It was a cold day. Fred was tired of reading, tired of looking out of the window, and so he poked the fire for a change.
"I suppose there are a good many different sorts of fires," he said to his mamma, as he laid down the poker.
"Yes, indeed," she answered. "It is very interesting to know how people keep warm in all parts of the world, especially where fuel is scarce and dear. In Iceland, for example, fires are often made of fish-bones! Think of that. In Holland and other countries a kind of turf called peat is dug up in great quantities and used for fuel. And in France a coarse yellow and brown sea-weed, which is found in Finistere, is carefully dried and piled up for winter use. A false log, resembling wood, but made of some composition which does not consume, is often used in that country. It absorbs and throws out the heat, and adds to the looks of the hearth and to the comfort of the room.
"The French have also a movable stove, which can be wheeled from room to room, or even carried up or down stairs while full of burning coke. In Russia the poorer people use a large porcelain stove, flat on top like a great table, with a small fire inside which gives out a gentle, summer-like warmth. It often serves as a bed for the whole family, who sleep on top of it.
"There are, besides gas-stoves, oil-stoves, various methods of obtaining warmth by heated air and steam, and, doubtless, other devices that I never heard of.
"In some countries, however, no fires are needed. In looking at pictures of tropical towns you will at once notice the absence of chimneys."
Fred looked admiringly at his mamma as she paused.
"There never was such a little mother," he said; "you can think of something to say about everything."
His mamma was pleased at this pleasant compliment.
"Oh!" she replied, laughing, "I could go on and tell you more about bonfires, beacon-fires, signals, drift-wood fires, and gypsy-tea fires; but I have told you enough for to-day."
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