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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Lady Brassey

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Lady Brassey tells the amusing story of a visit of Eugenie to the Sultan's mother, when the Empress of the French saluted her on the cheek. The Turkish woman was furious, and said she had never been so insulted in her life. "She retired to bed at once, was bled, and had several Turkish baths, to purify her from the pollution. Fancy the Empress' feelings when, after having so far condescended as to kiss the old woman, born one of the lowest of slaves, she had her embrace received in such a manner."

The habits and customs of the people are described by Lady Brassey with all the interest of a novel. On their return home, "again the Battle bells rang out a merry peal of gladness; again everybody rushed out to welcome us. At home once again, the servants and the animals seemed equally glad to see us back; the former looked the picture of happiness, while the dogs jumped and barked; the horses and ponies neighed and whinnied; the monkeys chattered; the cockatoos and parrots screamed; the birds chirped; the bullfinches piped their little paean of welcome.... Our old Sussex cowman says that even the cows eat their food 'kind of kinder like' when the family are at home. The deer and the ostriches too, the swans and the call ducks, all came running to meet us, as we drove round the place to see them." Kindness to both man and beast bears its legitimate fruit.

Two years later she prepared the letter-press to Tahiti: a Series of Photographs, taken by Colonel Stuart Wortley. He also is a gentleman of much culture and noble work, in whose home we saw beautiful things gathered from many lands.

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The last long trip of Sir Thomas and Lady Brassey was made in the fall of 1883, and resulted in a charming book, In the Trades, the Tropics, and the Roaring Forties, with about three hundred illustrations. The route lay through Madeira, Trinidad, Venezuela, the Bahamas, and home by way of the Azores. The resources of the various islands, their history, and their natural formation, are ably told, showing much study as well as intelligent observation. The maps and charts are also valuable. At Trinidad they visit the fine Botanic Gardens, and see bamboos, mangoes, peach-palms, and cocoa-plants, from whose seeds chocolate is made. The quantity exported annually is 13,000,000 pounds.

They also visit great coffee plantations. "The leaves of the coffee-shrub," says Lady Brassey, "are of a rich, dark, glossy green; the flowers, which grow in dense white clusters, when in full bloom, giving the bushes the appearance of being covered with snow. The berries vary in color from pale green to reddish orange or dark red, according to their ripeness, and bear a strong resemblance to cherries. Each contains two seeds, which, when properly dried, become what is known to us as 'raw' coffee."

At Caracas they view with interest the place which, on March 26, 1812, was nearly destroyed by an earthquake, twelve thousand persons perishing, thousands of whom were buried alive by the opening of the ground. They study the formation of coral-reefs, and witness the gathering of sponges in the Bahamas. "These are brought to the surface by hooked poles, or sometimes by diving. When first drawn from the water they are covered with a soft gelatinous substance, as black as tar and full of organic life, the sponge, as we know, being only the skeleton of the organism."

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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