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“In the name of wonder, boy !.” he exclaimed, “what are you doing there ?"
“I am keeping the water from running out,” was the answer of the child, who during that whole night had been acting with such noble and true courage.
History has not left us the name of this real little hero of Haarlem.
THE HONEY-BIRD, OR BEE-CUCKOO. This interesting little creature is a native of Africa, and in size and form resembles the sparrow. It is remarkable for its faculty of discovering the nests or hives of wild bees.
It feeds on honey and young bees; but as the hives or nests are built in hollow trees, crevices of the rocks, or holes in the ground, the honey-bird cannot get them without assistance; so it calls to its aid the little quadruped, called the ratel, or honey-badger: it also seeks the assistance of man.
The honey-bird first finds the hive, and then comes forth with its peculiar cry of Cheer up! Cheer up! to gain the attention of its fellow-plunderers. If any one follows, the cunning little creature flies on slowly, often repeating its cry of Cheer up! Cheer up! leading on toward the hive which it has found, and wishes to plunder.
The natives, Caffres and Hottentots, are very careful not to frighten their guide by any unusual noise, or by going in too great numbers; but one or two go quietly forward, and answer it now and then with a very gentle whistle, by way of letting it know its call is not unheeded.
Sparrman, a traveller, who observed its habits very closely, says :
:-“I noticed, when the bees' nest was at a great distance, the bird, for the most part, made long flights, waiting for the pursuers, and often calling them to come on again. But it flew shorter distances, and repeated its cry with greater earnestness, as it approached the nest.
“I also saw, with utter surprise, that when, by reason of its great impatience, the bird had gone too far a-head of its followers, or when the roughness of the way prevented them from going as fast as usual, it would fly back to meet them, and, with redoubled cries, denoting great impatience, would upbraid them for being so tardy.
Finally, when it has arrived at the nest, whether built in the cleft of a rock, in a hollow tree, or in some cavity of the earth, it hovers over the spot for several seconds, and then sits in silence on a tree, or in some thicket, until the nest is robbed, when it comes for its share of the spoil.
“The rule of the natives is, always to leave a little portion of the honey to reward its services; but they generally give it a scanty portion, lest its appetite should not be left keen enough to search out other hives."
A FRISKY ASS SUBDUED.
IN 1840, we were making a journey in a waggon in the province of Pekin. We were under the guidance of an old schoolmaster, mounted on a fine ass.
This ass was so full of ardor and agility, that the two mules which made up our team had great difficulty in keeping up with him.
He was, however, so filled with a sense of his superiority, and so proud of it, that whenever he became aware of the presence of any
of his brethren, let them be at never so great a distance, he never failed to begin boasting of it in such loud-sounding tones, that his folly became past bearing.
When we got to an inn, instead of trying to rest himself, this tiresome beast passed the whole night in practising his music.
Then all the asses within hearing were quite sure to reply, and this created such a frightful braying that it became impossible for us to close our eyes.
One evening, when the schoolmaster was boasting of the qualities of his ass, we could not help interrupting him. “Your ass,” said we, “is an abominable brute. During the whole journey he has kept us from getting a wink of sleep."
Why did you not tell me so before,” said he, “I would soon have stopped his singing.” As the ancient schoolmaster was somewhat of a wag, and indulged now and then in a small joke we took little notice of his reply; but that night we slept soundly. “Well, did the ass make a noise last night?” said be, when we met in the morning.
"Perhaps not; at all events we did not hear him."
“No, no; I think not. I saw to that before I went to bed. You must have noticed,” he continued, “that when an ass is going to bray, he always begins by raising his tail, and he keeps it stretched out as long as his song lasts. To ensure his silence, therefore, you have only to tie a large stone to the end of his tail, so that he cannot raise it.”
We smiled without reply, thinking this was another piece of fun; but he cried, “Come now, and see ; you can easily convince yourselves.” We followed him into the courtyard, and there beheld, sure enough, the poor ass with a large stone attached to his tail, and with the air of having entirely lost his usual spirits.
His eyes were fixed on the ground, his ears hung down, and his whole appearance was that of humility and dejection. On freeing the poor creature, he first raised his head, then his ears, then his tail, and at last began to bray with all his wonted power.
THE TAILOR-BIRD AND ITS NEST.
This curious little bird, and one or two other species, have been called tailor-birds, because of the peculiar manner in which they construct their nests. These birds are found in the West Indies, and in other warm climates.
This bird usually suspends its nest from the twigs of the appletree, weeping-willow, or banana tree; and, with its bill, which serves instead of a needle and a weaver's shuttle, sews or weaves the leaves firmly together.
Sometimes it makes its nest on a plant that has large leaves, and then it gathers cotton from the shrubs, spins it into thread, by means of its long bill and slender feet, and sews the leaves neatly together, to conceal its nest.
An old lady, to whom one of these curious nests was shown, after admiriug its texture for some time, inquired whether these birds might not be taught to darn stockings, and make clothes.
The inside of the nest is commonly lined with wool, or some light, downy substance, which makes a very soft and easy bed for the young birds.
In order to prevent the eggs or the young birds from being thrown out of the nest, by the wind or the motion of the trees, it is made very small at the top, and four or five inches in depth.
“Behold a bird's nest !
HONESTY IS BEST. On a sultry summer evening a German Prince, and a foreign one who had been his guest for a month, were seated on the lawn before the castle of Grönignen. On a table before them stood, in two massive cups, their night drink. From ten o'clock in the morning, when they had seated themselves to their midday meat, their conversation turned upon a mighty wine-tun which had been constructed for a prince on the banks of the Rhine, and upon the propriety of every noble having a similar one, for the purpose of giving suitable splendor to his residence.
Fortunately at this moment Conrad, the shepherd, brought into the courtyard of the castle his well-tended fock, which Prince Henry himself always counted over every evening. “God greet thee, my lord Prince.” “Good evening to you, Conrad; where is the ram ?” Conrad whistled, and a large handsome ram came bounding forth to the shepherd, and then to the Prince, who stroked him, and fed him with crumbs of bread, which he had laid by on the table for the purpose. He then conversed for a minute or two with the shepherd, and asked him jocosely, “when his wedding was to take place ?” Conrad was a little confused by the question, and withdrew, followed by his flock.
When he had gone, the Prince began talking of the beauty of the ram, which nothing could induce him to part with, and then upon his good shepherd, Conrad, who was honesty itself. The foreign Prince laughed at this declaration; for much 'travelling, and frequent residence at various courts, had filled him with distrust in his fellow-creatures. He maintained that it was impossible to find a really honest servant, at least in the retinue of a noble; for they would all deceive their masters, and were all knaves more or less.
Prince Henry contradicted this with great earnestness, praised the worthy disposition of the people over whom he wielded his sceptre, but above all, Conrad the Shepherd, who had never told him an untruth, nor deceived him in the most trifling affair.
“What! has Conrad never told you a lie,-never deceived you,-never betrayed his master ?” said the foreign Prince, sarcastically. “No!"answered Henry warmly, in defence of his retainer; “Conrad never has been, nor ever will be, guilty of such conduct.” “No!” repeated the foreign Prince; "wliat wager would you venture upon that ?"
After sundry proposals, the Princes at length agreed to support their opinions by a wager of a wine-tun, which should hold one hundred and fifty butts of wine. And, within three days, Conrad was, without being made aware of it, to be put to the test. This done, they took leave of one another for the night, well pleased to have found a fresh source of amusement for the next few days, and each feeling certain of victory.
No sooner did the sun arise, than Peter, the jester and adviser of the foreign Prince, set to work to bring about the object he had decided upon with his master on the previous evening; and before noon he was enabled to tell his master that Conrad had a sweetheart, the pretty Lisette, but who would hear nothing of his passion till he had a house of his own to take her to, so poor were they both. The industrious Peter had himself already spoken to Lisette, and found her both ready and willing to assist in the scheme which he had devised. And all that he now had to ask from his master was a small sum of money to ensure the winning of this huge wine-tun. The Prince gave him what he desired, and seated himself in good heart at the table.
Peter then returned to the pretty Lisette, showed her the money which he had got, and they conversed together about ar