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So Fanny and Henry walked very gently down the garden until they came to the place where the hives were, and then they stood still. Fanny then pointed Henry to the little hole at the bottom of the hives into which the bees were creeping, and as fast as some kept creeping in others came flying and settling down, and crept in after them.
“Why, they are always coming,” said Henry, “what a many of them there must be. They will fill the hive soon.
“Nay: they wont," said Fanny; "for watch, and you will see that some are coming out as fast as others go in."
“And so they do; now I see them. There they comeone, two, three, four, are coming out now! But I cannot count them, there are so many either coming in or going out. Dont they stop to rest when they get into the hive ?"
“Oh, no; for as soon as they have put the honey they have gathered in the cells of the hive, out they come again directly, and away they go as fast as their little light wings will carry them to seek for more. But, come, Henry, we had better go now, for fear we should get stung.'
And as they walked back again Fanny said, "Now, Henry, you have seen the busy bees at work. Only think what thousands of these little creatures are flying about all the suinmer-time, popping their heads into all kinds of flowers to suck out the sweet honey and bring it to their hive. We should not have any honey—and honey, remember, is the sweetest thing in the world—if these busy little creatures did not go and gather it for us; they seem as if they were made on purpose to fetch it for us."
“Well," said Henry, "I think I shall always love the
bees because they gather honey for us. Mother gave me some one day, and I think I never tasted anything so sweet. It is sweeter than sugar. But I should like bees better if they had no stings. Why have they stings, Fanny ?"
"I dont know exactly, but I suppose the Lord gave them stings that they might defend themselves when they are at work. For you know many boys now try to catch the bees and rob them of their honey, and more boys would if they were not afraid of their stings.”
“Well: I did not think of that,” said Henry. “But I will let them alone, for I am sure it would be a shame to stop them when they are so busy at their work."
“And there is another reason, Henry, why you should love the bees, and that is, they set us such a good example of industry. You may see the butterfly roving about among the flowers, but he gathers no honey. Now which would you wish to be like—the bee or the butterfly ?”
“Oh! the bee to be sure. I would not be a butterfly. I heard a boy one day singing
'I'd be a butterfly, born in a bower.' But I wont sing it I am sure."
“No more would I, Henry. It is a silly song, though the tune may be pretty. Better sing that pretty little song you have just got off about the busy bee. Come, we will sing the last two verses”
"In works of labour or of skill, I would be busy too;
16 THE SWALLOWS ARE COMING !"
THESE words are in nearly every boy's mouth late in the spring and early in autumn. Late in spring, when summer is near, now and then a single swallow may be seen sweeping through the air with its wide-spread wings, and then one boy may be heard saying
to another, “I have seen a swallow! we shall soon have summer.” And hence it is that swallows are always welcomed by the young, for only let one be seen and they know that summer is near.
For the same reason their departure is regretted, for then the summer is over and gone, and cold dark winter is coming. Early in autumn, when the days are getting shorter and the nights longer, these summer visitors may be seen congregating in hundreds, twittering and chattering as if they were talking to one another about their intended flight, and telling the young birds what they must do.
But " where do the swallows go?" is a question which has puzzled not only boys but men, and so much, that we believe no true answer has ever yet been given to the question. Many silly tales have been told about where they go during winter, but they are far from satisfactory.
:-“Swallows are known in this country to congregate, in very great numbers, in any place sheltered from the weather, a few days before their departure, and they generally pass away unobserved; so that we are often surprised, in thinking of them, how suddenly and completely they are gone. But as to their being found in a torpid state, and that great bodies of them have been drawn out of ponds and bogs, there is not the least foundation in truth. If they were found anywhere, we should expect to find them in chimneys, where they built and roosted in summer. But we search in vain for them there.
There is, in this country, a sort of religious veneration with which swallows and other birds of this family are regarded (we remember its influence in our schoolboy days), that saves them from many injuries which they would otherwise suffer; as it is generally considered a kind of sacrilege to hurt them. We cannot account for the impression, though we distinctly remember its early influence, and believe that it is widely diffused, that robins, wrens, and the swallow tribe, are peculiarly sacred; and that God has taken them under his especial care and protection. It doubtless has no foundation in fact; but while we labour to divest ourselves of superstition, in regard to these birds, it is equally needful to abstain from any thing approaching to cruelty, in regard to them or any other irrational creatures, since ‘not a sparrow is forgotten before God.'”
Another writer says :—"Two things may be noted in the emigration of these birds ; the first is that they know exactly the time in which they ought to return. "The stork in the
heavens knows her appointed time; the turtle, the crane, and the swallow, observe the time of their coming.' Another remarkable circumstance is, that these creatures, destitute of reason, know exactly the path they should take and how far they should go. They undertake and finish a voyage of thousands of miles in the most regular order, without compass or provision. Who taught them to follow a certain track, in an element so inconsistent as air? Who informs them how far they have already gone, and how much of their journey yet remains ? Who guides, and nourishes, and provides them with all the necessaries for their voyage? Do they not effect what men themselves could not do? Had we to undertake such a long voyage, we should require great experience, directions, and preparations. We could not with the assistance of the compass and charts, follow so invariably the road over so many seas and mountains as these birds do without the assistance of either."
The fact is, God guides them. And he who guides these birds will guide you through the voyage of life to "the land that is very far off,” if you are only willing to be guided by him. For this purpose he has given yon his Word, in which you may read that Jesus Christ is the way. Follow him, and you shall then reach that happy land
“Where everlasting spring abides,
And never-withering flowers."
Nor sense nor reason known,
For those who love the Son."