Rollo's Museum by Jacob Abbott
Rollo's Museum by Jacob Abbott 1803-1879
A FALSE ALARM
A LITTLE LAW
CAUGHT,- -AND GONE AGAIN
THE BAILMENT CASES
THE THREE NORTHMEN
It happened one summer, when Rollo was between seven and eight years of
age, that there was a vacation at the school which he was attending at
that time. The vacation commenced in the latter part of August, and was
to continue for four or five weeks. Rollo had studied pretty hard at
school, and he complained that his eyes ached sometimes.
The day before the vacation commenced, his father became somewhat uneasy
about his eyes; and so he took him to a physician, to see what should be
done for them. The physician asked Rollo a good many questions, all of
which Rollo endeavored to answer as correctly as he could.
At length, the physician told Rollo's father that all he needed was to
let his eyes rest. "I think he had better not use them at all," said he,
"for reading or writing, for several weeks; and not to be out much in
the hot sun."
Rollo felt very much rejoiced at hearing this prescription, though still
he looked very sober; for he felt somewhat awed and restrained by being
in the doctor's office. There were a good many large books, in cases
upon one side of the room; and strange, uncouth-looking pictures hanging
up, which, so far as Rollo could see, did not look like any thing at
all. Then there was an electric machine upon a stand in one corner,
which he was afraid might in some way "shock" him; and some
frightful-looking surgical instruments in a little case, which was open
upon the table in the middle of the room.
In fact, Rollo was very glad to escape safely out of the doctor's
office; and he was, if possible, still more rejoiced that he had so
light and easy a prescription. He had thought that, perhaps, the doctor
would put something on his eyes, and bandage them up, so that he could
not see at all; or else give him some black and bitter medicines to
take every night and morning.
Instead of that, he said to himself, as he came out at the door, "I have
only got to keep from studying, and that will be capital. I can play all
the time. True, I can't read any story books; but, then, I am willing to
give the story books up, if I don't have to study."
Rollo had usually been obliged to read, or study, or write a little,
even in vacations; for his mother said that boys could not be happy to
play all the time. Rollo, however, thought that she was mistaken in
this. It is true that she had sometimes allowed him to try the
experiment for a day or two, and in such cases he had always, somehow or
other, failed of having a pleasant time. But then he himself always
attributed the failure to some particular difficulty or source of
trouble, which happened to come up then, but which would not be likely
to occur again.
In fact, in this opinion Rollo was partly correct. For it was true that
each day, when he failed of enjoying himself, there was some peculiar
reason for it, and exactly that reason would not be likely to exist
another day. But then the difficulty with playing, or attempting to
amuse one's self all the time, is, that it produces such a state of
mind, that almost any thing becomes a source of uneasiness or
dissatisfaction; and something or other is likely to occur, or there
will be something or other wanting, which makes the time pass very
It is so with men as well as boys. Men sometimes are so situated that
they have nothing to do but to try to amuse themselves. But these men
are generally a very unhappy class. The poorest laborer, who toils all
day at the hardest labor, is happier than they.
So that the physician's prescription was, in reality, a far more
disagreeable one than Rollo had imagined.
When Rollo reached home, he told his mother that he was not to have any
thing more to do with books for a month.
"And you look as if you were glad of it," said she, with a smile.
"Yes, mother, I am," said Rollo, "rather glad."
"And what do you expect to do with yourself all that time?" said she.
"O, I don't know," said Rollo. "Perhaps I shall help Jonas, a part of
the time, about his work."
"That will be a very good plan for a part of the time," said his mother;
"though he is doing pretty hard work just now."
"What is he doing?"
"He is digging a little canal in the marsh, beyond the brook, to drain
off the water."
"O, I can dig," said Rollo, "and I mean to go now and help him."
This was about the middle of the forenoon; and Rollo, taking a piece of
bread for a luncheon, and a little tin dipper, to get some water with,
to drink, out of the brook, walked along towards the great gate which
led to the lane behind his father's house. It was a pleasant, green
lane, and there were rows of raspberry-bushes on each side of it, along
by the fences. Some years before, there had been no raspberries near the
house; but one autumn, when Jonas had a good deal of ploughing to do
down the lane, he ploughed up the ground by the fences in this lane,
making one furrow every time he went up and down to his other work.
Then in the spring he ploughed it again, and by this time the turf had
rotted, and so the land had become mellow. Then Jonas went away with the
wagon, one afternoon, about two miles, to a place where the raspberries
were very abundant, and dug up a large number of them, and set them out
along this lane, on both sides of it; and so, in a year or two, there
was a great abundance of raspberries very near the house.
Rollo stopped to eat some raspberries as he walked along. He thought
they would do exceedingly well with his bread, to give a little variety
to his luncheon. After he had eaten as many as he wanted, he thought he
would gather his dipper full for Jonas, as he was busy at work, and
could not have time to gather any for himself.
He got his dipper full very quick, for the raspberries were thick and
large. He thought it was an excellent plan for Jonas to plant the
raspberry-bushes there; but then he thought it was a great deal of
trouble to bring them all from so great a distance.
"I wonder," said he to himself, as he sat upon a log, thinking of the
subject, "why it would not have been just as well to plant raspberries
themselves, instead of setting out the bushes. The raspberries must be
the seeds. I mean to take some of these big ones, and try. I dare say
But then he reflected that the spring was planting time, and he knew
very well that raspberries would not keep till spring; and so he
determined to ask Jonas about it. He accordingly rose up from the log,
and walked along, carrying his dipper, very carefully, in his hand.
At length, he reached the brook. There was a rude bridge over it made of
two logs, placed side by side, and short boards nailed across them for a
foot-way. It was only wide enough for persons to walk across. The cattle
and teams always went across through the water, at a shallow place, just
below the bridge.
Rollo lay down upon the bridge, and looked into the water. There were
some skippers and some whirlabouts upon the water. The skippers were
long-legged insects, shaped somewhat like a cricket; and they stood