WEEK 21 |
O LD GRANNY FOX felt her heart sink way down to her toes, for she felt sure Ol' Mistah Buzzard had seen Farmer Brown's boy and his gun over near the house where Reddy Fox was nursing his wounds, or he wouldn't have advised her to hurry home. She was already very tired and hot from the long run to lead Bowser the Hound away from the Green Meadows. She had thought to walk home along shady paths and cool off, but now she must run faster than ever, for she must know if Farmer Brown's boy had found her house.
"It's lucky I told Reddy Fox to go inside
and not come out till I
returned; it's very lucky I did that," thought Granny Fox as she ran.
Presently she heard voices singing. They seemed to be in the
"Happily we dance and play
All the livelong sunny day!
Happily we run and race
And win or lose with smiling face!"
Granny Fox knew the voices, and she looked up. Just as she expected, she saw the Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind playing among the leaves. Just then one of them looked down and saw her.
"There's old Granny Fox! Just see how hot and tired she looks. Let's go down and cool her off!" shouted the Merry Little Breeze.
In a flash they were all down out of the
"Have you seen Farmer Brown's boy?" panted Granny Fox.
"Oh, yes! We saw him just a little while ago over near your house, Granny Fox. We pulled his hat off, just to hear him scold," shouted the Merry Little Breezes, and then they tickled and laughed as if they had had a good time with Farmer Brown's boy.
But old Granny Fox didn't laugh—oh, my, no, indeed! Her heart went lower still, and she did her best to run faster. Pretty soon she came out on the top of the hill where she could look, and then it seemed as if her heart came right up in her mouth and stopped beating. Her eyes popped almost out of her head. There was Farmer Brown's boy standing right in front of the door of her home. And while she was watching, what should Reddy Fox do but stick his head out of the door.
Old Granny Fox saw the gun of Farmer Brown's boy pointed right at Reddy and she clapped both hands over her eyes to shut out the dreadful sight. Then she waited for the bang of the gun. It didn't come. Then Granny peeped through her fingers. Farmer Brown's boy was still there, but Reddy Fox had disappeared inside the house.
Granny Fox sighed in relief. It had been a terrible scare, the worst she could remember.
There was an old woman, and what do you think?
She lived upon nothing but victuals and drink;
Victuals and drink were the chief of her diet,
And yet this old woman could never be quiet.
WEEK 21 |
W HEN the Twins woke up the next morning it was cold, and the rain was beating on the roof. They couldn't look out of the window to see it, because there were no glass windows in their house. There were just the pretty screens covered with white paper.
Taro slid one of the screens back and peeped out into the garden. "It's all wet," he said to Take. "We can't play outdoors today."
"We'll have a nice time in the house, then," said Take. "I can think of lots of things to do."
"So can I, if I try," Taro said.
"Let's try, then," Take answered.
They thought all the time they were dressing. They put on three kimonos because it was cold. It made them look quite fat.
"I've thought of one," Take called just as she was putting on the last kimono.
"I have, too," Taro said.
"You tell me and I'll tell you," Take begged.
"No, not until after breakfast," Taro answered. "Then first we'll play one and then the other."
After breakfast Mother was busy waiting upon Father and getting him off to his work. Then she had to bathe the Baby. So the twins went to Grandmother for help.
"O Ba San" (that means "Honorable Grandmother"), Take said to her, "it is rainy and cold, and Taro and I have thought of nice games to play in the house. Will you get the colored sands for us?"
"I know what you're going to do!" cried Taro.
Grandmother brought out four boxes. In one box was yellow sand. In another was black sand. The other two were filled with blue and red sand. Grandmother brought out some large pieces of paper.
"Thank you, O Ba San," the Twins said.
They spread the paper on the floor. Taro had one piece, and Take had another.
"I'm going to make a picture of a boat on the sea," said Taro.
He took some of the blue sand in his right hand. He let it run through his fingers until it made a blue sea clear across the paper.
"And now I'm going to make a yellow sky for a sunset." He let the yellow sand run through the fingers of his left hand.
"I'll put some red clouds in it," he said. Then he let red sand run through his fingers.
When that was done he took some black sand. He made a boat.
This was the way his picture looked when it was done, only it was in colors. The sail of the boat was blue.
"Oh, Taro, how beautiful!" Take said. "Mine won't be half so nice, I'm sure. I'm going to make—I'm going to make—let's see. Oh, I know. I'll make the pine tree beside the pond."
She took some blue sand and made the little lake. Then she took the black sand and made the trunk of the tree and some branches.
She spilled a little of the black sand. It made black specks.
"Oh, dear!" she cried. "I've spilled."
Taro looked at it. "Put the green leaves over the spilled place," he said.
"It isn't the right place for leaves," Take said.
She took some blue sand in one hand and some yellow in the other. She let them fall on the paper together. They made the green part of the tree.
"I know what I'll do about the black that spilled," she said. "I'll call it a swarm of bees!"
This is Take's picture. You can see the bees!
"I think your picture is just as good as mine," said Taro.
"Oh, no, Honorable Brother! Yours is much better," Take answered politely.
They showed them to Grannie when they were all finished. Grannie thought they were beautiful.
"Now, Taro, what's your game?" Take said when the sand was all put away.
"I have to go out into the garden first for mine," Taro said.
"Put on your clogs and take an umbrella, and don't stay but a minute," Grannie said.
Taro put on his clogs and opened his umbrella, and ran into the garden.
Take couldn't guess what he wanted. She watched him from the door.
Taro ran from one tree or vine to another. He looked along the stems and under the leaves. He looked on the ground, too. Soon he jumped at something on the ground, and caught it in his hand.
"I've got one," he called.
"One what?" Take called back.
"Beetle," Taro said.
Then he found another. He brought them in very carefully, so as not to hurt them.
In the house he put them into a little cage which he made out of a pasteboard box. Then he got more paper and a little knife.
"Oh, Taro, what are you going to make?" Take asked.
"If you and Grannie will help me, I'll make some little wagons and we'll harness the beetles," Taro said.
"Won't it hurt them?" Take asked.
"Not a bit; we'll be so careful," Taro answered.
So Take ran for thread, and Taro got Grannie to help him. Grannie would do almost anything in the world for the Twins. And pretty soon there were two cunning little paper wagons with round paper wheels!
Taro tied some thread to the front of each little wagon. Then he opened the cage to take out the beetles.
One of the beetles didn't wait to be taken out. He flew out himself. He was big and black, and he flew straight at Take! He flew into her black hair!
Maybe he just wanted to hide. But he had big black nippers, and he took hold of Take's little fat neck with them.
Take rolled right over on the floor and screamed. Her Mother heard the scream. She came running in. The maids came running too to see what was the matter.
"Ow! Ow!! Ow!!!" squealed Take. She couldn't say a word. She just clawed at her neck and screamed.
Everybody tried to find out what was the matter.
"I know—I know!" shouted Taro.
He shook Take's hair. Out flew the beetle!
Taro caught him. "He isn't hurt a bit," he said.
"But I am," wailed Take.
Mother and Grannie bathed Take's neck, and comforted her; and soon she was happy again and ready to go on with the play.
She and Taro harnessed the beetles with threads to the little wagons. But Take let Taro do the harnessing.
"You can have that one, and I'll have this," Taro said; "and we'll have a race."
He set the beetles on the floor. They began to crawl along, pulling the little carriages after them.
Taro's beetle won the race.
They played with the beetles and wagons a long time until Grannie said, "Let them go now, children. Dinner will soon be ready."
The Twins were hungry. They unharnessed the beetles and carried them to the porch. They put them on the porch railing.
"Fly away home!" they said. Then they ran to the kitchen to see what there was for dinner. They sniffed good things cooking.
Take went to the stove and lifted the lid of a great kettle. It was such a queer stove!
Here is a picture of Take peeping into the kettle. It shows you just how queer that stove was.
"It's rice," Take said.
"Of course," said Taro. "We always have rice in that kettle. What's in this one?"
He peeped into the next kettle. It was steaming hot. The steam flew out when Taro opened the lid, and almost burned his nose!
That kettle had fish in it. When it was ready, Grannie and Mother and the Twins had their dinner all together. Bot'Chan was asleep.
After dinner Grannie said, "I'm going for a little nap."
"We shall keep very quiet so as not to disturb you and Bot'Chan," Taro said.
When the little tables were taken away, the Mother said, "Come, my children, let us sit down beside the hibachi and get warm."
The "hibachi" is the only stove, except the cook-stove, that they have in Japanese houses. It is an open square box, made of metal, with a charcoal fire burning in it. In very cold weather each person has one to himself; but this day it was just cold enough so the Twins loved to cuddle close up to their Mother beside the big hibachi.
The Mother put on a square framework of iron over the fire-box. Then she brought a comforter—she called it a "futon"—from the cupboard. She put it over the frame, like a tent. She placed one large cushion on the floor and on each side of the big cushion she put a little one.
She sat down on the big cushion. Taro sat on one side and Take sat on the other, on the little cushions. They drew the comforter over their laps—and, oh, but they were cozy and warm!
"Tell us a story, honored Mother," begged Taro.
"Yes, please do!" said Take.
"Let me see. What shall I tell you about?" said the Mother. She put her finger on her brow and pretended to be thinking very hard.
"Tell us about 'The Wonderful
"Tell us about 'The Four and Twenty
"What is a Paragon?" asked Take.
"A Paragon is some one who is very good, indeed,—better than anybody else," said the Mother.
"Are you a Paragon?" Take asked her Mother.
"Oh, no," cried the Mother. "I am a most unworthy creature as compared with a Paragon."
"Then there aren't any such things," said Take, "because nobody could be better than you!"
The Mother laughed. "Wait until I tell you about the Paragons. Then you'll see how very, very good they were," she said.
"Once there was a Paragon. He was only a little boy, but he was so good to his parents! Oh, you can't think how good he was! He was only six years old. He was a beautiful child, with a tender, fine skin and bright eyes. He lived with his parents in a little town among the rice-fields. The fields were so wet in the spring that there were millions and millions of mosquitoes around their home. Everybody was nearly bitten to death by them. The little boy saw how miserable and unhappy his parents were from the mosquito-bites. He could not bear to see his dear parents suffer; so every night he lay naked on his mat so the mosquitoes would find his tender skin and bite him first, and spare his father and mother."
"Oh, my!" said Take. "How brave that was! I don't like mosquito-bites a bit!"
"You don't like beetle-bites any better, do you?" Taro said.
"Well," said Take, "I'd rather the beetle should bite me than Mother."
"Well, now, maybe you'll be a Paragon yourself sometime," the Mother said.
"There weren't any women paragons, were there?" asked Taro.
"Oh, yes," said the Mother. "Once there was a young girl who loved her father dearly, and honored him above everything in the world, as a child should. Once she and her father were in a jungle, and a tiger attacked them. The young girl threw herself upon the tiger and clung to his jaws so that her father could escape."
"Did the tiger eat her up?" said Taro.
"I suppose he did," the Mother answered.
"Was it very noble of her to be eaten up so her father could get away?" Take asked,
"Oh, very noble!" said the Mother.
"Well, then," said Take, "was it very noble of the father to run away and let her stay and be eaten up?"
"The lives of women are not worth so much as those of men," her Mother answered.
Take bounced on her cushion. "I don't see how she could honor a man who was so mean," she said.
Take's mother held up her hands. She was shocked. "Why, Take!" she said. "The man was her father!"
"Tell us another," said Taro.
"Please, honored Mother, don't tell me about any more Paragons," said Take.
Her Mother was still more shocked.
"Why, little daughter," she said, "don't you want to hear about the Paragon that lay down on the cold, cold ice to warm a hole in it with his body so he could catch some fish for his cruel stepmother to eat?"
"No, if you please, dear Mother," said Take, "because all the Paragons had such horrid parents."
"My dear little girl," the Mother said, "you must not say such dreadful things! We must honor and obey our parents, no matter what kind of persons they are."
"Well," said Take, "we love and honor you and our Father—you are so good and kind." She put her hands on the matting in front of her, and bowed to the floor before her Mother.
Taro saw Take do this, and he wanted to be just as polite as she was; so he rolled over on his cushion and bowed to the floor, too.
"Now, tell us about the
Their Mother began: "Once upon a
But just as she got as far as that they heard a little sound from Bot'Chan's cushion in the corner, and the covers began to wiggle.
"There's Bot'Chan awake," said the Mother. "I must take care of him now. The 'Lucky Tea-Kettle' must wait until another time."
And just at that minute bright spots of sunshine appeared on the paper screen, and the shadows of leaves in pretty patterns fluttered over it.
"The sun is out! The sun is out!" cried the Twins.
They ran to the door, put on their clogs, and were soon dancing about in the bright sunshine.
WEEK 21 |
NCE the Morning-Glory was flat on the ground. She grew that way, and she
had never climbed at all. Up in the top of a tree near her lived
"How I wish I could see the Morning-Glory!" he said.
The Morning-Glory heard this, and she longed to let the little Wren see her face. She pulled herself along the ground, a little at a time, until she was at the foot of the tree where the little Wren lived. But she could not get any farther, because she did not know how to climb. At last she wanted to go up so much, that she caught hold of the bark of the tree, and pulled herself up a little. And little by little, before she knew it, she was climbing.
And she climbed right up the tree to the little Wren's nest, and put her sweet face over the edge of the nest, where the little Wren could see.
That was how the Morning-Glory came to climb.
Sleep, baby, sleep,
Our cottage vale is deep:
The little lamb is on the green,
With woolly fleece so soft and clean—
Sleep, baby, sleep.
Sleep, baby, sleep,
Down where the woodbines creep;
Be always like the lamb so mild,
A kind, and sweet, and gentle child.
Sleep, baby, sleep.
WEEK 21 |
URING the days when the four beautiful
Just outside the fence the milkweeds grew, with every broad,
pale green leaf slanting upward in their spring style.
the Milkweed Caterpillars fed, and here, too, when the great
balls of tiny dull pink blossoms dangled from the stalks,
the Milkweed Butterflies hung all day long. All the teams
from the farm-house passed along the quiet,
After the young Robins had outgrown their shells and broken and thrown them off, they were naked and red and blind. They lay in a heap in the bottom of the nest, and became so tangled that nobody but a bird could tell which was which. If they heard their father or their mother flying toward them, they would stretch up their necks and open their mouths. Then each would have some food poked down his throat, and would lie still until another mouthful was brought to him.
When they got their eyes open and began to grow more down,
they were good little Robins and did exactly as they were
told. It was easy to be good then, for they were not strong
enough to want to go elsewhere, and they had all they wanted
to eat. At night their mother sat in the nest and covered
them with her soft feathers. When it rained she also did
this. She was a kind and very
But when their feathers began to grow, and each young
Robin's sharp quills pricked his brothers and sisters if
they pushed against him, then it was not so easy to be good.
Four growing children in one little round bed sometimes
found themselves rather crowded. One night
"Then they must learn to work for themselves," said
"Why, they are just babies!" exclaimed his wife. "They have hardly any tails yet."
"They don't need tails to eat with," said he, "and they may as well begin now. I will not have you get so tired for this one brood."
Mrs. Robin said nothing more. Indeed, there was nothing more to be said, for she knew perfectly well that her children would not eat with their tails if they had them. She loved her babies so that she almost disliked to see them grow up, yet she knew it was right for them to leave the nest. They were so large that they spread out over the edges of it already, and they must be taught to take care of themselves before it was time for her to rear her second brood.
The next morning all four children were made to hop out on to the rail. Their legs were not very strong and their toes sprawled weakly around. Sometimes they lurched and almost fell. Before leaving the nest they had felt big and very important; now they suddenly felt small and young and helpless. Once in a while one of them would hop feebly along the rail for a few steps. Then he would chirp in a frightened way, let his head settle down over his speckled breast, slide his eyelids over his eyes, and wait for more food to be brought to him.
Whenever a team went by, the oldest child shut his eyes. He thought they couldn't see him if he did that. The other children kept theirs open and watched to see what happened. Their father and mother had told them to watch, but the timid young Robin always shut his eyes in spite of that.
"We shall have trouble with him," said
Mrs. Robin talked and talked to him, and still he shut his eyes every time that he was frightened. "I can't keep them open," he would say, "because when I am frightened I am always afraid, and I can't be brave when I am afraid."
"That is just when you must be brave," said his mother. "There is no use in being brave when there is nothing to fear, and it is a great deal braver to be brave when you are frightened than to be brave when you are not." You can see that she was a very wise Robin and a good mother. It would have been dreadful for her to let him grow up a coward.
At last the time came when the young birds were to fly to the ground and hop across the road. Both their father and their mother were there to show them how. "You must let go of the rail," they said. "You will never fly in the world unless you let go of the rail."
Three of the children fluttered and lurched and flew down. The timid young Robin would not try it. His father ordered and his mother coaxed, yet he only clung more closely to his rail and said, "I can't! I'm afraid!"
At last his mother said: "Very well. You shall stay there as long as you wish, but we cannot stay with you."
Then she chirped to her husband, and they and the three
brave children went across the road, talking as they went.
"Careful!" she would say. "Now another hop! That was fine!
Now another!" And the father fluttered around and said:
"Good! Good! You'll be
The timid little Robin on the fence felt very, very lonely. He was hungry, too. Whenever he saw his mother pick up a mouthful of food, he chirped loudly: "Me! Me! Me!" for he wanted her to bring it to him. She paid no attention to him for a long time. Then she called: "Do you think you can fly? Do you think you can fly? Do you think?"
The timid little Robin hopped a few steps and chirped but never lifted a wing. Then his mother gave each of the other children a big mouthful.
The Robin on the fence huddled down into a miserable little bunch, and thought: "They don't care whether I ever have anything to eat. No, they don't!" Then he heard a rush of wings, and his mother stood before him with a bunch in her bill for him. He hopped toward her and she ran away. Then he sat down and cried. She hopped back and looked lovingly at him, but couldn't speak because her bill was so full. Across the road the Robin father stayed with his brave children and called out, "Earn it, my son, earn it!"
The young Robin stretched out his neck and opened his bill—but his mother flew to the ground. He was so hungry—so very, very hungry,—that for a minute he quite forgot to be afraid, and he leaned toward her and toppled over. He fluttered his wings without thinking, and the first he knew he had flown to the ground. He was hardly there before his mother was feeding him and his father was singing: "Do you know what you did? Do you know what you did? Do you know?"
Before his tail was grown the timid Robin had become as
brave as any of the children, for, you know, after you begin
to be brave you always want to go on. But the
WEEK 21 |
ONE bright summer afternoon, Fleet, the good old shepherd dog that helped to take care of the farmyard, decided that he would step into the barn to see his friend Mrs. Muffet and her two little kittens, for he had not been able to chat with them for some time.
On his way, Fleet looked around to see that all was right. The weather was warm and the hens were taking a dust bath under the apple tree, and the brindle calf was asleep in the shadow of the barn. The ducks and geese were at the pond, the horses were at work in a distant field, the cows and sheep were in pasture, and only the brown colt kicked up his heels in the farmyard; so Fleet barked with satisfaction, and walked into the barn.
Inside he found Mrs. Muffet washing her face, while her two little kittens slept in the hay; and she gave Fleet a warm welcome.
"Good evening, Mrs. Muffet," said he.
"Good evening, Friend Fleet," answered she.
"How are the children?" asked the good dog, "and do they grow?"
"Grow?" said Mrs. Muffet. "You never saw anything like them! and such tricks as they play! Tittleback is the merrier, and will play with his own tail when he can find nothing else; but Toddlekins can climb in a way that is astonishing. Why, he even talks of going to the top of the barn, and no doubt he will, some day."
"No doubt, no doubt," said Fleet. "Children are so remarkable now."
"But what is the news with you, Friend Fleet?" inquired Mrs. Muffet.
"Nothing at all," said Fleet. "The barnyard is as quiet"—but just as he spoke there arose such a clatter outside the door that he sprang to his feet to see what was the matter, and the two kittens waked up in alarm. Outside, the yard was in a commotion. Everybody was talking at the same time. The hens were cackling, the roosters crowing, the ducks quacking, the calf crying, and the sound of flying hoofs could be heard far down the road.
"Pray, what is the matter?" said Fleet to three geese, that were hurrying along, with their necks stretched out.
"The gate is open, the brown colt's gone, the brindle calf's going and we are thinking about it; quawk! quawk!" said the three geese, Mrs. Waddle, Mrs. Gabble, and Mrs. Dabble.
"Where are you going?" asked Mrs. Muffet, putting her head out of the barn door.
"Out into the world," said the three geese together.
"You'd better go back to your pond," barked Fleet, as he bounded off to help the cook, who was waving her apron to keep back the brindle calf, while the milkmaid shut the gate, and little Dick ran down the road after the brown colt.
The brown colt kicked up his heels, and did not care how fast Dick ran. He had all the world to roam in, and the green grass was growing everywhere; so he tossed his head and galloped away toward the blue hills.
After a while he looked to see whether Dick was still following him, but nobody was in sight; so he lay down and rolled over among the daisies; and this was such fun that he tried it again, and again, until he was tired.
Then he nibbled the grass awhile, but soon decided to take another run; and he raised such a dust, as he scampered along, that the birds peeped down from the trees to see what it was, and a little rabbit that ran across the road was so astonished that it did not take breath again till it reached its greenwood home.
"Hurrah!" said the brown colt, not because he knew what it meant but because he had heard Dick say it. "Hurrah! maybe I'll never go back!"
Just then there came an awful screech out of a neighboring field, and, although it was only the whistle of a threshing machine, the brown colt was terribly frightened, and jumped over a fence into a cotton field.
"Oh!" thought he, as he tore his glossy coat on the sharp barbs of the wire fence and cut his feet as he leaped awkwardly over, "Oh! how I wish I could see Dick now."
But Dick was at home. He had run after the brown colt as fast as his feet could carry him, and had called "Whoa! Whoa!" but the brown colt would not listen; so Dick had gone home with his head hanging down, for he was the very one who had forgotten to shut the farmyard gate.
Mother was at home, and she felt very sorry when she heard about it, for she knew how dear that colt was to her careless little boy; and when father came in from the fields, too late to look for the runaway, he said that big boys and little boys and everybody else must take care of the things they wanted to keep; and Dick cried, but it did no good.
The cows came home when father did, and the brindle calf was glad that she had not gone away from the farmyard when she saw her mother come in from the clover lot. The chickens went to roost, and the horses were fed; but no brown colt came in sight, although Dick and Fleet went down the lane to look, a dozen times.
"He's sorry enough," said Friend Fleet to Mrs. Muffet, as they ate their supper; and Mrs. Muffet told Tittleback and Toddlekins all about it, when she went back to the barn.
Poor little Dick! and poor brown colt! They thought about each other very often that night; and early in the morning the man who owned the cotton field, drove the brown colt out.
"I'd like to know," said the man, as he hurried him along, "what business you have in my cotton field!" But the brown colt hung his head, as Dick had done, and limped away.
The long pike road stretched out, hard and white, before him,
and the birds, chattering in the bushes, seemed to
"Is this the same brown colt that raised such a dust yesterday?"
Oh! how long and weary the way was, to his limping feet! But at last he reached home, just at milking time; and when the milkmaid saw him standing at the gate, she gave a scream that brought the household out.
Dick and the cook and Fleet tumbled over each other in their surprise, and the barnyard was in such an excitement that one hen lost her chickens and did not find them all for fifteen minutes.
"What did you see?" cried the brindle calf.
"What made you come back?" asked the geese; but Dick and Friend Fleet asked no questions, because they understood.
That was a long time ago, and the brown colt is a strong horse now, and Dick a tall boy; but neither of them will ever forget the day when Dick was careless and did not shut the farmyard gate.
Cry, baby, cry,
Put your finger in your eye,
And tell your mother it wasn't I.
WEEK 21 |
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 let the wagons through to the
barn. And the wagons, going through, had made a track
that led up past the kitchen door and
past the shed and past the barn and past the orchard to
One morning, the old rooster crowed
very early, as soon as it began to be light. And that
waked Uncle John and Aunt Deborah, and
Uncle Solomon and Aunt Phyllis. And they all got up and
put on their clothes and came
Between the two great doors of the barn there was a
great open place so that the wagons could go
right through; and that was where they threshed the
wheat. And on one side were the stalls for the
horses and the places for the oxen, and on the other
side were the places for the cows. In the
corner of the barn next to the horses was the
There were two big horses and two big oxen and six
cows. The horses were in stalls, but the
cows didn't have stalls.
They stood in a row on a kind of a low platform, with
their heads toward the open place in the
middle of the barn. Each cow had her head through a
kind of frame made of two boards that
went up from the floor, so that when the boards were
fastened at the top she couldn't get her
head out, but she could move it up and down all she
wanted to. And when they wanted to let
the cows out, they unfastened one of the boards and let
it down. But
In front of each cow was a little low wall, about as high as her neck, and just behind the wall was a trough that they call a manger, where they could put hay or meal or other things for the cow to eat, so that she could reach it. Just over the manger of each cow was a hole in the floor of the loft where the hay was, so that they could put hay through and it would fall right into the manger, in front of the cow. In winter the cows had hay, but in summer they didn't have hay, because they could eat the grass, and that was better.
So, when Uncle John went to look after the cows, he
didn't climb up to the loft and pitch some
hay down through the holes, as he would do in winter,
but he took a wooden measure and went
to a big box that they call a bin. It stood in the
corner next to the
Then he went to the milk-room and got the big milk
pails and his
Then Uncle John put the milking-stool down by a cow, and the pail was between his knees, resting on the end of the stool. And he milked the cow and the milk spurted into the pail. And when she had given all the milk she had, the pail was about half full.
Then Uncle John went to the next cow and milked her,
and when that pail was full, he took the
other pail. And so he
milked all the cows, one after the other, and when both
the pails were full, he took them to
At the side of the barn, behind the cows, was a door
that opened into the
When a lot of cows are together, one of the cows is always the leader, and she always goes first, wherever they go. If any other cow tries to go first, the leader butts that one and makes her go behind. Or if the other cow doesn't want to go behind, they put their horns together and push, and the one that pushes harder is the leader.
So the cows waited at the gate, and little John had
And they went along the little track and through the gate into the road, and along the road to the great enormous field. And there they stopped, for the bars were up and they had to wait for little John to come along and let them down, so that they could go through.
And little John came running along, eating his piece of
johnny-cake, and kicking up the dirt
with his bare feet, for in the
When the cows were all in the field, they began to eat the grass; and they walked slowly about, eating the grass, until they had had all they wanted. Then they went over to the corner of the field, where there was a stream of water running along, and each cow took a drink of water. In the middle of the field was a big tree with long branches and a great many leaves, so that under the tree it was shady and cool. By the time the cows had eaten all the grass they wanted, it was hot out in the sun, and they all walked over to the big tree and got in the cool shade.
Some of them lay down and some of them stood still, and they switched their tails about to keep the flies off, and they chewed their cuds. For a cow has two kinds of stomach. When she bites off the grass, she swallows it down quickly, and it goes into the first stomach; and after awhile, when she has eaten all the grass she wants, she goes and lies down, or stands still and some of the grass comes back into her mouth in a bunch and she chews it all up fine and swallows it again, so that it goes down into her real stomach. Then another bunch comes up and she chews that and swallows it, and so she does until all the grass is chewed up fine. That is what they call chewing the cud.
So the cows stayed in the shade of the big tree until they were hungry again, and then they walked about and ate some more of the grass and drank some more water out of the little stream. And by that time it was in the afternoon and almost time for little John to come to drive them home.
So they all stood looking at the gate and waiting for
little John. And by and by little John
came running along, and he let down the bars at one
end, and he called
When the cows came to the farm-house, they turned in at
the gate and went up the little track
Then Uncle John put a measureful of meal in the manger
in front of each cow, and he got
When the cows were all milked, Uncle John poured the
milk through the strainer into the
big cans and took it out to the
Then he shut the big doors of the barn and fastened them, and the cows lay down and went to sleep.
And that's all.
Baa, baa, Black Sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, marry, have I,
Three bags full:
One for my master,
And one for my Dame,
And one for the little boy
That lives in the lane!
WEEK 21 |
I N the little village of Anathoth, not very far from Jerusalem, a boy was learning his lessons and playing his games, very much like other boys, except perhaps that, as he was the son of a priest, he had more difficult lessons to learn and less time for play.
Jeremiah, for this was the boy's name, was quick to learn. He knew all about the history of his people and how God had led them and helped them, and as he grew bigger and stronger two things grew greater and stronger in his heart as well—his love for his country and his love for God.
Then one day a wonderful thing happened. God's message came to him telling him he was to be God's messenger, who was to go and speak to the people of his nation. It must have been an awesome moment for the boy when he first heard God's voice; but Jeremiah found words to answer, although they were halting and rather fearful.
"Ah, Lord God!" he said, "behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child."
But God's message came again clear and plain. "Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee."
And even as Jeremiah listened, God's finger was laid upon his mouth, and the message was written in his heart.
He was alone when he heard God's voice. Perhaps he was in one of the village gardens which lay bleak and bare in the wintery light, and then suddenly a beautiful sight caught his eye. It was an almond tree, covered with pure white blossoms, called in his language "the waker," because it wakes up and puts out its flowers when all the other trees and plants are still in their winter sleep.
"Jeremiah, what seest thou?" came God's voice again.
"I see a rod of an almond tree," answered Jeremiah.
He had been feeling rather bewildered, and longed for a sign that he was indeed to be God's messenger, and this was the sign God sent. As the white almond blossom was awake while everything else seemed dead or sleeping, so God said that He, the great Waker or Watcher, would fulfil every one of His words. After that God taught him by another sign that evil days were in store for his country: that a heathen nation would come sweeping down from the north, and would destroy Jerusalem and carry the people away captive.
This, then, was the message which Jeremiah was to carry to the people: to warn them that God would punish them for all their wrongdoing. It was a hard message to take; the people, he knew, would be very angry, and his own heart was heavy with sorrow to think that all this evil was to happen to his beloved land.
But no better messenger could have been chosen. He was quite fearless and steadfast as a rock. Nothing could stop him from his work or tempt him to keep silence.
At first, however, things were not so difficult for the young prophet. The good King Josiah was reigning, and he had tried to make the people give up their idols and all their evil ways, and he was glad that Jeremiah should bring God's message and cry it aloud.
But the more the people listened, the more angry they became. They hated to be told that God meant to punish them, and yet they would do nothing to show Him that they wanted Him to forgive them.
Instead of that they planned how they could silence the voice that spoke the message; and so Jeremiah was obliged to flee away from his own village and hide himself from those who wanted to kill him.
Then followed more evil days. The good King was killed in battle, all he had tried to do was swept away, and the people needed God's warning message more than ever.
And the message came. One day a strange figure appeared in the streets of Jerusalem. The people knew from his robe that he was a priest, but why did he wear such a dirty, ragged girdle? A man's girdle was the chief part of his dress, and it was a shame to the city that a priest should be seen in the streets wearing one as soiled and torn as that.
Then the man in the ragged girdle began to speak to them, and his words were like whips. The soiled, unlovely girdle was like the people themselves, he said. God had meant them to be clean and beautiful; and instead, they were stained with their ugly sins, not fit to belong to God. Would nothing make them repent and turn to God? Then, suddenly, he took a clay jar and dashed it to pieces on the rock.
"Look," he cried, "that is how God will break you and your city."
But it was all of no use. The people first scoffed and then grew angry, and in their rage they seized Jeremiah and put him in the stocks where all the passers-by might mock at him.
"See the mad prophet!" they cried in derision.
It was easy to laugh at the prophet, but in a very short time a feeling of uneasiness began to spread amongst the people of Jerusalem. It looked as if there might be truth in the prophet's warning. From the north came news that the King of Babylon was marching on his conquering way, and who knew where he would stop?
There was no warning voice crying in the streets of Jerusalem now. Jeremiah was shut up by the king's order, but even in prison he was writing the message which he could no longer cry aloud. And when the message was written it was carried to the king.
Now the king was sitting in his winter palace and a fire was burning on the hearth when the prophet's message was read to him. And, like his people, he would not listen. In a great rage he seized the roll of writing and cut it in pieces with a penknife, and then threw the pieces into the fire to be burned.
Again it was easy enough to destroy the message, but that did not serve to stop the punishment that was coming nearer and nearer. Jerusalem could not hold out against the mighty hosts of Babylon which came sweeping on to overwhelm it, and ere long the people were taken captive and carried away to distant Babylon. Only a poor little remnant was left behind.
It might have been thought that those who were left would have listened now to God's messenger as he still cried to them to repent and to look forward to the time when the captives would return and God would remember His promise to set on the throne of David the King of all the earth. But it was not so. More hardships were in store for Jeremiah.
He was an old man now, worn out with suffering and great sorrow; but to silence him once for all, he was lowered into a horrible pit which had been dug in the courtyard of the palace to drain off the rain water. There was not enough water in it to drown him, but there was deep wet mud at the bottom, and into this he sank; and they left him there, without food, to die.
But he was not to die yet. A slave of the court who loved him managed to get a rope and some old rags, and these he lowered into the pit, bidding Jeremiah put the rags as pads under his arms and then slip the cords over them, ready to be drawn up.
"So they drew up Jeremiah with cords."
His life was saved, but only to endure fresh sorrows and suffering. Again Jerusalem was besieged, and this time when the conquerors left the city was laid in ruins, the walls were broken down, and the beautiful temple was burned to the ground, while the old prophet was carried away from the land which he loved to die in a strange country among a strange people.
Was his life a failure? It seemed so in man's eyes, but God who had shown him the sign of the white almond rod, God the Waker and Watcher, looked down upon the work of His messenger and was satisfied, for "he that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."
Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, marry, have I,
Three bags full;
One for my master,
One for my dame,
But none for the little boy
Who cries in the lane.