Up in the garret by Robin Ranger



805 Broadway, N. Y.

[ 2 ]

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1862, by


in the Clerk’s Office the District Court of the United States
for the Southern District of New York.


he house in which Mr. Bondy lives is large and roomy. It stands on a knoll or little hill, and has green grass and bright pretty flowers all around it. There are [ 8 ]also trees, some for shade and some for fruit.

But it is not about the house or the garden that I wish to tell you now. You may laugh when I say that I want to talk to you about the garret of the house.

“O, Mr. Robin Ranger,” say you, “what is there about the garret that will make a pleasant story for me to read? Don’t the rats and mice live in the garret? It is not a nice place: cold in winter, and hot in summer.”

But stop a moment, Master Flurry, (if that is your name.) Isn’t there a garret to your house? And don’t you go there [ 9 ]sometimes to play, or to find something that has been put in the rag bag? If you do not, I think your sister does, and you may call her, if you think you do not want to read about a garret, and see if she will not like it.

But I suppose that as you have read so far, you think you may as well go on and find out what the story is about.

Mr. Bondy’s garret was quite large. It had four small windows in it, two at each end, so that there was plenty of light. There was also a chimney between each pair of windows.

On the floor of the garret there [ 10 ]was a little of everything: old bedsteads and chairs waiting to be mended; trunks, valises, and carpet-bags ready for traveling; rolls of spare carpet, matting, and oil cloth; two or three stoves, put out of sight for the summer; hats in bandboxes, and boots without any boxes; rag bags, and bags without any rags.

Yet there was no disorder on the floor. Mrs. Bondy was a neat and careful woman, and she had everything in her house, even in the garret, put in order and kept so. Her motto was, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” Hence [ 11 ]the floor of the garret was kept clean, and the various things I have named were stowed away where they might be found when wanted.

There was a rope stretched across one end of the garret, and on this rope were hung old clothes to be given to the poor, and winter clothes not now in use. Nails were also driven into the rafters, which, I suppose you know, are the beams or long pieces of wood just under the roof. From these nails there hung little bundles of last year’s herbs: mint, sage, thyme, catnip, pennyroyal, and summer savory. These gave [ 12 ]to the garret a very pleasant smell.

Against one of the chimneys there stood a set of shelves which had once been used in the kitchen; but when the kitchen was made larger, new shelves were put in, and these old ones were sent up garret, where old papers and books were piled on them.

I must not forget to tell you that on and under an old table with a broken leg there were some toys: dolls, some with broken heads, and some with broken arms; toy cats that couldn’t squeak, and dogs that [ 13 ]had long ceased to bark; a company of soldiers that had once been able to stand up together, but now looked as if they had been in the wars. The captain had lost his head, and most of the men had lost either an arm or a leg.

There was also a little cradle with one rocker off, and a small cart with only one wheel. There was a Noah’s ark that had once been filled with animals and with Noah’s family—wooden animals and wooden people; but the lid of the ark was gone, as though a great wind had blown it away, and the animals and people [ 14 ]were scattered, with broken limbs and heads, about the floor.

These toys had been nice and new once, but they had been used as all other toys are, and did not long stand the wear and tear of young hands. They were still good enough to play with once in a while, and thus were put up in the garret, while the newer and better toys were kept below, some in the nursery and a few in the parlor.

And now you begin to think there must be some children in Mr. Bondy’s house, for he and his good wife would not play [ 15 ]with dolls, and toy cats, and wooden soldiers.

And you are right. There were children there, and I am glad of it, because a house without any children in it is too dull and quiet, and is not as pleasant as a house in which are the pattering of little feet, and the laughter of merry little hearts, and the smiles of happy little faces. A house without children is like a garden without buds.

If you want to know something of these children, read the next chapter.

[ 16 ]

here were three of them. Alice, Maggie, and James were their names, and they were generally well-behaved and kind to each other. This they were taught to be by their parents.

Alice was ten years old and [ 17 ]went to school. So did Maggie, who was three years younger. But James, who was only four years old, was too young to go to school, though he had learned a few of his letters from his sisters.

If I should say that these three little Bondies loved to play, you would not think it strange, would you? Play! Why, I should not like to see children that did not love to play. I should think they were sick, or else had lost some of their senses.

I have seen children that did not love to work or to study, but I never yet saw one that did not [ 18 ]love to play. I should as soon expect to see a squirrel that couldn’t jump, or a bird that couldn’t fly, or a mouse that couldn’t run.

Yes, they loved to play; and I ought to say just here that they were willing to work and to study as far as they could. Alice and Maggie tried hard to get their lessons for school, and even little James would have studied his spelling-book if his father had not thought him too young.

Alice sometimes helped her mother work in the kitchen, and Maggie thought she did the same, but I don’t think her help [ 19 ]amounted to much. Master Jimmy loved to work, also. But his work made more work for older folks. So his father thought one day, when he came home and found the young beets and parsnips all pulled out of their beds in the garden.

“Who did that?” said he to the children.

“I did, papa,” said little James.

“And what did you do that for?”

“I was working in the garden!” was the little fellow’s reply.

He thought he was helping his papa. What do you think?

The children had a very good [ 20 ]place to play in, for the garden was large, and there was a good sized plot of grass; and, besides, not very far from the house there was a grove of beautiful maple-trees, under the shade of which they sometimes had a picnic.

But when it rained they could not play in the garden, or on the grass, or under the trees. They had to stay in the house.

Then it was that the garret was used. It was a good place to play in on a rainy day in summer. In winter it was too cold.

At such times the children took some of their good toys with them from the nursery, and [ 21 ]used them with the old toys in the garret. And though they could not go out doors, they had fine fun and frolic under the roof of the house, and made noise enough to frighten all the mice away, if there had been any there.

[ 22 ]

ne Saturday in July the children had expected to take a ride with Abby Mapes and her brother Mark. Mr. Mapes’s man Sam was to drive the wagon, and they were going to the “Silver Spring,” as it was called, a beautiful spring of water about three [ 23 ]miles from Mr. Bondy’s house, and not far from Mark Mapes’s uncle’s, where the children were all expected to take tea, and Sam was to bring them home by dark.

They had talked it over for several weeks; but at last, when the long-looked for day came, rain came with it.

Rain was very good for the gardens, but not very good for visiting; and the children had to stay at home disappointed.

They were very sorry they could not go, but they made no noise about it. They tried to make the best of it. They hoped it might stop raining by noon. [ 24 ]They would still be in time, for they had not expected to start before three o’clock.

But noon came without any signs of clear weather. So, after dinner, Mark Mapes came over to say that his father would let Sam take them next Saturday.

Before Mark went back, Alice, who had been for some time thinking how to pass away the afternoon, went to her mother and whispered: “Shall I tell Mark to ask Abby to come over here this afternoon and play with me?”

“You may, if you wish,” replied her mother.

[ 25 ]

Alice ran to the door, which Mark had by this time reached on his way out, and gave him her message for his sister.

As the house was only a short distance from Mr. Bondy’s, Mark was soon back again, trying, as best he could, to hold a big umbrella over Abby’s head. He felt very large, but he could not manage the umbrella very well. He was only six years old, and hardly strong enough. Besides, his sister was so much taller than he, that the points of the umbrella often caught in her hood, and nearly tore it from her head.

They were hardly seated before [ 26 ]Alice asked her mother if they might not go up garret and play a while. She told them “Yes,” and they all started up stairs.

Alice and Maggie stopped a moment in the nursery to get some dolls and other toys, while Abby took little Jimmie by the hand and helped him along.

When they reached the garret they were soon at their play. The old toys were taken from the table, and, with the new ones, made enough to keep them busy all the afternoon.

Mark and Jimmie found some little blocks, and had great sport [ 27 ]in building houses out of them, and knocking them down. They also took the cart with one wheel and loaded it with their blocks, and amused themselves in drawing the load from one end of the garret to the other.

The girls went to work at housekeeping. They had dishes, and pots, and pans, some made of china, some of wood, and some of pewter. There were hardly two whole ones in the lot. Nearly all were either cracked, or broken, or bent.

Alice had a very nice set of china dishes, and Maggie had a set of smaller ones, which had [ 28 ]been given to them by Uncle Fred for their last Christmas present. But these they kept on the corner stand in the parlor, and did not very often use.

After a while the boys got tired of carrying blocks in a cart with only one wheel, so they hunted around for something else.

They found some of the animals belonging to Noah’s ark, and two or three of the people. But whether Noah and his wife were among them I cannot say.

They also found a tin trumpet and a wooden whistle. The [ 29 ]trumpet was bent, and the whistle a little cracked; but still there was enough squeak left in them to make a noise. But such a noise! It sounded as if both trumpet and whistle had been out in the rain, and had become hoarse with a cold.

Mark and Jimmie marched up and down the garret, making all the noise they could, and scraping their feet across the floor. By and by they sat down for a moment on a small trunk to rest.

When they rose from the trunk, Mark moved it a little with his foot. He stooped to [ 30 ]put it back in its place, and as he did so he saw something on the floor behind it, and cried out:

“Hey! Jimmie, look here! Isn’t this the wheel that belongs to the cart?”

As he said this, he picked up from the floor the missing wheel. How it ever got behind the trunk I don’t know; but there it was, and the boys were not long in putting it on the axle.

Abby found a small nail on the floor, and put it in the end of the axle to keep the wheel on. Then the old cart had two wheels, and did the work much better [ 31 ]than when it went dragging along with only one.

There was one very pretty thing that the girls brought up stairs to play with, that I must tell you about. But I really do not know the name of it. The lady who made it and gave it to Alice called it, I think, a boudoir. What an odd name, isn’t it! Can you pronounce it?

It was a little table about the size and shape of one half of a dinner-plate, the back being straight, and the front round. It was made of wood, and had three legs. The hind leg was put in the middle of the straight back, [ 32 ]and went up some distance from the top of the table, like a pole.

The table and the pole were covered with blue muslin, which was neatly fastened on the top of the table, and hung down like an apron all around. A piece of the same also went from the top of the pole to the ends of the back part of the table.

Then this blue muslin was all covered with white lace. Thus the table had a lace top over it, a lace apron in front of it, and lace curtains hanging from the top of the pole, and nicely fastened with ribbons at each corner of the back.

[ 33 ]

On the pole, a short distance from the table, there hung a cunning little looking-glass with a gilt frame.

There were several things on the table: a pincushion, a white china wash bowl and pitcher, a square scent bottle, also of white china, with something in it that smelled sweetly, and a tiny glass bottle of cologne water.

It was really a beautiful toy, and all who saw it were well pleased with it. Alice did not often play with it, but she saw it as she passed through the nursery on her way up stairs, and thought it would be a nice [ 34 ]thing to take with her. It looked all the better in the garret, because there were so many old, and broken, and ugly-looking things around it.

[ 35 ]


hus they played along for two or three hours, and had as good a time as if the sun were shining, and they out in the garden.

The little dolls were dressed and undressed, put into the old broken cradle, and taken out again, I don’t know how [ 36 ]many times. The boudoir was set on one of the shelves I have told you about, and was looked at, but was not handled much, for Alice was very careful of it. The plates and dishes were put on the table and taken off, and put on again, and at last all thrown together in a box under the table.

I forgot to tell you about the swing which Mr. Bondy had put up in the garret for the children. It was a stout rope, and hung from the rafters, where it was tightly fastened. An old cushion, which had once been on an arm-chair, served as the seat.

[ 37 ]

When they were tired of their other plays they got on the swing; and when they were tired of swinging they went back to their dolls and dishes, tin trumpet and old cart.

By and by they became tired of the garret, and Alice said:

“Come, let’s go down stairs again.”

“Sister,” said Maggie, “let’s have one more swing.”

“I want another swing, too,” said Jimmie.

So on the swing they went again. They had not swung long before they heard a step on the stairs.

[ 38 ]

“O,” said Alice, “there comes father.”

They were not afraid to have him come, for he often played with them, and loved to see them enjoy themselves. He had come home from business earlier than usual on account of the rain, and when he found that the children were in the garret he went up to see them.

As soon as his head was seen above the garret floor, as he came up stairs, Maggie cried out:

“O papa, come give me a swing, and tell me a story, and let me sit in your lap!”

[ 39 ]

“Well, well, miss,” said Mr. Bondy laughing, “I think you are asking a great deal at once. I can’t swing you, and hold you in my lap, and tell you a story all at the same time.”

“Well, swing me now,” said Maggie, “and then tell me a story.”

While Maggie was on the swing they were all startled by a singular noise coming from the chimney. They had heard it when they first came up garret, but it was not so loud. They would have gone down stairs then in fear, but they waited a moment, and, as it did not come [ 41 ]again, they went on with their play and soon forgot it.

But now it became quite loud, and if Mr. Bondy had not been there they would have all run down stairs. But they were not afraid while he was by.

It was a strange noise, and I can hardly tell you what it was like, unless it was like something rolling down the chimney.

“What is that?” said Abby as she started toward the stairs.

Mr. Bondy smiled and said: “Don’t be afraid, children, there is nothing here to hurt you.”

“But what made the noise, papa,” said Alice.

[ 41 ]

“What would you think,” said her father, “if I should tell you that the noise is made by the folks that live in the chimney?”

“Folks in the chimney!” said Mark Mapes. “How could anybody live there?”

“O papa is only teasing us with one of his riddles,” said Alice. “But there, that’s the same noise again. I wish I knew what made it.”

“Perhaps,” said Mr. Bondy, “the old folks have been out to market, and are just coming home with something for the children to eat.”

[ 42 ]

At this they all laughed. Presently Alice said: “O, I know what you mean! There’s a bird’s nest there, and it’s the old birds that make the noise with their wings.”

“How could little birds live in the chimney, I should like to know?” said Maggie. “I should think the smoke would get in their eyes and drive them out.”

“But they do live there,” said her father. “Alice has guessed right. There is no doubt a nest of swallows somewhere in the chimney. The old birds go out and get flies, and bring them to the little birds, who open their [ 43 ]mouths while the old ones drop them in.”

“Isn’t that funny,” said little Jimmie, who had heard all that was said.

“Papa,” said Maggie, “won’t you tell us some more about the swallows?”

“Shall I tell you a swallow story?” he asked.

“O yes, do, do,” all the children said.

“Then you must all sit down, and be very still.”

[ 44 ]


bby and Alice took a seat on an old trunk; Mark and Jimmie sat on the floor; and Mr. Bondy got an old chair, with the back broken, and took his seat on it, holding Maggie in his arms.

When they were all quiet he began:

[ 45 ]

“A little girl named Jane Clark once went with her mamma to visit her grandma in the country. During the night Mrs. Clark was several times wakened by strange noises about the chimney of the room where she slept. But Jane was so tired that she slept too soundly to hear anything.

“Once Mrs. Clark sat up in bed as the noise came louder than usual, and she saw, by the light of the night-lamp, a bundle of straw tumble down from the chimney into the fireplace. The straw had been put into the chimney, which was never used [ 46 ]for a fire, to keep the cold wind from blowing down.

“The noise now stopped, and Mrs. Clark went to sleep. Early next morning Jane jumped out of bed, and as she touched the floor a little bird started from a corner of the room, and flew frightened toward the window. But it could not get through, for the window was shut.

“After flying all around the room until it was tired, the bird was caught by Mrs. Clark, who let Jane hold it carefully in her hand.

“Its nest was near the top of the chimney, and somehow or [ 47 ]other it had fallen down during the night upon the straw which stopped up the chimney. It tried to fly up again, but could not. Each time it tried it fell back on the straw, until it loosened the bundle, which fell with it to the floor.

“Mrs. Clark looked at it very carefully, but could not find any bruise upon it. Jane at first wanted her mother to get a cage, and let her take it home. But when her mother told her that the poor little thing would die if shut up in a cage, Jane was willing to let it go.

“She took it again in her [ 48 ]hand, and gently smoothed down the feathers on its head and back. She then opened the window, and kissing it on its bill, said: ‘Go, little birdie, go, and find your nest again.’ And the swallow spread its little wings and soon was out of sight.”

[ 49 ]

hat was a pretty story, papa,” said Maggie.

“Wont you tell us another?”

“Not this time, I guess, my child. But tell me: how would you like to live in a chimney?”

[ 50 ]

The children laughed at this, and said that it was not possible.

“Well, then, how would you like to live in a garret?” asked Mr. Bondy.

Of course they none of them cared to do that.

“It would be too cold in winter,” said Abby.

“And too hot in summer,” said Alice.

“And too dark all the time,” said Mark.

“I should be afraid of the rats and mice,” said Maggie.

“I would shoot them with my gun,” said Jimmie, who was very [ 51 ]bold when there were no rats and mice to be seen.

“But, my children,” said Mr. Bondy, “there are many poor people who have not as comfortable a place as this garret to live in. I have seen them sometimes in a garret with no bed but a heap of shavings or straw to lie on, and no covering but an old, ragged, and dirty quilt. The roof has been leaky and the floor wet with snow or rain, and the wind blowing across the garret, making every one shiver with the cold.

“O it is a sad sight to see a poor sick woman lying in such a [ 52 ]place, and dying for want of food, while her children are lying around her in rags, and dirt, and cold, crying for bread which the mother has not to give.

“You ought to thank God, children, who gives you food, and clothing, and kind friends, and a comfortable house to live in; and we ought to help the poor and the sick all that we can.”

The children felt sad when they heard about the poor who suffer thus, and Alice said she was sure she would like to help them if there were any such living near.

But by this time the rain had [ 53 ]stopped. There was a little blue sky in the west, and soon the golden sunshine came through the garret windows, casting its pleasant light across the floor, and making the old toys and broken furniture look brighter and better than they did when all was dark and gloomy.

Presently the tea bell rang, and they hastened down stairs. They had enjoyed a pleasant afternoon in spite of the rain. Perhaps, if the weather had been fine, and they had gone to the Silver Spring, they might have had a pleasanter time; but then, as Alice said at the tea-table,

[ 54 ]

“We should not have heard that story about the swallow, nor about the poor people that suffer so much in the cold. I wish I could help them.”

“Besides,” said Abby, “we can all go to the Silver Spring next Saturday, if it is pleasant; Sam will take us.”

And so he did, for the next Saturday was a very fine day, and they all had a grand time.

Thus they enjoyed two pleasant afternoons: one stormy one in the garret, and one bright one by the Silver Spring.


[ 55 ]

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