Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   

Index to Submitters of The Cozy Corner Letters
To Dallas County Texas Archives main page

THE COZY CORNER
October 18, 1896

 

TO CORRESPONDENTS -- When writing a letter to this department, first give your full name, postoffice and state. Use pen and ink, on smooth paper, not larger than note size. Write only on one side of the paper and do now sew, paste or pin the sheets together. These rules must be observed to insure publication.


DEPARTMENT HISTORY.
______

How Mr. Big Hat Came to Edit
"Little Men and Women."

     Nearly six years ago, there appeared at The News office one morning, an odd-looking little chap wearing a Scotch plaid kilt skirt, a velvet jacket, an immense polka dot tie, under a deep lace collar, and an up-to-date "stovepipe" hat. He carried a good-sized hickory stick and wore glasses. He stepped briskly into the manager's office, paying little attention to the stares and smiles of the clerks, and, at once, announced that he wanted work.
     "You, work?" laughed the manager. "Why, what can you do? You're not even big enough to empty a good-sized waste basket. Whose little boy are you, anyway?"
     "I'm not a little boy," gravely replied the little man. "I'm Little Mr. Big Hat, and I belong to myself. I've been reading your paper ever since I could read anything, and I like it -- all, but one thing."
     "What don't you like about it?" asked the manger more respectfully; for managers of newspapers want every one to like their papers, and are always ready to get the ideas other people may have as to how their papers can be made better. This manager took a good, long look at his odd visitor, and saw that under that quaint hat and those big round glasses, twinkled a pair of bright eyes that seemed to say that the head of the owner was chock full of bright ideas. So, he said again: "What is it about The News you don't like, Little Mr. Big Hat?"
     "Well," answered the latter, "in almost every family that takes The News, there are more children than there are grown-up folks, and these children usually have more time to read than the grown-up folks. They will read something, and if they can't find anything good to read, they can most always find something that isn't good. Now, it seems to me that a great big paper like The News ought to have something in it for the children; it ought to have something in it for every member of the family, in fact, but the children, especially, ought to be helped, so that every week, they can get something good to read that will cultivate in them, a love for good literature. The children will read all of your paper some day, and write for it, too, and the more they are educated now, the better the class of readers and correspondents you will have when they get to be men and women."
     "That isn't a bad idea," reflected the manager. "But, I don't know as we could carry it out. You see, we're pretty busy here, and we've all got as much as we can do now."
     "Why, that's just it," said Little Mr. Big Hat. "That's just what I came to say -- that, if you'd give me a desk and a place for Peggy, I'd edit a children's page for you."
     "A place for Peggy?" asked the manager, wrinkling up his forehead. "Who, on earth, is Peggy?"
     "He's my 'Bureau of Emigration,' " said Mr. Big Hat. "Isn't that what they call them at Washington? There he is out there," and he waved his hand toward the open door.
     The manager look, and there, flopping his great ears in the doorway, stood a little shaggy gray burro, with the biggest head and the longest ears imaginable. Just then, he caught sight of his little master, and he opened his jaws and made a noise that sounded like a big saw tearing through a plank at a saw mill, and all the clerks knocked over their ink bottles and dropped their pens in fright. The typewriter's teeth chattered, and even the manager looked uneasy, until Mr. Big Hat assured him that Peggy would not bite, except with his heels, and they were still on the outside.
     After the confusion had subsided and the pens were scratching up and down the ledgers again, and the typewriter had climbed down from the top of her desk, Mr. Big Hat began again:
     "Now, Mr. Manager, if you'll give me a page of your paper for the children of Texas, I'll make you a department for Little Men and Women that can't be beat in the whole country, and that will be read by more children in this state, than any other paper."
     "Oh, come now, my little man. We couldn't give you a whole page. You're a pretty nice little chap, and I've half a mind to give you a column or two just to experiment with, but we could never think of giving you a whole page."
     Little Mr. Big Hat smiled. "I'll take your offer for a couple of columns, if that's the beast you can do now. But, don't say you'll never think of giving me a page, for you will. I'll make you a present of Peggy, if you don't, and if you do, why, you'll have to get me an assistant."
     So, the bargain was made, and the next week, Little Mr. Big Hat and Peggy were put on the pay roll of The News. Mr. Big Hat wrote his first letter to the children of Texas and waited for replies, and Peggy stood around and switched flies, and looked gloomily at an empty waste basket. When Mr. Big Hat's head was turned, he nibbled at the straw till he succeeded in getting a good chew now and then, but whenever the little editor wheeled about in his chair, Peggy stood innocently by with sleepy, half-shut eyes.
     By and by, the air began to rustle with letters. Then, a pair of ancient saddle-bags came out and were strapped on Peggy's back, his little master mounted, and they began to journey back and forth between Galveston and Dallas to gather the letters that the little folks sent to the two of them. Then, Peggy began to look happy, and from a scraggy, thin burro, he took on portly, well-fed proportions, till he was as slick and prosperous a "bureau of emigration" as you would find in Washington, or anywhere. The reason of this was soon discovered. He had developed a mania for eating young folks' letters -- or rather, those that were written with lead pencil, badly spelled and uninteresting. He got so expert, that he could tell that kind of a letter by just sniffing at the envelope; then, open would fly his jaws, and down it would go. So, it was just as well, after all, that he demolished the waste basket when he did, for Little Mr. Big Hat has no use for such an article while Peggy is about.
     After a while, the letters came so thick and fast, that the manager said one morning: "Big Hat, you seem to have aroused so much interest among the youngsters, that we have decided to give you three columns, and just a little while later, he said: "Big Hat, I was pretty sure I was going to get that mule for a present, but I guess, instead, you'll get an assistant, for we're going to give you a whole page. Who can you get to help you?"
     "Little Miss Big Bonnet, if you please."
     "Little Miss Big Bonnet! If that doesn't beat all! Next thing, you'll have some Little Big Hoods and Little Big Caps flying around here. Who's this Bonnet girl?"
     "My sister, sir. She's been wanting to write for the little bits of folks this long while. She's got sand heaps and dolls and kittens, and a whole lot of truck that she says little boys and girls like to read about, and, she's always getting into trouble and getting out, and wanting to tell all about it. Of course, I'm getting too big for that sort of thing. I'm a good deal bigger on the inside than I look to be on the outside, and I've got an idea I'd like to teach school."
     "Teach school!"
     "Yes, I want to run a Summer School. I want to teach the children something about their own country during vacation. I don't want Texas children to be like most Americans -- know more about some other country than about their own. The more they know about Texas, the better Texans they will be -- the better citizens."
     So, it came about that Miss Big Bonnet came down to the office whenever Big Hat was busy with his school, and she wrote letters for the tiny folks, and the tiny folks answered them. And, Mr. Big Hat got up his school, and over 800 of the cousins of the children's department joined. He printed the lessons in his department and the cousins learned them, and answered the examination questions by letter. The first school was held world's fair year (1893), and so, the study was on Columbian history. There were twenty-six cousins that won gold Columbian medals for excellence of work this term of the Summer School, and three who won books. Besides that, several hundred earned beautifully engraved Columbian diplomas.
     The next summer (1894), the study was Texas history, and the following (1895), was Texas topography. Valuable prizes were again distributed and hundreds of Texas diplomas. This study of Texas history so inspired the cousins with reverence for the heroes of Texas independence, that during the present year, they have exerted themselves to raise a memorial stone fund, to place a block of Texas granite, the gift of the children of the state, at the grave of Sam Houston, to show love for his memory and appreciation of his valor on the battlefield of San Jacinto and years of public service later on. Houston's grave at Huntsville is marked only by a crumbling, weather-stained slab, which illy represents the honor due to that illustrious man. The cousins decided that it should be replaced by something, that while not pretentious, should impress the visitor at his grave with the patriotic reverence in which his name is cherished in the hearts of Texas children, to whom his heroism bequeathed a free and independent republic, and the greatest state in the union. The fund for this work is now nearly completed, and the memorial stone assured. Composed of the nickels and dimes from the child readers of a newspaper, it represents a patriotic work never before undertaken in similar manner, and of which Mr. Big Hat is justly proud.
     During the present summer (1896), the idea of the Summer School was varied, to make room for a literary contest, to stimulate the best effort of the literary talent that has been developed among Texas youth by the medium of Mr. Big Hat's department. This souvenir edition is the success of that contest, which awarded eleven prizes for as many unusually excellent poems, stories, essays, descriptive articles and letters, all of which, accompanied by portraits and sketches of the writers, appear in this issue.
     So, not only has Little Mr. Big Hat's prediction that his department would, some day, command a whole page of The News, come true, but, for once, at least, two pages are placed at his disposal.
     From a small beginning, the Cozy Corner, as the letter department is known, has grown to such proportions, that it is impossible to accommodate its extensive correspondence. The cousins all claim that it is the best department of its kind they ever read in any paper, a compliment that reflects great credit on the cousins themselves, since, to a large extent, the page is made up of their contributions, displaying much excellent literary talent. The department has correspondents in England, Ireland and Wales, South America, Central America and Mexico, and from nearly every state in the union.


     In the prize compositions in this number, Class A comprised competitors between 14 and 18 years of age, Class B competitors, not more than 14 years of age. The prizes for letters were competed for by children not more than 15 years of age.

Prize Poem, Class A.

NELLIE NANCE

Nellie Nance was born in Palestine, Tex., Dec. 15, 1878. She lived nine years at San Marcos, and attended public schools there, and at Palestine. She graduated last June at Baylor university, with B. A. degree. Her parents were J. Word and Margaret Nance (nee Williams), formerly of Rienzi, Miss., and Cartersville, Ga., respectively. 

My Fairy Friends.
____

By Nellie Nance, Aged 17.

I have a host of little fairy friends,
Who play before me when alone I sit
At night, beside my window, and with eyes
Upturned and gazing far away, my soul
Is thrilled with rapture too divinely sweet
For any one of mortals vain to dare
Attempt describe. For then, sweet Dian shows
Her modest face, with radiance more subdued,
With gentler grace than e'er Apollo could.
Yet, in her quiet, unassuming way,
Giving more pleasure to the race of man,
By simply doing what her father, Jove,
Assigned for her to do, than if she strove
To match her power against her brother's might.
The maidens, too, who, on the goddess wait,
Appear in graceful groups with faltering haste.
Showing such modesty, that in the chase
Which, nightly, through the heavens, they pursue,
For fear their mistress should not lead the race,
They lag full many paces in the rear,
And, but their glimm'ring torches we can see.
My little friends all love a night like this,
For then, Diana, eager in the race,
Forgets to bind her golden tresses up,
But, lets them float, loose, waving, where they may.
And, in their long, bright strands the fairies play
Until the rosy dawning of the day.
They slip, they slide, they frolic up and down,
They clamber o'er each other in their glee,
They push, they pull, they romp and roll around
Until, it seems, their little limbs would tire.
They whisk, they frisk, then, with a merry turn,
They dart and dance along at such a speed
As only fairies can. With tinkling trips
And filmy, flitting wings, they quickly reach
A distant point on some bright, slippery ray.
Where, halting suddenly, they face about.
And then, slide swiftly down to meet their friends.
My heart laughs loudly at their merry sport,
But ne'er a sound is uttered by my lips,
For it would fright away the pretty dears
If human voice should grate upon their ears.
How can they be my friends then? do you ask.
Since neither of us ever speaks a word?
They are my friends because, so willingly
They've let me watch them play, and with their smiles
Have seemed to say that they delight to cheer
Me when they can. Ah! many happy hours
Have thus been spent among my fairy friends.

Palestine, Tex.


Prize story, Class A (divided).

KATIE A. SHARP

Katie A. Sharp is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas H. Sharp. Her mother's maiden name was Annie T. Anderson. Katie was born in Groesbeck, Tex., Feb. 18, 1879. When she was 2 years old, her mother died, and since then, she has lived with her sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Anglin. She has attended the Groesbeck graded schools for eight years.

THAT HAT!
______

By Katie A. Sharp, Aged 17.

     "Tell us a story, grandpa," the children cried, as they gathered around him before the big open fire, one cold Christmas night.
     "Yes, do," said Hester, coming into the room with rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes.
     "Well, what shall it be about?" asked grandpa.
     "Something about your young days," said Hester, as she took a seat on a stool at his feet.
     "Well, Hester, it shall be something for you this time," said grandpa, and he glanced across the room at grandmother and smiled.
     "In my early manhood, I was very bashful, and this often placed me at a disadvantage. When we first came to Texas, great herds of cattle roamed over its western prairies. We were rounding up beeves to drive to market when I first met Miss Hester Jones.
     "We had rounded up about 500 head, and penned them at old man Jones'. We were enjoying a splendid meal, which Mrs. Jones and her pretty daughter (whom I very much admired, but was far too bashful to tell so) had prepared for us, when a small boy came running in and said the cattle had stampeded.
     "All of us ran for our horses. I grabbed my hat as I ran through the house. We mounted our horses, and went as hard as we could after the cattle. I was dodging limbs to keep them from hurting me, and as my horse ran into a particularly low limb, I threw up my hand to keep it from knocking my hat off; but -- 'Great Caesar!' I cried; 'What is the matter with my hat?'
     "Coming to an open place, I took off my hat to examine it, and behold, it was not my hat at all, but a woman's, I was wearing. In my haste, I had picked up the wrong hat.
     "If ever a man was in trouble, I was. There I was with that hat. How was I to get through the trees without tearing it up? And, how was I to get back without the boys seeing me? Then, what was I to do when I did get back with it?
     "All this flashed over me in a moment, but I could not stop there; if I did, my cattle would all be gone. At first, I had a mind to throw it away, but in those days, hats were too scarce to even think of throwing one away. Then, how was I to know, but that some one had seen me leave the house with it?
     "I put that hat back on my head and went as hard as I could go after the cattle. Finally, we got the cattle stopped. I went on ahead of the boys, in hopes of getting rid of that hat before they saw me.
     "Reaching the house, I got down and hitched my horse. I had already planned to tell Miss Hester that I had made a mistake and worn the wrong hat, and would buy another for her. But, I was so confused, that I only said, 'Good evening, Miss Hester, I-I thought maybe you would allow m-me the pl-pleasure of b-buying your hats for you.'
     "She blushed, then said, 'You will have to ask pa.'
     "She went into the house, and I soon heard her say, 'Ma, Mr. Charley Woodward has asked me to marry him.'
     "There it was again! I had not asked that girl to marry me. But, I was too bashful to go and tell her that she was mistaken."
     Here, grandpa paused and looked at grandma with a smile.
     "What did you do, grandpa? You didn't marry her, did you?"
     Grandpa looked at the fire a moment, then said, "Some day, get your grandma to show you that hat."

Groesbeck, Tex.


Prize Story, Class A. (divided).

JOSEPH MARTIN DAWSON

Joseph Martin Dawson is the eldest son of Martin J. and Laura F. Dawson, and was born in Ellis county, Texas, June 21, 1879, where he still resides. His advantages in an educational line have been very limited. What education he has was received from district schools and by close application to study at home.

A HARD CONFESSION.
______

By Joseph Martin Dawson, Aged 17.

     "Hub" Wilkins was not really a mean boy, as the neighbors were wont to call him, but just full of life, careless and pleasure-loving. His mother was a widow in very moderate circumstances, with three other children, a daughter, aged 19, Jim, older, and George, younger, than Hub, to clothe and keep of "respectable appearance," as the good lady put it.
     Mrs. Wilkins lived on the little farm that her husband had "taken up" and improved when they first came to Texas. Katie, their "sis," as the boys called her, was just a year old then, and when her papa died, she was 10. "Mamma, I'll have to help you raise the boys now," she said, and was, henceforth, a little lady, ever helping mamma.
     Since the little farm had been settled by the Wilkins, a small village had grown up about them, and there were other boys just as full of fun as Hub. For this reason, Hub came to grow up an idle, fun-loving boy. How he did hate to pick cotton!
     "Mother, can't you let me do something else and make Jim and George pick the cotton?" he asked one Monday morning, as he started to the field. "Mr. Jones has offered to give me a job at a dollar a day in the gin, if you will let me take it."
     "Well, run along to the field to-day, my son; I'll study over the matter," said the mother.
     Hub went, but came in about 10 o'clock, sick. Mrs. Wilkins understood full well why he was sick, and gave him a nauseating dose of castor oil, and sent him to bed.
     "Mother, I do wish you wouldn't give me this stuff when I'm sick. Ugh!" he said, as he gulped it down with a forced swallow.
     "But, you said you were sick, and therefore, you must take something to make you well," expostulated his mother.
     All the afternoon, Mrs. Wilkins studied whether it would do to humor Hub in his whim. "I will have to hire a hand and put him in the cotton field in h is place," she reasoned, "and then, it may ruin him," but, I might as well do it; he will never do anything this way. Maybe he will find ginning as hard as cotton picking." She gave it up in despair.
     That night, Mrs. Wilkins told Hub, in a quiet, subdued kind of way, that she guessed he might as well go to work in the gin for Mr. Jones.
     "Thank you! Thank you, mother!" he exclaimed, in wild delight, and walking over to where she sat, he gave her a warm kiss. But, somehow or other, he could not keep a kind of guilty sense from overcoming him.
     "I've hurt her feelings some way," he said, as he went to bed. "But, when she sees how well I will work in the gin, she will be all right with me. I didn't mean to do wrong, or anything out of the way, in not wanting to pick cotton. I just hate it, and for that reason, I can't stand to work at it. Jim and George like it, so, let them pick the stuff. I can do a heap better working in the gin," he said, right honestly, to himself; yet, his conscience contended against him all the more strongly, the longer he kept raking up excuses. Finally, he went to sleep, to dream that he was working in the press at the gin, and became buried in the fluffy lint, and they "run up" the press and he was pressed into a jelly in the center of a bale of cotton!
     The following day found Hub hard at work "tromping" cotton in the press. The morning seemed made up of days. He had "tromped in" ten bales, and still, the clock on the wall ticked at half past eleven.
     "My stars! when will dinner time come?" He prepared to begin on a new bale.
     "That Wilkins boy eats pretty hearty, doesn't he?" commented Mrs. Jones, as she and her daughter washed the dishes that day.
     "Acts like he hadn't had anything to eat for some time," returned the daughter, with feeling.
     The evening did not seem so long to Hub, but you may guess he was glad to get to ride down home with Jim and George in the cotton wagon, which they had brought full, an hour before, to have ginned.
     "It's pretty hard work, but I like it all right," he remarked, as he met the questioning look in his mother's eyes.
     "I hope you will like it well enough to stick to it," said Mrs. Wilkins.
     "You need have no fears about that, mother," said Hub, very cheerfully.
     Hub worked away manfully at the gin, more so, than his mother expected. There was one thing, however, that he was troubled about. He did wish he had money of his own, like Will Jones did, instead of having to turn it all over to his mother. But, he was too proud to ask her for any, and besides, Jim and George had none; so, how could he ask for money?
     One Saturday evening, Mr. Jones requested Hub to come to his house the next morning for his wages, as he did not have any money then, but would have it in the morning. Hub was on hand at the hour named, received the money, and with a light heart, started off home at a brisk trot on a handsome black colt. This 3-year-old was noted throughout the neighborhood for his speed. On the way, Hub met Will Jones, going over to Berry's chapel, a church four miles distant, where a camp meeting was in progress.
     "Hullo, Hub; Come, go over to Berry's chapel with me. Gee whiz! but that colt of yours looks fine!"
     "Why, I don't know; I didn't ask mother about going."
     "Oh, well, we can get back by dinner time, and your mother will not care. Anyway, she needn't know anything about it."
     "Well, I reckon I'll go. I guess it will be all right."
     They had gone perhaps a half mile, when Will said:
     "Let's run a race. I'll bet you $20 to $5, I can beat you."
     "What would mother say about me running a horse race on Sunday?" asked Hub. "Besides, she thinks it is wrong to run a race at any time." His conscience began to burn within him at the thought of such a thing.
     "Plague take your mother! She's what's told you all that sort of stuff. What's she got to do with your running a race, and betting, if you want to? It's your money. You worked for it. My mother used to tell me that, too, but she's quit it now. Come on. Your horse is a dandy. I've not the least idea, but that you will beat. Here goes," and he touched his horse's flank with his spurs, and she was gone.
     The idea of appearing a kid in the eyes of the Jones boy, and the temptation to win the money, was too much for Hub, and in a second, he was by his side, the fiery young black fast carrying him past Will Jones' mare. On, on they went, leaving a cloud of dust behind, when all at once, the black stumbled, hurling Hub a distance of several feet ahead, with terrible force. He lay for some moments, dazed, gazing up into the bright morning sky, wondering what had happened. When he came to himself, Will was shaking him and saying: "Golly, Hub, your horse has broken his neck!" Are you hurt?"
     At the news of the colt's having broken his neck, Hub Jerked himself up hastily, and started over to where it lay, but fell back with a groan. His leg was broken.
     "You stay here until I can go for the doctor, Hub. I will be back with him in a few minutes, and as soon as he gets to you, you will be all right, old boy," Jones said, in as cheery a voice as his guilty conscience would let him muster.
     Hub knew nothing more until he was snug in his bed at home. He looked up and met his mother's face, full of anxiety, looking down into his own. The doctor was busy fixing bandages and linaments. He tried to remember what was the matter with himself, but could not locate any special pain; his whole body seemed so heavy and his head felt like a chunk of lead fastened on to his shoulders.
     "You will have to keep him very quiet for a while, and not let him move about too much. I think he will get over it all right by careful nursing," he heard the doctor saying.
     His mother still sat by his side when he awoke after a two-hours' nap, feeling much easier. She wore the same anxious face, but the doctor was not in the room.
     "Mother, I've hurt myself some way. How was it? Oh, yes, the cold stumbled and threw me."
     "Yes, that was the way of it; but, you must lie still, my son, or the doctor will have to am---" She stopped and shuddered at the thought of Hub's having to have his leg amputated.
     "But, mother, I must tell you something. I did wrong -- very wrong -- It seems as if the walls of his heart would part as Hub told her how wrong he had acted, and how sorry he was for it. How good he felt when his mother told him he had her forgiveness.
     Hub was not able to pick cotton that autumn, but each succeeding one, found him drawing a heavy sack after him. Nor, was Jim or George ever able to beat him after that.
     He is a man now, and though he does not pick cotton any more, he attributes his success in life to the cotton field. And, he thanks God for arresting him in his mad flight toward a wild career on that Sunday morning, and awakening him to a full realization of his danger and the duty he owed his mother, to obey her in all things, both great and small.

Italy, Tex.


Prize Essay, Class A.

MARY GWYN NESBIT

Mary Gwyn Nesbit is the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas C. Nesbit, and was born Nov. 20, 1880, at Nesbit, Desoto Co., Miss. Eleven years ago, the family moved to Rockwall, which has since been their home. Mary is a student of Rockwall college. She will graduate next June, taking a degree. She has written a prize poem, won a medal in elocution and is fair in the study of music.

CIVIL SERVICE REFORM.
______

By Mary Gwyn Nesbit, Aged 15.

     What is civil service reform, its history, and the benefits arising from its enforcement?
     Our government is divided into three branches -- the legislative, the judicial and the executive.
     Civil service is the executive branch of public service, distinct from naval and military service. Civil service is the service performed by the four great classes of clerkships in Washington.
     In the civil service of the United States, there is employed a vast army, over 100,000 persons, filling responsible places, and nearly 50,000 postmasters with tens of thousands of subordinates.
     The magnitude of the work is appalling. The work done by these is work done for a nation, and not for a party. It is clearly business, and requires to be done on business principles, and has no bearing, whatever, on politics.
     President Andrew Jackson, during his administration, introduced what is called "rotation in office." He believed, that "to the victor, belongs the spoils," so, he "turned the rascals out," and filled the offices with favorites of his own political views. Such a system often sacrificed intellect and capacity to party creed and greed, and gross abuses were practiced. The party in power, for the sake of patronage, gave these places to their friends.
     Great Britain, fifty years ago, enforced competitive examinations for the selection of administrative officials in British India. This act of Great Britain was the basis of our civil service reform.
     As far back as 1853, the congress of the United States required examinations for an appointment to any place in the four great classes of clerkships in Washington. Grant enforced the system in 1872 and 1874. He appointed a civil service commission to attend to the matter, and the result was, the reform displaced party favoritism with moral and intellectual power. Some congressmen violently opposed these measures, because they wanted their favorites in office, and hence, it was only a partial success. President Hayes re-established competitive examinations at the postoffice and custom house of New York city. He promised to make "no dismissals, except for cause, and no promotion, except for merit." His example was followed by Presidents Garfield and Arthur.
     In 1883, congress passed an act providing for a complete system of competitive examinations. These rules, since that time, have been enforced in national departments, and also in various state and municipal governments.
     The benefits arising from the civil service reform are easily seen. We have now skilled employes, whereas, in the olden time, a man's faithfulness to his party interest awarded him a place, and his competence and fitness for the work were not considered. Thus, one of the most fruitful sources of political corruption has been destroyed. The intention of our government is not to benefit only those who "sit in high places" and their friends, but the whole people.
     The civil service reform has established competitive examinations of all candidates for subordinate offices, and promotes to higher places on principles of service and merit; it grants tenure of office during good behavior for a number of years. The new system "establishes justice" and "promotes the general welfare" -- two distinct objects of our constitution.

Rockwall, Tex.


Prize Descriptive Article, Class A.

EVA DREEBEN

Eva Dreeben was born in Rusk, Tex., Jan. 20, 1881. Her educational advantages have been few. She entered the public schools at 9 years of age, and attended until last year, when she became a pupil in the East Texas Baptist college at Rusk. Her parents are Barney and Dora Dreeben.

THE STATE PRISON AT RUSK.
_______

By Eva Dreeben, Aged 15.

     One of the most interesting and attractive buildings in east Texas is the state penitentiary for men, which is located in the thriving little city of Rusk. This penitentiary comprises several buildings, the largest of which, are built of stone and brick. The place is noted for the cleanliness and order which exists everywhere about the buildings.
     Entering the grounds, one sees a beautiful stone building, called the administration building. This building is four stories high, with the basement. In this building, are the offices of the superintendent, financial agent, etc. The armory is in the basement, sleeping apartments for the guards are upstairs, and the cells are in the wings of the building. The building also contains dining-rooms, kitchen, chapel and some of the workshops.
     The cells are small, only large enough to hold a small bed, bureau and chair. They are divided by very thick walls and doors of very heavy iron. One can generally judge the tastes of the men by seeing their cells. Some of them are decorated by pictures of all kinds and photographs of relatives and friends. Never is a cell seen untidy.      Several of the convicts whose imprisonment is for a long term, make their own furniture and have their cells very attractive. Some of them have beds like berths, so two can occupy a cell. There are, in all, about 560 cells.
     After resting a few minutes in the superintendent's office, you are conducted by an official or guard through a large hall. Passing through two immense iron gates, you find yourself in a beautiful garden, which makes you feel as if you were in an "enchanted wood." This garden is one of the greatest attractions of the prison. On each side of the broad paths are to be seen beds of the most beautiful flowers of every kind, color and variety. The finest collection of roses, violets, pinks, pansies, lilies and others, too numerous to mention, are seen blooming during the various seasons of the year. The garden is kept so clean, that not even a scrap of paper is to be seen on the grounds. Lovers of flowers find this spot a never-tiring place of interest. There are trees and beautiful fountains in the garden. The hothouse and its plants are very pretty. This beautiful and well kept inclosure does not give one the impression of a prison garden; it is more like a beautiful city park. From it, you can enter any of the other departments. The greatest attention is shown by the guard, who never tires answering the many questions one will ask.
     The dining-rooms are very neat and clean. There are two dining-rooms, one for the officials, the other for the convicts. The dining-room for convicts is very large and seats several hundred. The kitchen is large and the cooking vessels are immense. The big coffee pot, I believe, is the largest of all the vessels. The kitchen is so clean that it is the envy of every housekeeper who sees it. Every department is so clean, that there is not any danger of the whitest dress being soiled. If you wish to resist a temptation to steal, then don't go into the bakery when the baker takes out his bread and rolls from the large oven. Finer bread, rolls and pastry were never made.
     The workshops are very interesting. The convicts seem so cheerful over their work, that it is really a pleasure to watch them. They make hay rope, stoves, dog-irons, sad irons, ice cream freezers, kitchenware furniture, even patent iron tombstones. Those who work in the woodshops make pretty picture frames, jewel boxes and toilet cases from different kinds of fancy wood. These articles, they sell or send to their relatives and friends. There are tailors and shoemakers who make clothes and shoes for the convicts. Recently, a new building has been built. In it, is the chapel, opera-house and the fine machinery hall. The finest machinery is in this hall.
     The chapel is another place of interest to see. It is a large, well-seated room. Every Sunday, the convicts assemble in the chapel and the chaplain preaches to them, and they have regular church service. There is a fine library, to which the convicts have access. There are books in this library by all the standard authors, on religion, science and philosophy. Any one could well be proud of such a fine collection of books. Every Christmas and New Year, a minstrel is given. It is called the "Old Alcalde Minstrel." The convicts take part in this. Then, one can hear the sweetest music and singing and see good acrobatic talent. At these minstrels, stage talent of every kind is shown.
     On such holidays as Christmas and New Year, the convicts are given fine dinners. The decorations on such occasions are beautiful. The dining-room decorations are superb, and many visit the prison during Christmas week, mainly to see them.
     The dispensary hospital and convalescent rooms are above the dining-room. In these rooms, the utmost cleanliness is maintained.
     The furnace and iron works are exceedingly interesting. The "Old Alcalde" blast furnace was erected in 1884. It is situated in an inclosure, perhaps 100 yards east of, and directly in front of, the prison, and is surrounded by a plank wall fifteen feet high. On top of the wall are pickets for guards, placed at convenient distances. The furnace, of course, is in operation night and day, and makes three "runs" during the twenty-four hours, or a "run" every eight hours, making some thirty to thirty-six tons of pig iron daily. This iron is mainly used in the large pipe foundry and the ordinary foundry, which is situated inside the main wall. In the same inclosure as the furnace, is situated the "Jim Hogg" pipe foundry, erected during Gov. Hogg's administration, at a cost of $100,000. Here, as fine iron water pipe is made as can be bought in the United States, in all sizes, from four to sixteen inches in diameter. The pipe foundry makes only one daily run. The pipes are all subjected to a high test before being shipped or offered for sale. Water pipes have been shipped from these works to many towns and cities, even as far as Salt Lake City. It is a beautiful sight to watch the "run" at night. The light and sparks illumine the prison beautifully.
     The penitentiary was built in 1876, during Gov. Hubbard's administration. There are now about 800 prisoners in its walls. It is situated at one of the prettiest locations surrounding Rusk. It can be viewed from almost every place in town. The prison affords many pleasant attractions for visitors and people who reside in the town.

Rusk, Tex.


Prize Poem, Class B.

MYRTLE CANADY

Myrtle Canady is the daughter of L.W. Canady and Rebecca Canady (nee Pressley of Brenham, Tex.). She was born in Greenville, Hunt Co., Tex., Sept. 7, 1883. Her father is a railway conductor on the Texas and Pacific, and Myrtle has had advantages of travel. She has attended public school in Fort Worth and El Paso, Tex., and Portland, Ore. Her forte is music, and her talent is especially displayed on the violin, which has won her many honors for one so young. She is now at the Chicago musical college for the perfection of violin study.

A MORNING REVERIE.
_______

By Myrtle Canady, Aged 12.

 The wood bird calls, the shadows flee,
The sun comes golden from the sea;
Across the meadows as I stray,
For you, I take the fern-fringed way,
To gather violets wet with dew,
Which only bloom, my love, for you
For you, my love, alone for you.

The grasses bend, the dew drops shine,
The hawthorn's breath is sweet as wine;
The soft wind steals with presence sweet,
To fling white petals at my feet.
To lift the leaves from violets blue,
Hidden to wait, my love, for you;
For you, my love, alone for you.

El Paso, Tex.


Prize Story, Class B.

PAULA POTTER EVANS

Paula Potter Evans was born at Syenite, Mo., May 26, 1883. She came to Texas when 8-months old. Her father, L. K. Evans, was born and raised at Farmington, St. Francois Co., Mos., and her mother, whose maiden name was Pandora Potter, was born and raised at Gainesville, Tex. She entered school first in the public school at Belcherville, Tex., Sept. 4, 1892. The family moved to Nocona in August, 1894, and she has been a pupil of the public school there for two terms. She is now in the tenth grade.

A THANKSGIVING ENTERTAINMENT.
______

By Paula P. Evans, Aged 13.

     It was only a short time before Thanksgiving day, and Miss Edith Hamilton, the kindergarten teacher, had decided to have an entertainment on the night before Thanksgiving. One of the pieces which she had arranged to have was a little play entitled, "Cinderella and the Little Glass Slipper," and she had chosen little 8-year-old Sybil Grey for Cinderella.
     Sybil was delighted with the part which her teacher had assigned to her. She skipped home in an ecstasy of pleasure and delight, and, running into her mother's room, she seated herself in a little chair, exclaiming, "Oh, mother, we are going to have a concert next Wednesday night, and Miss Hamilton says she wants me to take Cinderella's part in the play, because I have long golden hair, and I look pretty in white. You know I have to wear a pretty white dress and a veil and silver paper slippers. You must commence my dress to-morrow, mamma, for this is Friday, and I have to wear it next Wednesday night. Miss Hamilton said she would make my slippers."
     There was silence in the room for a few minutes and Mrs. Grey looked very unhappy as she slowly replied, "No, Sybil, darling, I think you will have to give up your wishes this time. Mamma is very sorry to disappoint you, dear, but, with the rent and the grocery bill to pay, I don't see how I can afford to spend the amount of money that the dress would cost. Then, you know, I have to finish that blue silk dress for Miss Brent, and I don't know how I would have time to make it for you, even if I had the material." Then, as Sybil began to sob and cry, she said, "Don't cry, dearest, and I will do the best I can for you."
     "Oh, mamma, can't you make it out of an old dress, or even a sheet?" pleaded little Sybil, tearfully.
     "Well, Sybil," answered her mother, "you might wear one of your old white dresses, but still, you would not have the veil. Never mind about it now, but just come on and eat your supper. Mamma will think about it and see what she can do for her good little daughter."
     An hour later, the door opened and Miss Hazel Brent entered the cozy little room. The lamp was not yet lighted, and Sybil sat in a corner sobbing, while her mother was in her low rocking-chair by the front window, at work on the blue silk dress.
     "Good evening, Mrs. Grey," said Miss Brent as she seated herself in a willow rocker. "Light the lamp and let me see your face, and then I will tell you my errand." Then, as Mrs. Grey lighted the lamp, she glanced at the little figure in the corner and inquired, ""What is the matter with Sybil?"
     "She is crying," answered Mrs. Grey, "because her teacher, Miss Hamilton, wants her to take Cinderella's part in a play which she is arranging for next Wednesday night. If Sybil takes the part, she will need a new dress and a veil, and I can't afford to buy them for her."
     "Poor little Sybil," murmured Miss Brent, and something like a sigh escaped her. Then, she said aloud, "Mrs. Grey, you know mamma and I are going away to St. Louis in about two weeks. Well, I have bought the loveliest black silk dress for mamma, and I want to have it made before we go to Galveston later on. That is why I came this evening to see if you could make the dress for mamma. We are going to Galveston as soon as we come back from St. Louis, and you can make the dress while we are gone, if you like. I have been to see every dressmaker in town, and they are all too busy to make it. And, if you don't care, I will pay you now, for my dress and ma's, too, so that little Sybil can have her costume for Thanksgiving."
     "Thank you, Miss Brent," returned Mrs. Grey, "but, if I had a dress for Sybil, I could not make it before Thanksgiving. I have a great deal of sewing to do this week. I will have your mother's dress ready for her in about two weeks, and I can finish this in a few days."
     "Well then, Mrs. Grey," said Miss Brent kindly, "let me send up a dress for Sybil and you can just take it as part payment on my dress. I know Sybil wants to take Cinderella's part, and I will send the very prettiest dress I can find, and a tarleton veil, too."
     "Come, Sybil, do you hear that?" asked Mrs. Grey. "Miss Brent has promised to send you a pretty little dress and veil, so that you can take the part that Miss Hamilton asked you to take. Now, isn't that nice?"
     When Sybil heard this, she came out of the corner, wiped her eyes, kissed Miss Brent and ran off to bed, Mrs. Grey and Miss Brent chatted together for [a few] minutes, and then, the latter took her leave first, promising to accompany Sybil and her mother to the entertainment on Wednesday night, and Mrs. Grey, after working half an hour on the blue dress, retired.
     The next Wednesday morning dawned clear and bright, but rather cool. Sybil was up early, and after eating a somewhat hasty breakfast, sat down by the front window to watch for the dress. She waited very impatiently for half an hour. At the end of that time, a negro boy knocked at the door. When Mrs. Grey opened it, he entered, carrying a large pasteboard box, which he set down on the floor. He said Miss Hazel Brent had sent it, and then went away, without another word.
     "Why, mamma," exclaimed Sybil in surprise, "surely, this isn't my dress, for the box is so large." Then, coming nearer and glancing at the card which lay on the lid of the box, she cried, "Yes, it is for me, mamma, for this card says, 'Miss Sybil Grey.' "
     In a few minutes, the little clock on the mantel struck 9, and Sybil put on her hat and started to school.
     At 8 o'clock that evening, Sybil and her mother, accompanied by Mrs. Brent and Miss Hazel, started for the opera-house, for the entertainment was to begin at 8:30. Miss Hamilton and several of her pupils were already there.
     "Why, Sybil, how cute you look!" exclaimed Minnie Patterson, admiringly.
     "Yes," answered Miss Hamilton, "our little Cinderella looks very pretty. No wonder she will capture the prince's heart."
     They went through with the play very nicely, and everybody was pleased.
     Miss Hamilton had decided that half of the proceeds should go to the city orchestra, who furnished them with several beautiful selections of music. The other half, she said, should go to the children who had taken part in the play.
     When Sybil came home to dinner the next day, she astonished her mother by putting into that lady's hand, a nice sum of money, saying, as she took off her hat, "There, mamma dear, that is our share of the money that we made last night. Miss Hamilton divided it equally, and that is my share and yours. Aren't you glad, mamma?"

Nocona, Tex.


Prize Essay, Class B.

ARCHIE OVERTON HARRIS

Archie Overton Harris, who has been a popular writer in Mr. Big Hat's department, under the pen name of Usto Bee Hazbin, was born at Brenham, Tex., April 21, 1883. His parents, Bessie Dabney and Frederick Harris, taught him till he was 9 years old. His mother then died, and he went to the Dallas public schools, where he is now in the ninth grade. He has always lived in Texas.

CIVIL SERVICE REFORM.
______

By Archie Overton Harris, Aged 13.
(Usto Bee Hazbin)

     In the early days of our republic, there were only about 4,000,000 people as our population. Few officers were required to enforce the laws of the nation. The persons who represented a state or a district in the general congress were, as a rule, honest and able men, who were elected by popular vote. The people chose them because they were favored by dishonest political organizations or "rings."
     The branch of government of which the president was head, was, in duty bound, to execute laws made by these representatives. It was, therefore, called the executive branch. Subordinate officers were required to help in carrying out these laws. The president appointed these subordinates. Often, when an officer for a distant section was to be chosen, he asked the assistance of the representative from that section in selecting him. The representative named the applicant whom he thought was most competent, and the appointment was made at once. Competent and honest officers were thus secured without regard to political ideas.
     Before Jackson's accession to the presidency, few removals of minor civil service (or executive) officials were made for other than just causes. This president made many political enemies, and to retain his party popularity, he made many removals for purely partisan reasons. The politicians of the country saw in this, the means of securing office as a reward for political influence. So much pressure was brought to bear on the succeeding presidents, that they were compelled to choose officers only from members of their respective parties. This was practically the beginning of the "spoils system."
     William H. Harrison must have seen the wrong in such corrupt political methods. He worked so incessantly endeavoring to choose good and competent officers, that a neglected cold caused his untimely death. Thus, it is demonstrated how impossible, even in 1841, it was to choose proper officers by personal appointment, without the president's neglect of other matters equally important.
     In 1853, a law was made, empowering the president to separate the clerkships at Washington into four classes. Persons who wished to gain admittance to any of these clerkships were to pass through a competitive test to prove their fitness. Probably, this issue, which was the beginning of American civil service reform, was lost sight of during the years before the civil war. However that may be, it is certain that no further steps were taken to extend and enforce the system before 1871.
     During Grant's administration, political partisanship had greatly corrupted the civil service. The victorious north stood triumphant over the vanquished south ; the republican over the democrat. Party feeling, naturally, ran very high. It so affected Grant, that many unjust partisan choices were made. George William Curtis, a pure and intellectual republican, saw the danger in which his party stood from its corrupt practices. In order that these might be remedied, he proposed a reform in the civil service. After weeks of labor, he secured Grant's approval of his measures. He was made head of a committee, whose civil service reform ideas were soon approved by congress, also. Curtis' movement provided for the enforcement of measures before adopted, and added some additional features. One of these empowered the president to classify the civil service so that it would be possible to systematically enforce competitive examinations.
     This system of examinations seemed, from a democratic standpoint, to be totally inadequate. The leaders of the party thought it was only a scheme to keep their opponents in power. Consequently, they inflamed the public mind so much against it, that the growth of the system was materially retarded.
     Hayes endeavored to enforce the system when he came to power. So did Garfield and Arthur. Lincoln's expressions, after a day's work appointing officers, would lead us to the conclusion, that had the issue been discussed during his administration, he would have given the reformers his hearty support. All these were republican presidents, so many persons think that civil service reform originated in that party. It was not the fault of its promoters that the issue was misunderstood, for they worked diligently in its behalf.
     By 1883, the people began to see the good in a much assailed idea. The democrats reversed their position when they discovered their mistaken views. In fact, the first person who really made a great effort to reform the civil service, was a democratic senator from Ohio, who prepared a bill for that purpose. George H. Pendleton was the champion of reform who urged the great step. His speech introducing the bill was an eloquent one. He showed the great wastefulness of the party in power. Many superfluous persons, he said, were employed. Twenty messengers, for instance, were employed where one efficient person could easily have done the same work. At the end of the year, a certain official had a balance left over, and in order that it might not be returned to the treasury, he employed enough unnecessary counters to use it up entirely.
     Pendleton's bill was a declaration of the principles of civil service reform. The bill provides for a commission of three persons to conduct these examinations. Another duty of the commission is to aid the president in enforcing the rules. Any commissioner who is dishonest, is punished. Any person may compete in the examinations, provided he (or she) furnishes certificates of good moral character, health and physical and mental capacity. The certificates are obtained under oath.
     The examinations, which are held in almost all important cities, consist of such subjects as will be required in the future duties of the applicant. Thus, a copyist is examined in spelling, penmanship, elementary arithmetic and copying, before he secures his position. A clerk's examination is harder than a copyist's. Almost all other examinations are based on these two. Only geography and United States history are impractical, and they never count more than 5 per cent. An ordinary applicant's age is limited, and he must answer 70 per cent of the questions given. A person honorably discharged from martial service need be of no certain age, and need answer only 65 per cent of the questions. Many higher officers are not subject to these rules.
     The three great classes protected by this bill are: The departmental services at Washington, the classified customs service, and the classified postal service. The bill was adopted by a vote of 38 to 5 in the senate.
     The great system is growing gradually. Some small extensions have been made. President Cleveland has declared his intention to slowly bring postmasters under the reform. The National Reform league has expressed its satisfaction at the progress recently made. Other countries have the reform, also -- in fact, we borrowed our system from Great Britain.
     Of course, the workings of civil service reform are not perfect -- few systems are. Senator Sherman suggests an improvement. He says, that if no congressman were allowed to influence the president in his choice of subordinates, another step forward would be made.
     Looking back over the strangely-checkered career of civil service reform, we can not fail to see the benefits it has wrought. A clerk is under no moral obligation to politicians. His scanty purse should not be need for campaign expenses. He has a right to think for himself. The "spoils system" forbids this; reform demands it.
     Through civil service reform, we have secured honest, competent officers, an economical, but methodical, system, the downfall of many partisan leaders, the saving of the president's valuable time, and we have given a death blow to the iniquitous, grinding, scheming "spoils system."
     Let us hope that civil service reform will advance, that politics will be purified, and that in reality, as Emerson says, "Education will some day take the place of government."

Dallas, Tex.


Prize descriptive article, Class B.

JOHNNIE A. JACKSON

Johnnie A. Jackson is the son of Thomas P. and N. E. Jackson, and was born Jan. 7, 1882, in Warren county, Kentucky. He then lived on a farm. He moved to Texas in 1883. His principal educational advantages were obtained at home, and in the Mineola (Tex.) public schools.

MY TRIP TO THE SALT WORKS.
______

By Johnnie A. Jackson, Aged 14.

     One fine morning in autumn, when the silver and golden leaves were falling, I accompanied a party of friends and relatives to a neighboring village to visit the salt-works. We started very early and traveled over red clay hills and rocks, under trestles and through cool, clear, shady brooks, where the horses willingly quenched their thirst. While the horses drank, the bending branches of the graceful willows shaded us. Soon, the horses started up, and we moved on our way through woods and green fields, where we gathered grapes, persimmons, prickly pears and "musky-dimes," as Aunt Margit and "de rest of de cullud pussons" call them.
     On the way, we stopped under a large tree. My friend, Thomas, and myself, got out of the wagon to climb around amongst the trees (as all boys do) and have some fun, when Thomas discovered a nest, in which was a flying-squirrel. We tried to catch it, but it jumped, or flew, as you might say, around so fast, we could hardly watch it, least of all, touch it.
     When we stopped the flying-squirrel chase, we were quite a distance from the wagon, but soon, we heard a familiar voice halloo, "We are going." The wagon moved off, and we ran and caught up with them. We now came to a broad prairie, where we saw cows licking the ground for the salt. There were no trees and no grass, except what is known as salt or wire grass. Soon, we came in sight of the little village that contained the saltworks.
     We drove over many piles of dirty or refuse salt before we entered the building. We met the manager and he told us the way they procured the salt was by digging a well straight down in the ground and then curbing it immediately, to prevent surface water from running down to the salt, which is reached at the distance of about 1800 or 2000 feet. The salt, thus reached, is pure salt. It is solid and hard as a rock, and is termed "rock salt." After the curbing is put in, two pipes are let down. The first is used to pump fresh, clean water on the salt. The water lies on the salt until it has absorbed all the salt it will take. Then, the second pipe pumps the salty water into the supply tank.
     From the supply tank, the water runs into the evaporating pans. The evaporating pans are made of iron and copper. They are about ninety feet long, by thirty feet wide, and about two or four feet deep. Some evaporating pans are larger and some are smaller. The heat is applied to the under side; also, pipes run through the water in the evaporating pans. You understand that heat is passing through these pipes all the time, which heats the water. Men were there with rakes, made especially for the purpose, stirring the salt all the time to keep it from scorching.
     When the water has evaporated reasonably low, the heat is stopped. The pan is then allowed to cool off. The men then take shovels and shovel the salt on the dripping table. The dripping table is a convenient distance from all edges of the pan, and is above the water some feet. It is over the evaporating pan, of course. The remaining water will drip out of the salt, and when it is thoroughly dry, a platform is thrown across, from the edge of the pan, to the dripping table and men take trucks, shovels, boxes, and other working implements, to convey the salt to the packing-room, which is in the bottom story.
     When the salt is thrown into large piles in the packing-room, it looks like great banks of snow. Some of this salt is packed in this gross state into grass sacks and barrels, to be shipped away. Some of it goes to the refinery-room, where a great wheel, turning round in an iron box, grinds it up fine. It is then turned upon tables, where girls from 8 to 17 years old are employed in filling and sewing up little sacks of dairy or table salt. They seemed very busy.
     We visited the engine-room, also, the rooms under the evaporating pans. In all these rooms, we saw icicle-like formations hanging down from the ceiling. I decided to get and preserve some of them as curiosities, but they were hollow and too fragile to be handled, so, they crumbled into salt as fine as dust, the moment I began handling them. They were formed by salt water leaking down, and the salt settling and the water evaporating. Under the supply tank, which is made of wood, there were wooden pillars, also, wooden braces. They were covered with salt what resembled beautiful white curtains, tied back. They had the folds plainly formed. It looked like the room of some princess, carved out of white marble. We saw some rock salt that was as hard as a rock, and when broken, glistened like a mirror at the edges that had not been exposed at some previous time.
     The cooperage was near by, but, I could not describe it comprehensibly. After seeing all that was to be seen, we walked down to a little stream, rested in the shade of some sweet gum trees a moment, and picked gum, some to chew. Soon, the horses were ready to start and we turned the wagon tongue homeward. After driving a long way, Thomas and myself became tired of riding, so, we hung on the back of the wagon, walking every few minutes. While walking, we got some tickle-tongue, and Osage oranges.
     We passed an old, dilapidated jail that held prisoners in pioneer days. It was said to be haunted. We drove near an old, worn-out farm, with farmhouse and outhouses on it. The roof was sunken, and a few native trees were still standing in the yard. Long spikes had been driven in them, but they were nearly grown over by the bark, which told that the trees were not saplings. On one, sat a dove, cooing so mournfully, that I fancied that the inmates of this once-stately farm-house had fallen into the last slumber, three score years past, and had left this little feathered pet to tell the tale of their departure. To make the scene more lonely, a flock of shepherdless sheep wandered across the green. My friend changed the thought just here, and said: "Bah!" All the sheep shook their tails and raised their heads, but made no reply. We then drove out of sight. The next thing of interest was a herd of razor-backed hogs, which, when they heard the rattle of the wagon, looked up and said, "Woof, woof, woof," and broke off into the brambles on the neighboring creek. We crossed the creek and saw lying up there in the pretty green vines, a large green snake, waiting to snap a bird or anything that came near. The vine was covered with beautiful red woodbine flowers. So, you see, it is best not to venture about anything that takes your eye, before you closely examine it.
     We were on the top of the next well-beaten clay hill, when the breast-yoke came off the tongue of the wagon and the wagon slid down the hill. Bumpty, jolty, we went to the bottom of the hill. The horses had to jump to keep out of the way of the wagon. We fastened the tongue as soon as the opportunity offered itself, and the rest of the trip was without incident.

Alvin, Tex.


Girls' Prize Letter.

By Miriam Margaret Hedges of Galveston, Tex.,
Aged 8.

MIRIAM MARGARET HEDGES

Miriam Margaret Hedges, daughter of John R. and Margaret V. Hedges, was born at Mansfield, O., Sept. 23, 1887. When she was 3 years old, she entered a kindergarten at Fort Worth, and has attended kindergarten at Mansfield and at Dallas. She was a pupil at the world's fair kindergarten, also. With the exception of 1892, she has always lived in Texas. She has been a pupil in the Galveston public schools for two years. She has traveled a good deal for one so young, going to northern states and Canada for the summer, and this is probably the reason why her favorite study is geography.

     Dear Mr. Big Hat: As I will be 9 years old in September, I thought I would try for the prize for the best letter.
     My sister and I are out at Alto Loma Inn, thirteen miles from Galveston. It is a nice place of about fifteen acres, and it is enclosed with a fence. There are many large trees and lots of vegetables planted, and a great many wild flowers.
     There are about 200 chickens and ducks all together. There is a boathouse and two boats.
     Yesterday afternoon, my sister and I went down to the boathouse and saw a double rainbow. I could see all the seven colors distinctly, red, orange, yellow, green, indigo, blue and violet. Last night, we went rowing, and over at the west, we saw the clouds and the sunset, on them, and the new moon on top of that, and over at the north, we saw the lightning, and it looked so pretty.
     Mr. Borden went floundering last night, and caught six flounders. At 8 o'clock or later, the men take a bright light and a stick with a sharp, iron point in the end. They get down in the water and walk along the shore. The fish come up to the shore after dark, and when they see the light, they stick their heads down in the mud, and then the men spear them.
     I wish some of the cousins were here to play with me, for we would have so much fun with Leo. He is a big Newfoundland dog. His name means "Lion."


Boys' Prize Letter.
______

By Jacob Hugley Threlkeld of Iowa Park, Tex., Aged 9.

JACOB HUGLEY THRELKELD

Jacob Hugley Threlkeld was born Jan. 26, 1887, in Missouri. His parents, John and Anna Threlkeld, died before he was 4 years old. He was adopted by a lady, with whom he came to Iowa Park, Tex., in January 1892. One term at public school there, with home instructions, constitute his educational advantages, so far.

     Dear Mr. Big Hat: Since you gave me such a kindly welcome to the Cozy Corner, I will write again. I enjoy the cousins' letters very much and would like to know some of the writers. I especially would like to see Daisy Field, who says she is 8844 years of age, for I have never seen a little girl so old as that. I think she must be Methuselah's great-grandmother.
     I don't like speechifying any better than that other cousin, who makes faces about it in the Cozy Corner, although, I won the prize for the best speech in a Sunday school contest in 1893. I said a speech to a crowded house in Missouri when I was 3 years old, which everybody said "brought down the house." I often wondered what they meant, as the house was still standing when I left there.
     I think I would like that little cousin who says he doesn't swear, for I do not use bad language myself, and do not like to play with boys who do. We cousins can make ourselves happy by trying to make our companions, our parents and our teachers, happy. I, for one, am most miserable when everything goes wrong with me, and I fell like saying cuss words, but, if I laugh it off, the happiness comes back.
     How many of the 9-year-old cousins are as tall as I? I am 4 feet 10 inches tall. I grow up like Jack's bean stalk, but don't get very heavy. I weigh but 68 pounds.
     This part of the country is very ho and dry at present, but we will soon have irrigation, and then we will be in the swim.
     Little Miss Big Bonnet, if I had been there, instead of that other boy, when you fell into the water, you surely would have gone to the bottom, for I can not swim and don't know when I will ever have a chance to learn, for I never see enough water, unless I look down into the cistern.
     I wonder how many of the cousins can ride horseback? I will tell you about the first horseback ride I ever took. I had on my first pair of pants and was riding an old gray horse to water. The horse's name was Old Jeff. When I rode down into the creek, Old Jeff concluded he must have a drink from under a stooping willow, which grew on the brink of the stream, and, of course, when he went under it to drink, I was raked off into the water. I was not drowned, but was terribly scared, and the first thing I said when I got out, was: "Did it [split] my britches?" I have never been horseback riding any more, so, you see, in telling of my first ride, I have told of my last one, also. I am going to learn to ride a wheel some day.
     I like little Miss Big Bonnet (I suppose she will not care if a boy likes her), and wish I could write as nice letters as she does.
     I will end my letter by wishing all the cousins, a happy, hot vacation; Mr. Big Hat and Peggy, an extra stock of patience for the cousins' contest, and for myself, a prize.

- October 18, 1896, The Dallas Morning News,
Little Men and Women Section, pp. 1-4.
- o o o -