[To “Nineteenth-Century American Children & What They Read”]

Peter Parley’s Short Stories for Long Nights
by Samuel Goodrich (1834)

This book is a collection of eight stories published separately as little chapbooks in 1833; among them was Peter Parley’s Story of the Little Gardener, the frontispiece of which was used as the frontispiece for this work. The hand-colored illustrations are fairly casually painted but have a rough charm. Probably they weren’t engraved for the stories, but were considered appropriate. Each served as the frontispiece for its respective chapbook.

The stories are typically didactic, with themes ranging from charity to the importance of obedience to parents. Native Americans appear in two stories, one of which deals also with the prejudice of whites. The last story, set in India, combines natural history with the story of a little girl cleverly saving herself and her sister from certain death. (A variation of this incident also appears in “The Frightened Tiger,” in Youth’s Companion in 1869; in that work, however, the heroine saves herself and her friends by accident, trying to shield herself from a terrifying sight. Goodrich often included strong and clever heroines in his works; the Companion’s character probably is as good a reflection of her creator and her times.)

The type in the original is fairly large, implying that the book may have been intended for fairly young readers. My copy is of the second edition, of 2000 copies; the first edition, in 1834, was of 1000. The costs associated with the second edition appear on page 25 of The Cost Books of Ticknor & Fields and Their Predecessors, 1832-1858, edited by Warren S. Tryon and William Charvat (NY: Bibliographical Society of America, 1949).

Peter Parley’s Short Stories for Long Nights, by Samuel G. Goodrich (Boston: William D. Ticknor, 1836 [1834])

[front cover]

cover, with title on yellow paper pasted onto it


little boy with big flower

[title page]






[copyright page]

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1834,
In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.


[p. 3]



The following stories have been published in a separate form; but it has been thought that the whole, collected into one volume, might be an acceptable present for our young customers. We have bestowed upon them the title of “Short Stories for Long

p. 4

Nights,” and trust they may not only serve to wile away the long winter evenings, but assist in training the juvenile mind and heart to truth, gentleness, and virtue.




The Little Gardener, … 7
The Freshet, or the Morning Walk, … 20
The Two Friends, … 37
The Bird Robber, … 56
The Orphans, … 72
The Little Wanderers, … 92
Alice Gray, … 112
The Umbrella and the Tiger, … 128

[p. 6 blank]

[p. 7]





A few years since, a man came over from Ireland, and settled in Boston. He was a gardener, and his name was Murphy. He was very poor, but he was very honest. He loved to work

p. 8

in the garden, and nothing pleased him so much as to plant seeds in the ground, and see the plants grow when they came up.

Now this poor Irishman had lost his wife before he came to Boston; but he had one son, whose name was Peter. This boy he brought with him. He was a good child, and loved very much to work in the garden with his father. He had a little spade, with which he dug up the ground, and a little hoe, with which he destroyed the weeds. He would lay out the ground in beds, and these he would plant with seeds. In a few days, these seeds would shoot up from the ground, and

p. 9

then little Peter would spend his time in pulling up the weeds, and in loosening the ground around his plants.

He was very fond of flowers, which he used to raise in earthen pots. He had roses, pinks, daisies, myrtles, and many other things. Some of these were very beautiful, and Peter loved them almost as much as if they had been his brothers and sisters. He spent whole days in taking care of them, and was never so happy as among his flower-pots, and his little beds in the garden.

Peter’s father was very glad to see his son so industrious, and so fond of gardening. He encourged him in

p. 10

these innocent pleasures, and spent much of his time in teaching his little son the art of cultivating plants and flowers.

Thus the father, though he was poor, was happy, and Peter, though his feet were bare in summer, and though he labored all day, knew no sorrow. But at length the poor Irishman was suddenly taken sick, and died. Peter, as I said before, had no mother, and now the poor boy had no father. He had indeed no friends, and the persons whom he knew were too poor to assist him. He was taken care of by an old woman for a few days, but she was no longer able to find him

p. 11

food, and he was therefore obliged to leave her.

He was very young, and now, alas! he was destitute of every thing. His little straw hat was worn out, and he had nothing to wear upon his head. His shoes were gone, and, though the weather was growing cold, his feet were bare. His clothes, too, were thin; and, as he went out in the morning to beg some one to give him food, he shivered, and his teeth chattered with cold.

He went along in the streets for some time, and he met a great many people; but he did not dare to speak to them. He was very hungry, for he had eaten nothing the day before; but he did not

p. 12

know how to beg. He wandered about for several hours, till at length he came to a baker’s shop. The windows were filled with gingerbread, and every thing that was good to eat. He put his little foot upon the step, and was about to enter; but the baker looked sharply at him, and Peter, finding his heart to fail him, went away.

He proceeded in his walk through some of the fine streets, looking wistfully at the nice things he saw in the shop windows; but he had no money, and he felt that he had no friends.

But he was now starving with hunger, and he resolved to enter some house and ask for a piece of bread.

p. 13

At this moment he came to a large house belonging to some rich man. From the sidewalk he could look into the kitchen. Here he perceived a plenty of food, and as he approached the window, the steam of meat, and the flavor of pies and cakes, met his nose. Surely, thought the little boy, the people here have so many good things, that they will not refuse me a crust of bread.

With this idea he ventured timidly down the steps, and entered the kitchen. He there met a woman, and gently asked her to give him something to eat. He told her his sad story, and prayed her to save him from being

p. 14

starved. But the woman had a hard heart, and would give him nothing. In vain did the little boy plead for a single crust of bread: this was refused, and the woman sternly commanded him to leave the room.

Sad, and almost broken hearted, Peter left the place; and ashamed now to be seen in the crowded streets, he retired to a remote part of the city. Here he walked about in the narrow lanes till evening.

When it was dark, he sat down upon a stone, and gave himself up to grief. He was chilled with the cold night wind; for his head and feet were bare, and his clothes were very thin.

p. 15

It soon began to rain, and at length it fell in showers. Peter was wet to the skin; yet he had no home, and therefore he continued to sit upon the stone. With his head leaning upon his hand, he remained for a long time faint with hunger, and trembling with the wet and cold. At length he thought of his poor father, and of the happy days he had spent in attending his flowers. He thought of his mother too, whom he remembered very well, though she had been dead two years.

And now, for the first time, he began to weep. No one saw him, for it was very dark, and few people passed along the narrow street. His tears mingled

p. 16

with the rain that ran down his cheeks, and his sobs might have been heard amid the pattering of the water that fell from the houses.

But, alas! there was no one to hear, and the poor boy continued in his lonely and desolate situation till the bell had rung for nine o’clock.

About this time, a man was passing by the place where Peter sat. It was so dark that he saw nothing, but he thought he heard the voice of some one in distress. He stopped and listened. He then distinctly heard he sobbing of a child.

At this moment, some person happened to go near the place with a lan-

p. 17

tern. The light shone on a little boy that was sitting alone upon a stone. The kind-hearted man was touched with pity, for he saw that the child was weeping, and that he was exposed to the cold night air and the drenching shower.

He approached, and asked the boy why he was there. Peter told him his story, and the good man wept in sorrow. “But come with me, my boy,” said he, “come with me. I will take you to a warm room, and I will give you food. Come with me, and if you are a good boy, I will be your father, and you shall want for nothing.”

Peter now took hold of the man’s

p. 18

hand, and trotted along the pavement with his bare feet. They soon reached the house, and Peter warmed himself by a good fire. He had then a bowl of bread and milk, and afterwards was provided with a warm bed.

As he lay down, he thanked that good Being in heaven, who had thus turned his sorrow into joy; and his heart was full of gratitude to the kind man who had brought him home to his house. After a night of sweet sleep, Peter waked up, and again offered his thanks to Heaven.

I need hardly tell you the remainder of Peter’s story. He lived with the man who had brought him home, and,

p. 19

by his good conduct, won the favor of all who knew him. When he grew up, he chose to be a gardener; and, as he was very industrious, he laid up a good deal of money, and built himself a small house. By the side of it was a neat little garden, where he raised vegetables and flowers. These he used to sell; and thus he lived very happily. And so, my little reader, all perons, however poor, may get to be happy, if, like this little Irish boy, they are good and industrious.

[p. 20]



Margaret Ray lived in Vermont, in a little valley surrounded by the Green Mountains. Her father was dead; but her mother, who was a kind, good woman, took excellent care of her.

The house in which they dwelt was small, low and brown, but it was very comfortable. Near it was a fine orchard of apple-trees, and a garden, which not only produced plenty of kitchen vegetables, but an abundance of currants, raspberries, plums and


girl with dog and basket

p. 21

pears. These fruits arrive at great perfection in Vermont, but peaches do not thrive as well. Mrs. Ray, however, had a few peach-trees, which, by careful attention, produced some fine peaches almost every year.

Thus, although the house was small, the place where little Margaret lived was extremely pleasant. In summer, it attracted the attention of every stranger who passed by. Mrs. Ray did not, like some country people I could mention, permit her fences to tumble down, and thus throw open the garden and grounds to the pigs and cattle. She did not allow her geese to sit before the door-yard gate, and thus ren-

p. 22

der the entry to the house filthy and disagreeable. She did not make her wood pile in the street before the house, and collect around it all the broken sleds, carts and carriages belonging to her.

No! Mrs. Ray was a wise woman, and managed her affairs better. She loved neatness, and knew that there was a great deal of comfort in it. She thought it her duty to set an example of neatness to all her family and the neighbors around her. Above all, she wished that her children should be brought up with a love of order and neatness. She wished that their home might be pleasant, so that

p. 23

they should love it. She wished that it should furnish a scene of comfort and good order, which might be strongly impressed upon their young minds, so that in after life they should remember and imitate it.

Now, one might suppose that Margaret Ray, with such a home, and such a mother, might have been very contented and happy; but I am sorry to say that, although she was a good girl on the whole, she was sometimes unreasonable. I will tell you a story, which will not only make you understand her character, but it will also teach you how much better it is for children to follow the advice of their

p. 24

parents, who are older and wiser than they, than to follow their own fancy.

One find morning in September, Margaret asked her mother to let her go and walk. “I think it is going to rain, Margaret,” said Mrs. Ray, “and therefore you had better not go.”

“Oh! why mayn’t I go?” said Margaret, impatiently.

“Why may you not go?” said her mother. “I have just told you the reason; I think it is going to rain, my child.”

“But I don’t believe it is going to rain,” said Margaret, “and I don’t care if it does rain. I wish I might do as I like. I can never walk when I want to.”

p. 25

Margaret then began to look sour; and, although she was generally a handsome little girl, she now looked very ugly. Her mother spoke to her kindly; but she was still in a bad humor. At length, perceiving that it would soon begin to rain, Mrs. Ray thought it best to let Margaret have her own way, and take the consequence of her folly and obstinacy. Accordingly, she told her that, for once, she might do as she liked, and, if she chose to go and walk, she was free to do so.

“But I want to wear my new bonnet,” said Margaret. “Very well,” said her mother; “you may wear your

p. 26

new bonnet if you choose. But I warn you that it will soon rain, and you may be sure that it will be spoiled.”

“I am not afraid of the rain,” said Margaret, smartly. “I will wear my new bonnet, and I will take my new basket, and I will carry the kitten, and Worry shall go with us, and we will have a fine time of it. It is a very fine morning, and I do not believe it will rain; and we will have a long walk, and I shall like it all the better because my mother lets me do just as I please.”

And the little girl was allowed to have her way, and accordingly, putting

p. 27

on her new straw hat, taking her basket upon one arm, and her kitten upon the other, with her little dog Worry at her side, she set forward.

The morning was indeed pleasant; for although the clouds that foretold the coming storm were piled in dark masses upon the tops of the mountains in the south-west, still the eastern sky was yet clear, and the sun shone bright and warm upon the little valley.

Margaret was in high spirits; and the dog ran, leaped and barked, as if his heart was full of joy. He plunged into the bushes, whenever he heard the chirp of a squirrel, chased the

p. 28

birds across the open fields, leaped into the brooks, scampered up and down the hills, and then came running in circles up to his little mistress.

September is a beautiful month, for the weather is mild, and the trees are then covered with many bright colors. Some of them are yellow, some red, some purple, and some are still green. Margaret admired the appearance of the forest, and, attracted by the many colors of the mountain, she followed a stream that led up its side, and was soon in the midst of the woods.

Pleased with her walk, and delighted with every thing she saw, she went

p. 29

on with rapid steps. “How foolish,” thought she, “how unreasonable was my mother! She thought it was going to rain, or she pretended to think so, and she wished to deprive me of this beautiful walk. She wished to keep me in the house all day like a bird in a cage, or a rat in a trap. But here I am, out of the reach of her voice; and now that I am free, I will have a good ramble of it.”

Thus thinking, the little girl went rapidly along by the stream; and for nearly two hours, she continued to wind gradually up the mountain, through the narrow dell which had been formed by the rushing waters.

p. 30

At length she was a little fatigued, and sat down to rest herself.

But scarcely was she seated, when the rain began to fall, and the wind to pour over the forest with a hollow sound. She was a little alarmed, and instantly rose to return. But the rain increased, and the gust soon rose to a tempest. The tall trees bowed their heads and shook their wet leaves, and the water rushed foaming down the sides of the hills.

The little river, which, a few minutes before, was so small that Margaret could leap across it, was soon swelled to a torrent, and leaped, foamed, and rushed in wild uproar down its pathway.

p. 31

Margaret was now seriously frightened, and began to think that it had been better to have taken her mother’s advice, and staid at home. She was soon thoroughly wet; and her anxiety was not a little increased by perceiving that her little kitten clung to her side with the greatest fright, and that Worry, who was generally so gay, now walked drooping and timid at her heels.

But Margaret had a good deal of courage, and though convinced of her folly, and heart-stricken on account of her disobedience, she ran along through the woods, as fast as the storm would permit. Several times,

p. 32

she was thrown down by the wind, and once or twice she slipped into the edge of the stream; but she kept on her way, and was near the foot of the mountain when a seriously difficulty occurred.

She had reached a place where the river crossed her path, and it was necessary that she should go through it in order to get home. The waters roared, dashed and tumbled over the stones, and Margaret stood some time on the bank, before she could venture to step into the wild current. But the wind swept by like a hurricane, and the rain poured in showers, and she could no longer hesitate. With a

p. 33

bold heart, and a sure foot, she sprung into the water, and Worry, with a gallant leap, followed the little girl’s example.

They had now reached the middle of the stream, when Margaret came to a deep place, and sunk a moment beneath the water. She rose again, however, and was rapidly borne down the stream. Her bonnet, loosened from its string, was carried away by the whirling tide; the basket swept down the stream, and the poor little kitten, being dashed along over the roots and rocks, was soon drowned.

Margaret was soon incapable of exertion, and was carried along in a

p. 34

senseless state by the water. Worry was now her only helper. Seeing his mistress in danger, his fear departed, and, swimming by her side, he sought, by every means in his power, to save her. He caught hold of her dress, and, swimming with all his strength, endeavored to draw her to the shore. At length, partly by his efforts, and partly by the stream, she was thrown upon the bank.

For some time she was senseless; but at length she partly recovered, and drew herself up from the water, to a place of safety. But she was too feeble to walk, and she remained a long time in her helpless situation.

p. 35

Her little dog manifested, by every art he could use, his sorrow and his sympathy. He knelt before her; he looked earnestly in her face; he licked her hands and cheeks; he whined; he barked, and did all but say, “Courage, courage, my little mistress; we shall get home, and it will all be well yet.”

Margaret patted the little dog, but she could not speak. She looked in his face, and pointed towards home. He seemed to understand her, and set off immediately at a round gallop.

He had not proceeded far, before he met some people coming in search of the little girl. He guided them to the place where she was sitting; and

p. 36

Margaret was carried back to her mother. The new hat and basket were never found; and I need hardly tell you that she was now cured of her disobedience; and I hope my little readers will remember that it is much better to obey their parents, and follow their counsel, than have their own way.


little boy with big dog

[p. 37]



The dog is a very interesting creature. In the first place, he is a very handsome animal. He carries his head aloft in the air, with his ears and his tail erect. His eye is bright, and possesses a very knowing look. He is very swift; and some dogs will run as fast as a horse. Beside all this, the dog is a very sagacious animal. By this I mean that he has good deal of sense, and often shows himself in this respect superior to all other brutes

p. 38

except the elephant. I will tell you a little story which will show you how much a dog sometimes knows.

There was once a surgeon in England who came across a little dog that was lame, whom we will call Trip. He pitied the poor dog; and so he took him home, and bandaged his leg with great care. The animal, finding himself more comfortable, returned, the next day, to the surgeon, who again dressed the lame leg. Trip soon became fond of his new friend, and went to his house every day to have his leg taken care of, till it got quite well.

For several months after this, the

p. 39

surgeon saw no more of his patient, Trip. But at length the little dog walked into the surgeon’s house with a sad face, accompanied by another dog. On examining this animal, the surgeon perceived that he had a broken leg; and Trip, by jumping up to him, and going back to the lame dog, by whining, and various other signs, seemed to beg the surgeon to take care of his poor lame companion, as he had formerly taken care of him. The surgeon, who was a kind-hearted man, was delighted with the conduct of little Trip; so he took care of his lame friend, and by and by, the poor animal was quite cured.

p. 40

This is a very pleasing story, and I believe it is entirely true. It shows that Trip was a sensible dog, and had a kind feeling for his companion.

But dogs are not only handsome, swift and sagacious, but they become very much attached to their friends. I will tell you a story which will show the fondness of a dog for his little master, at the same time that it will prove how capable this interesting animal is of being useful.

I suppose you have all heard of the state of Maine. In that state there is a large river called Penobscot. Near the borders of this river, there once lived a man named Boyd, who had a little son called Harry.

p. 41

The house of Mr. Boyd, though it was very handsome and pleasant, was surrounded by woods, which extended over the hills and valleys for many miles. There was no other house near; but little Harry was accustomed to walk among the woods without fear. He was always attended in his walks by a favorite dog called Trusty.

This animal well deserved his name, for he always kept by the side of his little master, and seemed to take as much care of him, as if he was his own brother. The animal was large, black and shaggy, and was of that kind called the Newfoundland dog. He

p. 42

was very good-natured, and exceedingly playful.

Sometimes little Harry and his dog would stop in the woods, when the weather was warm, beneath a shady tree, frolic together for half an hour. When they were tired, they would lie down, and Harry would lay his head upon the soft skin of his companion, and go to sleep. After a little while, they would get up, and, having finished their ramble, would return home.

Thus the two friends spent their time very happily together. But, at length, Harry having arrived at the age of about thirteen years, a sad ac-

p. 43

cident befell him, of which I will give you an account. One fine summer morning, the two friends set out together, for the purpose of taking a walk. They proceeded for some time along the banks of a river.

Trusty, like all Newfoundland dogs, being fond of the water, frequently jumped into the stream, and seemed to enjoy swimming about very much. Harry encouraged him by throwing sticks far out into the river, which Trusty would pursue, and bring them back to the shore in his mouth.

Having amused themselves for some time in this way, Harry and his dog left the river, and climbed up a high

p. 44

hill, covered with trees. On reaching the top, they ascended a large rock. From the top of this, Harry saw at a distance a small lake, which he had never observed before. It looked very blue and beautiful, and he was very anxious to visit it.

As it did not appear to be very far, he went down from the rock, and set out for the lake. He soon came to a deep valley between two hills. This was thickly covered with trees, between which a bright little river was flowing. Harry supposed that this river would lead him to the like; and therefore he determined to keep along its side until he should reach it.

p. 45

The weather was warm, and nothing could be more beautiful than the little stream, and the woody vale through which it ran. The leaves of the trees were so thick as hardly to permit the sun to shine through them.

Attracted by the cool shade, there were many birds among the trees, whose wild songs filled the valley with music. Harry would often stop to listen; and sometimes, charmed by one of these songsters, he would sit down for several minutes, and, commanding Trusty to be quite still, would wait till the bird had ceased his song.

He would then set forward, and

p. 46

proceed on his way, until some beautiful bright flower, that bloomed by the water, or some foaming fall of the stream, attracted his attention, and induced him to pause.

His mind being full of pleasure, the little rambler did not, for a long time, observe the great distance to which he had gone. At length, however, he began to be a little anxious, and wondered that he did not come to the lake. This induced him to walk faster; and although the trees became thicker, and the scene more wild, he continued for some time to proceed with greater rapidity.

Becoming more and more impatient,

p. 47

he hurried on, until at length he began to observe, that the day was drawing toward a close. Perceiving by this that he had been many hours from home, and knowing that he must be at a great distance, he became afraid, that, if he went back by the windings of the stream, he should not reach home before dark.

He therefore determined to cross the woods by what he supposed a shorter route. Unfortunately, he took the wrong direction, and went in an opposite course to that in which his home lay. Being a good deal alarmed, he proceeded, making his way between the trees and over the stones as rapidly as possible.

p. 48

He soon perceived that the shadows of evening began to fall around him; the songs of the birds began to cease; and one after another, they stopped, till only a single thrush was heard at a distance. The squirrels, whose merry sounds had frequently met his ears, were heard no more; and as the darkness thickened beneath the trees, an almost death-like stillness crept over the forest.

Harry, for a moment, paused and listened: not a sound was heard. The single thrush had closed his song, and all nature seemed hushed in repose.

While the little boy was standing in this situation, his dog came before

p. 49

him, and, dropping his ears and tail as if dejected and in sorrow, he looked witsfully in the face of his little master. Harry, touched by the dog’s look of distress, and saddened by his own fears, burst into tears. At the same instant, Trusty set up a howl, which made the forest ring.

The echoes were carried from hill to hill; and Harry, hoping that this cry of distress would be heard, waited some time, in anxious expectation that it would be answered. But the far off echoes died away, the drowsy stillness settled again over the scene, and nothing was heard but the sighing of the night wind among the trees.

p. 50

Almost in despair, the little wanderer again set forward, and for some time was occupied in climbing a steep hill. At length he reached the top, and began to descend. But he was obliged to be extremely cautious, for it was now very dark, and his way lay among steep rocks, fallen trees, and projecting roots.

The situation of the poor boy was not only distressing, but perilous. He was approaching a precipice; and, although he was very near, the darkness hid it from his view. Trusty seemed to be aware of the danger; for he placed himself before his master, and howled, with a voice so pier-

p. 51

cing, that the forest seemed startled at the sound.

But the caution of the faithful dog was of no avail. Harry’s foot slipped; and, being borne forward, both he and Trusty were plunged headlong down the cliff. The distance was not great, but Harry was stunned, and Trusty had one of his fore feet seriously injured.

Careless of his own suffering, however, the poor dog seemed only anxious for his master. Raising his voice to its utmost pitch, he made the forest ring with a long, wailing howl, piteously expressive of his anxiety. He then paused, lifted his ears, to

p. 52

catch the slightest sound, and gazed in every direction with intense earnestness.

Again and again he howled; but no one came to his assistance. After waiting some time, he sprang suddenly from the side of his master, and bounded away with the greatest speed. Over rock, and root, and stream, he flew, as if he were in a smooth path. Straight he went over hill and valley, until he had gone to the distance of more than two miles.

At length he reached a low hut, made of upright poles, and covered with sods. There was no light within, and the door, consisting of a large

p. 53

piece of bark, was closed. But the impatient dog, panting with heat and fatigue, began to scratch violently at the door, at the same time barking and howling with all his might.

In a moment, he heard a sound within; and soon, a tall Indian, with a burning torch in his hand, came to the door. He seemed to know the dog, and his countenance expressed great surprise. Trusty fawned upon him, wailed, ran a little way toward the spot where his master was lying, and then came back to the Indian, with a beseeching air.

The Indian knew these signs well, and perceiving that his assistance was

p. 54

wanted, he seized his bow and arrows, stuck a long knife in his belt, and set out with the dog. The poor animal seemed wild with impatience and delight. He bounded onward before the Indian for a little distance, and then came back, seeming, by every sign and token of which he was master, to urge him forward.

The Indian was generous and kind-hearted; and, knowing the forest well, he strode forward amid the darkness with a rapid step. He strained up the sides of the hills; and, in descending, he leaped from rock to rock, like a squirrel. It was less than half an hour after the departure of the faith-

p. 55

ful dog, that the Indian was conducted to the spot where poor Harry lay.

He had just recovered from the shock of the fall, and was partly sitting up. The Indian knew him, even in the darkness, and as he loved both him and his father, he took him gently in his arms, and carried him to his hut.

The poor boy was much bruised, but the Indian’s wife took excellent care of him; and early the next morning, the Indian, placing him carefully on his shoulders, carried him to his father’s house, which was no less than seven miles distant.

[p. 56]



There are no objects in nature more interesting than birds. They please us more than flowers, for they have life. We love them better than the trees, or shrubs, or plants, for they delight us with their merry songs. We love them better than the four-footed beasts, that move along the ground, for they spread their wings, and glide through the air like arrows.

But although we love the birds so well, it is remarkable that many peo-


boy with bird's nest looks up at a parent bird

p. 57

ple take delight in destroying them. It is no doubt right to shoot birds when we need them for food; and we may kill those that are mischievous. But why should we do any injury to the innocent blue birds, or the happy little sparrows, or the cheerful robins, or any other of those friendly and confiding little creatures, that build their nests in our orchards, and sing their songs around our houses?

I do not believe that nay of my little friends are either wicked or cruel; but they are perhaps thoughtless. During the last summer I was walking in a narrow lane, on a beautiful afternoon. Nothing could be more

p. 58

delightful than the air, and nothing more beautiful than the green fields. The insects were dancing in the sunbeams; the bees were sipping honey from the flowers; and the birds, all around, were busily engaged in feeding their young ones.

I pursued my walk for a long time; my mind being occupied with the idea that every thing seemed full of happiness and beauty. But, at length, my ears were filled with the cries of birds from a neighboring orchard. I heard the low wail of the blue bird, the anxious note of the chipping bird, the squalling of the cat bird, and the short, hurried tones of the robin.

p. 59

“What,” thought I, “can be the occasion of all this uproar? Has some snake stolen the young birds from the nest? or has a hawk come down among them, and torn them to pieces with his claws?”

While I was thus wondering why the poor birds seemed in such great distress, I chanced to peep into the orchard; and then I discovered the cause. Three or four boys were there; and one of them had a gun. With this he had been shooting among the birds, and had killed a great number. These were strung together upon a stick; and I could perceive among them robins, sparrows, linnets,

p. 60

blue birds, and many other kinds. Some of them were young birds, but most of them were old ones. It was the season when the nests were full of young ones; and the parents being killed, their little innocent offspring were left to perish of hunger.

I was sorry to discover that these little boys were some of my young friends, of whom I had hoped better things. I called them to me, and begged them not to slay the innocent birds. I described the young ones in the nest, whose parents they had killed. I described them waiting for the return of those upon whom they depended for life. I described

p. 61

them as opening their mouths, and crying piteously for food. I described them as wasting by degrees, until, at length, after two or three days of suffering, they would die.

The little boys listened to me attentively, and tears of sorrow came down their cheeks. They looked at the little birds they had killed; and oh! how ardently did they wish they could give back to the little feathered forms the life they had destroyed! But this wish was vain; and they could only resolve, in future, never wantonly to take the life of a bird.

I think this a matter of so much

p. 62

consequence, that I beg my little readers to give me their promise never to rob a bird’s nest, or harm a bird, but with good cause. I beg them all to be the friends, not the enemies of birds; to love them, as little creatures that God has made to hover in the sweet air of spring and summer; to sing their songs among the trees and bushes; to feed upon the insects, seeds and berries; to rear their young; to live lives of joy and happiness, and to render the landscape more lively and more interesting to us all. Let us not then spoil the work, and interfere with the plan, of that good Being, whose works are so wonderful, and

p. 63

who in goodness and wisdom has made them all.

To make you all better remember what I have said, I will tell you a story of Robert Seaboy. He related it to me himself; and I will give it as nearly as I can in his own words.


“I lived, as you know, at Newburyport, about forty miles from Boston. My father was the captain of a vessel, and, during my childhood, spent a great part of his time at sea. My mother was very kind to me, and permitted me to do almost every thing that I liked.

p. 64

When I was about eight or ten years old, though I went to school, I had a good deal of time for play and amusement. I used to walk in the fields and woods, and nothing delighted me so much as the birds. I would often pause in my walks, and look at them for hours, as they were busy in smoothing their feathers, sporting amid the trees, singing their songs, or building their nests.

There were two birds that particularly attracted my attention: these wer a pair of blue birds, that had built their nests in the hollow trunk of a tree in the edge of the forest. I loved the notes of these birds, for

p. 65

they were soft and gentle; and though they made me sad, they yet gave me pleasure.

I paid frequent visits to the blue birds’ nests; and one day, I ascended where the young ones lay. There were five of them, and they opened their little mouths as if they expected I would give them something to eat. They were very pretty, and I had a great desire to carry them home; but the old birds came around, and pleaded so sadly for their little ones, that I went away and left them in the nest.

The next day, I told the story to one of my companions. He laughed

p. 66

at my scruples, and told me that he had often taken young birds from the nest, and that there was no harm in it. This changed my feelings; and I determined to pay a visit to the woods the next day, and get the young blue birds.

Although it was the Sabbath, I did not forget my plan. I was dressed for church, and my mother supposed that I set off to go to the house of worship. But I turned aside, and very wickedly went to the woods. I climbed the tree, and took the young birds from the place where they had been bred. Their parents wailed piteously; and as I knelt upon the

p. 67

ground, admiring the little captives, the mother came quite near, and shrieked as if her heart would break. She seemed to pray me not to carry away her children; not to rob her of those she loved best. I was deaf to these cries, and with a beating heart bore away my prize.

My mother rebuked me severely for my conduct. In the first place, she told me, I had violated the Sabbath, and in the next place, had done a cruel deed. I felt very sorry, but yet I kept the little birds; and they seemed to reward me for the pain I had suffered from my mother’s displeasure. I fed them with great care,

p. 68

and at night put them in a basket for safety. In the morning, I woke early, and went to see my little birds. Alas! they were all dead! The food I had given them, or separation from their parents, had caused the death of these little innocent creatures.

I wept bitterly, and, for years afterwards, I often thought of this cruel action. I had a sort of fear that something would happen to punish me for it. At length an event took place, which I have sometimes believed was, in some degree, a return for my cruelty.

When I was fourteen years old, my father took me to sea. We sailed

p. 69

across the Atlantic Ocean, and entered the Mediterranean. This sea was frequented at that time by sea-robbers, called corsairs. One day, we were met by a corsair vessel, and a sharp battle followed. I was on the deck of our vessel, when some of the pirates sprang from their own ship, and entered ours. They were soon driven back; but one of the pirates laid his strong arm around my waist, and sprang back into his vessel.

The robbers, finding it impossible to take our ship, retreated, carrying me with them. My father was in the greatest distress; and I heard him shouting, and giving orders for the

p. 70

pursuit. But this was all in vain. The robbers escaped, and I was carried into captivity. For nearly two years, I remained at Algiers, suffering great cruelty and hardship.

At length, I was released, and returned to my parents. I was now happy; but during my captivity, I frequently dwelt upon my cruelty to the little blue birds; and I suffered the more keenly from remembering, that I had as little mercy upon these helpless creatures, as the Algerines had upon me.”

Such is the story of Robert Seaboy. And though I do not suppose, that all children, who are cruel to

p. 71

birds, will fall into the hands of pirates, still my young readers may rest assured, that cruelty to birds, as well as other crimes, will deprive them of that peace of mind, which is the best comfort in the hour of distress.

[p. 72]



A few years ago, there were two boys in Maryland, named Edward and Edwin. They were of the same age, and often played together, but their situations were very different.

The father of Edwin was rich. He had a fine house, fine carriages, and fine horses. Edwin was his only child, and he enjoyed every luxury. He had servants to attend upon him constantly, and gratify every want or wish. His clothes were of the finest sort, and


two small children

p. 73

he was supplied with a great many pleasing toys from New York, London, and Paris.

The father of little Edward was poor, and he lived in a small brown house, at no great distance from the splendid mansion in which Edwin dwelt. It was indeed but little more than a hut, and though it was comfortable, it was destitute of all that was not absolutely necessary to subsistence. The furniture consisted of a few chairs, a single table, a bed, a mattress for little Edward, and a few other needful articles.

But although Edward’s father was poor, he was industrious, and obtained

p. 74

a comfortable livelihood boy working in the garden of Edwin’s father. He was fond of his son, and often took him to the garden with him. Here the little boy spent his time in pulling up weeds, in forming little beds of earth for flowers, and in other similar occupations. Sometimes Edwin came into the garden, and then the two boys played together.

In this way, an intimacy grew up between the children, and they soon became very fond of each other. As soon as breakfast was over, they both resorted to the garden, and there they spent their time very happily together. They did not like to be apart, and

p. 75

when there happened to be a rainy day, Edwin felt so uneasy, that Edward was sent for, and they spent the day together in the play-room.

The characters and dispositions of these two children were naturally alike. They were both lively, amiable, kind-hearted and generous. But at length they became changed by the manner in which they were treated. Edwin, being indulged in all his wishes, learned to think that nothing could be denied him. Instead of growing more amiable, on account of the many blessings and pleasures he enjoyed, he grew passionate, selfish, and disagreeable. He insisted upon being preferred in every thing.

p. 76

If Edward chanced to have a toy which he wanted, he would snatch it from his hands. If fruit was brought to them, he would always have the best, and sometimes he would take all to himself. When he had a piece of cake, he would often sit and eat it as greedily as a puppy, and never give a share of it to poor little Edward at his side.

All this mean and selfish conduct on the part of Edwin was overlooked; and though he was now a very disagreeable child, still a great deal of attention was paid to him, because his father was rich, and because he lived in a fine house.

p. 77

It was very different with Edward. He was always treated as an inferior, and was obliged to give way to Edwin in every thing. His wishes and pleasures were not allowed to interfere, in the slightest degree, with those of Edwin. Whatever he might chance to possess, he was required to relinquish it the instant that Edwin desired it. Whatever he might be doing, he was immediately forced to change his plan, if Edwin wished him to do something else.

Instead of resenting this treatment, Edward became more patient and forbearing. He loved little Edwin, and though he felt that he was sometimes

p. 78

treated with injustice, he still submitted to it without repining. If Edwin snatched an apple or a peach from his hand, when he was about to taste it, he said nothing, and quietly permitted the greedy boy to devour it.

Even when he was very hungry, if Edwin took his little crust of bread from his hand, and ate it before his face, he smiled kindly, and seemed to say, “My dear boy, if my poor crust of bread can give you pleasure, you are most welcome to it.”

Thus you see that Edwin was now a spoiled child, while Edward was a good, kind and amiable boy. They were both good once; but Edwin had

p. 79

been indulged, and this indulgence had made him passionate, selfish and disagreeable. Edward, on the contrary, by being trained in the habit of giving up his wishes to another, had become even more gentle and generous.

Thus you see, my little friends, that indulgence is bad for children, and being made to give up their wishes is good for them. I beg you to remember, therefore, that when your parents deny you any gratification, it is for your good that they deny it; and if they require you to forego any pleasure, it is for your good that they require it.

Remember the story of Edwin and

p. 80

Edward, and recollect, that indulgence makes children selfish, greedy, passionate and disagreeable, and that the habit of giving way to another, trains the little heart in ways of gentleness, meekness and charity.

After a few years, the parents of both the little boys, of whom I have been telling you, were dead. Edward was left in a state of absolute poverty; but Edwin inherited the large estate of his father, and was therefore very rich.

He continued still to like the company of his young friend, and the poor boy was therefore permitted to live in his house, but in a very humble capaci-

p. 81

ty. He was indeed rather the servant of Edwin; but he was so kind, active and attentive, that Edwin could not live without him.

Thus the boys grew up together, until they were fifteen years of age. Their characters remained nearly the same, except that Edwin grew more and more selfish, passionate and unreasonable, while Edward became still more gentle in his manners, and more generous in his temper.

He was indeed a noble boy; and though he was poor, ill-dressed and destitute, still no one could look upon his amiable face, or listen to his kind voice, or mark his frank and hearty

p. 82

manners, without loving and admiring him. On the contrary, though Edwin was richly dressed, and well fed, and surrounded by attentive servants, no one could observe his angry face, or his pouting lips, or listen to his sharp, spiteful voice, without feeling a sentiment of strong dislike.

The two orphans thus went on till they were about sixteen years of age. It was at this period that a serious accident happened, which displayed their characters in a striking manner.

They were on a journey to the western part of Virginia. Having stopped one evening amidst the Alleghany mountains, the boys wandered

p. 83

from the house to a considerable distance. The sun had set, but the twilight still rendered it almost as light as day. They wandered along the banks of a little river, shaded by woods, for a considerable time, until, at length, Edward thught it best to return.

But Edwin was delighted with the ramble, and would not go back. In vain did Edward represent that it was getting late, that they were far from home, and that there was danger of their getting lost in the woods.

Thus they continued to proceed for some time, until it was quite dark. Edwin now consented to return; but, instead of following the stream, which

p. 84

would have guided them back in safety, he attempted to go by a shorter route. Edward warned him of the danger of such a step; but he obstinately persisted in his course.

The two boys were soon lost in the woods, and surrounded with perfect darkness. They found it impossible to proceed, and, at length, were forced to sit down from fatigue. But by and by, the moon rose, and they again attempted to go forward. Though Edwin had been the cause of their present difficulty, Edward did not now reproach him with it.

On the contrary, he cheered his young friend by speaking in a gay and

p. 85

pleasant manner, by helping him over the rocks and fallen trees, and by telling lively and humorous stories. But in spite of his efforts, Edwin was in the worst possible humor; he spoke roughly to his friend, accused him of being the cause of their present danger, and finally sat down in a little open space, absolutely refusing to go any farther.

In vain did Edward attempt to rouse him; he would not stir, but continued to rail at his companion, calling him all sorts of names, and upbraiding him with every species of abuse. Edward did not resent this, but left him for a moment, to go in search of a path

p. 86

through the woods. He had gone but a short distance, when he heard Edwin cry for help. He flew back in an instant, and, by the bright light of the moon, saw his friend in a situation of the greatest peril.

He was sitting upon the ground; and, at the distance of a few yards, a panther was crouched upon the ground, ready to spring upon him. Edwin was unable to move from fright, but gazed with a wild look of terror upon the glaring eyes of the fierce animal.

Edward did not hesitate a moment. He sprung forward like an arrow, and placed himself between the panther

p. 87

and his affrighted friend. For a moment, the animal was alarmed, and drew back; then, with a terrible howl, he rushed upon Edward. So violent was the bound, that Edward was thrown to the earth; and the claws and teeth of the panther were fastened in his body. But he was a powerful young man; and, seizing the beast by the throat, he nearly choked him to death.

The struggle continued for some time. Edwin was too much frightened to stir from his seat upon the ground, and Edward was left to his fate. But, full of courage, he exerted himself to the utmost; and, finally, taking a

p. 88

knife from his pocket, he plunged it in the panther’s side, and, reaching his heart, killed him in an instant. With a fierce howl, the creature let go his hold, and fell at full length upon the ground.

The noise of the strife had been heard at a log-house which was near, and some people soon came to the spot. Edward was dreadfully torn; and when the necessity of exertion was over, he fainted, and fell upon the earth. He was carried to the hut, and for a long time, he seemed near death.

For the first time, Edwin seemed touched with generous sentiments.

p. 89

He knew that Edward had suffered through his fault; and he remembered that, at the very moment he was unjustly reproaching his friend, he came forward, and put his own life in danger, to save him.

As he looked upon the pale and deathlike countenance of Edward, his heart was wrung with agony; and the tears flowed fast down his cheeks; and, bending over his friend, he exclaimed, “Edward, Edward, dear Edward, forgive me, forgive me. I have been most unkind, most cruel. Oh, do not die, do not look so deadly pale! Open your eyes, my dear friend; look upon me; speak, forgive me! Dear, generous Edward, forgive me!”

p. 90

At this moment, Edward opened his eyes, and smiled upon his friend. It was the happiest moment of his life. It was the first instance of kindness that had ever shone upon his heart from Edwin. His faintness soon passed away; and though he remained several weeks in confinement, he at length recovered.

Edwin was his constant attendant and careful nurse, during his confinement; and when they returned to Maryland, he divided his fortune with his friend.

Thus, although, for a long time, Edwin was rendered selfish and cruel by indulgence, still Edward’s generous

p. 91

conduct made him perceive and feel his wickedness, and restored him to the influence of better feelings.

Now, the lessons to be drawn from this story are these; that indulgence is bad for children, and may even spoil a good boy or good girl; and that a poor boy, who is kind and good, is better loved, and more worthy of attention, than a rich boy, who is cross and selfish.

[p. 92]



I will now tell you a story of what took place many years ago. I suppose you remember that in the country where we now live, there were once a good many red people, called Indians. They did not cut down the trees, and plough the land, and build houses, and have gardens, as we do; on the contrary, these people suffered the forests to grow, and lived by hunting bears, deer, and other animals, which roamed among them.

p. 93

For a long time, the Indians lived alone, and possessed the whole country; the mountains, the rivers, the lakes and the valleys were all theirs. But, at length, the white people came, and settled among them. At first, the Indians were kind and friendly: they gave the white people food; they gave them land, and did what they could to make them comfortable and happy.

Then, many more white people came, and by degrees, they increased, till they became very numerous, and took possession of a great deal of the land. They cut down the trees, they killed the wild animals, until at length

p. 94

the red men found it difficult to obtain wild game enough to live upon.

For this and other reasons, the Indians became the enemies of the white people, and many cruel wars took place in consequence. It was during one of these wars that the events happened which I am now going to relate. They will show you, that, although the red men wer wild savages, living in the woods, and roaming about in search of food, yet instances of noble and generous feeling sometimes occurred among them.

There was a man by the name of Gaylord, who lived near the present town of Concord, in New Hampshire,

p. 95

His house was made of logs, and pleasantly situated in a little valley, by the side of a small river. It was seven miles from the dwelling of any other white person, and the road to the nearest settlement lay through the thick forest.

But although Mr. Gaylord dwelt in a place so lonely, still he did not feel his solitude. He had a wife and two children. These he loved very much, and they saved him from feeling that he was alone.

The two children were both of them girls: one, named Jane, was nine years old; the other, named Laura, was but five. They were both very

p. 96

pretty, and, what is better, they were both very good. They loved their parents, and it was their chief pleasure to obey them. Jane, indeed, was too fond of wandering in the woods, and was a little impatient if her mother would not allow her to ramble about as much as she pleased. But of this fault she was cured, in the way I shall soon tell you.

Not far from Mr. Gaylord’s house, there was an Indian, by the name of Shaumut. He lived in a small hut, made of the branches of trees, covered over with turf. He was, on the whole, a good and friendly man, though, like the other Indians, he


two children sleep beneath a tree

p. 97

dwelt in the forest, and lived in a wild and savage manner.

Now, it happened that two bad white men, who lived at the settlement, seven or eight miles from Mr. Gaylord’s, knowing that he lived alone, determined to rob him of what they could get. Accordingly, one night they came into his house, and carried off several articles of considerable value. They took what money he had, his best clothes, and many other things. They then left the house; and, the whole family being asleep, they escaped in safety.

The thieves now went toward Shaumut’s house, taking care to drop one

p. 98

or two of the articles as they passed along. This was done, that if, in the morning, the articles should be found, Shaumut might be suspected of the robbery.

When Mr. Gaylord arose in the morning, he discovered the theft. It was then the custom to lay every misfortune to the Indians, and every crime that was committed was of course set doswn to their account. It was but natural, therefore, that Mr. Gaylord should impute the robbery to them. After thinking of it a little while, he determined to go to Shaumut’s house, and see if he could discover the truth. While he was on his

p. 99

way, he found the articles which the rogues had dropped, and immediately concluded that Shaumut was the thief.

He now turned on his heel, and went back to his house. He then repaired to the white settlement, and told the people what had happened. All agreed that Shaumut was the robber[] and no persons were more positive than the two white men who had themselves committed the crime.

It was determined that Shaumu[t] should be immediately punished; and four men, armed with guns, returned with Mr. Gaylord to his house, for the purpose of carrying this scheme into

p. 100

execution. They waited until it was dark, and then repaired to the scene of action. Shaumut’s house, as I have said before, consisted of sticks, covered over with sods. It was a kind of hut, called a wigwam. There was no door, but the people passed in and out through a small hole, by getting down upon their hands and knees.

It was about nine o’clock of a summer evening that Gaylord and his companions surrounded the red man’s abode. The Indian, with his wife and two small children, was already asleep. Not thinking of danger, they were all reposing on their bear-skin

p. 101

beds, enjoying that rest which the hardy labors of their life rendered doubly sweet.

Suddenly, the silence of the night was broken by the sound of a musket. Shaumut heard the noise, and, creeping out of his wigwam, was met by Mr. Gaylord, who charged him with the theft. Shaumut denied the charge. “Theft,” said he, “is the white man’s crime. The red man’s hand may wield the tomahawk, or pull the bowstring, but his fingers cannot steal.”

But in spite of this declaration, Gaylord and his friends, believing that Shaumut was guilty, drove the Indian

p. 102

and his family from their house, and then set it on fire. At the same time, they told him to leave the place, and never return to it. Thus the poor savage was forced to see his dwelling place consumed, his wife and children without a shelter, and his own name branded with crime. But he said nothing. He gloomily plunged into the forest, and, followed by his family, disappeared from the little valley where he had so long dwelt.

More than a year had passed away, and the events which I have just related were forgotten. At this time, it became necessary for Mr. Gaylord

p. 103

and his wife to go to the village which I have before mentioned. They sat out early in the morning, with the intention of returning at night. Having given strict charge to their children to remain at home, they felt no anxiety, but went on their long walk, with light steps and merry hearts.

They had not been gone long, when Jane proposed to her little sister to take a short walk in the woods. Laura objected to this, because their parents had told them to stay at home. But Jane said there could be no harm in it; they would go but a little way; they would soon come back, and nobody would know it.

p. 104

Laura at length consented, and the two girls set out upon their ramble, with the intention of returning very soon. But the day was very pleasant, and, it being now autumn, the trees were shedding their nuts in great abundance. The squirrels, who were laying up their winter stores, were leaping from bough to bough, and filling the forest with their merry voices.

The two children went on and on, and two or three hours glided insensibly away. At length, Laura, whose heart had been ill at ease during the walk, reminded her sister that they must return. Accordingly, they set

p. 105

out to go back; but they soon missed their way.

They wandered about for some time, and neither dared to say to the other that they were lost. But, at length, they looked in each other’s faces, and began to cry. For some time, they remained at the foot of a tree, lamenting their disobedience, and expressing their anxiety to each other. But by and by they arose, and, excited by their fear, they walked on as fast as the thick trees and bushes would permit.

At length, the day began to fade, and night gradually settled over the woods. The voices of the birds died

p. 106

away; the chattering of the squirrels ceased. No sound was now heard but the crackling of the leaves and sticks beneath the feet of the wanderers. But these now seemed a great deal louder than before; and their hearts beat with fear at the sounds which they themselves created. But still they pushed on, until the darkness, with the thick woods, rendered it impossible for them to proceed.

Overcome with fatigue, they sat down, and both of them wept bitterly. Seated by the side of a rock, and folded in each other’s arms, they remained until sleep came to their relief. With the rock for a pillow, they

p. 107

slept till morning; and so quiet and innocent did they seem, that the birds came around them, and a robin alighted upon Jane’s shoulder. In this situation, he began his song; but the loud note, as it rang in the ear of the young sleeper, woke her from her dream.

She sprang to her feet; but for a moment, she could not recollect where she was. On looking around, she perceived the thick woods; and then, glancing her eye at little Laura, who was still sleeping, she remembered their dreary situation, and the tears again filled her eyes.

While she was standing by her sis-

p. 108

ter, hesitating what course to pursue, she heard a crackling in the leaves, as if some one approached. Her first feeling was that of joy, for she believed that her father was coming to her relief. But what was her dismay when she saw an Indian come rapidly up to her, and discovered him to be no other than Shaumut! Knowing what had happened between her father and him, she expected that the angry savage would put Laura and herself to death. But we shall see that the red man’s revenge was of a very different nature.

I must now tell you that the parents of the two children returned at even-

p. 109

ing, and found their house vacant. In vain did they call for Jane and Laura; in vain did they search the woods, and shout from every little hill around the valley. The night was spent in a fruitless search, and the morning came, but still the children were not to be found.

The succeeding day had passed, and the disconsolate parents were sitting at their open door. Suddenly, Shaumut appeared before them with Jane and Laura. He stood apart, and witnessed the meeting of the parents with their children.

When the first tears and kisses were over, the Indian placed himself

p. 110

before Mr. Gaylord, and said, “White man, listen. You supposed I had done you wrong. You were mistaken. But still you set my wigwam on fire, and sent me and my family to seek a house and a home beneath the cold shelter of the oak. You drove me from the land of my fathers, and bestowed upon me the names of robber and thief. Behold a red man’s revenge! I met your children in the wilderness. I could have carried them away, and made your heart as desolate as you have made mine. But I did not do it. I restore them to you; and now, I say farewell.”

p. 111

The red man then turned away; and before Mr. Gaylord could make any reply, he was lost amid the thick branches of the trees.

[p. 112]



There was once a little girl by the name of Alice Gray. She lived in the state of New York, not far from the Mohawk river. Her father was a wealthy merchant, and dwelt in a very pretty house, situated on the border of a small lake.

The situation of little Alice might have been deemed very pleasant. She was an only child, and both parents were extremely fond of her. It was their greatest pleasure to take


girl with her head on a table

p. 113

care of her, and do whatever might be necessary for her present pleasure or future happiness. She was provided with good clothes, a great many pleasing books, and a multitude of pretty toys.

But notwithstanding the care and pains bestowed upon her, I am sorry to say, that little Alice was not altogether happy. She had what is called an uneasy and restless temper. She was dissatisfied with every thing around her. A new doll pleased her, perhaps, for a little while, and then she was anxious for something else. A new book would engage her attention till she had seen all the pictures,

p. 114

and then she wanted another. A new basket was a favorite; and she would carry it on her arm, and talk of it to every body for half an hour; but it was then thrown aside, and she would then tease her mother to buy her such a basket as her cousin Jane’s.

Such was the character of little Alice Gray; and you may well believe it gave her mother great anxiety and distress. She perceived that, if indulged, this restless disposition, this constant craving for something new, and something more beautiful than she possessed, would bring unhappiness upon her whole life, and

p. 115

make her a source of trouble to all around her. She felt that nothing is more disagreeable than a person, whether young or old, who gets soon tired of what is given to them, and is perpetualy seeking for something which they cannot, or ought not to, have. She therefore frequently talked to Alice, and clearly pointed out the error of her conduct.

Alice listened, but she was not convinced. Like other children, she thought she knew as much as her mother; or, perhaps, having little experience, she did not look forward to the future, and see the store of sorrow she was laying up; but chose to

p. 116

live, like the buttefly, for the pleasures of to-day, without regard to the morrow.

I am sorry to tell you that, instead of growing better, little Alice for a time grew worse and worse, until at length, whatever she saw, she wanted; and even things which she had never seen, and only existed in her fancy, were the objects of her desire. At first, she wanted a little pony, and that was procured for her; then she wanted a little wagon, and this also was obtained. Then she desired a pair of ponies, and a beautiful little phaeton, and many other things.

These wishes were deemed alto-

p. 117

gether unreasonable by her parents, and of course she was refused. Alice wept and pouted for a time; but soon her fancy was running upon something else; and thus her uneasiness, though it frequently changed from one thing to another, never ceased to annoy those around her.

I must now tell you about another trait in the character of Alice Gray. She used often to dream of things in her sleep which appeared to her very pleasant; and then she would desire to realize these dreams.

One night, she dreamt that she had a little boat, and that she sailed in it upon the lake near her father’s house.

p. 118

The sensation of gliding over the waters, in her dream, was very pleasing; and when she awoke in the morning, she was almost angry, that what seemed so delightful should be only a dream. As soon as she was dressed, she flew to her mother, related her dream, and begged that she might be permitted to have a boat, and sail upon the water.

Mrs. Gray endeavored to dissuade her daughter from indulging this wish. She represented to her the danger of sailing upon the water, and begged her to think no more of it. But Alice could find no pleasure in her books, or her toys, or her studies, or

p. 119

her work. Her fancy was perpetually running upon the boat of her dream, that floated over the waters with a white sail, and seemed to bear her along as if on wings.

Thus dissatisfied, she went moping about; and her mother, anxious to do all in her power to please her child, requested her father to have a little boat made for her.

Now I must tell you that, in doing this, Mrs. Gray acted very unwisely. Children should not be indulged in unreasonable wishes, for indulgence does not cure unreasonableness; on the contrary, like water put upon weeds, which makes them flourish, it

p. 120

renders the disposition worse. The weeds, if the water was withheld, might wither and perish, and wholesome plants, and beautiful flowers, grow up in their place; and so if a child’s unreasonable wishes were not nourished by indulgence, they would cease to exist, and better feelings would spring up in the heart.

But I msut tell you of the boat. A carpenter in the village was employed to make one. Alice was very impatient, and could hardly wait two days till it should be done. She spoke of it constantly, and went several times to the shop where it was building. At length, the wood-work

p. 121

was done; and then it was painted a bright green, as Alice insisted upon that color. Finally, it was finished; a mast was erected, a sail was attached to it, and every thing necessary was provided. At evening, it was taken to the lake; and oh, how beautifully it danced upon the water!

But, unhappily, it was too late for a sail; for when the boat was ready, it had become quite dark. Alice would have gone out in the boat, dark as it was; but she was obliged to give up her wishes. She rose early in the morning, impatient to try the boat; but the weather was stormy, and she could not go.

p. 122

She spent a miserable day; her wagon, her doll, the ball, the basket, the books, were all tried, but they gave her no pleasure. Finally, she placed her hand upon the table, and leaning her head upon it, went asleep, and dreamed over boat. At an early hour, from mere uneasiness, she went to bed, and, after a while, fell asleep.

She immediately began to dream of her boat. She imagined that the weather was now fair; that the boat was all ready upon the lake; that she was standing by the water; and that the blue waves seemed to invite her forth upon them. In her dream, her

p. 123

mother seemed by her side, and warned her not to go. She told her of the danger of venturing out in the boat alone, and seemed to say, “My daughter, you do not know how to manage the sail; the wind may come and overset the boat, and you may be drowned; and, therefore, I pray you, my dear daughter, do not go in the boat.”

Such was Alice’s dream, and it seemed to her like reality. She replied, or seemed to reply to her mother, that she did not fear the danger; that the boat was now ready; that the weather was fair; and that she would no longer be hindered from gratifying her wish.

p. 124

Now, while Alice had been dreaming in this way, she had risen from her bed, put on her clothes, and gone down in her sleep to the border of the lake. The night was dark, and it was now nine o’clock in the evening; but the little girl went along without harm, until she stood upon a rock, by the side of which the boat was lying.

All this time, Alice, as I have said before, was asleep, and she was dreaming, as I have told you. The rest of the family had not yet retired; but Alice had passed out unobserved. She was, therefore, alone by the water, and no one knew of her situation.

p. 125

For some time, she stood upon the rock, dreaming that her mother was there, endeavoring to dissuade her from entering the boat; but, in spite of all remonstrance, she stepped to the edge of the rock, and, leaping forward, sprung upon the side of the boat. In an instant, it was upset, and Alice was plunged into the water.

She awoke from her dream, and screamed violently from fright. Her voice was heard, and several persons came to her assistance. With much difficulty she was rescued from the waves, and carried to the house. She was nearly drowned, and for some time was in a state of insensibility.

p. 126

At length, she recovered, and slept quietly through the night.

When she awoke in the morning, she began to reflect upon her conduct. “How eagerly,” said she to herself, “did I wish for this boat! and yet what trouble and danger it was brought upon me! Alas! I have done very wrong. I will go to my mother, confess my error, and do so no more.”

Accordingly, Alice arose, and with many tears acknowledged her fault. Her mother spoke to her kindly, and promised forgiveness. “But,” said she, “remember, my dear Alice, the lesson which this late event has taught you. Remember to be contented

p. 127

with what is reasonable, and set not your heart upon things beyond your reach. Remember your little boat; and if you are ever tempted to indulge in improper wishes, or improper pleasures, recollect your dream, and your ducking in the lake![”]

[p. 128]



There is a country very far to the east, called India. It is impossible to visit this country, but by going in a vessel. Many people go there every year from Boston, and they bring back with them various articles of merchandise. They bring indigo, which is used for dyeing cloth of a blue color, silk goods of many kinds, and beautiful shawls, made from the wood of sheep, that are found in the mountains.


two girls under a big umbrella

p. 129

The inhabitants of India are of a dark color, somewhat like our American Indians. Some of them dwell in costly houses, which are ornamented with gold and silver; but the greater part live in small huts, made of sticks, and covered with leaves. The weather is always warm; and these slight shelters are sufficient to protect the people who inhabit them.

The trees and plants in India are very different from those in our country. Apples, pears and peaches do not grow there, or are uncommon; but oranges, lemons, figs, and many other delicious fruits, are abundant.

The animals of India differ as

p. 130

much from ours as the trees. The elephant, which is the largest four-footed beast, is very common. It is found in a wild state, among the valleys and plains. It is frequently caught by the inhabitants, and when tamed becomes very useful. It will carry people on its back, as well as a horse, and several persons will often perform a journey together upon one of these creatures.

The rhinoceros is another very curious animal, found in India. It is twice as large as the biggest ox, and has a skin so thick, that a bullet, shot from a gun, will not enter it. It has a large horn upon its nose, with which

p. 131

it fights the elephant. It is a very strong creature, and will walk about upon the bottom of a river, with the water above his head. He is fond of rolling in the mud, and behaves very much like a hog. He is very harmless, and, like the elephant, will run away from a man, as fast as he can scamper.

Another interesting animal of India is the antelope. This little creature is of a reddish brown color, and has long slender legs, like those of a deer. It has a full black eye, and, when tamed, become as gentle as a lamb. It will eat from your hand, and follow you from place to

p. 132

place, and seem as fond of you as a dog. But it is a very timid creature, and, when frightened, flies over the ground with the greatest swiftness.

Beside these, there are many other interesting animals in India. There are apes and monkey, which make the woods ring with their clatter; wild buffaloes, as large as oxen, and beautiful leopards, with spotted skins; but I have only time at present to give you a particular account of the tiger.

This animal is much larger than a dog, and is shaped like a cat. Its skin is of a yellow color, beautifully marked with black stripes. Its claws are sharp, and its teeth are strong; and

p. 133

it is therefore able to kill the antelope, the deer, the goat, and other animals, upon which it preys.

The people of India are afraid of the tiger; and they often go to hunt it. When one is known to be lurking in the bushes or grass, some men will approach it, mounted upon the back of an elephant. Having guns loaded with bullets, they wait till the animal springs at the elephant, or shows himself crouching in the thicket; they then fire, and usually kill him. Sometimes, he is only wounded, and then he howls and fights terribly.

Tigers are sometimes brought from

p. 134

India to this country. They are kept in strong cages, and are shown to people who pay the keeper for the sight. These tigers always appear very restless, and seem to be anxious to get out of the cage. But it would not do to let them out, for they are very fierce, and might do some mischief. These tigers are caught when they are young. They are then gentle and harmless, like kittens. You may hold one in your hand, and he will not either scratch or bite.

The way that young tigers are taken is as follows. A man goes to the tiger’s den when the mother is away, and carries off the young ones, of

p. 135

which there are generally three or four. Pretty soon, the tigress comes back to her den, and finds that some one has stolen her children. She runs about smelling the ground, and roaring fiercely.

Pretty soon she smells the track of the thief, and sets off to pursue him at a rapid pace. The man sees her coming, and drops one of the little tigers upon the ground. The mother comes up, takes the young one in her mouth, and carries it back to the den. She then returns to the pursuit.

When she approaches again, the man lays down another of the young ones. In this way, he proceeds till

p. 136

he has got beyond the reach of the fierce brute, usually having saved one or two of the little tigers. These are sold to some persons from America, who put them on board a ship, and they come to this country.

But although the tiger is very strong, it is destitute of courage. It is, indeed, very much like a cat, being fond of slaying animals it can conquer, but very easily frightened by man. I will tell you a story which will show you how very timid the tiger sometimes is.

There was once an Englishman who lived in India, near a broad river. Along the banks of this river,

p. 137

the scenery was very beautiful, and it was common for the people to walk there for pleasure. The Englishman had a daughter about eight years old. One day, a cousin of hers, who lived at a considerable distance, came to pay her a visit.

The two girls were nearly of the same age, and they were very happy in each other’s company. They played and chatted some time together in the house; then they went into the garden, wehre they picked some oranges and figs, and ate them. Finally, they concluded to go and walk on the bank of the river. As the sun was very hot, they took an umbrella

p. 138

to shelter them; a custom very common and necessary in India.

Walking side by side, they proceeded to the bank of the river; and for some time, they walked back and forth, greatly delighted with the smooth water, and the beautiful trees which shaded its borders. At length, they were tired, and sat down to rest themselves. Reclined on the grass, they remained for a long time; and then they began to gather the flowers around them; and thus they amused themselves for more than an hour.

By and by, one of them heard a noise in the grass, at a little distance. She looked around; but at first she

p. 139

could see nothing. Pretty soon, she saw the grass gently laid aside; and through the opening, she discovered the large, glaring eyes of a tiger. The animal was crouching upon the ground, but was slowly and slyly approaching her and her companion.

The little girl knew that the animal would spring in a moment, and that whatever was done for safety must be done instantly. The umbrella was at her side, lying upon the ground. She took it up, and pointed it toward the tiger. He was now very close, and she opened it suddenly in his face.

Nothing could exceed his fright. He started aside with a violent leap,

p. 140

plunged into the long grass, and disappeared from the place. The little girls, thus delivered from their danger, ran home as fast as they could to tell the story.

Copyright 1999-2024, Pat Pflieger
To “Nineteenth-Century American Children & What They Read
Some of the children | Some of their books | Some of their magazines
To “Voices from 19th-Century America
Some works for adults, 1800-1872
To Titles at this site | Authors at this site | Subjects at this site | Works by date | Map of the site

Talk to me.