WEEK 14 |
L ITTLE JOE OTTER and Billy Mink were sitting on the Big Rock in the Smiling Pool. Because they had nothing else to do, they were planning mischief. Jerry Muskrat was busy filling his new house with food for the winter. He was too busy to get into mischief.
Suddenly Billy Mink put a finger on his lips as a warning to Little Joe Otter to keep perfectly still. Billy's sharp eyes had seen something moving over in the bulrushes. Together he and Little Joe Otter watched, ready to dive into the Smiling Pool at the first sign of danger. In a few minutes the rushes parted and a sharp little old face peered out. Little Joe Otter and Billy Mink each sighed with relief, and their eyes began to dance.
"Hi, Unc' Billy Possum!" shouted Billy Mink.
A grin crept over the sharp little old face peering out from the bulrushes.
"Hi, yo'self!" he shouted, for it really was Unc' Billy Possum.
"What are you doing over here?" called Little Joe Otter.
"What are you doing over here?" called Little Joe Otter.
"Just a looking 'round," replied Unc' Billy Possum, his eyes twinkling.
"Have you heard about Reddy Fox?" shouted Billy Mink.
"Ah done jes' come from his home," replied Unc' Billy Possum.
"How is he?" asked Little Joe Otter.
"Po'ly, he sho'ly is po'ly," replied Unc' Billy Possum, shaking his head soberly. Then Unc' Billy told Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter how Reddy Fox was so stiff and sore and sick that he couldn't get anything to eat for himself, and how old Granny Fox had lost a chicken which she had caught for him.
"Serves him right!" exclaimed Billy Mink, who has never forgotten how Reddy Fox fooled him and caught the most fish once upon a time.
Unc' Billy nodded his head. "Yo' are right. Yo' cert'nly are right. Yes, Suh, Ah reckons yo' are right. Was yo' ever hungry, Billy Mink—real hungry?" asked Unc' Billy Possum.
Billy Mink thought of the time when he went without his dinner because Mr. Night Heron had gobbled it up, when Billy had left it in a temper. He nodded his head.
"Ah was just
For a few minutes no one said a word. Then Billy Mink stood up and
"Where are you going so suddenly?" demanded Little Joe Otter.
"I'm going to catch a fish and take it up to Reddy Fox, if you must know!" snapped Billy Mink.
"Good!" cried Little Joe Otter. "You needn't think that you can have all the fun to yourself either, Billy Mink. I'm going with you."
There was a splash in the Smiling Pool, and Unc' Billy Possum was left looking out on nothing but the Smiling Pool and the Big Rock. He smiled to himself as he turned away. "Ah reckon Ah'll sho' have to do my share, too," said he.
And so it happened that when old
Granny Fox finally reached home with
nothing but a little
One, two, three, four, five,
Once I caught a fish alive.
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten,
But I let it go again.
Why did you let it go?
Because it bit my finger so.
Which finger did it bite?
The little one upon the right.
WEEK 14 |
When the waves made by the iceberg had calmed down again, Kesshoo paddled round among the boats.
He said, "I think we'd better land about a mile above here. There's a stream there, and perhaps we can get some salmon for our dinner."
He led the way in his kyak, and all the other boats followed. They kept out of the path of the iceberg, which had already floated some distance from the shore, and it was not long before they came to a little inlet.
Kesshoo paddled into it and up to the very end of it, where a beautiful stream of clear water came dashing down over the rocks into the sea.
The hills sloped suddenly down to the shore. The sun shone brightly on the green slopes, and the high cliffs behind shut off the cold north winds. It was a little piece of summer set right down in the valley.
"Oh, how beautiful!" everybody cried.
The boats were soon drawn up on the beach, the women and children tumbled out, and then began preparations for dinner.
The women got out their cooking pots, and Koolee set to work to make a fireplace out of three stones.
They had blubber and moss with them, but how could they get a fire? They had no matches. They had never even heard of a match.
The Angakok sat down on the beach. He had some little pieces of dry driftwood and some dried moss.
He held one end of a piece of driftwood in a sort of handle which he pressed against his lips. The other end was in a hollow spot in another piece of wood.
The Angakok rolled one driftwood stick round and round in the hollow spot of the other. He did this by means of a bow which he pulled from one side to the other. This made the stick whirl first one way, then back again. Soon a little smoke came curling up round the stick.
Koolee dropped some dried moss on the smoking spot. Suddenly there was a little blaze!
She fed the little flame with more moss, and then lighted the moss on the stones of the fireplace. She put a soapstone kettle filled with water over the fire, and soon the kettle was boiling.
While all this was going on down on the beach, the men took their salmon spears and went up the river, and Koko and the twins went with them.
The wives of the Angakok went to find moss to feed the fire. They brought back great armfuls of it, and put it beside the fireplace.
Koolee was the cook. She stayed on the beach and looked after the babies and the dogs, and the fire. Everything was ready for dinner, except the food!
Meanwhile the men had found a good place where there were big stones in the river. They stood on these stones with their spears in their hands. There were hundreds of salmon in the little stream. The salmon were going up to the little lake from which the river flowed.
When the fish leaped in the water, the men struck at them with their fish spears. There were so many fish, and the men were so skillful that they soon had plenty for dinner.
They strung them all on a walrus line and went back to the beach. Koolee popped as many as she could into her pot to cook, but the men were so hungry they ate theirs raw, and the twins and Koko had as many fishes' eyes to eat as they wanted, for once in their lives.
When everybody had eaten as much as he could possibly hold, the babies were rolled up in furs in the sand and went to sleep. The Angakok lay down on the sand in the sunshine with his hands over his stomach and was soon asleep, too.
The men sat in a little group near by, and Menie and Koko lay on their stomachs beside Kesshoo.
The women had gone a little farther up the beach. The air was still, except for the rippling sound of the water, the distant chatter of the women, the snores of the Angakok, and the buzzing of mosquitoes!
For quite a long time everybody rested. Menie and Koko didn't go to sleep. They were having too much fun. They played with shells and pebbles and watched the mosquitoes buzzing over the Angakok's face. There were a great many mosquitoes, and they seemed to like the Angakok. At last one settled on his nose, and bit and bit. Menie and Koko wanted to slap it, but, of course, they didn't dare. They just had to let it bite!
All of a sudden the Angakok woke up and slapped it himself. He slapped it harder than he intended to. He looked very much surprised and quite offended about it. He sat up and looked round for his wives, as if he thought perhaps they had something to do with it. But they were at the other end of the beach. The Angakok yawned and rubbed his nose, which was a good deal swollen.
Just then Kesshoo spoke, "I think we shall look a long time before we find a better spot than this to camp," he said. "Here are plenty of salmon. We can catch all we need to dry for winter use, right here. There must be deer farther up the fiord. What do you say to setting up the tents right here?"
When Kesshoo said anything, the others were pretty sure to agree, because Kesshoo was such a brave and skillful man that they trusted his judgment.
All the men said, "Yes, let us stay."
Then the Angakok said, "Yes, my children, let us stay! While you thought I was asleep here on the sand I was really in a trance. I thought it best to ask my Tornak about this spot, and whether we should be threatened here by any hidden danger. My Tornak says to stay!"
This settled the matter.
"Tell the women," said Kesshoo. Koko's father went over to the place where the women and children were.
"Get out the tent poles," he called to them. "Here's where we stay."
The women jumped up and ran to the woman boats. They got out the long narwhal tusks, and the skins, and set them down on the beach.
"Come with me," Koolee called to the twins. She gave them each a long tent pole to carry. She herself carried the longest pole of all, and a pile of skins.
Koolee led the way up the green slope to a level spot overlooking the stream and the bay. It was beside some high rocks, and there were smaller stones all about.
There was a flat stone that she used for the sleeping bench. When the poles were set up and securely fastened, she got the tent skins and covered the poles.
She put on one layer of skin with the hair inside and over that another covering of skin with the fur side out. She sewed the skins together over the entrance with leather thongs and left a flap for a door.
Then she placed stones around the edge of the tent covering to keep the wind from blowing it away. She piled the bed skins on the rock, and their summer house was ready.
The twins brought the musk ox hides, with all their treasures in them, and the cooking pots and knives and household things from the beach, while Koolee made the fireplace in the tent.
She made the fireplace by driving four sticks into the ground and lashing them together to make a framework.
She hung the cooking kettle by straps from the four corners. Under the kettle on a flat stone she placed the lamp. Then the stove was ready.
"We shall cook out of doors most of the time," she said to the twins, "but in rainy weather we shall need the lamp."
It was only a little while before there was a whole new village ready to live in, with plenty of fish and good fresh water right at hand.
Menie and Monnie were happy in their new home. They climbed about on the rock and found a beautiful cave to play in. They gathered flowers and shells and colored stones and brought them to their mother.
Then later they went for more fish with the men, and Kesshoo let them stand on the stones and try to spear the fish just the way the men did.
Menie caught one, and Koko caught one, but Monnie had no luck at all. "Anyway, I caught a codfish once," Monnie said, to comfort herself.
In two hours everything was as settled about the camp as if they had lived there a week, and every one was hungry again. Hungriness and sleepiness came just as regularly as if they had had nights and clocks both, to measure time by.
When the food was ready, Kesshoo called "Ujo, ujo," which meant "boiled meat," and everybody came running to the beach.
The men sat in one circle, the women and children in another. Pots of boiled fish were set in the middle of the circles, and they all dipped in with their fingers and took what they wanted.
When everybody had eaten, the children played on the beach. They skipped stones and danced and played ball, and their mothers played with them.
The men had their fun, too. They sat in their circle, told stories, and played games which weren't children's games, and the Angakok sang a song, beating time on a little drum. All the men sang the chorus.
By and by, Koolee saw Monnie's head nodding. So she said to the twins, "Come, children, let's go up to the tent."
She took their hands and led them up the slope.
"We're not sleepy," the twins declared.
"I am," said Koolee, "and I want you with me."
They went into the tent, which was not so light as it was out of doors in the bright sunlight. Then they undressed, crawled in among the deerskins, and were soon sound asleep, all three of them. After a while Kesshoo came up from the beach and went to sleep too.
WEEK 14 |
NE day an old hen whose name was Cluck-cluck went into the woods with her little
chick Tuppen to get some blueberries to eat. But a berry stuck fast in the
little one's throat, and he fell upon the ground, choking and gasping.
She ran to the Spring and said: "My dear Spring, please give me some water. I want it for my little chick Tuppen, who lies choking and gasping under the blueberry bush in the green woods."
The Spring said: "I will give you some water if you will bring me a cup."
Then Cluck-cluck ran to the Oak-tree and said:
The Oak-tree said: "I will give you a cup if some one will shake my branches."
Then Cluck-cluck ran to Maid Marian, the wood-cutter's child, and said:
"Dear Maid Marian, please shake the
The wood-cutter's child, Maid Marian, said:
"I will shake the
Then Cluck-cluck ran to the Shoemaker and said:
"Dear Shoemaker, please give
me some shoes. I want them for
The Shoemaker said: "I will give you some shoes if you will give me some leather."
Then Cluck-cluck ran to Moo-moo, the Ox, and said: "Dear
The Ox, Moo-moo, said: "I will give you some leather if you will give me some corn."
Then Cluck-cluck ran to the Farmer and said: "Dear Farmer, please give me some corn.
I want it for
The Farmer said: "I will give you some corn if you will give me a plow."
Then Cluck-cluck ran to the Blacksmith and said: "Dear Blacksmith,
please give me a plow. I want it for the Farmer; for then the Farmer
will give me some corn, and I will give the corn to the Ox,
and the Ox will give me leather, and I will
give the leather to the Shoemaker, and the Shoemaker will give me shoes,
and I will give the shoes to
The Blacksmith said: "I will give you a plow if you will give me some iron."
Then Cluck-cluck ran to the busy little Dwarfs who live under the mountains
and have all the iron that is found in the mines. "Dear, dear Dwarfs,"
she said, "please give me some of your iron. I want it for the Blacksmith;
for then the Blacksmith will give me a plow, and I will give the plow to the
Farmer, and the Farmer will give me corn, and I will give the corn to the Ox,
and the Ox will give me leather, and I will give the leather to the Shoemaker,
and the Shoemaker will give me shoes, and I will
give the shoes to
The little Dwarfs who live under the mountains had
pity on poor
Then she gave the iron to the Blacksmith, and
the plow to the Farmer, and the corn to the Ox,
and the leather to the Shoemaker, and the shoes
Then little Tuppen drank the water, and was well again, and ran chirping and singing among the long grass, as if nothing had happened to him.
The dove says coo, coo, what shall I do?
I can scarce maintain two.
Pooh, pooh! says the wren, I've got ten,
And keep them all like gentlemen.
WEEK 14 |
HEN Mr. and Mrs. Robin built in the spring, they were not
quite agreed as to where the nest should be.
"And the nest will be just the color of the rails," said
she, "so that even a
"I say that the tree is the place for it," said
Mrs. Robin was wise enough not to answer back when he spoke
in this way. She only shook her feathers, took ten quick
running steps, tilted her body forward, looked hard at the
ground, and pulled out something for supper. After that she
fluttered around the maple tree crotch as though she had
never thought of any other place.
That night they perched in the
At another time she said: "My dear, I am afraid that the dry
grass you are bringing is too
Mr. Robin hunted and hunted, but could find nothing which was darker. As he flew past the fence, he noticed that it was almost the color of the grass in his bill.
After a while, soft gray clouds began to cover the sky. "I
It did rain, however, and very soon. The great drops came
down so hard that one could only think of pebbles falling.
"I believe," said Mrs. Robin to her husband, "that you are right in saying that we might better give up this place and begin over again somewhere else."
Now Mr. Robin could not remember having said that he thought
anything of the sort, and he looked very sharply at his
wife, and cocked his black head on one side until all the
black and white streaks on his throat showed. She did not
seem to know that he was watching her as she hopped around
the partly built nest, poking it here and pushing it there,
and trying her hardest to make it look right. He thought she
would say something, but she didn't. Then he knew he must
speak first. He flirted his tail and tipped his head and
drew some of his
"It seems almost too bad," said she. "Of course there are
By this time Mr. Robin knew exactly what to do. "Plenty of
them," said he. "Now don't fuss any longer with this. That
place on the rail fence is an excellent one. I wonder that
no other birds have taken it." As he spoke he flew ahead to
the very spot which
She was a very wise bird, and knew far too much to say, "I told you so." Saying that, you know, always makes things go wrong. She looked at the rail fence, ran along the top of it, toeing in prettily as she ran, looked around in a surprised way, and said. "Oh, that place?"
"Yes, Mrs. Robin," said her husband, "that place. Do you see anything wrong about it?"
"No-o," she said. "I think I could make it do."
Before long another nest was half built, and
Mr. Robin was also at work, and such billfuls of mud, such
fine little twigs, and such big wisps of dry grass as went
into that home! Once
Mr. Robin was very proud of his nest and of his wife. He
never went far away
if he could help it. Once she heard him
"Yes," said Mrs. Robin to Mrs. Goldfinch, "I was perfectly
WEEK 14 |
In a certain country of which I know, there are two paths. One is straight and long and narrow, but the other is crooked and goes winding in and out, twisting and turning, till you cannot see the end of it.
Now one day there came to these two paths a little boy whose feet were swift as a swallow's wings. He was running and jumping and skipping along his way, but when he came to the two paths he stopped and said to himself: "Which path shall I take?"
He was running and jumping and skipping along his way.
The straight path was bright and clean. On either side of it grew trees that reached their branches toward the sky. The tiny buds of flowers peeped out of the grass, and it looked as if it might be the very same path that led by the little boy's own home.
The crooked path was full of flowers as far as the little boy could see—which was not far, you know. They hung in great clusters from the tangled vines that twined around the trees that bent their branches over the crooked path; and they looked so bright and smelled so sweet that the little boy thought he must go that way.
He could not run along the crooked path, for it twisted and turned so that he could not see straight ahead of him; and the branches of the trees hung down so low that he could not stand straight, but had to go bending and creeping under them till his back was tired. The flowers, too, were so sweet that the smell of them made him dizzy; and when he tried to hurry he stumbled over the roots of the trees that grew out of the ground.
By and by he came to a crooked house that stood by the crooked path. The chimneys were crooked, the doors were crooked, the steps were crooked, the very nails that held it together were crooked;—and well they might be, for the house belonged to a crooked man. There he was in his crooked yard walking by the aid of a crooked stick when the little boy came toiling along!
The crooked man had crept so long under the vines and branches of his crooked path that nothing he did was straight. He said crooked words and did crooked deeds, and he wouldn't look you straight in the eyes for anything, for fear you might see his crooked thoughts.
When he saw the little boy coming, he said to himself: "Here is a little boy who will be just like me some day"; and he thought he would ask him to come in.
But when the little boy saw the crooked man he scrambled through the vines away from the path, into a wood which lay on one side. There were no paths in the wood, and he did not know where to go; so he wandered about till he came to a stream of water that flowed through the grasses.
In this stream were many tiny fishes; and when the little boy saw them he forgot his troubles and stopped to watch the fishes at their play. They darted here and darted there, and when the child put his hands into the water, one swam so close that he caught it and brought it out, that he might see it better. But when the fish was out of the shining stream it was not happy. It lay still and gasped for breath.
"What is the matter?" said the child; and he threw the fish into the stream again.
"I was in the wrong place and could not swim," called the fish, as it swam off merrily.
"I am in the wrong place now," said the little boy, bursting into tears, "and I am afraid."
"Oh! don't be afraid," said the fish, "but hold up your head and look straight in front of you and walk straight ahead and nothing can harm you."
Then the little boy held up his head and walked through the wood. He did not look to the right nor the left; and if the branches hung in his way he pushed them aside.
After a while he got out of the woods and came to the straight path and ran along it with feet as swift as a swallow's wings. The sun shone, the buds were pink in the grass, the birds sang, and the little boy was glad, for he knew that he was far from the crooked man's house and very near his own home.
Master I have, and I am his man,
Gallop a dreary dun;
Master I have, and I am his man,
And I'll get a wife as fast as I can;
With a heighty gaily gamberally,
Higgledy piggledy, niggledy, niggledy,
Gallop a dreary dun.
WEEK 14 |
NCE upon a time there was a farm-house, and
it was painted white and had green
blinds; and it stood not far from the
road. In the fence was a wide gate, to
the wagons through to the barn. And the
wagons, going through, had made a little
track that led up past the kitchen door
and past the shed and past the barn and
past the orchard to the
Right in front of the kitchen door,
beyond the little track, was a grass
and beyond that was a stone wall, and
the other side of the stone wall was the
garden field. The stone wall went along
in front of the orchard to the
One day, after the winter was over, and the ground was all soft, Uncle John got out the old oxen. They put their heads down low, and he put the yoke over their necks, and the bows under, and he hooked a great chain to the yoke. Then he hooked the other end of the chain to the plough and he took hold of the handles, and the oxen started walking along, slowly, across the little track and across the grass place, and Uncle John held the plough handles so that the plough wouldn't dig in. The oxen walked through the gateway into the garden field, and Uncle John held the handles of the plough so that the plough would dig in. And it dug into the dirt and turned it up and made a furrow. And the oxen walked around the field and around, until the dirt was turned up all over it. Then they walked out of the gateway, and Uncle John held the handles of the plough so that it wouldn't dig in, and the oxen walked across the track to the shed, and there they stopped.
Then Uncle John unhooked the chain from the plough and hooked it to the harrow, and he turned the harrow over on its back. And the oxen walked across the little track to the garden field again. Then Uncle John turned the harrow over so that the little teeth would dig in, and the oxen walked across the field, back and forth, until all the lumps of dirt were broken up fine, ready for things to be planted. Then Uncle John turned the harrow over on its back again, and the oxen walked back, through the gateway, across the grass place and across the little track, to the shed. And Uncle John unhooked the chain from the yoke and took off the yoke, and the oxen walked into the barn and went to sleep. And they left the garden field that way, so that the sunshine and the wind would help to make the dirt all fine and soft.
One morning, after the garden field had been lying for awhile for the sun and the wind to work on it, Uncle John went to the barn and got a bag of peas that hung on a peg in the loft. He had put the peas there the summer before, so that they should be all ready to use for seed. Then he got his hoe and walked over to the garden field, and little John went with him. They walked across the little track and across the grass place and in at the gateway, and Uncle John set the bag of peas down against the wall.
Then Uncle John went to the end of the garden that was nearest the orchard, and he walked across, dragging his hoe, but the hoe was upside down, so that the handle dragged along in the dirt, and made a little shallow trench. And little John walked along behind with the peas. He dropped peas into the little shallow trench, one at a time, and they were pretty near together, about as far apart as the wideness of his hand. And that way he dropped the peas all the way along in the little trench, to the end of it.
While little John was putting the peas in the first trench, Uncle John was making other trenches, the same way he made the first, dragging his hoe along, upside down. And when he had made twelve trenches, he went back to the first one and covered up the peas little John had dropped, pushing the dirt over with the hoe. So little John dropped peas in all the trenches, and Uncle John covered them all up with dirt. And when they were all covered up, Uncle John and little John went away and left them.
Then the rain fell and the sun shone on the ground and warmed the peas and they began to grow. And pretty soon little stems pushed through the dirt, and on each stem were two little leaves, folded together tightly. But when they got out into the sunshine, they unfolded and more leaves grew out and the stems grew higher, and after awhile they were so high that the stems weren't strong enough to stand up straight.
When Uncle John saw that the stems of
the peas were leaning over, he went to
shed and got the wheelbarrow. In the
corner of the shed was a pile of what
looked like little stiff bushes. They
were the ends of the branches of trees,
all full of stiff twigs, and they were
about as tall as little John. These ends
of branches they call
At a good many places on every
After awhile, the flowers that came first dropped off, and where they had been were little baby green pods that would have peas in them when they were big enough. And when the first flowers dropped off, new flowers came in other places, and when they dropped off, there were other little pods that had grown inside the flowers. And the pods grew bigger and bigger, and the little peas inside got fatter and fatter, until one day Aunt Deborah thought they were big enough to eat.
So Aunt Deborah got a big wooden measure and she went out to the garden field and picked all the pods that looked fat enough. Then she went back to the kitchen door and sat down, and she broke open the pods between her fingers just the way little boys break open peanuts if their fingers are strong enough. In each pod there were a lot of peas, sometimes six and sometimes more. There might be nine or ten in the biggest pods. And Aunt Deborah pushed all the peas out of each pod with her finger, into a bowl. And when they were all out of the pods, she put them into a little kettle and poured some water on them and hung them on the crane over the fire, and pretty soon the water began to boil.
When the peas were cooked, it
So every day Aunt Deborah picked some peas for dinner, but she didn't pick them all, for they wanted some of the peas to get ripe to use in the winter and to have some to plant the next year.
Every day Aunt Deborah picked some peas for dinner.
When the summer was all over, the
Then Uncle John wheeled the wheelbarrow across the grass place and across the little track to the barn. And Uncle John and little Charles and little John sat down and got all the peas out of the pods.
The peas were almost as hard as wood and they would split open in the middle into two halves, with a smooth crack between. The biggest peas Uncle John put into bags to use for seed the next year, and the rest of them he took in to Aunt Deborah. And she put them into a bag and hung them up beside the chimney where they would dry. And in the winter, when she wanted peas to make into soup, there they were, hanging in the bag.
And that's all.
WEEK 14 |
T HE people of Israel had asked for a king to rule over them, and now they had their wish. "Long live the king!" they shouted, as Saul stood before them, and again, "Long live the king!"
He was such a splendid king, this tall, handsome soldier. He stood head and shoulders higher than any one else, and he looked a veritable leader of men. He was wise, too, and the people felt sure that he would govern as well in times of peace as he would lead them to victory in battle.
Only Samuel, the old priest, looked on at that cheering crowd with sorrowful eyes. He too loved the man whom God had bidden him anoint king; but, after all, he was but an earthly monarch, and it had been God Himself who, up till now, had been the people's king.
Still the shouting went on: "Long live the king!" and there was no doubt but that the people were ready to honour and obey him in everything. They were even willing that a standing army of trained soldiers should be raised and kept ever in readiness to defend their country, instead of the old way of calling up men when they were needed.
Now the army which the king raised was divided into two parts, the greater part of which he kept under his own command, and the smaller half he put under the command of his son Jonathan.
Of all the many good gifts which God had given King Saul, perhaps the greatest of all was this son Jonathan, "the gift of Jehovah," as the name means. He was a son to be proud of, a prince whom any people might love. Like his father, he was tall and handsome, and as brave as a lion, and, best of all, he had a heart as true as steel. The soldiers under his command were proud to think they were led by the king's son, but they did not know at first what sort of a soldier he would prove to be. He was young, and had still to show what was in him. But very soon the test came, and this is the story of his first great adventure, and how he made a name for himself.
War had been declared between the Philistines and the people of Israel. Indeed, there were few days of peace in those times, for the fierce and mighty Philistines constantly attacked the weaker Israelites, and held them in bondage. For them might was right; the strong should naturally illtreat the weak. All about the country they built garrison strongholds, that they might keep a watchful eye upon Saul's people, and whenever there was a sign of a rising they were at hand to punish those who rebelled. The poor Israelites were not even allowed to have blacksmiths who could make swords and other weapons. If they wanted any of their ploughshares or tools sharpened or mended, they were obliged to go humbly and beg a Philistine smith to do the work.
This was all very bitter to Jonathan, and as soon as he was put in command of his part of the army he determined to strike a blow for his country's freedom. Quite suddenly he appeared with his men before one of the Philistines' garrisons, and attacked it so swiftly and with such skill that the Philistines were beaten.
The news spread like wildfire through the land. A victory had been gained; the war of independence had begun. Wild with delight, the people rallied round the king; but their delight was very short-lived. It was rumoured that a vast army was gathered against them to punish them. Thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen, besides a countless number of soldiers, were ready for battle, so the rumour ran. How could their little army, numbering at most only three thousand, stand against such a foe? Their courage began to ebb away, and their hearts failed them. Instead of making a brave stand, the men began to desert, and to hide themselves among the rocks and caves of the mountains. It was a pitiful display of fear and cowardice.
A few men remained loyal and steadfast; but it was a very small army that encamped upon the edge of the valley facing the Philistine armies, where the garrison strongholds towered high on the rocky fastness above. Jonathan looked across at the fortress in front of him, and longed to strike a blow at it. If only that garrison could be conquered there might still be hope, for then the frightened Israelites would return and give battle to the enemy. But how was it to be taken? A strong, watchful enemy kept guard day and night, and it would be impossible to rush his handful of men up that steep, rocky hillside to the attack. No, it could not be done openly. If the place was to be taken at all, it must be done by strategy and not by force. So in his heart he planned a plan.
Saul, the king, sat in the camp under the shadow of a pomegranate tree. He was despondent and sorrowful, as were all the men who still followed him. No one noticed the two figures that stole quietly away, or knew that Jonathan, the king's son, and his armour-bearer had left the camp.
It was no easy task to climb those steep high rocks; but as Jonathan looked upwards at the stronghold of the Philistine garrison he was quite undaunted. It was time now to explain to his armour-bearer what he meant to do, and the lad listened eagerly. It was a splendid adventure. The idea of taking the enemy's fortress single-handed thrilled him, and he was ready to follow his master anywhere. Jonathan had said truly that God could save by many or by few, and was not God on their side?
"Do all that is in thine heart," he answered at once. "Behold, I am with thee, according to thy heart."
Jonathan had chosen his companion well; the boy was afraid of nothing. But the thing must not be done rashly. The soldier prince had thought the plan out well, and he meant to make sure beforehand by a sign that he was doing right.
Now the sign he looked for was this. Together he and his armour-bearer would climb up the rocks until they were within hail of the garrison, and then they would show themselves openly to the men who were guarding the walls. If the enemy should shout out and warn them to come no nearer, then they would give up the adventure, and return. But if they cried out to them to come on, then they would go forward, knowing that their plan would succeed, and that God would help them.
Surefooted as the wild goats, and accustomed to climbing, Jonathan and the boy crept higher and higher between the great rocks; and as they at last came in full view of the garrison they stood out and showed themselves.
Jonathan and His Armour-Bearer
"Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves," scoffed the guard, as they looked down and saw the two figures standing there. "Come up," they shouted gleefully, "and we will show you a thing."
The sign was given.
"Come up after me," said Jonathan to his armour-bearer triumphantly, as he heard the call: "for the Lord hath delivered them into the hand of Israel."
The last climb was the stiffest bit of all, and Jonathan had to use both hands and feet in clinging to the rocks, while above the scoffing garrison waited, ready to teach these bold rebels the lesson they had promised them.
Perhaps they waited too long, or had not calculated what two determined men could do; but almost before they realized their danger, Jonathan had sprung upon them, and was mowing them down with his sword as a sickle mows the grass. Twenty men fell under that terrible sword before they could put up any fight, while the rest of the guard were seized with panic, and turned to flee. This must be but the advance portion of a great attack, they thought; only by flight could they save themselves.
The panic spread throughout the whole army. No one knew quite what had happened. There was a stampede of bewildered soldiers, and, to add to their terror, the earth began to shake with a terrible earthquake.
Those signs of terror could be seen a long way off. The watchers at Saul's camp were startled as they looked. The whole Philistine army was melting away, like snow before the sunshine. They were flying as fast as they could, beating down each other in their terror as they ran.
Then the word went round that Jonathan was missing from the camp, and his men were sure that this was the work of their soldier prince. They would follow now, and help to chase the flying enemy. From far and near the men who had been in hiding came hurrying back to the ranks and joined in the great pursuit. It was a glorious day of victory and triumph, and only one thing cast a shadow over its joy.
Saul, the king, was afraid that his hungry soldiers might stop to eat food, and so allow the enemy to escape; and therefore he gave a strict order that no one should taste any food until evening, on pain of death. Only it so happened that Jonathan did not hear the order, and when he passed through a wood and saw a honeycomb dripping with golden honey which the wild bees had gathered, he stopped and ate some, for he was faint with hunger. It was not until the evening that he heard of his father's command.
He was sure that the command had been both hard and unwise; but he was a true soldier, absolutely obedient, and ready to submit to authority and take his punishment.
"Tell me what thou hast done," demanded the king, when he and his son stood face to face, after the pursuit of the Philistines was over.
"I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die," answered Jonathan calmly.
And his father answered, "God do so, and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan."
Was this to be the end of the great adventure, the reward of that fearful climb and desperate single-handed fight? Was the young leader who had brought deliverance to Israel to be punished by death? No, a hundred times no! The soldiers gathered round him, and stood between him and the king, their eyes flashing, their hands grasping their weapons.
"Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great deliverance in Israel?" they demanded. "God forbid: as the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground." The king himself should not dare to touch their hero prince. He had proved himself a commander fit to command; he had won not only a great battle, but the love and loyalty of his soldiers' hearts.
See a pin and pick it up,
All the day you'll have good luck.
See a pin and let it lay,
Bad luck you'll have all the day.