Up in the Highlands of Scotland, there grew a tall, slender, graceful tree, with shining white bark and delicate feathery green leaves. The name of this tree was birch; and it belonged to a very large family, which is found in all parts of the world where it is never very warm and often very cold. In Greenland there is no other kind of tree than the birch. This tree, which grew in Scotland, was one day cut down; and when the bark had been taken off, it was placed where it would get perfectly dry. It was then put on a wagon, and taken to a factory, where there was what is called a blocking machine.

A blocking machine is one which saws wood into blocks of any size that may be desired. When the wood of the birch tree had been cut, the blocks were put on a machine called a self-acting lathe, and in an instant they came out beautifully finished spools, all ready for the thread which later on was wound upon them.

Sometimes spools are made from the wood of ash-trees; but the largest number and the best are made of the birch, which is one of the most useful of trees. Its bark and leaves are used for medicine, and also for making yellow dye; the bark is made into drinking-cups, shoes, hats, and small boats called canoes; and there is also a fine oil made from it. The wood, because it gives forth a fresh, sweet fragrance when burnt, is used for smoking different kinds of meat and fish.