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HINTS ON MAKING OSTAGE-STAMPS which have passed through the post, and therefore cannot be used again for letters, can be brought into use in another way, for with them we can make very good representations of snakes. All snakes have, as doubtless you know, an extraordinary sinuosity of
body, which gives them their great facility in walking, climbing, leaping, and swimming. They are limbless, they have neither feet nor fins, and they have no necks. All these peculiarities (as well as others which we shall notice during our work) make it possible-nay, we may say easy-to represent a snake by the aid of old postage-stamps.
But let me tell you that a vast number of these is required to make one reptile only. Perhaps you would be dismayed if I told you to collect a thousand; but, indeed, with that number you would then have barely sufficient for an ordinary snake. We will not talk of a python, for that in real life has four hundred vertebræ-while other snakes have but one hundred vertebræ-and it is thirty feet in length; for even if we possessed the two P's-Patience and Perseverance-and by their kind help collected sufficient stamps for a python's exceeding length of body, we should not be able to represent the corresponding bulk of its body, and therefore our attempt would prove a failure. As there are a thousand species of snakes we can surely find one within our scope of imitation.
There is the rattlesnake, but we could not make its horny cells or produce its crackling rattle with stamps, so that must be put aside. A burrowing snake has a rigid body, a head which is hardly distinguishable from its neck, and eyes scarcely visible: we will push that off our list. A tree snake has an exceedingly slender body; we will
not take that for our pattern. A water-snake is distinguishable from its kin by its nostrils being placed on the top of its snout; that also we will dismiss. A ground snake has a cylindrical body, very flexible in every part and of moderate proportions. By far the greatest number of snakes belong to this category, and as I believe and feel sure that we can represent this one better than any other of the thousand, we will begin at once. I am sorry to have to tell you that the present issue of pale mauve stamps is not nearly so acceptable to snake-makers as the former issue was. Our old friends, the penny reds, were of more cheerful hue, and had more substance. The withdrawal of the little halfpenny reds has also been a loss, for they were ready just when smaller ones were wanted for the extremity of the body. At that period of stamp history we required only those two kinds, and the effect was natural, for red and black snakes of this kind are to be seen in Brazil. Well, our reptile will look too pale and colourless with the mauve stamps only, therefore we must collect the round pink penny ones and the
green halfpenny ones, and we must fly to foreign countries and take as many as we can get of their deeper colours, for, as you will perceive, any vivid brightness will not be fully visible.
I shall now suppose that you have gathered together most of the desired thousand. Thread a needle with three-quarters of a yard of thread used by tailors, that being stronger than other kinds. Get an ordinary-sized wine-bottle cork, and after cutting half its length off, pass the needle and thread down the middle of the half you keep. Take care to have a huge knot at the end of the thread to prevent the cork from escaping. This piece of cork is eventually to go inside the head of the snake; you will therefore perceive that we
work from the head to the tail. The round pink and the green halfpenny stamps are larger than the other English stamps; these head the procession. Pass the needle and thread through the middle of each stamp ; you will find that the ear of the queen presents itself in the exact spot ready to be pierced. The coloured sides of the stamps are to face toward the head, and cut the tips of the corners off all square stamps before you thread them. After you have progressed for about an inch with the largest stamps, take the mauve and others the same size and cut off the corner tips. Four hundred at least of these ought to go on, and be huddled closely together. It will then be time to diminish the size again. You will see that the mauve stamps have a marked circle round; cut a couple of hundred round the outside of the circle, and when those are in their places, cut another hundred or so still smaller by following the inner edge of the circle. In both cases mix other coloured stamps cut to the same size as much as possible with these. Finally we cut a few yet more diminutively for the extremity, and then, having strung all our stamps, we pass the needle and thread through a tiny round bit of cork to give a completeness and finish. About half a yard from the tip of the snout to the end of the body is the general length which snake-makers aim at accomplishing. We must now think of the head. A snake of this kind has a depressed flat head; so follow the plan I am about to describe.
Cut two pieces out of cardboard of medium thickness according to the diagrams. These two pieces are to be neatly covered with cloth or cashmere of dark green or grey colour. The
representation is more faithful if scarlet is used for the sides which will form the interior of the skull, and as it is impossible to cover these two portions of the head neatly unless you cut out two pieces of material for each of them, there is really no extra trouble. When the work of covering is finished, we must put the teeth, tongue, and eyes into their places before we fasten the upper and lower parts of the skull together. Round the edge of the jaws sew small round chalk-white beads to represent teeth. Snakes never tear their prey to pieces, and never use their teeth for mastication, but swallow their food whole, so these teeth which we provide will do sufficiently well. A snake's tongue is the principal seat of touch; it is very soft and fleshy. We will represent it by thick red flannel or thin red cloth. This we fasten some distance down the lower jaw. Fortunately for us the eyes of snakes are constantly open, also they appear immovable, and furthermore they are without lids. Cut diminutive ovals of dull yellow cloth (failing yellow you must use red), and put a small round black bead in the
Now we can finish the construction of the skull. The lower jaw of a snake is very distensible, the opening of it being longer than its skull. You see the two X marks on the second diagram-well, the two portions of the head are to be stitched together on each side as far as these. The cork is thrust inside at the back of the head, and should fit tightly. Some people fasten two pieces of elastic at the extremity of the body, and pulling these, make the snake wriggle and become exceedingly lively in action. E. C.
And yet there's something not quite true,
"You're right," his friend replied; "you miss The life that is not seen in this!
You miss the love Miss Pussy shows
In hunting us where'er she goes;
"You miss the cruelty in her eyes,
"Believe me, friend, the fault is this:
The cat that men love-that is here;
HERE is not one exploit so honourable in all Lapland as killing a bear. And even the bears are quite aware of this, and therefore keep out of the way as much as possible, for it is not pleasant either to be killed, or to see one's comrade killed, or to hear the shouts of rejoicings at the
bear feast, when the Lapps are supping on bear steaks and corn brandy, and are doing honour to the hero who has killed a bear.
This is the point from which the bears view the matter, but the Lapps regard it in a very different light, and each one hopes that some time, sooner or later, he shall have the happiness and glory of killing a shaggy Bruin.
Magnus, the young son of Gunnar, and grandson of Thorsten, was filled with this ambition, and was always begging his father to let him have a chance of distinguishing himself.
"Thou art too young, my boy," said Gunnar.
"Thou wouldest be hugged to death," said Hulda the mother. And she covered her face with her hands and wept. The baby fastened on her back wept also, and, moreover, howled, and little Sigurd, who was tugging at one of the dogs, roared; so that altogether there was about as much noise as a bear would have made.
made of the skin of the northern diver, with all the feathers left upon it.
On and on he went through the valleys, and forests, and by the banks of the great lakes where in summer the roses bloomed. He heard the waters of the cataract calling to him, and the Swedish mocking-bird whistling to him, and the wind whispering, now loud, now soft, and all were saying the same words to him
Then spoke Olaf, the brother of Magnus. "Let him go and bring home a bear, and next year it will be my turn."
Great tears were rolling down Gunnar's cheeks, which made him look uglier than usual.
He managed to sob out.
"Go, go if thou wilt, and take thy dog with thee, but I fear I shall never see thee again."
And then all the family howled in chorus, and Magnus set off on his travels. He had a bow and a Norway knife, and some flints and matches in his pouch, and a small flask of brandy; while, as it was winter, he had on his reindeer suit, and his cap
"There is a bear so white Waiting for a knight To slay him outright."
And then a voice asked
"Where, tell me where Is that great white bear?
Magnus started, the voice was so like his own; but it was only the Swedish mocking-bird imitating him. Nips pricked up his ears and tugged at the leathern thong, as much as to say
"Let us go, let us go."
"Yes, we will go
When the way I know,"
answered Magnus, for he knew what Nips wished to say. As he looked around he saw to his surprise a pair of hands waving frantically in the air, and pointing northward. They were quite by themselves, and appeared to be on an errand of their own. Suddenly he felt them touch his head, and another pair pulled at his bow at one end whilst a pair of bear's paws pulled at the other. Then suddenly the air was full of hands and bears' paws, all pointing northward, as if urging him on; and shaking hands with him energetically in a most encouraging manner. Also they patted Nips, and stroked him, and Nips wagged his tail approvingly.
"I wonder where all the people are to whom these hands belong?" said Magnus to himself.
"I wonder where all the people are, and the bears?" said a voice just like his own. And again he started; and again it was the Swedish mockingbird, who is said to have a hundred tongues, so that it was not wonderful that one should be like Magnus's.
"Fingers, fingers, fingers
Pointing to the north,
Hands, and paws, and nails, and claws
Speed the hero forth.
Polarelle, the white bear,
Doth for Magnus wait;
Hunt him, slay him, shoot him, slay bim
"Then the bear has a name," exclaimed Magnus.
"Then the bear has à name," echoed the mocking-bird.
"And is white," added Magnus.
"And a fright;
And you'll see him to-night
continued the bird.
"Do be quiet; I can't think of anything if you chatter so."
"Clatter, chatter, what's the matter? Pitter patter, here's a platter."
Oh, what nonsense!" cried Magnus, putting his hands to his ears. "And what has it to do with the bear?"
"With Polarelle, you should say," replied the mocking-bird. "Polarelle is the largest, whitest bear that ever lived; and you'll find that clatter, and patter, and platter will all come in before you can meet with him."
Now all this time Magnus was standing still, though the hands were pushing him, and pulling him, and urging him forward, and one pair of the hands actually boxed his ears when once he
seemed to be inclined to turn back, and several pinched him sharply, which made him rather angry.
However, he started off northwards as fast as his snowshoes would carry him, with Nips galloping beside him, and all the hands clapping as hard as they could, as much as to say-
"Well done! well done! Good speed-good speed!"
At last they grew tired, at least so Magnus supposed, for they suddenly vanished, and Magnus becoming tired, sat down by some ice-rocks. It was dark and chill, and he began to feel hungry, and he opened his pouch to get some reindeer flesh, and was going to take a draught of his corn-brandy, when, to his great astonishment, a lighted torch appeared. And a hand was holding it.
"One of the friendly hands, doubtless," said Magnus.
And the hand threw the light of the torch upon the flask that he held; but it was no longer a flask, but a bottle of cod-liver oil, and he was holding a fish in his other hand And there were other fish and bottles about.
"Platter, platter, what's the matter? Eat and drink, and you'll get fatter,"
said the mocking-bird, who had perched himself close by Magnus.
"Just what I don't want to do," said Magnus. "How could I travel about or hunt bears if I were as fat as my grandfather Thorsten ?"
Nevertheless, as all Lapps like oil, and Magnus was no exception to the rule, he made a very good meal by the light of the torch. No sooner had he
"MAGNUS SET OFF ON HIS TRAVELS" (p. 14).