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Try once more,” he said ; “we fishermen must have patience.
Suddenly something tugged at my line and swept off with it into deep water. Jerking it up, I saw a fine pickerel wriggling in the sun. “Uncle !” I cried, looking back in uncontrollable excitement, “ I've got a fish!
“Not yet,” said my uncle. As he spoke there was a plash in the water; I caught the arrowy gleam of a scared fish shooting into the middle of the stream, my hook hung empty from the line. I had lost my prize.
We are apt to speak of the sorrows of childhood as trifles in comparison with those of grown-up people ; but we may depend upon it, the young folks don't agree with us. Our griefs, modified and restrained by reason, experience, and self-respect, keep the proprieties, and, if possible, avoid a scene; but the sorrow of childhood, unreasoning and all-absorbing, is a complete abandonment to the passion. The doll's nose is broken, and the world breaks up with it; the marble rolls out of sight, and the solid globe rolls off with the marble.
So, overcome with my great and bitter disappointment, I sat down on the nearest hassock, and for a time refused to be comforted, even by my uncle's assurance that there were more fish in the brook. He refitted my bait, and, putting the pole again in my hands, told me to try my luck once more.
“But remember, boy,” he said, with his shrewd smile, “never brag of catching a fish until he is on dry ground. I've seen older folks doing that in more ways and so making fools of themselves. It's no use to boast of anything until it's done, nor then, either, for it speaks for itself.”
How often since I have been reminded of the fish that I did not catch. When I hear people boasting of a work as yet undone, and trying to anticipate the credit which belongs only to actual achievement, I call to mind that scene by the brookside, and the wise caution of my uncle in that particular instance takes the form of a proverb of universal application : “NEVER BRAG OF YOUR FISH BEFORE YOU CATCH HIM.”
DEFINITIONS. Gē'ni al, cheerful. Häunts, places frequently visited. Con sỉd'er ate ly, with due regard to others, kindly thoughtful. . Ap pēal'ing ly, as though asking for aid. Mõd'i fied, qualified, lessened. Propri'e tieş, fixed customs or rules of conduct. Ab sôrb'ing, engaging the attention entirely. Hăs'sock, a raised mound of turf. An tiç'i pāte, to take before the proper time. A chiēve'ment, performance, deed.
EXERCISE. Find Whittier's poem entitled “Snow Bound.” Read in it his account of his uncle, beginning with the lines :
“Our uncle, innocent of books,
THE CORN SONG.
By John GREENLEAF WHITTIER.
Heap high the farmer's wintry hoard !
Heap high the golden corn!
From out her lavish horn !
Let other lands, exulting, glean
The apple from the pine,
We better love the hardy gift
Our rugged vales bestow,
Our harvest fields with snow.
Through vales of grass and meads of flowers,
Our plows their furrows made,
Of changeful April played.
We dropped the seed o'er hill and plain,
Beneath the sun of May,
The robber crows away.
All through the long, bright days of June,
Its leaves grew green and fair,
Its soft and yellow hair.
And now, with autumn's moonlit eves,
Its harvest time has come ;
And bear the treasure home.
There, when the snows about us drift,
And winter winds are cold,
And knead its meal of gold.
Let vapid idlers loll in silk,
Around their costly board ;
By homespun beauty poured !
Where'er the wide old kitchen hearth
Sends up its smoky curls,
And bless our farmer girls !
Then shame on all the proud and vain,
Whose folly laughs to scorn
Our wealth of golden corn!
Let earth withhold her goodly root ;
Let mildew blight the rye,
The wheat field to the fly:
But let the good old crop adorn
The hills our fathers trod;
Send up our thanks to God !
DEFINITIONS. — Hòard, a large quantity of anything laid up. Lăv'ish, profuse. Mēadş, meadows. Văp'id, spiritless, dull. Sămp, bruised corn cooked by boiling.
Notes. — This poem is a song included in a longer poem entitled “ The Huskers.” It is supposed to have been sung at a husking party, “ to the quaint tune of some old psalm.” The poem was written in 1847, and forms part of the collection called “Songs of Labor and Reform.”
The first two lines of the eighth stanza, as originally composed by Mr. Whittier, were as follows:
“ There, richer than the fabled gift
Apollo showered of old,” referring to the ancient fable which relates that Apollo, the god of music, sowed the isle of Delos, his birthplace, with golden flowers, by the music of his lyre.
In the later editions of his works the poet changed these lines to read as we have them here.
THE DISCONTENTED PENDULUM.
BY JANE TAYLOR.
An old clock that had stood for fifty years in a farmer's kitchen, without giving its owner any cause of complaint, early one summer's morning, before the family was stirring, suddenly stopped. Upon this, the dial plate (if we may credit the fable) changed countenance with alarm; the hands made a vain effort to continue their course; the wheels remained motionless with surprise; the weights hung speechless; and each member felt disposed to lay the blame on the others. At length the dial instituted a formal inquiry as to the cause of the stagnation, when hands, wheels, weights, with one voice, protested their innocence.
But now a faint tick was heard below from the pendulum, who spoke thus: “I confess myself to be the sole cause of the present stoppage ; and I am willing, for the general satisfaction, to assign my reasons. The truth is, that I am tired of ticking.” Upon hearing this, the old clock became so enraged that it was upon the very point of striking.
Lazy wire !” exclaimed the dial plate, holding up its hands.
* Very good !” replied the pendulum; “it is vastly easy for you, Mistress Dial, who have always, as everybody knows, set yourself up above me, - it is vastly easy for you, I say, to accuse other people of laziness ! you who have had nothing to do all your life but to stare people in the face, and to amuse yourself with watching all that goes on in the kitchen. Think, I beseech