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Title: Little Folks of North America - Stories about children living in the different parts of North America
Author: Wade, Mary Hazelton Blanchard, 1860-1936
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: A Little Indian Boy.]

                            Little Folks of
                             North America

                    STORIES ABOUT CHILDREN LIVING IN
                         THE DIFFERENT PARTS OF
                             NORTH AMERICA

                                   BY
                           MARY HAZLETON WADE

             Illustrated by reproductions from Photographs

                          W. A. WILDE COMPANY
                         BOSTON        CHICAGO



                            Copyright, 1909
                         By W. A. Wilde Company

                         _All Rights Reserved_

                     Little Folks of North America



                                CONTENTS

          CHAPTER                                          PAGE
               I. Little Folks of Iceland                    13
              II. Little Folks of Greenland                  26
             III. Little Folks of Alaska                     55
              IV. Little Folks of Canada                     80
               V. Little Folks of Labrador                  116
              VI. Little Folks of Newfoundland              120
             VII. Little Folks of the United States         128
            VIII. Little Folks of Mexico                    179
              IX. Little Folks of Central America           206
               X. Little Folks of the West Indies           214



                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                               PAGE
    A Little Indian Boy                                Frontispiece
    An Eskimo Mother and Baby                                    30
    An Eskimo Village in Summer                                  52
    An Eskimo Village in Alaska                                  60
    An Alaskan Village Showing Indian Totem Poles                74
    Little Canadian Indian Children                              96
    Picking Cotton on a Georgia Plantation                      144
    How They Harvest Wheat on the Prairies                      152
    Children Working in the Cotton Factory in a Big City        174
    A Mexican Village                                           190



                                Foreword

You all know the story of Columbus—how, more than four hundred years
ago, he sailed from Spain out into the west; and also how the people, as
they watched his ships fading from sight, believed they would never look
upon the fleet again, for the brave sailors who manned it were moving
into an unknown world whose dangers no one could measure.

You also remember what happened before Columbus returned from that long
voyage—that a new continent was discovered where strange people of a
race before unheard-of were living the life of savages, and that the
great sailor, believing he had entered the waters of India, named these
red men, Indians.

Instead of reaching India, as he supposed, he had brought to light a new
and great continent—so vast that it embraced all climates; rich,
moreover, in mines and forests, lakes and rivers, high mountains,
fertile plains and valleys. And there were none to enjoy all these
beautiful gifts of God save tribes of red men, except in the far north
the Eskimos in scattered villages. They, too, like the Indians, were
savages who knew nothing of the ways of white men. They lived in small
settlements along the ice-covered shores of the ocean.

After Columbus had crossed the Atlantic and discovered this New World,
other ships soon followed in the course he had marked, and the people of
Europe settled in one place after another. At first they made their
homes near the shores of the ocean. This was partly through fear of the
red men who were not pleased at the thought of these new neighbors, so
different from themselves. As years went by, however, the newcomers
moved farther and farther into the west, driving the Indians and the
wild beasts before them, until now the homes of the white men are found
throughout the land. People of unlike faiths and speaking different
languages cross the ocean in shiploads, for they feel that when America
is reached they will find freedom and happiness.

The Indians who are still left in the country are slowly learning the
ways of the white men. They are taught in schools by white teachers.
They live in houses instead of the wigwams which were their former
homes. They dress in white men’s clothes. They even plant gardens and
care for their farms in the way of civilized people.

There are many Negroes in North America also, but they are found mostly
in the southern part of the United States. They were first brought as
slaves from Africa, but are now free and independent. Although they were
once savages like the Indians, they have been quick to imitate and have
easily fallen into the ways of the white men. Thus the red and the black
races, the white and the yellow, can all be found at home in North
America, abiding together in peace and comfort as the children of One
Great Father should do.



LITTLE FOLKS OF NORTH AMERICA



CHAPTER I—Little Folks of Iceland


In the far northeast corner of North America lies the island of Iceland
where little Danish children live far from the rest of the world. It is
very cold in that northern country, yet the presence of volcanoes there
and the lava that spreads over much of the country tell the story that
ages ago the island was slowly built up from the lava that flowed from
volcanoes rising up out of the bed of the ocean.

However that may be, the boys and girls of Iceland are happy little
people who laugh and sing, dance and play as merrily as children who
live where the sun shines all the year round and the seasons chase each
other so rapidly that Mother Nature is constantly preparing new delights
for them.

Away back in the ninth century a great chief called Nadodd left Europe
in search of adventure. When he had sailed for a long time he came in
sight of a land covered with snow. It seemed a cold, bleak place, but he
landed, nevertheless, and gave the country the name of Snowland.

After Nadodd came two Norse chiefs who had quarreled with their king and
left Norway to seek a new home. Although they found Snowland or rather
Iceland, as it is now called, cold and desolate as Nadodd had done, they
decided to settle there and other people from Norway followed them and
built homes for themselves and their families along the coast.

These things and many more are written down in a big book treasured by
the Icelanders to-day,—how little children were born to the settlers,
how they were ruled by their chiefs, and how, after a while, one of
their people went back to Europe and listened to the teachings of the
Christian religion. He gave up his belief in heathen gods, and when he
came back to Iceland he converted the settlers. From that time they,
too, were Christians and had Christian ministers among them who taught
and helped their little ones and themselves.

As time went by Norway, and with it Iceland, came under the rule of
Denmark. Afterwards it became separate again, but Iceland did not, and
is to this day looked upon as belonging to the Danes. Most of the
children, however, by reading in the famous old book of their people,
can trace their families back to the two Norwegian chiefs and their
followers who were the first settlers in Iceland.

The children of Iceland live so far north that they know only a short
summer. The days then are very long and there is scarcely any night. In
the month of June there is really no night at all and there is no way of
telling, except by the clock and their own sleepiness, when it is time
to go to bed. The winters are quite the opposite. They are very long and
bitter cold. Scarcely any of the time does the sun shine, yet the long
nights are beautiful, for the moon and stars shine brightly and the
northern lights, or aurora borealis, flash over the heavens in a
wonderful way not seen in warmer lands.

On the long winter evenings the boys and girls are never happier than
when listening to the stories that have been handed down from father to
son for hundreds of years. They call these stories sagas. Some of them
are legends, and others tell about the lives of people who lived in
Iceland from the beginning of its history. There are many poems, too,
which the little Icelanders learn “by heart,” and which they repeat in a
half-singing tone, after the way of their people. These were written in
the long-ago by warriors called “skalds.” They tell of battles and brave
deeds and lovely ladies, and the children of to-day think them so
beautiful that many of them try to write little poems themselves. This
pleases their parents greatly and makes them feel quite proud that their
own little ones are following in the steps of their ancestors.


Geysers and Glaciers.

Iceland is never without snow and ice. On the warmest summer day the
children can look on glaciers, or rivers of ice, that flow so slowly
toward the sea from the inland country that one does not see them moving
at all.

These glaciers look like broad fields of broken ice, piled up in
strange, rough shapes. The summer sun melts the ice ever so little, and
those who venture near the edge find rills of water flowing down the
sides of the great cakes and boulders. As the glaciers enter the sea
masses of ice sometimes break away, and turning over and over in the
deep water, right themselves at last and sail out to sea as the icebergs
that are often met by sailors on their way across the ocean.

“We have geysers as well as glaciers,” the children of Iceland will tell
you, and they are glad to show their knowledge of them to the travelers
who visit that distant land. A geyser is a boiling spring which bursts
up out of the ground like a fountain, sometimes with such force that the
water rises into the air higher than the tallest building you have ever
seen.

There are other kinds of hot springs, too, in the country, where the
water simply bubbles up. There is one large town in Iceland called
Reikjavik, which is the capital of the island, and about a mile and a
half away there is a hot spring where the washing is done for the people
of the town.

Almost every day women go there from Reikjavik with hand-carts filled
with soiled clothing. When they reach the spring they roll up their
sleeves, tuck up their skirts, and begin the scrubbing and rinsing, the
boiling and wringing that end in making the clothes as white as snow.
From time to time they stop to drink coffee and have a friendly chat,
but all the washing is done in the open air, without need of stove or
fire to help the workers.

Sheds have been built near the spring where the ironing is afterwards
done. Then the clothes are neatly packed in the little carts and taken
back to the town to be returned to the owners.

The little Icelanders are very fond of their waterfalls, some of which
are very beautiful. The country is so rough and rocky that the streams
often plunge over steep lava cliffs and fall with a loud roar to the
depths below.

There are so few sounds to be heard, because there are no railroads or
large factories in the whole country, that the children like to visit
these waterfalls and listen to the water as it plunges downwards over
the cliffs. Then they return to the quiet farmhouses to play with their
lambs and dogs, and to dream of the children of other lands far away
where life is so different.


In the Homes.

The fathers of the little Icelanders support their families by fishing,
by raising cattle and sheep, and by hunting the birds that make their
homes on the island during the summer.

Few trees grow in that cold land, so the homes are generally built of
turf and lava, neatly painted red and thatched with sod. Small gardens
are planted as soon as the long winter is over, and there the boys help
in planting cabbages and lettuce, radishes and parsley, flax and
turnips. A few potatoes are sometimes raised, too, but only those
vegetables that will grow fast ripen in that cold northern land. Short,
thick grass grows near the little homes, which are usually built in the
valleys protected from the cold winds by the hills around them. There
the men tend their flocks of sheep and herds of cattle which graze on
the grass in summer and in winter eat the hay which their masters have
gathered for them.

The children of Iceland are rather small, but they are quite strong for
their size. They have yellow hair and blue eyes and are brought up to be
gentle and polite. On week-days they go to school where they are taught
very carefully, and on Sundays they go to church with their fathers and
mothers, where they sing hymns very slowly and listen to long sermons by
their good pastor. Sometimes the church is too far away to walk the
whole distance. Then the whole family ride on ponies to the place of
worship, and often, if they have come a very long ways, they are treated
to cake and coffee at the minister’s house before they start out again
for home.

The people are obliged to dress very warmly, and so the women of each
household are busy, early and late, carding and spinning the wool from
the sheep and weaving it into soft, thick garments for their families.

In every home you will be sure to find the women’s fingers moving busily
at their work, while the loom and spinning-wheel seems to be constantly
in motion.

Almost every home contains many children, who eat fish and drink milk
day after day, with little change of food throughout the year. Only the
richer families can have bread, for the flour out of which it is made,
as well as the coffee and chocolate which even the poorest people manage
to buy, must come in ships from Europe. Every one, however, can have
cakes made of a kind of moss, or lichen, which grows on the island. Some
of it is sent to other countries to use in medicine, and is known as
Iceland moss. The children are often sent to gather it for their
mothers, who dry it and grind it to powder and then make it into cakes
which are boiled and then eaten with milk.

In the summer time the boys and girls hunt for birds’ eggs of which they
are very fond, and sometimes their fathers kill a sheep or cow, which
furnishes fresh meat for several days.

The children love their dogs which are often very pretty and are petted
a good deal. They help their masters care for the sheep and are very
faithful. Sometimes the cows wander a long ways in search of grass, but
with the approach of night they come home to be milked and cared for.
The ewes are milked, too, and their young masters and mistresses have no
idea how strange this must seem to many travelers. Even the little
children learn to ride the stout, patient ponies, and if they have an
errand to do for their parents they seldom think of walking, but on to
the ponies’ backs they spring, and away they go across the snowfields
and over the roads till they reach the place for which they are bound.

The little girls are taught to knit and spin and do fine needle work.
They help make the clothes for the family, which are of the same
fashion, year after year. The mother always wears a black cloth dress
with white under waist showing in front, a snowy apron, and on her head
is sure to be a black cap with long tassel and a silver ornament. If it
is very cold she winds a shawl around her head. Her daughters dress much
as she does, except that they wear no caps till they are thirteen or
fourteen years old.

The boys help in the work of the farm and go hunting and fishing with
their fathers. Herds of reindeer wander over the island and their flesh
makes a pleasant change in the daily fare, while the skins furnish
thick, warm coats for the Icelanders. There are also foxes, but they and
the reindeer are almost the only wild creatures, with the exception of
the birds, found in the whole country.

There are many kinds of birds,—gulls, ptarmigans, swans, and wild geese,
all come to the island to lay their eggs and raise their young, but the
most precious of all are the eider-ducks whose bodies are covered with
soft thick down. The mother eider-duck lines her nest with this down
which she plucks out from her own breast, thus making a soft and
comfortable home for the baby birds. After they are hatched the hunters
go about from nest to nest, collecting the down which is taken home and
spread out in the sun to dry. Then it is tied up in bags and sold in the
town. Some of it is sent away to other countries and made into the
eider-down quilts which are sold for a large price.


Getting Fish.

During the summer every village along the coast is full of busy people.
The men and boys sail or row out to the places were cod and halibut are
plentiful, and there they fish from morning till night, when they bring
home the “catch” which they give into the care of their wives and
daughters. At these times the women wear long waterproof aprons and
thick woolen gloves. They, too, are busy all day long cleaning and
splitting the fish at large tanks near the water’s edge, then salting
and drying them for their own use during the coming year, or to be
packed and sent to Reikjavik from which they are shipped to other
countries. The fish, together with butter and ponies, are the principal
things sent out from Iceland, and the ships that come to receive them
bring the sugar, coffee and chocolate, the dishes and tools necessary to
the simple housekeeping of the Icelanders.


The Cave of Surtur.

There are many caves in Iceland, some of which are used by the farmers
for storing their hay and housing their cattle. The most wonderful of
them all is the large cave of Surtur, whose floor is carpeted with snow
and ice.

The visitor enters a long hall and the dim light of his torch makes him
think at first that he is looking at rows of statues. But they are
pillars of ice and snow which reach up from the floor and have taken
upon themselves many queer forms. Farther on in the hall bars of ice
form a large screen before the eyes of the traveler. On every side new
wonders meet his eyes as he goes farther and farther underground till at
last he longs for the daylight and turns back, glad indeed when he has
reached the mouth of the cave once more.

Many people who have visited Iceland say that the grandest sights in the
whole world are to be seen in that island. The hills of lava with the
ice-fields stretching between them, the geysers bursting forth out of
the ground with a sound of thunder, the lofty volcanoes that look like
sleeping giants of snow and ice, the great caves whose stalactites are
coated with ice, all these things and many more make Iceland a land of
wonder to those who visit that lonely island.



CHAPTER II—Little Folks of Greenland



The Coming of Eric the Red

West of Ireland is the largest island in the world. It is called
Greenland, but the boys and girls who live there have little reason to
know it by such a name, for it is a country of snow and ice where fierce
winds are blowing the greater part of the year and where the frost king
rules even in the summer-time.

Long ago there were brave sailors in northern Europe called Norsemen,
who ventured out into the western waters farther than any other known
people at that time. Some of them, as you know, sailed as far as Iceland
where they settled and made a home for themselves.

By and by one of these settlers sailed still farther into the west.
Fierce storms arose and strong winds blew his ship till he came in sight
of a land whose shores were bound in ice. At last the storm passed; then
he turned his ship about and sailed for home.

When he reached Iceland he told of what he had seen. Among those who
listened to him was another daring sailor, Eric the Red.

Not long afterwards Eric the Red killed another man in a quarrel, and on
account of this wrong deed he was told that he could not stay in
Iceland, but must leave his home for two years at least.

He now thought of the story he had heard of a land farther west. He said
to himself, “I will seek that country and perhaps I will find a home
there to my liking.”

He set out with a brave heart and sailed on till at last he saw before
him a bare and desolate land. He steered his ship past great icebergs
and floating masses of ice and entered a harbor.

It was not a pleasant country in which to make a home. There was no
person to greet him; not a single tree to offer its shade. Yet he made
himself as comfortable as possible and built a house of stone against
the side of a steep cliff. He fished in the icy waters and hunted over
the snow-covered fields; thus he and his few companions got enough food
to keep themselves from starving.

Two winters passed in this new home and Eric the Red, who had been used
to hardship, enjoyed himself because he was free to do as he pleased and
there were no enemies to disturb him. In fact, all the time he and his
followers were in Greenland they met no other people, and so they
believed they were the only ones living in that ice-bound country. In
their wanderings, however, they discovered that there were many high
mountains, deep and narrow bays, and glaciers.

The time came when Eric the Red could go back to Iceland. On his return
he said to himself, “I will say that I found a pleasant home in the
west. I will give the place the pleasant name of Greenland. Then some of
the people will wish to go back with me and settle there.”

Eric the Red painted such a delightful picture of his stay in the
distant land that a goodly company started out with him in twenty-five
ships when he returned to Greenland. Some of these ships were wrecked;
others were driven back by fierce winds. Fourteen, however, managed to
pass the dangerous icebergs and the great masses of floating ice and
entered a narrow harbor.

The people landed on the desolate shore and were soon busy building
houses in which to live. There was no lumber because there were no
trees, so they had to use stones.

Afterwards small gardens were dug and planted. Sheds were built of stone
where the sheep and oxen the people had brought with them could be
protected from the biting cold of the long winter and the fearful storms
that raged there.

Other settlers followed the first ones and made new homes for themselves
on the western coast of Greenland, not far from the place chosen by the
first-comers. Here, in rough stone houses, little children were born and
grew up to be men and women.

These children did not know the taste of bread. They lived mostly on the
meat of seals, walruses, and reindeer, the berries they picked in
summer, and the eggs of the wild birds that flew in great flocks over
the country when the long, cold winter was over.

They had many a good time, though. They romped in the frosty air; they
slid on the ice; they petted their lambs and played games; and then,
when evening came, they gathered about their fathers to listen to
wonderful tales of adventures with wild animals and of fights for life
among icebergs and glaciers. Often they must have held their breath, and
their blood must have been stirred as they thought, “Soon we will grow
up and we, too, will dare what our fathers have dared.”


The Eskimos.

More than three hundred years passed by. Then the children of the
settlers suddenly discovered that they were not the only ones living in
Greenland. Not far to the north there were other boys and girls with
yellow skins, black eyes, round faces and mouths ever ready to stretch
in smiles. Far different, indeed, they looked from the Norse children
with their fair hair and blue eyes.

These little strangers spoke an odd-sounding language and when they
pointed to themselves they said, “Innuits,” meaning “people.” No doubt
they and their parents had thought themselves the only people in the
world. The Norsemen called them Skrællings; but long afterwards, when
other white men came to Greenland and noticed the manner of living of
the natives, they gave them the name of Eskimos which means, “Eaters of
raw meat.” To this day we know them as Eskimos.

[Illustration: An Eskimo Mother and Baby.]

Not long after they met with the Eskimos the white settlers, with their
wives and children, disappeared from Greenland. No one knows the reason.
Perhaps they all died from a terrible sickness that visited them at that
time. There are some who think they were killed by the natives. At any
rate, there were no more white people in Greenland for two hundred years
and the little Eskimos lived on as they always had done.

The homes of these children are built to-day just as they were in that
far-away time when the Norsemen first saw them. They spend the long cold
winter in stone huts. The stones are packed closely together and the
chinks are stuffed so tightly with turf that the sharpest wind can not
make its way inside. A low passage into the house is also built of
stones, but it is so low that even the little children must crawl on
their hands and knees when they go in and out of the house.

Can you think of the reason for this? It is because the wind must be
kept out of the home at all costs.

When the children have once crept inside, there is not much room over
their heads even now, since the house-walls themselves are not more than
six or eight feet high. The light is very dim, for the small windows are
made of the bowels of seals, as the Eskimos do not have the glass we
think so necessary; so they take the best thing they can procure.

A little more light is given by queer, smoky lamps which are stoves as
well. Women are busy tending these all the time, or they would smoke so
badly that even the Eskimos, who are used to them, could not breathe the
air without choking.

Each one of these stove-lamps is made of a piece of sandstone hollowed
out somewhat in the shape of a dustpan. Pieces of blubber are placed in
the bottom and strips of dried moss are set up along one side for wicks.
Here the mothers of the Eskimo children do all their cooking, and here
the boys and girls must gather when they wish to warm their fingers if
Jack Frost has pinched them.

Heavy seal or bear skins which have been cured and made ready for use
hang down from the walls, making them doubly warm.

Along the sides of the hut are platforms where the children sit with
their parents and where they stretch themselves among piles of furs for
the night’s rest. These platforms are usually made of wood, one of the
most precious things the Eskimos possess. Since no trees grow in
Greenland, the only wood the people had in the long ago drifted to their
shores. Often it came from the wrecks of vessels that ventured into the
dangerous northern waters after whales. Now-a-days, however, the Eskimos
get lumber from white traders in exchange for oil and furs. For about
four months of the winter the sun does not show his face at all. The
children must be very glad that during that period the moon shines
brightly one week out of every four. That is the time for the best
fun,—skating and coasting by moonlight when the snowfields and the
ice-bound shores glisten like the most wonderful fairyland you can
possibly imagine.

Before they venture from their homes their loving mothers see that they
put on their bird-skin shirts with the soft feathers worn next to the
skin. Then there are stockings of hare or dog skin, and high boots of
sealskin.

It would be rather hard at first for you to tell an Eskimo girl from a
boy for all the people of the snowland wear trousers which are, of
course, much warmer than skirts would be. These trousers, like the
boots, are made of heavy skins with the fur on the inside.

The upper part of the body is covered with a short fur blouse. A fur
hood and mittens complete the outdoor dress. No suit could be better for
traveling over the snow or playing on the icy hillsides than the
Greenland mothers make for their little ones.


Hunting for Food.

Sometimes the little Eskimos and their parents feast nearly all day
long. This is when their fathers have been successful in the hunt and
there is plenty of seal and walrus meat on hand. But there are other
times when many hours pass by without food and they do not know how much
longer they must wait before they can satisfy their hunger.

Sometimes the men are away from home for days together, searching the
shore for the food their wives and little ones need so much. When at
last they have been successful and returned with their loads, the
children run out with their mothers to meet the hunters and take care of
the precious prize. The women are armed with long knives with which they
quickly cut away the skins. The meat is cut up, and with shouts of
laughter the children crawl through the narrow passage into the hut and
gather around their mothers, as pieces of the meat are placed in stone
dishes and hung over the lamps to cook.

It may be, that while the children sit eagerly watching for some
seal-blood soup to be prepared, the women throw them pieces of blubber
which they eat greedily.

All this time the men are stretched about on the low platforms, joking
and telling stories while they wait for the feast to begin. As they
wait, some of them busy their fingers carving toys out of walrus-teeth
for the children,—tiny reindeer, seals, sledges, birds or muskoxen.

When the dinner is ready a large dish of food is placed in the middle of
the floor, the big folks and little sit around in a circle and help
themselves with their fingers. After dinner come songs and dances in
which the children take their part.

It is very likely that over on a low shelf a mother dog is lying with
her puppies, and the children go to her from time to time and play with
their cunning little pets. The Eskimos are fond of their dogs, and are
very careful of the puppies, which are brought up in the house with
their own children from the time when they are born till they are big
enough to take care of themselves.


Eskimo Dogs.

The boys and girls of the far north would be very lonely without their
trusty dogs. They play with the puppies during the long winter days.
Then, as soon as their little pets are old enough, the boys begin to
train them. First, the animal must be taught to obey their young
masters. Then collars are made, and with long straps of leather, these
are fastened to low sledges made of drift wood and walrus lines. The
sledge is drawn by a number of dogs, each of which is fastened by a
separate strap.

When the master of the pack is ready for a ride, he throws himself upon
the sledge, cracks his whip, and the dogs start wildly off with leaps
and bounds.

On goes the sledge, now over a smooth sheet of frozen snow, and again
bumping up and down as the dogs dash over rough hillocks of ice. It is
enough to take one’s breath away.

An Eskimo boy is much pleased when his father tells him he is getting
old enough to have a team of dogs for his very own. He picks out the
brightest and smartest one of his puppies to be the leader of the new
pack and trains him with the greatest care. The young dog in his turn
seems proud of the honor paid him and soon begins to rule among his
fellows like a king.

Poor Eskimo dogs! They have a hard lot. All through the long winter they
are seldom fed more than three or four times a week. Only the mother
dogs with their puppies are allowed in the house. The rest of the pack
spend most of the time outdoors although they are sometimes allowed in
the passageway, or a snow hut is built for them near the house of their
master. Their hair, however, is long and thick and warm, and this
protects them from the winds and storm. They will stretch out on a bed
of snow and sleep comfortably hour after hour in the coldest weather.
One of their favorite resting places is the top of their master’s hut;
but when the wind blows hard they prefer to creep into their snow house
and stay there till the weather is once more calm.

As soon as the Eskimo boy is old enough to hold a tiny bow his parents
put one in his chubby hands. He is so pleased when he is able to set an
arrow and send it speeding against a mark on the wall of the hut. When
he strikes it for the first time the place rings with his shouts of
delight. When he is a little older he takes lessons from his father in
shaping harpoons and spearheads. He is now getting ready for the hunting
that is to be his work in life.

While he is learning the ways of a hunter, his sister also has her
lessons. Her mother and grandmother are busy women, tanning the skins
the men bring in, and making them into warm garments for the family. The
girls must therefore learn to sew with coarse bone needles and heavy
thread made from the sinews of the reindeer. They must also help in
chewing skin with their strong white teeth. This is to make the skin
soft and comfortable for the wearer, but it is a long, hard task. Many
an Eskimo woman wears her teeth down to stubs by the time she is an old
woman.

After Seals.

When autumn sets in, the head of the family watches the ice in the bay.
As soon as it is frozen hard enough, he will begin his hunt for seals.
He clothes himself in fur from head to foot, takes his lance from the
wall, and hangs over one arm a little stool made of small pieces of wood
bound together with leather straps. He must not forget his hunting
knife, nor a fur blanket which he throws over his shoulders. At last he
is off. He walks quickly down to the edge of the bay and looks keenly
about over its surface. Perhaps he decides to follow the coast for some
distance, as farther along the ice seems firmer.

On he moves till he comes to a place where he can trust himself. With
leaps and bounds he springs from one cake of ice to another till he
reaches a place where the water of the outer bay is frozen solid. He
keeps his eyes fastened on the ice. Ah! he has discovered a small hole.
He thinks, “Now I have found the home of a family of seals. This is
certainly their breathing place.”

He spreads his fur blanket on the ice close to the hole. In the middle
of it he puts his stool, and then, with lance in hand, he sits down to
watch and wait.

It may be that in a short time a seal’s nose will appear at this hole to
get a breath of fresh air, or perhaps hours will pass before this
happens.

At last the watching hunter is rewarded. He thrusts his lance suddenly
down through the hole, and if he has made no mistake it has pierced the
seal below. The lance disappears under the ice, but the hunter has taken
care to fasten leather lines to the blunt end, and this he holds tightly
in his hands.

Now he must be very careful. He takes his hunting knife from his sheath
and carefully cuts away the ice from around the breathing hole. He must
make a place so large that the seal’s body can be drawn up through, to
the surface. At last his prey lies before him but the animal is still
alive and must be killed.

As soon as this is done, the man hastens back to the shore near his home
where some of his faithful dogs have been harnessed to the sledge and
are patiently awaiting him.

He unties the strap by which they are fastened to a rock. Then, with
delighted howls, the dogs rush along with their master to the place
where the dead seal is lying. It is placed on the sledge, and in a short
time is in the hands of the hunter’s wife, who takes off the skin and
cuts up the meat for the hungry family.


Nannook, the Bear.

During the long evenings the children are never tired of listening to
the stories of the big white bear. It is Nannook who makes her winter
home against the side of a steep cliff. Here the snow drifts about her
and shuts her in from the outside world; at the same time the warm
breath from her great body melts the snow next to her, leaving a small
empty space. Here she sleeps and here her little cubs are born.

Sometimes the bear is caught by means of a trap which the Eskimo hunter
has built of stone set up in a square. There is a small opening inside
of which a piece of blubber is placed. When Nannook snaps at the
blubber, down falls a heavy stone and the animal is made a prisoner.

Sometimes the hunter comes upon the track of a bear when he has no
companion except his trusty dogs. But he is not afraid. He urges them on
and the sledge dashes along with the greatest speed. The master of the
team hardly needs to guide, for the dogs are eager to follow the scent.
And now the prey is in sight. Perhaps it is a mother bear with two cubs.
She sees her enemy and turns to flee, but her little ones cannot run
fast and she stops again and again for them. Every moment the dogs are
gaining upon her. At last she sees it is of no use and takes her stand
to meet the attack.

The team is upon her now. The hunter leaps from the sledge and rushes
towards the mother bear with spear in hand. She rises upon her hind legs
and opens her mouth with an angry growl. One blow of her paw would be
enough to kill the man if he gave her time to strike, but he makes a
sudden thrust into her heart with his spear before she has a chance to
do this.

It may be that the spear fails to reach its mark, or that the bear
breaks it with one angry blow. She is furious now, and it would go hard
with the hunter if the faithful dogs were not already springing upon the
huge animal like a pack of wolves. With their help she is overcome, and
falls at last dying to the ground. Then it is an easy matter to kill the
poor little cubs, which all through the fight have been crying
piteously.

Many a time an Eskimo hunter has met his death when on a bear hunt. Many
a time, too, he has received fearful wounds that have made him a cripple
for the rest of his life. Yet he is a brave man and is ever ready to
join a hunt in search of Nannook, the big white bear.


After the Walrus.

The Eskimo boys are not only eager for bear stories, but they love to
hear their fathers tell of the battles with the big walrus, whose home
is in the sea. It weighs nearly a thousand pounds. It has a thick, tough
skin, and long tusks of ivory. When a number of walruses are together
they will often turn on the hunters with fury. Then the men must move
quickly and fight bravely, or they may lose their lives.

The best time for a walrus hunt is when the moon is shining brightly.
The children look on eagerly while the men get knives and lances ready,
for perhaps news has just come that walruses have been seen on the ice
floes miles away up the coast. The dogs are harnessed to the sledges and
the party start off.

One, two, and even three days may pass with no sign of the returning
hunters. At last the sound of barking dogs is heard in the distance. The
women and children rush out of the huts, and if the moon has set or the
clouds have hidden her light, they carry torches and hurry to meet the
hunters.

The news may be good and the sledges loaded with ivory and walrus meat.
But perhaps the men have not been successful, and have only to tell of a
long search, with no prize gained. It may be that one of the men has
been wounded by an enraged walrus, or has been drawn into the icy water
and has narrowly escaped drowning. At any rate, there is much to tell to
the eager listeners.

A walrus is much larger and heavier than a seal. Besides this, it has
two strong tusks with which to defend itself; and although it is hunted
in much the same way, it is far more dangerous work to kill a walrus and
land it safely on the ice. One man seldom hunts walruses alone.


The Narwhal.

Eskimos never live far from the shore. It would not be safe to do so,
for most of their food is obtained from the sea. Besides seals and
walruses, other large creatures are hunted there. There are different
kinds of whales; there are porpoises and swordfish; more important still
is the narwhal with its long ivory tusk pointing straight out from its
head. It is an ugly-looking creature, but the Eskimos think only of the
beautiful white ivory and the oil to be obtained, besides abundance of
delicious meat.

As soon as November comes, the men begin to look for narwhals. A party
of hunters get into their boats and paddle out into the deep waters of
the bay. As they paddle along, as soon as a narwhal appears in sight
they hurry toward it with all the speed possible. Each one is eager to
be the first one to attack, for he is the one to receive most honor when
the fight is over and the prize gained. Great care must be used as the
hunters draw near the narwhal for that long tusk could make a hole
through a boat in an instant.


Springtime.

The long winter is over at last. The men have hunted many of the days,
but they have spent much time making lines and traps for the warmer days
to come; also in mending and sharpening their weapons. The women have
been busy making clothes for the family and tending the lamps, while the
happy, loving children have helped their parents a little, but mostly
they have been coasting and playing games on the snowfields. They have
paid visits to friends in other villages; they have had many a feast;
sometimes, alas! they have gone without food for days at a time. They
have sung and danced, and watched the beautiful northern lights flash
over the sky. They have listened to legends of their big brother, the
moon, and his sister the sun. Sometimes, too, they have heard stories
about the great ice-sheet that stretches all over the mountains and
plains of the inland country. They trembled as they were told that
terrible beings have their home on that inland ice and they are quite
sure they would not venture there for the world.

Now that spring has come, they are ready for a season of sunshine. They
are glad, too, to seek a new home and new adventures. Yes, the spring
has come and flocks of birds are flying overhead to bring the good news.

The boys help their fathers take off the roofs of the winter houses and
open them up to the sunshine and fresh air. All the people in the
village are going to move.

Skin tents are packed on the sledges, together with lamps and the few
stone dishes they possess. For four whole months the Eskimos will camp
out and move from place to place in search of reindeer and birds on the
land, or fish in the waters of the bay.

Sometimes in the early spring or fall the Eskimo children live in still
different homes from their winter huts of stone or the summer tents.
These are the snow houses, which the men can build very quickly.

If they are off on a long hunt, these snow houses are useful, for they
are warm and comfortable in the worst storm or the coldest weather. Big
blocks of solid snow are cut and piled up in the shape of a bee-hive. A
small doorway is left open which can be filled with another snow-block
when the people wish it. When the house is finished loose snow is sifted
over it and every crack filled up so that the wind cannot make its way
inside. The stone lamp is set up in the middle or at the side of the
hut. A bench is made of snow and covered with furs, and the family are
ready to go to housekeeping.

As soon as the Eskimo children see the birds flying in the springtime
they begin to think of the fun they will have hunting for eggs. The boys
get their bows and arrows ready at this time, for they will shoot dozens
and dozens of the birds before the summer is over.

There are many kinds of these birds, most of which like to build their
nests on the sides of steep cliffs along the shore. Best of all are the
eider ducks with their soft and beautiful feathers. Shirts of eider-duck
skin with the feathers worn next to the body are the best and warmest of
all, both for the babies of the household and their fathers.

An Eskimo hunter will climb up the sides of the steepest cliff in his
search for birds’ eggs. If he lose his foothold, he may fall a great
distance and be dashed to pieces on the rocks below. But he does not
seem to think of danger. His one idea is to get something good on which
his family and himself may feast.


The Skin-boat, or Kayak.

The boats of the Eskimos are called kayaks and are like no others in the
world. The boys take many lessons before they can be trusted to help in
making a kayak. It is long and narrow and has room for only one person.
Its frame is of bone or wood and it is pointed at both ends. When it is
finished, the boat-maker stretches over it a seal skin which his wife
has tanned. It is an excellent covering, for the water cannot pass
through it. In the middle of the top the man leaves an opening as large
as his body is round. He steps inside and sits down, stretching his legs
in front of him. Yes, the opening is of the right size; the water of the
wildest sea cannot enter and sink the boat when once the Eskimo has
fitted the rim around the bottom of his coat over the rim he has made
about the opening in the skin covering. With his stout paddle he will
dare to travel for miles over the rough sea.

The short summer-time is one long day, for the sun does not set. The
children go to bed when they are tired and sleepy and get up when they
please. They feast to their hearts’ content during this time, for there
are usually fish and birds and eggs in plenty. Then, too, these children
of the north go berrying and bring home many a dish of delicious black
crow-berries.

The greatest dainty of all is the paunch of a reindeer’s stomach. It
consists of the moss and shrubs the animal has eaten, and is a little
acid. It is no wonder then that the Eskimos are fond of it, as they have
neither bread nor vegetables, and no fruit except the berries they are
able to pick during a few weeks out of each year.


The Reindeer.

As soon as the spring opens the older boys look forward to the hunt.
Perhaps a herd of reindeer has been seen not far away, and the hunters
start out over the fields still well-covered with snow to look for
traces of them. They carry bows and arrows, also knives. They must not
forget to take fur soles for their feet, too. As soon as they are within
range of their game they will bind these soles under their kamiks so
that the reindeer cannot hear them as they draw near.

Even now the herd may take fright while the hunters are still too far
off to shoot. Then thud, thud, sound their feet as they scud away over
the fields. But the hunters will not despair even then. They will give
chase for hours together if it be necessary.

Sometimes the keen eyes of the Eskimos will find only prints on the snow
to show that a herd of reindeer has been lately feeding there.

“We will stay here and watch for them to return,” they say to each
other. Then they go to work to make a little fort of stones, behind
which they sit down to watch and wait.

They may have to stay there a long time before the sound of reindeer
hoofs is heard, but they are patient. They amuse each other with
story-telling and the hours pass quickly.

At last a herd draws near. The antlers of these Arctic reindeer are
broad and branching. They plant their short legs firmly on the ground
as, with heads bent down, they search for moss beneath the snow. They
seem to know just where to paw away the snow to find the food they love.

The right moment comes and the hunters send their arrows flying into the
midst of the herd. One of the reindeer falls to the ground while the
others dash wildly away.

When a number of animals have been killed in a hunt and there is too
much meat to carry at once, some of it is buried under a pile of stones,
so that the wolves and foxes cannot get it. Then the hunters trudge home
for the dog team to help them.


New Settlers.

You remember that Eric the Red went to live in Greenland before a white
person had stepped on the mainland of North America. You also have
learned that his followers lived in Greenland for a long time and then
disappeared shortly after they met with the Eskimos.

From that time no more white people went to Greenland till the year
1585, when an Englishman named Davis sailed for many miles along its
coast and visited among the Eskimos. Then he went away.

After his visit, there were no settlers from other lands for nearly a
hundred years. Then a good minister in Denmark left home with his wife
and children and went to a place in southwestern Greenland which he
called God Havn or, Good Haven. Hans Egede, for this was the minister’s
name, wished to teach the Eskimos the Christian religion.

[Illustration: An Eskimo Village in Summer.]

He had hard work before him. A long time passed before he could
understand the strange words of the Eskimo language and the only way he
could teach the people was by the pictures he brought with him. Yet he
stayed in Greenland for many years and his own children grew up with the
little Eskimos for playmates.

Then Hans Egede’s wife died and he went back to Denmark. By this time,
however, he had a grown-up son who loved the work his father had begun.
He said, “I will remain here and keep on with your teaching.”

So he stayed. Other people from Denmark joined him, and now there are
several settlements of Danes in Greenland. They have brought lumber with
them with which to build their houses, as well as furniture and dishes
from their old home across the sea. Even the sound of the piano may be
heard now in this frozen land of the north. Tiny gardens have been dug
where a few vegetables are raised each summer. Best of all, churches
have been built where Eskimo children sit side by side with their
fair-haired brothers and sisters of Denmark.

Once in a while a ship draws near bringing papers and letters, canned
food and clothing from across the sea. It is a time of great excitement
for the settlers. They have been getting ready for the coming of the
ship for a long time, filling vessels with oil and fish, and packing the
furs they have got in barter from the Eskimos. All these things are to
be sold in other lands, besides many tons of cryolite which is very
useful in making aluminum. The white settlers get it from a large mine
and receive a good price for it, since Greenland and one other country
are the only places in the world where it can be obtained.

Although the Eskimo children of southern Greenland have white playmates
among them, yet above them in the north there is many a little village
where people from other lands have never been seen or even heard of.



CHAPTER III—Little Folks of Alaska



The Coming of Behring

Close your hand together tightly, leaving the forefinger pointing
straight out. You now have before you the general shape of the peninsula
of Alaska, which lies in the northwestern part of North America.

The children of Alaska have a much more comfortable home than the little
Greenlanders. Their shores, except in the far north, are not bound in
ice the year around; the winters are not so cold and the summers are
warmer; trees grow in thick forests over a great part of the country,
and many flowers bloom there.

The reason for this is, that warm winds blow over the country from the
west, and these winds are due to a broad stream of water flowing through
the Pacific ocean, called the Japanese current. It makes its way from
the south and keeps its warmth during its long journey through the
colder waters of the main ocean. And so it is that the children of
Alaska who feel the warm winds blowing eastward from the Japanese
current, do not need the heavy furs worn by the Greenlanders, neither do
they require as much fat meat to give heat to their bodies, nor as close
and stuffy homes to live in.

The boys and girls of Alaska belong to several different races. There
are the yellow-skinned Eskimos of the far north and west; there are the
copper-colored Indians who are found in the south, and along the banks
of the rivers of the inland country; there are the Aleuts, who live on a
chain of islands stretching westward towards Asia, and who are like
Indians in some ways and like the Japanese in others. No one really
knows what these Aleuts are, nor where they came from. Perhaps in the
long-ago they made their way to these islands from Asia, for the
distance is not great, and small boats could have crossed over safely in
good weather. Besides these Aleuts and the Indians and Japanese, there
are white children from the United States whose fathers are busy trading
for furs or digging gold in the mines.

Early in the eighteenth century, a brave seaman named Vitus Behring was
sailing under the orders of Peter the Great of Russia. He crossed the
Pacific ocean from Asia and traveled far into the north. He passed
through a strait and entered a sea, both of which were named in his
honor, Behring. Then he coasted along the shores of a land whose
mountains often rose up out of the ocean. He was the first white man to
look on the peninsula of Alaska.

A dreadful storm arose during this voyage and Vitus Behring and his men
were wrecked on a small island to which also the name of the commander
was given. Here he died, and here his men built a vessel out of what
they saved from the wreck, and sailed away for home to tell of what had
been discovered.

Time went by and other Russian ships visited Alaska and began to trade
with the natives for the furs which they got from the wild animals
roaming through the country. After a while they built small stations
here and there on the coast, for the purpose of trading, and to these
stations ships came regularly to receive loads of seal and fox, beaver
and martin skins which the Indians and the Eskimos were glad to trap and
kill, when they found they could get bright-colored blankets, tobacco,
and many other things in exchange for them.

In this way it came about that a few Russian children with blue eyes and
yellow hair found their way to Alaska, and lived in rough log houses
with wild-looking Indians and Eskimos for their neighbors. About fifty
years ago the children of the United States began to hear many stories
of Alaska. Their parents told them that Russian fur-traders had made
fortunes there. Moreover, Russia was willing to sell the country for a
few million dollars.

Some people said, “Why should not Americans buy it? Besides the valuable
furs, there are rich forests in Alaska.”

At this time a statesman by the name of Seward was urging the United
States to purchase that far-away peninsula, for he was quite sure this
country would be well repaid for doing so. People listened to his
reasons, and at last they decided to follow Mr. Seward’s advice, and
Russian America, as it had been called up to that time, received its new
name of Alaska, and became a territory of the United States. There were
many, however, who thought it a most foolish purchase and often spoke of
it as “Seward’s folly.” To-day everyone looks upon it, instead, as
“Seward’s wisdom,” for it has made many an American child’s father rich,
not only through its furs, but also through the salmon caught in its
waters and the gold found in its mines.


The Little Eskimos.

Along the northern and western shores of Alaska, in the coldest part of
the country, are scattered villages of the Eskimos. They are much like
their brothers and sisters of Greenland. They dress in furs, and live
chiefly on the fat meat of the seal and walrus. They seldom go far from
the shore, because most of their food is obtained from the sea.

Their winter homes are small stone huts built partly underground, and
with long tunnel-like entrances dug out of the earth and leading down
into them. Turf and mud are plastered over the cone-shaped roofs, while
in the middle, at the top of each, there is a small opening to let out
the smoke. Directly under this opening is the family fireplace where
wood is burnt except in the most northern homes. There the Eskimo
children help their mothers tend just such lamps of seal-oil as the
Greenlanders use, since it is too cold for trees to grow on the frozen
marshes that stretch along the shores of the Arctic ocean. Oil is the
one thing that they can obtain, and of this they must make use. In the
short summer the little Eskimos of Alaska delight in the skin tents
which their mothers stretch over light frames, while from time to time,
during the spring and fall, they camp out in snow-houses.

They have their teams of dogs, which they pet and train. They have their
skin-covered kayaks made in much the same way as those of the Greenland
Eskimos, although it is very probable that they have never heard of
their relations in that distant island. Mother Nature has provided
certain things to maintain life in the frozen lands of the north,—not
many to be sure; but the minds of those who dwell in places far distant
from each other seem to have thought out much the same way of using
them.

[Illustration: An Eskimo Village in Alaska.]

In these far northern regions the little Eskimos are often treated to a
most beautiful sight. It is the northern lights, which flash over the
heavens during the long cold winter nights, and are far brighter than
are ever seen in Greenland or Iceland. Think of the most glorious
rainbow you can imagine,—the brilliant green, yellow, blue, and violet
spreading out in great waves of light over the sky. For a few moments it
is as light as day. Then the colors fade away and all is darkness once
more. It is not strange that the little Eskimos who stand watching are
filled anew with wonder and think of it as the work of great and
powerful spirits.


Among the Indians.

Along the southern shores of Alaska and on the banks of the rivers of
the inland country are many Indian villages. They belong to several
different tribes, but their way of living is much the same. Their huts
are generally built of logs and bark, and they like best to dress in the
bright-colored blankets, with red and yellow handkerchiefs on their
heads, which they get in barter from the white traders. The red children
have broad faces, black eyes, and black hair. Long ago, before the white
men lived among them, these little Indians believed that they could make
themselves more beautiful by tattooing their bodies. As these poor
children grew up, they suffered many an hour of pain while the red or
blue lines were marked on their chins by threads drawn along under the
skin. Now, however, as the red men learn more and more of the ways of
the white people, this cruel fashion is passing away. Many of the little
Indians of Alaska go to school, where they take delight in learning to
read and write. They are rather slow, but they are very patient, and
proud indeed are they when they have mastered a hard lesson.

Most of them, however, are still in Mother Nature’s school alone, but
their bright eyes are continually learning new things about the trees
and the flowers, and the wild animals that roam through the forests and
over the snowfields. These children of the red men delight in the water.
The rivers of Alaska are the roadways, and here as well as on the coast,
the boys paddle in their canoes for many a mile, hunting, fishing, and
racing. Many an Indian has a morning bath in the ice-cold river, or in
the ocean. “It will make my child strong,” his mother thinks, and so,
whether it be a bright summer day, or a dark and freezing winter
morning, in he goes for his daily plunge.

In front of many homes of the red children are tall, straight posts.
Horrible-looking faces are carved upon these posts, as well as the
figures of birds, fishes and wild animals.

“It is the totem-pole,” the Indian child will tell you with pride. The
totem is the mark of his family. It is even more to him than is the
coat-of-arms to many an Englishman. Suppose a wolf is the principal
carving upon the pole. The child’s parents tell him it is their
guardian, and the child learns to look upon it with reverence. Perhaps
his grandfather or his great-grandfather dreamed of the wolf while he
was fasting alone in the forest. He thought it was a vision from heaven,
and he chose it henceforth to be the totem of his tribe or of his
family.


Candle Fish.

Since Alaska lies so far north, the winter must be long and dark. No
lamps are needed to light the huts, however, if the children and their
parents have provided themselves with enough candle-fish. These fish are
about ten inches long, but quite thin. Strange to say, they are full of
oil, and after being carefully dried, they will burn like torches. One
of them will give as much light as two or three candles. At certain
times of the year, schools of candle-fish enter the mouths of the rivers
which empty into the ocean. The Indian children watch for their coming,
and as soon as they appear, they and their parents go down to the shore
and rake them out of the water by the bushel.

The Indian mothers not only dry the candle-fish for lighting their
winter homes, but they also boil great numbers of them, for in this way
they get a supply of hardened oil that takes the place of butter. The
older and the more rancid this oil is, the better they like it.

In the short Alaskan summer the fruits and flowers grow very fast. It
seems as though they must make the best possible use of the sunshine. In
the southern part of the country the children can pick the most
beautiful bouquets of white clover, maiden-hair ferns, and
bright-colored wild flowers. They go berrying to their hearts’ content,
too. There are fields and fields filled with tall blueberry bushes;
there are the juicy yellow salmon berries; there are cranberries,
blackberries, red and white currants, and bilberries, but the best of
all are the sweet, wild strawberries that almost melt in the mouth.
Certainly the children of the greater part of Alaska can feast on good
things in summer. Why, the berries are so plentiful that not only the
boys and girls, but the birds of the country get fat with the rich
living. Many of the wild geese, indeed, can hardly fly after the
summer’s feast, and are then easily caught by the boys and their
fathers.

Even in winter there are berries to add to the dinner of fish and oil,
for during the summer the children gather many bushels for their mothers
to dry and store away. Berries, fish and oil! Surely, think the people,
a person should be content if he has plenty of these three dainties.
There are deer and bears, mountain goats, wild ducks and geese. All
these are good for a change, but they cannot compare with fish, either
fresh or dried, with an abundance of hardened oil spread over them.

Along the coasts there are clams and oysters, mussels and crabs. The
natives like these, too; they dry and string them on long blades of
grass for the winter season. Thus they have more variety of food than
the people of Greenland.


Catching Salmon.

The boys of southern Alaska spend much time along the shores of the
waters which teem with cod and halibut, besides many smaller fish. But
most plentiful of all are the salmon that leave the ocean as spring
opens and enter the mouths of the rivers. How busy the people are then!
The men and boys have nets all ready, and with these they paddle out
into the water in their canoes. After the season has well opened, they
load their boats again and again in one day, and before the season is
over there is many a time when they simply scoop the fish on to the
shore with the blades of their paddles. Salmon are so sweet and fat,
that the Indians are very fond of them. They can feast on fresh fish
during the summer, while the women split up great numbers of them and
hang them up on racks to dry for the coming winter.

Many years ago the white people learned that salmon are plentiful in
Alaska, so that now the Indians are busy, not only in getting the fish
for themselves, but for the factories where tin boxes and casks are made
by the hundreds and packed with the delicious fish which are sent to the
people of the United States and elsewhere. Sometimes the children of the
white men who are in the salmon business go to live in Alaska and there
they see many a strange sight. They look with wonder at the half-naked
Indian boys and girls, with their wild bright eyes. They watch with envy
as the red children glide over the water in their light bark canoes, and
race with one another on the rivers. They shudder at the hideous faces
carved on the totem poles. They look on with delight at the dances and
the odd games of their red neighbors, and they laugh when they hear of
Mr. Bruin and his way of catching fish. They would rather not be alone,
however, when the bear is creeping down through the woods to get his
dinner. They think he might possibly prefer a white child to the
delicate pink salmon, but in this they are quite mistaken.


Bears.

The bears seem to know when the salmon arrive as well as the human
beings do. They leave their homes in the woods and make their way down
to the quiet little coves along the shore. When the fish come crowding
in, out go the bears’ paws into the water, scooping in the salmon of
which they are so fond. Mr. Bruin swallows one after another until he
has had his fill; then he creeps away as quietly as he came, to seek
safety once more among the trees of the forest. Sometimes, alas, the
white hunter discovers the trail and follows the bear to the shore. Then
bang! bang! sounds through the air and Bruin’s salmon feasts are over.

There are many bears in Alaska,—black, cinnamon, and in the far north
the dangerous grizzly; but the red boy’s father teaches him that it is
best not to kill these animals. He has an idea that the bear’s spirit
will be angry and harm him if he does so. The white traders, however,
want the skins and are willing to pay a good price for them, so the
Indians sometimes go bear hunting, although after they meet with
success, they go through strange rites, hoping thus to make peace with
the bear’s spirit.


Whales and Sea Otters.

As the children who live along the shores of Alaska look out to sea,
they sometimes notice what appears to be a water spout, then another and
another far away in the distance. It is the blowing of a school of
whales, which have come up to the surface for fresh air. They run to
tell the news to the older folks of the village, for nothing could be
more delicious than a dinner of whale. The men get their lances ready at
once and hurry down to their canoes. Then away they paddle with all
their might in the direction in which the monsters have been seen.

If they succeed in coming upon the whales, there is busy and dangerous
work for a while. The hunters must not think of fear as they draw near
to the huge creatures to throw their spears in such a way as to inflict
dangerous wounds. Then away they must paddle for dear life so as not to
be swamped by the whales as they dive below. Before the men threw their
lances they carefully fastened sealskin buoys to them. As the whales
plunge after being wounded, these buoys on the surface make it hard for
them to stay below and they are soon worn out. When the hunters have
wounded a whale as much as possible, they go home and wait for the tide
to bring the dead animal ashore. Then there is a great feast in the
village and all make merry. Many years ago white men fitted out big
ships to sail into the northern waters after whales. In those days the
oil was burnt in lamps; but now, since kerosene is plentiful, whale-oil
with its unpleasant odor is little used. Whale-bone, however, is still
valuable, and for this reason many ships are still engaged hunting these
monsters of the sea.

The Alaskan boys are ever on the watch for sea-otters. These shy
creatures never leave the ocean, except when they have little ones to
care for. Even then, it is said, the mother sea-otter sometimes chooses
a bed of sea-weed out on the waves and there she floats, with her babes
beside her. It is a curious sight. More curious still is it to see one
of these huge creatures asleep on her back, floating along on the
surface of the water, with her little ones held in her close embrace. A
party of Indians often go on a sea-otter hunt, for the animal is covered
with fine black fur, through which are scattered long white hairs. It is
very beautiful, and the white traders are always willing to pay a large
sum for a sea-otter skin.

The hunters must paddle quite a distance out to sea before they begin to
look for an otter’s nose to appear above the surface of the water as the
creature comes up to breathe. The moment it is seen, they swing their
canoes around in a wide circle. Then, with spears in hand, they watch
eagerly for the right moment to hurl them. Many days sometimes pass
before the patient watchers are rewarded with even the sight of the
longed-for prize, and even then the hunters may fail to secure it, yet
it is worth all the time they spend, for the fur is among the richest
and the rarest in the world. Indeed, the sea-otter is rarely found
except in the waters which wash the shores of Alaska.

More than once an Indian child has tried to raise a sea-otter, but he
has never succeeded, for he cannot make the little creature eat, and it
soon starves to death.


Seal-Hunting.

You remember that on the islands reaching out into the west from Alaska,
many children are living who are neither Indians nor Eskimos. They are
called Aleuts. Before the coming of the white people the Aleuts looked
much like the Japanese, but afterwards the Russians married among them,
so that many of their children to-day have lost much of the appearance
of the yellow race.

Few trees grow around the homes of the Aleuts but enough wood drifts
over from the forests of the mainland to furnish fuel for their fires.
They live in dark, damp huts built mostly underground, so it is no
wonder that they love best to be out-of-doors when the hills and the
fields are covered with pretty grasses, mosses, and bright flowers in
the summer time. Many blue foxes run wild through the islands and these
are hunted by the men, for the fur is very valuable and the white
traders are always ready to buy the skins.

The little Aleuts love the sea, where they paddle about in their light
canoes, or fish in the clear waters. Northward from the Aleutian islands
are two others called the Pribylov or Seal Islands. Thick fogs shut them
in during the summer, while in the winter the shores are surrounded with
drift ice. They are very important, however, because they are the
greatest hunting grounds for seals in the whole world. The Aleuts are
the only people who live on these islands, except for a few white men
who oversee the work of killing the seals. The villages are scattered
here and there, close to the sea, each with its church and its
school-house, and during the winter the little Aleuts pass their time
quietly in play and study.

But when the spring comes, they are full of excitement, as they watch
the seals, big and little, old and young, gather on their shores. No one
knows how far these creatures have traveled, nor in what distant waters
they have passed the winter. Come they do, however, by hundreds and
thousands, and on the shores of these islands the baby seals are born.
They are graceful little creatures, and play and frolic together like
kittens. When they are born they are quite blind, but they begin to see
after a few days. When they are about six weeks old their mother leads
them down to the water for their first swim. At first they are afraid,
but their mother coaxes and urges them on, so that in a short time they
are able to swim about with ease. Before long they enjoy this new
water-life as much as their fathers and mothers do, and are soon able to
hunt for the small fishes and kelp which are the seals’ principal food.
The hunting season lasts about six weeks, and begins early in June, soon
after the arrival of the seals. The men arm themselves with clubs, and
then drive the seals up into a cleared space away from the shore, where
the animals are helpless, because they are clumsy and move slowly when
out of the water. A single blow on the seal’s head is enough to end his
life, and to give the hunter the beautiful soft skin he wishes.

Year after year goes around and each summer brings herds of seals to
these islands, with no understanding that thousands of their number are
coming only to die at the hands of the hunters. Sometimes the Indian
boys catch baby seals and keep therm for pets. They are gentle little
creatures, and soon learn to love their young masters, and to follow
them about. They bark much like puppies and are often taught to do
tricks.


Hunting in Alaska.

The Indian boys of Alaska could tell you many stories about the wild
animals they hunt with their fathers. There are martens, with their soft
brown fur, black and silver foxes, beavers, muskrats, mountain-goats,
moose, deer, otter and many others which roam in great numbers over the
hills and through the valleys. The Yukon River, one of the largest in
the world, is the most important one in Alaska, and through the country
on either side of it the wild animals are found in great numbers. The
hunters get many of them in traps. There, on the banks of that great
river, hundreds of canvas-back ducks lay their eggs on the platforms of
grass and twigs which they build on the low marshes, and the Indian
children go in parties to hunt for their eggs and the baby ducklings.

[Illustration: An Alaskan Village Showing Indian Totem Poles.]

The older boys trap many a fox and musk-rat, whose skins they proudly
give to their fathers who will sell them to the white traders, and get
sugar, tea, and blankets in exchange. They spend hours in hunting along
the banks of the stream for beaver villages, and taking these little
creatures unawares.


The Gold Mines.

Not many years ago it was found that not only furs and salmon could be
obtained in Alaska, but in some places the rocks were rich with precious
gold. The Treadmill gold-mine is one of the most valuable in the world.
The men who work there do not have to leave the sunlight and dig far
down under the earth, for the mine, or rather quarry, is above ground,
and there the workers are kept busy, breaking away the masses of rock
which are afterwards crushed in heavy stamps, to separate the gold from
the quartz. When darkness falls, electric lights make everything as
bright as day. There are more than two hundred of these stamps at the
Treadmill mine, so you can imagine that when all are at work crushing
the great masses of rock, the noise is enough to deafen one’s ears.

As the gold is separated, it is made up into bricks, each one of which
is worth between fifteen and eighteen thousand dollars! These bricks are
afterwards sent in ship loads to the mint at San Francisco.


Sitka.

On an island off the southern shore of Alaska, lies Sitka, the capital
of the territory. It was built long ago when the Russians owned the
country, and even now you may visit the moss-grown Castle, where the
governors always lived. There they held many a feast and dance, to which
the savage Indian chiefs from the country around were sometimes invited.
Fine glass and silver, which had come all the way from Russia, sparkled
at these feasts. Grand ladies in silks and satins laughed and chatted
beneath the soft light of hundreds of candles, trying perhaps to forget
their longing for home.

Now that Alaska belongs to the United States, many things have been done
to make Sitka healthful and comfortable. The new governors chose Indians
for policemen. Very grand they must have thought themselves when they
first put on their blue uniforms, with gilt letters on their caps and
silver stars on their breasts.

Among other wise things, the governor made the law, that the children
must go to school. Now, there were many Indians in Sitka, and they did
not understand what a fine thing it is to have learning. But the
governor directed that all the houses must be numbered. Not only this,
but each child of the house was given a number, and this was stamped on
a tiny, round plate which he was obliged to wear on a string tied around
his neck. He had to show this number to the school-teacher and in this
way one could keep track of him.

Whenever an excursion steamer enters the harbor, the people of Sitka
make ready for a holiday, while the Indians hasten to get out their
blankets to sell to the visitors. Many people travel in Alaska in the
summer time, on purpose to see the wonderful sights there,—the high
mountains covered with snow, the valleys filled with flowers, the wild
Indians, the strange huts before which the totem poles rise high in the
air; but most interesting of all are the glaciers, whose beginning is
far up in the snow-covered mountains. Slowly but surely, they make their
way down to the sea, growing larger as other and smaller glaciers join
themselves to them. There is a certain bay in Alaska which the summer
visitors are sure to visit if they can possibly do so. It is called
Glacier Bay, because of an immense glacier which enters it. Imagine
yourself on a steamer entering this bay on a bright sunshiny day of
mid-summer. Yet you shiver, for the air begins to grow colder and
colder. It is no wonder, for icebergs meet your eyes on every side. They
are clear as crystal and are lighted with the most beautiful
colors,—delicate pinks and blues. As you look, you fancy that they have
the shapes of different animals or of grand castles. Some of them,
indeed, seem like great lonely beings. From time to time flocks of birds
pass overhead and light on the bergs for a short rest.

Whence did these bergs come, and whither are they drifting so slowly?
You look ahead and there before you is the Muir glacier entering the
sea. As you draw nearer it seems like a mighty fortress. The captain of
the steamer tells you that its face is three miles wide, and that all
these icebergs, among which the ship has to be steered so carefully,
have broken away from this one glacier. He does not dare to carry his
passengers too near, for some time, without any warning, a fresh berg
may break away. As it plunges into the bay, with a noise like thunder,
it will stir the waters into an angry whirlpool.

There are many other glaciers in Alaska, but this one is the largest and
the most wonderful of them all. Geysers and volcanos are also to be
found in the country. One of the mountains, named Mt. McKinley, is the
highest peak in North America. Another, Mt. Elias, rises almost out of
the ocean, and its cloak of snow and ice reaches nearly to its base.
When boys and girls wish to travel where they can see many strange and
wonderful sights, they would do well to take a summer’s trip to
Alaska,—the land of gold and fur, of waterfalls, geysers and glaciers.



CHAPTER IV—Little Folks of Canada



The First White Settlers

If you look at the map of North America, you will find that nearly the
whole upper half, with the exception of Alaska, bears the name of the
Dominion of Canada. Its northern shores are bathed by the cold waters of
the Arctic Ocean. On the east is the great Atlantic, and on the west is
the stormy Pacific. The boys and girls who live in this vast country can
travel for hundreds of miles along mighty rivers; they can sail on lakes
so great that they may lose sight of land and grow seasick from the
motion of the boat as it moves through the waves; they can climb high
mountains capped with snow in the hottest summer weather; they can
wander over vast prairies for days and even weeks at a time with no view
of anything as far as the eye can see, save miles and miles of grass;
they can lose themselves in thick forests where only wild animals and
Indian hunters have ever ventured before. All these things are possible
for the Canadian child without moving out of the land which he calls
home.

Once upon a time, less than fifty years after Columbus discovered the
New World, a brave Frenchman named Jacques Cartier left his sunny home
in France, and sailed into the west. The king of France had heard of the
wonderful land which Columbus had discovered, and which the Spaniards
had begun to settle. He wished to have some part of it for himself, so
he directed Cartier to go farther north than the Spaniards had done.
When he reached a good place for a home, he was to land and set up the
flag of France.

Cartier, with two ships, each of which bore sixty-one men, set out. They
crossed the ocean and arrived on the coast of a large island. Its shores
were still blocked with ice, although it was the month of April. To-day
we know this island as Newfoundland or New-found-land. The Frenchmen
were not pleased with the country, for it looked bare and rocky. When
they landed, they were met by savages with red skins and black hair tied
on the top of their heads, “Like a wreath of hay,” as Carter said. He
was quite sure that this was not a fit place for a home; so the ships
were turned northward. They soon entered a large gulf which received the
name of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

On the shores of this gulf the white men were also met by Indians, whose
homes were their upturned canoes. The savages wore little or no
clothing; they lived on fish and flesh that was scarcely cooked; they
seemed poor and very savage. The country, which was the mainland of
Canada, looked pleasant, and Carter set up a tall cross and took
possession of it in the name of France. He induced the Indian chief to
allow his two sons to go back to France with him. Then he set sail for
home, eager to tell his friends of the land he had visited.

The next year Cartier returned to Canada with a goodly company. They
entered the gulf of St. Lawrence, as they had done before, but they
sailed on until they came to the mouth of a wide river.

“It flows from afar off,” said the two Indians who had gone to France
with Cartier, and who had returned with him. “No man has ever seen its
beginning,” they continued.

“Perhaps,” thought Cartier, who had no idea how vast was the new land
that he had discovered, “it is not a river. It is so broad and so deep,
it may be an arm of the ocean, and if I follow it, I may find the short
way to India, about which so many have dreamed.”

So he and his men kept on their way up the St. Lawrence River, stopping
from time to time to admire the beautiful country and the wonderful
sights that met them on every hand. Wild grape vines hung from the trees
along the banks, and the delicious fruit was even now ripening.
Water-fowls flew over their heads, and they got glimpses of wild animals
such as they had never seen before. Most interesting of all were the
little Indian villages scattered here and there along the shore.

From one of the settlements Cartier was passing, the people came out in
their canoes to get a better sight of the white men, but they were
afraid to come close to the ships, till Cartier’s two young Indian
friends spoke to them and told them not to fear. Then they came on board
and listened to the story of the visit the two Indian youths had made in
France, and of the wonderful things that had happened to them. The
Indians were now quite sure that the strangers meant only good to them,
and that there was nothing to fear.

They hastened to bring presents to the visitors and show friendship in
every way that they knew. Cartier did not stay long in the place,
however. He sailed on till he came to a fine harbor beneath steep, high
cliffs. An Indian village stood here. To-day it is the site of the city
of Quebec.

“Farther on, up the river, is a still larger town of our people, and it
is ruled over by a very powerful chief,” the Indians there told him.

“But the way is long and dangerous,” added their own chief. “You had
better not go there.”

When he said this, he was thinking of the store of knives,
bright-colored beads, and tiny looking-glasses the white men had shown
him. A few of these strange and beautiful things had been given to him.
He could not bear to think of that other chief also receiving some.

But Cartier was not to be frightened. He set sail once more and for
thirteen days the ships kept on their way up the river. From time to
time they stopped at Indian villages where the red children and their
parents came dancing about them, bringing presents of fruit and fish.
The savages told many stories about the country beyond; gold and
precious stones were to be found there, and there were strange beings
who lived without food. Still Cartier traveled on until he reached a
village of at least fifty huts.

There was a three-fold wall of stakes around it, and fields where leaves
of corn were waving in the autumn wind. Behind this village was a hill
which Cartier called Mount Royal. To-day, in the very spot where the
Indian village once stood, is the large city of Montreal, the most
important one in the country. Cartier and his men stayed in Canada for
several months. They built two forts on the banks of the St. Lawrence;
they made gardens, and marked out a road. They were of good heart until
the long, cold winter was upon them, longer and colder than they had
ever known. Many grew homesick with longing for sunny France; others
fell ill. At last they decided to give up the settlement and to return
home.

After that French ships visited Canada from time to time. They stopped
to get loads of furs which the Indians were glad to sell, but no one
came to settle in the country for many years.

At last the king of France said to himself, “I cannot hold the land on
the other side of the ocean, unless I send people there to settle, and
it is worth while to keep it because of the furs we can get in trade
from the Indian hunters.”

He sent over a colony of settlers who came sailing one bright day into
the harbor of Port Royal. They landed on the beautiful shore and were
soon busy building a chapel and a fort, as well as homes for themselves.
A good priest came with them. He was so kind and gentle that even the
savages loved him, and were quite willing to listen to the stories that
he told them of a heavenly Father, and Jesus, the Savior of men.


The Explorer Champlain.

Among the settlers was the brave Champlain, who advised building a fort
above the steep cliffs under which Cartier had anchored his ships years
before. Workmen were soon at work on a fort, a chapel, and homes for the
settlers. It was the beginning of the strong fortress and city of
Quebec.

After these first settlers, came other Frenchmen and their families, and
before many years, the red children and the white were playing merrily
together.

“You must love each other,” the gentle French priest had told them.
“Though you are of different races, yet you are the children of the one
Father.”

So it was that the sons and daughters of the Frenchmen grew up with no
fear of the little savages. Why, their priests often went to live in the
Indian villages, that they might better show their friendship. Indians
were often invited to feasts held in the white men’s homes and joined in
their sports. Moreover, the children’s own relatives often chose Indian
maidens for their wives, and were very happy with them. And because of
this last, there came in time to be many people in Canada who were
called halfbreeds, as they were partly French and partly Indian.


The Coming of the English.

Many years passed quietly by. The French people in Canada lived
peacefully with their red neighbors. They built trading stations out in
the country, and here furs were brought in great numbers by the Indian
hunters. Forts were also built along the banks of the St. Lawrence, and
still farther into the wilderness, on the shores of the Five Great
Lakes, which separate Canada from the United States.

The French explorers and priests went even farther, for they made their
way from these lakes down into the United States, never stopping till
they had sailed the whole length of the Mississippi River. Everywhere
they went they planted the French flag and claimed the country in the
name of the king across the ocean. Now, the English, who had settled on
the southern side of the Great Lakes, did not like the idea of the
French becoming so powerful in North America; thus it came about after a
while that there were wars between the two peoples.

The Indians of Canada took the part of their French friends. Terrible
battles were fought; brave soldiers were killed; cruel deeds were done
to women and little children by the savage Indians. Years passed by and
the troubles did not come to an end. It seemed as though there was no
way of settling matters and making peace.

All this time a little boy was growing up in England. His name was James
Wolfe. He was delicate and sickly, yet his bright, clear eyes showed
that he had a strong will. He longed with all his heart to be a soldier.
And soldier he became, though it seemed as if he would never be able to
bear such a hard life.

When he was only sixteen he fought for his country in Flanders. He soon
showed how brave he was, and became a high officer in the army. He was
sent to America to fight against the French and Indians. If he could
only get to Quebec, he thought. It was the strongest fortress of all the
enemy held. But that seemed impossible, for no one dreamed that an army
could scale the steep crags above which the fortress was built.

Yet Wolfe kept thinking, thinking. By this time he was the commander of
a whole fleet of English ships. At last there came a day when he sailed
boldly up the St. Lawrence, and landed his men on the shore opposite to
Quebec. He set up great cannons which should fire upon the fortress
across the river. The siege began. In the midst of it heavy rain fell;
Wolfe and many of his men became ill. Though he was burning with fever
he still kept planning. One day, as he looked through his telescope, he
saw something that he had never noticed before. It was a narrow path,—O,
so very narrow—that wound in and out, yet ever upward, to the top of the
crags that guarded Quebec.

He said to himself, “My men and I shall climb that path and take the
fortress by surprise.”

Soon afterwards, on a dark night, they did climb it. Wolfe himself rose
from his sick bed and led them. As the sun rose the next morning the
English army appeared on the Plains of Abraham, behind the fort, and one
of the great battles of the world was fought. Before night fell, Quebec
was in the hands of the English. Both Wolfe, and Montcalm, the French
commander were killed. Henceforth, not only Quebec, but all Canada would
be ruled over by the English.


Henry Hudson and the Great Lone Land.

It was in the year 1610, that a brave seaman named Henry Hudson, sailed
northward along the shores of North America. He had already discovered
the Hudson River in the United States, and traded with the Indians there
for furs. He had tried to find a short way to India but had failed. Now
he hoped by going still farther he might yet discover it. On and still
on he sailed till he entered a large bay on the northern shore of
Canada, which ever since has been called Hudson Bay. Here, in the midst
of ice and snow, he and his men were obliged to pass the winter. There
was little to eat, and it was bitter cold.

His men blamed him for bringing them to such suffering, and at last rose
against him. They set him adrift in a small boat, with his young son and
a few faithful followers. Then, leaving him to die of cold and hunger,
they sailed for home, to tell of the large bay that had been discovered,
and of the wild country around it. As time went by other Englishmen
visited Hudson Bay, but they had no wish to stay long in its icy waters
or on its lonely shores.

At last, however, a number of English merchants formed themselves into
the Hudson Bay company.

They said, “We will send men to North America who shall build forts
along the shore of Hudson Bay. They shall buy furs of the Indians, and
send them to us here in England. The furs of the wild animals there are
rich and beautiful, and will bring us riches.”

In this way it came about that English ships brought to Canada men who
at once set to work building forts and trading stations in the
neighborhood of the bay discovered by Henry Hudson. They had with them
knives and hatchets, beads and bright colored blankets,—everything that
an Indian might wish in exchange for his furs. They treated the red men
kindly, for they wanted to trade peaceably with them, but at the same
time they kept their guns ready in case of an attack by the savages.


Alexander Mackenzie and his long Journey.

Even after the English had won the country for themselves, they did not
know how large it was, for no one had explored the country from north to
south or from east to west. At last a brave Scotchman named Alexander
Mackenzie came to settle in Canada. He was fond of adventure and liked
nothing better than roaming for miles through the wilderness, hunting
the wild animals in the forest, and skimming over the lakes and down the
streams in an Indian canoe. He visited many a settlement where the red
children had never before looked upon a white man; he discovered rivers
and lakes of which the French and English knew nothing before. He
arrived in his wanderings on the shore of the Great Slave Lake in the
very heart of the country. A large river flowed out of it. Where did it
go, and how far? The Indians could not tell him.

At the beginning of the summer, he set out with a small party of white
men and an Indian guide. At first it was very pleasant paddling down the
river in their canoes, but after a few days they came to rapids. Then
they had to take to the land and carry their canoes and their supplies
on their shoulders. As they traveled onward they came to still other
rapids which stopped their course again and again.

The farther north they traveled, the colder it became. The days were
much longer, too, for it was nearing mid-summer. It seemed very strange
to them to have the midnight as bright as daylight. The wild animals
were scarce now.

“Suppose,” thought Mackenzie, “we are unable to shoot enough for our
food,” but still he kept on. He passed Indian villages on his way, and
at last met with Eskimos who were wandering about on their summer hunt.

The wild animals were different now from what the explorers had met
before; they had reached the home of the polar bear and the arctic fox.
The river was full of broken ice and there were whales in the water.
They were close to the shores of the Arctic Ocean, and had traveled a
thousand miles down the great river, which they named Mackenzie in honor
of their brave leader. The party did not remain long in the bleak,
northern country, but turned about and journeyed homeward as quickly as
possible.

Three years afterwards Mackenzie made up his mind to cross Canada to the
westward. Slowly but surely he made his way, now gliding along a stream
or over a lake in his canoe; now cutting a path through a thick forest;
again finding himself stopped by high cliffs or by a rushing torrent.
But he kept on until he came to the Rocky Mountains, whose snowy tops
reached far up towards the heavens.

“Not far beyond those mountains is the sea,” Mackenzie’s Indian guide
told him.

He still pushed on, through narrow passes, between walls of rock, up
steep slopes and down through deep valleys. At last he reached the other
side, launching his boats in a stream flowing to the west. In a short
time the Pacific Ocean lay stretched before his eyes.


Among the Eskimos and Indians.

The middle of Canada is a great plain, which ends in the north in frozen
marshes, where the homes of the little Eskimos are to be found. There,
in the midst of the ice and snow they work and play, in much the same
way as their brothers and sisters in Greenland and Alaska.

Farther south, yet still where the summer is short, and the winter is
long and cold, Indian children camp out on the prairies and on the
borders of the forests. Most of these red children live in tents, or
tepees, as they call them. The winter tents are lined with heavy skins,
and a large fire burns in the middle, around which they sleep during the
cold winter nights. They dress in the skins of the wild animals their
fathers have killed, and they wear soft moccasins on their feet. They
run many a mile in these moccasins without getting tired or losing their
breath.

Sometimes the little Indians have great feasts when ducks and geese,
deer and hares are to be found, or when the berries and birds’ eggs are
plentiful. But many a time during the long winter game is scarce, and
there is no food to be had. Then the children must not complain, though
they are faint with hunger. If an Indian child hopes to grow up and be a
brave man, he must learn to bear many things and show no one how much he
is suffering.

Fearful storms rage about his home in the winter. The snow falls hour
after hour and the fierce winds drive it in great gusts. Sometimes in
summer the winds blow hard too, but then they are hot and dry and they
scorch the faces of those who are exposed to them.

The red children learn many things not to be found in books. They look
at the grass,—the way the blades turn shows them where to look for the
east and west. The flight of birds warns them of a coming storm and in
what direction to look for it. A broken twig tells them that a wild
animal has passed by.

They have many sports. In winter they bind snow-shoes on their feet and
skim over the snowfields. In summer they ride over the prairies on their
ponies with pads of deer skin beneath them.

[Illustration: Little Canadian Indian Children.]

Sometimes they let their ponies move along at a slow walk; but more
often they gallop wildly along, with black hair waving in the air, and
with bright and eager eyes. Then, too, the red children have canoes, in
which they paddle on the lakes or streams near home.

The canoe of the Canadian Indian is the best possible boat for the kind
of life he follows, just as the Eskimo’s kayak suits the icy waters of
the north. Everything he needs for it can be found in the forest. He
cuts down the cedar for its ribs, he gathers birch-bark with which to
cover it, he gets resin from the pine to make it water-tight. When the
ice begins to break up in the springtime and the wild swans and geese
fly overhead, then he takes it from its winter resting place beneath the
snow and launches it on the lake or stream near his home. With his birch
canoe he can travel a long way through the wilderness, for when he has
hunted or fished all day long, he can bring his canoe up on the shore
and turn it bottom upwards. In an instant he has a roof to shelter him
while he takes his night’s sleep.

The Indian children are sure to have dogs about their home. These are
long-legged, sharp-nosed creatures, and they always look lean and
hungry. Sometimes a puppy is cared for tenderly. Then, perhaps, it grows
up full of love for its young master. But generally the dogs are only
half-fed, and they are ever ready to fight with each other, and rob the
stores of their masters. Yet they are very helpful to the Indian, as
well as to many a white traveler in Canada. They drag the sledges over
the snow in the winter and the little carts in the summer.

Many a time they stop to quarrel among themselves; many a time the
sledge is over-turned and the rider is landed in a bank of snow. Many a
time the dogs refuse to obey the word of the driver. Then the long whip
flies right and left among them, and with angry howls they get back into
order.


Wild Animals of the Forest and Prairie.

Out on the prairies and among the forests are many wild animals which
the Indian boy delights to hunt. He has a bow and arrows of his own, and
when he his older, his father promises him that he will buy him a gun
from the white traders. Perhaps the most clever of all the animals
hunted in Canada is the beaver. It might well be called the
animal-carpenter. Its favorite home is a shallow lake or stream. The
children of the wilderness are ever on the lookout for small earth
mounds along the banks. Whenever they find these, they also notice that
trees have been cut down nearby. It was certainly the work of beavers.
These little mounds, then, are the roofs of store houses where the wise
little creatures have placed piles of tender wood and roots, for their
winter’s supply.

From these store-houses, tunnels have been dug out for some distance
under the shallow water of the pond or stream, to the very doors of the
beavers’ homes, which have been made very carefully out of twigs and
brush, and plastered with mud. The tops can generally be seen above the
surface of the water. Inside there are beds of boughs covered with soft
grass and bark, and here the beavers sleep most of the hours during the
winter. If the hunters come upon a beaver village in cold weather, there
is no sign that the animals are near, for the beavers are all inside
their homes. This is the time to get them, however, for then the soft
thick fur is at its best.

In the autumn the men and boys generally catch the animals in traps, but
in the winter, when the ice is frozen quite solid, the hunters stop up
the passage from the beaver’s home to his store-house on the bank. Then
with their axes, they break into the lodges, and dragging out the fat
sleepy animals, they kill them, one by one. The sledges are soon packed
and the hunters start for home, thinking as they go, of the feast of fat
meat they will soon have. The beautiful furs must be tanned and put away
for the traders, but the flesh of the animals they will enjoy
themselves.

Besides beavers, there are martens, minks and fishers to be hunted and
trapped, as well as muskrats and skunks. As soon as autumn comes the men
and boys begin to put their traps in order, for with the first cold of
November, they will carry them out to the pine forests. The Indian
children would tell you that they cannot imagine why the fisher is so
called. They know its ways and that it never goes near to the water
except when it has to cross over to the other side. It has a long bushy
tail and its fur is even richer than the costly sable.

As for the mink, they have discovered it is quite different from either
the marten or the fisher, and its fur is not as beautiful. It lives near
the streams and feeds upon crabs and fish. Many a time the young Indian
has caught a mink by baiting his trap with fish.

Sometimes, as the children are playing around the camp in the evening,
they hear a sudden screech in the distance. It is the cry of a wild-cat,
or lynx. They would not care to have it take them by surprise, for it is
a fierce creature, and its teeth and claws are very sharp. The men,
however, hunt wild-cats and get many of them every year, because they
are well paid for the skins.

Then there are foxes, silver and black and red. Many thousands of these
sly creatures are shot or trapped every year in Canada. Sometimes a
fox-cub is brought into the camp to amuse the children. It is a gentle,
pretty creature at first, but before long it will show the ugly cunning
of its parents.

The boys sometimes search for muskrats, whose homes are much like those
of the beavers, a number of them always found together.


Off for the Hunt.

There are many half-breed children in Canada, as you already know. They
grow up with a love of hunting like their Indian brothers. They dress in
Indian fashion, wearing moccasins and leggings. Many of them live in
rough log huts and sleep on piles of brush covered with fur robes. When
the cold weather sets in, the Indian, and the half-breed boy as well,
does what he can to help the men of the household get ready for the
busiest work of the year, as the trapping and hunting season is at hand.

By the first of November the lakes and streams are frozen, and the
winter coats of the wild animals are at their best. On a bright, frosty
morning, often with the thermometer below zero, the trapper dresses
himself in his thickest socks and moccasins, warm leggings and cloak. He
fastens a fur cap down over his head and draws on his long fur mittens
which reach up to his elbows. A hatchet, hunting knife, and fire-bag
hang from his belt.

While he is dressing, his wife is busy preparing his pack, for he may be
gone several days. The pack consists of a blanket, a kettle and cup,
sugar and salt, tea, of which the Indians are very fond, and enough
pemmican to last several days. Pemmican is dried meat ground fine and
mixed with fat. If the trapper is not very poor he has steel traps and a
gun to add to his pack. When it is ready, it is bound to a hand sledge
which is simply a thin board curled up at one end. It is easily drawn
over the snow, and at the end of the hunt is loaded with furs and game
to carry home.

Now for the snow shoes! When these have been bound on his feet, the
trapper can skim over the snow fields with the greatest ease, drawing
his sledge behind him. He must not sing nor make any noise as he moves
along; nor if he has any company can there be any loud talking.
Otherwise the animals whom he seeks, might take fright and flee from
danger, and this must not happen on any account.

Ah, how cold it is! the breath freezes as it leaves the mouth and
nostrils, the eye-lashes become stiff with frost, but the hunter is too
busy watching for signs of the prey he seeks, to think of these things.
His hands and feet become numb with the biting cold, but this is only
what he expected, and he trusts to his quick movements to keep them from
freezing. At last the forest is reached and he turns his eyes in every
direction for signs that animals have been near. A white man would see
nothing, where an Indian or a half-breed reads whole pages in Mother
Nature’s wonderful book.

Yes, a marten was here only an hour or two since and is still not very
far away. A trap must be set up in this very spot and baited with dried
meat, or with a tender piece of squirrel. Then the hunter creeps away,
to seek places where there are other signs of life and to set up new
traps while he waits. If he is after foxes or minks, he visits the
shores of the lakes and swamps. He looks carefully about him now for the
foot-marks of the fox, or the sharp, clear track of the mink.

When the evening comes the trapper looks about him for some place that
is sheltered from the wind. There he makes a roaring fire, over which he
brews a pot of tea. When this is ready, he enjoys his hot drink,
together with a share of the pemmican brought from home. Next he gathers
soft pine boughs for a bed, covers them with a blanket, and with his
feet towards the fire, lies down for his night’s rest. Toward morning
the fire burns low, and the cold grows so bitter that the man cannot
sleep. He gets up, piles on more wood, and warms himself by the bright
flames. Once more he stretches himself on his bed of boughs, hoping to
sleep until the morning sunshine shall awaken him.


Winter Sports.

A great many of the white children of Canada live in Quebec and Ontario.
Although these provinces lie in the southern part, yet the winter is
very cold even there. The children enjoy it, however, because the air is
clear and dry, and there is plenty of snow on the ground. Even the
little folks learn how to use snow-shoes, and with these on their feet,
they skim over the crusted snowfields like the wind.

They have many toboggan rides, too. Nothing could be pleasanter for a
party of merry children, than to spend the morning coasting down the
steep hillside on wooden sleds called toboggans, which are shaped much
like the Indian hand-sledges. They move so fast over the snow, that the
riders must hold on tightly lest they tumble out. Sometimes there is a
sudden upset as the toboggan strikes a rough spot on the hillside. Then
there is much laughing and shouting as the children pick themselves up,
and make ready for a fresh start.

Perhaps the greatest sport of all is a ride on an ice-boat which is
raised on large iron skates, and in a good wind will sail very swiftly.
When the St. Lawrence River is frozen over, one can see numbers of
ice-boats skimming along with their loads of happy passengers.

Of course the children of Canada skate and play hockey. The lakes and
ponds are frozen over for many months, so that parties are continually
made up for skating and games on the ice.

One must certainly not forget to mention sleigh-rides. There is no place
in the world where the people enjoy sleigh-riding more. They wrap
themselves up in warm furs, and spring into the pretty sleighs to which
gaily decked horses are harnessed. Jingle, jingle, sound the bells, and
when the word is given, away move the sleighs filled with their merry
loads.


The Big Cities.

Although Canada has been under English rule for a long time, yet many
French people have continued to live there. In fact, in the province of
Quebec there are more French than English. The old part of the city of
Quebec looks much to-day as it did in the long ago, when Wolfe climbed
the cliff and took the French army by surprise. Along the narrow streets
there are many quaint old houses with peaked roofs, in whose gardens
French-Canadian children play the games and sing the songs of France.
Here and there you will see an altar on which flowers have been placed,
and people bowing before the image of the Virgin Mary.

If you visit Quebec, you will certainly go to the citadel. Far above the
water it stands, on the summit of the cliff, while just below it lies
the old city, with its high, pointed roofs, and queer gates opening into
old-fashioned gardens. Far, far below lies the beautiful St. Lawrence,
where ships of many countries lie at anchor. Immense rafts of lumber
come floating down the river, to be sent on the waiting ships to other
lands. On some of these rafts are tiny houses for the men who have rowed
them from the forests, hundreds of miles up the river.

Before you leave the city you will walk out on the Plains of Abraham
which stretch into the country back of the citadel. There the great
battle was fought that gave Canada to the English; and there in the
summer of 1908 a great celebration was held. Three hundred years ago the
city of Quebec was founded, and in memory of this, many thousands of
people gathered to see the pageants, representing the great things that
have happened there. The city was gay with flags and bright-colored
banners. There were concerts, balls and grand dinners. The Prince of
Wales himself was there to take part in the good time. The pageants were
the best part of the celebration, of course. They were given on the
Plains of Abraham, and hundreds of men, women and children took part.
Thousands of people gathered in the open-air theatre to look on.

Montreal is another beautiful city. It is built on an island in the St.
Lawrence River. Most of the children there are of French blood, but
there are also many boys and girls of Irish, Scotch and English
families. They are all proud of the wonderful bridge, nearly two miles
long, that crosses the river at Montreal, and of the beautiful cathedral
that will hold ten thousand people. They, as well as the children of
Quebec, see ships of many countries anchored near their homes. Many of
these ships have crossed the ocean to receive the lumber and furs that
Canada wishes to send to other lands.

The capital of Canada is Ottawa, in the province of Ontario. It is also
on the St. Lawrence. High up above the water, on the river banks, stand
many beautiful buildings, where all the business of the government of
Canada is carried on. Ottawa is a beautiful place for a home and the
children who live there should be very happy. They have the winter
sports of Quebec, while on the hot summer days they can sail in and out
among the islands of the river, or picnic under the trees of the forests
only a short distance away.


On the Farms.

In your grandfather’s time, few people except the Indians and
halfbreeds, were living on the prairies over which Mackenzie made his
way on his journey westward. There were no roads there in those days; no
tracks over which trains filled with passengers went flying by. Great
herds of buffaloes wandered about, feeding on the tall prairie grass,
while here and there little red children ran in and out of their
wigwams, and danced about the camp-fires.

To-day scarcely a buffalo is left in the land, the shriek of the steam
engine is often heard, while many comfortable farm houses can be seen.
In the summer time there is much to do, even for the little folks. The
boys help weed the vegetable gardens, and care for the cows and the
horses, while their fathers are busy in the fields of wheat and oats
that stretch over many acres. The girls learn to darn and sew, as well
as wash dishes and help their mothers make bread and pies for the hungry
workmen.

Sometimes the farmer raises only hay, but the big crops must be cared
for very carefully and the boys do their share of the work. Ranches
where cattle and horses are raised are also found on the prairies.
Certainly no place could be better for this work, since the broad acres
of tall grass make the best feeding-grounds possible.

When August comes, the men and boys get out their guns and watch for the
coming of the prairie chickens. Later on, the wild ducks and geese
appear in large flocks. This is the time for the boys to take their
canoes and a few supplies, and camp out on the shores of the lakes and
ponds, for they know that the birds love the water and are sure to seek
it. There will be feasting in the big farmhouses now, because there will
be plenty of tender wild ducks to roast, and the cellars are full of the
vegetables raised in the gardens.

Besides the autumn shooting and the feasts that follow, there are many
other good times for the young folks on the big farms. They meet
together for singing and dancing, they play tennis, they have games of
hockey, both on land and ice, they have jolly sleigh rides in the frosty
air, they skate and they curl, and, of course, the small boys and girls
make snow-forts and houses that will last without melting for a month at
a time. If you who live in warmer lands should pity them for having such
long, cold winters and so much snow, the children would laugh at the
idea. They would tell you that they love the winter and hate to have it
come to an end. They can have such jolly times out of doors, and then,
when they are tired of their rough sports, they can gather around
roaring fires in the big living-rooms of the houses, and listen to the
stories the older folks tell them of the days of long ago.


In a Lumber Camp.

For many years the white settlers in Canada have been busy cutting down
trees in the big pine forests, yet they still stretch for many miles
through the country. When the autumn comes the children of the
lumber-men hear their fathers tell of the winter’s work before them.
They are going out into the forests to live, and will not be home again
for many months. A party of these lumber-men start out together. They
carry everything they will need for their rough housekeeping,—a few
kettles and dishes for cooking, some heavy blankets, a supply of flour
for bread, salt-pork, tea and molasses.

The last good-bye is said and they start out on their long journey to
the forests. As soon as they reach the place for the winter camp they
set to work to build a house of logs. In the middle of the roof a place
is left open, to let out the smoke when a fire is burning inside. Around
the side of the big room, the men build bunks in which to sleep at
night, and in the middle they make a fireplace, where the blazing logs
on winter evenings will send out such warmth and cheer, that Jack Frost
will not dare to venture through the cracks in the walls.

The lumber-men are happy in their work. All day long the sound of their
axes rings through the forest, while they vie with each other in cutting
down the big trees. Then when night comes and their supper of bread, tea
and fried pork is finished, they gather around the fire to smoke and
tell stories. The weeks pass quickly, and with the coming of spring,
immense piles of logs are ready to go to the saw-mills.

When the ice begins to break up, it is a sign to the men to bind the
logs into cribs. Thirty or forty logs are enough for one crib. The cribs
are fastened together to form rafts, which are set floating down the
rivers. Some of the men ride on the rafts and guide them by means of
long poles tipped with steel, to prevent them from running aground.
Others of the party go at once to the saw-mills, to be ready to receive
the logs when they arrive. Buzz-z-z sounds through the air, as the big
wheels turn and the trees of the forest are rapidly changed into strong
lumber.


Beyond the Mountains.

Let us now cross the Rocky Mountains, and make a short visit in British
Columbia. It is the most beautiful province in Canada, with its
mountains covered with forests and its rivers stocked with fish. The
children who live near the Fraser River, can tell wonderful fish
stories, for at a certain time of the year, millions of salmon leave the
ocean and make their way up this river. Then big folks and little are
busy with nets, hauling in the fish and carrying them to the canneries.

Gold is also found on the Fraser River, while the mountains nearby are
rich in other minerals.


The Klondike Mines.

Far up in the northwest of Canada, near the borders of Alaska, are the
famous Klondike mines. You have probably heard of them, and of the long,
hard journey a person must take to get there. Such wonderful stories
have been told of the riches one can bring away from these mountains,
that many a young man has left home and friends to seek his fortune
there. Now-a-days it is easier to reach the Klondike mines than it was a
few years ago, but the country is cold and dreary and most of the food
must be brought from a distance, so that few white children have found
their way there. Yet as they sit in their cosy homes, they are glad to
listen to the stories of that wild country, told to them by the brave
men who have been to the Klondike gold regions.



CHAPTER V—Little Folks of Labrador


East of the large bay where Henry Hudson lost his life is the peninsula
of Labrador. Although it is farther south than Greenland or Alaska, its
shores are very bleak and bare, because of cold winds that blow inland
from the ocean. You can easily guess that this country is the home of
Eskimos who seem the best fitted of all people to live in the lands of
ice and snow.

Some white children are to be found there, however. Their fathers are
fishermen who get a living for their families out of the icy waters of
the ocean. Sometimes, too, they hunt the deer, or set traps for other
wild animals. In the summer time the children search for birds’ eggs,
and in the autumn the men and boys keep on the lookout for eider-ducks,
wild swans, ducks, geese and ptarmigan. The meat of these birds is sweet
and tender, while the feathers make warm beds, pillows and quilts.

The children of the fishermen paddle about in the rough waters in their
canoes when many other children would be afraid to venture out from the
shore. They ride over the snow in low sledges drawn by half-tamed, surly
dogs. They spend many a day fishing for cod and salmon. They hunt for
the berries, ripening in the sunshine of the short summer. They play
with their Eskimo neighbors whom they meet once a week to study their
Bible lessons with the kind missionaries, who have come to live among
them.

Each Eskimo house is entered by a long, low passage, made of logs and
turf. The floor of the one big room is covered with boards, and a long,
wooden platform at one end is the sleeping place for the whole family.
On another side is a fireplace lined with pebbles, where the mother
cooks the food for the family. There is a window in the house or maybe
there are two, so that altogether the Eskimos of Labrador can be far
more comfortable than their brothers and sisters of Greenland.

They live in much the same way, however. They dress in furs; they fish;
they kill seals; they hunt the deer; they ride over the country in low
sledges drawn by unruly dogs; they make kayaks, in which they paddle
about among the islands near to the shore. They are not obliged to build
snow or stone houses like their brothers in Greenland. Cold as it is,
forests of spruce and pine grow not very far inland; so that they are
able to get plenty of logs for the walls of their houses. These they
plaster so thickly with turf, that the wind cannot make its way inside.


The Indians of Labrador.

As you leave the coast, and travel inland, you will find that the air
becomes warmer and that there are more trees and plants. The country is
much pleasanter, and no doubt this is the reason that the Indians of
Labrador prefer to live here in winter rather than on the coast. The
redmen are great hunters, too, and as there are many wild animals in the
forests, they spend the autumn and winter trapping and shooting. Here
and there along the ponds and streams you may see the bark wigwams of
the redmen.

Children dressed in skins go skimming past you over the snow fields.
They wear snow-shoes on their feet, so they can travel fast. When they
are tired of this sport, they can take a ride on a dog-sledge, or play
with their puppies. The boys help their fathers set traps for martens
and foxes; they go on porcupine hunts; they search for beaver villages,
and sometimes they come hurrying home to say that they have come upon a
bear or the tracks of a lynx or an otter.

The girls learn to embroider moccasins and leggings with beads and
porcupine quills; they bring wood for the fires and drinking water from
the streams; they weave baskets. After a deer-hunt they dry the meat and
grind it to make pemmican. Indeed, they learn all those things that
Indians think are necessary for the making of good and helpful women. So
the days pass and the years follow each other in bleak Labrador.



CHAPTER VI—Little Folks of Newfoundland


You remember that when Cartier went to Canada hoping to find a
comfortable place where his people could settle, he stopped first at a
large island off the eastern coast, giving it the name of Newfoundland.
But he did not stay there. The high crags reaching out into the sea and
the rocky shores seemed to frown upon him and he decided to go farther
where Mother Nature should give him a more friendly welcome. At that
time Indians were living along the coast, getting their food by catching
fish and trapping wild animals. No white men came to settle in
Newfoundland till many years after Cartier’s visit, for like him, they
chose to make their homes in a more inviting country.

Now, however, many rosy-cheeked boys and girls live on the island. Their
fathers are fishermen who have settled there because they have found it
is one of the best fishing-grounds in the world. Off the southeast coast
stretches a sandbank at least three hundred miles long, and in the
waters nearby millions of cod and haddock are found every year. It is no
wonder, therefore, that not only the fishermen who live in Newfoundland,
but people from Canada and the United States, and even from countries
across the ocean, gather on the shores of the island every year to fish.

Heavy fogs hang over these shores for a large part of the year, and are
caused in a curious way. There is a warm current that flows northward
through the Atlantic Ocean, making the western coast of Greenland so
much warmer than the eastern that most of the people there choose to
live on that side of the island. But there is also a very cold Arctic
current flowing southward, filling the air along the eastern coast of
Labrador with frost. These two currents meet off the Newfoundland shore,
and as the warm and cold come together, clouds of vapor rise in the air.
It is the smoke of a water battle.

Notwithstanding the fogs and the dampness, the children of Newfoundland
love their home dearly. They love the deep and narrow bays that reach
far into the land, and they often make up sailing parties to the small
islands that dot the clear, deep waters. They love the blue sky of the
summer. They watch with delight the icebergs that float by from time to
time in their journey from the frozen north. When winter comes these
children search along the shore for the seals that play on the floating
cakes of ice and bask in the sunlight. Best of all they enjoy the famous
“silver thaw” of Newfoundland, perhaps the most beautiful sight in all
the world.

This “silver thaw” or ice-storm, is seen only in winter. It is caused by
a heavy fall of rain when the air is very cold. As the rain falls, it
turns to ice on everything it touches. The branches of the trees and the
tiniest twigs upon them are coated with garments of ice which grow
thicker and thicker as the storm continues. Every bush and shrub
receives the same beautiful dress. At last the clouds pass and the sun
shines out in all his glory. Then the world around is changed in an
instant into a wonderland of beauty. It seems as though one were
surrounded by myriads of diamonds, each one glowing with all the colors
of the rainbow. The riches of Aladdin seem nothing beside them.

Neither the fishermen nor the children care to explore the inland
country very far. There are many high hills there, but they are bare and
rocky. Cattle could not be raised easily in such places, nor could
gardens be planted. So the people are content to stay near the shores
and get a living from the waters near by.

During winter the men and boys are busy mending their nets and putting
their boats in order. They also go out in the woods to cut down the
trees to get fuel enough for the coming year. Yet they have much spare
time, so there is a good deal of visiting between the homes, and many
merry parties are held where both old folks and young dance and sing and
play games.

As soon as the spring opens the fishing season begins. The boats are
brought out from winter quarters, the sails are spread, and the harbors
seem alive once more. There is work enough for everyone now. The men and
boys are on the water from morning till night, while the women and girls
are as busy as bees curing the fish after it is brought on shore.

The children of Newfoundland are taught to salute the English flag
because they, as well as Canada, are under the rule of Great Britain.
Yet Newfoundland and the peninsula of Labrador never became a part of
the Dominion of Canada.

The capital of Newfoundland is the city of St. Johns. Its deep harbor is
very beautiful. High cliffs of red sandstone rise on each side and
protect the ships anchored in the waters below from the fiercest gales.
The city is built on the slope of a hill on the northern side of the
harbor. On the summit of the hill, above the rows of houses in the
streets below is a beautiful cathedral where many of the people go to
worship on Sunday. In good weather the children of the city, who wake
early enough, can turn their eyes out towards the ocean and watch the
lovely clouds of the sunrise,—fairy palaces of crimson and gold which
vanish from their sight as they are looking.


After the Birds.

Great numbers of visitors come to Newfoundland every year. Many of them
are hunters who have heard of the game to be found in the forests and
along the shores of the lakes and ponds. The ptarmigan, the wild duck
and goose, the plover, the curlew, and still other birds are to be found
there.

The best time for bird hunting is after the flies and mosquitoes have
said good-by to the country. Then it is that many strangers step off the
steamer at St. Johns. With guns and game-bags they make their way
towards the “barrens” of the inland country. These barrens are often
stretches where there are no trees, and little else grows. The wild
birds flock there in great numbers, for they have found that there are
wild berries to be had for the picking even in that barren country, and
they feast and feast till they are plump and fat and ready for the
sportsman’s game-bag.

It seems so quiet and safe out on the lonely barrens that the birds are
not on the lookout for danger, when suddenly bang, bang! sounds through
the air and some of the birds out of a happy flock fall to the ground,
while the rest fly away in great fright.

Herds of reindeer wander over the lonely parts of the country in search
of the moss that is their favorite food. They have beautiful branching
horns and their short legs are very strong. They have a wonderful scent,
which warns them of danger, and they easily take fright. Often, when a
hunter has crept upon them ever so softly, they have discovered his
nearness and away they scudded over the hills and rocks where he would
not dare to venture, and he has been obliged to give up the chase for a
time, at any rate.

The Indians of the island do much better than the white hunters. They
know how to outwit the reindeer and to approach them from such a
direction that the wind will not carry the scent. For this reason the
white sportsmen have learned that if they wish to be successful they had
best take an Indian guide with them. Even then they have to be so
careful that they think it great sport, and are very proud when they can
show their friends some fine antlers which they have brought home after
a hunting trip in Newfoundland.


The Copper Mines.

On the eastern coast of Newfoundland there is a beautiful bay to which
the French gave the name of Notre Dame or, Our Lady. It has many arms
which reach far into the land; some of these are so deep that they make
good places for ships to anchor. Others are very small and the water is
so smooth that little children can paddle about in it without fear.

This bay of Notre Dame is now famous for something besides its beauty,
as copper mines have been discovered on its shores. One of the richest
of these is at Bett’s Cove and many men are now at work getting the
precious ore and shipping it to other lands.



CHAPTER VII—Little Folks of the United States


Canada is partly separated from the country south of it by a chain of
beautiful lakes called the “Five Great Lakes.” They are so large that a
person can sail many days on them, passing from one to another and
sometimes losing sight of land. At times the water is so rough that the
traveler becomes ill from the rolling of the big steamer and says, “I am
seasick,” although he is far from the ocean. The northern waters of
these lakes wash the shores of Canada, while on the south the children
of the United States play on the beaches and swim in the waves.

These children are proud of the fact that they live in the United
States, and call their country “The land of the free and the home of the
brave.” Their people have come from many lands. French, German, Irish,
Polish and Jewish boys and girls, besides those of many other countries,
sit side by side in the schoolrooms and play happily together with their
tops and dolls.

The United States of America, for that is the full name of this country,
reaches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from Canada on the north
to Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico on the south. It is a country of high
mountains, fertile valleys, broad plains and mighty rivers. Its children
know neither the terrible cold of the far north nor the burning heat of
the equator, for they live in the temperate belt of the earth. No season
of the year is long enough to tire them, for spring follows close upon
the winter, and is soon followed by the pleasant warmth of summer. Then
comes the autumn when the leaves change their color and Mother Nature
makes ready for her winter’s rest. At last the snow falls and covers the
earth with her white mantle.


The Mound Builders.

In the long ago a strange people lived in the United States. They left
no books to tell their story, but here and there through the country
mounds of earth which they built are still standing. Some of them are
shaped like birds with wings outspread, others have the forms of fishes,
snakes, and human beings. Still other mounds show that they must have
been used as altars upon which sacrifices were burned, and others,
again, contain tools, dishes, idols and ornaments. Some of the ornaments
and dishes were decorated with the finest carvings. Heads of people,
frogs and birds are still to be seen on the pipes that have been
preserved in the mounds all these years. Tools have been found to show
the mound-builders, as we call these people, knew how to work metal, and
other things tell the story that the men of that long ago were wise in
many ways and could not have been savages. There are earthworks near
some of the mounds that seem to have been built as forts, so they
probably fought in wars. Yet we can only guess as to their life, for no
one knows their history.


The Indians.

When the first white men visited America they found Indians living
throughout the country, along the banks of the rivers and on the shores
of the ocean. Their homes were for the most part tents covered with bark
or the skins of animals. When the boys were still tiny little fellows
they learned to use bows and arrows so that as they grew up they would
be good hunters and warriors like their fathers.

In some parts of the country the girls helped their mothers tend fields
of maize which to this day is called Indian corn. Cakes were made of
this and eaten with the fish and game killed by the men.

In other places the women and children gathered the wild rice that grew
in the shallow ponds. This, together with the berries picked by the
girls, the honey taken from the nests of wild bees by the boys, and the
sap from the maple trees, added a good deal to the daily fare of meat
and fish.

The red children were taught to bear cold and hunger without
complaining. There were days when they feasted and had all the good
things to eat they could wish for. But their parents did not understand
the need of looking ahead. During the summer the berries and the honey,
the fish and the game were plentiful, and the people did not seem to
remember that winter would soon follow when the earth’s mantle of snow
and the ice on the rivers would make it harder for them to get food. So
there were times when they and their little ones went hungry to bed and
woke up in the morning with no breakfast before them.

The boys grew up with a love of war, and looked admiringly at the men
when they went away from the village with hideous, painted faces, and
with tomahawks and hatchets at their sides, to take other unfriendly
tribes by surprise and to scalp as many of their enemies as possible.

While the boys were busy with mock battles and hunts in the forests
after game with their fathers, the girls worked with their mothers
weaving baskets and tanning the skins of the wild animals brought home
by the men. They also got wood for the fires and helped in the simple
cooking. They played games with their brothers, too, and both boys and
girls were never so happy as when sitting around the lodge fire,
listening to the fairy tales told by their grandmothers and to stories
of war and the chase by the “braves,” as they called their warriors.

The parents of these red children did not need to work so hard for food
and clothing as did the Indians of Canada, because summer in the United
States is longer and warmer, and winter is not so cold.

With soft moccasins on their feet the Indians stole noiselessly over the
forest paths, and in their light birch canoes they glided along the
streams, with never a hat on the head and with light clothing on the
body. They feared nothing save the war-whoop of enemies.

There came a day when a white man and his followers appeared in the
country. It was Leif, the son of Eric the Red, who had left his home in
Greenland and started out in search of adventure. He steered his course
southward and came in time to Newfoundland, but the country did not
please him. So he continued on his way till he reached the eastern coast
of the United States, and there he landed. During his stay Leif and his
companions met no other people, but to their great delight they found
vines from which hung large clusters of grapes, and for this reason they
called the place Vinland. When they were ready to leave they loaded
their vessel with grapes, together with lumber from the forests, which
was even more precious to them than the grapes, because as you know,
there were no trees in Greenland. Then they set sail for home to tell of
the land they had visited which had seemed so warm and beautiful to
them.

After Leif, other Norsemen came who settled along the shore of this
country and lived here for a while. They met the dark-skinned natives
with whom they had trouble. After a while they went away, never to come
again. During their stay here a Norse baby was born, to whom the name
Snorri was given, and this boy was, no doubt, the first white child born
in the United States.


After Many Years.

More than four hundred years passed by and the red men lived on in their
own savage way, hunting, fishing, and making war upon each other. Then
something happened which led in time to great changes for the red
children. It was in the year 1492 that Columbus discovered a small
island of the West Indies, lying southeast of the United States. The
natives, who were gentler and less war-like than the other Indians of
North America, greeted him with delight and brought him presents of
fruit and gold.

Not long after the coming of Columbus many Spaniards, hearing of the
rich treasures of the West Indies, followed him there and settled. One
of them, named Ponce de Leon, stayed long enough to gain great riches.
But he was fast growing old and all his wealth could not keep him young.
Then he began to listen to the stories the Indians told him of a land
not far away, in which there was such a wonderful fountain that a person
had but to drink of its waters to live forever. They called it “The
fountain of youth.”

Ponce de Leon’s eyes grew bright. If only he could find that fountain!
He set sail with a few followers, and one beautiful Easter Sunday he
came in sight of a land rich in flowers. Such a land, he thought, must
be the one to contain the fountain he was seeking.

The sails were furled and the Spaniard and his friends stepped on shore.
“Let us call the place Florida, for it is a land of flowers,” he said,
and so this peninsula, reaching out from the southeastern part of the
United States, has been called Florida to this day.

Ponce de Leon remained in the country for some time, wandering about and
drinking the water of stream and lake, yet as you may believe, he failed
to discover the fountain he sought. And, alas! instead of youth, he met
death, for, as he was about to leave, he was pierced by the poisoned
arrow of an Indian who did not trust the white men like his brothers of
the West Indies.

Through Ponce de Leon’s discovery on that beautiful Easter Sunday other
Spaniards followed him to Florida and settled there with their wives and
children.


The Coming of the English.

French settlers followed the Spaniards to the New World, but except in
Canada, they did not stay long.

Nearly a hundred years passed when at last English ships began to visit
the country north of Florida. They carried home wonderful stories of
necklaces set with pearls as big as peas and worn commonly by the Indian
maidens, of countless hares and deer in the woods, of delicious grapes,
cucumbers and melons that grew wild on the vines, and of rich forests of
oak trees that grew larger and better than those of England. Then, too,
a strange plant grew abundantly in the fields. This plant the Indians
put in pipes and smoked.

“A colony should certainly be planted in that beautiful country,” Sir
Walter Raleigh told the queen.

She listened thoughtfully to what he said, and not long afterwards a
party of men and women sailed from England and crossed the ocean to live
in Virginia, as the new home was called in honor of the virgin queen,
Elizabeth. Governor Dare was the leader.

The colony settled on an island near the shore, and here was born the
first English white child of the United States. The new baby, whose
grandfather was Governor Dare, was called Virginia like her home, but
sad to say, no one knows how long she lived nor what befell her, for
Governor Dare went back to England for a time, and when he returned
little Virginia and her people had disappeared and there was no one to
tell where they had gone. Perhaps the Indians had killed them, or had
made slaves of them and taken them far inland. At any rate, none of the
neighboring red men would tell what had happened to the white strangers
who had come to live among them.

Other English settlers followed soon afterwards, however, and built
villages among the Indians; and among the oak forests of Virginia little
white children were born in rough log houses and played on the beaches
along the shore. Their fathers planted fields of corn, and tobacco which
they had learned to smoke. They hunted deer, hares, and wild turkeys in
the forests.

These early English settlers built walls around their villages in case
of sudden attack, for they could not trust their red neighbors, who were
not pleased to have the white strangers settling in the country around
them.

The little English children were generally happy. The country around
them was beautiful, the birds sang sweet songs in the trees near by, and
there were flowers and fruits in plenty. When Christmas came they
watched the Yule log burn in the big fireplace, and gathered around
tables loaded with roasted turkeys, venison and other good things to
eat.

Years passed by, and other settlers came to America. Most of them were
from England, but there were some from Holland and Sweden and other
countries of Europe.

Among the newcomers were the Quakers under William Penn, who called
their new home in America Pennsylvania, meaning, Penn’s woods. They were
gentle and peaceful and had little trouble with their Indian neighbors.

Then there were the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth in New England one
bleak November day. They were quiet and sober-faced. They left their old
home to seek one in which they would be free to worship God in the way
they thought best. As it happened, they chose for themselves the coldest
corner of the United States in which to settle and they had before them
years of struggle and hard work.

They found the winters in New England colder than those they had known
in England and the sharp winds crept in between the cracks in the walls
of their rough log houses, chilling their backs even when they were
gathered around the blazing logs in the big fireplaces. The crops of
corn and beans were often scanty, because the soil was poor, and around
them not far away were the Indians, some of whom scowled and muttered
ugly words when they spoke of the white settlers who were hunting the
game in the forests, and planting gardens on the land to which they
thought they alone had the right.

The children of the Pilgrims were taught to be very quiet and sober in
their ways. They loved to listen to the squirrels chattering in the
trees, and to watch the rabbits scamper across the paths. They gathered
blueberries and blackberries in summer and chestnuts and hickory nuts in
the autumn. The boys dragged their sisters on rough sleds over the snow
in winter and waded with them in the brooks as the days grew warmer, and
at such times they laughed and chattered like all happy children. But
when they reached home their faces became sober and their voices low,
for they were taught that among older folks children should be seen and
not heard.

When evening came they sat in straight chairs in the big kitchen which
was the “living room” as well, while the men talked over the day’s work,
and the women knit socks for the family.

Sometimes as the little Pilgrims settled themselves for the night’s
sleep they were roused by the howling of wolves outside. They shuddered
as they thought, “Suppose that had been the war whoop of the Indians
coming to attack our village.”

On Sunday when the Pilgrims went to church the men led the way armed
with muskets which might be needed at any moment in defending their
families.

After the Pilgrims, the Puritans came to New England. They were even
more sober and strict in their ways than the Pilgrims, and they, too,
had trouble with their Indian neighbors.

Perhaps the jolliest people who came from Europe were the Dutch, who
settled on the Hudson River in New York. You remember poor Henry Hudson
who was left to his sad fate in Hudson Bay. Before he went there he
discovered the beautiful river of that name, and when he went back to
Europe he told the king of Holland about the Indians he had met, and of
the loads of rich furs which they brought home from their hunting trips.

His words were not forgotten, and so it came to pass that the thrifty
Dutchman made settlements in that part of the New World which they
claimed through the discovery of Henry Hudson. They were not poor, like
the Pilgrims east of them. They brought chests of linen and silver from
Holland, and they built comfortable homes for themselves on the banks of
the Hudson River, with porches where they sat with their children on
summer evenings, telling fairy stories and laughing together in their
own jolly way. The children’s eyes grew bright as they listened to the
stories, and as they looked out on the woods and fields in the silvery
moonlight, they fancied they could see fairies in gauzy green robes
dancing on the grass and little brown gnomes stepping out from under the
rocks.

The Dutch children had the grandest time at Christmas. They hung up
their stockings by the fireplace the night before and then, as they lay
in their beds, too much excited to sleep, they fancied they heard the
reindeer of the good Santa Claus pawing away the snow on the roof
overhead. Of course there were presents the next morning and a lovely
Christmas tree, followed by a feast of all good things that grew about
the new home. Yes, Christmas was the best day in all the year to the
rosy-cheeked roly-poly Dutch children with blue eyes and flaxen hair.

While they were having such good times, their fathers were trading with
the Indians with whom they had less trouble than the Pilgrims and
Puritans. They sold the red men beads and blankets, guns and trinkets,
and in exchange took furs of the marten and mink, the beaver and otter,
which the Indians shot or trapped in the country around. Once in a while
a big ship from Holland sailed into New York Harbor, bringing tea and
sugar, blankets and dress-goods for the Dutchmen and their families, and
were then reloaded with the furs obtained from the Indians.

As time passed by the settlements along the shores of the United States
grew larger and more numerous. The Indians scowled more and more deeply
and there were dreadful wars between them and the white men. In their
spare time the settlers made roads through the country and cleared away
some of the forests. In the north they traded with the Indians for furs
and planted fields of corn and other grains and vegetables. Farther
south tobacco and cotton were raised on the plantations. Sheep were
tended on the hillsides and the wives of the settlers carded and spun
the wool and wove it in hand-looms into clothing for their families.
Cargoes of Negro slaves were brought from Africa to work on the
plantations. The cotton that was raised there was sent across the
Atlantic to be made into cloth in the factories of Europe.

During all these years the white men did not move far inland because of
the Indians, and of mountains which must be crossed. At last, however,
some brave men ventured out alone into the wilderness beyond. They found
there were valleys between the mountains, and through these they passed
to the other side. They often had to hide from the watchful Indians, not
daring even to make camp-fires lest they should be discovered.

These explorers found that on the other side of the Appalachian
Mountains, for that was the name given to them, was a beautiful country,
richer by far than that on the eastern side where they had been living.
There were also many rivers flowing westward, making the soil rich and
fertile. Forests of maple and elm trees, as well as pines, spruces, and
oaks which were abundant along the coast, were to be seen there.

[Illustration: Picking Cotton on a Georgia Plantation.]

When the explorers returned home they told such bright stories of the
country to the west that the families of some of them agreed to go there
and live. In those days there were no trains to carry them and not a
single road through the mountain passes. The journey had to be made on
foot or on horseback, and few household goods could be carried. At any
moment the travelers might be surprised by Indians, so the men were
obliged to keep their muskets loaded and ready to shoot every moment of
the way.

When the place for the new home was reached the men and boys set to work
to cut down the trees and make a clearing, while the women prepared the
meals. Everyone must eat and sleep outdoors while a rough log house was
being built. All through the night a big fire was kept blazing to keep
the wolves and other wild animals at a distance.

The new house was easily furnished. A few chairs, a rough table, and
some bedsteads were made from the trees that had been cut down. The
feather beds brought from the old home were spread on the slats of the
bedsteads; the family Bible was laid on the table; the kettles, also
brought from home, were hung on cranes over the fireplace, and
housekeeping in the wilderness began.

Notwithstanding the hard life, the girls and their brothers grew up
brave and strong and ready to push still farther into the wilderness
than their fathers had done. West of them,—far west as it seemed
then—was a mighty river flowing from north to south through the country.
It was the Mississippi, or Father of Waters, as the Indians well called
it, because so many large streams flowed into it on either side. The
Frenchmen from Canada had long since sailed along the Great Lakes and
down the whole length of the Mississippi, and for this reason had
claimed the land on both sides and made settlements at different places.

Now, as the English settlers moved westward, they did not wish the
French to own any part of the country. By and by there was a great war
between the two peoples—the French who held Canada and the Mississippi,
and the English colonies who were living in the eastern part of the
United States. Then came the battle of Quebec and the French gave up
their rights in North America.

But there were other troubles still, for wars took place with the
Indians who had become bitter enemies, but they were beaten again and
again, and driven still farther west till few tribes were left east of
the Mississippi.

Then there was another war—a very great one this time—and with England
herself. The Revolution was fought through seven long years. With
General Washington as their leader, the people fought on to victory,
when they in truth made their country the free and independent United
States of America.

After this more and more men took their wives and children and traveled
west in search of new homes. They had found by this time that in many
places there were great plains where they did not need to make a
clearing, for the ground was covered with grass for miles in every
direction. Some of these grassy plains, or prairies, were quite level.
Others stretched in long, low waves of earth. The soil was rich and the
grass grew long and thick. There could be no better place in the world
for raising corn, wheat and hay, or feeding cattle.

Rough roads had been built through the wilderness by this time, so the
women and children, together with the bedding and dishes, were bundled
into big clumsy wagons with rounded, canvas tops called
prairie-schooners. Horses or oxen were harnessed to the wagons and cows
were hitched behind. Then away started the family for the distant
prairies.

All day long the people traveled, but when evening came the animals were
unhitched from the “schooner” and allowed to feed on the grass; supper
was cooked over the camp-fire, and beds were made upon the bottom of the
wagon, where the family would sleep during the night.

Many days were often spent on the journey, but like everything else, it
came to an end at last. Think if you can, of a sea of grass stretching
around you as far as the eyes can see; not a building of any kind in
sight; not even the smoke of a passing train to remind you that there
are other people in the world; no sound in the air except the chirping
of the crickets or the howling of the wolves; in summer, the blinding
sun dazzling your eyes and turning the grass a withered brown; in
winter, a carpet of snow stretching around you over the earth in every
direction. This was the life in store for the boys and girls who went
out on the prairies to seek a home in the early days of this country.

To be sure a herd of bison sometimes appeared near the children’s home,
and then the men hurried out with their guns to kill as many as possible
before the animals were put to flight. Before the coming of the white
men these bison roamed together in thousands and the Indians of the
plains made their tents and clothing from their skins and feasted on the
flesh of the bison. Every year since that time they have grown scarcer
till only a few are left in the country, and these are on exhibition in
the parks of the west.

After the sun set in the evening sky the children of the prairie did not
venture far from home, both on account of prowling wolves, and for fear
of the Indians who might be skulking near by.


Lewis and Clark, and What They Saw.

Not many years after the Revolution Thomas Jefferson, the third
president, did many things for the good of the United States. Through
his advice the people purchased a great deal of land in the southern
part of the country from France, to whom it had been given by Spain. It
was called the Louisiana Purchase.

Jefferson was not satisfied yet. He thought, “There is a vast country
beyond us of which we know nothing. No one of our people has yet crossed
it and reached the Pacific. This should certainly be done.”

He knew it would be a dangerous journey, for it was a wild country,
roamed over by tribes of fierce Indians. Two men, however, offered to
lead the expedition. Their names were Meriwether Lewis and William
Clarke.

In the summer of 1803 they started out at the head of a party of men,
carrying with them presents for the Indians they might meet, three
canoes, two horses which should help them in hunting game, and a few
blankets and cooking utensils.

During the winter they camped on the banks of the Mississippi, and with
the coming of spring they began their journey up a broad river which
emptied into it and which we know now as the Missouri. As the men
followed the course of the river they moved farther and farther into the
west. All summer long they slept under the stars, but as the cold winter
set in and deep snows fell, they made rough cabins in which to live, and
went no farther on their journey for several months. They killed bison
and other game which furnished them with food, but they could not keep
the biting cold out of their huts, and they suffered with the cold.
Fierce Indian tribes were around them on all sides, friends were far
away, but they had no thought of turning back. So, with the second
spring, they pushed on.

When they reached the source of the Missouri there were high mountains
before them, much higher than the Appalachian, and with their summits
crowned with snow. After a long, hard journey they reached the other
side, and launched their canoes on a small stream which grew ever
broader till it entered a large river. This was the Columbia, along
which they traveled till the Pacific Ocean lay spread before their eyes.
They had journeyed more than four thousands miles since they left the
banks of the Mississippi and were the first white men to cross the
United States. They had visited the homes of Indians who had never seen
a white person before or even known there were such beings. They had
crossed broad plains where thousands of bison fed on the rich grass.
They had discovered broad rivers shaded by lofty forests and crossed
mountains containing mines of gold and silver, which before long would
be opened up to give their rich stores to the people of the United
States. They still had before them the long and dangerous journey home,
which they reached two years and four months after they had left it.

There was great rejoicing among the people when the news spread of the
safe return of the travelers and of the wonders they had to tell. From
that time many boys and girls looked forward to moving into the great,
far-western country with their parents.


On a Wheat Farm.

Many of the children of the prairies live on farms where wheat is
raised. As the sun shines down on the broad fields, the tiny grains
sprout and grow with astonishing quickness. Then, when the heavy dews
fall at night and the earth cools, they get new strength for the next
day, so that the farmers gather abundant crops.

As the summer days pass by and the wheat ripens, the children in the big
farm house get ready for an exciting time. Their mother makes dozens of
pies and loaves of bread and cake. A cow and perhaps a hog or two, are
killed and cut up, for an extra number of “hired hands” begin to arrive.
The farmer himself is unusually busy. Big machines and engines are
brought out from the barns to be cleaned and oiled, for the wheat is
about to be harvested.

[Illustration: How They Harvest Wheat on the Prairies.]

It is interesting to watch the work go on in the fields, it is so
different from that of the old days before the threshing and binding
machines were invented. It seems almost like magic to the watching
children as acre after acre of waving grain is cut down, bound into
sheaves and threshed, almost in the “twinkling of an eye.”

Then away it is whisked in big wagons to the flour mills in the town
near by from which it is sent far and wide to be made into delicious
bread for hungry boys and girls.


The Cornfields.

In the northern part of the prairies wheat grows best because it can
bear a great deal of cool weather. But corn is different; warm, moist
nights suit it well. So, although we can see corn growing all over the
eastern part of the United States, it thrives best in the southern part
of the prairies where the weather is much warmer than in the north.

Corn is very fattening, so the farmers who raise this grain usually keep
herds of cattle and many hogs. He stores much of the harvest in the
barns to feed the “live stock” and raise them for market.


On a Cattle Ranch.

The boys of the prairie help their fathers, not only in the wheat and
corn fields, but also in raising herds of cattle, flocks of sheep, and
great numbers of hogs.

Beyond the prairies, yet east of the Rocky Mountains, are wide stretches
of land called the Western Plains. Grass grows on these plains, but the
soil is not so rich as on the prairies and is therefore not so good for
farming.

As the people moved farther west, settling on the prairies, they began
to think what use could be made of the plains beyond. They decided that
cattle could be raised there. But first the tribes of Indians who were
roaming freely about must be forced to stay in certain parts of the
country which the government of the United States reserved for them.

Sad to say, many a little red child growing up on such a reservation had
hate in his heart for the white men who had seized the land that was
once the free hunting ground of the Indians. Again and again the red
children watched their older brothers and fathers go out to attack the
men who had ventured into the “wild west.” Again and again the soldiers
of the United States were sent against them.

It was a dangerous life for the ranchmen, so that many of those who
undertook to raise cattle on the Western Plains, left their families
behind them. It was not a safe place for women and little children. The
ranchmen had to live in the roughest manner. They had immense herds of
cattle which were allowed to roam for miles over the grassy plains and
were rounded up from time to time by “cowboys,” as they are called.

These cowboys were bold and daring fellows who carried pistols at their
belts, rode half-wild horses called mustangs, and were ever ready for
danger, since at any moment a stampede might arise among the cattle.

Imagine a herd of untrained cattle feeding together. An unusual sound is
heard which fills them with a sudden fright. They toss their heads, kick
up their heels and dash wildly away. This is called a stampede. Now, if
the cowboy in charge is not quick to use his wits he will be knocked
down and trampled to death by the hoofs of the fleeing cattle.

On Lake Michigan, one of the Five Great Lakes, is the large city of
Chicago. The children who live there grow up in the midst of noise and
bustle, for a great deal of business is going on about them all the
time. Every day long trains of cars come rolling into the stations
bringing wheat and corn, cattle and hogs. All of these have been raised
on the plains and prairies south and west of Chicago. Many of the
animals are killed and dressed in the city and then sent away to be sold
in the eastern markets. Others are loaded on big steamers waiting at the
wharves and sent on a long journey through the Great Lakes and St.
Lawrence River and across the ocean to Europe.


Down South.

The children who live in the southern part of the United States have
warm weather nearly all the year. They need few of the woolen garments
or the furs which feel so comfortable in winter to the people north of
them. Their clothing is mostly of cotton or linen, and they eat less
meat and more fruit than their northern brothers. Their homes require
little heat, and even the cooking is often done in a small building
separate from the house so that it shall not be made uncomfortably warm.

Let us make a short visit to a cotton plantation “down south.” We shall
be made welcome, without a doubt, because the southern people are very
hospitable. The planter has been told when to expect us and a low,
comfortable carriage drawn by a span of beautiful horses is at the
station when we arrive. A black coachman in livery helps us into our
seats, cracks his whip, and away start the horses at a lively trot. We
pass forests of yellow pine trees, and possibly some tobacco fields. The
air is fragrant with the odor of flowers and we listen to the songs of
the blackbirds and mocking birds. All too soon the horses are turned
into a driveway shaded by tall trees, at the end of which is a large
house with broad verandas. Our host and his family are awaiting us and
give us a cordial greeting.

After we have rested and eaten a delicious dinner, the children of the
home show us over the cotton fields where Negro workmen are busy among
the long rows of plants. The cotton would not ripen in a short summer.
It must have months of heat and moisture. Then the flowers will go to
seed and long fibers will reach out and wrap them in blankets of cotton.

The cotton is separated from the seeds by the work of a machine, called
the cotton gin. The seeds are ground into meal which is used in
fattening cattle. Many herds of cattle in the south are fed on
cotton-seed meal which takes the place of the corn given them in other
parts of the country.

As we walk about over the fields the children of the planter tell us
many stories of the Negro workmen, what fun-loving creatures they are,
and how fond they are of good things to eat. Water melons please them
especially and a group of “darkies” is never so happy as when they can
sit around a pile of the juicy melons and feast to their hearts’
content. In many of the Negro cabins there is sure to be some one who
plays the banjo, to whose music big folks and little dance merrily when
the day’s work is over. Once the Negroes were the slaves of the white
planters, but they are now free and support themselves like other
workmen.

Our little southern friends ask us if we have ever seen ’possums, as the
black people call the animals. After everyone on the plantation has gone
to sleep, then the cunning opossum steals from his home in the woods to
pay a visit to the hen-house. He springs up and seizes one after another
of the fowls on the roost, whose blood he sucks till no more is left in
their bodies.

The Negroes are very fond of a ’possum hunt. Soon after dark they arm
themselves with clubs and axes and go into the woods with a few dogs to
scent the game, carrying torches to light the way. The axes are used to
chop down the trees where the animals climb to get out of the way of the
hunters.

A mother opossum with her little ones is a queer sight. The babies are
scarcely larger than mice and they hang on to their mother’s body by
winding their own tiny tails around her larger one. The Negroes go on
’coon hunts too, for they can sell the skins, while the meat is nearly
as delicious as that of the opossum. Raccoons have long bushy tails and
belong to the bear family, though they are much smaller. They catch
birds in the trees, sucking their blood and eating the eggs whenever
they find them. They like green corn, too, which they steal at night as
it is growing in the fields.

Our little friends go with us to the stables and show us their ponies,
telling us of the lovely morning rides we may have through the country
if we will stay with them for a few days. But we must bid them good-by
and travel to the busy towns of the east where many of the people work
in factories and stores and have little time to spend in the beautiful
outdoor world. Before we leave the sunny south we would like to take a
peep at a rice plantation in the low marshy country, and to watch the
men gathering tobacco leaves and hanging them to dry in large sheds, but
the northern train is waiting and we cannot linger.


Among the Factories.

The children of a factory town often know little of the free, happy days
that a farm gives to its boys and girls. Long rows of houses where the
workmen live, and large brick buildings where the machines are noisily
running from Monday morning till Saturday night—these are what a person
sees on every hand.

The country settled by the Pilgrims and Puritans, and much more east of
the Appalachian Mountains has such poor and stony soil that it is not
good for farms. In such places we find the manufacturing towns where the
cotton raised in the south and the wool from the sheep of the western
plains are made into cloth for millions of people in the United States.
Here also are large tanneries where the hides of cattle are prepared for
harnesses, shoes, bags and many other things for which leather is used.
In New England there are many factories where thousands of boots and
shoes are made for the boys and girls of America.


Fishing.

Long ago, before the days of the factories, many ships sailed away from
New England ports after whales in the Arctic waters. Now-a-days
whale-bone is still valuable, but the oil is not needed so much as in
the old times before gas and electricity came into use, so that whaling
is not so common. But many men are still busy fishing for herring,
halibut and cod, which are plentiful in the waters along the northeast
coast and off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Many a boy living on the
coast goes on fishing trips with his father and becomes so fond of the
free life of the sea that he decides to be a sailor for the rest of his
life.

Many lobsters and clams are also obtained along the coast, and farther
south are rich beds of oysters. In Chesapeake Bay more than one-third of
all the oysters eaten in the world are grown, and most of these are
shipped from the beautiful city of Baltimore, at the head of the bay.
Thousands of men and women there are busy, day after day, opening the
shells and taking out the oysters which are then put into tubs and cans
for shipment.


In a Lumber Camp.

When the white men first came to the United States, almost all the land
between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River was covered with
forests. Most of these were cut down to make clearings for the settlers’
homes. Some of them, fortunately, were left. Among the largest forests
still standing to-day are those near the Great Lakes, where the
lumber-men work in much the same way as their Canadian brothers. When
the snow is thick over the ground, they leave home with their teams of
oxen and horses and go to the distant woods, where they build log-houses
for themselves and stables for the animals. There they live during the
cold months of the year. Sometimes they stop long enough in their work
to go bear and deer hunting and so get fresh meat which makes a little
change in their daily fare of bread, beans and salt-pork.

The logs are carried to the nearby streams on sledges which move easily
over the ice and snow. When spring comes they are floated along the
streams and lakes to the saw-mills where they are made into lumber.


Getting Coal.

Many of the children living in the Appalachian Mountains to-day have
their homes near coal mines and their fathers are busy digging out the
coal that brings warmth and comfort during the winter to so many people.
In some places the rocks have been washed away, but in others the coal
is still so far underground that the miners have to work day after day
where the sunlight never shines.

Iron is also found in large quantities near the coal mines, and trains
of freight cars carry both these minerals to cities not far away where
they are used together in making steel.


Among the Rocky Mountains.

Great quantities of iron are found in the low mountains near Lake
Superior, where the miners are constantly at work with the help of steam
engines and powerful machines.

The richest copper mines of the United States are also found near the
shores of Lake Superior. A pig, we are told, discovered the best one of
all in a curious way. It had strayed from home and fallen into a pit,
where it scratched and rooted in its struggle to get out. In doing this,
it laid bare some copper, which was discovered by its master when he
went to look for the missing pig.

Hunters are fond of visiting the Rocky Mountains, where they still find
the fierce puma, or mountain lion, with its sharp teeth and claws, and
bright eyes. Night is its favorite time to roam and it is then that the
mountain goat needs to beware, for the cat-like puma shows no mercy.
Children who live in the western part of the United States have
sometimes seen a grizzly bear brought home by a friend after a hunting
trip among the Rocky Mountains. It is the strongest and most dangerous
of all the bear family. One blow of its paw is powerful enough to kill,
yet if it is not disturbed a person has little to fear. It does not care
for the flesh of other animals but is contented with a dinner of berries
and tender shoots like its brothers, the brown and black bears.

One of the most graceful animals the children of the west have ever seen
is the bighorn, or Rocky Mountain sheep. It browses on the grass found
on the steep slopes where the hunter has hard work to reach it. Its ears
are quick to hear the slightest sound, when it will toss its head and
flee from possible danger with long leaps.

Among the Rocky Mountains are mines of silver, gold, and copper which
have brought fortunes to many people of the United States. The silver
mines especially are among the richest in the world. The men who work in
them generally leave their families at home, and go away to “rough it”
as they say, for a mining town seldom has many comforts and the boys and
girls who do go there to live miss the good schools, and many other
things to which they have been used.

About fifty years ago gold was discovered in the state of California
which lies on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The news filled the
country with excitement. As time passed by the gold mines did not prove
as rich as the people expected, but they discovered that the country was
valuable in other ways. Trees grew to enormous size there and the warm,
moist climate of the western coast was the best possible for raising
fruit. To-day the children of California feast on pears, plums,
apricots, grapes, peaches, oranges, and still other fruits which grow
very large and beautiful. There are many wheat farms, too, in California
where rich harvests reward the men who own them.

Beyond the Rocky Mountains and lying between them and a lower range
called the Sierra Nevada, is a high plateau, where the rain falls into
streams which dry up or form lakes before they can make their way to the
sea.

The largest of these is called the Great Salt Lake whose water is four
times as salty as that of the sea.


The Colorado Canyon.

There are still other plateaus southeast of the Great Basin where the
streams have worn away deep valleys called canyons. The largest of these
rivers is the Colorado, whose canyon is so wonderful that travelers in
the west always wish to visit it.

In some parts of the canyon the steep cliffs rise on either side for
about a mile up into the air. As the traveler in the valley below looks
up he can see the stars shining in broad daylight. The rocks at the
sides are of different colors—gray, brown, red and purple. The best time
to visit the canyon is at sunrise or sunset. Then the light from above
falls first upon one color and then upon another, making a beautiful
sight as the shadows change from moment to moment.


The National Park.

The United States is a great country, as its people believe, and
certainly no others in the world can boast of a park so large as theirs.

When Lewis and Clark had traveled a long distance up the Missouri River
they reached that part of the country which is now called the
Yellowstone Park. A better name would be “Wonderland” for such it is to
the thousands of people from all over the world who visit it every year.

This great reservation is sixty-five miles from north to south and
fifty-five miles from east to west. It contains not one, but many
charming parks, lovely valleys, sparkling waterfalls, high mountains,
deep valleys and one beautiful lake, called the Yellowstone Lake.

We can travel in a comfortable parlor car to the very entrance of the
Wonderland where we will first visit the Mammoth Hot Springs whose
waters are as clear as a mirror. They contain lime and iron, and for
this reason many people drink the water which they take as medicine.

The largest of the Hot Springs bursts out of the ground near the summit
of a high hill, from which it pours down over the slope and as it falls,
makes deep basins in the earth below.

Some of these basins are tiny and others quite large. They are of
different colors—red, green, and yellow, and the edges are worn away
into the prettiest sort of beadwork by Mother Nature.

Now let us leave the Hot Springs and visit the geysers about fifty miles
away. Each has a name of its own. There is the Giantess, which from time
to time throws up a great quantity of water for a short distance. You
must be careful not to venture too near when the Giantess wakes up, or
you will be soaked with water in an instant.

Another geyser is called Old Faithful, because you can depend on his
appearance at just such a time. He shows off his accomplishments once
every sixty-five minutes. Old Faithful sends up a few little jets of
water at first but every moment they become larger and stronger, till
suddenly, with a tremendous roar, the water spouts up one hundred and
thirty feet in the air. By the end of five minutes the water subsides
and only a small stream rises.

Still another geyser is called the Beehive, on account of the shape of
its cone. The water does not fall to the ground again but moves up
through the air as fine spray.

One of the most interesting of all the geysers is the Castle. As you
near it, the air around may be perfectly quiet. Then, all at once, you
you will hear a loud rumbling noise as though quantities of stones were
rolling over each other, and at the same time the lashing of water is
heard under the earth. The noise becomes almost deafening, the earth
trembles under your feet, and if you are wise you will hasten to some
spot quite a distance away. Suddenly a column of water rises straight up
into the air at least one hundred and fifty feet. The spray from it
falls over the ground around like heavy rain and those who have not been
wise enough to flee like yourself are drenched with hot water.

We must not leave the Wonderland without visiting Yellowstone Lake. It
is very beautiful and stretches its long arms in among the mountains as
though to embrace them. On the western shore of this lake you may catch
trout if you will. Then, if you are hungry, you may take a few steps and
drop the fish, still on the hook, into a boiling spring. Behold! your
dinner of delicious trout is ready for your eating.

Yellowstone River flows out of this wonderful lake and at first moves
smoothly and quietly. Then, as it is about to make its way through a
mountain-pass, it makes leaps and bounds in the form of cascades and
waterfalls, wearing the earth into a deep canyon, which is as full of
interest as that of the Colorado.

In your visit to the Rocky Mountains you will, no doubt, wish to climb
Pikes Peak. It is named for Major Pike, who tried to climb to the summit
but failed.

“Only a bird could succeed,” he afterwards said. Now-a-days, however,
hundreds of travelers go every year to the top of Pikes Peak.


Niagara Falls.

Nearly every one who travels over the United States takes a trip up the
beautiful Hudson River, and goes to the top of Mount Washington in New
England, by using the railroad built up the side of the mountain, and
over which the train moves slowly with the help of a double engine.

Perhaps the most wonderful and interesting of all sights are the Falls
of Niagara, between Canada and the United States. Out of Lake Erie, one
of the Five Great Lakes, flows the Niagara River, which soon reaches a
cliff over which it pours its whole body of water with a sound like
thunder. If you stand near the foot of the falls you must wear
waterproof garments, or the dashing spray will drench you in a few
moments. The longer you look, the more wonderful the sight appears and
before long you feel as though you would like to stay there forever,
watching those mighty waters falling, ever falling, and never resting in
their course for a single moment.

In winter the spray covers every bush and tree near the foot of the
Falls and as it freezes almost instantly, strange forms are built up on
the twigs and branches. Then in the bright sunlight the world around
seems like fairyland. Masses of ice are carried along with the water of
the cataract and become piled up below, making a bridge of ice across
the river.

The children who visit Niagara Falls are sure to wish to enter the deep
cave in the cliff directly under the falling waters. No matter how
carefully they may enter, they will be drenched by the spray unless they
are clad in waterproof from head to foot. They have a strange feeling
while they are in the cave. The loud rumbling of the water and the
trembling of the earth fill them with a sort of fear and they are glad
when they are once more out in the sunlight and at a safe distance from
the mighty cataract.


A Peep at Big Cities.

There are many large and beautiful cities in the United States, each of
which is particularly dear to the children who live there. Sometimes
they think of their brothers and sisters of a hundred years ago who
warmed themselves in winter before burning logs in big fireplaces, who
traveled in lumbering stage-coaches and were lighted to bed by home-made
candles or smoky whale-oil lamps. Many of the children of to-day have
steam-heated houses, lighted by gas or electricity; they travel short
distances in electric cars or automobiles, and longer ones in
comfortable trains moved by steam-engines; or perhaps they take water
trips in roomy steamboats where they can move about as freely as in
their own homes. They talk with distant friends by merely taking down
the receiver of a telephone. Steam, gas, electricity—all these
conveniences are found not only in the cities of the United States, but
on the distant prairies for the use of farmers and their families.

Washington is the capital of the United States. It is the place where
the business of the country is attended to and the laws are made for the
protection of the people. It is a wonderfully clean and beautiful city,
and has many grand buildings which may well be called palaces. The White
House, the home of the president, is the copy of a palace in Ireland
which was built for the Duke of Leinster. The National Library is very
large and some people think the building devoted to it is the most
beautiful in the world. The Rogers Bronze Door which opens into the
Capital is a great work of art. The most important things in the life of
Columbus and the discovery of America are pictured in the bronze. This
one door cost thirty thousand dollars.

There are large art galleries in Washington and many other buildings
where you can pass day after day and constantly find new things to
interest you. But before you leave the city you must be sure to visit
the beautiful marble monument built in honor of George Washington.

[Illustration: Children Working in the Cotton Factory in a Big City.]

At the mouth of the Hudson River is the great city of New York, next to
the largest in the whole world. It contains many beautiful homes, fine
churches, lovely parks, and business buildings many stories in height
which, like others in Chicago, are called “sky scrapers.” On an island
in New York Harbor stands the famous Statue of Liberty given to this
country by France. Persons who wish to do so may climb up into the head
of this statue which is in the form of a beautiful woman with a torch in
her uplifted hand. The crown on the head is composed of windows from
which there is a fine view of New York Harbor.

Another island in the harbor is called Ellis Island, where most of the
emigrants who have left their homes in other countries, land when they
reach the United States. Irish and Poles, Italians and Russians, men
with children clinging to their sides, and women with arms clasped
around tiny babies, all dressed in the fashion of their old homes, step
from the big ships and take their first breath of the free air of
America almost under the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.

New York is the greatest manufacturing centre in the United States.
Clothing, books, cigars, furniture, leather goods and many other things
are made here for the people of this and other countries.

The good old city of Boston is on the eastern coast of Massachusetts. It
has a fine harbor like its sister city in New York, and many large ships
from all over the world are seen at its wharves.

Ten years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth the Puritans founded
Boston. It is a quaint city with narrow, winding streets, much unlike
Chicago and New York and many other cities built later on. The State
House on Beacon Hill has a gilded dome which can be seen in the sunlight
for miles around. This is often called “Boston’s breastpin.” There are
many old buildings in the city, around which are woven interesting
stories of the early days of this country. Here stands Faneuil Hall
where many stirring words were spoken. For this reason it is spoken of
as the Cradle of Liberty. Then there is the Old South Church a “meeting
house” of the olden times from which the Boston Tea Party started out to
throw the tea which had come from England into Boston Harbor. The
cemeteries, in which some of the greatest men of the early days of the
country were buried, are still kept with the greatest care and are
visited by travelers throughout the year. Boston is a manufacturing city
and is the largest market in the world for boots, shoes and leather
goods.

In the state of Pennsylvania, settled as you know by the Quakers, is the
city of Philadelphia. This name was chosen for it by William Penn
because of its meaning, “brotherly love,” and the peaceful spirit of
that great man is felt even now in the quiet streets, lined with quaint
old houses.

Philadelphia was once the largest city in the United States. It is still
a very busy one. Quantities of coal from the mines not far away are sent
to this city and from there shipped to other places. Iron and steel
goods are made in its factories and many of its people are busy in the
cotton mills. On the river front near by there are large shipyards where
ships have been built for the United States navy.

The children of Philadelphia are especially proud of Independence Hall
where the famous Declaration of Independence was signed and the bell
rang out to tell of what brave men had dared to do. This “Liberty Bell”
has been carefully preserved and may be seen even now after all these
years.

There are many other large and beautiful cities in the country. One of
these, San Francisco, lies on the far western coast, on the borders of
the Pacific Ocean. It has a deep harbor, into which come sailing many
ships from China and Japan, bringing cargoes of silk and tea. Many
Chinamen are to be seen on the streets of the city, and pretty Japanese
children with black eyes and soft yellow skins play in the parks with
the little Americans. More wheat is exported from the city of San
Francisco than from any other in the United States.

There is so much to tell of this great country and of the children who
live here in happy homes, that it is hard to stop, but we must leave it
for the present and travel south to Mexico.



CHAPTER VIII—Little Folks of Mexico


Long ago, when we ended our visit in Canada and Newfoundland, we left
behind us the polar bears and the icebergs and all those things which
are to be found in the cold parts of the earth. Then we traveled over
the United States with its temperate climate, where neither heat nor
cold are severe. Still moving south, we come to Mexico.

At the time Columbus discovered America Mexico was the home of gentle
little Indian children. Their skins were not as red as the rest of their
people in North America, but were of a brownish tint. Their lips were
rather thick, and their voices were soft. They called themselves Aztecs.

These children went to school and learned lessons while the other
Indians of North America were living like savages. They were taught
music and painting and the history of the Aztecs. They studied
strange-looking books written in pictures, each of which stood for a
certain word.

As they grew up they were taught to worship many gods, some of whom they
believed to be very cruel. They feared these gods and offered sacrifices
of human beings to them. It was a dreadful belief indeed that could make
people do this.

A great king named Montezuma ruled over the whole country. He lived in a
magnificent palace far up on a lofty plateau in the middle of the
country, with mountains on either hand, as though to guard him. He wore
rich garments which he changed many times a day. He ate the choicest
food from dishes of silver and gold. Hundreds of people waited upon him,
ever ready to do his bidding.

Montezuma made the city where he lived very beautiful. There were
gardens filled with flowers, and ponds stocked with different kinds of
fish. There were menageries where birds of brilliant plumage were cared
for so tenderly that they could not miss their free homes of the forest,
and there were wild animals of both hot lands and cold. Altogether, the
city was the wonder of all who visited it.

There came a time, however, when all this was changed. A few years after
Columbus discovered the New World a Spaniard named Fernando Cortez
sailed along the shores of Mexico with his fleet of ships. He entered a
harbor and landed. The simple Indians who stood watching, bent low
before the strange white men, for they thought them gods from heaven who
had come to visit them, and they gladly told all they knew about the
country. Gold and silver? Yes, there was plenty to be had in Mexico.
Furthermore, they described the wonderful city on the plateau above,
where the great Montezuma held his court.

Cortez listened with great interest. He was a brave man; he was also
cruel and greedy. His eyes flashed as he thought of all the riches to be
gained if he could conquer the natives. But he used only soft words and
begged to be shown the way to the wonderful city among the mountains
above him. He declared that he wished to pay respect to the ruler of the
country.

The Indian guides led the way while Cortez and his train of knights
followed.

On, yet ever upwards they climbed, soon leaving the hot, damp lowlands
behind them. The air became cooler and fresher, and the fruits that grow
only where the heat is great, were soon passed. On, yet ever upwards!
The pathway now became steep and rough, but it brought the Spaniards at
last out upon a broad plain on which stood the city described by the
natives of the lowlands. The king came to meet the strangers in all his
glory. He lavished gifts upon them, too—gold and silver and precious
stones,—all those things which he thought valuable in the eyes of his
guests. He entertained them royally and gave feasts in their honor.

While the cruel Spaniard was looking at the rich gifts, he was planning
how to conquer Montezuma and his subjects and get all the wealth of the
country into his hands.

It was not long before this was done. Montezuma’s reign was brought to
an end; the beautiful buildings of the city of which he was so proud
were destroyed, and the Indians of Mexico became the slaves of the
Spaniards.

For nearly three hundred years Spain ruled over the country, during
which time many boys and girls crossed the ocean to make their home in
Mexico.

Some of the Spaniards married gentle Indian maidens and their children
were called half-castes, to show that they were half-white and
half-Indian. For this reason there are three kinds of children who call
Mexico home,—first, creoles, whose people came in the beginning from
Europe; second, the Indians, and third, the half-castes. Many of these
last are so fair in the skin that one would scarcely think they could
have any Indian blood whatever.

Although the white people came in the beginning from Spain, they have
lived so long in Mexico that they now have a name of their own. Many of
their children are very beautiful. They have soft black eyes which grow
sharp and piercing as they become excited. They are usually very gentle,
but if they are crossed they show a quick, unruly temper. They are not
fond of work, but like to be waited on by their servants. Many of them
are rich and live in grand houses built around courtyards whose
fountains play all day long. The air of these courtyards is filled with
the odor of lovely flowers growing there.

The mothers of the little creoles dress in dainty lawns and laces,
following the latest fashions from Paris. They are proud of their tiny
hands and feet and are careful to do no hard work that may spoil their
shape. They embroider, and do other fancywork, and they sing and play.
They are very loving, and bring up their little ones to be polite and
respectful. They, as well as their husbands, are ever ready to show
kindness to visitors and strangers.

The Indian children of Mexico lead a very different life from their
creole brothers and sisters. After the Aztecs were conquered by the
Spaniards they lived the life of slaves for such a long time that it
became a habit with them to look up to the white men as higher beings,
so that to this day they are as humble as slaves although they are now
free and the country is a republic.

The little Indians have few clothes, but that does not matter, for they
do not need more in the warm climate in which they live. As for shoes,
their people in the good old times before the coming of the Spaniards
wore none, so why should they? Sandals are certainly far more
comfortable, besides being the best foot-gear possible for mountain
climbing.

In the warm lowlands the Indians live in simple huts of wood or bamboo,
with thatched roofs of palm leaves. Farther up on the table-land where
it is cooler the homes are still small and easily made, but they are of
unburnt brick, called adobe. The roofs are flat and covered with clay.
No matter how poor the family may be the home is not complete unless it
has an oven large enough for a person to sit in, also made of adobe.
Stones are piled in this oven and heated. Then water is poured over
them, which makes a heavy steam rise, in which the people take their
baths.

“It is good,” the little Indians would tell you. “So good, that as the
sweat bursts out over your body, it will take out all the badness, and
make you feel well and strong.”

The poorest children need not be hungry, for fruits and vegetables are
cheap and plentiful. Besides these, there are the tortillas the Indian
mothers make every day for their families.

Outside of every house there is sure to be a field of maize, big enough
to furnish the family with all they need during the year. When the maize
is ripe it is gathered and put away for future use. Every evening the
women of the household take some of it and place it in jars of hot
water. They add a little lime to soften it. When morning comes, they
take it from the jar, and spreading it on a stone bench, make it into
paste with a stone roller. Now it is put into a dish, and enough water
added to make it into a batter thick enough for pancakes. One by one
these are baked before a fire of charcoal. Hours are spent each day
preparing tortillas. Even the rich people of Mexico are fond of
tortillas, and hire special cooks to prepare them for the table.

The Indian children are very strong. The boys practice running and learn
to carry heavy loads on their backs with ease. Many of the men are
porters, or work in the silver mines carrying out the ore; some of them,
however, are busy on the farms. As the boys grow up, they generally
follow the same trade as their fathers. The pay is small and the work is
hard, but it seems easier for the Indians to keep to the same old habits
that were formed under their masters, the Spaniards.

Wherever you may travel in Mexico, you will meet Indian porters with
heavy loads on their backs, moving along at a steady trot. Hour after
hour they will keep this up, carrying seventy-five or a hundred pounds
at a time. The Indian farmers may be fifty or even a hundred miles from
a market for their goods, but it does not seem to trouble them that the
vegetables they wish to sell must be carried all the way on their backs.

Besides the Indian and creole children are the half-castes whose skins
are darker than those of their white brothers and sisters, though many
of them have rosy cheeks. They are pleasant and good-natured, but are
apt to be sly and lazy.

The fathers of the little half-castes are generally farmers or mule
drivers. Their older brothers and sisters are often servants in the
homes of the wealthy creoles, where they learn the ways and fashions of
the white people and try to copy them.

Most of the boys and girls of Mexico go to school which they must reach
by seven o’clock in the morning, and where they spend about ten hours of
each day. The seats and desks are not comfortably arranged as they are
in most places in the United States. Those children who can have chairs
are fortunate, for many of them sit on benches and even on the floor.
They study aloud, so you can imagine what a chattering there is. It is
hard to understand how they manage to get their lessons.

There are many holidays in Mexico, when the tiresome schools are closed
and both big folks and little give themselves up to feasting and
dancing.

One of these, Good Friday, is celebrated in a curious way. All day long
men go through the streets carrying figures of the traitor Judas hanging
from long poles. They stop from time to time as children come running up
to them to buy a Judas. Now comes the sport, for the figures can be
blown up. Bits of lighted punk are held against the figures, when they
suddenly burst like fire-crackers and make noise enough to deafen the
ears of the passer-by. It is no wonder the children save up their money
for Good Friday so that they can buy numbers of Judases.

The evening is the best part of the whole day, for then immense Judases
are hung up on lines across the streets and crowds of people gather to
watch them while they are blown up and exploded. At the same time the
city bells ring out the glad news that Judas has been destroyed. The
strangest part of all is the crackling noise that now follows,
representing the breaking of the bones of the two thieves who were
crucified at the same time as Jesus. The Mexicans certainly have a queer
way of celebrating Good Friday.


On the Coast.

Although a part of Mexico lies in or near the torrid zone, all kinds of
climate are to be found in the country. Let us see how this is. Along
the shores of the Pacific on the west, and of the Gulf of Mexico on the
east the land is low and the air is hot and moist, and for this reason
there is much illness there. The children of these lowlands know only
two seasons, the wet and the dry. Many of them live on ranches where
herds of cattle feed on the high, coarse grass. Here and there small
streams flow through the land from the mountains above, and there are
lakes shaded by tall palm trees. These are the places where the tropical
fruits of Mexico grow,—vanilla, spices, bananas, cacao, and oranges.
Mangoes, cocoanuts, and alligator pears, besides many others seldom sent
to temperate lands, also grow here in plenty.

The lowlands are not perfectly flat, but slope upwards toward high hills
where the air is clear and much cooler. The children here can gather
yellow oranges and clutches of bananas, like their brothers and sisters
of the lowlands, while they may also pick peaches and apples in their
orchards. Flowers and trailing vines grow everywhere about them. The
palms of the hot lands wave in the breeze on one side, while the roses
and honeysuckles of the temperate zone bloom on the other. It is a
strange and beautiful country.

Slowly we bid good-by to the little homes nestled among the trees, and
with the help of a big double-engine we climb up the steep slopes to
still higher lands. The trees are of a different kind now, for strong
pines and oaks are about us everywhere.

The long climbing comes to an end at last. The double-engine has done
its work and is used no longer, for we move out upon the plateau of
Mexico where cactus plants spread over many acres, and wheat and barley
fields greet us like old friends from the United States.

[Illustration: A Mexican Village.]


Vera Cruz.

When Cortez arrived on the coast of Mexico his ships entered the only
good harbor on the eastern side of the country. He and his men landed at
a place to which the Spaniards gave the name of Vera Cruz, or “True
Cross.” Afterwards they built a city there, which to-day is one of the
two principal ports of Mexico. Every year many ships are loaded at the
wharves of Vera Cruz with limes and hammocks, silver and copper, which
they carry to the United States and other countries.

Vera Cruz is a beautiful city. Tall palm trees shade many a lovely home,
in whose gardens children are playing throughout the year. Before it
stretches the Gulf of Mexico, while at its back the lofty volcano
Orizaba reaches far up toward the sky. The people of Vera Cruz work hard
to make it a clean city, and they are helped by the vultures—big,
ugly-looking birds who are ever ready to swoop down into the streets and
house-yards to devour any decaying matter to be found. Bits of fruit and
vegetables, scraps of meat, and dead animals whether big or little, are
greedily eaten. Although the city is kept clean from one end to the
other, it is not a healthy place for a home. Fever is in hiding
everywhere and visitors find it wise to make only a short stay in the
place.


Getting Vanilla.

Few people live in the low country around Vera Cruz except Indians and
half-castes. Here and there on the banks of the streams you may find a
group of palm-thatched huts with Indian children running in and out
among the trees. The weather is so warm here throughout the year that
they wear scarcely any clothing and many times in the day they plunge
into the river to cool themselves. Sometimes the boys take long tramps
into the forests on the slopes above them in search of pods filled with
vanilla beans. They must seek only dark and moist places, for vanilla
plants do not grow well in the sunlight. Swarms of mosquitoes buzz about
the boys’ bare legs, and snakes and lizards often cross their path. Many
times they are obliged to crawl between tangled vines and push thick
underbrush aside. But they care little for these things. Their minds are
set on finding enough vanilla plants to yield them a goodly load of
pods, which they will carry home and dry with the greatest care before
sending them to market.


Acapulco.

On the western coast of Mexico is the city of Acapulco, with its deep
and beautiful harbor. Many large steamers are loaded with cattle and
hides, timber and fruit at its wharves.


The Mexican Farms.

Many of the children of Mexico have their homes on tobacco and sugar
plantations which are found on the slopes rising from the lowlands along
the shore. Still other children live on the plateau of Mexico on large
farms which stretch over miles of country and seem like small towns in
themselves. The men on these farms are busy in various ways. Some of
them have the care of large fields of wheat or barley. Others tend herds
of cattle or flocks of sheep.

The owner of such a farm is usually a rich man who lives with his family
in a large stone house surrounded by high walls. There is a courtyard
where beautiful trees and plants are growing and fountains are playing.
The wife and children of the owner wear dainty garments and are waited
upon by many servants. They have the choicest food,—fruits of many
kinds, chicken cooked in different ways, tortillas of course, besides
all sorts of delicacies prepared by excellent cooks.

The workmen have very different homes. They live in small huts of one or
two rooms, and built of mud or adobe. Inside are rough stone fireplaces,
and a few mats are spread on the floor. Here the children and their
parents sit while they eat their simple meals of tortillas and black
beans, and here they stretch themselves at night for sleep. They are
quite happy, however. Outdoors are the birds, the flowers, and the
beautiful sunshine. They need few clothes and they do not go hungry.

There are usually large dairies on these farms where women are busy
making the rich milk into butter and cheese. Thousands of pounds are
often sent to market from one such farm during the year.

You have probably seen century plants in the hot-houses you have
visited, and have been told that they belong to the aloe family. When
the Spaniards first came to Mexico they saw the Indians making paper
from the pulp of the leaves of the aloe plant and twine from its fibers.
The sharp thorns on the edges of the leaves furnished needles for the
Indian women, and the sap of the aloe was made into pulque, the favorite
drink of the natives. They also made hammocks from the fibers and
thatched the roofs of their huts with the big leaves, lapping one over
the other like shingles. In fact, the Indians made so many uses of the
aloe plant that the Spaniards thought it worth while to raise it in
large quantities for themselves.

The aloe has thick, pointed leaves sometimes ten feet long. It blossoms
about once in ten years, when it sends a flower stalk twenty or thirty
feet up into the air. At the very top an immense cluster of
greenish-yellow blossoms appears. All the strength of the plant goes
into these blossoms for, as they open, the leaves wither and die.

The Indians have learned to tell when the plant is getting ready to send
up its giant flower-stalk. Just before it appears they cut out the heart
with a sharp knife, leaving only the thick, outside rind of the stem.
The sweet sap that should have gone to feed the flower-stalk begins to
ooze into the hollow and continues to do so for several weeks. The
Indians, who have discovered the right time to cut into the plant to
prevent its flowering, have also learned that the sap can be used in
making the drink which they call pulque.

The city of Mexico is a beautiful one, with high stone walls around it,
a large square in the centre, and broad streets running at right angles
to each other. Nearly all the houses are built of stone, with flat roofs
on which the people sit in the evening to enjoy the cool breezes and
watch the stars twinkling merrily in the heavens above.

The children of the big stone houses can play in inner courtyards among
flowering plants and fountains. But when they leave their homes to go
out into the city they must pass through heavy doors studded with nails
and heavily chained. The house windows that face the street have iron
bars across them, so that at first these houses seem like fortresses.
But when one passes to the back part of such a building and looks out
through the windows there upon the pretty courtyard with its fountains
and flower-beds, or takes a comfortable chair on one of the balconies,
with its gilded balustrades covered with trailing vines, he begins to
feel as though he were in a beautiful palace.

The great square in the middle of the city is beautiful with trees and
flowers, statues, and walks paved with snowy marble. In the long-ago a
temple stood here where hundreds of people were sacrificed to the gods
in whom the Aztecs believed. On one side of the square stands the house
of the president, and on another there is a grand cathedral where the
Mexicans and their children go to worship. The cathedral doors are
always open so that any day you may go inside and find people kneeling
there. Rich and poor, grand ladies in delicate muslins and jewels, and
the poorest Indians with their packs of fruit or coops filled with
chickens still on their backs, kneel in prayer side by side.

Many of the children who have been to the cathedral to worship, stop as
they leave it before the flower-decked stands under the trees, where
women are busy selling cool drinks and sweetmeats. Or perhaps they are
more interested in the Indians wandering about with cages of
humming-birds and parrots, and they beg their parents or older friends
who are with them to buy one of the birds to carry home.

As the children go on their way they pass many a horseman riding through
the streets with broad hat shading his face, and with leggings trimmed
with buttons and silver braid. Silver spurs shine brightly at his side
in the sunlight, as also do the gorgeous trappings of his horse.

There are all sorts of people to be seen on the streets of Mexico. There
are Indians with packs of all sorts on their backs. There are girls in
gaily striped skirts selling fruit. There are water-carriers in leather
aprons with large earthen jars on their backs and smaller ones hanging
down in front; there are bird-sellers with flower-trimmed cages; there
are the Indian policemen who carry lanterns at night, which they place
in the middle of the street while they nap in the doorways close by.
These naps must be very short, however, because every fifteen minutes it
is the business of the policemen to blow shrill whistles, and at every
hour to call the time.


The Big Market.

The boys and girls of the city often visit the big market which is only
a short distance from the cathedral. It is surrounded by high stone
walls and on every side there is a gateway through which the people are
constantly passing.

The sides of the market are lined with shops where people are busy
selling all sorts of goods. There are the stalls of butchers where only
meats are to be seen. There are stands of fruit that fill the air with
sweet odors. There are vegetables of many kinds, furniture, and
dress-goods of all colors. There are shops where fried meats are sold to
hungry people in need of a lunch. There are great piles of cocoanuts and
bananas heaped upon the ground. There are fish from both lake and ocean.
Strangest of all are the cakes made out of marshflies. These flies are
found in great numbers along the muddy banks of the Mexican lakes. There
they lay their eggs among the flags and rushes and are killed by the
Indians and made into a paste.

The middle of the market is filled with Indians who shade themselves and
their wares from the hot sun by large squares of matting perched on
poles. Here is one man with coops filled with chickens, and another with
a stack of earthen dishes made at home. Just beyond him is a woman with
a baby on her back. She is standing by the side of a patient donkey with
panniers filled with melons or peaches, hanging from its sides, and a
happy little two-year old child on its back. Some of the people who are
busy selling their wares have come many miles and left their homes
before sunrise. They have brought their families along with them, so
that half-naked children and babies of all ages are to be seen
everywhere. Some of them are munching fruit, others playing
hide-and-seek among the crowds, while many a tiny baby is nodding itself
to sleep on its mother’s back or crying with all its might for a little
attention.


The Museums.

The children of the city are fond of visiting the museums, for there
they can see many of the wonderful things made by the Aztecs in the time
of their great ruler, Montezuma.

First of all they stop before a large bed of flowers in the court, in
the center of which is the “sacrificial stone” where, in the old days
before the coming of the white men, people were offered up to the gods
in whom they believed. Near by are the hideous statues of two of these
gods. They are not pleasant to look at, so the visitors pass quickly
into the building where they can see Aztec vases ornamented with strange
carving, masks of volcanic glass, the wonderful feather shields of
Montezuma, books filled with picture-writing, and images made of wax and
representing all kinds of life in Mexico. There is the Indian with his
pack, the charcoal-seller with his donkey beside him laden with coal,
the flower-vender with bouquets of flowers in her hands.

Children are never tired of looking at these wax figures, but however
long they may stay, they do not like to leave the museum without at
least a peep at the feather pictures made in the time of Montezuma.

These pictures are entirely of birds’ delicate feathers, laid over each
other so carefully that if you were to examine them ever so closely you
would not be able to tell how the work was done. The pictures are as
wonderful in their way as fine paintings. Only few Indians know the
secret of making them, which is guarded carefully and handed down from
father to son.


The Floating Gardens.

Most of the vegetables raised for the people of Mexico are brought in
the early morning from the floating gardens a short distance from the
city, where there are some lakes. A kind of water-plant grows in these
lakes very fast and mats together, making marshy beds.

Long ago, in the time of Montezuma, the Aztec farmers learned to make
gardens out of these floating masses of weeds. They cut out large
squares which they covered with mud drawn up from the bottom of the
lake. The soil was rich and moist so that no place in the world could be
better for plants. Flower and vegetable seeds were sown and in a short
time beautiful gardens were growing.

From that day to this Indians have been busy tending these floating
gardens. They pass from one to another in canoes, gathering vegetables
and flowers for the city market. One boat will be filled with lettuce,
another with luscious red tomatoes, while still another will be loaded
with bright-colored flowers. It is a pretty sight to see them as they
move slowly along through the Viga Canal that leads from the lakes to
the city. Again and again the Indians paddling along with their loads
are passed by pleasure boats filled with young people, who make the air
resound with the odd sweet songs of the country.


Volcanoes.

South of the city of Mexico there is a range of hills, and beyond these
is a chain of volcanoes, two of which bear the names of Popocatapetl and
Iztacsihuatl. It is much easier, however, to think of them as “Smoking
Mountain” and “The Woman in White,” for such are the meanings of these
long words. Both these volcanoes wear garments of snow and they look so
peaceful that the children of Mexico are not troubled with the thought
of what might happen if they should awake in fiery anger some day and
send out streams of red-hot lava over the country below.

The slopes of Popocatapetl are dotted with the huts of Indians who earn
their living by getting loads of sulphur from the crater of the volcano.

The highest mountain peak in Mexico is Orizaba, or the “Star of the
Sea.” As you sail towards the eastern shore of Mexico and when you are
still so far away that no other part is in sight, the lofty volcano
Orizaba appears before you with its summit in the clouds. The Indians
chose a fitting name for it, because it certainly seems to rise out of
the sea.


Among the Mines.

When the Spaniards became the rulers of Mexico they found themselves the
owners of the richest silver mines in the world. A great part of the
silver used to-day came from those mines. Although immense fortunes have
been made in the country for hundreds of years, yet the mines are still
rich in the precious ore. They are owned by white men, but the work of
getting the silver is done mostly by Indians. Mules are sometimes used
to carry the ore from the dark caverns underground to the bright world
outside, but much of even this work is done by the Indians themselves,
who climb up the steep sides of the mines with heavy loads on their
backs day after day.

When the silver is found it is generally mixed with sulphur, but
sometimes a lump of the pure metal is turned up. One of these lumps
weighed four hundred and twenty-five pounds, and was worth eight
thousand dollars.

The miners sometimes try to steal the silver by hiding it in their hair,
their ears, or between their toes. They are carefully watched for this
reason, so they seldom succeed.

Copper is also found in the mines of Mexico and some of it is sent to
the United States.

The children of Mexico never need to leave their country for the sake of
a change, for by traveling a few miles, they can enjoy either cold
weather or hot; they can see the trees and plants, can hear the birds,
and can pick the flowers belonging to lands that stretch from the frozen
north to the burning regions of the equator.



CHAPTER IX—Little Folks of Central America


Now let us make a short visit to the children of Central America.
Perhaps it would not be well for us to stay with them long unless they
live in the high valleys of the mountain country along the western
shore, for the lowlands are hotter and even more moist than those of
Mexico. Fever lies in waiting for strangers in the lowlands; swarms of
mosquitoes are ready to attack us on every hand, centipedes and
scorpions are hidden in the grass at our feet, so that we are quite
willing to hasten towards the hill country as quickly as possible. Even
here we feel in danger, for the high valleys we enter lie hidden under
the very shadow of a row of volcanoes that stretch from north to south
through the land. Many of these are quite wide-awake and show this in
various ways, some by the clouds of smoke that rise out of their
craters, or by the odor of sulphur that reaches our noses, or perhaps by
the shaking of the earth beneath our feet.

One of the highest of these peaks is called Agua which, from time to
time, sends out jets of boiling water.

The children of Central America are quite used to earthquakes, which
they feel many times during the year. At any moment, in the midst of
their play, at dinner time, or during a walk through the streets, the
ground may suddenly tremble under their feet, they become dizzy and
light-headed, and perhaps there is a rumbling sound in the air around
them. If they are away from home, they hurry back to seek safety beside
their mothers.

A minute afterwards the danger may pass by and the play or dinner or
walk goes on as before. Yet there are ruined cities in the country to
tell the story that there have been terrible earthquakes in past times
when homes were destroyed, and men, women and children lost their lives
before they had time to flee for safety.

The children of Central America are much like their brothers and sisters
of Mexico. There are the Indians who are little troubled by the heat and
mosquitoes, there are the white boys and girls whose people came from
Spain, and there are the little half-castes.

Some of these children live near dense forests where their fathers are
busy cutting down valuable mahogany and logwood trees, which are shipped
to other lands to be made into elegant furniture. It is so hot in many
of these forests that the men do their work at night with flaming
torches to give them light.

It is a strange sight. All around is heavy darkness except in the
cleared space among the trees where the torch-lights show patient oxen
plodding along with their heavy loads, and their half-naked drivers
snapping their whips and calling in loud voices to the animals and each
other. Through it all comes the sound of the whip and axe, and the
snapping of the big trunks as they fall to the ground.

Logwood, from which a valuable dye is obtained, is the name of another
valuable tree found in the forests of Central America, as also is the
lignum vitæ, or wood of life. From both logwood and lignum vitæ are
extracted medicines which physicians often use.

In Central America people need to be careful when they are wandering
through the thick grass or along the edge of a forest, for poisonous
snakes lurk about and the bites of some of them may cause much pain and
suffering.

Sometimes the boys bring home winged squirrels which they have caught
while flying from tree to tree, but these little creatures do not enjoy
being made captive. They love their wild life in the woods, where they
are free to scamper over the ground; or spreading their legs, to fly
about among the branches of the trees as they will.

Along the southern coast of Central America the children find beautiful
mother-of-pearl shells on the water’s edge. As the sunlight falls upon
these shells the loveliest colors are seen on the clear
surface,—delicate pinks and blues and violets. After the children are
tired of playing with the shells they can easily sell them, for
travelers are ever ready to buy them as remembrances of their stay in
the country.

In the forests of Central America there are many rubber trees, where
Indian boys help their fathers gather the sap which will afterwards be
made into storm coats and shoes to protect the children of the United
States from rain and snow.

In the lowlands and on the slopes there are many banana orchards, which
furnish all the fruit the little folks and their parents wish for, as
well as many a shipload for the people of other lands.

Some of the white children of the country live on coffee plantations
where Negro and Indian workmen care for the trees and pick the berries
for market.

There are also places in Central America where the indigo plant is
raised on account of the blue dye that is obtained from it. This, too,
is sent away from the country in ships, as well as coffee and mahogany,
bananas and rubber.

Central America is divided into several republics, each one of which is
quite independent of the others. As you travel through them southwards,
the country becomes more and more narrow till you come at last to the
Isthmus of Panama, which joins North and South America.

The people of the United States are now very busy building a canal
through this isthmus to join together the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
As you look at the map it seems an easy enough matter.

You think, “Why, that canal ought to be finished in a short time and
should not cost much, either, for the distance across the canal is not
more than twenty-six miles at the narrowest part.”

But you must remember in the first place that the canal can not be dug
in a straight line; also, that it must pass through the heart of high
mountains and that solid masses of rock must be broken up, bit by bit.
Then again, the climate of the lowlands is very unhealthy during the wet
season of the year and the workmen suffer from fever and other kinds of
sickness. Besides, it has been hard to get men who understand the work
to go there. For these reasons and still others the building of this
canal is a tremendous undertaking and will cost billions of dollars
before it is finished.

The people of France began it many years ago, but gave it up after
two-fifths of it had been dug. The people of the United States undertook
to finish it, and at present everything is going on well. They paid
France for what she had already done on the canal and bought the land
through which it is to pass. Moreover, they have built comfortable homes
for the workmen and have done many things to prevent the fevers that
attack persons so easily on account of the damp, hot climate.

So it has come about that on the Isthmus of Panama there are now many
American children whose fathers are busy on the canal and have brought
their families to live with them there. Schools have been built where
these children study the same lessons as their playmates at home. Mother
Nature gives them other lessons too, for they see many curious sights in
the country around them, different trees and plants, different flowers
and birds from those of their homeland. If they enter the forests they
can see the parrots and monkeys among the tree-tops, and possibly wild
hogs among the underbrush. They can pick flowers which are beautiful,
but without fragrance. They can tap milk trees and get a thick, creamy
liquid which will satisfy their hunger. They must be watchful, however,
in this strange country, for immense ants are ever ready to sting their
tender toes, and poisonous snakes lie hidden in the thick grass.

Not far from the homes of the little Americans there are villages where
Chinese children are living with their parents, since many Chinamen are
at work on the canal. There are Negroes, too, as well as the white men
and the native Indians.

By and by, when the great undertaking is finished and big ships from all
parts of the world are constantly passing through the canal, it will be
a very lively place and many will be the visitors to that part of North
America.



CHAPTER X—Little Folks of the West Indies


When Columbus discovered the New World he landed on a small island
southeast of North America where the gentle red people greeted him as a
god from heaven. You probably know the story,—how Columbus thought he
had reached India, the land of silks and spices, and how he accordingly
called the red men whom he met, Indians. In fact India was far away, and
instead of landing on its shores, the great sailor had reached one of a
long chain of islands reaching from North to South America, which we
know to-day as the West Indies.

The red people who greeted Columbus did not live long after the coming
of the Spaniards who followed him. They were made to dig gold in the
mines for their cruel masters, and to do other hard work to which they
were not used. They soon sickened and died under the hard treatment.
Many of them, alas, were killed by the white men in sport, so that
before long not an Indian was left in all the islands.

To-day many white children, whose people came from Spain long ago, are
living in happy homes in the West Indies. Besides them, there are
hundreds of little Negroes with kinky hair and rolling eyes, whose homes
are tiny huts thatched with palm leaves, and who wear little or no
clothing. They bask in the sunshine and play in the clear waters along
the shore and are as happy as the day is long.

The beautiful islands of the West Indies lie in the hot belt of the
world, and the people who live there know but two seasons, a wet and a
dry. For several months rain falls every day,—not all day long, however,
keeping the boys and girls indoors, but there are heavy showers every
morning, after which the world looks lovelier than ever. It is far
pleasanter then than in the dry season, when the trees and plants lose
their freshness and the dust is thick upon everything around.

Although the West Indies lie in the hot belt, yet cool breezes from the
ocean blow over the land throughout the year so that the people who live
there do not suffer from the heat. The white children wear thin linen
and cotton garments, and instead of the meat and blood soup so necessary
to the little Eskimo, they have cooling drinks made with limes and
lemons, and they eat freely the delicious fruits that are so plentiful.
They are not fond of lively games like football and baseball, which are
such favorites with many American children. Instead, they spend many
hours in hammocks among groves of orange and breadfruit trees.

These children go to school for two hours of the early morning and two
in the late afternoon, but when the sun is bright in the heavens and the
air is hot they stay at home to rest and sleep. In many of the homes of
the richer people the children take their breakfast of rolls, and coffee
or chocolate in bed, then get up to study their lessons with a governess
who lives with the family.

Some of the islands of the West Indies have been built up, bit by bit,
by the little coral insects of the sea. Others are the tops of mountains
resting on the bed of the ocean; most of them are broken up into deep
valleys and high hills, among which are many strange plants and animals.

Not many years ago there was a war between Spain and the United States.
It lasted but a short time, and when it came to an end Spain agreed to
give up her rights in the West Indies. Porto Rico, one of the most
important islands, became a part of the United States, and Cuba, the
largest island of all, was made a republic. Since that time many
Americans have gone to live in the West Indies to carry on business in
the cities, or raise sugar and coffee on the plantations.

When the Spaniards had no more Indians to work for them, they sent ships
to Africa for Negroes who should serve them as slaves on their
plantations. Now, however, the Negroes have all been freed. Hayti, one
of the islands, is divided into two small republics of black people. In
the other islands most of the workmen are black, for these people can
bear a great deal of heat and can stay all day long in the sugar and
tobacco fields without harm, when white men would suffer from sunstroke.


Hurricanes.

There is one time of the year which the children of the West Indies do
not enjoy. This is the season of hurricanes. It is because of these that
most of the houses are only one story high, for the winds are so strong
and terrible then that the strongest buildings are in danger.

As the time draws near when hurricanes are expected, boats are drawn up
along the shore, roofs are patched and made tight, and everyone watches
the sky for the dread signs. Then, as the clouds gather and the birds
take flight into the depths of the forest, the children run home to
their parents for safety. If they live in the country the whole family
will sometimes leave the house and seek safety in a stone cavern, built
on purpose for their protection in the hurricane season. There the
people will stay till the wind has done its work and passed on. When
they leave their hiding-place they often find that great harm has been
done; noble trees lie stretched on the ground, the crops have been
destroyed, and the glass of the house windows is shattered. They look
about them at the world that is once more so beautiful and peaceful, and
take long breaths as they think, “Perhaps there will be no more danger
for us for another long year and that is a long way off. We will not
worry.”


In the Woods.

There are no large animals in the forests of the West Indies to frighten
the children, but among the grasses and beautiful plants that grow
everywhere about them there are many insects that might do them harm.
Scorpions, which belong to the spider family, may give painful bites,
and centipedes with their hundred legs, must also be watched for. Then
there are mosquitoes without number, and chigos as the children call
them, which creep between the tender skins of the white people’s toes
and make poisonous sores, but seldom trouble those of the Negroes.

“I must not go far into the woods when I am alone,” think many small
boys and girls, for they are afraid they may meet a wild dog which they
are quite sure is a most fierce and dangerous animal. But the children
have little to fear on this account, for wild dogs are so scarce that
few people have ever met them. Long ago in Mexico, in the time of the
Aztecs, and in the West Indies before the coming of the white men there,
it is said there were such creatures in the forests, but now they are
rare indeed.

Sometimes the children meet a strange kind of army when they are walking
in the woods or driving along the country roads. This army is composed
of huge land crabs who go once a year from their home on the mountain
sides to the sea. There are often hundreds in this army, which marches
slowly but steadily onward, through patches of woods, across roads, and
over fields of tobacco. After the journey is once begun, it is said that
the crabs do not rest till the ocean lies before them.

The children of the West Indies spend much time training beautiful
parrots caught in the woods not far from their homes; they gather
firebugs so brilliant that on summer evenings the tiny insects light up
their gardens, making them appear like fairyland; they can listen to the
singing-tree that makes a soft cooing noise when the breeze stirs its
branches; they can gather limes and lemons, breadfruit and oranges in
their own groves.


Among the Sugar-canes.

Many children of the West Indies live on large plantations where tobacco
and sugar are raised. As you drive along through the country you will
pass broad fields covered with tobacco plants whose glossy leaves spread
out in the sunlight. Workmen are constantly busy caring for the plants
and watching lest troublesome insects injure the leaves.

Again, you will see before you wide fields of what seems at first to be
corn, but as you draw nearer you discover that the stalks are much
taller. It is the sugar-cane which grows so high that a man on horseback
may hide himself in its midst. A great deal of the West Indian sugar is
raised in Cuba where the plantations are so large that they seem like
small villages in themselves.

Let us visit the children of a sugar planter. We pass through a wide
driveway of beautiful trees and arrive in front of a large, one-story
house with wide verandas. Flowering vines trail over the trellises. The
door is opened by a smiling Negro maid with a gaily-colored ’kerchief
wound around her woolly head. She shows you into the drawing-room where
a dark-eyed lady in white is sitting in a lounging chair. It is the
mother of your little Cuban friends, whom you have come to visit. She
speaks to you in a sweet, low voice and smiles so pleasantly that you
feel at home at once.

A moment afterwards the children appear. They are slim and dark-skinned
like their mother; perhaps they are bare-footed, or they may have
sandals on their feet. They take delight in making you welcome, and in
showing you over the plantation. First, they wish you to see their
gardens, where roses and lilies, oleanders and jessamines fill the air
with sweetness.

After this, it may be, they call to a young Negro not much older than
themselves, who leads some ponies from the stable so that you may all
ride over the plantation, since it stretches over the country for
several miles.

In a few minutes you are out in the sugar fields where you are obliged
to look up to see the tops of the canes. They are jointed like
corn-stalks, and contain a sweet liquid, as you find out after breaking
off a young cane and chewing it. The white overseer is riding here and
there, directing the Negroes at their work, for the cane is ripe and the
men are busy cutting it down and piling it in loads to be taken to the
mill.

You follow one of these loads and soon reach the sugar mill where iron
rollers crush the canes and squeeze out the juice. In another building
near by there are big fires over which the sweet syrup is kept boiling
in copper pans until it is so thick that it will form into crystals.
Then it is poured into wooden coolers; last of all, when it is quite
cold, it is placed in hogsheads with holes in the bottom. There it is
left for several weeks while the molasses drips, drop by drop, through
the holes, leaving the clear sugar inside.

Your little Cuban friends may tell you with much pride that their island
home is the largest sugar market in the world and that the hogsheads of
sugar you have just seen will be sent to the city of Havana not far away
and there be loaded on ships which will carry the sugar to the United
States and other countries.

No doubt the little Cubans will ask you if you have seen the big
fortress called Morro Castle which defends the harbor of Havana. It is
so strong they feel quite sure that enemies would be afraid to pass it.

Before you leave the plantation your friends take you to visit the homes
of the Negro workmen, which are only small huts. Many of them have small
gardens where melons and sweet potatoes are sure to be found. Although
the huts are small, the families who live in them are large, and groups
of little “darkies” some of whom are quite naked, are playing about and
smile as you pass them, showing broad rows of white teeth, and rolling
their eyes in such a funny way that you laugh in spite of yourself.

The children of the West Indies have good reasons to be happy and
loving. The people do not need to work hard; a little food and a few
clothes, a simple home and a hammock to swing in, are enough to make
anyone comfortable in the hot lands. How different such a life is from
the toiling and struggle of the people of the far north, who meet danger
and trouble every day in their search for the wild animals which furnish
them with all they have,—food, fuel, and clothing.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

1. All images in the printed book included the notice: “From Copyrighted
Stereograph by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y.”

2. Inconsistent hyphenation has been normalized.





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