yours, is more than I can say, Mrs. S. I'll tell you what, mother, if I could find such a thing as a cuckoo's nest, I'd pop them all in head downwards, and leave them there!"
This was a delightful joke! So the mother laughed, and the father laughed, and the young ones laughed heartily."They've a fine sense of humour, these youngsters of yours, Mrs. S. THAT they get from me, eh, eh? And he leaned over to tickle them with his beak; whereupon they all laughed uproariously; for this was the joke they like best of all.
(To be continued.)
Typed by AniElizabeth, July 2018
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