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fingers succeed one another, grave and gav, tender,
poignant, or absurd. Sometimes she laughs aloud in her singular, in dividual way. Around her people sit or pass, in tent upon their own affairs. Sometimes they jostle her in their play, and Helen, smiling, extends an inquiring hand to "see" who it is. Children bury their heads in her lap, or come to her and ask for a story; for she' is a capital story-teller, repenting, for instance, most of Kingsley's " Greek Hero Tales ' almost word for word as they stand in the book. All children quickly learn to understand her some SEAL HUNTI THE Newfoundland seal-fishery for the present vear is now in full progress. Though it lasts for only about six weeks, from the middle of March till the end of April, it ranks among the first of the island's industries. Its results are enormous, when its short duration is considered. Thanks to prudent legislation, it is as prolific as ever; in marked contrast to the Pacific sealing enterprise, which has been reduced to the vanishing point by unrestrained slaughter. Thirty years ago two American whalers from New Bedford ventured into the Newfoundland sealing cruise, but found it uncongenial; a decade later Scotch whalers from Dundee tried it, but also with out success; more recently Nova Scotian capitalists started in it, though with poor fortune too; and now, as heretofore, it is confined to the Newfound landers themselves, who, because of having prose cuted it for centuries, have acquired a special apti tude and experience for the work. It is a most perilous and exciting business, next in these respects to whale hunting, and it employs thousands of men at a season when, owing to the severity of the winters in Newfoundland, no other avenues of labor are open to them. Its annual value is nearly a million dollars; it maintains a fleet of twenty-five wooden steamers; and the average an nual kill of the four thousand men who form the crews is about three hundred thousand seals, worth, say, three dollars apiece. Prior to the discovery of the petroleum beds in America whale- and seal-oils were in universal demand as illuminants. The largest cities of Europe and America absorbed the supply for their street lamps. Now seal-oil is used largely in lighthouses and for making high-class soaps. It is also employed as a substitute for olive oil. after the stearin has been extracted, when it can hardly be detected from the genuine article. Habits of the Seal T ITTLE is known of the natural history of the seal. They are of two genera: the fur seals of the Paci fic, and these hair seals of the Atlantic; the former are valuable only for their rich velvety skins, while the hide and fat of the others are turned into leather and oil. The seal is amphibious, like the whale, being strictly a marine mammal, though maritime countries class it as a fish. It is gregarious, and its herds are of countless extent; its pelagic wanderings reach from the Grand Banks to the Arctic zone. It feeds on the fish it finds on these submarine plateaus most of the year, and in February moves north to meet the ice-floes borne southward by the Labrador current, the young being deposited on these crystal wastes. About March i each female seal gives birth to one "pup." There are four varieties of seals in Newfound land waters: the harp, hood, bay, and square flipper. The last two are found so rarely as to be of little commercial value; the harps and hoods, however, may be counted by hundreds of thousands. The harp is so-called from a number of dark spots which show on its back, bearing a rough resemblance to a harp; the hood owes its name to a loose appendage of skin behind its head which it can inflate when angry. Of each there are three grades: young, bedlamers and old. The first, known also as white coats, from the creamy fur they show when born, are the present year's birth; bed lamers, or half grown, are last season's; old are adults. The mother seals mount the ice-floes off Labrador, deposit their young, and drift south with them, the fathers fishing for the family at first, but the mothers joining in this as they regain strength. The harps are mild and companionable, and form great herds, extend ing over miles of floe. The hoods are fierce and solitary, Each family keeps to its own fragment of ice, about fifty miles separating the two classes, which never mix. Seals are gifted with an in stinct that has no equal; for a mother, starting to fish in the morning will return to her own offspring unerringly at sundown, though there may be two hundred and fifty thousand in the herd, and the what indistinct spoken words with readiness, Her good-night, as she rises at last to go away to bed, is softly spoken; but it is answered with ca resses. Helen's life has its vexations, its griefs, and its hard passages; but these leave no residuum of bit terness or ill-nature, for some reason that it is hard to fathom. Before she had language, as a child of six and seven, she was cross and violent. She ob tained her needs by kicking and striking. She was decidedly impatient if her wishes were not gratified at once. With the dawning of speech, her violent NG OFF NE\^ By P. T. McGrath floes may have been wheeled about frequently, meanwhile, by winds and tides. The mothers have great difficulty in inducing the young to swim, and for the first month the pups are helpless. After that they enter the water, and their white fur changes to brown. Just before this they are in their prime, between March 15 and 30, and it is then that the sealmen are keenest after them. The mothers will fight desperately in defense of their young, and so will the dog hood, which is ex tremely fierce, not hesitating to give battle to two or three men, so that he has to be shot usually. Conflicts between them and the hunters are fre quent, and the latter are often torn by the teeth and flippers of the furious creatures. The male harp, though, is a coward, and flies at the first sign of danger. The old hoods sometimes weigh three hundred pounds, and this tribe, generally, is larger than the harps, and steel-gray in color, the others brown. The young of both are difficult to tell apart, save by the nails on their flippers, which in the harp are black, and in the hood white. Growth of the Industry nTH IS seal-fishery has been prosecuted by the New foundlanders for nearly three centuries, first in boats, then in smacks, later in schooners, and for the last forty years in steamers. In the early days the losses of ships and men were great, and "the spring of the Wadhams," when sixty vessels were wreckcd on some islands of that name, and over one hundred lives lost, forms a memorable epoch in the history of the business. Sailing craft were at the mercy of winds and waves, and frequently lost big catches through being unable to force their way into the ice-pack. Therefore, the introduction of steam was welcomed, and although pessimists de clared that this would speedily prove the ruin of the enterprise, their predictions were falsified; for the hunt is now followed by steamships only, and of late has been attaining a degree of prosperity and unqualified success approaching that of the earlier times. In proof of this it needs only to be said that the number of ships in the fleet is being in creased almost every year ; so that now it stands at twenty-five, whereas it had been rcduced to seven teen a few years ago, and never previously was more than twenty-three. There is also a prospect of a further increase next season. The steamers are of special construction, and in strength have no equal anywhere, being sheathed and buttressed within and without, so that into situations where an iron steamer would be crushed like an egg-shell, these boats may venture with impunity, and in the hands of a skilful captain may be said to be invulnerable. Their bows, too, are shod with iron bands, and the ship acts as a ram, hurling her self against the floes and cutting her way through them, even when the ice is three or four feet thick. The floes spread over the North Atlantic, and it requires the keenest judgment to locate the seal herds among them, the least error frequently re sulting in a ship returning empty, while a more spirit entir< ly departed. It was as if another soul had come into her body Only with speech came memory. The period before her m.istery of language is almost a blank? a confused nothing, she has told me. Helen is an embodiment of the word. Her life is chiefly lived in the pure idealism of a world of symbols expressed in written forms. Sometime, when the psychol ogist arrives who is capable of examining and il luminating the processes by which her mind has been built up, her case will throw a flood of light on the nature of the human soul. TOUNDLAND fortunate one may come back log-loaded. The in dustry is therefore much of a gamble, for both ship owners and sealmen. The former has to suffer not alone the loss on his capital, but also on his outfit for the particular cruise, while the men have also to lose a month or two in the hunt and their pros pective earnings for that period. Yet so keen is the interest in the business that hundreds and thousands of men gather at St. Johns before the ships leave, seeking berths or places on board, though the unlucky ship may not earn them any thing, while the fortunate one may give them sixty dollars, and though they endure the greatest dis comforts from overcrowding, unsanitary condi tions, and lack of ventilation, as well as from poor food and the perils incident to the fishery as pur sued upon the floes. The ship is crowded with coal and provisions when she goes out, and the men have often to sleep about the decks. The same thing occurs under more accentuated con ditions when she is loaded; for the sleeping-quar ters are piled full of seals and they have no shelter for the two or three days and nights occupied in the run home. Frequently the seals are driven by continuous winds against the land, and the residents along the coast swarm off on the floes and kill them by hun dreds. Even women, boys, and girls participate in this novel hunt; so that there are cases on record where a family made as much as five hundred dollars in a week from the spoils of this chase. In the extreme northern section of the island, upon which the floes impinge every year, the residents reap a substantial harvest through this means. The seals are killed with clubs, known as gaffs. The pelt (i.e., skin and fat) is stripped from the car cass, which latter is discarded as valueless. The young seals, known as whitecoats because of their creamy fur, are the best prizes, as they vield the tint st oil and skins and are the most easily killed. They make no resistance, being helpless, mere baby seals. The Probable Catch X7ACH skipper of a seal-ship steers according to his own ideas of where the ice and the seals are. Some seasons almost all the ships miss the herds and re turn with poor success. On one or two occasions ships circumnavigated the island in their quest. At other times vessels which when loaded would carry forty thousand pelts have come back with as few as twelve, not enough to grease the engines. A brand new ship one year had only ninety seals, and another sent her entire catch, twenty-six pelts, ashore in a boat on returning to St. Johns a few years ago. But in years when it is possible to take the ships right in among the herds catches are made with amazing rapidity. Two years ago the first ship home had been out only nine days, and she secured a full load of eighteen thousand seals. But that season was a most favorable one, and the next year the first returning ship was out twenty days, having met floes of unusual thickness which she was un able to force through. The largest load ever brought back from the ice-fields was that of the Neptune in 1892, which had forty-one thousand nine hundred and eighty-three pelts on board. Other b;g catches, in point of number, were made in 1865, "the year of the cats" (the word applied to immature seals). On arriving at St. Johns, the cargo is unloaded, and the fat is separated from the skin by expert operatives. This is conveyed to huge vats, where the oil is steamed out of it and refined until it be comes tasteless and colorless, while the skins are tanned and converted into leather. The I" lited States has taken two-thirds of the entire output the last few years for the manufacture of bicycle saddles and kit-bags. The refuse flesh and fat is made into guano, and it is now proposed that ships unfortunate enough not to secure full loads of pelts shall fill up with carcasses, which being packed in ice can be turned into cold-storage warehouses and utilized for making liquid and solid ex tract of meat, brawn, and sausage-filling (seal flesh is much like beef).