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12

PLANTING TREES.A SNOW.

desired to dig the holes for receiving them. This was a favorite job, for he liked digging better than any thing. There were some almond, and double-blossomed cherrytrees, and some mezereons;* all of which help to make the pleasant spring-time beautiful. There were lilacs and moss-roses, together with some apple and pear trees.

“I think, Adam,” said his father, we shall soon have a change of weather, for the air has become much colder. We must get all these trees into the ground to day, and think it as much as we shall be able to do, for there are a great many of them.” And it was well they did so; for all night the snow came softly down, making no noise like the pattering of rain; and in the morning Adam beheld, to his astonishment, that all his little flowers were covered, and the trees looked as if one part of their branches had been painted white, and the fir trees as if little white cushions had been laid upon them. Adam was rather impatient when he found that his work in the garden was at an end. “I cannot think,” said he, “what is the use of snow: it is very pretty, to be sure, but I do not think it is of any use.” “Of what use was it, Adam,” said his father, "for us to matt up the flowers, and to put pea-haulm round the cauliflower glasses?" “Oh! that was to keep them warm," said Adam, "and the frost from them." Well,” said his father, "the snow will answer the same purpose. I do not say that the snow will make them warm. It is rather foolish of people to say that the snow warms any thing:

"Mezereon," a beautiful species of flowering shrub, the cneorum tricoccum of botanists.--Eds.,

† "To mat," i. e. to cover with mats.-Eds.

IN-DOOR WORK.- A WALK.

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but it shields them from those dreadful, sharp, withering winds, and black frosts; and that is all the use that the straw and matting could be of. The winds may now blow ás fiercely as they please, our flowers and tender plants are doubly sheltered. However, do not fear that you will have nothing to do. I will find you plenty of employment, and if the afternoon be fine, we will take a walk.” They went into the wood house, and Mr. Stock allowed Adam to chop some small wood for the fires; but he showed him first how to hold the sticks, and cautioned him to be very careful in striking with the bill. His father sawed some logs, and Adam piled them up. They then went to the store rooin, and looked over the fruit, taking out such as had become decayed; and to prevent the frosty wind from penetrating the room, they stopped up the cracks of the window, and nailed a carpet before it.

After dinner, according to his promise, Mr. Stock took Adam, with two of his brothers, a walk into the fields in his neighborhood. The air was very calm, and the sky was beautifully clear, with only a few small clouds here and there. As they were passing a thatched cottage, Adam observed a little bird under the thatch, which seemed very busy, and as if it were endeavoring to make a hole in it. He asked his father what it was doing, and what was its name. “It is called the tit-mouse,” said he,“ or tom-tit; and it is hunting for the insects which have taken shelter from the weather in the straw. And those birds you see there to the left, are called field-fares and red-wings. The severe winter in the north countries has driven them to take shelter with us. Many flocks come from Norway. You remember where Norway is. Mamma told you, the other evening, you know, about a dread

14

THE RING-DOVE. THE ROBIN.

ful whirlpool, called the Maalstroom, near the coast of it, and showed you the place upon the map. Those poor little birds live upon the berries of the hawthorn, and whatever other fruit of that sort they can find. You will therefore be pleased in future, when you see the hedges very full of blossoms, and afterwards of berries.” “Oh, papa,” said little Tom, “there was a large and beautiful bird came out of that tree !” “That,” said his father, “is a wood-pigeon; it is called the ring-dove; it came to that tree to eat the berries on the ivy which grows up it. It also lives upon the fruit of the beech tree, called beech-mast. Almost all the beautiful pigeons you see in the farm yards have come originally from those wild ones that live in the woods."

The sun was now nearly set, and the clouds all about were tinged with a beautiful rose color. It went down behind the hills, which looked dark from the bright and burning gold that was behind them; and they soon saw nothing but the broad bars of light which shot from it up into the clouds. As they returned home, the children stopped to listen to a robin red-breast that was singing on a medlar tree* before a cottage door. They admired it very much. “Yes,” said the father, “the robin is the most welcome of all the singing birds, for he keeps on in spite of the cold winds which have put to silence, or driven away to warmer countries, all the other songsters. He is like a true friend that stays to comfort us when we have no longer any thing to bestow. Do not you know, Adam, what I mean? He is like a school-fellow, who will be just as kind when you have nothing to

"Medlar," a small fruit tree somewhat resembling the quince.-Eds.

STILLNESS OF WINTER.

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give him, as when you have a large cake to share.” Mr. Stock then told them the story of “The Children in the Wood;" and afterwards repeated to Adam the following lines, and asked him if he understood them, and whether he did not think them very pretty :

“The redbreast warbles still, but is content,

With slender notes, and more than half-suppress'd:
Pleas'd with his solitude, and fitting light
From spray to spray, where'er he rests, he shakes
From many a twig the pendent drops of ice,
That tinkle in the wither'd leaves below.
Stillness, accompanied with sounds so soft,

Charms more than silence." Adam said he thought he could understand part of what was meant, and then observed how very silent every thing was. “It seems, papa,” said he, “as if there was nobody in all the world talking but ourselves.” “Yes, it does seem so, Adam,” said his father; "and my old friend Mr. Keats, in one of his poems, speaks of the silence of a frosty evening. When you are a great boy, and have read many more books than you now have, you shall read the writings of all our great poets; at present you could not understand them.”

By this time they had nearly reached home, when they saw a hare skip across the road into a field of turnips. Their father told them that he was going to make his supper of their tender green leaves. “When the weather becomes very severe,” said he, “these poor timid little animals come into the gardens for the vegetables; and at this time of the year they are traced by the marks of their feet in the snow, and hunted down by greyhounds. When the dogs are close to them, and they become wearied with the violent running, they cry in the most piteous manner, and very

16

HARES.-A HOAR-FROST.

much like a little baby. I cannot think how any feel. ing man, who has ever seen the beautiful and gentle face of a hare, and heard its piercing shrieks when pursued by those cruel dogs, can take pleasure in hunting the poor feeble little thing to death. In the hard frosts rabbits also come into the gardens, and injure the trees by gnawing off the bark all round, as high as they can reach.” The evening had now closed in; they were all snug at home round a warm blazing fire; and, after a hearty meal, the children went merrily to bed.

The following was a beautiful sunny morning, and the whole family were up as soon as the sun had risen. Mr. Stock told the girls and boys that they should all take a run down the road. There had been a slight thaw during the night, which had been followed at daybreak by a hoar-frost. Nothing could be more elegant than the appearance of the trees with the sun shining through them. The trunks looked like pillars of glass, and the little twigs were all covered with a sparkling silver fringe. Even the tall grass and weeds by the road-side were as if they had been swan-down feathers sprinkled with diamonds. The turnip leaves and the Scotch kale looked like green velvet adorned with gem. The children had never before seen such a sight, ar i they were quite delighted. After running about till they were out of breath, and their cheeks were as red as roses, they returned home to breakfast. While they were eating and talking of what they had seen, their father told them that hoar-frost was mist, or dew, which froze as it settled; that hail was drops of rain, also frozen suddenly in the fall; and that snow was the water of the clouds frozen before it descended. “What you have seen this morning,” said he, “is

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