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Title: Little Folks of North America

Author: Mary Hazelton Blanchard Wade

Release date: August 31, 2011 [eBook #37280]
Most recently updated: January 8, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Roger Frank and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Canada Team at



A Little Indian Boy.
A Little Indian Boy.

Little Folks of

North America









Illustrated by reproductions from Photographs




Copyright, 1909

By W. A. Wilde Company


All Rights Reserved

Little Folks of North America



I.Little Folks of Iceland13
II.Little Folks of Greenland26
III.Little Folks of Alaska55
IV.Little Folks of Canada80
V.Little Folks of Labrador116
VI.Little Folks of Newfoundland120
VII.Little Folks of the United States128
VIII.Little Folks of Mexico179
IX.Little Folks of Central America206
X.Little Folks of the West Indies214



A Little Indian BoyFrontispiece
An Eskimo Mother and Baby30
An Eskimo Village in Summer52
An Eskimo Village in Alaska60
An Alaskan Village Showing Indian Totem Poles74
Little Canadian Indian Children96
Picking Cotton on a Georgia Plantation144
How They Harvest Wheat on the Prairies152
Children Working in the Cotton Factory in a Big City174
A Mexican Village190




You all know the story of Columbus—how, more than four hundred years ago, he sailed from Spain out into the west; and also how the people, as they watched his ships fading from sight, believed they would never look upon the fleet again, for the brave sailors who manned it were moving into an unknown world whose dangers no one could measure.

You also remember what happened before Columbus returned from that long voyage—that a new continent was discovered where strange people of a race before unheard-of were living the life of savages, and that the great sailor, believing he had entered the waters of India, named these red men, Indians.

Instead of reaching India, as he supposed, he had brought to light a new and great continent—so vast that it embraced all climates; rich, moreover, in mines and forests, lakes and rivers, high mountains, fertile plains and valleys. And there were none to enjoy all these beautiful 10 gifts of God save tribes of red men, except in the far north the Eskimos in scattered villages. They, too, like the Indians, were savages who knew nothing of the ways of white men. They lived in small settlements along the ice-covered shores of the ocean.

After Columbus had crossed the Atlantic and discovered this New World, other ships soon followed in the course he had marked, and the people of Europe settled in one place after another. At first they made their homes near the shores of the ocean. This was partly through fear of the red men who were not pleased at the thought of these new neighbors, so different from themselves. As years went by, however, the newcomers moved farther and farther into the west, driving the Indians and the wild beasts before them, until now the homes of the white men are found throughout the land. People of unlike faiths and speaking different languages cross the ocean in shiploads, for they feel that when America is reached they will find freedom and happiness.

The Indians who are still left in the country are slowly learning the ways of the white men. They are taught in schools by white teachers. 11 They live in houses instead of the wigwams which were their former homes. They dress in white men’s clothes. They even plant gardens and care for their farms in the way of civilized people.

There are many Negroes in North America also, but they are found mostly in the southern part of the United States. They were first brought as slaves from Africa, but are now free and independent. Although they were once savages like the Indians, they have been quick to imitate and have easily fallen into the ways of the white men. Thus the red and the black races, the white and the yellow, can all be found at home in North America, abiding together in peace and comfort as the children of One Great Father should do.

Little Folks of North America

Little Folks of Iceland

In the far northeast corner of North America lies the island of Iceland where little Danish children live far from the rest of the world. It is very cold in that northern country, yet the presence of volcanoes there and the lava that spreads over much of the country tell the story that ages ago the island was slowly built up from the lava that flowed from volcanoes rising up out of the bed of the ocean.

However that may be, the boys and girls of Iceland are happy little people who laugh and sing, dance and play as merrily as children who live where the sun shines all the year round and the seasons chase each other so rapidly that Mother Nature is constantly preparing new delights for them. 14

Away back in the ninth century a great chief called Nadodd left Europe in search of adventure. When he had sailed for a long time he came in sight of a land covered with snow. It seemed a cold, bleak place, but he landed, nevertheless, and gave the country the name of Snowland.

After Nadodd came two Norse chiefs who had quarreled with their king and left Norway to seek a new home. Although they found Snowland or rather Iceland, as it is now called, cold and desolate as Nadodd had done, they decided to settle there and other people from Norway followed them and built homes for themselves and their families along the coast.

These things and many more are written down in a big book treasured by the Icelanders to-day,—how little children were born to the settlers, how they were ruled by their chiefs, and how, after a while, one of their people went back to Europe and listened to the teachings of the Christian religion. He gave up his belief in heathen gods, and when he came back to Iceland he converted the settlers. From that time they, too, were Christians and had Christian ministers 15 among them who taught and helped their little ones and themselves.

As time went by Norway, and with it Iceland, came under the rule of Denmark. Afterwards it became separate again, but Iceland did not, and is to this day looked upon as belonging to the Danes. Most of the children, however, by reading in the famous old book of their people, can trace their families back to the two Norwegian chiefs and their followers who were the first settlers in Iceland.

The children of Iceland live so far north that they know only a short summer. The days then are very long and there is scarcely any night. In the month of June there is really no night at all and there is no way of telling, except by the clock and their own sleepiness, when it is time to go to bed. The winters are quite the opposite. They are very long and bitter cold. Scarcely any of the time does the sun shine, yet the long nights are beautiful, for the moon and stars shine brightly and the northern lights, or aurora borealis, flash over the heavens in a wonderful way not seen in warmer lands.

On the long winter evenings the boys and girls 16 are never happier than when listening to the stories that have been handed down from father to son for hundreds of years. They call these stories sagas. Some of them are legends, and others tell about the lives of people who lived in Iceland from the beginning of its history. There are many poems, too, which the little Icelanders learn “by heart,” and which they repeat in a half-singing tone, after the way of their people. These were written in the long-ago by warriors called “skalds.” They tell of battles and brave deeds and lovely ladies, and the children of to-day think them so beautiful that many of them try to write little poems themselves. This pleases their parents greatly and makes them feel quite proud that their own little ones are following in the steps of their ancestors.

Geysers and Glaciers.

Iceland is never without snow and ice. On the warmest summer day the children can look on glaciers, or rivers of ice, that flow so slowly toward the sea from the inland country that one does not see them moving at all.

These glaciers look like broad fields of broken ice, piled up in strange, rough shapes. The summer 17 sun melts the ice ever so little, and those who venture near the edge find rills of water flowing down the sides of the great cakes and boulders. As the glaciers enter the sea masses of ice sometimes break away, and turning over and over in the deep water, right themselves at last and sail out to sea as the icebergs that are often met by sailors on their way across the ocean.

“We have geysers as well as glaciers,” the children of Iceland will tell you, and they are glad to show their knowledge of them to the travelers who visit that distant land. A geyser is a boiling spring which bursts up out of the ground like a fountain, sometimes with such force that the water rises into the air higher than the tallest building you have ever seen.

There are other kinds of hot springs, too, in the country, where the water simply bubbles up. There is one large town in Iceland called Reikjavik, which is the capital of the island, and about a mile and a half away there is a hot spring where the washing is done for the people of the town.

Almost every day women go there from Reikjavik with hand-carts filled with soiled clothing. When they reach the spring they roll up 18 their sleeves, tuck up their skirts, and begin the scrubbing and rinsing, the boiling and wringing that end in making the clothes as white as snow. From time to time they stop to drink coffee and have a friendly chat, but all the washing is done in the open air, without need of stove or fire to help the workers.

Sheds have been built near the spring where the ironing is afterwards done. Then the clothes are neatly packed in the little carts and taken back to the town to be returned to the owners.

The little Icelanders are very fond of their waterfalls, some of which are very beautiful. The country is so rough and rocky that the streams often plunge over steep lava cliffs and fall with a loud roar to the depths below.

There are so few sounds to be heard, because there are no railroads or large factories in the whole country, that the children like to visit these waterfalls and listen to the water as it plunges downwards over the cliffs. Then they return to the quiet farmhouses to play with their lambs and dogs, and to dream of the children of other lands far away where life is so different. 19

In the Homes.

The fathers of the little Icelanders support their families by fishing, by raising cattle and sheep, and by hunting the birds that make their homes on the island during the summer.

Few trees grow in that cold land, so the homes are generally built of turf and lava, neatly painted red and thatched with sod. Small gardens are planted as soon as the long winter is over, and there the boys help in planting cabbages and lettuce, radishes and parsley, flax and turnips. A few potatoes are sometimes raised, too, but only those vegetables that will grow fast ripen in that cold northern land. Short, thick grass grows near the little homes, which are usually built in the valleys protected from the cold winds by the hills around them. There the men tend their flocks of sheep and herds of cattle which graze on the grass in summer and in winter eat the hay which their masters have gathered for them.

The children of Iceland are rather small, but they are quite strong for their size. They have yellow hair and blue eyes and are brought up to be gentle and polite. On week-days they 20 go to school where they are taught very carefully, and on Sundays they go to church with their fathers and mothers, where they sing hymns very slowly and listen to long sermons by their good pastor. Sometimes the church is too far away to walk the whole distance. Then the whole family ride on ponies to the place of worship, and often, if they have come a very long ways, they are treated to cake and coffee at the minister’s house before they start out again for home.

The people are obliged to dress very warmly, and so the women of each household are busy, early and late, carding and spinning the wool from the sheep and weaving it into soft, thick garments for their families.

In every home you will be sure to find the women’s fingers moving busily at their work, while the loom and spinning-wheel seems to be constantly in motion.

Almost every home contains many children, who eat fish and drink milk day after day, with little change of food throughout the year. Only the richer families can have bread, for the flour out of which it is made, as well as the coffee and chocolate which even the poorest people manage to buy, 21 must come in ships from Europe. Every one, however, can have cakes made of a kind of moss, or lichen, which grows on the island. Some of it is sent to other countries to use in medicine, and is known as Iceland moss. The children are often sent to gather it for their mothers, who dry it and grind it to powder and then make it into cakes which are boiled and then eaten with milk.

In the summer time the boys and girls hunt for birds’ eggs of which they are very fond, and sometimes their fathers kill a sheep or cow, which furnishes fresh meat for several days.

The children love their dogs which are often very pretty and are petted a good deal. They help their masters care for the sheep and are very faithful. Sometimes the cows wander a long ways in search of grass, but with the approach of night they come home to be milked and cared for. The ewes are milked, too, and their young masters and mistresses have no idea how strange this must seem to many travelers. Even the little children learn to ride the stout, patient ponies, and if they have an errand to do for their parents they seldom think of walking, but on to the ponies’ backs they spring, and away 22 they go across the snowfields and over the roads till they reach the place for which they are bound.

The little girls are taught to knit and spin and do fine needle work. They help make the clothes for the family, which are of the same fashion, year after year. The mother always wears a black cloth dress with white under waist showing in front, a snowy apron, and on her head is sure to be a black cap with long tassel and a silver ornament. If it is very cold she winds a shawl around her head. Her daughters dress much as she does, except that they wear no caps till they are thirteen or fourteen years old.

The boys help in the work of the farm and go hunting and fishing with their fathers. Herds of reindeer wander over the island and their flesh makes a pleasant change in the daily fare, while the skins furnish thick, warm coats for the Icelanders. There are also foxes, but they and the reindeer are almost the only wild creatures, with the exception of the birds, found in the whole country.

There are many kinds of birds,—gulls, ptarmigans, swans, and wild geese, all come to the 23 island to lay their eggs and raise their young, but the most precious of all are the eider-ducks whose bodies are covered with soft thick down. The mother eider-duck lines her nest with this down which she plucks out from her own breast, thus making a soft and comfortable home for the baby birds. After they are hatched the hunters go about from nest to nest, collecting the down which is taken home and spread out in the sun to dry. Then it is tied up in bags and sold in the town. Some of it is sent away to other countries and made into the eider-down quilts which are sold for a large price.

Getting Fish.

During the summer every village along the coast is full of busy people. The men and boys sail or row out to the places were cod and halibut are plentiful, and there they fish from morning till night, when they bring home the “catch” which they give into the care of their wives and daughters. At these times the women wear long waterproof aprons and thick woolen gloves. They, too, are busy all day long cleaning and splitting the fish at large tanks near the water’s edge, then salting and drying them for their 24 own use during the coming year, or to be packed and sent to Reikjavik from which they are shipped to other countries. The fish, together with butter and ponies, are the principal things sent out from Iceland, and the ships that come to receive them bring the sugar, coffee and chocolate, the dishes and tools necessary to the simple housekeeping of the Icelanders.

The Cave of Surtur.

There are many caves in Iceland, some of which are used by the farmers for storing their hay and housing their cattle. The most wonderful of them all is the large cave of Surtur, whose floor is carpeted with snow and ice.

The visitor enters a long hall and the dim light of his torch makes him think at first that he is looking at rows of statues. But they are pillars of ice and snow which reach up from the floor and have taken upon themselves many queer forms. Farther on in the hall bars of ice form a large screen before the eyes of the traveler. On every side new wonders meet his eyes as he goes farther and farther underground till at last he longs for the daylight and turns back, 25 glad indeed when he has reached the mouth of the cave once more.

Many people who have visited Iceland say that the grandest sights in the whole world are to be seen in that island. The hills of lava with the ice-fields stretching between them, the geysers bursting forth out of the ground with a sound of thunder, the lofty volcanoes that look like sleeping giants of snow and ice, the great caves whose stalactites are coated with ice, all these things and many more make Iceland a land of wonder to those who visit that lonely island.

Little Folks of Greenland

The Coming of Eric the Red

West of Ireland is the largest island in the world. It is called Greenland, but the boys and girls who live there have little reason to know it by such a name, for it is a country of snow and ice where fierce winds are blowing the greater part of the year and where the frost king rules even in the summer-time.

Long ago there were brave sailors in northern Europe called Norsemen, who ventured out into the western waters farther than any other known people at that time. Some of them, as you know, sailed as far as Iceland where they settled and made a home for themselves.

By and by one of these settlers sailed still farther into the west. Fierce storms arose and strong winds blew his ship till he came in sight 27 of a land whose shores were bound in ice. At last the storm passed; then he turned his ship about and sailed for home.

When he reached Iceland he told of what he had seen. Among those who listened to him was another daring sailor, Eric the Red.

Not long afterwards Eric the Red killed another man in a quarrel, and on account of this wrong deed he was told that he could not stay in Iceland, but must leave his home for two years at least.

He now thought of the story he had heard of a land farther west. He said to himself, “I will seek that country and perhaps I will find a home there to my liking.”

He set out with a brave heart and sailed on till at last he saw before him a bare and desolate land. He steered his ship past great icebergs and floating masses of ice and entered a harbor.

It was not a pleasant country in which to make a home. There was no person to greet him; not a single tree to offer its shade. Yet he made himself as comfortable as possible and built a house of stone against the side of a steep cliff. He fished in the icy waters and hunted over the snow-covered fields; thus he and his few companions 28 got enough food to keep themselves from starving.

Two winters passed in this new home and Eric the Red, who had been used to hardship, enjoyed himself because he was free to do as he pleased and there were no enemies to disturb him. In fact, all the time he and his followers were in Greenland they met no other people, and so they believed they were the only ones living in that ice-bound country. In their wanderings, however, they discovered that there were many high mountains, deep and narrow bays, and glaciers.

The time came when Eric the Red could go back to Iceland. On his return he said to himself, “I will say that I found a pleasant home in the west. I will give the place the pleasant name of Greenland. Then some of the people will wish to go back with me and settle there.”

Eric the Red painted such a delightful picture of his stay in the distant land that a goodly company started out with him in twenty-five ships when he returned to Greenland. Some of these ships were wrecked; others were driven back by fierce winds. Fourteen, however, managed to pass the dangerous icebergs and the great 29 masses of floating ice and entered a narrow harbor.

The people landed on the desolate shore and were soon busy building houses in which to live. There was no lumber because there were no trees, so they had to use stones.

Afterwards small gardens were dug and planted. Sheds were built of stone where the sheep and oxen the people had brought with them could be protected from the biting cold of the long winter and the fearful storms that raged there.

Other settlers followed the first ones and made new homes for themselves on the western coast of Greenland, not far from the place chosen by the first-comers. Here, in rough stone houses, little children were born and grew up to be men and women.

These children did not know the taste of bread. They lived mostly on the meat of seals, walruses, and reindeer, the berries they picked in summer, and the eggs of the wild birds that flew in great flocks over the country when the long, cold winter was over.

They had many a good time, though. They romped in the frosty air; they slid on the ice; 30 they petted their lambs and played games; and then, when evening came, they gathered about their fathers to listen to wonderful tales of adventures with wild animals and of fights for life among icebergs and glaciers. Often they must have held their breath, and their blood must have been stirred as they thought, “Soon we will grow up and we, too, will dare what our fathers have dared.”

The Eskimos.

More than three hundred years passed by. Then the children of the settlers suddenly discovered that they were not the only ones living in Greenland. Not far to the north there were other boys and girls with yellow skins, black eyes, round faces and mouths ever ready to stretch in smiles. Far different, indeed, they looked from the Norse children with their fair hair and blue eyes.

These little strangers spoke an odd-sounding language and when they pointed to themselves they said, “Innuits,” meaning “people.” No doubt they and their parents had thought themselves the only people in the world. The Norsemen called them Skrællings; but long afterwards, when other white men came to Greenland and noticed the manner of living of the natives, they gave them the name of Eskimos which means, “Eaters of raw meat.” To this day we know them as Eskimos.

An Eskimo Mother and Baby.
An Eskimo Mother and Baby.

Not long after they met with the Eskimos the white settlers, with their wives and children, disappeared from Greenland. No one knows the reason. Perhaps they all died from a terrible sickness that visited them at that time. There are some who think they were killed by the natives. At any rate, there were no more white people in Greenland for two hundred years and the little Eskimos lived on as they always had done.

The homes of these children are built to-day just as they were in that far-away time when the Norsemen first saw them. They spend the long cold winter in stone huts. The stones are packed closely together and the chinks are stuffed so tightly with turf that the sharpest wind can not make its way inside. A low passage into the house is also built of stones, but it is so low that even the little children must crawl on their hands and knees when they go in and out of the house. 32

Can you think of the reason for this? It is because the wind must be kept out of the home at all costs.

When the children have once crept inside, there is not much room over their heads even now, since the house-walls themselves are not more than six or eight feet high. The light is very dim, for the small windows are made of the bowels of seals, as the Eskimos do not have the glass we think so necessary; so they take the best thing they can procure.

A little more light is given by queer, smoky lamps which are stoves as well. Women are busy tending these all the time, or they would smoke so badly that even the Eskimos, who are used to them, could not breathe the air without choking.

Each one of these stove-lamps is made of a piece of sandstone hollowed out somewhat in the shape of a dustpan. Pieces of blubber are placed in the bottom and strips of dried moss are set up along one side for wicks. Here the mothers of the Eskimo children do all their cooking, and here the boys and girls must gather when they wish to warm their fingers if Jack Frost has pinched them. 33

Heavy seal or bear skins which have been cured and made ready for use hang down from the walls, making them doubly warm.

Along the sides of the hut are platforms where the children sit with their parents and where they stretch themselves among piles of furs for the night’s rest. These platforms are usually made of wood, one of the most precious things the Eskimos possess. Since no trees grow in Greenland, the only wood the people had in the long ago drifted to their shores. Often it came from the wrecks of vessels that ventured into the dangerous northern waters after whales. Now-a-days, however, the Eskimos get lumber from white traders in exchange for oil and furs. For about four months of the winter the sun does not show his face at all. The children must be very glad that during that period the moon shines brightly one week out of every four. That is the time for the best fun,—skating and coasting by moonlight when the snowfields and the ice-bound shores glisten like the most wonderful fairyland you can possibly imagine.

Before they venture from their homes their loving mothers see that they put on their bird-skin shirts with the soft feathers worn next 34 to the skin. Then there are stockings of hare or dog skin, and high boots of sealskin.

It would be rather hard at first for you to tell an Eskimo girl from a boy for all the people of the snowland wear trousers which are, of course, much warmer than skirts would be. These trousers, like the boots, are made of heavy skins with the fur on the inside.

The upper part of the body is covered with a short fur blouse. A fur hood and mittens complete the outdoor dress. No suit could be better for traveling over the snow or playing on the icy hillsides than the Greenland mothers make for their little ones.

Hunting for Food.

Sometimes the little Eskimos and their parents feast nearly all day long. This is when their fathers have been successful in the hunt and there is plenty of seal and walrus meat on hand. But there are other times when many hours pass by without food and they do not know how much longer they must wait before they can satisfy their hunger.

Sometimes the men are away from home for 35 days together, searching the shore for the food their wives and little ones need so much. When at last they have been successful and returned with their loads, the children run out with their mothers to meet the hunters and take care of the precious prize. The women are armed with long knives with which they quickly cut away the skins. The meat is cut up, and with shouts of laughter the children crawl through the narrow passage into the hut and gather around their mothers, as pieces of the meat are placed in stone dishes and hung over the lamps to cook.

It may be, that while the children sit eagerly watching for some seal-blood soup to be prepared, the women throw them pieces of blubber which they eat greedily.

All this time the men are stretched about on the low platforms, joking and telling stories while they wait for the feast to begin. As they wait, some of them busy their fingers carving toys out of walrus-teeth for the children,—tiny reindeer, seals, sledges, birds or muskoxen.

When the dinner is ready a large dish of food is placed in the middle of the floor, the big folks and little sit around in a circle and help themselves 36 with their fingers. After dinner come songs and dances in which the children take their part.

It is very likely that over on a low shelf a mother dog is lying with her puppies, and the children go to her from time to time and play with their cunning little pets. The Eskimos are fond of their dogs, and are very careful of the puppies, which are brought up in the house with their own children from the time when they are born till they are big enough to take care of themselves.

Eskimo Dogs.

The boys and girls of the far north would be very lonely without their trusty dogs. They play with the puppies during the long winter days. Then, as soon as their little pets are old enough, the boys begin to train them. First, the animal must be taught to obey their young masters. Then collars are made, and with long straps of leather, these are fastened to low sledges made of drift wood and walrus lines. The sledge is drawn by a number of dogs, each of which is fastened by a separate strap.

When the master of the pack is ready for 37 a ride, he throws himself upon the sledge, cracks his whip, and the dogs start wildly off with leaps and bounds.

On goes the sledge, now over a smooth sheet of frozen snow, and again bumping up and down as the dogs dash over rough hillocks of ice. It is enough to take one’s breath away.

An Eskimo boy is much pleased when his father tells him he is getting old enough to have a team of dogs for his very own. He picks out the brightest and smartest one of his puppies to be the leader of the new pack and trains him with the greatest care. The young dog in his turn seems proud of the honor paid him and soon begins to rule among his fellows like a king.

Poor Eskimo dogs! They have a hard lot. All through the long winter they are seldom fed more than three or four times a week. Only the mother dogs with their puppies are allowed in the house. The rest of the pack spend most of the time outdoors although they are sometimes allowed in the passageway, or a snow hut is built for them near the house of their master. Their hair, however, is long and thick and warm, and this protects them from the winds and storm. 38 They will stretch out on a bed of snow and sleep comfortably hour after hour in the coldest weather. One of their favorite resting places is the top of their master’s hut; but when the wind blows hard they prefer to creep into their snow house and stay there till the weather is once more calm.

As soon as the Eskimo boy is old enough to hold a tiny bow his parents put one in his chubby hands. He is so pleased when he is able to set an arrow and send it speeding against a mark on the wall of the hut. When he strikes it for the first time the place rings with his shouts of delight. When he is a little older he takes lessons from his father in shaping harpoons and spearheads. He is now getting ready for the hunting that is to be his work in life.

While he is learning the ways of a hunter, his sister also has her lessons. Her mother and grandmother are busy women, tanning the skins the men bring in, and making them into warm garments for the family. The girls must therefore learn to sew with coarse bone needles and heavy thread made from the sinews of the reindeer. They must also help in chewing skin with their strong white teeth. This is to make the 39 skin soft and comfortable for the wearer, but it is a long, hard task. Many an Eskimo woman wears her teeth down to stubs by the time she is an old woman.

After Seals.

When autumn sets in, the head of the family watches the ice in the bay. As soon as it is frozen hard enough, he will begin his hunt for seals. He clothes himself in fur from head to foot, takes his lance from the wall, and hangs over one arm a little stool made of small pieces of wood bound together with leather straps. He must not forget his hunting knife, nor a fur blanket which he throws over his shoulders. At last he is off. He walks quickly down to the edge of the bay and looks keenly about over its surface. Perhaps he decides to follow the coast for some distance, as farther along the ice seems firmer.

On he moves till he comes to a place where he can trust himself. With leaps and bounds he springs from one cake of ice to another till he reaches a place where the water of the outer bay is frozen solid. He keeps his eyes fastened on the ice. Ah! he has discovered a small hole. 40 He thinks, “Now I have found the home of a family of seals. This is certainly their breathing place.”

He spreads his fur blanket on the ice close to the hole. In the middle of it he puts his stool, and then, with lance in hand, he sits down to watch and wait.

It may be that in a short time a seal’s nose will appear at this hole to get a breath of fresh air, or perhaps hours will pass before this happens.

At last the watching hunter is rewarded. He thrusts his lance suddenly down through the hole, and if he has made no mistake it has pierced the seal below. The lance disappears under the ice, but the hunter has taken care to fasten leather lines to the blunt end, and this he holds tightly in his hands.

Now he must be very careful. He takes his hunting knife from his sheath and carefully cuts away the ice from around the breathing hole. He must make a place so large that the seal’s body can be drawn up through, to the surface. At last his prey lies before him but the animal is still alive and must be killed.

As soon as this is done, the man hastens back 41 to the shore near his home where some of his faithful dogs have been harnessed to the sledge and are patiently awaiting him.

He unties the strap by which they are fastened to a rock. Then, with delighted howls, the dogs rush along with their master to the place where the dead seal is lying. It is placed on the sledge, and in a short time is in the hands of the hunter’s wife, who takes off the skin and cuts up the meat for the hungry family.

Nannook, the Bear.

During the long evenings the children are never tired of listening to the stories of the big white bear. It is Nannook who makes her winter home against the side of a steep cliff. Here the snow drifts about her and shuts her in from the outside world; at the same time the warm breath from her great body melts the snow next to her, leaving a small empty space. Here she sleeps and here her little cubs are born.

Sometimes the bear is caught by means of a trap which the Eskimo hunter has built of stone set up in a square. There is a small opening inside of which a piece of blubber is placed. When Nannook snaps at the blubber, down falls 42 a heavy stone and the animal is made a prisoner.

Sometimes the hunter comes upon the track of a bear when he has no companion except his trusty dogs. But he is not afraid. He urges them on and the sledge dashes along with the greatest speed. The master of the team hardly needs to guide, for the dogs are eager to follow the scent. And now the prey is in sight. Perhaps it is a mother bear with two cubs. She sees her enemy and turns to flee, but her little ones cannot run fast and she stops again and again for them. Every moment the dogs are gaining upon her. At last she sees it is of no use and takes her stand to meet the attack.

The team is upon her now. The hunter leaps from the sledge and rushes towards the mother bear with spear in hand. She rises upon her hind legs and opens her mouth with an angry growl. One blow of her paw would be enough to kill the man if he gave her time to strike, but he makes a sudden thrust into her heart with his spear before she has a chance to do this.

It may be that the spear fails to reach its mark, or that the bear breaks it with one angry blow. She is furious now, and it would go hard with the hunter if the faithful dogs were not already 43 springing upon the huge animal like a pack of wolves. With their help she is overcome, and falls at last dying to the ground. Then it is an easy matter to kill the poor little cubs, which all through the fight have been crying piteously.

Many a time an Eskimo hunter has met his death when on a bear hunt. Many a time, too, he has received fearful wounds that have made him a cripple for the rest of his life. Yet he is a brave man and is ever ready to join a hunt in search of Nannook, the big white bear.

After the Walrus.

The Eskimo boys are not only eager for bear stories, but they love to hear their fathers tell of the battles with the big walrus, whose home is in the sea. It weighs nearly a thousand pounds. It has a thick, tough skin, and long tusks of ivory. When a number of walruses are together they will often turn on the hunters with fury. Then the men must move quickly and fight bravely, or they may lose their lives.

The best time for a walrus hunt is when the moon is shining brightly. The children look on eagerly while the men get knives and lances ready, for perhaps news has just come that walruses 44 have been seen on the ice floes miles away up the coast. The dogs are harnessed to the sledges and the party start off.

One, two, and even three days may pass with no sign of the returning hunters. At last the sound of barking dogs is heard in the distance. The women and children rush out of the huts, and if the moon has set or the clouds have hidden her light, they carry torches and hurry to meet the hunters.

The news may be good and the sledges loaded with ivory and walrus meat. But perhaps the men have not been successful, and have only to tell of a long search, with no prize gained. It may be that one of the men has been wounded by an enraged walrus, or has been drawn into the icy water and has narrowly escaped drowning. At any rate, there is much to tell to the eager listeners.

A walrus is much larger and heavier than a seal. Besides this, it has two strong tusks with which to defend itself; and although it is hunted in much the same way, it is far more dangerous work to kill a walrus and land it safely on the ice. One man seldom hunts walruses alone. 45

The Narwhal.

Eskimos never live far from the shore. It would not be safe to do so, for most of their food is obtained from the sea. Besides seals and walruses, other large creatures are hunted there. There are different kinds of whales; there are porpoises and swordfish; more important still is the narwhal with its long ivory tusk pointing straight out from its head. It is an ugly-looking creature, but the Eskimos think only of the beautiful white ivory and the oil to be obtained, besides abundance of delicious meat.

As soon as November comes, the men begin to look for narwhals. A party of hunters get into their boats and paddle out into the deep waters of the bay. As they paddle along, as soon as a narwhal appears in sight they hurry toward it with all the speed possible. Each one is eager to be the first one to attack, for he is the one to receive most honor when the fight is over and the prize gained. Great care must be used as the hunters draw near the narwhal for that long tusk could make a hole through a boat in an instant. 46


The long winter is over at last. The men have hunted many of the days, but they have spent much time making lines and traps for the warmer days to come; also in mending and sharpening their weapons. The women have been busy making clothes for the family and tending the lamps, while the happy, loving children have helped their parents a little, but mostly they have been coasting and playing games on the snowfields. They have paid visits to friends in other villages; they have had many a feast; sometimes, alas! they have gone without food for days at a time. They have sung and danced, and watched the beautiful northern lights flash over the sky. They have listened to legends of their big brother, the moon, and his sister the sun. Sometimes, too, they have heard stories about the great ice-sheet that stretches all over the mountains and plains of the inland country. They trembled as they were told that terrible beings have their home on that inland ice and they are quite sure they would not venture there for the world.

Now that spring has come, they are ready for 47 a season of sunshine. They are glad, too, to seek a new home and new adventures. Yes, the spring has come and flocks of birds are flying overhead to bring the good news.

The boys help their fathers take off the roofs of the winter houses and open them up to the sunshine and fresh air. All the people in the village are going to move.

Skin tents are packed on the sledges, together with lamps and the few stone dishes they possess. For four whole months the Eskimos will camp out and move from place to place in search of reindeer and birds on the land, or fish in the waters of the bay.

Sometimes in the early spring or fall the Eskimo children live in still different homes from their winter huts of stone or the summer tents. These are the snow houses, which the men can build very quickly.

If they are off on a long hunt, these snow houses are useful, for they are warm and comfortable in the worst storm or the coldest weather. Big blocks of solid snow are cut and piled up in the shape of a bee-hive. A small doorway is left open which can be filled with another snow-block when the people wish it. 48 When the house is finished loose snow is sifted over it and every crack filled up so that the wind cannot make its way inside. The stone lamp is set up in the middle or at the side of the hut. A bench is made of snow and covered with furs, and the family are ready to go to housekeeping.

As soon as the Eskimo children see the birds flying in the springtime they begin to think of the fun they will have hunting for eggs. The boys get their bows and arrows ready at this time, for they will shoot dozens and dozens of the birds before the summer is over.

There are many kinds of these birds, most of which like to build their nests on the sides of steep cliffs along the shore. Best of all are the eider ducks with their soft and beautiful feathers. Shirts of eider-duck skin with the feathers worn next to the body are the best and warmest of all, both for the babies of the household and their fathers.

An Eskimo hunter will climb up the sides of the steepest cliff in his search for birds’ eggs. If he lose his foothold, he may fall a great distance and be dashed to pieces on the rocks below. But he does not seem to think of danger. 49 His one idea is to get something good on which his family and himself may feast.

The Skin-boat, or Kayak.

The boats of the Eskimos are called kayaks and are like no others in the world. The boys take many lessons before they can be trusted to help in making a kayak. It is long and narrow and has room for only one person. Its frame is of bone or wood and it is pointed at both ends. When it is finished, the boat-maker stretches over it a seal skin which his wife has tanned. It is an excellent covering, for the water cannot pass through it. In the middle of the top the man leaves an opening as large as his body is round. He steps inside and sits down, stretching his legs in front of him. Yes, the opening is of the right size; the water of the wildest sea cannot enter and sink the boat when once the Eskimo has fitted the rim around the bottom of his coat over the rim he has made about the opening in the skin covering. With his stout paddle he will dare to travel for miles over the rough sea.

The short summer-time is one long day, for the sun does not set. The children go to bed when they are tired and sleepy and get up when 50 they please. They feast to their hearts’ content during this time, for there are usually fish and birds and eggs in plenty. Then, too, these children of the north go berrying and bring home many a dish of delicious black crow-berries.

The greatest dainty of all is the paunch of a reindeer’s stomach. It consists of the moss and shrubs the animal has eaten, and is a little acid. It is no wonder then that the Eskimos are fond of it, as they have neither bread nor vegetables, and no fruit except the berries they are able to pick during a few weeks out of each year.

The Reindeer.

As soon as the spring opens the older boys look forward to the hunt. Perhaps a herd of reindeer has been seen not far away, and the hunters start out over the fields still well-covered with snow to look for traces of them. They carry bows and arrows, also knives. They must not forget to take fur soles for their feet, too. As soon as they are within range of their game they will bind these soles under their kamiks so that the reindeer cannot hear them as they draw near. 51

Even now the herd may take fright while the hunters are still too far off to shoot. Then thud, thud, sound their feet as they scud away over the fields. But the hunters will not despair even then. They will give chase for hours together if it be necessary.

Sometimes the keen eyes of the Eskimos will find only prints on the snow to show that a herd of reindeer has been lately feeding there.

“We will stay here and watch for them to return,” they say to each other. Then they go to work to make a little fort of stones, behind which they sit down to watch and wait.

They may have to stay there a long time before the sound of reindeer hoofs is heard, but they are patient. They amuse each other with story-telling and the hours pass quickly.

At last a herd draws near. The antlers of these Arctic reindeer are broad and branching. They plant their short legs firmly on the ground as, with heads bent down, they search for moss beneath the snow. They seem to know just where to paw away the snow to find the food they love.

The right moment comes and the hunters send 52 their arrows flying into the midst of the herd. One of the reindeer falls to the ground while the others dash wildly away.

When a number of animals have been killed in a hunt and there is too much meat to carry at once, some of it is buried under a pile of stones, so that the wolves and foxes cannot get it. Then the hunters trudge home for the dog team to help them.

New Settlers.

You remember that Eric the Red went to live in Greenland before a white person had stepped on the mainland of North America. You also have learned that his followers lived in Greenland for a long time and then disappeared shortly after they met with the Eskimos.

From that time no more white people went to Greenland till the year 1585, when an Englishman named Davis sailed for many miles along its coast and visited among the Eskimos. Then he went away.

After his visit, there were no settlers from other lands for nearly a hundred years. Then a good minister in Denmark left home with his wife and children and went to a place in southwestern Greenland which he called God Havn or, Good Haven. Hans Egede, for this was the minister’s name, wished to teach the Eskimos the Christian religion.

An Eskimo Village in Summer.
An Eskimo Village in Summer.

He had hard work before him. A long time passed before he could understand the strange words of the Eskimo language and the only way he could teach the people was by the pictures he brought with him. Yet he stayed in Greenland for many years and his own children grew up with the little Eskimos for playmates.

Then Hans Egede’s wife died and he went back to Denmark. By this time, however, he had a grown-up son who loved the work his father had begun. He said, “I will remain here and keep on with your teaching.”

So he stayed. Other people from Denmark joined him, and now there are several settlements of Danes in Greenland. They have brought lumber with them with which to build their houses, as well as furniture and dishes from their old home across the sea. Even the sound of the piano may be heard now in this frozen land of the north. Tiny gardens have been dug where a few vegetables are raised each summer. Best of all, churches have been built 54 where Eskimo children sit side by side with their fair-haired brothers and sisters of Denmark.

Once in a while a ship draws near bringing papers and letters, canned food and clothing from across the sea. It is a time of great excitement for the settlers. They have been getting ready for the coming of the ship for a long time, filling vessels with oil and fish, and packing the furs they have got in barter from the Eskimos. All these things are to be sold in other lands, besides many tons of cryolite which is very useful in making aluminum. The white settlers get it from a large mine and receive a good price for it, since Greenland and one other country are the only places in the world where it can be obtained.

Although the Eskimo children of southern Greenland have white playmates among them, yet above them in the north there is many a little village where people from other lands have never been seen or even heard of.

Little Folks of Alaska

The Coming of Behring

Close your hand together tightly, leaving the forefinger pointing straight out. You now have before you the general shape of the peninsula of Alaska, which lies in the northwestern part of North America.

The children of Alaska have a much more comfortable home than the little Greenlanders. Their shores, except in the far north, are not bound in ice the year around; the winters are not so cold and the summers are warmer; trees grow in thick forests over a great part of the country, and many flowers bloom there.

The reason for this is, that warm winds blow over the country from the west, and these winds are due to a broad stream of water flowing through the Pacific ocean, called the Japanese current. It makes its way from the south and keeps its warmth during its long journey through 56 the colder waters of the main ocean. And so it is that the children of Alaska who feel the warm winds blowing eastward from the Japanese current, do not need the heavy furs worn by the Greenlanders, neither do they require as much fat meat to give heat to their bodies, nor as close and stuffy homes to live in.

The boys and girls of Alaska belong to several different races. There are the yellow-skinned Eskimos of the far north and west; there are the copper-colored Indians who are found in the south, and along the banks of the rivers of the inland country; there are the Aleuts, who live on a chain of islands stretching westward towards Asia, and who are like Indians in some ways and like the Japanese in others. No one really knows what these Aleuts are, nor where they came from. Perhaps in the long-ago they made their way to these islands from Asia, for the distance is not great, and small boats could have crossed over safely in good weather. Besides these Aleuts and the Indians and Japanese, there are white children from the United States whose fathers are busy trading for furs or digging gold in the mines.

Early in the eighteenth century, a brave seaman named 57 Vitus Behring was sailing under the orders of Peter the Great of Russia. He crossed the Pacific ocean from Asia and traveled far into the north. He passed through a strait and entered a sea, both of which were named in his honor, Behring. Then he coasted along the shores of a land whose mountains often rose up out of the ocean. He was the first white man to look on the peninsula of Alaska.

A dreadful storm arose during this voyage and Vitus Behring and his men were wrecked on a small island to which also the name of the commander was given. Here he died, and here his men built a vessel out of what they saved from the wreck, and sailed away for home to tell of what had been discovered.

Time went by and other Russian ships visited Alaska and began to trade with the natives for the furs which they got from the wild animals roaming through the country. After a while they built small stations here and there on the coast, for the purpose of trading, and to these stations ships came regularly to receive loads of seal and fox, beaver and martin skins which the Indians and the Eskimos were glad to trap and kill, when they found they could get bright-colored 58 blankets, tobacco, and many other things in exchange for them.

In this way it came about that a few Russian children with blue eyes and yellow hair found their way to Alaska, and lived in rough log houses with wild-looking Indians and Eskimos for their neighbors. About fifty years ago the children of the United States began to hear many stories of Alaska. Their parents told them that Russian fur-traders had made fortunes there. Moreover, Russia was willing to sell the country for a few million dollars.

Some people said, “Why should not Americans buy it? Besides the valuable furs, there are rich forests in Alaska.”

At this time a statesman by the name of Seward was urging the United States to purchase that far-away peninsula, for he was quite sure this country would be well repaid for doing so. People listened to his reasons, and at last they decided to follow Mr. Seward’s advice, and Russian America, as it had been called up to that time, received its new name of Alaska, and became a territory of the United States. There were many, however, who thought it a most foolish purchase and often spoke of it as “Seward’s 59 folly.” To-day everyone looks upon it, instead, as “Seward’s wisdom,” for it has made many an American child’s father rich, not only through its furs, but also through the salmon caught in its waters and the gold found in its mines.

The Little Eskimos.

Along the northern and western shores of Alaska, in the coldest part of the country, are scattered villages of the Eskimos. They are much like their brothers and sisters of Greenland. They dress in furs, and live chiefly on the fat meat of the seal and walrus. They seldom go far from the shore, because most of their food is obtained from the sea.

Their winter homes are small stone huts built partly underground, and with long tunnel-like entrances dug out of the earth and leading down into them. Turf and mud are plastered over the cone-shaped roofs, while in the middle, at the top of each, there is a small opening to let out the smoke. Directly under this opening is the family fireplace where wood is burnt except in the most northern homes. There the Eskimo children help their mothers tend just such lamps of seal-oil as the Greenlanders use, 60 since it is too cold for trees to grow on the frozen marshes that stretch along the shores of the Arctic ocean. Oil is the one thing that they can obtain, and of this they must make use. In the short summer the little Eskimos of Alaska delight in the skin tents which their mothers stretch over light frames, while from time to time, during the spring and fall, they camp out in snow-houses.

They have their teams of dogs, which they pet and train. They have their skin-covered kayaks made in much the same way as those of the Greenland Eskimos, although it is very probable that they have never heard of their relations in that distant island. Mother Nature has provided certain things to maintain life in the frozen lands of the north,—not many to be sure; but the minds of those who dwell in places far distant from each other seem to have thought out much the same way of using them.

An Eskimo Village in Alaska.
An Eskimo Village in Alaska.

In these far northern regions the little Eskimos are often treated to a most beautiful sight. It is the northern lights, which flash over the heavens during the long cold winter nights, and are far brighter than are ever seen in Greenland or Iceland. Think of the most glorious rainbow you can imagine,—the brilliant green, yellow, blue, and violet spreading out in great waves of light over the sky. For a few moments it is as light as day. Then the colors fade away and all is darkness once more. It is not strange that the little Eskimos who stand watching are filled anew with wonder and think of it as the work of great and powerful spirits.

Among the Indians.

Along the southern shores of Alaska and on the banks of the rivers of the inland country are many Indian villages. They belong to several different tribes, but their way of living is much the same. Their huts are generally built of logs and bark, and they like best to dress in the bright-colored blankets, with red and yellow handkerchiefs on their heads, which they get in barter from the white traders. The red children have broad faces, black eyes, and black hair. Long ago, before the white men lived among them, these little Indians believed that they could make themselves more beautiful by tattooing their bodies. As these poor children grew up, they suffered many an hour of pain while the red or blue lines were marked on their 62 chins by threads drawn along under the skin. Now, however, as the red men learn more and more of the ways of the white people, this cruel fashion is passing away. Many of the little Indians of Alaska go to school, where they take delight in learning to read and write. They are rather slow, but they are very patient, and proud indeed are they when they have mastered a hard lesson.

Most of them, however, are still in Mother Nature’s school alone, but their bright eyes are continually learning new things about the trees and the flowers, and the wild animals that roam through the forests and over the snowfields. These children of the red men delight in the water. The rivers of Alaska are the roadways, and here as well as on the coast, the boys paddle in their canoes for many a mile, hunting, fishing, and racing. Many an Indian has a morning bath in the ice-cold river, or in the ocean. “It will make my child strong,” his mother thinks, and so, whether it be a bright summer day, or a dark and freezing winter morning, in he goes for his daily plunge.

In front of many homes of the red children are tall, straight posts. Horrible-looking faces 63 are carved upon these posts, as well as the figures of birds, fishes and wild animals.

“It is the totem-pole,” the Indian child will tell you with pride. The totem is the mark of his family. It is even more to him than is the coat-of-arms to many an Englishman. Suppose a wolf is the principal carving upon the pole. The child’s parents tell him it is their guardian, and the child learns to look upon it with reverence. Perhaps his grandfather or his great-grandfather dreamed of the wolf while he was fasting alone in the forest. He thought it was a vision from heaven, and he chose it henceforth to be the totem of his tribe or of his family.

Candle Fish.

Since Alaska lies so far north, the winter must be long and dark. No lamps are needed to light the huts, however, if the children and their parents have provided themselves with enough candle-fish. These fish are about ten inches long, but quite thin. Strange to say, they are full of oil, and after being carefully dried, they will burn like torches. One of them will give as much light as two or three candles. At certain times of the year, schools of candle-fish enter 64 the mouths of the rivers which empty into the ocean. The Indian children watch for their coming, and as soon as they appear, they and their parents go down to the shore and rake them out of the water by the bushel.

The Indian mothers not only dry the candle-fish for lighting their winter homes, but they also boil great numbers of them, for in this way they get a supply of hardened oil that takes the place of butter. The older and the more rancid this oil is, the better they like it.

In the short Alaskan summer the fruits and flowers grow very fast. It seems as though they must make the best possible use of the sunshine. In the southern part of the country the children can pick the most beautiful bouquets of white clover, maiden-hair ferns, and bright-colored wild flowers. They go berrying to their hearts’ content, too. There are fields and fields filled with tall blueberry bushes; there are the juicy yellow salmon berries; there are cranberries, blackberries, red and white currants, and bilberries, but the best of all are the sweet, wild strawberries that almost melt in the mouth. Certainly the children of the greater part of Alaska can feast on good things in summer. 65 Why, the berries are so plentiful that not only the boys and girls, but the birds of the country get fat with the rich living. Many of the wild geese, indeed, can hardly fly after the summer’s feast, and are then easily caught by the boys and their fathers.

Even in winter there are berries to add to the dinner of fish and oil, for during the summer the children gather many bushels for their mothers to dry and store away. Berries, fish and oil! Surely, think the people, a person should be content if he has plenty of these three dainties. There are deer and bears, mountain goats, wild ducks and geese. All these are good for a change, but they cannot compare with fish, either fresh or dried, with an abundance of hardened oil spread over them.

Along the coasts there are clams and oysters, mussels and crabs. The natives like these, too; they dry and string them on long blades of grass for the winter season. Thus they have more variety of food than the people of Greenland.

Catching Salmon.

The boys of southern Alaska spend much time along the shores of the waters which teem with 66 cod and halibut, besides many smaller fish. But most plentiful of all are the salmon that leave the ocean as spring opens and enter the mouths of the rivers. How busy the people are then! The men and boys have nets all ready, and with these they paddle out into the water in their canoes. After the season has well opened, they load their boats again and again in one day, and before the season is over there is many a time when they simply scoop the fish on to the shore with the blades of their paddles. Salmon are so sweet and fat, that the Indians are very fond of them. They can feast on fresh fish during the summer, while the women split up great numbers of them and hang them up on racks to dry for the coming winter.

Many years ago the white people learned that salmon are plentiful in Alaska, so that now the Indians are busy, not only in getting the fish for themselves, but for the factories where tin boxes and casks are made by the hundreds and packed with the delicious fish which are sent to the people of the United States and elsewhere. Sometimes the children of the white men who are in the salmon business go to live in Alaska and there they see many a strange sight. They 67 look with wonder at the half-naked Indian boys and girls, with their wild bright eyes. They watch with envy as the red children glide over the water in their light bark canoes, and race with one another on the rivers. They shudder at the hideous faces carved on the totem poles. They look on with delight at the dances and the odd games of their red neighbors, and they laugh when they hear of Mr. Bruin and his way of catching fish. They would rather not be alone, however, when the bear is creeping down through the woods to get his dinner. They think he might possibly prefer a white child to the delicate pink salmon, but in this they are quite mistaken.


The bears seem to know when the salmon arrive as well as the human beings do. They leave their homes in the woods and make their way down to the quiet little coves along the shore. When the fish come crowding in, out go the bears’ paws into the water, scooping in the salmon of which they are so fond. Mr. Bruin swallows one after another until he has had his fill; then he creeps away as quietly as 68 he came, to seek safety once more among the trees of the forest. Sometimes, alas, the white hunter discovers the trail and follows the bear to the shore. Then bang! bang! sounds through the air and Bruin’s salmon feasts are over.

There are many bears in Alaska,—black, cinnamon, and in the far north the dangerous grizzly; but the red boy’s father teaches him that it is best not to kill these animals. He has an idea that the bear’s spirit will be angry and harm him if he does so. The white traders, however, want the skins and are willing to pay a good price for them, so the Indians sometimes go bear hunting, although after they meet with success, they go through strange rites, hoping thus to make peace with the bear’s spirit.

Whales and Sea Otters.

As the children who live along the shores of Alaska look out to sea, they sometimes notice what appears to be a water spout, then another and another far away in the distance. It is the blowing of a school of whales, which have come up to the surface for fresh air. They run to tell the news to the older folks of the village, for nothing could be more delicious than a dinner of 69 whale. The men get their lances ready at once and hurry down to their canoes. Then away they paddle with all their might in the direction in which the monsters have been seen.

If they succeed in coming upon the whales, there is busy and dangerous work for a while. The hunters must not think of fear as they draw near to the huge creatures to throw their spears in such a way as to inflict dangerous wounds. Then away they must paddle for dear life so as not to be swamped by the whales as they dive below. Before the men threw their lances they carefully fastened sealskin buoys to them. As the whales plunge after being wounded, these buoys on the surface make it hard for them to stay below and they are soon worn out. When the hunters have wounded a whale as much as possible, they go home and wait for the tide to bring the dead animal ashore. Then there is a great feast in the village and all make merry. Many years ago white men fitted out big ships to sail into the northern waters after whales. In those days the oil was burnt in lamps; but now, since kerosene is plentiful, whale-oil with its unpleasant odor is little used. Whale-bone, however, is still valuable, and for this reason 70 many ships are still engaged hunting these monsters of the sea.

The Alaskan boys are ever on the watch for sea-otters. These shy creatures never leave the ocean, except when they have little ones to care for. Even then, it is said, the mother sea-otter sometimes chooses a bed of sea-weed out on the waves and there she floats, with her babes beside her. It is a curious sight. More curious still is it to see one of these huge creatures asleep on her back, floating along on the surface of the water, with her little ones held in her close embrace. A party of Indians often go on a sea-otter hunt, for the animal is covered with fine black fur, through which are scattered long white hairs. It is very beautiful, and the white traders are always willing to pay a large sum for a sea-otter skin.

The hunters must paddle quite a distance out to sea before they begin to look for an otter’s nose to appear above the surface of the water as the creature comes up to breathe. The moment it is seen, they swing their canoes around in a wide circle. Then, with spears in hand, they watch eagerly for the right moment to hurl them. Many days sometimes pass before the 71 patient watchers are rewarded with even the sight of the longed-for prize, and even then the hunters may fail to secure it, yet it is worth all the time they spend, for the fur is among the richest and the rarest in the world. Indeed, the sea-otter is rarely found except in the waters which wash the shores of Alaska.

More than once an Indian child has tried to raise a sea-otter, but he has never succeeded, for he cannot make the little creature eat, and it soon starves to death.


You remember that on the islands reaching out into the west from Alaska, many children are living who are neither Indians nor Eskimos. They are called Aleuts. Before the coming of the white people the Aleuts looked much like the Japanese, but afterwards the Russians married among them, so that many of their children to-day have lost much of the appearance of the yellow race.

Few trees grow around the homes of the Aleuts but enough wood drifts over from the forests of the mainland to furnish fuel for their fires. They live in dark, damp huts built mostly 72 underground, so it is no wonder that they love best to be out-of-doors when the hills and the fields are covered with pretty grasses, mosses, and bright flowers in the summer time. Many blue foxes run wild through the islands and these are hunted by the men, for the fur is very valuable and the white traders are always ready to buy the skins.

The little Aleuts love the sea, where they paddle about in their light canoes, or fish in the clear waters. Northward from the Aleutian islands are two others called the Pribylov or Seal Islands. Thick fogs shut them in during the summer, while in the winter the shores are surrounded with drift ice. They are very important, however, because they are the greatest hunting grounds for seals in the whole world. The Aleuts are the only people who live on these islands, except for a few white men who oversee the work of killing the seals. The villages are scattered here and there, close to the sea, each with its church and its school-house, and during the winter the little Aleuts pass their time quietly in play and study.

But when the spring comes, they are full of 73 excitement, as they watch the seals, big and little, old and young, gather on their shores. No one knows how far these creatures have traveled, nor in what distant waters they have passed the winter. Come they do, however, by hundreds and thousands, and on the shores of these islands the baby seals are born. They are graceful little creatures, and play and frolic together like kittens. When they are born they are quite blind, but they begin to see after a few days. When they are about six weeks old their mother leads them down to the water for their first swim. At first they are afraid, but their mother coaxes and urges them on, so that in a short time they are able to swim about with ease. Before long they enjoy this new water-life as much as their fathers and mothers do, and are soon able to hunt for the small fishes and kelp which are the seals’ principal food. The hunting season lasts about six weeks, and begins early in June, soon after the arrival of the seals. The men arm themselves with clubs, and then drive the seals up into a cleared space away from the shore, where the animals are helpless, because they are clumsy and move slowly when out of the water. 74 A single blow on the seal’s head is enough to end his life, and to give the hunter the beautiful soft skin he wishes.

Year after year goes around and each summer brings herds of seals to these islands, with no understanding that thousands of their number are coming only to die at the hands of the hunters. Sometimes the Indian boys catch baby seals and keep therm for pets. They are gentle little creatures, and soon learn to love their young masters, and to follow them about. They bark much like puppies and are often taught to do tricks.

Hunting in Alaska.

The Indian boys of Alaska could tell you many stories about the wild animals they hunt with their fathers. There are martens, with their soft brown fur, black and silver foxes, beavers, muskrats, mountain-goats, moose, deer, otter and many others which roam in great numbers over the hills and through the valleys. The Yukon River, one of the largest in the world, is the most important one in Alaska, and through the country on either side of it the wild animals are found in great numbers. The hunters get many of them in traps. There, on the banks of that great river, hundreds of canvas-back ducks lay their eggs on the platforms of grass and twigs which they build on the low marshes, and the Indian children go in parties to hunt for their eggs and the baby ducklings.

An Alaskan Village Showing Indian Totem Poles.
An Alaskan Village Showing Indian Totem Poles.

The older boys trap many a fox and musk-rat, whose skins they proudly give to their fathers who will sell them to the white traders, and get sugar, tea, and blankets in exchange. They spend hours in hunting along the banks of the stream for beaver villages, and taking these little creatures unawares.

The Gold Mines.

Not many years ago it was found that not only furs and salmon could be obtained in Alaska, but in some places the rocks were rich with precious gold. The Treadmill gold-mine is one of the most valuable in the world. The men who work there do not have to leave the sunlight and dig far down under the earth, for the mine, or rather quarry, is above ground, and there the workers are kept busy, breaking away the masses of rock which are afterwards crushed in heavy stamps, to separate the gold 76 from the quartz. When darkness falls, electric lights make everything as bright as day. There are more than two hundred of these stamps at the Treadmill mine, so you can imagine that when all are at work crushing the great masses of rock, the noise is enough to deafen one’s ears.

As the gold is separated, it is made up into bricks, each one of which is worth between fifteen and eighteen thousand dollars! These bricks are afterwards sent in ship loads to the mint at San Francisco.


On an island off the southern shore of Alaska, lies Sitka, the capital of the territory. It was built long ago when the Russians owned the country, and even now you may visit the moss-grown Castle, where the governors always lived. There they held many a feast and dance, to which the savage Indian chiefs from the country around were sometimes invited. Fine glass and silver, which had come all the way from Russia, sparkled at these feasts. Grand ladies in silks and satins laughed and chatted beneath the soft light of hundreds of candles, trying perhaps to forget their longing for home. 77

Now that Alaska belongs to the United States, many things have been done to make Sitka healthful and comfortable. The new governors chose Indians for policemen. Very grand they must have thought themselves when they first put on their blue uniforms, with gilt letters on their caps and silver stars on their breasts.

Among other wise things, the governor made the law, that the children must go to school. Now, there were many Indians in Sitka, and they did not understand what a fine thing it is to have learning. But the governor directed that all the houses must be numbered. Not only this, but each child of the house was given a number, and this was stamped on a tiny, round plate which he was obliged to wear on a string tied around his neck. He had to show this number to the school-teacher and in this way one could keep track of him.

Whenever an excursion steamer enters the harbor, the people of Sitka make ready for a holiday, while the Indians hasten to get out their blankets to sell to the visitors. Many people travel in Alaska in the summer time, on purpose to see the wonderful sights there,—the high mountains covered with snow, the valleys 78 filled with flowers, the wild Indians, the strange huts before which the totem poles rise high in the air; but most interesting of all are the glaciers, whose beginning is far up in the snow-covered mountains. Slowly but surely, they make their way down to the sea, growing larger as other and smaller glaciers join themselves to them. There is a certain bay in Alaska which the summer visitors are sure to visit if they can possibly do so. It is called Glacier Bay, because of an immense glacier which enters it. Imagine yourself on a steamer entering this bay on a bright sunshiny day of mid-summer. Yet you shiver, for the air begins to grow colder and colder. It is no wonder, for icebergs meet your eyes on every side. They are clear as crystal and are lighted with the most beautiful colors,—delicate pinks and blues. As you look, you fancy that they have the shapes of different animals or of grand castles. Some of them, indeed, seem like great lonely beings. From time to time flocks of birds pass overhead and light on the bergs for a short rest.

Whence did these bergs come, and whither are they drifting so slowly? You look ahead and there before you is the Muir glacier entering 79 the sea. As you draw nearer it seems like a mighty fortress. The captain of the steamer tells you that its face is three miles wide, and that all these icebergs, among which the ship has to be steered so carefully, have broken away from this one glacier. He does not dare to carry his passengers too near, for some time, without any warning, a fresh berg may break away. As it plunges into the bay, with a noise like thunder, it will stir the waters into an angry whirlpool.

There are many other glaciers in Alaska, but this one is the largest and the most wonderful of them all. Geysers and volcanos are also to be found in the country. One of the mountains, named Mt. McKinley, is the highest peak in North America. Another, Mt. Elias, rises almost out of the ocean, and its cloak of snow and ice reaches nearly to its base. When boys and girls wish to travel where they can see many strange and wonderful sights, they would do well to take a summer’s trip to Alaska,—the land of gold and fur, of waterfalls, geysers and glaciers.

Little Folks of Canada

The First White Settlers

If you look at the map of North America, you will find that nearly the whole upper half, with the exception of Alaska, bears the name of the Dominion of Canada. Its northern shores are bathed by the cold waters of the Arctic Ocean. On the east is the great Atlantic, and on the west is the stormy Pacific. The boys and girls who live in this vast country can travel for hundreds of miles along mighty rivers; they can sail on lakes so great that they may lose sight of land and grow seasick from the motion of the boat as it moves through the waves; they can climb high mountains capped with snow in the hottest summer weather; they can wander over vast prairies for days and even weeks at a time with no view of anything as far as the eye can see, save miles and miles of grass; they can lose themselves in thick forests 81 where only wild animals and Indian hunters have ever ventured before. All these things are possible for the Canadian child without moving out of the land which he calls home.

Once upon a time, less than fifty years after Columbus discovered the New World, a brave Frenchman named Jacques Cartier left his sunny home in France, and sailed into the west. The king of France had heard of the wonderful land which Columbus had discovered, and which the Spaniards had begun to settle. He wished to have some part of it for himself, so he directed Cartier to go farther north than the Spaniards had done. When he reached a good place for a home, he was to land and set up the flag of France.

Cartier, with two ships, each of which bore sixty-one men, set out. They crossed the ocean and arrived on the coast of a large island. Its shores were still blocked with ice, although it was the month of April. To-day we know this island as Newfoundland or New-found-land. The Frenchmen were not pleased with the country, for it looked bare and rocky. When they landed, they were met by savages with red skins and black hair tied on the top of their heads, 82 “Like a wreath of hay,” as Carter said. He was quite sure that this was not a fit place for a home; so the ships were turned northward. They soon entered a large gulf which received the name of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

On the shores of this gulf the white men were also met by Indians, whose homes were their upturned canoes. The savages wore little or no clothing; they lived on fish and flesh that was scarcely cooked; they seemed poor and very savage. The country, which was the mainland of Canada, looked pleasant, and Carter set up a tall cross and took possession of it in the name of France. He induced the Indian chief to allow his two sons to go back to France with him. Then he set sail for home, eager to tell his friends of the land he had visited.

The next year Cartier returned to Canada with a goodly company. They entered the gulf of St. Lawrence, as they had done before, but they sailed on until they came to the mouth of a wide river.

“It flows from afar off,” said the two Indians who had gone to France with Cartier, and who had returned with him. “No man has ever seen its beginning,” they continued. 83

“Perhaps,” thought Cartier, who had no idea how vast was the new land that he had discovered, “it is not a river. It is so broad and so deep, it may be an arm of the ocean, and if I follow it, I may find the short way to India, about which so many have dreamed.”

So he and his men kept on their way up the St. Lawrence River, stopping from time to time to admire the beautiful country and the wonderful sights that met them on every hand. Wild grape vines hung from the trees along the banks, and the delicious fruit was even now ripening. Water-fowls flew over their heads, and they got glimpses of wild animals such as they had never seen before. Most interesting of all were the little Indian villages scattered here and there along the shore.

From one of the settlements Cartier was passing, the people came out in their canoes to get a better sight of the white men, but they were afraid to come close to the ships, till Cartier’s two young Indian friends spoke to them and told them not to fear. Then they came on board and listened to the story of the visit the two Indian youths had made in France, and of the wonderful things that had happened to them. 84 The Indians were now quite sure that the strangers meant only good to them, and that there was nothing to fear.

They hastened to bring presents to the visitors and show friendship in every way that they knew. Cartier did not stay long in the place, however. He sailed on till he came to a fine harbor beneath steep, high cliffs. An Indian village stood here. To-day it is the site of the city of Quebec.

“Farther on, up the river, is a still larger town of our people, and it is ruled over by a very powerful chief,” the Indians there told him.

“But the way is long and dangerous,” added their own chief. “You had better not go there.”

When he said this, he was thinking of the store of knives, bright-colored beads, and tiny looking-glasses the white men had shown him. A few of these strange and beautiful things had been given to him. He could not bear to think of that other chief also receiving some.

But Cartier was not to be frightened. He set sail once more and for thirteen days the ships kept on their way up the river. From time to time they stopped at Indian villages where the 85 red children and their parents came dancing about them, bringing presents of fruit and fish. The savages told many stories about the country beyond; gold and precious stones were to be found there, and there were strange beings who lived without food. Still Cartier traveled on until he reached a village of at least fifty huts.

There was a three-fold wall of stakes around it, and fields where leaves of corn were waving in the autumn wind. Behind this village was a hill which Cartier called Mount Royal. To-day, in the very spot where the Indian village once stood, is the large city of Montreal, the most important one in the country. Cartier and his men stayed in Canada for several months. They built two forts on the banks of the St. Lawrence; they made gardens, and marked out a road. They were of good heart until the long, cold winter was upon them, longer and colder than they had ever known. Many grew homesick with longing for sunny France; others fell ill. At last they decided to give up the settlement and to return home.

After that French ships visited Canada from time to time. They stopped to get loads of furs which the Indians were glad to sell, but no one 86 came to settle in the country for many years.

At last the king of France said to himself, “I cannot hold the land on the other side of the ocean, unless I send people there to settle, and it is worth while to keep it because of the furs we can get in trade from the Indian hunters.”

He sent over a colony of settlers who came sailing one bright day into the harbor of Port Royal. They landed on the beautiful shore and were soon busy building a chapel and a fort, as well as homes for themselves. A good priest came with them. He was so kind and gentle that even the savages loved him, and were quite willing to listen to the stories that he told them of a heavenly Father, and Jesus, the Savior of men.

The Explorer Champlain.

Among the settlers was the brave Champlain, who advised building a fort above the steep cliffs under which Cartier had anchored his ships years before. Workmen were soon at work on a fort, a chapel, and homes for the settlers. It was the beginning of the strong fortress and city of Quebec.

After these first settlers, came other Frenchmen 87 and their families, and before many years, the red children and the white were playing merrily together.

“You must love each other,” the gentle French priest had told them. “Though you are of different races, yet you are the children of the one Father.”

So it was that the sons and daughters of the Frenchmen grew up with no fear of the little savages. Why, their priests often went to live in the Indian villages, that they might better show their friendship. Indians were often invited to feasts held in the white men’s homes and joined in their sports. Moreover, the children’s own relatives often chose Indian maidens for their wives, and were very happy with them. And because of this last, there came in time to be many people in Canada who were called halfbreeds, as they were partly French and partly Indian.

The Coming of the English.

Many years passed quietly by. The French people in Canada lived peacefully with their red neighbors. They built trading stations out in the country, and here furs were brought in great 88 numbers by the Indian hunters. Forts were also built along the banks of the St. Lawrence, and still farther into the wilderness, on the shores of the Five Great Lakes, which separate Canada from the United States.

The French explorers and priests went even farther, for they made their way from these lakes down into the United States, never stopping till they had sailed the whole length of the Mississippi River. Everywhere they went they planted the French flag and claimed the country in the name of the king across the ocean. Now, the English, who had settled on the southern side of the Great Lakes, did not like the idea of the French becoming so powerful in North America; thus it came about after a while that there were wars between the two peoples.

The Indians of Canada took the part of their French friends. Terrible battles were fought; brave soldiers were killed; cruel deeds were done to women and little children by the savage Indians. Years passed by and the troubles did not come to an end. It seemed as though there was no way of settling matters and making peace.

All this time a little boy was growing up in 89 England. His name was James Wolfe. He was delicate and sickly, yet his bright, clear eyes showed that he had a strong will. He longed with all his heart to be a soldier. And soldier he became, though it seemed as if he would never be able to bear such a hard life.

When he was only sixteen he fought for his country in Flanders. He soon showed how brave he was, and became a high officer in the army. He was sent to America to fight against the French and Indians. If he could only get to Quebec, he thought. It was the strongest fortress of all the enemy held. But that seemed impossible, for no one dreamed that an army could scale the steep crags above which the fortress was built.

Yet Wolfe kept thinking, thinking. By this time he was the commander of a whole fleet of English ships. At last there came a day when he sailed boldly up the St. Lawrence, and landed his men on the shore opposite to Quebec. He set up great cannons which should fire upon the fortress across the river. The siege began. In the midst of it heavy rain fell; Wolfe and many of his men became ill. Though he was burning with fever he still kept planning. One 90 day, as he looked through his telescope, he saw something that he had never noticed before. It was a narrow path,—O, so very narrow—that wound in and out, yet ever upward, to the top of the crags that guarded Quebec.

He said to himself, “My men and I shall climb that path and take the fortress by surprise.”

Soon afterwards, on a dark night, they did climb it. Wolfe himself rose from his sick bed and led them. As the sun rose the next morning the English army appeared on the Plains of Abraham, behind the fort, and one of the great battles of the world was fought. Before night fell, Quebec was in the hands of the English. Both Wolfe, and Montcalm, the French commander were killed. Henceforth, not only Quebec, but all Canada would be ruled over by the English.

Henry Hudson and the Great Lone Land.

It was in the year 1610, that a brave seaman named Henry Hudson, sailed northward along the shores of North America. He had already discovered the Hudson River in the United States, and traded with the Indians there for 91 furs. He had tried to find a short way to India but had failed. Now he hoped by going still farther he might yet discover it. On and still on he sailed till he entered a large bay on the northern shore of Canada, which ever since has been called Hudson Bay. Here, in the midst of ice and snow, he and his men were obliged to pass the winter. There was little to eat, and it was bitter cold.

His men blamed him for bringing them to such suffering, and at last rose against him. They set him adrift in a small boat, with his young son and a few faithful followers. Then, leaving him to die of cold and hunger, they sailed for home, to tell of the large bay that had been discovered, and of the wild country around it. As time went by other Englishmen visited Hudson Bay, but they had no wish to stay long in its icy waters or on its lonely shores.

At last, however, a number of English merchants formed themselves into the Hudson Bay company.

They said, “We will send men to North America who shall build forts along the shore of Hudson Bay. They shall buy furs of the Indians, and send them to us here in England. The furs 92 of the wild animals there are rich and beautiful, and will bring us riches.”

In this way it came about that English ships brought to Canada men who at once set to work building forts and trading stations in the neighborhood of the bay discovered by Henry Hudson. They had with them knives and hatchets, beads and bright colored blankets,—everything that an Indian might wish in exchange for his furs. They treated the red men kindly, for they wanted to trade peaceably with them, but at the same time they kept their guns ready in case of an attack by the savages.

Alexander Mackenzie and his long Journey.

Even after the English had won the country for themselves, they did not know how large it was, for no one had explored the country from north to south or from east to west. At last a brave Scotchman named Alexander Mackenzie came to settle in Canada. He was fond of adventure and liked nothing better than roaming for miles through the wilderness, hunting the wild animals in the forest, and skimming over the lakes and down the streams in an Indian canoe. He visited many a settlement where the 93 red children had never before looked upon a white man; he discovered rivers and lakes of which the French and English knew nothing before. He arrived in his wanderings on the shore of the Great Slave Lake in the very heart of the country. A large river flowed out of it. Where did it go, and how far? The Indians could not tell him.

At the beginning of the summer, he set out with a small party of white men and an Indian guide. At first it was very pleasant paddling down the river in their canoes, but after a few days they came to rapids. Then they had to take to the land and carry their canoes and their supplies on their shoulders. As they traveled onward they came to still other rapids which stopped their course again and again.

The farther north they traveled, the colder it became. The days were much longer, too, for it was nearing mid-summer. It seemed very strange to them to have the midnight as bright as daylight. The wild animals were scarce now.

“Suppose,” thought Mackenzie, “we are unable to shoot enough for our food,” but still he kept on. He passed Indian villages on his way, 94 and at last met with Eskimos who were wandering about on their summer hunt.

The wild animals were different now from what the explorers had met before; they had reached the home of the polar bear and the arctic fox. The river was full of broken ice and there were whales in the water. They were close to the shores of the Arctic Ocean, and had traveled a thousand miles down the great river, which they named Mackenzie in honor of their brave leader. The party did not remain long in the bleak, northern country, but turned about and journeyed homeward as quickly as possible.

Three years afterwards Mackenzie made up his mind to cross Canada to the westward. Slowly but surely he made his way, now gliding along a stream or over a lake in his canoe; now cutting a path through a thick forest; again finding himself stopped by high cliffs or by a rushing torrent. But he kept on until he came to the Rocky Mountains, whose snowy tops reached far up towards the heavens.

“Not far beyond those mountains is the sea,” Mackenzie’s Indian guide told him.

He still pushed on, through narrow passes, between walls of rock, up steep slopes and down 95 through deep valleys. At last he reached the other side, launching his boats in a stream flowing to the west. In a short time the Pacific Ocean lay stretched before his eyes.

Among the Eskimos and Indians.

The middle of Canada is a great plain, which ends in the north in frozen marshes, where the homes of the little Eskimos are to be found. There, in the midst of the ice and snow they work and play, in much the same way as their brothers and sisters in Greenland and Alaska.

Farther south, yet still where the summer is short, and the winter is long and cold, Indian children camp out on the prairies and on the borders of the forests. Most of these red children live in tents, or tepees, as they call them. The winter tents are lined with heavy skins, and a large fire burns in the middle, around which they sleep during the cold winter nights. They dress in the skins of the wild animals their fathers have killed, and they wear soft moccasins on their feet. They run many a mile in these moccasins without getting tired or losing their breath.

Sometimes the little Indians have great feasts when ducks and geese, deer and hares are to be 96 found, or when the berries and birds’ eggs are plentiful. But many a time during the long winter game is scarce, and there is no food to be had. Then the children must not complain, though they are faint with hunger. If an Indian child hopes to grow up and be a brave man, he must learn to bear many things and show no one how much he is suffering.

Fearful storms rage about his home in the winter. The snow falls hour after hour and the fierce winds drive it in great gusts. Sometimes in summer the winds blow hard too, but then they are hot and dry and they scorch the faces of those who are exposed to them.

The red children learn many things not to be found in books. They look at the grass,—the way the blades turn shows them where to look for the east and west. The flight of birds warns them of a coming storm and in what direction to look for it. A broken twig tells them that a wild animal has passed by.

They have many sports. In winter they bind snow-shoes on their feet and skim over the snowfields. In summer they ride over the prairies on their ponies with pads of deer skin beneath them.

Little Canadian Indian Children.
Little Canadian Indian Children.

Sometimes they let their ponies move along at a slow walk; but more often they gallop wildly along, with black hair waving in the air, and with bright and eager eyes. Then, too, the red children have canoes, in which they paddle on the lakes or streams near home.

The canoe of the Canadian Indian is the best possible boat for the kind of life he follows, just as the Eskimo’s kayak suits the icy waters of the north. Everything he needs for it can be found in the forest. He cuts down the cedar for its ribs, he gathers birch-bark with which to cover it, he gets resin from the pine to make it water-tight. When the ice begins to break up in the springtime and the wild swans and geese fly overhead, then he takes it from its winter resting place beneath the snow and launches it on the lake or stream near his home. With his birch canoe he can travel a long way through the wilderness, for when he has hunted or fished all day long, he can bring his canoe up on the shore and turn it bottom upwards. In an instant he has a roof to shelter him while he takes his night’s sleep.

The Indian children are sure to have dogs about their home. These are long-legged, sharp-nosed creatures, and they always look lean 98 and hungry. Sometimes a puppy is cared for tenderly. Then, perhaps, it grows up full of love for its young master. But generally the dogs are only half-fed, and they are ever ready to fight with each other, and rob the stores of their masters. Yet they are very helpful to the Indian, as well as to many a white traveler in Canada. They drag the sledges over the snow in the winter and the little carts in the summer.

Many a time they stop to quarrel among themselves; many a time the sledge is over-turned and the rider is landed in a bank of snow. Many a time the dogs refuse to obey the word of the driver. Then the long whip flies right and left among them, and with angry howls they get back into order.

Wild Animals of the Forest and Prairie.

Out on the prairies and among the forests are many wild animals which the Indian boy delights to hunt. He has a bow and arrows of his own, and when he his older, his father promises him that he will buy him a gun from the white traders. Perhaps the most clever of all the animals hunted in Canada is the beaver. It might well be called the animal-carpenter. Its favorite home 99 is a shallow lake or stream. The children of the wilderness are ever on the lookout for small earth mounds along the banks. Whenever they find these, they also notice that trees have been cut down nearby. It was certainly the work of beavers. These little mounds, then, are the roofs of store houses where the wise little creatures have placed piles of tender wood and roots, for their winter’s supply.

From these store-houses, tunnels have been dug out for some distance under the shallow water of the pond or stream, to the very doors of the beavers’ homes, which have been made very carefully out of twigs and brush, and plastered with mud. The tops can generally be seen above the surface of the water. Inside there are beds of boughs covered with soft grass and bark, and here the beavers sleep most of the hours during the winter. If the hunters come upon a beaver village in cold weather, there is no sign that the animals are near, for the beavers are all inside their homes. This is the time to get them, however, for then the soft thick fur is at its best.

In the autumn the men and boys generally catch the animals in traps, but in the winter, 100 when the ice is frozen quite solid, the hunters stop up the passage from the beaver’s home to his store-house on the bank. Then with their axes, they break into the lodges, and dragging out the fat sleepy animals, they kill them, one by one. The sledges are soon packed and the hunters start for home, thinking as they go, of the feast of fat meat they will soon have. The beautiful furs must be tanned and put away for the traders, but the flesh of the animals they will enjoy themselves.

Besides beavers, there are martens, minks and fishers to be hunted and trapped, as well as muskrats and skunks. As soon as autumn comes the men and boys begin to put their traps in order, for with the first cold of November, they will carry them out to the pine forests. The Indian children would tell you that they cannot imagine why the fisher is so called. They know its ways and that it never goes near to the water except when it has to cross over to the other side. It has a long bushy tail and its fur is even richer than the costly sable.

As for the mink, they have discovered it is quite different from either the marten or the fisher, and its fur is not as beautiful. It lives 101 near the streams and feeds upon crabs and fish. Many a time the young Indian has caught a mink by baiting his trap with fish.

Sometimes, as the children are playing around the camp in the evening, they hear a sudden screech in the distance. It is the cry of a wild-cat, or lynx. They would not care to have it take them by surprise, for it is a fierce creature, and its teeth and claws are very sharp. The men, however, hunt wild-cats and get many of them every year, because they are well paid for the skins.

Then there are foxes, silver and black and red. Many thousands of these sly creatures are shot or trapped every year in Canada. Sometimes a fox-cub is brought into the camp to amuse the children. It is a gentle, pretty creature at first, but before long it will show the ugly cunning of its parents.

The boys sometimes search for muskrats, whose homes are much like those of the beavers, a number of them always found together.

Off for the Hunt.

There are many half-breed children in Canada, as you already know. They grow up with a love 102 of hunting like their Indian brothers. They dress in Indian fashion, wearing moccasins and leggings. Many of them live in rough log huts and sleep on piles of brush covered with fur robes. When the cold weather sets in, the Indian, and the half-breed boy as well, does what he can to help the men of the household get ready for the busiest work of the year, as the trapping and hunting season is at hand.

By the first of November the lakes and streams are frozen, and the winter coats of the wild animals are at their best. On a bright, frosty morning, often with the thermometer below zero, the trapper dresses himself in his thickest socks and moccasins, warm leggings and cloak. He fastens a fur cap down over his head and draws on his long fur mittens which reach up to his elbows. A hatchet, hunting knife, and fire-bag hang from his belt.

While he is dressing, his wife is busy preparing his pack, for he may be gone several days. The pack consists of a blanket, a kettle and cup, sugar and salt, tea, of which the Indians are very fond, and enough pemmican to last several days. Pemmican is dried meat ground fine and mixed with fat. If the trapper is not very poor 103 he has steel traps and a gun to add to his pack. When it is ready, it is bound to a hand sledge which is simply a thin board curled up at one end. It is easily drawn over the snow, and at the end of the hunt is loaded with furs and game to carry home.

Now for the snow shoes! When these have been bound on his feet, the trapper can skim over the snow fields with the greatest ease, drawing his sledge behind him. He must not sing nor make any noise as he moves along; nor if he has any company can there be any loud talking. Otherwise the animals whom he seeks, might take fright and flee from danger, and this must not happen on any account.

Ah, how cold it is! the breath freezes as it leaves the mouth and nostrils, the eye-lashes become stiff with frost, but the hunter is too busy watching for signs of the prey he seeks, to think of these things. His hands and feet become numb with the biting cold, but this is only what he expected, and he trusts to his quick movements to keep them from freezing. At last the forest is reached and he turns his eyes in every direction for signs that animals have been near. A white man would see nothing, where 104 an Indian or a half-breed reads whole pages in Mother Nature’s wonderful book.

Yes, a marten was here only an hour or two since and is still not very far away. A trap must be set up in this very spot and baited with dried meat, or with a tender piece of squirrel. Then the hunter creeps away, to seek places where there are other signs of life and to set up new traps while he waits. If he is after foxes or minks, he visits the shores of the lakes and swamps. He looks carefully about him now for the foot-marks of the fox, or the sharp, clear track of the mink.

When the evening comes the trapper looks about him for some place that is sheltered from the wind. There he makes a roaring fire, over which he brews a pot of tea. When this is ready, he enjoys his hot drink, together with a share of the pemmican brought from home. Next he gathers soft pine boughs for a bed, covers them with a blanket, and with his feet towards the fire, lies down for his night’s rest. Toward morning the fire burns low, and the cold grows so bitter that the man cannot sleep. He gets up, piles on more wood, and warms himself by the bright flames. Once more he stretches himself 105 on his bed of boughs, hoping to sleep until the morning sunshine shall awaken him.

Winter Sports.

A great many of the white children of Canada live in Quebec and Ontario. Although these provinces lie in the southern part, yet the winter is very cold even there. The children enjoy it, however, because the air is clear and dry, and there is plenty of snow on the ground. Even the little folks learn how to use snow-shoes, and with these on their feet, they skim over the crusted snowfields like the wind.

They have many toboggan rides, too. Nothing could be pleasanter for a party of merry children, than to spend the morning coasting down the steep hillside on wooden sleds called toboggans, which are shaped much like the Indian hand-sledges. They move so fast over the snow, that the riders must hold on tightly lest they tumble out. Sometimes there is a sudden upset as the toboggan strikes a rough spot on the hillside. Then there is much laughing and shouting as the children pick themselves up, and make ready for a fresh start.

Perhaps the greatest sport of all is a ride on 106 an ice-boat which is raised on large iron skates, and in a good wind will sail very swiftly. When the St. Lawrence River is frozen over, one can see numbers of ice-boats skimming along with their loads of happy passengers.

Of course the children of Canada skate and play hockey. The lakes and ponds are frozen over for many months, so that parties are continually made up for skating and games on the ice.

One must certainly not forget to mention sleigh-rides. There is no place in the world where the people enjoy sleigh-riding more. They wrap themselves up in warm furs, and spring into the pretty sleighs to which gaily decked horses are harnessed. Jingle, jingle, sound the bells, and when the word is given, away move the sleighs filled with their merry loads.

The Big Cities.

Although Canada has been under English rule for a long time, yet many French people have continued to live there. In fact, in the province of Quebec there are more French than English. The old part of the city of Quebec looks much 107 to-day as it did in the long ago, when Wolfe climbed the cliff and took the French army by surprise. Along the narrow streets there are many quaint old houses with peaked roofs, in whose gardens French-Canadian children play the games and sing the songs of France. Here and there you will see an altar on which flowers have been placed, and people bowing before the image of the Virgin Mary.

If you visit Quebec, you will certainly go to the citadel. Far above the water it stands, on the summit of the cliff, while just below it lies the old city, with its high, pointed roofs, and queer gates opening into old-fashioned gardens. Far, far below lies the beautiful St. Lawrence, where ships of many countries lie at anchor. Immense rafts of lumber come floating down the river, to be sent on the waiting ships to other lands. On some of these rafts are tiny houses for the men who have rowed them from the forests, hundreds of miles up the river.

Before you leave the city you will walk out on the Plains of Abraham which stretch into the country back of the citadel. There the great battle was fought that gave Canada to the English; and there in the summer of 1908 a 108 great celebration was held. Three hundred years ago the city of Quebec was founded, and in memory of this, many thousands of people gathered to see the pageants, representing the great things that have happened there. The city was gay with flags and bright-colored banners. There were concerts, balls and grand dinners. The Prince of Wales himself was there to take part in the good time. The pageants were the best part of the celebration, of course. They were given on the Plains of Abraham, and hundreds of men, women and children took part. Thousands of people gathered in the open-air theatre to look on.

Montreal is another beautiful city. It is built on an island in the St. Lawrence River. Most of the children there are of French blood, but there are also many boys and girls of Irish, Scotch and English families. They are all proud of the wonderful bridge, nearly two miles long, that crosses the river at Montreal, and of the beautiful cathedral that will hold ten thousand people. They, as well as the children of Quebec, see ships of many countries anchored near their homes. Many of these ships have 109 crossed the ocean to receive the lumber and furs that Canada wishes to send to other lands.

The capital of Canada is Ottawa, in the province of Ontario. It is also on the St. Lawrence. High up above the water, on the river banks, stand many beautiful buildings, where all the business of the government of Canada is carried on. Ottawa is a beautiful place for a home and the children who live there should be very happy. They have the winter sports of Quebec, while on the hot summer days they can sail in and out among the islands of the river, or picnic under the trees of the forests only a short distance away.

On the Farms.

In your grandfather’s time, few people except the Indians and halfbreeds, were living on the prairies over which Mackenzie made his way on his journey westward. There were no roads there in those days; no tracks over which trains filled with passengers went flying by. Great herds of buffaloes wandered about, feeding on the tall prairie grass, while here and there little red children ran in and out of their 110 wigwams, and danced about the camp-fires.

To-day scarcely a buffalo is left in the land, the shriek of the steam engine is often heard, while many comfortable farm houses can be seen. In the summer time there is much to do, even for the little folks. The boys help weed the vegetable gardens, and care for the cows and the horses, while their fathers are busy in the fields of wheat and oats that stretch over many acres. The girls learn to darn and sew, as well as wash dishes and help their mothers make bread and pies for the hungry workmen.

Sometimes the farmer raises only hay, but the big crops must be cared for very carefully and the boys do their share of the work. Ranches where cattle and horses are raised are also found on the prairies. Certainly no place could be better for this work, since the broad acres of tall grass make the best feeding-grounds possible.

When August comes, the men and boys get out their guns and watch for the coming of the prairie chickens. Later on, the wild ducks and geese appear in large flocks. This is the time for the boys to take their canoes and a few supplies, and camp out on the shores of the lakes 111 and ponds, for they know that the birds love the water and are sure to seek it. There will be feasting in the big farmhouses now, because there will be plenty of tender wild ducks to roast, and the cellars are full of the vegetables raised in the gardens.

Besides the autumn shooting and the feasts that follow, there are many other good times for the young folks on the big farms. They meet together for singing and dancing, they play tennis, they have games of hockey, both on land and ice, they have jolly sleigh rides in the frosty air, they skate and they curl, and, of course, the small boys and girls make snow-forts and houses that will last without melting for a month at a time. If you who live in warmer lands should pity them for having such long, cold winters and so much snow, the children would laugh at the idea. They would tell you that they love the winter and hate to have it come to an end. They can have such jolly times out of doors, and then, when they are tired of their rough sports, they can gather around roaring fires in the big living-rooms of the houses, and listen to the stories the older folks tell them of the days of long ago. 112

In a Lumber Camp.

For many years the white settlers in Canada have been busy cutting down trees in the big pine forests, yet they still stretch for many miles through the country. When the autumn comes the children of the lumber-men hear their fathers tell of the winter’s work before them. They are going out into the forests to live, and will not be home again for many months. A party of these lumber-men start out together. They carry everything they will need for their rough housekeeping,—a few kettles and dishes for cooking, some heavy blankets, a supply of flour for bread, salt-pork, tea and molasses.

The last good-bye is said and they start out on their long journey to the forests. As soon as they reach the place for the winter camp they set to work to build a house of logs. In the middle of the roof a place is left open, to let out the smoke when a fire is burning inside. Around the side of the big room, the men build bunks in which to sleep at night, and in the middle they make a fireplace, where the blazing logs on winter evenings will send out such 113 warmth and cheer, that Jack Frost will not dare to venture through the cracks in the walls.

The lumber-men are happy in their work. All day long the sound of their axes rings through the forest, while they vie with each other in cutting down the big trees. Then when night comes and their supper of bread, tea and fried pork is finished, they gather around the fire to smoke and tell stories. The weeks pass quickly, and with the coming of spring, immense piles of logs are ready to go to the saw-mills.

When the ice begins to break up, it is a sign to the men to bind the logs into cribs. Thirty or forty logs are enough for one crib. The cribs are fastened together to form rafts, which are set floating down the rivers. Some of the men ride on the rafts and guide them by means of long poles tipped with steel, to prevent them from running aground. Others of the party go at once to the saw-mills, to be ready to receive the logs when they arrive. Buzz-z-z sounds through the air, as the big wheels turn and the trees of the forest are rapidly changed into strong lumber. 114

Beyond the Mountains.

Let us now cross the Rocky Mountains, and make a short visit in British Columbia. It is the most beautiful province in Canada, with its mountains covered with forests and its rivers stocked with fish. The children who live near the Fraser River, can tell wonderful fish stories, for at a certain time of the year, millions of salmon leave the ocean and make their way up this river. Then big folks and little are busy with nets, hauling in the fish and carrying them to the canneries.

Gold is also found on the Fraser River, while the mountains nearby are rich in other minerals.

The Klondike Mines.

Far up in the northwest of Canada, near the borders of Alaska, are the famous Klondike mines. You have probably heard of them, and of the long, hard journey a person must take to get there. Such wonderful stories have been told of the riches one can bring away from these mountains, that many a young man has left home and friends to seek his fortune there. Now-a-days it is easier to reach the Klondike mines 115 than it was a few years ago, but the country is cold and dreary and most of the food must be brought from a distance, so that few white children have found their way there. Yet as they sit in their cosy homes, they are glad to listen to the stories of that wild country, told to them by the brave men who have been to the Klondike gold regions.

Little Folks of Labrador

East of the large bay where Henry Hudson lost his life is the peninsula of Labrador. Although it is farther south than Greenland or Alaska, its shores are very bleak and bare, because of cold winds that blow inland from the ocean. You can easily guess that this country is the home of Eskimos who seem the best fitted of all people to live in the lands of ice and snow.

Some white children are to be found there, however. Their fathers are fishermen who get a living for their families out of the icy waters of the ocean. Sometimes, too, they hunt the deer, or set traps for other wild animals. In the summer time the children search for birds’ eggs, and in the autumn the men and boys keep on the lookout for eider-ducks, wild swans, ducks, geese and ptarmigan. The meat of these birds is sweet and tender, while the feathers make warm beds, pillows and quilts. 117

The children of the fishermen paddle about in the rough waters in their canoes when many other children would be afraid to venture out from the shore. They ride over the snow in low sledges drawn by half-tamed, surly dogs. They spend many a day fishing for cod and salmon. They hunt for the berries, ripening in the sunshine of the short summer. They play with their Eskimo neighbors whom they meet once a week to study their Bible lessons with the kind missionaries, who have come to live among them.

Each Eskimo house is entered by a long, low passage, made of logs and turf. The floor of the one big room is covered with boards, and a long, wooden platform at one end is the sleeping place for the whole family. On another side is a fireplace lined with pebbles, where the mother cooks the food for the family. There is a window in the house or maybe there are two, so that altogether the Eskimos of Labrador can be far more comfortable than their brothers and sisters of Greenland.

They live in much the same way, however. They dress in furs; they fish; they kill seals; they hunt the deer; they ride over the country 118 in low sledges drawn by unruly dogs; they make kayaks, in which they paddle about among the islands near to the shore. They are not obliged to build snow or stone houses like their brothers in Greenland. Cold as it is, forests of spruce and pine grow not very far inland; so that they are able to get plenty of logs for the walls of their houses. These they plaster so thickly with turf, that the wind cannot make its way inside.

The Indians of Labrador.

As you leave the coast, and travel inland, you will find that the air becomes warmer and that there are more trees and plants. The country is much pleasanter, and no doubt this is the reason that the Indians of Labrador prefer to live here in winter rather than on the coast. The redmen are great hunters, too, and as there are many wild animals in the forests, they spend the autumn and winter trapping and shooting. Here and there along the ponds and streams you may see the bark wigwams of the redmen.

Children dressed in skins go skimming past you over the snow fields. They wear snow-shoes on their feet, so they can travel fast. When they are tired of this sport, they can take a ride 119 on a dog-sledge, or play with their puppies. The boys help their fathers set traps for martens and foxes; they go on porcupine hunts; they search for beaver villages, and sometimes they come hurrying home to say that they have come upon a bear or the tracks of a lynx or an otter.

The girls learn to embroider moccasins and leggings with beads and porcupine quills; they bring wood for the fires and drinking water from the streams; they weave baskets. After a deer-hunt they dry the meat and grind it to make pemmican. Indeed, they learn all those things that Indians think are necessary for the making of good and helpful women. So the days pass and the years follow each other in bleak Labrador.

Little Folks of Newfoundland

You remember that when Cartier went to Canada hoping to find a comfortable place where his people could settle, he stopped first at a large island off the eastern coast, giving it the name of Newfoundland. But he did not stay there. The high crags reaching out into the sea and the rocky shores seemed to frown upon him and he decided to go farther where Mother Nature should give him a more friendly welcome. At that time Indians were living along the coast, getting their food by catching fish and trapping wild animals. No white men came to settle in Newfoundland till many years after Cartier’s visit, for like him, they chose to make their homes in a more inviting country.

Now, however, many rosy-cheeked boys and girls live on the island. Their fathers are fishermen who have settled there because they have 121 found it is one of the best fishing-grounds in the world. Off the southeast coast stretches a sandbank at least three hundred miles long, and in the waters nearby millions of cod and haddock are found every year. It is no wonder, therefore, that not only the fishermen who live in Newfoundland, but people from Canada and the United States, and even from countries across the ocean, gather on the shores of the island every year to fish.

Heavy fogs hang over these shores for a large part of the year, and are caused in a curious way. There is a warm current that flows northward through the Atlantic Ocean, making the western coast of Greenland so much warmer than the eastern that most of the people there choose to live on that side of the island. But there is also a very cold Arctic current flowing southward, filling the air along the eastern coast of Labrador with frost. These two currents meet off the Newfoundland shore, and as the warm and cold come together, clouds of vapor rise in the air. It is the smoke of a water battle.

Notwithstanding the fogs and the dampness, the children of Newfoundland love their home 122 dearly. They love the deep and narrow bays that reach far into the land, and they often make up sailing parties to the small islands that dot the clear, deep waters. They love the blue sky of the summer. They watch with delight the icebergs that float by from time to time in their journey from the frozen north. When winter comes these children search along the shore for the seals that play on the floating cakes of ice and bask in the sunlight. Best of all they enjoy the famous “silver thaw” of Newfoundland, perhaps the most beautiful sight in all the world.

This “silver thaw” or ice-storm, is seen only in winter. It is caused by a heavy fall of rain when the air is very cold. As the rain falls, it turns to ice on everything it touches. The branches of the trees and the tiniest twigs upon them are coated with garments of ice which grow thicker and thicker as the storm continues. Every bush and shrub receives the same beautiful dress. At last the clouds pass and the sun shines out in all his glory. Then the world around is changed in an instant into a wonderland of beauty. It seems as though one were surrounded by myriads of diamonds, each one glowing with all the colors of the rainbow. The 123 riches of Aladdin seem nothing beside them.

Neither the fishermen nor the children care to explore the inland country very far. There are many high hills there, but they are bare and rocky. Cattle could not be raised easily in such places, nor could gardens be planted. So the people are content to stay near the shores and get a living from the waters near by.

During winter the men and boys are busy mending their nets and putting their boats in order. They also go out in the woods to cut down the trees to get fuel enough for the coming year. Yet they have much spare time, so there is a good deal of visiting between the homes, and many merry parties are held where both old folks and young dance and sing and play games.

As soon as the spring opens the fishing season begins. The boats are brought out from winter quarters, the sails are spread, and the harbors seem alive once more. There is work enough for everyone now. The men and boys are on the water from morning till night, while the women and girls are as busy as bees curing the fish after it is brought on shore.

The children of Newfoundland are taught to 124 salute the English flag because they, as well as Canada, are under the rule of Great Britain. Yet Newfoundland and the peninsula of Labrador never became a part of the Dominion of Canada.

The capital of Newfoundland is the city of St. Johns. Its deep harbor is very beautiful. High cliffs of red sandstone rise on each side and protect the ships anchored in the waters below from the fiercest gales. The city is built on the slope of a hill on the northern side of the harbor. On the summit of the hill, above the rows of houses in the streets below is a beautiful cathedral where many of the people go to worship on Sunday. In good weather the children of the city, who wake early enough, can turn their eyes out towards the ocean and watch the lovely clouds of the sunrise,—fairy palaces of crimson and gold which vanish from their sight as they are looking.

After the Birds.

Great numbers of visitors come to Newfoundland every year. Many of them are hunters who have heard of the game to be found in the forests and along the shores of the lakes and 125 ponds. The ptarmigan, the wild duck and goose, the plover, the curlew, and still other birds are to be found there.

The best time for bird hunting is after the flies and mosquitoes have said good-by to the country. Then it is that many strangers step off the steamer at St. Johns. With guns and game-bags they make their way towards the “barrens” of the inland country. These barrens are often stretches where there are no trees, and little else grows. The wild birds flock there in great numbers, for they have found that there are wild berries to be had for the picking even in that barren country, and they feast and feast till they are plump and fat and ready for the sportsman’s game-bag.

It seems so quiet and safe out on the lonely barrens that the birds are not on the lookout for danger, when suddenly bang, bang! sounds through the air and some of the birds out of a happy flock fall to the ground, while the rest fly away in great fright.

Herds of reindeer wander over the lonely parts of the country in search of the moss that is their favorite food. They have beautiful branching horns and their short legs are very 126 strong. They have a wonderful scent, which warns them of danger, and they easily take fright. Often, when a hunter has crept upon them ever so softly, they have discovered his nearness and away they scudded over the hills and rocks where he would not dare to venture, and he has been obliged to give up the chase for a time, at any rate.

The Indians of the island do much better than the white hunters. They know how to outwit the reindeer and to approach them from such a direction that the wind will not carry the scent. For this reason the white sportsmen have learned that if they wish to be successful they had best take an Indian guide with them. Even then they have to be so careful that they think it great sport, and are very proud when they can show their friends some fine antlers which they have brought home after a hunting trip in Newfoundland.

The Copper Mines.

On the eastern coast of Newfoundland there is a beautiful bay to which the French gave the name of Notre Dame or, Our Lady. It has many arms which reach far into the land; some 127 of these are so deep that they make good places for ships to anchor. Others are very small and the water is so smooth that little children can paddle about in it without fear.

This bay of Notre Dame is now famous for something besides its beauty, as copper mines have been discovered on its shores. One of the richest of these is at Bett’s Cove and many men are now at work getting the precious ore and shipping it to other lands.

Little Folks of the United States

Canada is partly separated from the country south of it by a chain of beautiful lakes called the “Five Great Lakes.” They are so large that a person can sail many days on them, passing from one to another and sometimes losing sight of land. At times the water is so rough that the traveler becomes ill from the rolling of the big steamer and says, “I am seasick,” although he is far from the ocean. The northern waters of these lakes wash the shores of Canada, while on the south the children of the United States play on the beaches and swim in the waves.

These children are proud of the fact that they live in the United States, and call their country “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” Their people have come from many lands. French, German, Irish, Polish and Jewish boys and girls, besides those of many 129 other countries, sit side by side in the schoolrooms and play happily together with their tops and dolls.

The United States of America, for that is the full name of this country, reaches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from Canada on the north to Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico on the south. It is a country of high mountains, fertile valleys, broad plains and mighty rivers. Its children know neither the terrible cold of the far north nor the burning heat of the equator, for they live in the temperate belt of the earth. No season of the year is long enough to tire them, for spring follows close upon the winter, and is soon followed by the pleasant warmth of summer. Then comes the autumn when the leaves change their color and Mother Nature makes ready for her winter’s rest. At last the snow falls and covers the earth with her white mantle.

The Mound Builders.

In the long ago a strange people lived in the United States. They left no books to tell their story, but here and there through the country mounds of earth which they built are still standing. 130 Some of them are shaped like birds with wings outspread, others have the forms of fishes, snakes, and human beings. Still other mounds show that they must have been used as altars upon which sacrifices were burned, and others, again, contain tools, dishes, idols and ornaments. Some of the ornaments and dishes were decorated with the finest carvings. Heads of people, frogs and birds are still to be seen on the pipes that have been preserved in the mounds all these years. Tools have been found to show the mound-builders, as we call these people, knew how to work metal, and other things tell the story that the men of that long ago were wise in many ways and could not have been savages. There are earthworks near some of the mounds that seem to have been built as forts, so they probably fought in wars. Yet we can only guess as to their life, for no one knows their history.

The Indians.

When the first white men visited America they found Indians living throughout the country, along the banks of the rivers and on the shores of the ocean. Their homes were for the most part tents covered with bark or the skins 131 of animals. When the boys were still tiny little fellows they learned to use bows and arrows so that as they grew up they would be good hunters and warriors like their fathers.

In some parts of the country the girls helped their mothers tend fields of maize which to this day is called Indian corn. Cakes were made of this and eaten with the fish and game killed by the men.

In other places the women and children gathered the wild rice that grew in the shallow ponds. This, together with the berries picked by the girls, the honey taken from the nests of wild bees by the boys, and the sap from the maple trees, added a good deal to the daily fare of meat and fish.

The red children were taught to bear cold and hunger without complaining. There were days when they feasted and had all the good things to eat they could wish for. But their parents did not understand the need of looking ahead. During the summer the berries and the honey, the fish and the game were plentiful, and the people did not seem to remember that winter would soon follow when the earth’s mantle of snow and the ice on the rivers would 132 make it harder for them to get food. So there were times when they and their little ones went hungry to bed and woke up in the morning with no breakfast before them.

The boys grew up with a love of war, and looked admiringly at the men when they went away from the village with hideous, painted faces, and with tomahawks and hatchets at their sides, to take other unfriendly tribes by surprise and to scalp as many of their enemies as possible.

While the boys were busy with mock battles and hunts in the forests after game with their fathers, the girls worked with their mothers weaving baskets and tanning the skins of the wild animals brought home by the men. They also got wood for the fires and helped in the simple cooking. They played games with their brothers, too, and both boys and girls were never so happy as when sitting around the lodge fire, listening to the fairy tales told by their grandmothers and to stories of war and the chase by the “braves,” as they called their warriors.

The parents of these red children did not need to work so hard for food and clothing as did the Indians of Canada, because summer in the 133 United States is longer and warmer, and winter is not so cold.

With soft moccasins on their feet the Indians stole noiselessly over the forest paths, and in their light birch canoes they glided along the streams, with never a hat on the head and with light clothing on the body. They feared nothing save the war-whoop of enemies.

There came a day when a white man and his followers appeared in the country. It was Leif, the son of Eric the Red, who had left his home in Greenland and started out in search of adventure. He steered his course southward and came in time to Newfoundland, but the country did not please him. So he continued on his way till he reached the eastern coast of the United States, and there he landed. During his stay Leif and his companions met no other people, but to their great delight they found vines from which hung large clusters of grapes, and for this reason they called the place Vinland. When they were ready to leave they loaded their vessel with grapes, together with lumber from the forests, which was even more precious to them than the grapes, because as you know, there were no trees in Greenland. 134 Then they set sail for home to tell of the land they had visited which had seemed so warm and beautiful to them.

After Leif, other Norsemen came who settled along the shore of this country and lived here for a while. They met the dark-skinned natives with whom they had trouble. After a while they went away, never to come again. During their stay here a Norse baby was born, to whom the name Snorri was given, and this boy was, no doubt, the first white child born in the United States.

After Many Years.

More than four hundred years passed by and the red men lived on in their own savage way, hunting, fishing, and making war upon each other. Then something happened which led in time to great changes for the red children. It was in the year 1492 that Columbus discovered a small island of the West Indies, lying southeast of the United States. The natives, who were gentler and less war-like than the other Indians of North America, greeted him with delight and brought him presents of fruit and gold. 135

Not long after the coming of Columbus many Spaniards, hearing of the rich treasures of the West Indies, followed him there and settled. One of them, named Ponce de Leon, stayed long enough to gain great riches. But he was fast growing old and all his wealth could not keep him young. Then he began to listen to the stories the Indians told him of a land not far away, in which there was such a wonderful fountain that a person had but to drink of its waters to live forever. They called it “The fountain of youth.”

Ponce de Leon’s eyes grew bright. If only he could find that fountain! He set sail with a few followers, and one beautiful Easter Sunday he came in sight of a land rich in flowers. Such a land, he thought, must be the one to contain the fountain he was seeking.

The sails were furled and the Spaniard and his friends stepped on shore. “Let us call the place Florida, for it is a land of flowers,” he said, and so this peninsula, reaching out from the southeastern part of the United States, has been called Florida to this day.

Ponce de Leon remained in the country for some time, wandering about and drinking the 136 water of stream and lake, yet as you may believe, he failed to discover the fountain he sought. And, alas! instead of youth, he met death, for, as he was about to leave, he was pierced by the poisoned arrow of an Indian who did not trust the white men like his brothers of the West Indies.

Through Ponce de Leon’s discovery on that beautiful Easter Sunday other Spaniards followed him to Florida and settled there with their wives and children.

The Coming of the English.

French settlers followed the Spaniards to the New World, but except in Canada, they did not stay long.

Nearly a hundred years passed when at last English ships began to visit the country north of Florida. They carried home wonderful stories of necklaces set with pearls as big as peas and worn commonly by the Indian maidens, of countless hares and deer in the woods, of delicious grapes, cucumbers and melons that grew wild on the vines, and of rich forests of oak trees that grew larger and better than those of England. Then, too, a strange plant grew abundantly in the fields. 137 This plant the Indians put in pipes and smoked.

“A colony should certainly be planted in that beautiful country,” Sir Walter Raleigh told the queen.

She listened thoughtfully to what he said, and not long afterwards a party of men and women sailed from England and crossed the ocean to live in Virginia, as the new home was called in honor of the virgin queen, Elizabeth. Governor Dare was the leader.

The colony settled on an island near the shore, and here was born the first English white child of the United States. The new baby, whose grandfather was Governor Dare, was called Virginia like her home, but sad to say, no one knows how long she lived nor what befell her, for Governor Dare went back to England for a time, and when he returned little Virginia and her people had disappeared and there was no one to tell where they had gone. Perhaps the Indians had killed them, or had made slaves of them and taken them far inland. At any rate, none of the neighboring red men would tell what had happened to the white strangers who had come to live among them. 138

Other English settlers followed soon afterwards, however, and built villages among the Indians; and among the oak forests of Virginia little white children were born in rough log houses and played on the beaches along the shore. Their fathers planted fields of corn, and tobacco which they had learned to smoke. They hunted deer, hares, and wild turkeys in the forests.

These early English settlers built walls around their villages in case of sudden attack, for they could not trust their red neighbors, who were not pleased to have the white strangers settling in the country around them.

The little English children were generally happy. The country around them was beautiful, the birds sang sweet songs in the trees near by, and there were flowers and fruits in plenty. When Christmas came they watched the Yule log burn in the big fireplace, and gathered around tables loaded with roasted turkeys, venison and other good things to eat.

Years passed by, and other settlers came to America. Most of them were from England, but there were some from Holland and Sweden and other countries of Europe. 139

Among the newcomers were the Quakers under William Penn, who called their new home in America Pennsylvania, meaning, Penn’s woods. They were gentle and peaceful and had little trouble with their Indian neighbors.

Then there were the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth in New England one bleak November day. They were quiet and sober-faced. They left their old home to seek one in which they would be free to worship God in the way they thought best. As it happened, they chose for themselves the coldest corner of the United States in which to settle and they had before them years of struggle and hard work.

They found the winters in New England colder than those they had known in England and the sharp winds crept in between the cracks in the walls of their rough log houses, chilling their backs even when they were gathered around the blazing logs in the big fireplaces. The crops of corn and beans were often scanty, because the soil was poor, and around them not far away were the Indians, some of whom scowled and muttered ugly words when they spoke of the white settlers who were hunting 140 the game in the forests, and planting gardens on the land to which they thought they alone had the right.

The children of the Pilgrims were taught to be very quiet and sober in their ways. They loved to listen to the squirrels chattering in the trees, and to watch the rabbits scamper across the paths. They gathered blueberries and blackberries in summer and chestnuts and hickory nuts in the autumn. The boys dragged their sisters on rough sleds over the snow in winter and waded with them in the brooks as the days grew warmer, and at such times they laughed and chattered like all happy children. But when they reached home their faces became sober and their voices low, for they were taught that among older folks children should be seen and not heard.

When evening came they sat in straight chairs in the big kitchen which was the “living room” as well, while the men talked over the day’s work, and the women knit socks for the family.

Sometimes as the little Pilgrims settled themselves for the night’s sleep they were roused by the howling of wolves outside. They shuddered as they thought, “Suppose that had been the war 141 whoop of the Indians coming to attack our village.”

On Sunday when the Pilgrims went to church the men led the way armed with muskets which might be needed at any moment in defending their families.

After the Pilgrims, the Puritans came to New England. They were even more sober and strict in their ways than the Pilgrims, and they, too, had trouble with their Indian neighbors.

Perhaps the jolliest people who came from Europe were the Dutch, who settled on the Hudson River in New York. You remember poor Henry Hudson who was left to his sad fate in Hudson Bay. Before he went there he discovered the beautiful river of that name, and when he went back to Europe he told the king of Holland about the Indians he had met, and of the loads of rich furs which they brought home from their hunting trips.

His words were not forgotten, and so it came to pass that the thrifty Dutchman made settlements in that part of the New World which they claimed through the discovery of Henry Hudson. They were not poor, like the Pilgrims east of them. They brought chests of linen and 142 silver from Holland, and they built comfortable homes for themselves on the banks of the Hudson River, with porches where they sat with their children on summer evenings, telling fairy stories and laughing together in their own jolly way. The children’s eyes grew bright as they listened to the stories, and as they looked out on the woods and fields in the silvery moonlight, they fancied they could see fairies in gauzy green robes dancing on the grass and little brown gnomes stepping out from under the rocks.

The Dutch children had the grandest time at Christmas. They hung up their stockings by the fireplace the night before and then, as they lay in their beds, too much excited to sleep, they fancied they heard the reindeer of the good Santa Claus pawing away the snow on the roof overhead. Of course there were presents the next morning and a lovely Christmas tree, followed by a feast of all good things that grew about the new home. Yes, Christmas was the best day in all the year to the rosy-cheeked roly-poly Dutch children with blue eyes and flaxen hair.

While they were having such good times, their fathers were trading with the Indians with whom 143 they had less trouble than the Pilgrims and Puritans. They sold the red men beads and blankets, guns and trinkets, and in exchange took furs of the marten and mink, the beaver and otter, which the Indians shot or trapped in the country around. Once in a while a big ship from Holland sailed into New York Harbor, bringing tea and sugar, blankets and dress-goods for the Dutchmen and their families, and were then reloaded with the furs obtained from the Indians.

As time passed by the settlements along the shores of the United States grew larger and more numerous. The Indians scowled more and more deeply and there were dreadful wars between them and the white men. In their spare time the settlers made roads through the country and cleared away some of the forests. In the north they traded with the Indians for furs and planted fields of corn and other grains and vegetables. Farther south tobacco and cotton were raised on the plantations. Sheep were tended on the hillsides and the wives of the settlers carded and spun the wool and wove it in hand-looms into clothing for their families. Cargoes of Negro slaves were brought from 144 Africa to work on the plantations. The cotton that was raised there was sent across the Atlantic to be made into cloth in the factories of Europe.

During all these years the white men did not move far inland because of the Indians, and of mountains which must be crossed. At last, however, some brave men ventured out alone into the wilderness beyond. They found there were valleys between the mountains, and through these they passed to the other side. They often had to hide from the watchful Indians, not daring even to make camp-fires lest they should be discovered.

These explorers found that on the other side of the Appalachian Mountains, for that was the name given to them, was a beautiful country, richer by far than that on the eastern side where they had been living. There were also many rivers flowing westward, making the soil rich and fertile. Forests of maple and elm trees, as well as pines, spruces, and oaks which were abundant along the coast, were to be seen there.

Picking Cotton on a Georgia Plantation.
Picking Cotton on a Georgia Plantation.

When the explorers returned home they told such bright stories of the country to the west that the families of some of them agreed to go there and live. In those days there were no trains to carry them and not a single road through the mountain passes. The journey had to be made on foot or on horseback, and few household goods could be carried. At any moment the travelers might be surprised by Indians, so the men were obliged to keep their muskets loaded and ready to shoot every moment of the way.

When the place for the new home was reached the men and boys set to work to cut down the trees and make a clearing, while the women prepared the meals. Everyone must eat and sleep outdoors while a rough log house was being built. All through the night a big fire was kept blazing to keep the wolves and other wild animals at a distance.

The new house was easily furnished. A few chairs, a rough table, and some bedsteads were made from the trees that had been cut down. The feather beds brought from the old home were spread on the slats of the bedsteads; the family Bible was laid on the table; the kettles, also brought from home, were hung on cranes over the fireplace, and housekeeping in the wilderness began. 146

Notwithstanding the hard life, the girls and their brothers grew up brave and strong and ready to push still farther into the wilderness than their fathers had done. West of them,—far west as it seemed then—was a mighty river flowing from north to south through the country. It was the Mississippi, or Father of Waters, as the Indians well called it, because so many large streams flowed into it on either side. The Frenchmen from Canada had long since sailed along the Great Lakes and down the whole length of the Mississippi, and for this reason had claimed the land on both sides and made settlements at different places.

Now, as the English settlers moved westward, they did not wish the French to own any part of the country. By and by there was a great war between the two peoples—the French who held Canada and the Mississippi, and the English colonies who were living in the eastern part of the United States. Then came the battle of Quebec and the French gave up their rights in North America.

But there were other troubles still, for wars took place with the Indians who had become bitter enemies, but they were beaten 147 again and again, and driven still farther west till few tribes were left east of the Mississippi.

Then there was another war—a very great one this time—and with England herself. The Revolution was fought through seven long years. With General Washington as their leader, the people fought on to victory, when they in truth made their country the free and independent United States of America.

After this more and more men took their wives and children and traveled west in search of new homes. They had found by this time that in many places there were great plains where they did not need to make a clearing, for the ground was covered with grass for miles in every direction. Some of these grassy plains, or prairies, were quite level. Others stretched in long, low waves of earth. The soil was rich and the grass grew long and thick. There could be no better place in the world for raising corn, wheat and hay, or feeding cattle.

Rough roads had been built through the wilderness by this time, so the women and children, together with the bedding and dishes, were bundled into big clumsy wagons with rounded, canvas tops called prairie-schooners. Horses or 148 oxen were harnessed to the wagons and cows were hitched behind. Then away started the family for the distant prairies.

All day long the people traveled, but when evening came the animals were unhitched from the “schooner” and allowed to feed on the grass; supper was cooked over the camp-fire, and beds were made upon the bottom of the wagon, where the family would sleep during the night.

Many days were often spent on the journey, but like everything else, it came to an end at last. Think if you can, of a sea of grass stretching around you as far as the eyes can see; not a building of any kind in sight; not even the smoke of a passing train to remind you that there are other people in the world; no sound in the air except the chirping of the crickets or the howling of the wolves; in summer, the blinding sun dazzling your eyes and turning the grass a withered brown; in winter, a carpet of snow stretching around you over the earth in every direction. This was the life in store for the boys and girls who went out on the prairies to seek a home in the early days of this country.

To be sure a herd of bison sometimes appeared near the children’s home, and then the men 149 hurried out with their guns to kill as many as possible before the animals were put to flight. Before the coming of the white men these bison roamed together in thousands and the Indians of the plains made their tents and clothing from their skins and feasted on the flesh of the bison. Every year since that time they have grown scarcer till only a few are left in the country, and these are on exhibition in the parks of the west.

After the sun set in the evening sky the children of the prairie did not venture far from home, both on account of prowling wolves, and for fear of the Indians who might be skulking near by.

Lewis and Clark, and What They Saw.

Not many years after the Revolution Thomas Jefferson, the third president, did many things for the good of the United States. Through his advice the people purchased a great deal of land in the southern part of the country from France, to whom it had been given by Spain. It was called the Louisiana Purchase.

Jefferson was not satisfied yet. He thought, “There is a vast country beyond us of which we 150 know nothing. No one of our people has yet crossed it and reached the Pacific. This should certainly be done.”

He knew it would be a dangerous journey, for it was a wild country, roamed over by tribes of fierce Indians. Two men, however, offered to lead the expedition. Their names were Meriwether Lewis and William Clarke.

In the summer of 1803 they started out at the head of a party of men, carrying with them presents for the Indians they might meet, three canoes, two horses which should help them in hunting game, and a few blankets and cooking utensils.

During the winter they camped on the banks of the Mississippi, and with the coming of spring they began their journey up a broad river which emptied into it and which we know now as the Missouri. As the men followed the course of the river they moved farther and farther into the west. All summer long they slept under the stars, but as the cold winter set in and deep snows fell, they made rough cabins in which to live, and went no farther on their journey for several months. They killed bison and other game which furnished them with food, but they 151 could not keep the biting cold out of their huts, and they suffered with the cold. Fierce Indian tribes were around them on all sides, friends were far away, but they had no thought of turning back. So, with the second spring, they pushed on.

When they reached the source of the Missouri there were high mountains before them, much higher than the Appalachian, and with their summits crowned with snow. After a long, hard journey they reached the other side, and launched their canoes on a small stream which grew ever broader till it entered a large river. This was the Columbia, along which they traveled till the Pacific Ocean lay spread before their eyes. They had journeyed more than four thousands miles since they left the banks of the Mississippi and were the first white men to cross the United States. They had visited the homes of Indians who had never seen a white person before or even known there were such beings. They had crossed broad plains where thousands of bison fed on the rich grass. They had discovered broad rivers shaded by lofty forests and crossed mountains containing mines of gold and silver, which before long would be opened up 152 to give their rich stores to the people of the United States. They still had before them the long and dangerous journey home, which they reached two years and four months after they had left it.

There was great rejoicing among the people when the news spread of the safe return of the travelers and of the wonders they had to tell. From that time many boys and girls looked forward to moving into the great, far-western country with their parents.

On a Wheat Farm.

Many of the children of the prairies live on farms where wheat is raised. As the sun shines down on the broad fields, the tiny grains sprout and grow with astonishing quickness. Then, when the heavy dews fall at night and the earth cools, they get new strength for the next day, so that the farmers gather abundant crops.

As the summer days pass by and the wheat ripens, the children in the big farm house get ready for an exciting time. Their mother makes dozens of pies and loaves of bread and cake. A cow and perhaps a hog or two, are killed and cut up, for an extra number of “hired hands” begin to arrive. The farmer himself is unusually busy. Big machines and engines are brought out from the barns to be cleaned and oiled, for the wheat is about to be harvested.

How They Harvest Wheat on the Prairies.
How They Harvest Wheat on the Prairies.

It is interesting to watch the work go on in the fields, it is so different from that of the old days before the threshing and binding machines were invented. It seems almost like magic to the watching children as acre after acre of waving grain is cut down, bound into sheaves and threshed, almost in the “twinkling of an eye.”

Then away it is whisked in big wagons to the flour mills in the town near by from which it is sent far and wide to be made into delicious bread for hungry boys and girls.

The Cornfields.

In the northern part of the prairies wheat grows best because it can bear a great deal of cool weather. But corn is different; warm, moist nights suit it well. So, although we can see corn growing all over the eastern part of the United States, it thrives best in the southern part of the prairies where the weather is much warmer than in the north.

Corn is very fattening, so the farmers who 154 raise this grain usually keep herds of cattle and many hogs. He stores much of the harvest in the barns to feed the “live stock” and raise them for market.

On a Cattle Ranch.

The boys of the prairie help their fathers, not only in the wheat and corn fields, but also in raising herds of cattle, flocks of sheep, and great numbers of hogs.

Beyond the prairies, yet east of the Rocky Mountains, are wide stretches of land called the Western Plains. Grass grows on these plains, but the soil is not so rich as on the prairies and is therefore not so good for farming.

As the people moved farther west, settling on the prairies, they began to think what use could be made of the plains beyond. They decided that cattle could be raised there. But first the tribes of Indians who were roaming freely about must be forced to stay in certain parts of the country which the government of the United States reserved for them.

Sad to say, many a little red child growing up on such a reservation had hate in his heart for the white men who had seized the land that was 155 once the free hunting ground of the Indians. Again and again the red children watched their older brothers and fathers go out to attack the men who had ventured into the “wild west.” Again and again the soldiers of the United States were sent against them.

It was a dangerous life for the ranchmen, so that many of those who undertook to raise cattle on the Western Plains, left their families behind them. It was not a safe place for women and little children. The ranchmen had to live in the roughest manner. They had immense herds of cattle which were allowed to roam for miles over the grassy plains and were rounded up from time to time by “cowboys,” as they are called.

These cowboys were bold and daring fellows who carried pistols at their belts, rode half-wild horses called mustangs, and were ever ready for danger, since at any moment a stampede might arise among the cattle.

Imagine a herd of untrained cattle feeding together. An unusual sound is heard which fills them with a sudden fright. They toss their heads, kick up their heels and dash wildly away. This is called a stampede. Now, if the cowboy in charge is not quick to use his wits he will be 156 knocked down and trampled to death by the hoofs of the fleeing cattle.

On Lake Michigan, one of the Five Great Lakes, is the large city of Chicago. The children who live there grow up in the midst of noise and bustle, for a great deal of business is going on about them all the time. Every day long trains of cars come rolling into the stations bringing wheat and corn, cattle and hogs. All of these have been raised on the plains and prairies south and west of Chicago. Many of the animals are killed and dressed in the city and then sent away to be sold in the eastern markets. Others are loaded on big steamers waiting at the wharves and sent on a long journey through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River and across the ocean to Europe.

Down South.

The children who live in the southern part of the United States have warm weather nearly all the year. They need few of the woolen garments or the furs which feel so comfortable in winter to the people north of them. Their clothing is mostly of cotton or linen, and they eat less meat and more fruit than their northern 157 brothers. Their homes require little heat, and even the cooking is often done in a small building separate from the house so that it shall not be made uncomfortably warm.

Let us make a short visit to a cotton plantation “down south.” We shall be made welcome, without a doubt, because the southern people are very hospitable. The planter has been told when to expect us and a low, comfortable carriage drawn by a span of beautiful horses is at the station when we arrive. A black coachman in livery helps us into our seats, cracks his whip, and away start the horses at a lively trot. We pass forests of yellow pine trees, and possibly some tobacco fields. The air is fragrant with the odor of flowers and we listen to the songs of the blackbirds and mocking birds. All too soon the horses are turned into a driveway shaded by tall trees, at the end of which is a large house with broad verandas. Our host and his family are awaiting us and give us a cordial greeting.

After we have rested and eaten a delicious dinner, the children of the home show us over the cotton fields where Negro workmen are busy among the long rows of plants. The cotton would 158 not ripen in a short summer. It must have months of heat and moisture. Then the flowers will go to seed and long fibers will reach out and wrap them in blankets of cotton.

The cotton is separated from the seeds by the work of a machine, called the cotton gin. The seeds are ground into meal which is used in fattening cattle. Many herds of cattle in the south are fed on cotton-seed meal which takes the place of the corn given them in other parts of the country.

As we walk about over the fields the children of the planter tell us many stories of the Negro workmen, what fun-loving creatures they are, and how fond they are of good things to eat. Water melons please them especially and a group of “darkies” is never so happy as when they can sit around a pile of the juicy melons and feast to their hearts’ content. In many of the Negro cabins there is sure to be some one who plays the banjo, to whose music big folks and little dance merrily when the day’s work is over. Once the Negroes were the slaves of the white planters, but they are now free and support themselves like other workmen.

Our little southern friends ask us if we have 159 ever seen ’possums, as the black people call the animals. After everyone on the plantation has gone to sleep, then the cunning opossum steals from his home in the woods to pay a visit to the hen-house. He springs up and seizes one after another of the fowls on the roost, whose blood he sucks till no more is left in their bodies.

The Negroes are very fond of a ’possum hunt. Soon after dark they arm themselves with clubs and axes and go into the woods with a few dogs to scent the game, carrying torches to light the way. The axes are used to chop down the trees where the animals climb to get out of the way of the hunters.

A mother opossum with her little ones is a queer sight. The babies are scarcely larger than mice and they hang on to their mother’s body by winding their own tiny tails around her larger one. The Negroes go on ’coon hunts too, for they can sell the skins, while the meat is nearly as delicious as that of the opossum. Raccoons have long bushy tails and belong to the bear family, though they are much smaller. They catch birds in the trees, sucking their blood and eating the eggs whenever they find them. They like green corn, too, which they 160 steal at night as it is growing in the fields.

Our little friends go with us to the stables and show us their ponies, telling us of the lovely morning rides we may have through the country if we will stay with them for a few days. But we must bid them good-by and travel to the busy towns of the east where many of the people work in factories and stores and have little time to spend in the beautiful outdoor world. Before we leave the sunny south we would like to take a peep at a rice plantation in the low marshy country, and to watch the men gathering tobacco leaves and hanging them to dry in large sheds, but the northern train is waiting and we cannot linger.

Among the Factories.

The children of a factory town often know little of the free, happy days that a farm gives to its boys and girls. Long rows of houses where the workmen live, and large brick buildings where the machines are noisily running from Monday morning till Saturday night—these are what a person sees on every hand.

The country settled by the Pilgrims and Puritans, and much more east of the Appalachian 161 Mountains has such poor and stony soil that it is not good for farms. In such places we find the manufacturing towns where the cotton raised in the south and the wool from the sheep of the western plains are made into cloth for millions of people in the United States. Here also are large tanneries where the hides of cattle are prepared for harnesses, shoes, bags and many other things for which leather is used. In New England there are many factories where thousands of boots and shoes are made for the boys and girls of America.


Long ago, before the days of the factories, many ships sailed away from New England ports after whales in the Arctic waters. Now-a-days whale-bone is still valuable, but the oil is not needed so much as in the old times before gas and electricity came into use, so that whaling is not so common. But many men are still busy fishing for herring, halibut and cod, which are plentiful in the waters along the northeast coast and off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Many a boy living on the coast goes on fishing trips with his father and becomes so fond 162 of the free life of the sea that he decides to be a sailor for the rest of his life.

Many lobsters and clams are also obtained along the coast, and farther south are rich beds of oysters. In Chesapeake Bay more than one-third of all the oysters eaten in the world are grown, and most of these are shipped from the beautiful city of Baltimore, at the head of the bay. Thousands of men and women there are busy, day after day, opening the shells and taking out the oysters which are then put into tubs and cans for shipment.

In a Lumber Camp.

When the white men first came to the United States, almost all the land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River was covered with forests. Most of these were cut down to make clearings for the settlers’ homes. Some of them, fortunately, were left. Among the largest forests still standing to-day are those near the Great Lakes, where the lumber-men work in much the same way as their Canadian brothers. When the snow is thick over the ground, they leave home with their teams of oxen and 163 horses and go to the distant woods, where they build log-houses for themselves and stables for the animals. There they live during the cold months of the year. Sometimes they stop long enough in their work to go bear and deer hunting and so get fresh meat which makes a little change in their daily fare of bread, beans and salt-pork.

The logs are carried to the nearby streams on sledges which move easily over the ice and snow. When spring comes they are floated along the streams and lakes to the saw-mills where they are made into lumber.

Getting Coal.

Many of the children living in the Appalachian Mountains to-day have their homes near coal mines and their fathers are busy digging out the coal that brings warmth and comfort during the winter to so many people. In some places the rocks have been washed away, but in others the coal is still so far underground that the miners have to work day after day where the sunlight never shines.

Iron is also found in large quantities near the 164 coal mines, and trains of freight cars carry both these minerals to cities not far away where they are used together in making steel.

Among the Rocky Mountains.

Great quantities of iron are found in the low mountains near Lake Superior, where the miners are constantly at work with the help of steam engines and powerful machines.

The richest copper mines of the United States are also found near the shores of Lake Superior. A pig, we are told, discovered the best one of all in a curious way. It had strayed from home and fallen into a pit, where it scratched and rooted in its struggle to get out. In doing this, it laid bare some copper, which was discovered by its master when he went to look for the missing pig.

Hunters are fond of visiting the Rocky Mountains, where they still find the fierce puma, or mountain lion, with its sharp teeth and claws, and bright eyes. Night is its favorite time to roam and it is then that the mountain goat needs to beware, for the cat-like puma shows no mercy. Children who live in the western part of the 165 United States have sometimes seen a grizzly bear brought home by a friend after a hunting trip among the Rocky Mountains. It is the strongest and most dangerous of all the bear family. One blow of its paw is powerful enough to kill, yet if it is not disturbed a person has little to fear. It does not care for the flesh of other animals but is contented with a dinner of berries and tender shoots like its brothers, the brown and black bears.

One of the most graceful animals the children of the west have ever seen is the bighorn, or Rocky Mountain sheep. It browses on the grass found on the steep slopes where the hunter has hard work to reach it. Its ears are quick to hear the slightest sound, when it will toss its head and flee from possible danger with long leaps.

Among the Rocky Mountains are mines of silver, gold, and copper which have brought fortunes to many people of the United States. The silver mines especially are among the richest in the world. The men who work in them generally leave their families at home, and go away to “rough it” as they say, for a mining town seldom has many comforts and the boys and girls 166 who do go there to live miss the good schools, and many other things to which they have been used.

About fifty years ago gold was discovered in the state of California which lies on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The news filled the country with excitement. As time passed by the gold mines did not prove as rich as the people expected, but they discovered that the country was valuable in other ways. Trees grew to enormous size there and the warm, moist climate of the western coast was the best possible for raising fruit. To-day the children of California feast on pears, plums, apricots, grapes, peaches, oranges, and still other fruits which grow very large and beautiful. There are many wheat farms, too, in California where rich harvests reward the men who own them.

Beyond the Rocky Mountains and lying between them and a lower range called the Sierra Nevada, is a high plateau, where the rain falls into streams which dry up or form lakes before they can make their way to the sea.

The largest of these is called the Great Salt Lake whose water is four times as salty as that of the sea. 167

The Colorado Canyon.

There are still other plateaus southeast of the Great Basin where the streams have worn away deep valleys called canyons. The largest of these rivers is the Colorado, whose canyon is so wonderful that travelers in the west always wish to visit it.

In some parts of the canyon the steep cliffs rise on either side for about a mile up into the air. As the traveler in the valley below looks up he can see the stars shining in broad daylight. The rocks at the sides are of different colors—gray, brown, red and purple. The best time to visit the canyon is at sunrise or sunset. Then the light from above falls first upon one color and then upon another, making a beautiful sight as the shadows change from moment to moment.

The National Park.

The United States is a great country, as its people believe, and certainly no others in the world can boast of a park so large as theirs.

When Lewis and Clark had traveled a long distance up the Missouri River they reached that part of the country which is now called the Yellowstone 168 Park. A better name would be “Wonderland” for such it is to the thousands of people from all over the world who visit it every year.

This great reservation is sixty-five miles from north to south and fifty-five miles from east to west. It contains not one, but many charming parks, lovely valleys, sparkling waterfalls, high mountains, deep valleys and one beautiful lake, called the Yellowstone Lake.

We can travel in a comfortable parlor car to the very entrance of the Wonderland where we will first visit the Mammoth Hot Springs whose waters are as clear as a mirror. They contain lime and iron, and for this reason many people drink the water which they take as medicine.

The largest of the Hot Springs bursts out of the ground near the summit of a high hill, from which it pours down over the slope and as it falls, makes deep basins in the earth below.

Some of these basins are tiny and others quite large. They are of different colors—red, green, and yellow, and the edges are worn away into the prettiest sort of beadwork by Mother Nature.

Now let us leave the Hot Springs and visit the geysers about fifty miles away. Each has 169 a name of its own. There is the Giantess, which from time to time throws up a great quantity of water for a short distance. You must be careful not to venture too near when the Giantess wakes up, or you will be soaked with water in an instant.

Another geyser is called Old Faithful, because you can depend on his appearance at just such a time. He shows off his accomplishments once every sixty-five minutes. Old Faithful sends up a few little jets of water at first but every moment they become larger and stronger, till suddenly, with a tremendous roar, the water spouts up one hundred and thirty feet in the air. By the end of five minutes the water subsides and only a small stream rises.

Still another geyser is called the Beehive, on account of the shape of its cone. The water does not fall to the ground again but moves up through the air as fine spray.

One of the most interesting of all the geysers is the Castle. As you near it, the air around may be perfectly quiet. Then, all at once, you you will hear a loud rumbling noise as though quantities of stones were rolling over each other, and at the same time the lashing of water is 170 heard under the earth. The noise becomes almost deafening, the earth trembles under your feet, and if you are wise you will hasten to some spot quite a distance away. Suddenly a column of water rises straight up into the air at least one hundred and fifty feet. The spray from it falls over the ground around like heavy rain and those who have not been wise enough to flee like yourself are drenched with hot water.

We must not leave the Wonderland without visiting Yellowstone Lake. It is very beautiful and stretches its long arms in among the mountains as though to embrace them. On the western shore of this lake you may catch trout if you will. Then, if you are hungry, you may take a few steps and drop the fish, still on the hook, into a boiling spring. Behold! your dinner of delicious trout is ready for your eating.

Yellowstone River flows out of this wonderful lake and at first moves smoothly and quietly. Then, as it is about to make its way through a mountain-pass, it makes leaps and bounds in the form of cascades and waterfalls, wearing the earth into a deep canyon, which is as full of interest as that of the Colorado.

In your visit to the Rocky Mountains you 171 will, no doubt, wish to climb Pikes Peak. It is named for Major Pike, who tried to climb to the summit but failed.

“Only a bird could succeed,” he afterwards said. Now-a-days, however, hundreds of travelers go every year to the top of Pikes Peak.

Niagara Falls.

Nearly every one who travels over the United States takes a trip up the beautiful Hudson River, and goes to the top of Mount Washington in New England, by using the railroad built up the side of the mountain, and over which the train moves slowly with the help of a double engine.

Perhaps the most wonderful and interesting of all sights are the Falls of Niagara, between Canada and the United States. Out of Lake Erie, one of the Five Great Lakes, flows the Niagara River, which soon reaches a cliff over which it pours its whole body of water with a sound like thunder. If you stand near the foot of the falls you must wear waterproof garments, or the dashing spray will drench you in a few moments. The longer you look, the more wonderful the sight appears and before long you 172 feel as though you would like to stay there forever, watching those mighty waters falling, ever falling, and never resting in their course for a single moment.

In winter the spray covers every bush and tree near the foot of the Falls and as it freezes almost instantly, strange forms are built up on the twigs and branches. Then in the bright sunlight the world around seems like fairyland. Masses of ice are carried along with the water of the cataract and become piled up below, making a bridge of ice across the river.

The children who visit Niagara Falls are sure to wish to enter the deep cave in the cliff directly under the falling waters. No matter how carefully they may enter, they will be drenched by the spray unless they are clad in waterproof from head to foot. They have a strange feeling while they are in the cave. The loud rumbling of the water and the trembling of the earth fill them with a sort of fear and they are glad when they are once more out in the sunlight and at a safe distance from the mighty cataract. 173

A Peep at Big Cities.

There are many large and beautiful cities in the United States, each of which is particularly dear to the children who live there. Sometimes they think of their brothers and sisters of a hundred years ago who warmed themselves in winter before burning logs in big fireplaces, who traveled in lumbering stage-coaches and were lighted to bed by home-made candles or smoky whale-oil lamps. Many of the children of to-day have steam-heated houses, lighted by gas or electricity; they travel short distances in electric cars or automobiles, and longer ones in comfortable trains moved by steam-engines; or perhaps they take water trips in roomy steamboats where they can move about as freely as in their own homes. They talk with distant friends by merely taking down the receiver of a telephone. Steam, gas, electricity—all these conveniences are found not only in the cities of the United States, but on the distant prairies for the use of farmers and their families.

Washington is the capital of the United States. It is the place where the business of the country is attended to and the laws are made for the 174 protection of the people. It is a wonderfully clean and beautiful city, and has many grand buildings which may well be called palaces. The White House, the home of the president, is the copy of a palace in Ireland which was built for the Duke of Leinster. The National Library is very large and some people think the building devoted to it is the most beautiful in the world. The Rogers Bronze Door which opens into the Capital is a great work of art. The most important things in the life of Columbus and the discovery of America are pictured in the bronze. This one door cost thirty thousand dollars.

There are large art galleries in Washington and many other buildings where you can pass day after day and constantly find new things to interest you. But before you leave the city you must be sure to visit the beautiful marble monument built in honor of George Washington.

Children Working in the Cotton Factory in a Big City.
Children Working in the Cotton Factory in a Big City.

At the mouth of the Hudson River is the great city of New York, next to the largest in the whole world. It contains many beautiful homes, fine churches, lovely parks, and business buildings many stories in height which, like others in Chicago, are called “sky scrapers.” On an island in New York Harbor stands the famous Statue of Liberty given to this country by France. Persons who wish to do so may climb up into the head of this statue which is in the form of a beautiful woman with a torch in her uplifted hand. The crown on the head is composed of windows from which there is a fine view of New York Harbor.

Another island in the harbor is called Ellis Island, where most of the emigrants who have left their homes in other countries, land when they reach the United States. Irish and Poles, Italians and Russians, men with children clinging to their sides, and women with arms clasped around tiny babies, all dressed in the fashion of their old homes, step from the big ships and take their first breath of the free air of America almost under the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.

New York is the greatest manufacturing centre in the United States. Clothing, books, cigars, furniture, leather goods and many other things are made here for the people of this and other countries.

The good old city of Boston is on the eastern 176 coast of Massachusetts. It has a fine harbor like its sister city in New York, and many large ships from all over the world are seen at its wharves.

Ten years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth the Puritans founded Boston. It is a quaint city with narrow, winding streets, much unlike Chicago and New York and many other cities built later on. The State House on Beacon Hill has a gilded dome which can be seen in the sunlight for miles around. This is often called “Boston’s breastpin.” There are many old buildings in the city, around which are woven interesting stories of the early days of this country. Here stands Faneuil Hall where many stirring words were spoken. For this reason it is spoken of as the Cradle of Liberty. Then there is the Old South Church a “meeting house” of the olden times from which the Boston Tea Party started out to throw the tea which had come from England into Boston Harbor. The cemeteries, in which some of the greatest men of the early days of the country were buried, are still kept with the greatest care and are visited by travelers throughout the year. Boston 177 is a manufacturing city and is the largest market in the world for boots, shoes and leather goods.

In the state of Pennsylvania, settled as you know by the Quakers, is the city of Philadelphia. This name was chosen for it by William Penn because of its meaning, “brotherly love,” and the peaceful spirit of that great man is felt even now in the quiet streets, lined with quaint old houses.

Philadelphia was once the largest city in the United States. It is still a very busy one. Quantities of coal from the mines not far away are sent to this city and from there shipped to other places. Iron and steel goods are made in its factories and many of its people are busy in the cotton mills. On the river front near by there are large shipyards where ships have been built for the United States navy.

The children of Philadelphia are especially proud of Independence Hall where the famous Declaration of Independence was signed and the bell rang out to tell of what brave men had dared to do. This “Liberty Bell” has been carefully preserved and may be seen even now after all these years. 178

There are many other large and beautiful cities in the country. One of these, San Francisco, lies on the far western coast, on the borders of the Pacific Ocean. It has a deep harbor, into which come sailing many ships from China and Japan, bringing cargoes of silk and tea. Many Chinamen are to be seen on the streets of the city, and pretty Japanese children with black eyes and soft yellow skins play in the parks with the little Americans. More wheat is exported from the city of San Francisco than from any other in the United States.

There is so much to tell of this great country and of the children who live here in happy homes, that it is hard to stop, but we must leave it for the present and travel south to Mexico.

Little Folks of Mexico

Long ago, when we ended our visit in Canada and Newfoundland, we left behind us the polar bears and the icebergs and all those things which are to be found in the cold parts of the earth. Then we traveled over the United States with its temperate climate, where neither heat nor cold are severe. Still moving south, we come to Mexico.

At the time Columbus discovered America Mexico was the home of gentle little Indian children. Their skins were not as red as the rest of their people in North America, but were of a brownish tint. Their lips were rather thick, and their voices were soft. They called themselves Aztecs.

These children went to school and learned lessons while the other Indians of North America were living like savages. They were taught music and painting and the history of the Aztecs. 180 They studied strange-looking books written in pictures, each of which stood for a certain word.

As they grew up they were taught to worship many gods, some of whom they believed to be very cruel. They feared these gods and offered sacrifices of human beings to them. It was a dreadful belief indeed that could make people do this.

A great king named Montezuma ruled over the whole country. He lived in a magnificent palace far up on a lofty plateau in the middle of the country, with mountains on either hand, as though to guard him. He wore rich garments which he changed many times a day. He ate the choicest food from dishes of silver and gold. Hundreds of people waited upon him, ever ready to do his bidding.

Montezuma made the city where he lived very beautiful. There were gardens filled with flowers, and ponds stocked with different kinds of fish. There were menageries where birds of brilliant plumage were cared for so tenderly that they could not miss their free homes of the forest, and there were wild animals of both hot lands and cold. Altogether, the city was the wonder of all who visited it. 181

There came a time, however, when all this was changed. A few years after Columbus discovered the New World a Spaniard named Fernando Cortez sailed along the shores of Mexico with his fleet of ships. He entered a harbor and landed. The simple Indians who stood watching, bent low before the strange white men, for they thought them gods from heaven who had come to visit them, and they gladly told all they knew about the country. Gold and silver? Yes, there was plenty to be had in Mexico. Furthermore, they described the wonderful city on the plateau above, where the great Montezuma held his court.

Cortez listened with great interest. He was a brave man; he was also cruel and greedy. His eyes flashed as he thought of all the riches to be gained if he could conquer the natives. But he used only soft words and begged to be shown the way to the wonderful city among the mountains above him. He declared that he wished to pay respect to the ruler of the country.

The Indian guides led the way while Cortez and his train of knights followed.

On, yet ever upwards they climbed, soon leaving the hot, damp lowlands behind them. The 182 air became cooler and fresher, and the fruits that grow only where the heat is great, were soon passed. On, yet ever upwards! The pathway now became steep and rough, but it brought the Spaniards at last out upon a broad plain on which stood the city described by the natives of the lowlands. The king came to meet the strangers in all his glory. He lavished gifts upon them, too—gold and silver and precious stones,—all those things which he thought valuable in the eyes of his guests. He entertained them royally and gave feasts in their honor.

While the cruel Spaniard was looking at the rich gifts, he was planning how to conquer Montezuma and his subjects and get all the wealth of the country into his hands.

It was not long before this was done. Montezuma’s reign was brought to an end; the beautiful buildings of the city of which he was so proud were destroyed, and the Indians of Mexico became the slaves of the Spaniards.

For nearly three hundred years Spain ruled over the country, during which time many boys and girls crossed the ocean to make their home in Mexico.

Some of the Spaniards married gentle Indian 183 maidens and their children were called half-castes, to show that they were half-white and half-Indian. For this reason there are three kinds of children who call Mexico home,—first, creoles, whose people came in the beginning from Europe; second, the Indians, and third, the half-castes. Many of these last are so fair in the skin that one would scarcely think they could have any Indian blood whatever.

Although the white people came in the beginning from Spain, they have lived so long in Mexico that they now have a name of their own. Many of their children are very beautiful. They have soft black eyes which grow sharp and piercing as they become excited. They are usually very gentle, but if they are crossed they show a quick, unruly temper. They are not fond of work, but like to be waited on by their servants. Many of them are rich and live in grand houses built around courtyards whose fountains play all day long. The air of these courtyards is filled with the odor of lovely flowers growing there.

The mothers of the little creoles dress in dainty lawns and laces, following the latest fashions from Paris. They are proud of their 184 tiny hands and feet and are careful to do no hard work that may spoil their shape. They embroider, and do other fancywork, and they sing and play. They are very loving, and bring up their little ones to be polite and respectful. They, as well as their husbands, are ever ready to show kindness to visitors and strangers.

The Indian children of Mexico lead a very different life from their creole brothers and sisters. After the Aztecs were conquered by the Spaniards they lived the life of slaves for such a long time that it became a habit with them to look up to the white men as higher beings, so that to this day they are as humble as slaves although they are now free and the country is a republic.

The little Indians have few clothes, but that does not matter, for they do not need more in the warm climate in which they live. As for shoes, their people in the good old times before the coming of the Spaniards wore none, so why should they? Sandals are certainly far more comfortable, besides being the best foot-gear possible for mountain climbing.

In the warm lowlands the Indians live in simple huts of wood or bamboo, with thatched 185 roofs of palm leaves. Farther up on the table-land where it is cooler the homes are still small and easily made, but they are of unburnt brick, called adobe. The roofs are flat and covered with clay. No matter how poor the family may be the home is not complete unless it has an oven large enough for a person to sit in, also made of adobe. Stones are piled in this oven and heated. Then water is poured over them, which makes a heavy steam rise, in which the people take their baths.

“It is good,” the little Indians would tell you. “So good, that as the sweat bursts out over your body, it will take out all the badness, and make you feel well and strong.”

The poorest children need not be hungry, for fruits and vegetables are cheap and plentiful. Besides these, there are the tortillas the Indian mothers make every day for their families.

Outside of every house there is sure to be a field of maize, big enough to furnish the family with all they need during the year. When the maize is ripe it is gathered and put away for future use. Every evening the women of the household take some of it and place it in jars of hot water. They add a little lime to 186 soften it. When morning comes, they take it from the jar, and spreading it on a stone bench, make it into paste with a stone roller. Now it is put into a dish, and enough water added to make it into a batter thick enough for pancakes. One by one these are baked before a fire of charcoal. Hours are spent each day preparing tortillas. Even the rich people of Mexico are fond of tortillas, and hire special cooks to prepare them for the table.

The Indian children are very strong. The boys practice running and learn to carry heavy loads on their backs with ease. Many of the men are porters, or work in the silver mines carrying out the ore; some of them, however, are busy on the farms. As the boys grow up, they generally follow the same trade as their fathers. The pay is small and the work is hard, but it seems easier for the Indians to keep to the same old habits that were formed under their masters, the Spaniards.

Wherever you may travel in Mexico, you will meet Indian porters with heavy loads on their backs, moving along at a steady trot. Hour after hour they will keep this up, carrying seventy-five or a hundred pounds at a time. 187 The Indian farmers may be fifty or even a hundred miles from a market for their goods, but it does not seem to trouble them that the vegetables they wish to sell must be carried all the way on their backs.

Besides the Indian and creole children are the half-castes whose skins are darker than those of their white brothers and sisters, though many of them have rosy cheeks. They are pleasant and good-natured, but are apt to be sly and lazy.

The fathers of the little half-castes are generally farmers or mule drivers. Their older brothers and sisters are often servants in the homes of the wealthy creoles, where they learn the ways and fashions of the white people and try to copy them.

Most of the boys and girls of Mexico go to school which they must reach by seven o’clock in the morning, and where they spend about ten hours of each day. The seats and desks are not comfortably arranged as they are in most places in the United States. Those children who can have chairs are fortunate, for many of them sit on benches and even on the floor. They study aloud, so you can imagine what a chattering 188 there is. It is hard to understand how they manage to get their lessons.

There are many holidays in Mexico, when the tiresome schools are closed and both big folks and little give themselves up to feasting and dancing.

One of these, Good Friday, is celebrated in a curious way. All day long men go through the streets carrying figures of the traitor Judas hanging from long poles. They stop from time to time as children come running up to them to buy a Judas. Now comes the sport, for the figures can be blown up. Bits of lighted punk are held against the figures, when they suddenly burst like fire-crackers and make noise enough to deafen the ears of the passer-by. It is no wonder the children save up their money for Good Friday so that they can buy numbers of Judases.

The evening is the best part of the whole day, for then immense Judases are hung up on lines across the streets and crowds of people gather to watch them while they are blown up and exploded. At the same time the city bells ring out the glad news that Judas has been destroyed. The strangest part of all is the crackling noise that 189 now follows, representing the breaking of the bones of the two thieves who were crucified at the same time as Jesus. The Mexicans certainly have a queer way of celebrating Good Friday.

On the Coast.

Although a part of Mexico lies in or near the torrid zone, all kinds of climate are to be found in the country. Let us see how this is. Along the shores of the Pacific on the west, and of the Gulf of Mexico on the east the land is low and the air is hot and moist, and for this reason there is much illness there. The children of these lowlands know only two seasons, the wet and the dry. Many of them live on ranches where herds of cattle feed on the high, coarse grass. Here and there small streams flow through the land from the mountains above, and there are lakes shaded by tall palm trees. These are the places where the tropical fruits of Mexico grow,—vanilla, spices, bananas, cacao, and oranges. Mangoes, cocoanuts, and alligator pears, besides many others seldom sent to temperate lands, also grow here in plenty.

The lowlands are not perfectly flat, but slope 190 upwards toward high hills where the air is clear and much cooler. The children here can gather yellow oranges and clutches of bananas, like their brothers and sisters of the lowlands, while they may also pick peaches and apples in their orchards. Flowers and trailing vines grow everywhere about them. The palms of the hot lands wave in the breeze on one side, while the roses and honeysuckles of the temperate zone bloom on the other. It is a strange and beautiful country.

Slowly we bid good-by to the little homes nestled among the trees, and with the help of a big double-engine we climb up the steep slopes to still higher lands. The trees are of a different kind now, for strong pines and oaks are about us everywhere.

The long climbing comes to an end at last. The double-engine has done its work and is used no longer, for we move out upon the plateau of Mexico where cactus plants spread over many acres, and wheat and barley fields greet us like old friends from the United States.

A Mexican Village.
A Mexican Village.

Vera Cruz.

When Cortez arrived on the coast of Mexico his ships entered the only good harbor on the eastern side of the country. He and his men landed at a place to which the Spaniards gave the name of Vera Cruz, or “True Cross.” Afterwards they built a city there, which to-day is one of the two principal ports of Mexico. Every year many ships are loaded at the wharves of Vera Cruz with limes and hammocks, silver and copper, which they carry to the United States and other countries.

Vera Cruz is a beautiful city. Tall palm trees shade many a lovely home, in whose gardens children are playing throughout the year. Before it stretches the Gulf of Mexico, while at its back the lofty volcano Orizaba reaches far up toward the sky. The people of Vera Cruz work hard to make it a clean city, and they are helped by the vultures—big, ugly-looking birds who are ever ready to swoop down into the streets and house-yards to devour any decaying matter to be found. Bits of fruit and vegetables, scraps of meat, and dead animals whether big or little, are greedily eaten. 192 Although the city is kept clean from one end to the other, it is not a healthy place for a home. Fever is in hiding everywhere and visitors find it wise to make only a short stay in the place.

Getting Vanilla.

Few people live in the low country around Vera Cruz except Indians and half-castes. Here and there on the banks of the streams you may find a group of palm-thatched huts with Indian children running in and out among the trees. The weather is so warm here throughout the year that they wear scarcely any clothing and many times in the day they plunge into the river to cool themselves. Sometimes the boys take long tramps into the forests on the slopes above them in search of pods filled with vanilla beans. They must seek only dark and moist places, for vanilla plants do not grow well in the sunlight. Swarms of mosquitoes buzz about the boys’ bare legs, and snakes and lizards often cross their path. Many times they are obliged to crawl between tangled vines and push thick underbrush aside. But they care little for these things. Their minds are set on finding enough vanilla plants to yield them a goodly 193 load of pods, which they will carry home and dry with the greatest care before sending them to market.


On the western coast of Mexico is the city of Acapulco, with its deep and beautiful harbor. Many large steamers are loaded with cattle and hides, timber and fruit at its wharves.

The Mexican Farms.

Many of the children of Mexico have their homes on tobacco and sugar plantations which are found on the slopes rising from the lowlands along the shore. Still other children live on the plateau of Mexico on large farms which stretch over miles of country and seem like small towns in themselves. The men on these farms are busy in various ways. Some of them have the care of large fields of wheat or barley. Others tend herds of cattle or flocks of sheep.

The owner of such a farm is usually a rich man who lives with his family in a large stone house surrounded by high walls. There is a courtyard where beautiful trees and plants are growing and fountains are playing. The wife 194 and children of the owner wear dainty garments and are waited upon by many servants. They have the choicest food,—fruits of many kinds, chicken cooked in different ways, tortillas of course, besides all sorts of delicacies prepared by excellent cooks.

The workmen have very different homes. They live in small huts of one or two rooms, and built of mud or adobe. Inside are rough stone fireplaces, and a few mats are spread on the floor. Here the children and their parents sit while they eat their simple meals of tortillas and black beans, and here they stretch themselves at night for sleep. They are quite happy, however. Outdoors are the birds, the flowers, and the beautiful sunshine. They need few clothes and they do not go hungry.

There are usually large dairies on these farms where women are busy making the rich milk into butter and cheese. Thousands of pounds are often sent to market from one such farm during the year.

You have probably seen century plants in the hot-houses you have visited, and have been told that they belong to the aloe family. When the Spaniards first came to Mexico they saw the 195 Indians making paper from the pulp of the leaves of the aloe plant and twine from its fibers. The sharp thorns on the edges of the leaves furnished needles for the Indian women, and the sap of the aloe was made into pulque, the favorite drink of the natives. They also made hammocks from the fibers and thatched the roofs of their huts with the big leaves, lapping one over the other like shingles. In fact, the Indians made so many uses of the aloe plant that the Spaniards thought it worth while to raise it in large quantities for themselves.

The aloe has thick, pointed leaves sometimes ten feet long. It blossoms about once in ten years, when it sends a flower stalk twenty or thirty feet up into the air. At the very top an immense cluster of greenish-yellow blossoms appears. All the strength of the plant goes into these blossoms for, as they open, the leaves wither and die.

The Indians have learned to tell when the plant is getting ready to send up its giant flower-stalk. Just before it appears they cut out the heart with a sharp knife, leaving only the thick, outside rind of the stem. The sweet sap that should have gone to feed the flower-stalk begins to 196 ooze into the hollow and continues to do so for several weeks. The Indians, who have discovered the right time to cut into the plant to prevent its flowering, have also learned that the sap can be used in making the drink which they call pulque.

The city of Mexico is a beautiful one, with high stone walls around it, a large square in the centre, and broad streets running at right angles to each other. Nearly all the houses are built of stone, with flat roofs on which the people sit in the evening to enjoy the cool breezes and watch the stars twinkling merrily in the heavens above.

The children of the big stone houses can play in inner courtyards among flowering plants and fountains. But when they leave their homes to go out into the city they must pass through heavy doors studded with nails and heavily chained. The house windows that face the street have iron bars across them, so that at first these houses seem like fortresses. But when one passes to the back part of such a building and looks out through the windows there upon the pretty courtyard with its fountains and flower-beds, or takes a comfortable chair on one of the balconies, with its gilded balustrades covered with 197 trailing vines, he begins to feel as though he were in a beautiful palace.

The great square in the middle of the city is beautiful with trees and flowers, statues, and walks paved with snowy marble. In the long-ago a temple stood here where hundreds of people were sacrificed to the gods in whom the Aztecs believed. On one side of the square stands the house of the president, and on another there is a grand cathedral where the Mexicans and their children go to worship. The cathedral doors are always open so that any day you may go inside and find people kneeling there. Rich and poor, grand ladies in delicate muslins and jewels, and the poorest Indians with their packs of fruit or coops filled with chickens still on their backs, kneel in prayer side by side.

Many of the children who have been to the cathedral to worship, stop as they leave it before the flower-decked stands under the trees, where women are busy selling cool drinks and sweetmeats. Or perhaps they are more interested in the Indians wandering about with cages of humming-birds and parrots, and they beg their parents or older friends who are with them to buy one of the birds to carry home. 198

As the children go on their way they pass many a horseman riding through the streets with broad hat shading his face, and with leggings trimmed with buttons and silver braid. Silver spurs shine brightly at his side in the sunlight, as also do the gorgeous trappings of his horse.

There are all sorts of people to be seen on the streets of Mexico. There are Indians with packs of all sorts on their backs. There are girls in gaily striped skirts selling fruit. There are water-carriers in leather aprons with large earthen jars on their backs and smaller ones hanging down in front; there are bird-sellers with flower-trimmed cages; there are the Indian policemen who carry lanterns at night, which they place in the middle of the street while they nap in the doorways close by. These naps must be very short, however, because every fifteen minutes it is the business of the policemen to blow shrill whistles, and at every hour to call the time.

The Big Market.

The boys and girls of the city often visit the big market which is only a short distance from the cathedral. It is surrounded by high stone 199 walls and on every side there is a gateway through which the people are constantly passing.

The sides of the market are lined with shops where people are busy selling all sorts of goods. There are the stalls of butchers where only meats are to be seen. There are stands of fruit that fill the air with sweet odors. There are vegetables of many kinds, furniture, and dress-goods of all colors. There are shops where fried meats are sold to hungry people in need of a lunch. There are great piles of cocoanuts and bananas heaped upon the ground. There are fish from both lake and ocean. Strangest of all are the cakes made out of marshflies. These flies are found in great numbers along the muddy banks of the Mexican lakes. There they lay their eggs among the flags and rushes and are killed by the Indians and made into a paste.

The middle of the market is filled with Indians who shade themselves and their wares from the hot sun by large squares of matting perched on poles. Here is one man with coops filled with chickens, and another with a stack of earthen dishes made at home. Just beyond him is a woman with a baby on her back. She 200 is standing by the side of a patient donkey with panniers filled with melons or peaches, hanging from its sides, and a happy little two-year old child on its back. Some of the people who are busy selling their wares have come many miles and left their homes before sunrise. They have brought their families along with them, so that half-naked children and babies of all ages are to be seen everywhere. Some of them are munching fruit, others playing hide-and-seek among the crowds, while many a tiny baby is nodding itself to sleep on its mother’s back or crying with all its might for a little attention.

The Museums.

The children of the city are fond of visiting the museums, for there they can see many of the wonderful things made by the Aztecs in the time of their great ruler, Montezuma.

First of all they stop before a large bed of flowers in the court, in the center of which is the “sacrificial stone” where, in the old days before the coming of the white men, people were offered up to the gods in whom they believed. Near by are the hideous statues of two of these gods. They are not pleasant to look at, so the 201 visitors pass quickly into the building where they can see Aztec vases ornamented with strange carving, masks of volcanic glass, the wonderful feather shields of Montezuma, books filled with picture-writing, and images made of wax and representing all kinds of life in Mexico. There is the Indian with his pack, the charcoal-seller with his donkey beside him laden with coal, the flower-vender with bouquets of flowers in her hands.

Children are never tired of looking at these wax figures, but however long they may stay, they do not like to leave the museum without at least a peep at the feather pictures made in the time of Montezuma.

These pictures are entirely of birds’ delicate feathers, laid over each other so carefully that if you were to examine them ever so closely you would not be able to tell how the work was done. The pictures are as wonderful in their way as fine paintings. Only few Indians know the secret of making them, which is guarded carefully and handed down from father to son. 202

The Floating Gardens.

Most of the vegetables raised for the people of Mexico are brought in the early morning from the floating gardens a short distance from the city, where there are some lakes. A kind of water-plant grows in these lakes very fast and mats together, making marshy beds.

Long ago, in the time of Montezuma, the Aztec farmers learned to make gardens out of these floating masses of weeds. They cut out large squares which they covered with mud drawn up from the bottom of the lake. The soil was rich and moist so that no place in the world could be better for plants. Flower and vegetable seeds were sown and in a short time beautiful gardens were growing.

From that day to this Indians have been busy tending these floating gardens. They pass from one to another in canoes, gathering vegetables and flowers for the city market. One boat will be filled with lettuce, another with luscious red tomatoes, while still another will be loaded with bright-colored flowers. It is a pretty sight to see them as they move slowly along through the Viga Canal that leads from the lakes to the city. 203 Again and again the Indians paddling along with their loads are passed by pleasure boats filled with young people, who make the air resound with the odd sweet songs of the country.


South of the city of Mexico there is a range of hills, and beyond these is a chain of volcanoes, two of which bear the names of Popocatapetl and Iztacsihuatl. It is much easier, however, to think of them as “Smoking Mountain” and “The Woman in White,” for such are the meanings of these long words. Both these volcanoes wear garments of snow and they look so peaceful that the children of Mexico are not troubled with the thought of what might happen if they should awake in fiery anger some day and send out streams of red-hot lava over the country below.

The slopes of Popocatapetl are dotted with the huts of Indians who earn their living by getting loads of sulphur from the crater of the volcano.

The highest mountain peak in Mexico is Orizaba, or the “Star of the Sea.” As you sail towards the eastern shore of Mexico and when 204 you are still so far away that no other part is in sight, the lofty volcano Orizaba appears before you with its summit in the clouds. The Indians chose a fitting name for it, because it certainly seems to rise out of the sea.

Among the Mines.

When the Spaniards became the rulers of Mexico they found themselves the owners of the richest silver mines in the world. A great part of the silver used to-day came from those mines. Although immense fortunes have been made in the country for hundreds of years, yet the mines are still rich in the precious ore. They are owned by white men, but the work of getting the silver is done mostly by Indians. Mules are sometimes used to carry the ore from the dark caverns underground to the bright world outside, but much of even this work is done by the Indians themselves, who climb up the steep sides of the mines with heavy loads on their backs day after day.

When the silver is found it is generally mixed with sulphur, but sometimes a lump of the pure metal is turned up. One of these lumps 205 weighed four hundred and twenty-five pounds, and was worth eight thousand dollars.

The miners sometimes try to steal the silver by hiding it in their hair, their ears, or between their toes. They are carefully watched for this reason, so they seldom succeed.

Copper is also found in the mines of Mexico and some of it is sent to the United States.

The children of Mexico never need to leave their country for the sake of a change, for by traveling a few miles, they can enjoy either cold weather or hot; they can see the trees and plants, can hear the birds, and can pick the flowers belonging to lands that stretch from the frozen north to the burning regions of the equator.

Little Folks of Central America

Now let us make a short visit to the children of Central America. Perhaps it would not be well for us to stay with them long unless they live in the high valleys of the mountain country along the western shore, for the lowlands are hotter and even more moist than those of Mexico. Fever lies in waiting for strangers in the lowlands; swarms of mosquitoes are ready to attack us on every hand, centipedes and scorpions are hidden in the grass at our feet, so that we are quite willing to hasten towards the hill country as quickly as possible. Even here we feel in danger, for the high valleys we enter lie hidden under the very shadow of a row of volcanoes that stretch from north to south through the land. Many of these are quite wide-awake and show this in various ways, some by the clouds of smoke that rise out of their 207 craters, or by the odor of sulphur that reaches our noses, or perhaps by the shaking of the earth beneath our feet.

One of the highest of these peaks is called Agua which, from time to time, sends out jets of boiling water.

The children of Central America are quite used to earthquakes, which they feel many times during the year. At any moment, in the midst of their play, at dinner time, or during a walk through the streets, the ground may suddenly tremble under their feet, they become dizzy and light-headed, and perhaps there is a rumbling sound in the air around them. If they are away from home, they hurry back to seek safety beside their mothers.

A minute afterwards the danger may pass by and the play or dinner or walk goes on as before. Yet there are ruined cities in the country to tell the story that there have been terrible earthquakes in past times when homes were destroyed, and men, women and children lost their lives before they had time to flee for safety.

The children of Central America are much like their brothers and sisters of Mexico. There are the Indians who are little troubled by the 208 heat and mosquitoes, there are the white boys and girls whose people came from Spain, and there are the little half-castes.

Some of these children live near dense forests where their fathers are busy cutting down valuable mahogany and logwood trees, which are shipped to other lands to be made into elegant furniture. It is so hot in many of these forests that the men do their work at night with flaming torches to give them light.

It is a strange sight. All around is heavy darkness except in the cleared space among the trees where the torch-lights show patient oxen plodding along with their heavy loads, and their half-naked drivers snapping their whips and calling in loud voices to the animals and each other. Through it all comes the sound of the whip and axe, and the snapping of the big trunks as they fall to the ground.

Logwood, from which a valuable dye is obtained, is the name of another valuable tree found in the forests of Central America, as also is the lignum vitæ, or wood of life. From both logwood and lignum vitæ are extracted medicines which physicians often use. 209

In Central America people need to be careful when they are wandering through the thick grass or along the edge of a forest, for poisonous snakes lurk about and the bites of some of them may cause much pain and suffering.

Sometimes the boys bring home winged squirrels which they have caught while flying from tree to tree, but these little creatures do not enjoy being made captive. They love their wild life in the woods, where they are free to scamper over the ground; or spreading their legs, to fly about among the branches of the trees as they will.

Along the southern coast of Central America the children find beautiful mother-of-pearl shells on the water’s edge. As the sunlight falls upon these shells the loveliest colors are seen on the clear surface,—delicate pinks and blues and violets. After the children are tired of playing with the shells they can easily sell them, for travelers are ever ready to buy them as remembrances of their stay in the country.

In the forests of Central America there are many rubber trees, where Indian boys help their fathers gather the sap which will afterwards be 210 made into storm coats and shoes to protect the children of the United States from rain and snow.

In the lowlands and on the slopes there are many banana orchards, which furnish all the fruit the little folks and their parents wish for, as well as many a shipload for the people of other lands.

Some of the white children of the country live on coffee plantations where Negro and Indian workmen care for the trees and pick the berries for market.

There are also places in Central America where the indigo plant is raised on account of the blue dye that is obtained from it. This, too, is sent away from the country in ships, as well as coffee and mahogany, bananas and rubber.

Central America is divided into several republics, each one of which is quite independent of the others. As you travel through them southwards, the country becomes more and more narrow till you come at last to the Isthmus of Panama, which joins North and South America.

The people of the United States are now very busy building a canal through this isthmus to join together the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. 211 As you look at the map it seems an easy enough matter.

You think, “Why, that canal ought to be finished in a short time and should not cost much, either, for the distance across the canal is not more than twenty-six miles at the narrowest part.”

But you must remember in the first place that the canal can not be dug in a straight line; also, that it must pass through the heart of high mountains and that solid masses of rock must be broken up, bit by bit. Then again, the climate of the lowlands is very unhealthy during the wet season of the year and the workmen suffer from fever and other kinds of sickness. Besides, it has been hard to get men who understand the work to go there. For these reasons and still others the building of this canal is a tremendous undertaking and will cost billions of dollars before it is finished.

The people of France began it many years ago, but gave it up after two-fifths of it had been dug. The people of the United States undertook to finish it, and at present everything is going on well. They paid France for what she had already done on the canal and bought 212 the land through which it is to pass. Moreover, they have built comfortable homes for the workmen and have done many things to prevent the fevers that attack persons so easily on account of the damp, hot climate.

So it has come about that on the Isthmus of Panama there are now many American children whose fathers are busy on the canal and have brought their families to live with them there. Schools have been built where these children study the same lessons as their playmates at home. Mother Nature gives them other lessons too, for they see many curious sights in the country around them, different trees and plants, different flowers and birds from those of their homeland. If they enter the forests they can see the parrots and monkeys among the tree-tops, and possibly wild hogs among the underbrush. They can pick flowers which are beautiful, but without fragrance. They can tap milk trees and get a thick, creamy liquid which will satisfy their hunger. They must be watchful, however, in this strange country, for immense ants are ever ready to sting their tender toes, and poisonous snakes lie hidden in the thick grass.

Not far from the homes of the little Americans there 213 are villages where Chinese children are living with their parents, since many Chinamen are at work on the canal. There are Negroes, too, as well as the white men and the native Indians.

By and by, when the great undertaking is finished and big ships from all parts of the world are constantly passing through the canal, it will be a very lively place and many will be the visitors to that part of North America.

Little Folks of the West Indies

When Columbus discovered the New World he landed on a small island southeast of North America where the gentle red people greeted him as a god from heaven. You probably know the story,—how Columbus thought he had reached India, the land of silks and spices, and how he accordingly called the red men whom he met, Indians. In fact India was far away, and instead of landing on its shores, the great sailor had reached one of a long chain of islands reaching from North to South America, which we know to-day as the West Indies.

The red people who greeted Columbus did not live long after the coming of the Spaniards who followed him. They were made to dig gold in the mines for their cruel masters, and to do other hard work to which they were not used. They soon sickened and died under the 215 hard treatment. Many of them, alas, were killed by the white men in sport, so that before long not an Indian was left in all the islands.

To-day many white children, whose people came from Spain long ago, are living in happy homes in the West Indies. Besides them, there are hundreds of little Negroes with kinky hair and rolling eyes, whose homes are tiny huts thatched with palm leaves, and who wear little or no clothing. They bask in the sunshine and play in the clear waters along the shore and are as happy as the day is long.

The beautiful islands of the West Indies lie in the hot belt of the world, and the people who live there know but two seasons, a wet and a dry. For several months rain falls every day,—not all day long, however, keeping the boys and girls indoors, but there are heavy showers every morning, after which the world looks lovelier than ever. It is far pleasanter then than in the dry season, when the trees and plants lose their freshness and the dust is thick upon everything around.

Although the West Indies lie in the hot belt, yet cool breezes from the ocean blow over the land throughout the year so that the people who 216 live there do not suffer from the heat. The white children wear thin linen and cotton garments, and instead of the meat and blood soup so necessary to the little Eskimo, they have cooling drinks made with limes and lemons, and they eat freely the delicious fruits that are so plentiful. They are not fond of lively games like football and baseball, which are such favorites with many American children. Instead, they spend many hours in hammocks among groves of orange and breadfruit trees.

These children go to school for two hours of the early morning and two in the late afternoon, but when the sun is bright in the heavens and the air is hot they stay at home to rest and sleep. In many of the homes of the richer people the children take their breakfast of rolls, and coffee or chocolate in bed, then get up to study their lessons with a governess who lives with the family.

Some of the islands of the West Indies have been built up, bit by bit, by the little coral insects of the sea. Others are the tops of mountains resting on the bed of the ocean; most of them are broken up into deep valleys and high hills, 217 among which are many strange plants and animals.

Not many years ago there was a war between Spain and the United States. It lasted but a short time, and when it came to an end Spain agreed to give up her rights in the West Indies. Porto Rico, one of the most important islands, became a part of the United States, and Cuba, the largest island of all, was made a republic. Since that time many Americans have gone to live in the West Indies to carry on business in the cities, or raise sugar and coffee on the plantations.

When the Spaniards had no more Indians to work for them, they sent ships to Africa for Negroes who should serve them as slaves on their plantations. Now, however, the Negroes have all been freed. Hayti, one of the islands, is divided into two small republics of black people. In the other islands most of the workmen are black, for these people can bear a great deal of heat and can stay all day long in the sugar and tobacco fields without harm, when white men would suffer from sunstroke. 218


There is one time of the year which the children of the West Indies do not enjoy. This is the season of hurricanes. It is because of these that most of the houses are only one story high, for the winds are so strong and terrible then that the strongest buildings are in danger.

As the time draws near when hurricanes are expected, boats are drawn up along the shore, roofs are patched and made tight, and everyone watches the sky for the dread signs. Then, as the clouds gather and the birds take flight into the depths of the forest, the children run home to their parents for safety. If they live in the country the whole family will sometimes leave the house and seek safety in a stone cavern, built on purpose for their protection in the hurricane season. There the people will stay till the wind has done its work and passed on. When they leave their hiding-place they often find that great harm has been done; noble trees lie stretched on the ground, the crops have been destroyed, and the glass of the house windows is shattered. They look about them at the world that is once more so beautiful and peaceful, 219 and take long breaths as they think, “Perhaps there will be no more danger for us for another long year and that is a long way off. We will not worry.”

In the Woods.

There are no large animals in the forests of the West Indies to frighten the children, but among the grasses and beautiful plants that grow everywhere about them there are many insects that might do them harm. Scorpions, which belong to the spider family, may give painful bites, and centipedes with their hundred legs, must also be watched for. Then there are mosquitoes without number, and chigos as the children call them, which creep between the tender skins of the white people’s toes and make poisonous sores, but seldom trouble those of the Negroes.

“I must not go far into the woods when I am alone,” think many small boys and girls, for they are afraid they may meet a wild dog which they are quite sure is a most fierce and dangerous animal. But the children have little to fear on this account, for wild dogs are so scarce that few people have ever met them. Long ago in 220 Mexico, in the time of the Aztecs, and in the West Indies before the coming of the white men there, it is said there were such creatures in the forests, but now they are rare indeed.

Sometimes the children meet a strange kind of army when they are walking in the woods or driving along the country roads. This army is composed of huge land crabs who go once a year from their home on the mountain sides to the sea. There are often hundreds in this army, which marches slowly but steadily onward, through patches of woods, across roads, and over fields of tobacco. After the journey is once begun, it is said that the crabs do not rest till the ocean lies before them.

The children of the West Indies spend much time training beautiful parrots caught in the woods not far from their homes; they gather firebugs so brilliant that on summer evenings the tiny insects light up their gardens, making them appear like fairyland; they can listen to the singing-tree that makes a soft cooing noise when the breeze stirs its branches; they can gather limes and lemons, breadfruit and oranges in their own groves. 221

Among the Sugar-canes.

Many children of the West Indies live on large plantations where tobacco and sugar are raised. As you drive along through the country you will pass broad fields covered with tobacco plants whose glossy leaves spread out in the sunlight. Workmen are constantly busy caring for the plants and watching lest troublesome insects injure the leaves.

Again, you will see before you wide fields of what seems at first to be corn, but as you draw nearer you discover that the stalks are much taller. It is the sugar-cane which grows so high that a man on horseback may hide himself in its midst. A great deal of the West Indian sugar is raised in Cuba where the plantations are so large that they seem like small villages in themselves.

Let us visit the children of a sugar planter. We pass through a wide driveway of beautiful trees and arrive in front of a large, one-story house with wide verandas. Flowering vines trail over the trellises. The door is opened by a smiling Negro maid with a gaily-colored ’kerchief 222 wound around her woolly head. She shows you into the drawing-room where a dark-eyed lady in white is sitting in a lounging chair. It is the mother of your little Cuban friends, whom you have come to visit. She speaks to you in a sweet, low voice and smiles so pleasantly that you feel at home at once.

A moment afterwards the children appear. They are slim and dark-skinned like their mother; perhaps they are bare-footed, or they may have sandals on their feet. They take delight in making you welcome, and in showing you over the plantation. First, they wish you to see their gardens, where roses and lilies, oleanders and jessamines fill the air with sweetness.

After this, it may be, they call to a young Negro not much older than themselves, who leads some ponies from the stable so that you may all ride over the plantation, since it stretches over the country for several miles.

In a few minutes you are out in the sugar fields where you are obliged to look up to see the tops of the canes. They are jointed like corn-stalks, and contain a sweet liquid, as you find out after breaking off a young cane and 223 chewing it. The white overseer is riding here and there, directing the Negroes at their work, for the cane is ripe and the men are busy cutting it down and piling it in loads to be taken to the mill.

You follow one of these loads and soon reach the sugar mill where iron rollers crush the canes and squeeze out the juice. In another building near by there are big fires over which the sweet syrup is kept boiling in copper pans until it is so thick that it will form into crystals. Then it is poured into wooden coolers; last of all, when it is quite cold, it is placed in hogsheads with holes in the bottom. There it is left for several weeks while the molasses drips, drop by drop, through the holes, leaving the clear sugar inside.

Your little Cuban friends may tell you with much pride that their island home is the largest sugar market in the world and that the hogsheads of sugar you have just seen will be sent to the city of Havana not far away and there be loaded on ships which will carry the sugar to the United States and other countries.

No doubt the little Cubans will ask you if you have seen the big fortress called Morro 224 Castle which defends the harbor of Havana. It is so strong they feel quite sure that enemies would be afraid to pass it.

Before you leave the plantation your friends take you to visit the homes of the Negro workmen, which are only small huts. Many of them have small gardens where melons and sweet potatoes are sure to be found. Although the huts are small, the families who live in them are large, and groups of little “darkies” some of whom are quite naked, are playing about and smile as you pass them, showing broad rows of white teeth, and rolling their eyes in such a funny way that you laugh in spite of yourself.

The children of the West Indies have good reasons to be happy and loving. The people do not need to work hard; a little food and a few clothes, a simple home and a hammock to swing in, are enough to make anyone comfortable in the hot lands. How different such a life is from the toiling and struggle of the people of the far north, who meet danger and trouble every day in their search for the wild animals which furnish them with all they have,—food, fuel, and clothing.

Transcriber’s Notes:
1. All images in the printed book included the notice: “From Copyrighted Stereograph by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y.”
2. Inconsistent hyphenation has been normalized.