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´╗┐Title: The Summer Holidays - A Story for Children
Author: Amerel
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Summer Holidays - A Story for Children" ***




Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1850, by

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern
District of New York.

[Illustration: DADDY HALL'S DONKEY.]


Uncle Harvey's Parlor

The Evening Walk

A Visit to Daddy Hall

The Walk through the Woods

What Uncle Harvey said about Rain

How Thomas killed a Hawk

About Bats

The Walk to the Creek

The Hard Battle

About Corn and the uses of Animals

Alice Gray


The Return Home




Mr. Harvey's two sons, Thomas and John, were very anxious for their
cousin, Samuel Reed, to spend the August holidays with them. His father
said that he might; and when school was closed for the season, Samuel
bade his father good bye, and was soon in the carriage, driving toward
Uncle Harvey's country seat.

The boys had not seen each other since New Year's day. It was a happy
meeting when Samuel jumped out of the carriage, by the gate leading from
the main road up to Mr. Harvey's house; for there his uncle, and two
cousins, were waiting for him. Thomas and John, each grasped a hand,
while their father led the way to the house. "We were afraid you were
not coming," said John. "How tall you have grown since Christmas,"
exclaimed Thomas. "Were you not tired of being in the hot city such
weather as this?" Samuel said that he was; and then they all entered the
house, while the driver brought in Samuel's baggage.

It was about five o'clock in the afternoon when Samuel reached his
uncle's house. He was taken into a small parlor, which opened upon a
garden where many flowers were in bloom. It was a warm day, but this
room was cool and fragrant; and on the table were several plates of
fruit, and some cakes, which his uncle caused to be placed there, so
that he might eat some as soon as he arrived, While Samuel was eating
some of them John said:

"We are so glad you have come, Samuel. Last winter you could see nothing
but snow."

"What became of the snow-man we made last winter?" asked Samuel.

"It froze very hard for more than a week after you left," replied
Thomas; "but John and I broke its head a great deal, with snow balls,
and afterwards a warm rain fell, and washed it away."

"Is it warm in the city now?" asked John.

"Yes," answered his cousin. "In the middle of the day the pavements seem
to be about on fire, and people are afraid to walk far, lest they may be
sunstruck. Yesterday two men died with the heat. There seems to be no
air stirring from morning till night. Besides, there is much sickness in
town, and many persons have left their houses, and gone into the

"Father," said Thomas, "how miserable we should be if we had no water to
drink this weather, like those poor Arabs that you told us of the other

"Yes," answered Mr. Harvey, "the sun must be burning hot in Arabia now."

"How can they live in such a place?" asked John.

"They are not all so miserable as the party I told you of the other
day," replied his father. "Besides, you know it is their country, and
God has taught them to love it. If an Arab were brought here, he would,
probably, think it a most dreary land, except in summer."

"But what do you do in town, Samuel," asked John, "when it is too warm
to go out?"

"It is very hot only in the middle of the day," replied his cousin, "and
then, you know, we are at school. In the afternoons, I sometimes rode
out with father, or went on the steamboat. Last week a balloon went up,
from the other side of the river. We had a fine view of it from the roof
of our house. Two men were in it, and when they had risen so high that
the balloon appeared quite small, they threw out a little machine,
called a parachute. It looked something like an umbrella, and had a dog
to it. The balloon sailed a great distance through the air, and came
down safely."

It was now six o'clock, and Mr. Harvey told the boys that they might go
to supper, which he had ordered to be ready earlier than usual.




After supper, Samuel and his cousins took a walk in the meadow, toward
the mill pond. The air was now cool and pleasant, and as the boys moved
through the narrow path, among the low grass, thousands of grasshoppers,
and other insects, filled the air with their cheerful hum. Thomas, with
his companions, passed round the mill, and then climbed a fence which
led through a field of corn. The corn was not very high, so that they
had to be careful not to tread upon it. When they reached the other
side, Samuel saw that the fence was covered with raspberry vines, from
one end to the other. He asked what they did with so many. "All that
father wishes to use, or to eat," replied Thomas, "he gathers out of the
garden; but these he leaves for two or three poor families, who live not
far off, and who take them to town to sell. It helps them to pay their

"And does he give away blackberries, too?" asked Samuel.

"Yes, and many other kinds of fruit," replied his cousin. "He has such
large fields and orchards, that he can afford to give away great
quantities of apples, peaches, currants, grain, and vegetables."

[Illustration: THE OLD SOLDIER'S HOUSE.]

The boys roamed about the fields, talking in this manner, until after
sunset, when Thomas said it was time to return. They crossed into a bye
path, and walked toward the house through a field in which wheat had
been growing. Among the short straw, left by the reapers, Samuel saw
many birds' nests, and deep holes that had been dug by rabbits, field
mice, and other small animals. In a short time they passed a very old
house, whose sides appeared as if they would fall every moment. The roof
was covered with moss and grass, and the boards had crumbled and
separated from each other; a number of bats and swallows were flying
about it, and Thomas said that dozens of these little animals, beside
rats and mice, lived inside. Samuel asked him if any body lived there.
"No," said his cousin; "but father remembers very well when an old
soldier, that the farmers called Jack, did live in this house. His
leg had been shot off in battles with the Indians. After it healed he
moved to this place, and lived on the vegetables he could raise in a
little garden, besides what people gave him. Every night he came out and
sat on the log by the door, playing on an old fiddle. Then the school
children would collect around him, and give him pennies, or fruit, and
such things. Sometimes he told them stories; for he had travelled in
many lands, and knew a great deal about them. In the summer nights,
father says, he often heard poor old Jack singing the songs that he had
learned when he was a boy; and sometimes he could be seen hobbling down
this lane, on his crutches, or sitting by the water catching some fish
for his supper. One day he was missed, and folks thought he was sick;
but they waited till the next morning, and then a great crowd collected
round the house, and called him. No one answered; so some one lifted the
latch and went in. Old Jack was not there, and the people began to get
frightened. They hunted for him all that day, and many days afterward;
but he was never found. Some think that he was drowned; others that he
went away with strangers, and a few are foolish enough to believe, that
he is still living, and will one day come back. Since that time, no one
has ever lived in his house, and in a few years it will tumble down with
old age."

While Thomas had been giving this account of Poor Jack, the Soldier,
John was very busy moving round the old house, and peeping through the
cracks in the boards. At last he motioned Thomas and Samuel, to come to
him, and then whispered:

"Stoop down--don't make a bit of noise--and peep through this crack.
You'll see the biggest owl that ever you did see, in all your life."
Both of them looked through. It was very dark, but Samuel saw two great
eyes, like balls of fire, and in a little while he could perceive the
body of an owl, which, as John had said, was the largest he had ever

"Let us go in and catch him," said John. But Thomas answered, that as it
was now dark the owl could easily fly away; and besides, as they did not
wish to kill it, it could be of no use to them, if they should catch it.
"It might do for cousin to look at," replied John; but he did not insist
upon entering the house. As they were going away, Samuel asked his
cousin if he did not think owls were ugly.

"No, indeed," answered John. "I would rather see an owl any time than
these little birds that can do nothing but sing. See how soft his
feathers are--all barred and spotted with black and brown, which is more
handsome than to be all over red or yellow. I know he can't sing; but
he's got nice, long ears, and that no other bird has. And how nice and
round his head is. Then he sits on a tree, and looks wise, as father
says. The Canary, and the mocking bird, are good enough to keep in
cages, but of all birds, give me an owl."

Thomas and Samuel laughed at this notion, but John continued:

"Thomas, did not some people, who lived a long while ago, call the owl
the 'bird of wisdom?'"

"Yes," replied Thomas. "I have heard father say that it was the

"That shows how wise they were," said John. "I seems to me as though
that owl, which we saw, was keeping house for poor old soldier Jack."

"Do hush about owls," said his brother, laughing; and they ran together
through the gate, and into the yard.




Next morning, Mr. Harvey told his sons that they might go to see an old
man, who lived in a small house, about two miles off, and who was so
sickly that he could not work. This old man's name was Hall, and the
boys of the school called him Daddy Hall. He had once been rich; but
sickness and misfortune had reduced him to poverty, so that he now lived
with his little son, in a small hut, near a hill. Every week he sent
fruit and vegetables to market, in a cart, drawn by a donkey, which some
of the neighbors had given to him. Every week Mr. Harvey sent either a
servant, or one of the boys, to see how he was getting along, and to
carry him something nice.

The two boys, with their cousin, were soon off, carrying with them a
basket full of things for the old man. They went by the road across the
meadows, and through a small gate in the hedge. Samuel observed, that
the hawthorn of the hedge grew very thick and close, so that a bird
could scarcely get through it. The roots and branches were twisted into
each other, appearing like strong, thick chains woven together; and on
the vines grew sharp thorns, longer than a needle. Mr. Harvey's boys
told their cousin, that neither man nor beast could get through such a
hedge; and that if a man were placed on the top, he could walk on the
vines without sinking down, they were so strong and close. "It would be
uneasy travelling, though," added John; "for his feet would be torn to
pieces by these spiky thorns."

They now left the hedge, and went on through two wide fields, until they
reached some hills that stood by themselves, and were steep and bare.
Three of them had deep pits dug in them, while piles of rock, stones,
and sand, were lying around. Samuel asked his cousins what place it was.

"It is an iron mine," said Thomas; but it is not worked any more,
because there is not enough of iron found to pay for the trouble. All
these stones lying about here are pieces of ore; but the quantity of
iron in them is so small that it will not pay for the expense of taking
it out from the ore."

"How is iron taken from the ore?" asked Samuel. Thomas replied:

"The ore is first crushed into coarse dust, and then washed. Afterwards
this dust is melted in a hot furnace, and the iron is separated from the
melted stone, or dross, in a manner which is very troublesome, and which
father can explain to you better than I can. Sometimes the ore is almost
all iron; John and I have some pieces in our cabinets, in which you
cannot see any stone."

"But did men go down this deep well?" asked Samuel.

"Yes; they were lowered down in buckets. And the water was pumped out by
a machine. The water was so cold, even in the middle of summer, that one
could scarcely hold his hand in it."

The boys began to throw stones down one of the wells, so that they might
guess by hearing them strike the bottom, how deep it was. The first
stones were too small to be heard; then they threw larger ones, and
listened, but could hear no sound. At last, John took up a piece of rock
as big as his head, and rolled it into the well. It fell with a hollow,
rumbling noise, and all was then still. The boys thought it had reached
the bottom; but all at once they heard it splash into water. Then the
boys knew that the well was very deep, for the stone had been falling
several seconds. They then hunted among the piles of ore for some
handsome pieces to give to Samuel; after which, they picked up their
basket, and hurried on toward Daddy Hall's.

On reaching his house, they found the old man sitting at the door, while
his son, a good boy, was preparing to take the donkey to market, with a
cart load of turnips, radishes, peas, beans, and cabbage. Daddy Hall was
pale and thin; but he arose to meet the boys, and seemed very glad to
see Samuel. Although he was sick almost every day, and sometimes
suffered great pain, yet no one ever heard him complain. He loved
children, and was very fond of talking to them; and before he grew so
weak and feeble, many of the farmers sent their little ones to him, to
learn to read. After they had been seated a little while, John asked him
if he did not get tired of staying in the house.

"Sometimes," said the old man, "I wish I could go out, as I once could,
and work for myself; but I do not feel tired. Besides, this is the best
condition I can be placed in; and if you ask me why, I will tell you.
God, my children, has placed me in it; and he knows what is best for
each of us. He has given me many comforts, kind friends, plenty to eat
and drink, and a son, who is one of the best of boys. There is nothing,
John, more cheering to the heart of an old man than the kindness of a
dutiful son; and let me ask each of you, to listen to the advice of one
who owns such a blessing, and always to show honor and respect to your




The boys left their basket with Daddy Hall, and set out on their return
to the house. "Let us go through the woods," said Thomas, and they all
walked toward a thick wood which stood not far from the hill, near which
Daddy Hall's house was built. They were glad to reach its cool shade;
for the sun was now getting warm. Samuel saw a number of birds among the
branches, that he did not know the names of; and many bright little
flowers were growing in the shade, among the roots of oak and beech
trees. A little distance in the wood, they reach a small rock, near
which some large stones were lying, as if they had been thrown together.
Thomas stopped, and said, "Samuel, this is the place where we killed a
big snake last spring. You can see his hole under this rock. John and I
tried hard to move these loose stones, but we could not. I dare say
there are snake nests underneath."

"Perhaps we three can move one of them," replied his cousin. They all
caught hold, and at last pulled the stone from its place. There was
nothing underneath, but some old nut shells; but John said he was sure
they would find snakes if they could but move the other stones. After
much pulling, they raised another one; and under it was a large land
tortoise, with several little ones, no larger than a walnut. After
examining these, they observed a hole running under another stone, into
the ground. Samuel also found two or three snake skins, which his
cousins told him the snakes threw off every spring, after which, a new
and larger skin grew on them. They pulled hard at this third stone, but
could not move it; but while they were going away, Thomas said that they
could bring an iron bar some day, and easily root it up.

In the middle of the wood was a fine spring of water, which gushed from
a rock, and then spread out into a little pool, so clear and quiet, that
the smallest stones could be seen at the bottom. Samuel tasted the
water, and found it cold and refreshing. He asked his cousin how so much
water could come out of the rock.

"It does not come from the rock," replied Thomas; "but only runs through
it. Father says, that spring water often comes from the hills and
mountains, running under the ground through cracks and holes in the
rocks, until it finds some outlet. I suppose this water runs down from
the tops of the hills near the iron mine."

"But this is not rain water," said his cousin. "It neither tastes nor
looks like it."

"It has become changed while passing under the ground," replied Thomas.
"After a heavy shower the water soaks into the earth until it reaches
the sand, or rock underneath, then it runs through every little crack
down the hill, and under the ground to some place like this where it can
escape. The sand and gravel, which it meets with, make it pure and the
lime and other substances of the rocks, alter its taste."




When the boys reached the house, Mr. Harvey was in his study. Samuel was
anxious to ask him some questions about springs, but he would not go up
stairs to disturb him. But after dinner his uncle came into the parlor
where the boys were, and then Samuel asked him where all the water comes
from that flows in the rivers and other streams.

"From the ocean," answered Mr. Harvey. "I suppose you have seen water
boiling, Samuel."

"Yes, sir."

"And have you seen the steam rise up from the water into the air?"
Samuel said that he had. His uncle continued:

"Whenever water is heated, it is turned into steam, or vapor, as it is
sometimes called. If there is enough of heat to make water boil, the
vapor passes off very fast, until the water is gone. Now the sun is
continually changing the water of rivers, ponds, lakes, and of the
ocean, into vapor. This vapor rises. The air about a mile above the
earth, is much colder than it is on the earth; so when the hot vapor
from the ocean meets the cold air, it again becomes water, and forms
clouds. I see you are ready with a question, John."

"Yes, sir," said John. "I cannot see, father, how the clouds can float
in the air if they are nothing but water. Why do they not pour down?"
His father answered:

"I expected this would be your question. The clouds, my son, are water,
but not in a close mass, like that in a bucket or in the mill pond. You
have seen soap bubbles, and know that a great many of them may be joined
together without breaking. It is supposed by learned men, that clouds
are nothing but many thousands of bubbles, which, being lighter than
air, would, you know, float on it."

"But, father," said John, "what makes it rain?"

"That is not certainly known," replied Mr. Harvey; "but, no doubt,
lightning has much to do with it. I will show you, this evening, several
pictures about clouds and springs of water, which will help you to
understand what I have said."

"Uncle," said Samuel, "there is one more question which I would like to

"Ask it, my boy," replied Mr. Harvey.

"I have read, sir, that the water of the ocean is salt; why, then, is
not rain water salt, too?"

"Because," said Mr. Harvey, "salt cannot be changed to vapor, and it is
too heavy to be raised, in any quantity, in the air with the water.
Yet, I suppose, that a little salt is always mixed with the bubbles that
form clouds."



This afternoon was very hot, and the boys spent it in their room,
arranging their books and pictures, and in reading. At five o'clock,
while Thomas was standing by the window, he suddenly exclaimed: "There's
a hawk!" Both the boys ran to the window, and saw a large hawk, sailing
slowly toward the barn.

"He is the one that steals our chickens," said John. "And see, he's
flying straight for the barn. Thomas, run and ask father for the gun."

Mr. Harvey kept two guns in his house; but he used them only for
shooting hawks, when they were flying about to steal the poultry. John
and Thomas had learned to use them, and sometimes spent an afternoon in
firing at a mark. But they never did so without their father's consent.

[Illustration: THE HAWK.]

Thomas soon joined the other boys, having the gun in his hand; and after
Mr. Harvey had bidden them to be careful, they followed in the direction
the hawk was flying. They kept close by the fence, so that it could not
see them. In a short time it was over the barn yard, and sailing round
and round, in order to make a sweep downwards. "Hurry, Thomas," said
John; and Thomas ran stooping along some bushes, followed by John and
Samuel, on their hands and feet. The hawk was now quite low, and the
boys could hear the hens screaming and running about. At last Thomas
reached the barn fence, and his brother told him to fire. But he could
not take aim, because the hawk was partly hidden by the corner of the
barn. "I am afraid he'll get that little chicken," said Samuel. "See if
you can take aim now," whispered John. The hawk now made a sweep at one
of the chickens; but it ran under the barn, and the hawk flew up a
little higher. Just then, Thomas fired. The hawk came down head
foremost, and Thomas threw away his gun, and sprang over the wall. John
and Samuel jumped after him, shouting as loud as they could. In a few
moments the hawk was dead. It was the largest one that either of them
had ever seen. When they reached the house, Mr. Harvey was waiting for
them; and on seeing so large a hawk, promised to have it stuffed for
them. The gun was then hung up in its place.




This evening, while the boys were reading and talking to Mr. Harvey,
several bats flew in at the window. John caught one of them in his hat,
and placed it on the table for his cousin to examine. Samuel asked his
uncle if it would not fly away.

"No," said Mr. Harvey, "it cannot raise itself from the ground. What we
call its wings, are, you see, nothing but two thin skins, or membranes,
stretched from its hind legs to its fore ones, and fastened to its
sides. When flying, it spreads out its toes, so as to unfold these
membranes, and thus balances itself in the air."

"Do not some people think that the bat is a bird?" asked Samuel.

"Yes. But probably they never examined a bat closely. You see that it
looks nothing at all like a bird."

"Father," said John, "where did those great bats come from, which you
have in your cabinet?"

"From the island of Java," said Mr. Harvey. "They are called Java bats.
I have seen some with bodies as large as hens, and wings like umbrellas.
Hundreds of these animals fly about the gardens and orchards of that
island, every night, destroying great quantities of fruit. The people
there, spread nets over the trees, to protect the fruit, and shoot the
bats with guns, as you did the hawk."

"I have read, in a book of travels," said Samuel, "that while persons
are asleep, these bats, or some other large kind, suck their blood. Is
that true, sir?"

"No," said Mr. Harvey. "Such tales were long believed, even by writers
on natural history; and I have some where a picture of a monstrous bat
sucking the blood from a man's veins. But all this is now known to be
fabulous. No kind of bat will attack an animal as large as itself, nor
enter a house when there is an abundance of fruit and insects in the

"Shall we let this bat go now?" said John. Mr. Harvey said yes; and then
John lifted it on a large sheet of paper, and threw it into the air. In
a moment it spread out its thin wings, and after flying about the room
two or three times, passed out of the window. Mr. Harvey told them, that
although the bat was so feeble when on the ground, yet its strength of
wing was greater than that of any bird.




The next day there was a heavy thunder shower, in the morning, which
compelled the boys to stay in the house; and in the afternoon the
teacher of the academy paid Mr. Harvey a visit. During the time that he
staid, Thomas, with his brother and cousin, were told to remain in the
house. But the next day was cool and pleasant, and they started early on
a ramble through the fields. As they passed close to a farm house,
Samuel saw a large dog chained to a tree, in the yard. It looked very
fierce at them as they passed, and then began to growl and bark. Thomas
told his cousin, that this dog had bitten several persons in the
neighborhood, and that some of the school boys had tried to poison it;
but that the farmer was careful always to keep it chained, so that no
body might get a chance to catch it in the road.

About half a mile further onward was a fine stream of water. It began in
the hills, and ran winding along, deeper and broader, to a great
distance. Mr. Harvey owned several farms along this creek; and here
Thomas and John often came, in summer evenings, to swim. The water was
clear and pure, so that hundreds of fish could be seen sporting around
the shores.

When the boys reached this creek, they sat down under a shady tree, to
watch the fishes, and listen to the songs of the birds, on the bushes
that hung over the water. In a short time, a number of eels came from
under a large stone, one after the other, and after swimming about for a
little while, buried themselves in the mud. Samuel asked Thomas where so
many came from.

"They live in the water," replied his cousin. "On a pleasant evening you
can see many more swimming among the stones, and the roots of trees, by
the edge of the creek. But, do you know, that they sometimes come out of
the water, and glide about the meadows."

"No," said Samuel; "do they?"

"Yes," replied Thomas. "At night you may sometimes see a great many
among the grass. One evening last summer John and I met a whole company
of them, going from the little creek, near Daddy Hall's house, toward
the mill pond. We thought, at first, that they were snakes, and so moved
out of their road; but by and by, we perceived that they were eels. The
weather had been hot and dry for two weeks before, and these eels were
travelling to find more water. So father told us afterwards."

The boys now walked on, down the creek, until they came to a small
bridge. On this a boy, about as large as Samuel, was standing, throwing
stones into the water. When Thomas, and the other two, got near enough,
they saw he was stoning frogs. Every time one of these little animals
put its head above the water, the boy pelted it with a stone; and two or
three had been mashed to death, as they sat on the broad stones, near
the water's edge.

[Illustration: STONING FROGS.]

Now, all good boys and girls, who read this book, will say that this was
a cruel boy--and so he was. As soon as John saw what he was about, he
called to him to stop. The boy said he would not, and stoned harder than
before. Then John began to grow angry. You remember, children, I told
you, that though John was a noble hearted fellow, yet he was quick of
temper; and when he saw boys doing wrong, he was apt to get angry very
soon, if they did not stop when they were told. So, seeing that the boy
still threw stones, he called to him again, louder than before.

"What shall I stop for?" said the boy.

"Because," said John, as he stepped on the bridge, "you have no business
to stone frogs. What hurt do they do you?"

"A good deal," said the boy; and he threw another stone.

"I tell you to stop," replied John; "this is father's field, and they
are his frogs, too; and you have no right here, if you can't behave

The boy now threw off his cap, as if to fight, and said: "I don't care
for you or your father either; I'll stone as long as I please, and no
one shall hinder me," and as he spoke, he shook his fist in John's face.
John was now very angry.

"If you touch me," he said, "I'll throw you, head foremost, over the
bridge. I tell you to quit stoning frogs, and you shall quit."

Thomas and Samuel now came forward; for they were afraid that there
would be some fighting. John and the boy stood looking at each other for
a little while; but at last, the boy seeing that John was not afraid of
him, picked up his hat and walked off, muttering that he did not care
for any body. "He had better go," said John. When his brother began to
grow calm, Thomas told him that he ought not to get so angry, for he
could have driven off the boy just as well, by speaking quietly to him.
"I have seen him once or twice before," added Thomas, "and I hear that
he is a very bad boy."




In coming home by some cherry trees that stood near the fence, Samuel
saw a little animal, larger than a bat, fly swiftly from one branch to
another. He asked his cousins if it was not a flying squirrel. Thomas
answered, "Yes. Several nests of them are in these trees. If you could
examine one of these squirrels closely, you would see that its wings, as
they are called, are not like bird's wings."

"They seem more like a bat's wings," said Samuel.

"So they are," replied his cousin; "only thin skins, stretched along the
sides from the fore legs to the hind ones. But these squirrels cannot
fly far, nor stay long in the air, as bats can. They merely dart swiftly
from one branch to another."

"What other kinds of squirrels are there?" asked Samuel.

"The grey squirrel," said Thomas, "much larger than this one. It is not
often found about here. Then the ground squirrel, that lives in the
ground, instead of on the trees. The common squirrel, such as you see
running about the fences and woods; and two or three other kinds. Some
people eat squirrels; but I have never tasted one."

The boys now heard some one screaming, and stopped to listen. "It comes
from that field," said John; "let us run and see what is the matter."
They did so, and soon saw that the big dog they had passed in going to
the creek, had got out, and was chasing a boy. This boy was screaming
with fear; and John perceived that he was the boy who had been stoning
frogs. But the boys ran with all their might to help him, picking up
such stones and sticks as lay on the ground, in their way. When they
reached the boy, he was pale with fear, for the dog was close to him.
Samuel also felt a little afraid; but he joined his two cousins in
trying to beat the dog back. The fierce animal got John's stick in his
mouth, and wrenched it out of his hand; but he kicked it in the jaws,
and so kept it off with his feet, while Thomas and Samuel struck it over
the head with all their might. As to the boy, he ran as hard as he
could, until he was out of sight. Thomas's stick now broke, but Samuel
ran his down the dog's throat, and John ran to bring a great pole which
was lying a little distance off. With this they kept the dog from biting
them, until some men came running down a lane, and over into the field.
They had seen the dog run out of the farmer's yard, and were anxious to
kill it. So they threw a rope round its neck, and dragged it away. They
said it should be shot. The boys were very warm, and could scarcely get
their breath. They walked, therefore, to a tree which stood in the
field, and sat down to get cool, and rest themselves. Thomas said he
would be glad if the dog were killed, for such an animal was not fit to
keep. "If we had each had a good stout club," replied his brother, "he
would never have run after any of us again."

They looked for the boy, but he could not be seen; and after resting
themselves, they walked home. When Mr. Harvey heard of their battle with
the dog, he said that it was a great blessing they had not been bitten;
for that in summer the bite of a dog often caused madness, followed by
certain death.




When Samuel had been at his uncle's about two weeks. Mr. Harvey told him
one morning, that he might go with his cousins to a field where early
corn was growing and pull some to cook, if it was ripe. They had a merry
time among the high corn. As they came back to the house, carrying their
basket of ears, Samuel asked his cousins, why corn was sometimes called
Indian corn.

"It is because it formed the chief food of the Indians, before white men
came to this country," replied Thomas. "Father says its proper name is
maize. It was first found in this country; and there are some parts of
America where it is used altogether instead of wheat or rye. Did you
ever taste cakes made from it?"

"Yes," said Samuel; "they were sweeter than wheat bread; but I would not
like to eat them every day."

"Nor I either," said John; "but I like Indian meal with sugar, eggs, and
milk in it, and then baked brown in the oven. Don't you, Samuel?"

"I never tasted it that way. But I think corn is best boiled on the ear,
and eaten with meat and vegetables."

Mr. Harvey's library, as I have already told you, was very large. He
spent much time in the room where it was, either reading or writing. In
the afternoon, after the boys had gathered the corn, he called them into
this room, and showed them some beautiful pictures of animals and
countries. While looking at them, Samuel asked him if he thought every
animal had been made for some useful purpose.

"Yes, my boy," answered his uncle; "we have reason to believe that even
things which appear to be entirely useless, such as gravel stones, or
weeds, have been made by God for some good end. The more we learn about
animals and plants, the more plainly this appears. I will show you the
picture of a very curious animal, called a Sloth. It looks a little like
a bear. Now listen, boys, to a few words about this animal. It lives in
thick, gloomy forests, so that it can scarcely ever be taken. When
placed on the ground it cannot walk, but drags itself forward, with its
fore legs, crying all the time, as if in great pain. Its claws are long,
and turn up under its feet. In the woods it lives all the time on the
trees, hanging from a branch, with its back toward the ground. Tell me
what you think of such an animal."

"I think it must be miserable all day long," replied Samuel.

"So every one thought, about fifty years ago," said Mr. Harvey; but men
who have gone to the countries where sloths are, and seen them in the
high trees, tell a very different story. They say that the sloth's home
is in the branches, as much as a fish's is in the water; and he is there
a strong and happy animal, although he looks so weak and miserable on
the ground. He lives on fruit, and moves from one branch and one tree to
another, with considerable swiftness. So you see that the sloth enjoys
himself as well as any of us; and I have no doubt that he was created
for some good purpose, although we may not be able to understand
precisely what it is.

"But do not some animals eat each other?" asked Thomas.

"Yes," replied Mr. Harvey; "but this is of great use to man. What would
the farmer do with all the insects that destroy his grain, if many of
them were not eaten by little birds; and how much of his fruit would
these very birds destroy, if they, too, were not eaten by hawks! If
animals did not destroy each other, they would soon become so numerous
as to crowd man from the earth."



One morning, after the three boys had taken a pretty long walk, they
came to a small cottage, standing by a garden, round which was a neat
hedge. Part of this garden was planted with vegetables, and part with
flowers, while many vines and sweet brier bushes stood before the
cottage door. There were also large, white roses, which Samuel thought
finer than any he had yet seen; and in a corner of the garden farthest
from the house, stood two bee hives. As the boys passed by, a young
woman came out on the piazza, and asked them in. John and Thomas had
often been here; so they opened the gate and passed through with their
cousin. The young woman, whose name was Alice, brought out chairs, and
some new milk in bowls, for each of them to drink. Then she walked with
them through the garden, showing them through the flowers, and telling
their names. He was much pleased with the bee hives; they were made of
wood, with glass tops, so that the bees might be seen at work. After
watching them for some time, they returned through the garden to the
cottage door. At this moment an old lady came to the door, and spoke to
Mr. Harvey's boys. Samuel observed that she was very feeble, and that
her voice could scarcely be heard. She looked like one who had been
often sick. When they left the cottage, he asked who she was.

[Illustration: ALICE GRAY.]

"Her name is Gray," said Thomas. "Alice is her daughter. Mrs. Gray's
husband was a sailor, and when Alice was about three years old, he went
on a voyage to catch whales, but was lost, with all the crew. Mrs. Gray
was poor, and had four children; and as no one in the town where she
lived would help her, she opened a school for little boys and girls. The
money she got by teaching, supported her family, until her two oldest
children died. Soon after, the poor woman herself became sick, and the
school was closed. Then she moved into this part of the country, and
tried to make her living by weaving mats out of rushes. But in the fall,
the child older than Alice, died; and Mrs. Gray again grew sick. Her
landlord was a hard hearted man: he turned her out of doors, and the
poor woman would have died, if some neighbors had not taken her in, and
provided for her until she could work for herself. At last she went to
live on one of the hills that you can see near the iron mine. She did
pretty well that winter; but one day in the spring, a great freshet
ruined every thing that she had, and almost carried away her house.
Afraid to stay on the hill any longer, she was about to go to the city,
and ask assistance from the societies which give help to poor people,
when some persons, told her to move to the cottage she is in now, and
that they would pay the rent. She did so. When Alice grew older, she
worked hard to support her mother, and she it was who planted all the
flowers and vegetables that you saw in the garden. Father made her a
present of the bee hives. Every body loves her because she has so sweet
a temper."

"And is the old lady still sick?" asked Samuel.

"Yes," said his cousin, "she will never be well again. Yet she is happy
in having a good daughter and kind friends, and loves to see the young
people, who sometimes stop to talk or read to her."

At some distance from the cottage the boys met a bull in the road. It
was standing still when they first saw it; but in a little while it
began to strike the ground with its feet, and toss about its head.
Samuel was afraid to go on; but his cousins told him to follow them,
without attempting to run. As they passed, the bull looked fiercely at
them, and began to roar; but they walked on, keeping their eyes steady
on it, all the while. It continued to make a great noise, but did not
follow them. After they had passed it, Thomas said they could then walk
as fast as they chose, lest the bull might follow them. Samuel asked
him, if bulls had not sometimes killed people.

"Yes," he replied, "bulls are dangerous when any thing makes them angry.
And at such times, if you run from them they are sure to follow. They
often fight with each other; and farmer Smith had a bull killed by
another one last spring. If you meet them in the road, it is best to
face them, without showing any fear. It is not often that they will
attack any one who has courage enough to look straight at them."




Mr. Harvey's boys had a very fine fig tree, which had been presented to
them by a friend of their father, and of which they took great care. It
was kept in a large box, so that it might be placed in the house during
the winter. The boys expected it would bear fruit next year. One day
John burst into the room where Thomas, Samuel, and his father were
sitting, and exclaimed with a doleful voice:

"Oh, father, it is dead--eaten by the locusts--I found a dozen on it."

"What's the matter, John?" said Mr. Harvey. "What have the locusts

"Our fig tree," replied John. "It is gone past all remedy. Only come
with me, and you'll see it."

They followed him down the garden walk. On reaching the fig tree, Mr.
Harvey saw that nearly all its leaves had been eaten off, with most of
the bark and young branches. Thomas and Samuel were very sorry, and John
said he would kill every locust he met, from that day forward. Mr.
Harvey examined the tree, and found, that although much damage had been
done to it, yet with proper care, it might be restored. "We ought to
have covered it with a net," he said to the boys.

While his father was talking with Thomas and his cousin, John was
stooping on the ground, hammering something with a stone. At last Mr.
Harvey turned round, and asked John what he was doing.

"I am killing these fine locusts that I have caught," replied John.

"Stop, my son," said Mr. Harvey, "that is foolish conduct, and very
wicked. You are giving way to anger and revenge, two of the worst
passions that a youth can indulge."

"But, father, they will eat more trees."

"The damage that a few locusts can do, is not much," answered his
father; "and if we had taken proper care with the fig tree, they would
not have reached it. Let those under your hat go, and when we go into
the house, I will tell you about the locusts of the Eastern countries,
of which you might kill as many as you chose, if you were there." John
did as his father bade him, and said he was sorry for having acted so
foolishly. Then Mr. Harvey trimmed the fig tree with his knife, and said
he would send a servant to place a screen over it. When they came to the
house, John reminded his father of his promise concerning the locusts.
Mr. Harvey took from a shelf several large pictures of insects, and
laying one on the table, asked his son what he thought it was.

"It looks like a large grasshopper," said John.

"It is the locust of the East," replied his father. "These locusts are
shaped almost exactly like the long-winged grasshoppers that fly about
our fields; but they are two or three times larger. What do you think
this picture is?"

"It seems to be a great cloud of dust."

"It is a swarm of Eastern locusts. Hundreds of thousands fly thus
together, darkening the air, and driving every thing before them. When
alighting they cover the earth for more than a mile round, and eat every
green thing to the very roots. The noise of their wings is like thunder.
They leave the country like a desert, so that the terrified people look
forward to misery and famine. Men, women, and children, turn out with
guns and stones, to kill them; and sometimes large fires are kindled for
the same purpose. The dead ones are taken by cart loads to markets, and
sold for food."

"To be eaten, sir!" said Samuel.

"Yes," replied Mr. Harvey, "mixed with butter, and fried in a pan, they
form almost all the meat that the poorer classes in those countries

"Its a shocking meal" said John.

"Not so bad as you suppose," said his father. "Perhaps, if it were not
the custom in this country to eat lobsters or hogs, we would look upon
them with as much disgust as you do upon locusts. What do you think of
dining off of spiders?"

"Horrible," said John. His father continued:

"I have read of a man who ate nothing else, when he could get spiders.
So you see that people's tastes differ. You know that John Baptist's
food was locusts and wild honey."

"Do the people kill all the locusts in a swarm?" asked Thomas.

"No," said his father, "a swarm is so large that after hundreds of cart
loads are taken from it, it seems no smaller. Generally, the wind drives
them into the sea, where they perish. But their dead bodies, cast upon
shore, become corrupt, and produce plagues."

"I wish," said John, "that the wind would drive all we have into the
sea, or else a good distance from our fig tree. Who would think that
such little animals could do so much mischief."

"Is it true that locusts return after every seventeen years?" asked

"Yes," said Mr. Harvey; "but not the common kind, such as ate the fig
tree. All locusts come from eggs. In first coming from the egg, they are
not winged, but look like grub worms. After a while these grubs cast off
their skins, and become locusts. Now, there is a kind of locust which is
seventeen years in changing from the egg to the full insect It is this
kind which is so numerous every seventeen years. If you go into the
field when they are coming from the ground, you will see the grass and
plants covered with them."

"Father," said John, "why did the locusts strip all the leaves from the
fig tree, without touching any of the flowers or bushes around?"

"I suppose," said Mr. Harvey, "it is because the fig tree is very
tender. It comes, you know, from warm countries, and is there the proper
food of the locust. Had there been figs on the tree, they would, no
doubt, have been eaten also."



A few days after this conversation, a large fox came, in the evening,
into Mr. Harvey's barn yard; but as a dog belonging to one of the
farmers was near, he was driven off before he could catch any of the
chickens. The boys heard the noise, and ran down. They saw the fox
running very fast away, while the dog, which could not follow through
the hole under the fence, had gone round the barn, to get into the
field. Samuel and his cousins chased the fox as far as they could see
it, and then returned to the barn yard to hunt for more. But none could
be found, and they walked up to the house.

[Illustration: THE FOX.]

At last the month of August rolled around, and the holidays drew toward
a close. I have told you only about a few things that Samuel saw in his
walks around the country with his cousins; but you perceive that he
enjoyed himself very much. He also learned a great deal. I hope,
children, that you have also learned something by reading this book.
Samuel tried to remember all that his uncle and cousins told him, and
often thought of it when he was by himself. It would be well if you
would do the same. Have you a little brother, or sister? See if you can
tell it what Mr. Harvey told Samuel about bats, locusts, rivers, the
rain, and sloths. You may also tell the story of Alice Gray, and old
Jack the Soldier.

You remember that Samuel was to go home at the end of August. Thomas and
John looked very sorrowful as the time drew near; for they loved their
cousin very much, and wished that he could stay with them altogether. On
the last evening, Mr. Harvey took all the boys to a branch of the river
about seven miles off, to enjoy a sail in a boat, on the water. It was a
beautiful moonlight evening, and they rode to the place in a carriage.
Samuel thought that the sight of the water, sparkling in the moon-beams,
and stretching away so wide and still, with the dark bushes on each
side, was the finest thing he had yet seen. When they were in the middle
of the stream, and gliding slowly down it, Mr. Harvey and his sons
joined in singing some simple song; and as they had brought plenty of
food with them, they staid on the water until midnight.

Next morning, Samuel started for town, at nine o'clock. He had received
many beautiful and useful things from his cousins, and as he pressed
their hands, and again and again, bade them good bye, he felt how much
he would miss their company when he would be in the city. But they
promised to write to each other, and as often as they could, send
presents from one to another. Then the horses trotted rapidly down the
road, and Mr. Harvey, with his boys, returned to the house.


*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Summer Holidays - A Story for Children" ***

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