Trade by Jane
Who wants to engage in the carrying trade? Come, Lottie and Lula and
Nina and Mary, all bring your maps, and we will play merchants, and see
what is meant by the carrying trade.
Lottie shall have the bark "Rosette," and sail from Boston to Calcutta;
Lula, the steamer "North Star," from New York for Liverpool; Mary shall
take the "Sea-Gull," from Philadelphia to San Francisco; and Nina is
owner of the "Racer," that makes voyages up the Mediterranean. Are we
all ready for our little game?
Lottie begins, and she must find out what Boston has to send to
Calcutta. Don't send indigo or saltpetre or gunny-bags or ginger; for,
even should you have these articles to spare, Calcutta has an abundance
at home, and you must discover something that she needs, but does not
possess. "Ice," says Lottie. "Yes, that is just the thing, because
Calcutta has a hot climate, and does not make her own ice: so load the
'Rosette' with great blocks well packed, and start at once, for your
voyage is long."
And now we will go with Lula to the North River pier, where her great
steamer lies, and see what she intends to carry to Liverpool. Bales of
cotton, barrels of flour, of beef, and of petroleum. All very good, so
good-by to her. In a few weeks we will see what she brings back.
Come, Mary, what has Philadelphia for San Francisco? Oh, what a load the
"Sea-Gull" must take of machinery, steam-engines, tobacco, and oil; and
such a quantity of other things, that the "Sea-Gull" will need to make
many voyages before she can take them all. We load her at this busy
wharf, where the coal-vessels are passing in and out for New York and
Boston, and the steamers are loading for Europe, and the little coasters
crowding in one after another; and away we go for the voyage round the
"Horn," where the "Sea-Gull" will meet her namesakes, and perhaps some
stormy winds besides.
Meantime Nina's "Racer" has been stored full of cotton cloths and
hardware, and has raced out of Boston Harbor so swiftly that fair winds
will take her to Gibraltar in three weeks.
And so you have all engaged in the carrying trade; but as yet you have
carried only one way. To complete the game, we must wait for Lottie to
bring the "Rosette" safely home with salt-petre and indigo and hides and
ginger and seersuckers and gunny-cloth. And the "North Star" must steam
her quick way across the Atlantic, and return with salt and hardware,
anchors, steel, woolens, and linens. Mary must beat her way round Cape
Horn, and home again with wool and gold and silver. And the swift
"Racer" must quickly bring the figs and prunes and raisins, and the
oranges and lemons, that will spoil if they are too long on the way.
So children may play at the carrying trade, and so their fathers and
uncles may work at it in earnest: and so also hundreds of little workers
are busy all the world over in another carrying trade, which keeps you
and me alive from day to day; and yet we scarcely think; at all how it
is going on, or stop to thank the hands that feed us.
England and Italy are kingdoms, and the United States a republic, and
they all engage in this business, and are constantly sending goods one
to another; but there are other kingdoms, not put down on any map, that
are just as busy as they, and in the same sort of work too.
The earth is one kingdom, the water another, and there is the great
republic of the gases surrounding us on every side; only we can't see
it, because its inhabitants have the fairy gift of being invisible to
us. Each of these kingdoms has products to export, and is all ready to
trade with the others, if only some one will supply the means; just as
the Frenchmen might stand on their shores, and hold out to us wines and
prunes and silks and muslins, and we might stand on our shores, and hold
out gold and silver to them, and yet could make no exchange, because
there were no ships to carry the goods across. "Ah," you may say, "that
is not at all the case here; for the earth, the air, and the water are
all close to each other, and close to us, and there is no need of ships;
we can exchange hand to hand."
But here comes a difficulty. Read carefully, and I think you will
understand it. Here is Ruth, a little growing girl, who wants phosphate
of lime to build bones with; for as she grows, of course her bones must
grow too. Very well, I answer, there is plenty of phosphate of lime in
the earth; she can have all she wants. Yes, but does Ruth want to eat
earth?—do you?—does anybody? Certainly not: so, although the food she
needs is close beside her, even under her feet, she cannot get it any
more than we can get the French goods, excepting by means of the
carrying trade. Where now are the little ships that shall bring to Ruth
the phosphate of lime she needs, and cannot reach, although it lies in
her own father's field? Let me show you how her father can build the
ships that will bring it to her. He must go out into that field, and
plant wheat-seeds, and as they grow, every little ear and kernel gathers
up phosphate of lime, and becomes a tiny ship freighted with what his
little daughter needs. When that wheat is ground into flour, and made
into bread, Ruth will eat what she couldn't have been willing to taste,
unless the useful little ships of the wheat-field had brought it to her.
Now let us send to the republic of the gases for some supplies, for we
cannot live without carbon and oxygen; and although we do breathe in
oxygen with every breathe we draw, we also need to receive it in other
ways: so the sugar-cane and the maple-trees engage in the carrying trade
for us, taking in carbon and oxygen by their leaves, and sending it
through their bodies, and when it reaches us it is sugar,—and a very
pleasant food to most of you, I dare say.
But we cannot take all we need of these gases in the form of sugar, and
there are many other ships that will bring it to us. The corn will
gather it up, and offer it in the form of meal, or of cornstarch
puddings; or the grass will bring it to the cow, since you and I refuse
to take it from the grass ships. But the cow offers it to us again in
the form of milk, and we do not think of refusing; or the butcher offers
it to us in the form of beef, and we do not say "no."
Alice wants some india-rubber shoes. Do you think the kingdoms of air
and water can send her a pair? The india-rubber tree in South America
will take up water, and separate from it hydrogen, of which it is partly
composed, and adding to this carbon from the air, will make a gum which
we can work into shoes and balls, buttons, tubes, cups, cloth, and a
hundred other useful articles.
Then, again, you and I, all of us, must go to the world of gases for
nitrogen to help build our bodies, to make muscle and blood and skin and
hair; and so the peas and beans load their boat-shaped seeds full, and
bring it to us so fresh and excellent that we enjoy eating it.
This useful carrying trade has also another branch well worth looking
You remember hearing how many soldiers were sick in war-time at the
South; but perhaps you do not know that their best medicine was brought
to them by a South-American tree, that gathered up from the earth and
air bitter juices to make what we call quinine. Then there is camphor,
which I am sure you have all seen, sent by the East-Indian camphor-tree
to cure you when you are sick; and gum-arabic and all the other gums;
and castor-oil and most of the other medicines that you don't at all
like,—all brought to us by the plants.
I might tell you a great deal more of this, but I will only stop to show
a little what we give back in payment for all that is brought.
When England sends us hardware and woollen goods, she expects us to
repay her with cotton and sugar, that are just as valuable to us as
hardware and woolens to her; but see how differently we treat the
kingdoms from which the plant-ships are all the time bringing us food
and clothes and medicines, etc. All we return is just so much as we
don't want to use. We take in good fresh air, and breathe out impure and
bad. We throw back to the earth whatever will not nourish and strengthen
us; and yet no complaint comes from the faithful plants. Do you wonder?
I will let you into the secret of this. The truth is, that what is
worthless to us is really just the food they need; and they don't at all
know how little we value it ourselves. It is like the Chinese, of whom
we might buy rice or silk or tea, and pay them in rats which we are glad
to be rid of, while they consider them good food.
Now, I have given you only a peep into this carrying trade, but it is
enough to show you how to use your own eyes to learn more about it. Look
about you, and see if you can't tell as good a story as I have done, or
a better one if you please.
CHAPTER I. THE STAR-FISH TAKES A SUMMER JOURNEY.
Once there was a little star-fish, and he had five fingers and five
eyes, one at the end of each finger,—so that he might be said to have
at least one power at his fingers' ends. And he had I can't tell you how
many little feet; but being without legs, you see, he couldn't be
expected to walk very fast The feet couldn't move one before the other
as yours do. they could only cling like little suckers, by which he
pulled himself slowly along from place to place. Nevertheless, he was
very proud of this accomplishment; and sometimes this pride led him to
an unjust contempt for his neighbors, as you will see by and by. He was
very particular about his eating; and besides his mouth, which lay in
the centre of his body, he had a little scarlet-colored sieve through
which he strained the water he drank. For he couldn't think of taking in
common seawater with every thing that might be floating in it,—that
would do for crabs and lobsters and other common people; but anybody who
wears such a lovely purple coat, and has brothers and sisters dressed in
crimson, feels a little above such living.
Now, one day this star-fish set out on a summer journey,—not to the
seaside where you and I went last year: of course not, for he was there
already. No; he thought he would go to the mountains. He could not go to
the Rocky Mountains, nor to the Catskill Mountains, nor the White
Mountains; for, with all his accomplishments, he had not yet learned to
live in any drier place than a pool among the rocks, or the very wettest
sand at low tide: so, if he travelled to the mountains, it must be to
the mountains of the sea.
Perhaps you didn't know that there are mountains in the sea. I have seen
them, however, and I think you have, too,—at least their tops, if
nothing more. What is that little rocky ledge, where the lighthouse
stands, but the stony top of a hill rising from the bottom of the sea?
And what are the pretty green islands, with their clusters of trees and
grassy slopes, but the summits of hills lifted out of the water?
In many parts of the sea, where the water is deep, are hills and even
high mountains, whose tops do not reach the surface; and we should not
know where they are, were it not that the sailors, in measuring the
depth of the sea, sometimes sail right over these mountain-tops, and
touch them with their sounding-lines.
The star fish set out one day, about five hundred years ago, to visit
some of these mountains of the sea. If he had depended upon his own feet
for getting there, it would have taken him till this day, I verily
believe; but he no more thought of walking, than you or I should think
of walking to China. You shall see how he travelled. A great train was
coming, down from the Northern seas; not a railroad train, but a water
train, sweeping on like a river in the sea. Its track lay along near the
bottom of the ocean; and above you could see no sign of it, any more
than you can see the cars while they go through the tunnel under the
street. The principal passengers by this train were icebergs, who were
in the habit of coming down on it every year, in order to reduce their
weight by a little exercise; for they grow so very large and heavy up
there in the North every winter, that some sort of treatment is really
necessary to them when summer comes. I only call the icebergs the
principal passengers, because they take up so much room; for thousands
and millions of other travellers come with them,—from the white bears
asleep on the bergs, and brought away quite against their will, to the
tiniest little creatures rocking in the cradles of the ripples, or
clinging to the delicate branches of the sea-mosses. I said you could
see no sign of the great water train from above: that was not quite
true, for many of the icebergs are tall enough to lift their heads far
up into the air, and shine with a cold, glittering splendor in the
sunlight; and you can tell, by the course in which they sail, which way
the train is going deep down in the sea.
The star-fish took passage on this train. He didn't start at the
beginning of the road, but got in at one of the way-stations somewhere
off Cape Cod, fell in with some friends going South, and had altogether
a pleasant trip of it. No wearisome stopping-places to feed either
engine or passengers; for this train moves by a power that needs no
feeding on the way, and the passengers are much in the habit of eating
their fellow-travellers by way of frequent luncheons.
In the course of a few weeks, our five-fingered traveller is safely
dropped in the Caribbean Sea; and, if you do not know where that sea is,
I wish you would take your map of North America and find it, and then
you can see the course of the journey, and understand the story better.
This Caribbean Sea is as full of mountains as New Hampshire and Vermont
are; but none of them have caps of snow like that which Mount Washington
sometimes wears, and some of them are built up in a very odd way, as you
will presently see.
Now the star-fish is floating in the warm, soft water among the
mountains, turning up first one eye and then another to see the wonders
about him, or looking all around, before and behind and both sides at
once,—as you can't do, if you try ever so hard,—while his fifth eye is
on the lookout for sharks, besides; and he meets with a soft little
body, much smaller than himself, and not half so handsomely dressed, who
invites him to visit her relatives, who live by millions in this
mountain region. "And come quickly, if you please," she says, "for I
begin to feel as if I must fix myself somewhere; and I should like, if
possible, to settle down near my brothers and sisters on the Roncador
CHAPTER II. CORALTOWN ON RONCADOR BANK.
Where is Roncador Bank, and who are the little settlers there? If you
want me to answer this question, you must go back with me, or rather
think back with me, over many thousands of years; and, looking into this
same Caribbean Sea, we shall find in its south-western part a little
hill formed of mud and sand, and reaching not nearly so high as the top
of the water. Not far from it float some little, soft, jelly-like
bodies, exactly resembling the one who spoke to the star-fish just now.
They are emigrants looking for a new home. They seem to take a fancy to
this hill, and fix themselves on bits of rock along its base, until, as
more and more of them come, they form a circle around it, and the hill
stands up in the middle, while far above the whole blue waves are
tossing in the sunlight.
[Illustration: (Conical mound of coral under surface of water.)]
How do you like this little circular town seen in the picture? It is the
beginning of Coraltown, just as the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth
was the beginning of Massachusetts. Now we will see how it grows. First
of all, notice this curious fact, that each settler, after once choosing
a home, never after stirs from that spot; but, from day to day, fastens
himself more and more firmly to the rock where he first stuck. The part
of his body touching the rock hardens into stone, and as the months and
years go by, the sides of his body, too, turn to stone; and yet he is
still alive, eating all the time with a little mouth at his top, taking
in the sea-water without a strainer, and getting consequently tiny bits
of lime in it, which, once taken in, go to build up the little body into
a sort of limestone castle; just as if one of the knights in armor, of
whom we read in old stories, had, instead of putting on his steel
corselet and helmet and breastplate, turned his own flesh and bones into
armor. How safe he would be! So these inhabitants of Coraltown were safe
from all the fishes and other fierce devourers of little sea creatures
(for who wants to swallow a mail-clad warrior, however small?); and
their settlement was undisturbed, and grew from year to year, until it
formed a pretty high wall.
[Illustration: (Individual coral polyp.)]
But, before going any farther, you may like to know that these settlers
were all of the polyp family: fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters,
uncles and aunts,—all were polyps. And this is the way their families
increased: after the first comers were fairly settled, and pretty
thoroughly turned to stone, little buds, looking somewhat like the
smallest leaf-buds of the spring-time, began to grow out of their edges.
These were their children, at least one kind of their children; for they
had yet another kind also, coming from eggs, and floating off in the
water like the first settlers. These latter we might call the free
children or wanderers, while the former could be named the fixed
children. But even the wanderers come back after a short time, and
settle beside their parents, as you remember the one who met the star-
fish was about to do.
It was not very easy for you or me to think back so many thousand years
to the very beginning of Coraltown, nor is it less difficult to realize
how many, many years were passing while the little town grew, even as
far as I have told you.
The old great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers had died, but they
left their stone bodies still standing, as a support and assistance to
their descendants who had built above them; and the walls had risen, not
like walls of common stone or brick, but all alive and busy building
themselves, day after day, and year after year, until now, at the time
of the star-fish's visit, the topmost towers could sometimes catch a
gleam of sunlight when the tide was low; and when storms rolled the
great waves that way, they would dash against the little castles,
breaking themselves into snowy spray, and crumbling away at the same
time the tiny walls that had been the polyps' work of years. Do you
think that was too bad, and quite discouraging to the workers. It does
seem so; but you will see how the good God, who is their loving Father
just the same as he is ours, had a grand purpose in letting the waves
break down their houses, just as he always does in all the
disappointments he sends to us. Wait till you finish the story, and tell
me if you don't think so.
And now let us see what the star-fish thought of the little town and its
inhabitants. "Ah, these are your houses!" he said. "Why don't you come
out of them, and travel about to see the world?"—"These are not our
houses, but ourselves," answered the polyps; "we can't come out, and we
don't want to. We are here to build, and building is all we care to do;
as for seeing the world, that is all very well for those who have eyes,
but we have none."
Then the star-fish turned away in contempt from such creatures,—"people
of neither taste nor ability, no eyes, no feet, no water-strainers; poor
little useless things, what good are they in the world, with their
stupid, blind building of which they think so much?" And he worked
himself off into a branch water-train that was setting that way, and,
without so much as bidding the polyps good-by, turned his back upon
Coraltown, and presently found a fellow-passenger fine enough to absorb
all his attention,—a passenger, I say, but we shall find it rather a
group of passengers in their own pretty boat; some curled in spiral
coils, some trailing like little swimmers behind, some snugly ensconced
inside, but all of such brilliant colors and gay bearing that even the
star-fish felt his inferiority; and, wishing to make friends with so
fine a neighbor, he whirled a tempting morsel of food towards one of the
swimming party, and politely offered it to him. "No, I thank you,"
replied the swimmer, "I don't eat; my sister does the eating, I only
swim." Turning to another of the gay company with the same offer, he was
answered, "Thank you, the eaters are at the other side; I only lay
eggs." "What strange people!" thought the star-fish; but, with all his
learning, he didn't know every thing, and had never heard how people
sometimes live in communities, and divide the work as suits their fancy.
While we leave him wondering, let us go back to Coraltown. The crumbling
bits, beaten off by the waves, floated about, filling all the chinks of
the wall, while the rough edges at the top caught long ribbons of
seaweed, and sometimes drifting wood from wrecked vessels, and then the
sea washed up sand in great heaps against the walls, building buttresses
for them. Do you know what buttresses are? If you don't, I will leave
you to find out. And the polyps, who do not know how to live in the
light and air, had all died; or those who were wanderers had emigrated
to some new place. Poor little things, their useless lives had ended,
and what good had they done in the world?
CHAPTER III. LITTLE SUNSHINE.
And now let us look at Coraltown once more. It is the first day of June
of 1865. The sun is low in the West, and lights up the crests of the
long lines of breakers that are everywhere curling and dashing among the
topmost turrets of the coral walls. But here is something new and
strange indeed for this region; along one of the ledges of rock, fitted
as it were into a cradle, lies the great steamship "Golden Rule," a
vessel full two hundred and fifty feet long, and holding six or seven
hundred people. Her masts are gone, and so are the tall chimneys from
which the smoke of her engine used to rise like a cloud. The rocks have
torn a great hole through her strong planks, and the water is washing
in; while the biggest waves that roll that way lift themselves in
mountainous curves, and sweep over the deck.
This fine, great vessel sailed out of New York harbor a week ago to
carry all these people to Greytown, on their way to California; and here
she is now at Coraltown instead of Greytown, and the poor people, nearly
a hundred miles away from land, are waiting through the weary hours,
while they see the ocean swallowing up their vessel, breaking it, and
tearing it to pieces, and they do not know how soon they may find
themselves drifting in the sea. But, although they may be a hundred
miles from land, they are just as near to God as they ever were; and he
is even at this moment taking most loving care of them.
On the more sheltered parts of the deck are men and women, holding on by
ropes and bulwarks: they are all looking one way out over the water.
What are they watching for? See, it comes now in sight,—only a black
speck in the golden path of the sunlight! No, it is a boat sent out two
hours ago to search for some island where the people might find refuge
when the ship should go to pieces. Do you wonder that the men and women
are watching eagerly? Look! it has reached the outer ledge of rock. The
men spring out of it, waving their hats, and shouting "Success;" and the
men on board answer with a loud hurrah, while the women cannot keep back
their tears. What land have they discovered? You could hardly call it
land. It is only a larger ledge of coral, built up just out of reach of
the waves, its crevices filled in firmly with broken bits of rock and
drifts of sand; but it seems to-day, to these shipwrecked people, more
beautiful than the loveliest woods and meadows do to you and me.
It would be too long a story if I should tell you how the people were
moved from the wreck to this little harbor of refuge, lowered over the
vessel's side with ropes, taken first to a raft which had been made of
broken parts of the vessel, and the next day in little boats to the
rocky island; but you can make a picture in your mind of the boats full
of people, and the sailors rowing through the breakers, and the great
sea-birds coming to meet their strange visitors, peering curiously at
them, as if they wondered what new kind of creatures were these, without
wings or beaks. And you must see in the very first boat little May
Warner, three years and a half old, with her sunny hair all wet with
spray, and her blue eyes wide open to see all the wonders about her. For
May doesn't know what danger is: even while on the wreck, she clapped
her little hands in delight to see the great curling crests of the
waves; and now she is singing her merry songs to the sea-birds, and
laughing in their funny faces, and fairly shouting with joy, as, at
landing, she rides to the shore perched high on the shoulder of sailor
Jack, while he wades knee-deep through the water.
So we have come to a second settlement of Coraltown: first the polyps;
then the men, women, and children. Do you see how the good Father
teaches all his creatures to help each other? Here the tiny polyps have
built an island for people who are so much larger and stronger than
themselves, and the seeming destruction of their upper walls was only a
better preparation for the reception of these distinguished visitors.
The birds, too, are helping them to food, for every little cave and
shelf in the rock is full of eggs. And now should you like to see how
little May Warner helps them in even a better way?
Did you ever fall asleep on the floor, and, waking, find yourself aching
and stiff because it was so hard? Then you know, in part, what hard beds
rocks make. And in a hot, sunny day, haven't you often been glad to keep
under the trees, or even to stay in the house for shade? Then you can
understand a little how hot it must have been on Roncador Island, where
there were no trees nor houses. And haven't you sometimes, when you were
very hot and tired and hungry, and had, perhaps, also been kept waiting
a long hour for somebody who didn't come,—haven't you felt a little
cross and fretful and impatient, so that nothing seemed pleasant to you,
and you seemed pleasant to nobody? Now, shouldn't you think there was
great danger that these people on the island, in the hot sun, tired,
hungry, and waiting, waiting, day and night, for some vessel to come and
take them to their homes again, and not feeling at all sure that any
such vessel would ever come,—shouldn't you think there was danger of
their becoming cross and fretful and impatient? And if one begins to
say, "Oh, how tired I am, and how hard the rocks are, and how little
dinner I have had, and how hot the sun is, and what shall we ever do
waiting here so long, and how shall we ever get home again!" don't you
see that all would begin to be discouraged? And sometimes on this island
it did happen just so: first one would be discouraged, and then another;
and as soon as you begin to feel in this way, you know at once every
thing grows even worse than it was before,—the sun feels hotter, the
rocks harder, the water tastes more disagreeably, and the crab's claws
less palatable. But in the midst of all the trouble, May would come
tripping over the rocks,—a little sunburnt girl now, with tattered
clothes and bare feet,—and she would bring a pretty pink conch-shell or
the lovely rose-colored sea-mosses, and tell her funny little story of
where she found them. The discontented people would gather around her:
she would give a sailor kiss to one, and a French kiss to another, and,
best of all, a Yankee kiss, with both arms round his neck, to her own
dear father; and then, somehow or other, the discontent and trouble
would be gone, for a little while at least,—just as a cloud sometimes
seems to melt away in the sunshine; and so May Warner earned the name of
If anybody had picked up driftwood enough to make a fire, and could get
an old battered kettle and some water to make a soup of shell fish,
"Little Sunshine" must be invited to dinner, for half the enjoyment
would be wanting without her.
If a great black cloud came up threatening a shower, the roughest man on
the island forgot his own discomfort, in making a tent to keep "Little
Sunshine" safe from the rain. And so, in a thousand ways, she cheered
the weary days, making everybody happier for having her there.
Do you think there are any children who would have made the people less
happy by being there? who would have complained and fretted, and been
selfish and disagreeable?
Ten days go by, so slowly that they seem more like weeks or months than
like days. The people have suffered from the rain, from heat, from want
of food. They are very weak now; some of them can hardly stand. Can you
imagine how they feel, when, in the early morning, two great gun-boats
come in sight, making straight for their island as fast as the strong
steam-engines will take them? Can you think how tenderly and carefully
they are taken on board, fed with broth and wine, and nursed back into
health and strength? And do not forget the little treasures that go in
May's pocket,—the bits of coral, the tinted sea-shells, and ruby-
colored mosses; and nested among them all, and chief in her regard, a
little five-fingered star, spiny and dry, but still showing a crimson
coat, and dots which mark the places of five eyes, and a little scarlet
water-strainer, now of no further use to the owner. Do you remember our
old friend the star-fish? Well, this is his great-great-great-great-
great-grandchild. In a week or two more, the rescued people have all
reached California, and gone their separate ways, never to meet again.
But all carry in their hearts the memory of "Little Sunshine," who
lightened their troubles, and cheered their darkest days.