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close to him, a little ugly, black ragged figure, with bleared eyes and grinning white teeth. He turned on it angrily. “What did such a little black ape want in that sweet young lady's room ?” And behold, it was himself, reflected in a great mirror, the like of which he had never seen before.
And Tom, for the first time in his life, found out that he was dirty; and burst into tears of shame and anger; and turned to sneak up the chimney again and hide; and upset the fender, and threw the fireirons down, with a noise as of two thousand tin kettles tied to ten thousand mad dog's tails.
Up jumped the little white lady in her bed, and seeing Tom screamed as shrill as any peacock. In rushed a stout old nurse from the next room, and seeing Tom likewise, made up her mind that he had come to rob, plunder, destroy, and burn; and dashed at him, as he lay over the fender, so fast that she caught him by the jacket.
But she did not hold him; Tom would have been ashamed to face his friends for ever if he had been stupid enough to be caught by an old woman : so he doubled under the good lady's arm, across the room, and out of the window in a moment.
He did not need to drop out, though he would have done so bravely enough, for all under the window spread a tree, with great leaves, and sweet white flowers, almost as big as his head. It was a magnolia ; and down he went, like a cat, and across the garden lawn, and over the iron railings, and up the park towards the wood, leaving the old nurse to scream murder and fire at the window.
From Kingsley's Water Babies.
Now come to me, dear birdie do,
I never with you have friendship made ;
Ah, poor little I! thus I knew 'twould be:
And so the poor bat sat all alone,
Otto Speckter; Picture Fables.
52.—THE MOUSE AND THE OYSTER.
cap-tive con-ceit en-ter-prise
pre-sump-tion thought There was once upon a time a mouse which was too well off, because all succeeded with it, and it always had all it wanted. Thereupon in its conceit it resolved to travel a while and see the great world. It was soon ready for the journey and set out. After a very few steps it stood still, looked round it on every side, and cried, full of astonishment, “ How very large the world is !” And when it had got a little way further, it came to two mole-hills, thought they were big mountains, and said in its conceited way, “Here is the Caucasus, and there are the Pyrenees !” Then it went on further, and after some days came to the sea-shore. Lying on the sands, it saw a great many oysters with their shells open. It was much astonished at these, for it was sure that they were ships of war. The sight of these supposed vessels made it twice as proud and bold and full of conviction of its own merit. It cried out, “Now this I do call a bold enterprise ! ,
My late father hardly crept once a year out of his narrow little hole, whilst I, young as I am in years, have already seen mountains, seas, and deserts." But it longed to make a closer acquaintance with the men
of war, and when it went nearer and saw an oyster lying in the open shells, it thought, “Why, what is that shining so white there, and looking good and nice ? That is a dainty dish, I shall like the taste of that, I think.” And quickly and eagerly the mouse sprang on it and got in. Then in an instant the oyster shut its shells, and kept the ignorant little mouse a fast prisoner.
It struggled hard, and it begged for mercy, but the oyster was not to be moved to mercy, and held its captive fast until it had paid for its folly and presumption by its death.
From the German of E. Lausch.
sla-ble side-board plant-ain
side-board In a great elephant hunt of which Sir E. Tennent gives an account, two little young ones were driven into the corral, or trap, with the rest of the herd. One was about ten months old, the other rather more.
The smallest had a little bolt head covered with woolly brown hair, and was the most amusing and interesting little thing possible. Both kept constantly with the herd, trotting after them every time they rushed at the fence which shut them in: when the others stood at rest, they ran in and out between the legs of the older ones, all petting them in turn as they did so.
When the mother of the youngest was being dragged up by the tame elephant to the tree to which they wished to tie her, the little creature kept close by her side. The men at first were rather amused by its anger, but they soon found it would not let them place the second noose on its mother, it ran between her and them, it tried to seize the rope, it pushed them and struck them with its little trunk, till they were forced to drive it back to the herd. It went away slowly, shouting all the way, and stopping at every step to look back. It then went to the largest female left in the herd, and placed itself across her forelegs, whilst she hung down her trunk over its side, and petted and comforted it. Here it stayed, moaning and lamenting, until the men were done fastening up its mother, when in a moment it returned to her side, but as it attacked every one who passed by, it had to be tied to a tree beside the other little young one.
These two little creatures made more noise than all the rest of the herd, they never once stopped shouting, and tried to attack every one who came within reach of them. The most amusing thing was, that in the midst of all their trouble and affliction, the little fellows rushed at every bit of food that was thrown to them, and ate and roared at the same time.