One day a young lady who lived near Pittsburgh received a small box by mail. When she opened it she found it full of dry dirt and small stones. She did not know what it meant. She examined the box carefully. Then she began to stir up the dirt in the box with her fingers. Soon she discovered several curious-looking creatures among the dirt and stones. At first she was startled, then she looked at them more carefully. They were horned toads. The lady thought them very funny. She caught flies and fed them. As soon as they were fed, the toads would bury themselves in the dirt again. The lady kept the toads several months and showed them to all her friends. They were quite a curiosity. They were sent from California. Horned toads have little hard lumps on their heads and bodies. They seem to be very lazy and do not hop about like common toads. They act a little like lizards.
There is a young elephant in Schenley Park, in Pittsburgh. She is called Gusky, being named after Mrs. J. M. Gusky who presented her to the park authorities. She is an intelligent animal and has a very good memory as this story will show.
Many children visit the Zoological Garden in the park and, of course, they always go to see Gusky. The elephant likes to have the children visit her for they always bring something good to eat; such as peanuts, cake, and fruit. She takes the eatables from their hands and never hurts them.
One day several children were feeding Gusky. One small boy got a stick with a nail in the end of it. He stuck buns on the nail and handed them to the elephant. The boy was tricky. When Gusky was about to take a bun he suddenly twisted the stick and gave it a jerk and ran the nail into the animal’s trunk. After that he ran away and did not come back for several months. When he came back again he went to the elephant stable to see Gusky. Perhaps he thought he would play another trick on her, but he did not.
As soon as he came into the stable the elephant recognized him. She ran up and caught him with her trunk. She crowded him against the wall of the stable and tried to trample on him. She trumpeted loudly and the boy screamed as hard as he could. The elephant’s keeper heard them and rushed into the stable. He commanded Gusky to let the boy go but she refused to obey. The keeper seized a pitchfork and jabbed the elephant’s neck and shoulder with it. Then she dropped the boy and he was dragged out of her reach. Gusky remembered what the boy had done to her six months before and wanted to punish him. I do not think the boy will want to visit Gusky again. It is not safe to fool with elephants because they will remember it and have revenge whenever they get a chance.
A Kind Dog
Aman and his wife, living in Pennsylvania, had a quarrel. While they were quarreling, their baby, four months old, was thrown out of the kitchen window. The parents did not care for the child, and kept on quarreling.
A large Newfoundland dog, which lived nearby, passed the house and found the baby lying on the ground. He picked it up with his teeth and carried it carefully across a creek to his kennel. He laid it down in the straw and watched it.
By and by, the man and his wife stopped quarreling. Then they began to think about their baby. They could not find it, and became alarmed. They searched for two hours for their little one. At last the father heard a low cry from the dog’s kennel and went there. He found his baby in the kennel, kicking about in the straw and the good-natured dog watching it.
The man carried the baby home and I think he felt ashamed because the dog was kinder to the baby than its parents were.
Playing with Powder
Tom and his three brothers lived on a small farm in Pennsylvania. They had a friend, named George, who lived in the village near their home. The boys were together a great deal, and like all boys, got into a good deal of mischief. One day they saw some Irishmen blasting rocks and liked to hear the report of the blast, to see the flash from the powder and the pieces of rock fly in the air. Soon after this the boys decided to have some fun and play with gunpowder and make a blast like the quarrymen. Tom’s father kept an old-fashioned rifle and powder-horn. The horn was full of powder. George persuaded Tom to get his father’s powder-horn. Tom got the horn without his parents knowing it. Then the boys all went to a lane near the house and dug a hole in the bank. They also built a fire of some sticks nearby.
George took the powder-horn and poured a handful of powder into the hole in the bank. He then took a live coal out of the fire and dropped it into the hole, while Tom and his brothers ran off to a safe distance.
Now it happened there was no fire on one side of the coal, so the powder did not ignite. The fire was on the upper side of the coal, as it fell into the hole, so it did not touch the powder. The boys waited awhile and as the powder did not burn, they all came up closer to the little mine in the bank. Then George took the powder-horn and went up close to the hole. He held the horn over it and poured the powder in a stream into the hole. It fell upon the coal of fire and all at once there was a loud report and the dirt and gravel flew in every direction. The blast had gone off and so had a large part of George’s pants. The flash from the powder went up his trouser-legs and tore them off. His legs were terribly burned and blistered all over. The powder-horn was burst in two in his hand and the pieces flew away. One piece struck Tom on the forehead and the other piece struck one of his brothers. They were not hurt much but they were very much frightened. George ran home and the doctor dressed his burns. It was several weeks before he got well. The boys did not want to experiment with gunpowder again very soon. They had had all the experience they wanted. This is a true story and happened a good many years ago.
A Bad Cat
A little girl lived in Munhall, near Homestead. She was only three years old. One day she was playing with a big black tomcat in the kitchen. The two got along very pleasantly together for a while. Pretty soon the child got a pair of scissors and looked about for something to cut. She noticed the cat’s long whiskers. She probably thought they were too long, so she decided she would trim them. She cut them too close and the cat became very angry, and made a fierce attack on the child. The child’s mother ran to save it from the cross cat. Then the cat left the child and sprang upon the woman. It tore her body terribly with its sharp claws and tried to catch her by the throat with its teeth. The woman threw up her hand to protect her face and got one of her fingers in the cat’s mouth. She could not make the cat let go. Just then the woman’s husband came home from work. He seized the cat by the throat and choked it to death. The cat held on to the finger until it was almost dead. The woman’s finger was badly torn and the doctor had to amputate it. Perhaps the cat was offended because it was robbed of its fine whiskers.
A Little Spartan
Not long ago a little girl was hurt by a street car in Pittsburgh. It happened she ran against the side of the car and was drawn under the rear wheels before the car could be stopped. She was pinioned under the heavy truck and was badly hurt, but she did not scream or cry out. She bore the pain very heroically while they were getting her from under the wheels. When they got her out, it was found that she was badly cut and bruised about the head and face, and one leg was almost cut off. She bore the pain as bravely as a Spartan and never made a complaint. While waiting for the ambulance she lay in the conductor’s arms. She noticed the motor man’s watch chain and asked for it. It was given to her. She held it in her hand and smiled. “Don’t saw off my leg, doctor,” she said, as soon as one came to help her. She was taken to the hospital where the doctors did all they could for her, but in the evening she died from her injuries. It was pathetic to witness how patiently she bore her suffering. Her name was Alma Beck, and she was ten years old.
A Strange Accident
Mr. White, a farmer, was walking through the woods near New Castle, Pennsylvania, when he heard groans as of someone in trouble. At first he was startled and listened attentively. Then he went in the direction of the sounds and came to a large chestnut tree. He looked up into the tree and saw a man hanging by the seat of his trousers on a broken branch, thirty feet from the ground.
Mr. White was very much surprised to see the man hanging up there. He shouted to the man but he did not answer. He was unconscious. Then Mr. W. called some men and they took the man down. They carried him to a farmhouse and laid him to a bed.
By and by, the man regained consciousness and told them how he happened to be hanging on the tree. He told them his name was Harry Hoyt and that his home was near Pittsburgh. He was out of work and was going about the country looking for something to do. As he walked along the road he noticed the chestnut tree and climbed it to get some nuts. While he was picking the nuts the limb, on which he stood, broke. He fell a short distance when his trousers caught on the broken limb. He was thus suspended in the air, and could not free himself. He hung there in the tree all the afternoon. He called and called for help but nobody heard him. By and by, it became dark and at last he became unconscious. He was very glad to be safe again. If Mr. White had not heard him he might have died in the tree. It was a strange accident.
Some boys were coasting down a steep hill on the road which crossed the railroad track. The road was very icy and smooth so that the sleds ran very fast. The boys enjoyed the sport very much. It happened as one boy was going down the hill, a train of cars came along on the railroad. The boy was lying on his stomach on his sled and going at a rapid rate. He saw the cars but he could not stop his sled. On he went and he felt sure he would run into the train and be ground to pieces under the wheels. When he was close to the cars he shut his eyes and waited for the shock. The train was running very fast but nothing happened. His sled ran on down the hill. He opened his eyes and found that he was safe while the train was almost out of sight. He wondered how it happened. He found out that, just as he expected to strike the cars, he had shot under them between the wheels. He was going so fast that the wheels did not catch him, so he was safe. It was a miraculous escape.