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their voices in the keen air, it soon grew very still, and Queenie's head began to droop on mamma's shoulder as she begged, “Sing tula ! sing tula !” (to her). And when mamma had piped a little song or two, she heard the darling whisper dreamily, "Now I lay me down aseep”; and, sure enough, she was fast asleep! After a while we stopped at a little German inn, all alone out in the snows. No living thing was to be seen about the premises, but “Missiehomes" discovered through the window such a pretty sight that we all tumbled out to see it. The blinds were all up, and there on the homely table was a box in which stood a beautiful Christmas-tree. Beneath it was an empty cradle, and its boughs were hung with pretty toys and sweetcakes and candies in all manner of odd shapes; so, doubtless, bright eyes and merry feet had danced about it very recently ; but not a sign of life appeared, and mamma said it made her feel as she did when she walked among the deserted homes in Pompeii.
On our way home, Queenie must needs have a “ Kissmas-tee” too; so “ Missiehomes" plunged through the deep snows, and brought her a beautiful bough, on which there was a real, true bird's-nest. If you can think of anything which did n't sooner or later find its way into that nest, after it was set up in our study, I 'd like you to mention it! It was a real magpie's nest for “pickings and stealings.” As for me, I had to sit in it many a long hour, with a general order to “lay eggs”!
Queenie closed this, her second Christmas, by opening a copy of the “Pickwick Papers ” on the sofa, and, making me kneel down before it with her, she said, “Now Essel's goin' to say pares. O Lor, O Lor, pay my soul to take. Amen. O Lor, O Lor, bess my soul !” I did n't succeed in kneeling much better than I did in laying eggs; but Minnie's joints had grown so loose that it was very easy for her. Queenie just seated her against the wall, and then twisted her face around behind. She was kept in that posture most of the time, poor soul! for Queenie did n't enjoy her so much now that her dimpled toes and fingers were so sadly bruised, and her dainty head apt to roll off like a foot-ball, to say nothing of missing her pretty white curls, which I was made to wear very often. How sad it made me to be rigged out like an English barrister in Minnie's wig, I cannot tell you ; for, besides the pain of the pin which fastened it on my head, I only loved her the more as her beauty faded, and longed to give her some of the hardy endurance of my homely old frame, and could not bear to be made fine at her expense.
On New Year's morning, Queenie wished Minnie and me and her dancing " Jim Crow" a "Happy New Year "; and then, fluttering before her grandpapa's picture, she cried coaxingly, "I gie oo happy New Year, Ganpa Tild! Tome down, show me Goosey Ganner pitcher-book!” But he could n't come, though he ached to.
She had an odd tea-party on this day. She had made a great bugbear for some time of two little Parian busts, which she called “ Missershakespull ” and “Missieluser” (““ Missie" because of his sleek hair, perhaps). She would n't even venture into that part of the study in which they stood, so it became quite troublesome. So while sweet Miskodeed (we could not ask
that Queenie should be any lovelier in body and soul when she grows to be twelve years old than is this northern blossom) was devoting part of her holiday to giving Queenie a ride in her own little sleigh, mamma arranged a little entertainment. A thick book served for a table, which she spread with as many of Queenie's dishes as could be collected at short notice, considering the little girl's loose notions about a china-closet. For guests at this feast, mamma set down “ Missershakespull,” “Missieluser,” Minnie, and
The bugbears looked anything but awful when their noses were brought on a level with ginger-snaps and pop-corn; and around “Missieluser's” neck was tied a bright scarf of Minnie's, which gave him quite a smart air, more like one of the family. So Queenie, when she came in, was only taken aback for a moment, and soon ate up all “ Missershakespull’s ” popcorn from under his very nose in the most friendly manner, and, to wind up, was carried up stairs to bid dear “ Missiehomes” good night, with both bugbears hugged tight in her arms.
Queenie was trying very hard to learn to turn out her toes properly. She would take hold of one foot with both hands, and set it down on one side of the room, and then lift the other in the same way, as far off as it would go toward the other side. This cost her a good many tumbles. She always had a model before her, for good old Nokomis made “jumbles ” every week, and out of the oven was sure to come for the little girl (who never tasted a bit of cake in her life) a prim little brown damsel, done to a turn, who turned out her toes in the most pointed manner. Queenie became very particular about the toes of everybody else. “Turn out oore toes, Moolie-Cow!" she often said, when she met a cow in her walks or drives. We had a wise, kind medicineman, whose great experience had taught him that “air, diet, and exercise” are the best medicines, — with a little “peppermint and rhubarb” by way of change (it was even said that he once, from force of habit, made this same prescription for a broken leg, and cured his patient). We all loved him, and watched for his cheering visits. One day, during his call, Queenie sat in mamma's lap watching him. “Take some newbarb, Minnie!” she cried out, suddenly. “Jimmy-Jack! oo need some newbarb!” which made us all feel very funny. As soon as he rose to go, she said, “ Put on oore hat, that 's right! Take some newbarb! Turn out oore toes!” The next day she was a little fretful herself, and mamma drew on a long face, and said, in a crying tone, “ O, do be pleasant, Ethel, or mamma will lose all heart, so she can't take care of you all.” “Does oo need some pettermint and newbarb, mamma?” was all the sympathy she got from the little wag.
But she usually took nice care of mamma. One day something happened at which mamma exclaimed, “O mercy !” “Don't say .O mercy,' mamma ; I would nit.” (She always said would, did, and could " nit” for not.) “Say Goly be to God!” The hours when mamma read aloud to papa seemed very long to her ; but the darling will be glad to hear some day how patient and sweet she was when she was too young to understand the need.
But she could only be reconciled to mamma's writing-desk by a seat in the writer's lap, from which post she made very critical remarks.
"Sall me VOL. IV. — NO. V.
vip oo coz oo writin' naughty ?” “O naughty mamma! oo must n't make poosey-cats' tails.” (The printer will see the point of that?) “ Papa sall vip
There 's a nice tails !” But she soon learned to use a pencil herself, and wrote charming letters to the dear ones far away. Here is one which mamma copied at the time, it sounded so nice when the darling read it :“ DEAR OVERTHEBROOKTOGANYMA :
“ Se buttons her own seeves. Se don't like a monkey. Se don't like a sojer. I 'tonished !” One of her favorite songs was
“Over the brook to grandmamma's,
Over the brook, little boy !” and so she thought it would make a very pretty name for her darling grandmamma. When she is old enough to know the story of her country, and of her own father's life, she won't say she does n't like a soldier any more.
And now she was going to be two years old! Her uncle “ Nolly” had come to be with us, and his birthday present was a large Noah's ark. Dear me, what a procession there was over papa's big study-table! There were Noah and his three sons and all their wives, and a stiff old gentleman in the Prussian uniform, who made himself very much at home, although he was n't expected; and all manner of beasts and birds and bugs, from a stout pair of elephants with their trunks fastened on genteelly with red sealing-wax, down to four pert little tadpoles, - a hundred and one animals all told, and two or three cats on the roof as natural as you please. But such a "dispersion ” followed, the like of which was never seen before. The elephants had to trot off at once to the top of a bookcase, in most undignified haste, because Queenie considered them more awful than ever “Missershakespull” had been. As for the rest, they scattered in all directions on Queenie's errands. The bird's-nest was always full of lions and peccaries and weasels, and the teapots and sugar-bowl overflowed with smaller fry; and everybody who came in was made miserable by crunching under his feet heads and wings and tails without number. But still they seemed to increase and multiply faster than they were destroyed, and I should think there were as many as one hundred and two lying on the nursery floor at this present moment. But one day there was a great disappearance. Noah and all his family were missing, except the old Prussian, who had n't a word to say for himself or anybody else. In the afternoon, mamma happened to pick up poor dear Minnie, and it was as if she had sprung a watchman's rattle. Such a rumbling and clattering And when her head was taken off, out tumbled, helter-skelter, head over heels, the lost tribe, — “Misser" Noah and “Missie ” Noah, and all the little Noahs, and half their live-stock. After this, poor Minnie seemed to be used as a sort of town residence by the family when they were tired of the water ; but she smiled just as sweetly.
About this time “Missiehomes” brought home to Queenie three little birds in a cage. They were from the depths of the forest, and had never seen even the outside of a house before, probably. A friendly Indian had snared them for him, and brought them in when he came flying over the untrodden country on snow-shoes, with his load of furs and partridges and what-not strapped across his forehead, and a fierce wolf's head in his hand, for which he was sure of twenty dollars bounty.
Only one of these birds could bear the confinement, and that was my friend the crossbill. He told me many a story of beaver-dams, and sugar-camps, and deer-hunts, which I have n’t time to repeat. One anecdote of his own family connection I must tell you. His sister had married late in the season, and built a house in the top of a tall old pine. She had four as promising little crossbills as ever peeped, born in February, — think of that, with the thermometer -30° and lower ! They were just beginning to be covered with soft down, when a woodman came, and, never suspecting what mischief he was doing, cut away at the trunk of the old pine till it fell with a great crash; but her house was built so thoroughly that not a timber was jostled, and the nestlings were all unharmed. The woodman took them home with him, and, when their uncle left the region, they were all doing nicely. It was wonderful how soon this wild creature made himself at home among us. After two days he became so tame that he hopped about the library, and made himself very free with Minnie's toes and my tassel. The trouble soon was to keep away from him. He used to perch on Queenie's head, but she was too restless to let him stay long, and he liked best to ride about from room to room on mamma's shoulder. His little toes felt very queer, but we all loved the little creature. It was very curious to see him tear out the seeds of the pine-cones. His beak was made on purpose for this, - its two parts twisting over each other, so he could wrench out the sweet heart from the stiff husk. But he was also very fond of canary and hemp seed. Such luxury was too much for his simple nature ; and so one day he just rolled over on the carpet and died, to the great grief of the household, except Queenie's “ Uncle Doctor Nolly,” who wanted his bones for a * specimen.” He had only one enemy (the crossbill had), and to him he never would be reconciled. This was his own image in the glass. Whenever he caught sight of this, his wings would flutter, and his body swell, and his feathers ruffle, till he was twice his natural size ; and a fierce battle would follow, which he had, of course, all his own way, but from which he never seemed to get any satisfaction. And what do
think our baby named her little crossbill ? — why, “Santa Claws,” out of her own funny head !
“ Missiehomes soon found another pet for Queenie. “Tail-in-air the children call him," — so Mr. Longfellow says. He was the very smallest red squirrel that could be made and hold life. He was mostly tail and eyes. But he was no tamer the last day of his stay with us than the first. He would quiver, and shrink into the least bit of a fur ball, when any one came near him. Uncle “Nolly” thought “ Santa Claws's ”
cage would make a nice house for him, as the wires were very near together ; but no sooner was the cage door shut upon him than “ Tail-in-air” was flourishing on the top of a bookcase ! and that was the last we saw of him for many a day; only the nuts which were left about the corners of the room for him disappeared, so we knew he must be hiding behind the books.
There was now rare sport on the ice, and graceful skaters in bright costume fitted between the shore and the Fairy Island. Queenie could look down upon the gay scene from “Missiehomes's ” parlor, where she loved dearly to stay; and sometimes we varied our regular drives by an excursion over the ice. But this we did not enjoy very much, for the ice had a way of vanishing out of the harbor without giving fair notice, so one might skate till midnight by the light of the moon (which nowhere shines more brilliantly), and wake next morning to see only blue water.
And now there came a moment when the great hope which had brought the little family to Gitche Gumee went out at noonday in darkness; and Queenie was only waiting for the ice to vanish, with no danger of return, to go back whence she came. But although we heard that the time of birds had come about our old home, yet no sign of spring appeared, except as the roads grew more impassable, so that the mails had to be brought on the backs of men for a distance of one hundred and twenty miles. Until the year before, all winter communication between the little colony and the great world had been by means of dog-teams.
Day after day we watched and waited, somewhat as they did who sent out the raven over the world of water in the Bible story. At last, one morning, as Queenie was gazing out of the window, she suddenly exclaimed, “AND THE BEAUTEOUS LAND!” She was fond of the song, —
“ Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
And the beauteous land”; and, sure enough, our little dove had discovered a sign of promise, — the head of an old sand-bank struggling through the snow. But still we watched and waited, until Uncle “ Nolly” and “ Missiehomes ” began to bring in from their walks “ Darlings of the Forest,” the beautiful trailing arbutus, more perfect in leaf and blossom than mamma had ever seen it before, but it came too late.
Still we watched and waited ; but by this time all the books had been packed away ready for the first “ Canoe of Thunder” that should venture into our harbor ; and this brought his shy highness “ Tail-in-air” to terms. The empty bookcases were still standing, and Uncle “Nolly” with a cane could easily dislodge the little wild creature ; but it was n't so easy to catch him. After he had slipped through “Missiehomes's ” fingers half a dozen times, one of Queenie's crib-blankets was used as a trap. Then such a hurry-skurrying as there was about the room! and when “ Missiehomes ” was very sure he had caught him, and very carefully unrolled the blanket (while the squirrel's box was held ready to receive him), suddenly the whisk of a tail would be seen on the other side of the room, and the chase would recommence. At last, however, he was fairly caught, and a bit of jeweller's cotton given him for a blanket. His house was roofed with glass, so that he could