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DAN ENTERS INTO BUSINESS.
THEIR plans were commenced the very next day. Susan came round with her work, and gave Ellen her first lesson in dressmaking. Ellen was as skilful with the needle as Susan was, and made famous progress.
A cheerful worker is sure to turn out a skilful one.
'I have been thinking in the night, Ellen,' said Susan, that we might go into partnership.'
Wait,' said Dan the Just, looking up from the table, on which the birds were going through their performances; there is time enough to talk of that. I don't intend that you shall sacrifice everything for us.
No sacrifice could be too great for me to make for you, Dan,' replied Susan. “But I think that I should have all the advantage, if we were partners, Ellen has such a beautiful figure, that she would be sure to get customers. Stand up, dear
- look at her, Dan!' And Susan turned Ellen about, and looked at her pretty sister's pretty
figure without a tittle of envy. If you are a judge of anything but birds, Dan, you must confess that Ellen is a model.'
Dan smiled, and said, “If Ellen wasn't good, you would make her vain. Let the partnership question rest for a little while. Go on with
your work, and don't talk. I've got something very particular to do.'
Dan, with his birds before him, appeared to be perplexed with some more than usually difficult problem concerning them. There was a curious indecision also in his treatment of them. Now he issued a command, now he countermanded it; now he ordered a movement, and before it was executed threw the birds into confusion by giving the signal for something entirely different. Until at length the birds, especially the old stagers, stood looking irresolutely at each other, with the possible thought in their minds (if they have any) that their master had taken a drop too much to drink; and one young recruit—none but a young one and a tomtit, who is notoriously the sauciest of birds, would have dared to do it-advanced, alone and unsupported, to the edge of the table, and looking up in Dan's face, asked what he meant by it. Recalled to himself by this act of insubor
dination, Dan recovered his usual self-possession, and selected two bullfinches, somewhat similar to those which he had given to the Old Sailor. They were young untrained birds, and Dan at once commenced their education. But Ellen remarked with surprise that he was less tender in his manner towards them than towards the other birds. He spoke to them more sternly, and as if the business in which they were engaged was a serious business, with not a particle of nonsense in it.
See, Ellen,' he said after some days had passed — see how clever they are! They draw up their own food and their own water; and directly I sound this whistle, they sing “ God save the King."
He blew through the tin whistle, and the birds sang the air through.
* Now you sound the whistle, Ellen.'
Ellen blew through the whistle, and the birds repeated the air.
• So you, see, Ellen, it doesn't matter who blows the whistle; the birds begin to sing directly they hear it. Here is another whistle—a wooden one, with a different note. Blow that softly.'
Ellen blew, and the bullfinches immediately set to work hauling up water from the well.
That is good, isn't it?' said Dan. will obey anybody.'
But tell me, Dan, why you don't speak to them as kindly as you do to the others ?'
*Ah, you have noticed it, miss, have you? I thought you did. Well, then, in the first place, I wanted to teach them by a new system. I wanted to teach them so that anybody can make them do what I do, if he gives the proper signal; and I have succeeded, as you see. If I had taught them by my voice, as I have taught the others, they wouldn't have been of use to any one but me. They are such cunning little things, and they have such delicate little ears! In the second place, Ellen, I did not want to grow fond of them.”
Why, Dan dear?'
‘Because, if I had grown fond of them, it would almost break my heart to part with them. Who could help loving them, I wonder ? They have been my world, you see, and they are such innocent little pets. I have grown to love them so, you can't tell. And we know each other's voices, and have made a language of our own, which no one else can understand.'
He chirruped to them, and called to them in endearing tones; and all the birds, with the ex
ception of the pair of bullfinches, fluttered to him, and perched about his shoulders and nestled in his breast. The two little bullfinches, standing alone in the centre of the table, looked more surprised than forlorn at the desertion.
Then Dan said: “This is part of my scheme. . I commence business to-day as a bird-merchant. I have trained these two bullfinches to sell. You are earning money already, Ellen dear, and you are a girl. I am not quite a man in years, although I think I am here'—touching his forehead
— and I am not going to let you beat me at money-making.'
He pulled out a paper, on which was written, in Roman letters and neat round hand,
THIS PAIR OF BULLFINCHES
They draw up their own Food and Water ; and they sing
• GOD SAVE THE KING,'
And other Tunes, to the Sound of u Whistle.
Inquire within of Dan TAYLOR.
* What I propose to do, Ellen, is to put the cage with the bullfinches in the parlour-window, with this announcement over the cage. Perhaps