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invariably of some shade of earthy brown, or of greyish sand-colour. This is broken by dots and blotches, either light or dark, blackish or reddish, but always so disposed as to resemble those undershades, as they may be called, which are caused by the inequalities of the ground, and the presence of particles of different tints that may be upon it. Thus, whether we contemplate the God of nature in his more sublime productions, or in those provisions which He makes for the well-being of His humblest creatures, the same principle of design, the same perfection in execution, are equally conspicuous.

The life of fishes is a perpetual warfare, a never-ending alternation of flight and pursuit. Prowling through the waters, they attack and devour every weaker thing they meet, or dart away to escape a similar fate. Yet probably the tortured cart-horse, or the imprisoned nightingale, would, if they could reflect, willingly exchange their joyless existence for the free life of the independent fish, who from the greater simplicity of his structure, his want of higher sensibilities, his excellent digestion, and the more equal temperature of the element in which he lives, remains unmolested by many of the diseases to which the warmblooded and particularly the domestic animals are subject. How far the sea fishes spin out the thread of their existence cannot very well be ascertained, though the enormous size sometimes attained by the flat-fish seems to indicate a truly patriarchal longevity, and several of the fresh-water fish, such as pikes and carps, are known to reach a considerable age.

It probably surprises most people on the first occasion of hearing it, that even among fishes we get instances of parental care. For the most part, indeed, the spawn is committed to the waters with but little precaution for its preservation; sometimes it is twined around a sea-weed, sometimes laid like beads within the valves of a dead shell, sometimes dropped into a furrow ploughed in the bottom gravel. But a few examples have come under the observation of naturalists, in which an elaborate nest is constructed for the reception of the eggs, which are watched with zealous care by the parent fish until they are hatched, and in some instances till the young are able to shift for themselves. Sir Richard Schomburg relates that the hassar not only builds a complete nest for its spawn, but also watches over it with the utmost vigilance till the young brood comes forth. In April this marine artist begins to build his dwelling of vegetable fibres, among the water-plants and rushes, until it resembles a hollow ball, flattened at the top. An aperture corresponding to the size of the mother leads into the interior. The fifteen-spined stickleback has been long known to build its nest on our own shores. On several parts of the coast, in spring and summer, the nests may be found, in rocky and weedy pools between tide-marks. They are about eight inches in length, and pear* Naturalist's Library. Vol. iv.

shaped, formed as Dr. Johnston of Berwick states, of branches of some common fucus, with various confervæ, coral-lines, &c. These are all bound together in one confused compact mass, by means of a thread run through and round in every conceivable direction. This thread is of great length, as fine as ordinary silk, tough and somewhat elastic; whitish and formed of some albuminous secretion. The eggs are laid in the middle of the nest, in several irregular masses of about an inch in diameter, each consisting of many hundred ova, which are of the size of ordinary shot, and of a whitish or amber colour, according to their degree of maturity. In the world of marine creatures, as in the world of insect life, we walk amid surprises, mysteries, and paradoxes. Here now we have an incubating fish! When a Basque woman becomes a happy mother, her husband straightway takes to his bed, and lies there in receipt of caudle and congratulations. Well, the pipe-fish is a Basque in this respect. Along his ventral surface he has a sort of kangaroo's pouch, in which the eggs are placed; and they are as much outside the body as those of a hen are, in the nest.

Several fishes have the singular power of developing electricity, and of giving very strong shocks to the animals which touch them. The torpedo, the Malapterurus, the Mormyrus, are thus constituted; but it is the Gymnotus, or electric eel which possesses this power in the highest degree. The electric shocks which it gives at pleasure, and in any direction that it chooses, are sufficient to overcome men and horses; and the Gymnotus has recourse to this means to defend itself from its foes and to kill at a distance the fish that it wishes to eat.

Then there are fish that fly, fish that climb, fish that hop like frogs, using their fins as veritable legs, fish that ruminate (the carp), fish that migrate, &c., &c. The hassar before referred to, marches overland in search of water, travelling a whole night when the pools in which it commonly resides dry up. It projects itself forwards on its bony pectoral fins (the fins at the breast), by the elastic spring of the tail exerted side-wise, and in this manner proceeds nearly as fast as a man will leisurely walk. The salmon, in swimming up stream, is not to be stayed by waterfalls, but by a sudden jerk given to its body, from a bent into a straight position, will surmount a cataract though it be twenty feet high. The three-spined stickleback is perhaps still more wonderful, since, though seldom more than two inches long, it has been known to leap a foot and a half in perpendicular height from the water. The flying fishes are distinguished by immense pectoral fins, enabling them to support themselves in the air for a short time. Their flights are occasioned by their efforts to escape from larger fishes, and dolphins, and porpoises. They move at a height of fifteen to eighteen feet above the water, their silvery wings and blue bodies glittering in the sun, and affording a most beautiful spectacle when,

as is frequently the case, they rise into the air by thousands at once, and in all possible directions. The sucking-fish, or Remora, has an apparatus on its head, by means of which it firmly adheres to any object-rock, ship, or animal-to which it chooses to attach itself. Columbus found the people of Cuba and Jamaica making use of it to catch turtles, by attaching to its tail a strong cord of palmfibres, which served to drag it out of the water along with its prey. Pliny says it was this little fish which stayed the progress of Marc Antony's ship in the naval engagement between him and Augustus Cæsar, and caused the defeat of Antony; and that Caligula once suffered a similar accident which was the harbinger of his downfall. In the latter case, according to our author, "so soon as ever the vessel was perceived alone in the fleete to stand still, presently a number of tall fellows leapt out of their ships into the sea, to search what the reason might be that it stirreth not? and found one of these fishes sticking fast to the very helme; which being reported unto Caius Caligula, he fumed and fared as an Emperour, taking great indignation that so small a thing as it should hold him back perforce, and check the strength of his mariners, notwithstanding there were no fewer than foure hundred lustie men in his gallie that laboured at the ore all that ever they could to the contrarie." Our young readers will not swallow Pliny's story without a grain of salt-salt is good with fish of such magical power.

Fishes have not been provided with the same variety of organs of offence as we observe in the higher classes of the animal kingdom; but in their means of defence diversified provisions appear. The scales themselves are a defensive armour, and many species are provided with spines, and some with a stinging power, or with strong fins for swimming off from danger. Among offensive weapons we may mention the snout of the sword-fish, and that of the saw-fish. The muzzle of the former is elongated into a spike, terminating in a sharp point. The fish sometimes attains the length of fifteen or twenty feet, and as its high dorsal fin (fin on the back) enables it to move through the water with great energy, it comes with dreadful force against the tunny or any other animal it chooses to attack. In the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons is a portion of the bow of a ship (H. M. S. Fawn) which has been pierced by a sword-fish. The weapon has penetrated the copper sheathing, the felt, the deal, and the hard oak timbers to the depth of fourteen inches, and nearly that extent of the sword has been broken off by the force of the blow, and is retained in the wood. The Pristis, or saw-fish, is so named from the extension of its snout into a long flat blade, furnished with a row of sharp spines, resem

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bling teeth, on either side. It is found in the arctic, antarctic, and tropical seas, and is said to be one of the most formidable enemies of the whale tribe. Though so much smaller, it attacks and even overcomes the Greenland whale. It seems probable, however, that one saw-fish is unequal to such a victory, and that several usually attack the whale in concert.

The dwellers in the deep attain sometimes to colossal dimensions. The sea-devil, a great ray of the Pacific, attains a breadth of twelve or fifteen feet, and Lesson was presented by a fisherman of Borabora with a tail five feet long. We are told by the Norwegian fishermen that a single halibut will sometimes cover a whole skiff. This may depend partly on the size of the skiff, and partly on the illusions created by the mists of the north; but at any rate in April, 1828, a specimen seven feet six inches long, and three feet six inches broad, was taken off the Isle of Man, and sent to the Edinburgh market. The eel has been known to attain the length of six feet, and to weigh fifteen pounds; the sturgeon reaches eighteen feet, and weighs five hundred pounds; and even the sole has been found twenty-six inches long, and weighing nine pounds.

It is very difficult properly to classify fishes, the best zoologists being puzzled sometimes. Nobody knows, for instance, where to place the animal called Sagitta bipunctata. In aspect it is fishlike, as also in some structural peculiarities; but in others it resembles the molluscs, and in still more the annelids. However, though the present arrangement may be temporary, it is necessary to have some classification, and we must wait for more knowledge before we can have a perfect system. The first division of the class is into the osseous (bony) fishes, and the cartilaginous (gristly). These sub-classes are again subdivided; the former into the spiny-finned and the softfinned, the latter into those having the extremities of the gill-filament unattached, and those having them fixed. Or, taking the whole class, it has been divided into five orders, namely (1) TELACHII, with gristly skeletons, and gills fixed-to this order belong the sharks and rays; (2) GANOIDEI, or Enamelled Fishes, with gills free; (3) TELEASTEI, or Bony Fishes, with a bony skeleton; (4) CYCLOSTOMI, or Lampreys, with gristly skeletons and round sucking mouths; (5) LEPTOCARDII, or Lancet Fishes, including only a single small species, in which the backbone (or what should be such) is reduced to a mere gelatinous band. In the first order are included sharks, rays, the saw-fish, the dog-fish, &c. In order second come sturgeons, pikes, &c. The third order contains the great majority of the existing species of fishes. The fourth order includes globe-fishes, diodons, triodons, the sun-fish, file-fish, &c. The fifth order is constituted by the syngnathus, or pipe-fish.

BOYS AT CHEQUASSET; OR, "A LITTLE LEAVEN."

BY THE AUTHOR OF THE "GAYWORTHYS."

CHAPTER III.

ARRANGEMENTS AND DISARRANGEMENTS.

STEP

TEPHEN SELLINGER came over again after breakfast. In a very short space of time he and John found out a wonderful deal about each other as boys do.

Stephen had not always lived in Chequasset. He could just remember, when he was a very little boy, their moving from the city of New York hither; he believed because either his father or his mother-he could not exactly tell which-had not been in very good health. They were both well enough now, he knew that; and Chequasset was a first-rate place to live in; lots of fun to be had in the summer; though he had had good times in New York, too, once or twice, when he had been there in the winter to see his cousins. His uncle was a Professor of Natural History, and had got a museum, and no end of pictures and things. And Howard Sellinger was to come up here by-and-by, in his vacation, and then he rather guessed they'd have enough going on.

"Is Howard a big hoy?'

"Yes; about fourteen. He always goes into the country somewhere in the summer; and he is always hunting about for all sorts of curiosities, and making collections. Did you ever make a collection of anything?"

Only a collection of postage-stamps last winter. I got a hundred and fifty. But I kept them in a box, and somehow they got upset once or twice in my bureau drawer, and mixed up with my clothes and things; and so a good many got lost. And then I began to paste the rest into a book, but I couldn't do it very well. I got them on crooked, or put them in the wrong places, and then they tore when I tried to take them off again. So I gave it all up at last, and I don't know where the old book went to. 'Twasn't much fun."

"Oh, you ought to see Howard's! He brought it up here last June. It's a splendid

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book,-all bound. And he's got the different flags of all the countries pasted in at the heads of the pages, and the stamps under them, just as they belong. He always has everything complete."

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"Oh, I say, Stephen!" interrupted John, come with me, will you, up into my room? I've got a great wardrobe to keep my things in, instead of a closet! And I expect my trunk's in there by this time. I must go and fix it up."

The trunk was there, and the wardrobe had been set back in an appropriate place, in the middle of one of the long sides of the chamber. The room was a peculiar one, and by-and-by I will describe it particularly; but just now I must attend to Johnnie and his trunk, and afterwards I shall have all the other events of this, his first day at Chequasset, to recount within the limits of this chapter.

John produced the key of his trunk from his pocket, unlocked it, and threw back the lid. At first view it presented rather a mixed up and discouraging aspect, as certain books, balls, tops, a small boat, a mass of entangled string, some soiled collars, a pair of india-rubber boots even, not quite glossy clean, and other articles collected in odd corners at the last, had been hastily thrust in above the piles of clothing.

John threw them out right and left. "Where are you going to put these ?" asked Stephen.

"Oh, I don't know. I'll find a place for them somewhere, by-and-by. I want to get my wardrobe fixed first.”

So he took out shirts, stockings, nightgowns, and so forth, and deposited each different sort of article in a separate drawer; with much neatness of effect, to be sure, but with the very poorest possible economy of room. There is always something very fascinating in the aspect of unused space, which is to be disposed of at will. Empty shelves and hooks and drawers offer such a tempting look of accommodation for anything

whatever. They are like unspent money, which may buy any of a thousand things until it is once broken in upon,

By the time John had hung up his jackets and trousers, it occurred to him that he had somehow spoiled the charm; that there was no longer a vacant place where he might have the pleasure of making a new bestowal; and he saw that he might easily have been much more compact in his arrangements.

"I'll tell you what, Stephen!" he exclaimed. "I'll empty all these things out again, and pack 'em closer."

So out they came again in haste, and were thrown upon the bed. But, alas! in the double transition they had now become unsettled from their smooth and orderly folds, and here and there the sleeve of a night-gown or a shirt escaped and hung awkwardly from the pile, which Johnnie's attempts at replacement only discomposed the more, and got altogether into a worse jumble than ever; so that I don't know whether or how long he might have persevered in trying to reduce matters to order, if his mother had not called to him from an adjoining chamber, and asked him to walk into the village, to buy for her a paper of leather-headed tacks, which she needed to make use of as soon as possible.

"There now," said he to Stephen, half in vexation and half with a feeling of secret relief, "I shall have to leave all these things here till I get back. Come along!"

The walk to the village was about half a mile. At half the distance the road sank down into a charming hollow, where the little brook that came round behind Mr. Osburn's garden ran across, under a shade of alders and willows. It spread out here, occupying quite a wide space. The road passed over a little bridge on the right-hand side, and below this, at the left, was the stream. A track of wheels ran through it, made by persons who drove their horses through the water, to cool their feet in the dusty summer.

"Oh, I'd look out for that," John replied. "When I get back I mean to bring it right down here. Let's make haste."

So they walked on to the village, where John made his purchase of tacks for his mother, and then hurried homeward with them as fast as possible. The church-clock struck ten as they crossed the brook again.

"Is not your school open ?" asked John. "Not on Saturdays," replied Stephen. "We keep school till two o'clock all the other days, Wednesday and all, and then we have all day Saturday."

"Bully!" exclaimed John.

It looks queer in a book, I know, where boys, unless the very bad ones-the little villains of juvenile romance who are regularly set up as warnings-are expected to be upon company behaviour, and talk with exemplary propriety, but I can't help it; that's just what he said, and if I am to tell you about boys and their ways, I must tell them as I know them. I do not see any other honest way to do.

Mrs. Osburn was quite pleased with the expedition with which John had done her errand for her, and being very busy, and not having looked into his room since the morning, when she ordered the arrangement of his furniture, she was not aware of the confusion he had created there, and thought of no objection when he said he wanted to go down to the brook a little while with his boat.

"Is it quite safe, Stephen?" was all she asked.

"Oh, yes, ma'am; it's a very nice place,down where the road crosses."

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"Very well, Johnnie. Only don't get wet; and come back in good time. We shall dine early now; at one o'clock."

John and Stephen were occupied for some time before setting off in putting in masts and cutting some sails for the boat of stiff white paper. They also disentangled a long piece of string from the bunch of twine in John's trunk, and fastened it to the bow for a John stopped and looked over. safety-line, or cable," as they called it. "What a jolly place to sail my boat!" he Then they went off, leaving behind them the exclaimed. additional litter, in the already disordered room, of scraps of paper and chippings of wood. By this time, you see, they had succeeded in getting up what the housemaid

"Yes," said Stephen, "if you don't let it get sucked away under the wall by the current."

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would have called a "C indeed."

very pretty mess climbing along the wall to a comfortable seat among the stones, was ready to stop it with a long stick when it reached the critical point where the water, with a gurgle and rush, plunged under for its race onward toward the river. Then John, who had meanwhile kept one end of his cable in his hand, could draw the boat back, and start her on a fresh voyage.

I think you will have discovered from what I have already told you, that John's character was lacking just where most boys, and many men, do lack: in love of order and power of concentration,—that is, in the ability to keep the attention and interest fixed upon one thing steadily until it is accomplished.

He was in rather peculiar circumstances now, to be sure. The novelty and attraction of everything around him-a new home, a new acquaintance, new possessions, freedom from his ordinary duties-all combined to unsettle him, and divided his mind among multiplied objects of thought and action. Usually, an acquisition like that of his new wardrobe would have been a matter of paramount interest for the time; and he would have succeeded in getting it, certainly once, into perfect and beautiful order; and would have set out with the expectation, at least, of always keeping it so. But it must be confessed that, even in the most favourable conditions, this would very likely have been all, and that John's mother was quite justified for the little doubt implied in her answer to his gleeful assurance that "now he should keep his things so nice!"

"Very well," you may say, "is there any great harm in it after all? He seems to be a pretty good sort of boy. What if he does leave things heedlessly about, now and then, and jump from one unfinished undertaking into another?" Ah, you haven't found out, yet, how closely, in character as well as in all the world outside of us, one thing is linked with, and dependent upon, another; and how "a little leaven leavens the whole lump."

We shall see how it worked in Johnnie's case; and whether he could always be a pleasant and happy and dutiful boy, with this one fault in the way.

The two boys were quite successful and happy in sailing their boat. The brook, though it spread out wide and shallow over the road, gathered and narrowed itself in again to a deeper channel as it passed under the wall into the meadow; and so, by standing close to the bridge, John could launch the little craft and allow it to be carried down with the current, while Stephen, by

They continued this amusement for some time in the same way, and then changed places-Stephen managing the cable on shore, and John going out on the rocks with the stick.

By-and-by, during a pause in which Stephen was righting one of the masts which had tipped a little out of place, John, taking a look down along the watercourse through the meadows, discovered some bright blue flowers growing near its margin.

"Oh, Stephen," he cried, "let's go down and get some of those blue flowers for my mother! What are they?

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"They're flag-lilies, I suppose. Wait a minute. I can't fix this mast; and the sails are all wet through, and coming to pieces. I'll moor the vessel and come down. But we shall have to be careful, or we shall slip off the stones into the water."

Stephen moored the boat by rolling up a portion of the cable over his hand, and then putting it upon the ground with a heavy stone upon it, allowing the boat to drift out a little way and rest upon the water.

There was one contingency, however, which it did not occur to him to provide for.

He joined John, and they decided it would be best to take off their shoes and stockings, and roll up their trousers, and so go down over the stones that lay in the margin of the water, rather than risk the soft ground of the bank, or incur the danger of their shoes slipping on the wet stones.

So they reached the flags in safety; and gathered a handful each of the blue lilies, and were just considering whether or not to explore the course of the brook farther, when a rumbling noise along the road and the splash of a horse's feet in the water startled them both.

At the same moment a man, mounted upon a heavy waggon, who had just driven his horse into the brook upon the roadside, was

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