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which all alike, young and old, rich and poor, sick and strong, are pleased to hear.
In the picture we have the Cuckoo's egg in the Hedge-sparrow's nest,' and if you look at the left-hand corner of the picture you will see through the branches of the tree a bird flying away, whose long broad tail tells that it is a Cuckoo-the mother cuckoo, who has just placed her large, speckled egg among the small blue ones of the hedge-sparrow. There it will remain warm and safe, under the little hen hedge-sparrow's wing, till it and the sparrow's eggs are hatched. Then the birdies will all open wide their beaks for food, and the father and mother hedge-sparrow will work hard to feed them, flying backwards and forwards with the daintiest worms they can pick up, of which by far the greater part will find their way into the large throat of the young cuckoo.
Now, after such care as this from its hedge-sparrow foster-parents, how do you think the young cuckoo shows its gratitude? Why it manages to push its poor young foster-brothers and sisters, one by one, out of the nest; nor is it satisfied till it has by this means secured for itself the whole of the nest and the whole of the mother hedge-sparrow's care.
The way it gains its end is by working itself under the little bird it wants to get rid of, and when that is safely on its back the cuckoo shuffles backwards to the edge of the nest, and then with a jerk sends the poor, young, unfledged sparrow over, to be killed most probably by its fall to the ground; or if it survives that, to die from cold and exposure. The hedge-sparrow's nest is not the only one which the cuckoo makes use of for its eggs, though it is the one it most frequently chooses. The yellowhammer, the wagtail, and the meadow-titlark, are also sometimes chosen.
So you see that, really, the pleasantest part about the cuckoo is its voice telling of spring and all the gladness that happy time brings, for neither the mother bird nor the young ones behave quite kindly. Clever men, who have closely studied the ways of birds, have given various reasons for the curious ways of this cuckoo species, but they have never quite cleared up the difficulty; and I think that the best reason we can give is, that it is their nature to do this, and that as their nature was given them by God, there must be some good and wisreason for it, though even the cleverest of us cannot find out what that reason is.
MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE EAST.
EAR-RINGS AND NOSE-RINGS. AR-RINGS were made and used in old times, in the East. Among the Jews they were worn by women only, but in other nations they were worn by men also. The women often wore a ring to hang from the nose. These were made of gold or silver. Rich women also wore a necklace of gold and pearls. Strings of pearls hung from the girdle. Bracelets of gold and coral reached from their wrists to their elbows. Round the ankles they wore large loose rings of hollow gold. In some parts of the East they still wear the things, and little bells are set upon the ankle-rings, which tinkle as they walk Native children in India have lately lea decoyed from their homes and murdered for the sake of the rings on their arms and ankles. Better than all these file things, St. Peter tells us, is a meek and quiet spirit, which is, in the sight of God, of great price.'
LEASE help me for one minute, sister.'
Oh! don't disturb me; I'm reading, was the answer.
But just hold this stick, won't you, while I drive this pin through?'
'I can't now; I want to finish this story,' said I, and my little brother turned away with a disappointed look, in search of somebody else to assist him.
He was a bright boy of six years, and my only brother. He had been visiting a young friend, and had seen a windmill, and as soon as he came home he set to work to make a small one; and now it only needed putting together to complete it, and his sister had refused to help him, and he had gone away with his heart saddened.
I thought of this in the fifteen minutes after he had left, and the book gave me no pleasure. It was not intentional unkindness, only thoughtlessness; for I loved my brother, and was generally kind to him, still I had refused to help him: I would have gone after him and given him the help he needed, but I knew he had found some one else. Yet I had neglected an opportunity of gladdening a childish heart.
In half an hour he came bounding into the house, exclaiming, Come, Mary, I've got it up; just see how it goes!
His tones were joyous, and I saw that he had forgotten my petulance, so I determined to atone by unusual kindness. I went with him, and sure enough, on the roof of the wood-house was fastened a miniature windmill, and the arms were whirling around fast enough to suit any boy. I
praised the windmill and my little brother's ingenuity, and he seemed happy and forgetful of any unkind word, and I resolved, as I had many times before, to be always more loving and gentle.
A few days passed by, and the shadow of a great sorrow darkened our dwelling. The joyous laugh and noisy glee were hushed, and our merry boy lay in a darkened room, with anxious faces around him, his cheeks flushed, and his eyes unnaturally bright. In one of the deceitful calms in his disease he heard the noise of his little wheel, and said to me, I hear my windmill.'
'Does it make your head ache?' I asked. 'Shall we take it down?'
'Oh, no!' he replied.
It seems as if I were out of doors, and it makes me feel better. better. Don't you remember, Mary, that I wanted you to help me to fix it, and you were reading, and told me you couldn't? But it didn't make any difference, for mother helped me.'
Oh how sadly these words fell upon my ears, and what bitter memories they awakened! How I repented, as I kissed little Frank's forehead, that I had ever spoken unkindly to him. Hours of sorrow went by, and we watched by his couch, hope growing fainter and anguish deeper, until one week from the morning on which he spoke of his childish sports we closed his eyes, once so sparkling, and folded his hands over his heart, which had ceased to beat.
He sleeps now in the grave, and home is desolate, but his little windmill, the work of his busy hands, is still whirling in the breeze, just where he placed it, upon the roof of the wood-shed; and every time I see the tiny arms revolving I remember the lost little Frank, and I remember, also, the thoughtless, the unkind words.