The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Aunt Mai's Budget.
My dear children,--Twenty-four children have sent me very full accounts of how they spent Christmas Day. Nearly all found presents in their stockings when they woke up. Some woke up too early, and strange to say, found neither stocking nor present; but, after a second sleep, were not disappointed. No wonder --
"The Children of Holland, take pleasure in making,
Each child received a great number of presents. I am sorry for dolly, and fear she is considered old-fashioned. Only one boy doll is mentioned, but one little maiden found six boys and six girls in her stocking, all dressed alike, because they were brothers and sisters. One idea is very pretty,--a fairy cave was made in the drawing room, and a little daughter, dressed as a fairy, because Father Christmas was too busy to come, gave the presents to each owner.
A little nice of 11, writes: "We asked fourteen children out of mother's district. We dressed up in some wadding coats, caps, and gaiters, with our eyebrows blacked, and black moustaches, and some holly in our caps. We each had a pillow-case filled with toys and sweets--then the children came, and we (Santa Clauses) gave away the toys. After that, we acted the dwarf, and gave each child an orange and a bun, and then they went away. Mother gave ----- and me a fox terrier, quite a puppy. It came on Christmas Eve, so I named it Santa Claus. We call it Santa, but think Claus suits it best, as he scratches so."
A great many children had bran tubs, into which they dipped and brought out their presents. Only two Christmas trees are mentioned, which is surprising.
A very pretty motto, "Love, Serve," was given by one mother as the New Year's text; and a child writes that "We went then as little messengers to give presents to some people that mother knows," obeying the verse for the day--"Good will towards men."
My letter is now so long, that I must tell you next month what we did on Christmas Day.
Girls. The white petticoat. In May the skirt of the sailor dress will be taken. In August there will be no competition, as it is holiday time, and the children who have missed any one month can make it up then.
Patterns are Madam Goudard's, in "My Dollie's Wardrobe" (1s.) To be sent on or before April 30th to Aunt Mai, Wharfemead, Ilkley.
Boys. No. 7 in cardboard modelling. Diagrams and instructions in Mr. Heaton's "Cardboard Modelling" (5s. 6d), published by Newmann, Newman Street, W.
These classes are open to the children of all parents who take in the Parents' Review, and no charge is made for membership. All competitors are requested to kindly fasten their name and address on each garment, and enclose a stamp for the return postage.
Class I. Age 11 to 14. Maud Gordon, 12; Jenny Adamson, 11; and Maud Baxter, 11, have again done the best work. As they, however, got prizes last month, and I am sure are not selfish children, I have thought it right and fair to give the prize to Edith Strode, 11, and a second to Marguerite Dowding, 13. Mary Newman, 12; M. Dunthorne, 12; Leila Rendel, 11; Gertrude Madden; Agnes Toller, 13; Charlotte Casement, 12 (shirt); Edith Fraser, 11, have all done good and conscientious work.
Class II. Age 10 and under. Dorothy Hannan, 6, has got the first prize for very good work. The work in this class is so excellent that several workers have almost got a prize, and it has been a most difficult task to judge fairly and rightly. A book will be sent to Hilda Spafford, 10, but she is followed very closely by Cecily Cholmondeley, 8; May W. Cernon, 8; Dorothy Yeo, 7; Beatrice Marsh, 6; Winifred Lee, 10; Leila Barrington, 8; Maude Spielman, 9; Dorothy Senior, 9; Emmie Wilson, 10; Ruth Turner, 10; Winifred Dunthorne, 8; and Joan Newman, 10. Margaret Lawrence, 9, would have obtained a prize if she had not been successful last month. Good work has been done by Kathleen Drew, 7; Esme Penrose, 7; Winnie Goddard, 9; and Hilda Whitfield, 8. Félicité Metcalfe, Doris Robson.
During this month sow seeds of all annuals you wish to bloom in summer. Make second sowings of hardy annuals in the places where they are to flower. It would be an excellent plan for young gardeners to keep a memorandum book and jot down notes of various work carried on: when seeds are sown, when they first peep through the soil, and when they bloom. Half-hardy annuals can be sown in the open air in sheltered spots, but will require to be protected from frosts at night, as well as from the too powerful heat of the sun during the day.
Pansies and auriculas are now at their best. They are improved by being watered in the morning two or three times a week with weak manure water; the plants must be shaded from the sun afterwards.
Examine carefully the leaves and round the roots where slugs love to hide. Geranium cuttings that have been in boxes all winter should now be potted; this applies to what are called "bedding out plants." Dahlias can be planted on the beds where they are to bloom.
Make a hole three or four inches deep, put the tubers in and press the soil down firmly, leave a space of four feet between the plants, and, if possibly, arrange so that the colours blend or contrast. Keep walks and lawns tidy, free from weeds; roll frequently. Lawns should be mown once a week.
Prune rose trees, tie up and stake any that may require attention. Those planted lately will require frequent watering. Bulbs in bloom must have sticks to support them, as the hot sun causes them to droop and perhaps snap off.
OUR LITTLE COOKS.
Paul Cakes. 2oz butter; 2oz sugar; 1 egg; lemon juice; ¼lb. flour; greased paper. 1. Whisk the butter to a cream. 2. Add the sugar, egg, few drops of lemon juice, and flour, and stir well. 3. Roll with the pin. 4. Cut into rounds or patterns. 5. Put on the greased paper. 6. Bake in quick oven.
Gingerbread Snaps. ¼lb. treacle; 2oz sugar; ¼lb. flour; 2oz butter; ¼tablespoonful ginger; lemon essence. 1. Put treacle and sugar into a pan, and let it just boil. 2. Rub butter into flour. 3. Put into pan with ginger and little lemon juice or essence. 4. Drop on tins, and bake in moderate oven.
THE READING CLUB.
Marion Rowntree, Roberta Baxter and Helen Crosland have sent in very thoughtful and well-written papers. It would give me much pleasure if more readers would join our club. I do not think that girls need the stimulus of prizes, and it is one of my ambitions to prove this, by showing the reading public that we can organize and interest a large class of young girls who will love what is best and highest in literature, without the more sordid motive creeping in, which like "leaven, leaveneth the whole lump." Löis Foot has sent a paper from Norway.
This month, we will take Oliver Goldsmith's "Vicar of Wakefield." This is the English book, at present studied by German girls, of 13 and 14, in their schools.
I. Write a short account of the life and times of Oliver Goldsmith.
LA POUPÉE D'UNE PETITE FILLE.
Regardez, Mesdames, ma poupée;
Elle s'appelle Marguerite,
Sous sa paupière blanche et rose
Vous regardez sa chevelure?
Elle ne sait pas se conduire
Le soir pour dire sa prière
Vous croyez sans doute
[The above was written by Ratisbonne for a little girl whom he watched playing with her doll. Her daughter has kindly allowed the MSS. to be printed for the children of the Parents' Review.--Ed.]
WHAT SHALL WE PLAY?
The following French game is recommended to teachers, as a useful and instructive finish to the Kindergarten French lesson:--
When the Chaffinch paid the Linnet a call, which happened pretty often, she had so much to say on the subject of house decoration, that it was difficult for the Linnet to speak on any other topic. But one day she contrived to slip the word Kingfisher into the chinks of her friend's monologue.
"Kingfisher! Oh, I think nothing at all of Kingfishers!" cried the Chaffinch. "My mother knew one. She had a very poor opinion of him. So untidy in his housekeeping! Living in an old rat-hole, with the eggs rolling on the floor among fish-bones, so unsightly!"
The Linnet suddenly felt how pleasant it would be to arrange the Kingfisher's house; to line it with feathers and deck it with moss. Perhaps he did not understand such matters. "I think I could make a nice nest," she said wistfully.
"Yes, dear, that you could," said the Chaffinch, kindly, "for it's in your family. It runs in families. You will only want a few hints from me. So pray get some things together and I will help you. And, oh! my love, I wanted to tell you--it is of no use for you to sit here thinking of that cross old Starling, for he is going to mate with Mrs. Rook. I had it from the Sheep who rides her out. He saw them rub beaks on it; so it's a settled thing. And he offered me a bit of wool for my nest; but I don't think Sheep are very clean--maybe I am a little nice--but I consulted my mate, and he said 'Spink-wink,' 'Spink-wink.' So we agreed a little thistle-down would be better. And don't waste any more time on the Starling. I do wish you could get a smart Chaffinch like mine. That would be charming!"
The Linnet could not but wonder at such complete satisfaction in a mate, whose conversation was confined to a single remark; though, to be sure, "Spink-wink" appeared to admit of any interpretation, and she felt all the kindness of her friend's intentions.
Her next appeal was made to the Swallow. "Is the Kingfisher a bird of passage like you?" she asked.
"Not he!" returned the Swallow. "He is too stupid. He would rather poke about these woods for ever than see the world. I don't suppose he has ever been beyond the river-banks, where he was hatched."
"Then if I follow the river from beginning to end, I must certainly find him at last," though the Linnet, and she flew to the top of a tall pine, that she might judge of the distance that lay between her and the royal bird. But the river turned and turned again, lying among the woods and valleys, like the broken links of a silver chain. She could find neither beginning nor end to the scattered gleams.
"Do you know where the river goes to?" she asked of the Swallow.
"It flows far away until it reaches the sea-shore, then it opens wide its mouth, and the waves rush in, dashing and foaming. There is the place for a bathe on a hot day! That is my starting-point for abroad. You should see that, if you would come with me, and all the wonders of the world beside. You would never feel the cold of winter."--
"Should I find the Kingfisher at the end of the river?"
"I daresay. I have seen him on the seashore, but he never stays there long. But what do you want to see him for?"
"He is so beautiful."
"Fine feathers make fine birds with you!" exclaimed the Swallow, surprised. "The Kingfisher is a dumpy, top-heavy fellow! A bird to be beautiful should have an elegant form, and a graceful flight. If you had seen as much of the world as I have, you would think nothing of the Kingfisher. Come away with me! 'Tis scarce a day's journey to the Sea, and if you do not like it, you can soon fly back."
"Yes, I will go," said the Linnet, suddenly. The Swallow was triumphant. "A fine day," he called out to the Starling, as they flew past him, for he was anxious that the Starling should be in no doubt as to who was the Linnet's companion. The great Bird looked curiously after them.
"Beautiful day," he croaked.
The two left the familiar wood behind, and when the Linnet felt the fresh wind in her face, and the warm Sun on her back, her heart filled with hope and joy, and she beat her little wings quickly to keep pace with the rapid strokes of the Swallow. On they flew, past all the tempting willows laden with catkins, irresistible to a less earnest fugitive, till the valley was chequered with long shadows and mellow sunlight; and the breath of the Linnet came in gasps while her weary wings flagged.
"Now," said the Swallow, "you must rest. I could keep on all day, and many days, but you have hardly strength to get along."
Then he set her on the brink of the river to drink, and caught a fly for her luncheon. The Linnet could not eat the fly, but she found a piece of chickweed, and dined with a relish unknown for many a day. They rested under the great butter-burr leaves until the Swallow thought it was time to move. Then on they sped again; past the roaring mill-dam and the restless wheel; past snug cottages and country seats, where the wind was rich with the scent of gardens; past scattered villages and village towns, till the trees became scarcer and far apart, and the grass looked dingy; while a black cloud hung over the land in front of them. Then the Swallow would rest a moment on a telegraph wire that the Linnet might give a farewell look behind.
The woods that held her home were tinged with gold, and the distant hills behind them lay in purple haze. How hard to turn and plunge into the dense cloud that shut out sky and landscape, filling her eyes and throat; while the river rolled foul and black below, laden with heavy barges. On either side rose the hideous chimneys, breathing fire and smoke; and for the first time she heard the clang and hammer of machinery--the deafening roar of a great town. Choked and bewildered, she must needs keep up with the Swallow, who skimmed on; now under a bridge, now over a barge, till she found herself in the midst of a forest of tall, leafless stems; the weird mockery of the greenwood she had left!
"This is the Docks," said the Swallow. "These are ships. They are made here, and sent out to sea for the birds of passage to perch on; for, you know, we could not accomplish our long voyages without an occasional rest on a mast."
They flew through the Dockyard, and out of the fog, into the wide open marshland, where the yellow and crimson clouds were fitfully reflected in pool and swamp, while ever nearer came a sound as of a rising storm among trees.
"Now," said the Swallow, "you behold the ocean. We are almost at our journey's end"; and presently the river opened wide its mouth, as he had said; and the waves rushed in. But they rushed in blood-red. The dying sun flooded the waters with crimson; on one hand stretched the dusky sand-dunes, on the other the foam was dashed against dark lowering cliffs, and the air was riven with the sound of the rising sea.
The Linnet sank panting and terrified on the shore. "Oh, take me back! Take me back!" she cried. "Take me from this dreadful place!
In vain the Swallow told her that night was at hand; the sun would soon be burying in the waves. In vain he tried to persuade her to seek his shelter in the cliff, and rest till morning. She only answered: "Take me from this dreadful place; I know the Kingfisher will not be here."
Then the Swallow was angry. He loosened his hold, and she fluttered from him.
"She may get home as she can!" said he wrathfully. "I shall trouble no more about her. This is the last I will have to do with singing birds. Silly thing! I should never have thought of her, but they said she was a wonder, and I like wonders. However, I shall look about me for a mate with a little less music and a little more common sense. But only let me catch that Kingfisher! I'll pluck his feathers for him!"
So the next day he married the Brown Martin, and skimming about the river with her, catching flies and telling travellers' tales, he soon forgot the Linnet; but he did not forget that he owed the Kingfisher a grudge.
The scared Linnet turned her back on the sea, and flew, she knew not whither, till she came to a gorse-bush, and crept into it for shelter. She was so worn with fatigue and fright that when she woke the morning sun was high over her head. She flew into the air, and to her joy saw the hateful black cloud behind her, and the winding river in front. How gladly she sped home! and how thankfully rested her weary head against her old elm in the wood, where the flowers were already peacefully asleep, and the rabbits were beginning to peep out of their holes. She did not impart her seaside adventures to her friends. Indeed, they were too eager about their own affairs to have listened.
"Dear Linnet!" cried the Chaffinch, "I came for you yesterday and you were gone. I wanted you to see my nest. I put the finishing touches to it yesterday morning; and though I say it, it is really beautiful! The outside is green moss and white lichen; and inside I have just laid a dear little egg. It looks so sweet, you cannot think! Come away directly and see it."
The dainty little nest was hidden among the green and white of a budding hawthorn, and one delicate egg lay softly on the thistle-down. It was a sight for any bird to be proud of; but the Chaffinch sighed as she looked at her treasures, and a tear dimmed her bright eye.
"You know," she said, "I never used to be nervous or foreboding; but now if anyone should take my nest, or my egg, what should I do?"
As the Linnet was returning, she saw two shining eyes peering at her out of the water inquisitively.
An idea struck her.
"Water-rat! Water-rat!" she cried.
The Rat laid his wet paws on a stone, and raised his body half out of the water, showing his smooth cunning face and sly eyes.
"At your service, Miss," said he; and there was a sort of sneaking insolence in his manner.
"Do you know the Kingfisher?"
"There's very little goes on in this river I don't know, Miss!" he responded.
"Where does he live?" She shrank from asking him; he was such a low fellow; yet she did it.
"Well, Miss, I could point out his roost any minute, I may say, if anybody was to make it worth my while. But, you see Miss, it would never do for a poor Rat like me, as gets his living by his wits, so to speak, to part with his information for nothing."
"What do you want?" she asked shrinking.
"Well, Miss, for putting you in the way of getting a sight of the Kingfisher, I should as no more than one small egg."
"I have no eggs."
"No, Miss, but a neighbour of yours has in the thorn bush. I saw her shewing it you. It's just a little bit out of my reach, or I wouldn't trouble you."
"How dare you?" she cried indignantly. "Begone! Begone this instant!"
"It serves me right!" she murmured to herself, "It serves me right for speaking to such a low creature!"
It was some minutes before she recovered sufficiently to peep from behind her green curtain, and make sure that he was gone. Then, looking cautiously out, she suddenly beheld before her, the object of all her thoughts and longing.
Hovering over the water with outspread wings, he shone in the sun like a suspended jewel. But alas! She had only time to see that he was more beautiful even than her remembrance of him, when the swallow's sharp call cry was heard, and instantly the astonished Kingfisher was surrounded by a crowd of little persecutors, pecking, flapping, jeering, screaming on every side. With a cry of terror and amazement he dived under the water, and escaped among the reeds. Poor Linnet! The moment of her dreams was gone before it was realized. "I will never forgive the swallow, never!" she wept in her grief. And in the days that followed, she flew restlessly about the woodland, for it was of no use to watch and wait any more. In this mood the faithful Whinchat found her, and again besought her to go with him to his moorland home.
"Is your home far off?" she asked.
"Over there! In yon blue mountain where the river springs." She followed the direction of his wing; and saw the western hills, lying like a faint blue cloud on the horizon.
"There," he continued, "high up against the sky, lies the wide moorland, where the eye can reach farther than the wing can fly. There the breeze rocks the gorse bush, where we will build our nest; and you shall sit with your face among the sweet yellow flowers. I will bring you the sloe and the bilberry to eat, and you shall drink of the brown brooks, that run among the heather. Oh! to bathe in that water gives on the strength of the Eagle; and the mountain winds bear one up to the sun!"
"It is stifling in this wood," murmured the Linnet.
"Come away! come away!" he cried. "I will make you happy and gay once more."
She yielded, and they left the wood together, and came to the sunny meadow.
"Are we not going by the river?" she cried.
"Oh, no! That would be too long," he answered. "If we fly across country, the way I will shew you, we shall reach home before sundown."
But when the river was left behind, and she could no longer hear its rush and ripple, her heart grew faint, and her wings hung heavily.
"I am too weary," she sighed. "I cannot go." And she turned, and fluttered back again. Her companion turned too, very sorrowfully, for his disappointment was great.
"Will you sit here for ever, watching for the Kingfisher?" he said.
"Do not be angry with me, that I cannot go with you," she pleaded. "Indeed, I am weary."
"I know it," he said pitifully. "But I know now that I cannot help you, Sweetheart, so farewell." With that he flew away, far off to his moorland home; and the Linnet saw him no more. She piped mournfully over his loss; and the Starling took her to task for singing in a minor key.
"Your first style was remarkably bright and clear," he said. "You should really keep to that style."
"I cannot sing as I like," she replied. "The songs come as they will."
"Ah, that is want of training. You should have command over your voice. Listen," and he gave a capital imitation, but only an imitation, of the Linnet's first song. "Now listen,"--then followed a dolorous exaggeration if her last "style," as he called it.
"You seem" said he, "either way is equally easy. Pray do not sing that depressing ditty any more. Excepting a comic song, there is nothing more objectionable than a dirge. I hope my dear Miss Linnet, you do not give way to low spirits?
"Yes she does, you know! she does!" cried the Sparrow in his imperious staccato. "She should chirp up, and peck a little, eh? eh! that's what I tell her. Chirp up and peck a little.
By way of enforcing his advice he thrust a dandelion seed into her beak; but she let is fall, unheeded. She looked sadder than ever; for the Starling had taken away her last consolation. She could not even sing now. She was roused from her pain by the harsh voice of the Rook.
"If you want the Kingfisher, why don't you go to him? I would. What good do you do sitting here?" cried Mrs Rook.
"I do not know where he is," replied the Linnet, faintly.
"Shiftless!" cawed the Rook. "We'll soon find him if that's all!"
She at once flew off; and made her way along the river bank, until she came to the Water-Rat's hole. "Rat! Rat! come out!" she called.
The Rat slid out directly; he had served the Rook before.
"Water-Rat! go instantly--Goodness! what's that clatter."
(The interruption was caused by a Bantam, who had been leading astray, and now broke into triumphant clucking at her feet). "One would think that nobody had ever laid an egg before!" cried the Rook wrathfully: and she fell upon the hen and pecked it, until it ran screaming away.
"Now one can hear oneself speak. Hark ye, Rat! do you go instantly, and find out where the Kingfisher lives, and take the Linnet to him,--I'm sick of having her about here, pining! and you shall have an egg for your pains.--A Bantam's egg!" she added vindictively.
The Rat nodded, and swam away. A few strokes brought him under the Linnet's bough.
"Miss Linnet," he began insinuatingly, "I can show you the Kingfisher you were asking after, if you come along with me."
Perhaps the Linnet would not have listened to him, but for the recent taunt of the Rook; as it was, she turned her head this way and that, and fluttered her wings, hesitating, and looking doubtfully down at the leering messenger.
"Come along, if you don't want him gone before we get there!" cried the Rat, turning to swim down stream; and the Linnet hastened to follow him.
The Rook, as soon as they were out of sight, flapped across the field in search of the Starling. "Your fine Miss Linnet is gone," she said, "she is gone to seek the Kingfisher."
"The Kingfisher! Whee-ee, whoo-oo!" The Starling gave a long, low whistle of amazement. "The Kingfisher! a fellow who dresses loud, and has not more sense than the fish he swallows! You surprise me!"
"And you surprise me, when you dawdle about after a piping, puling, lackadaisical creature like that Linnet!" cried the Rook.
Meanwhile the Rat led his winged companion along the water-side to the spot where a brawling brook joins the river; then, running up by the brook they followed its course through meadow and coppice until the shelving banks became red cliffs fringed with hartstongue and bracken, and the stream widened into a pool. Here the Rat stopped at the foot of a willow, and signed to the Linnet to look forward through the boughs.
He had kept his promise, and more. Two bright birds were glittering among the ferns.
The Linnet turned her pathetic eyes upon him with a questioning gaze.
"Yes! You don't see double, Miss," he said. "That other one's his mate." How merry they were! How they splashed and played together in the water, throwing up a shining shower, bright with all the colours of their own lovely plumage.
The Linnet could not bear the sight; she turned, and forced her heavy wings to bear her back to the elm.
The Water-rat at once sought the Rook to secure his reward. "I took her to the Kingfisher," he said, "and I should like to see the Rat that could have done it in less time."
"Why, there she is back again!" cried the Rook.
"Aye," said the Rat, "but I showed her the Kingfisher, and I showed her his mate too; and she just took one look, and then she turned and flew back as fast as her wings could carry her."
"Blockhead!" screamed the Rook; and she dropped the Bantam's egg upon his head with such force that he sank to the bottom of the river like lead.
The Rook then flew up to the branch, where the Linnet was sitting, gasping for breath.
"Why, this Linnet's sick!" she cried in deep disgust.
"Sick as possible!" and she opened her great beak to give the dying bird a decisive peck, but at that moment the Linnet's eyes closed, and she fell from the bough into the long grass.
There she was found by the Sparrow, when he came to seek his evening meal. He stared at her sorrowfully for some time; then he plucked a leaf from the elm and laid it gently over her head, drawing grass and sorrel carefully round and about her, until the body was hidden from sight. He was called from his task by the plaintive voice of his mate.
"Oh, Mr. Sparrow!" she cried, reproachfully, "I did think you would provide the supper. I am just worn out, teaching these young ones to fly."
"My dear," he answered, soberly, "the Linnet is dead."
"The Linnet dead! Poor thing! You don't say so!" cried she in a tone of cheerful commiseration. "And, pray, what did she die of?"
The Sparrow sorrowfully shook his head. "Twas but this morning I brought her some dandelion, and she would not eat it," he said.
"You don't say! Do, my dear, go get us some grubs at once. Hark! children, all of you. See what comes of moping. If the poor Linnet had but taken dear papa's advice to chirp up and peck a little, she might have seen many a bright day. As it is, before the summer is well begun it is all over with her."
* * * *
"Oh jolly, jolly, jolly! Oh, jolly, jolly!" cried the Grig, as he sprang over the grave in the setting sun; and nobody bade him move on.
Typed by happi, Aug 2018
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