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here a little, and there a little of

As a general thing, Max was a comfort. He was a born busybody. Not of the disagreeable kind that always go poking and picking about into other people’s affairs, but one of the jolly little busybodies, who fill up every minute with some task cheerfully performed, some lesson learned, some hearty play-plan vigorously carried on. Max’s lessons weren’t all learned out of books by any means. He loved every green thing on the prairie, and could tell you what kind of roots it had, when it budded, how its blossoms and its seed looked, and what kind of soil it liked best. Just when he learned it all, nobody knew.
      It must have been here a little, and there a little of prying and picking about. He had a flower-garden, which was only a tangle of coarse flowers such as the grass-hoppers didn’t find to their taste or “hadn’t needed;” but every morning in the midst of his chores, Max found time for a long, hovering, puttering visit, straightening up that soldierly rank of big pungent, velvety marigolds, untangling the morning glories, and gloating over the cheerful little patch of portulacca [purslanes].
      Max liked to “putter” with housework, too...
      This busybody had just found out that he could read.

— Lucia Chase Bell, her “True Blue.” : A Story of the Great North-west (Boston: D. Lothrop & Company, 1878) : 15-16
15-16 (same Harvard copy, hathitrust)
evidently serialized in Lothrop’s Wide Awake (January through June, 1878) — wikipedia

This and other titles listed at the author’s onlinebooks page.
Have found little about Lucia Chase Bell, other than her books and some stories, including her “The Boy that Was Too Beautiful.” (A Two-Part Story) in Wide Awake
11:3 (September 1880) : 183-186, and
11:4 (October 1880) : 205-208

p.s. (20220715) —
second wife of Thomas C. Bell (1832-1919, educator and “one one of the seven founders of Sigma Chi Fraternity” wikipedia), and mother of
Donald J. Bell, a projectionist who would, with Albert Howell, form Bell & Howell. Bell’s conception was to standardize the shape and spacing of film perforations. See his 1906 US879335A patent for a Moving-picture machine.

6 April 2022