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What the Animals Do and Say   By: (1787-1860)

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Illustrated with Engravings


"Could you not tell us a traveller's story of some strange people that we have never heard of before?" said Harry to his mother, the next evening.

After a moment or two of thought, Mis. Chilton said, "Yes, I will tell you about a people who are great travellers. They take journeys every year of their lives. They dislike cold weather so much that they go always before winter, so as to find a warmer climate."

"They usually meet together, fathers, mothers, and children, as well as uncles, aunts, and cousins, but more especially grandfathers and grandmothers, and decide whither they shall go. As their party is so large, it is important that they should make a good decision."

"When they are all prepared, and their mind quite made up, they all set off together. I am told that they make as much noise, on this occasion, as our people make at a town meeting; but as I was never present at one of the powwows of these remarkable travellers, I cannot say."

"What is a powwow?" asked Harry.

"It is the name the Indians give to their council meetings," replied Mis. Chilton.

She went on. "This people, so fond of travelling, have no great learning; they write no books; they have no geographies, no steamboats, no railroads, but yet never mistake their way."

"Four footed travellers, I guess," said Harry.

"By no means; they have no more legs than any other great travellers; but you must not interrupt me."

"Well, to go back to our travellers; every one is ready and glad to prepare apartments for them, such as they like. They are so lively, so merry, and good natured, that they find a welcome every where. They are such an easy, sociable set of folks that they like a house thus prepared for them just as well as if they had built it themselves."

"I have been told that when they arrive at any place, before they wash themselves, or brush off the dust of their journey, they will go directly to one of these houses that has been prepared for them, and examine every part of it; and, if they like it, they seem to think they have, of course, a right to it, and they take possession directly, and say, 'Thank you' to nobody."

"No one is affronted with them; but every one is ready and glad to accommodate the strangers as well as he can, merely for the sake of their good company. They come to us in May, and leave our part of the country in August, to visit other lands.

"The great reason, I think, that all the world welcomes these travellers is, that they are such a happy, merry set of beings they make every one around them cheerful; their gayety is never failing. They rise with the first streak of light; there are no sluggards among them. They are all musical, and sing as they go about their work; but their music pleases me best when they join in their morning hymn. When the morning star is growing pale, and rosy light tinges the edges of the soft clouds in the east, this choir of singers stop for a second, as if waiting, in silent reverence, for the glad light to appear; then, just as the first ray gilds the hill tops and the village spire, all pour forth a joyful song, swelling their little throats, and making such a loud noise that every sleepy head in the neighborhood awakes."

"Ah! now I have caught you, Mother," said Frank; "these famous travellers are martins. I wonder, when you said they were not four footed, I did not think of martins. I heard George say, the other day, that his father had put up a martin box, and how they came and looked at it first, before they took it, and that they always sang before daylight, and what a noise they made.

"But, Mother, when you tell that story again, you must not say little throats, or any one will know who your travellers are quick enough; but do please tell us more about them."

"Yes, Frank, you have caught me; these travellers are martins; and, if you wish, I will tell you more about them... Continue reading book >>

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