“Look at here, you need not go on,” said Jack, interrupting his sister. “I never did it but just once in school, and that was when you happened to come in and speak to Miss Eaton. I was real ashamed that you caught me at it then, and I have never had the balls at school since, or thought of them.”
“The beast has spoken,” said Ernest, looking up from his book.
Jack made a rush at his brother. “Oh! stop,” said Ernest; “let us find out what became of Oscar.”
“He has married,” said Hester, “and his wife supports him.”
THE FIRST NEEDLE.
“Have you heard the new invention,
That a man has invented?” said she.
“It’s a stick with an eye,
Through which you can tie
A thread so long, it acts like a thong;
And the men have such fun
To see the thing run!
A firm, strong thread, through that eye at the head,
Is pulled over the edges most craftily,
And makes a beautiful seam to see!”
“What! instead of those wearisome
thorns, my dear,
Those wearisome thorns?” cried they.
“The seam we pin,
Driving them in;
But where are they, by the end of the day,
With dancing and jumping and leaps by the sea?
For wintry weather
They won’t hold together,
Seal-skins and bear-skins all dropping round,
Off from our shoulders down to the ground.
The thorns, the tiresome thorns, will prick,
But none of them ever consented to stick!
Oh, won’t the men let us this new thing use?
If we mend their clothes, they can’t refuse.
Ah, to sew up a seam for them to see,—
What a treat, a delightful treat, ’t will be!”
“Yes, a nice thing, too, for the
babies, my dears,—
But, alas, there is but one!” cried she.
“I saw them passing it round, and then
They said it was only fit for men!
What woman would know
How to make the thing go?
There was not a man so foolish to dream
That any woman could sew up a seam!”
Oh, then there was babbling and screaming,
“At least they might let us do that!” cried they.
“Let them shout and fight
And kill bears day and night;
We’ll leave them their spears and hatchets of stone
If they’ll give us this thing for our very own.
It will be like a joy above all we could scheme,
To sit up all night and sew such a seam!”
“Beware! take care!” cried
an aged old crone,
“Take care what you promise!” said she.
“At first ’t will be fun,
But, in the long run,
You’ll wish that the men had let the thing be.
Through this stick with an eye
I look and espy
That for ages and ages you’ll sit and you’ll sew,
And longer and longer the seams will grow,
And you’ll wish you never had asked to sew.
But nought that I say.
Can keep back the day;
For the men will return to their hunting and rowing.
And leave to the women forever the sewing.”