MacMillan's Reading Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 344 pages of information about MacMillan's Reading Books.
simple and rude as I had been accustomed to regard these implements, I found I had much to learn in the way of using them.  They all proved inefficient, however, and the workmen had to bore into one of the inferior strata, and employ gunpowder.  The process was new to me, and I deemed it a highly-amusing one:  it had the merit, too, of being attended with some such degree of danger as a boating or rock excursion, and had thus an interest independent of its novelty.  We had a few capital shots:  the fragments flew in every direction; and an immense mass of the diluvium came toppling down, bearing with it two dead birds, that in a recent storm had crept into one of the deeper fissures, to die in the shelter.  I felt a new interest in examining them.  The one was a pretty cock goldfinch, with its hood of vermilion, and its wings inlaid with the gold to which it owes its name, as unsoiled and smooth as if it had been preserved for a museum.  The other, a somewhat rarer bird, of the woodpecker tribe, was variegated with light blue and a grayish yellow.  I was engaged in admiring the poor little things, more disposed to be sentimental, perhaps, than if I had been ten years older, and thinking of the contrast between the warmth and jollity of their green summer haunts and the cold and darkness of their last retreat, when I heard our employer bidding the workmen lay by their tools.  I looked up, and saw the sun sinking behind the thick fir-wood beside us, and the long dark shadows of the trees stretching downwards towards the shore.

This was no very formidable beginning of the course of life I had so much dreaded.  To be sure, my hands were a little sore, and I felt nearly as much fatigued as if I had been climbing among the rocks; but I had wrought and been useful, and had yet enjoyed the day fully as much as usual.  It was no small matter, too, that the evening, converted by a rare transmutation into the delicious “blink of rest,” which Burns so truthfully describes, was all my own.  I was as light of heart next morning as any of my fellow-workmen.  There had been a smart frost during the night, and the rime lay white on the grass as we passed onwards through the fields; but the sun rose in a clear atmosphere, and the day mellowed, as it advanced, into one of those delightful days of early spring which give so pleasing an earnest of whatever is mild and genial in the better half of the year!  All the workmen rested at mid-day, and I went to enjoy my half-hour alone on a mossy knoll in the neighbouring wood, which commands through the trees a wide prospect of the bay and the opposite shore.  There was not a wrinkle on the water, nor a cloud in the sky, and the branches were as moveless in the calm as if they had been traced on canvas.  From a wooded promontory that stretched half-way across the frith, there ascended a thin column of smoke.  It rose straight as the line of a plummet for more than a thousand yards, and then, on reaching a thinner stratum of

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MacMillan's Reading Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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