WEEK 25 |
"Good news, good news for every one, above or down below,
For Master Winsome Bluebird's come to whistle off the snow!"
A LL the Green Meadows and all the Green Forest had heard the news. Peter Rabbit had seen to that. And just as soon as each of the little meadow and forest folks heard it, he hurried out to listen for himself and make sure that it was true. And each, when he heard that sweet voice of Winsome Bluebird, had kicked up his heels and shouted "Hurrah!"
You see they all knew that Winsome Bluebird never is very far ahead of
Of course Winsome Bluebird doesn't really whistle off the snow, but
after he comes, the snow disappears so fast that it seems as if he
did. It is surprising what a difference a little good news makes. Of
course nothing had really changed that first day when Winsome
Bluebird's whistle was heard on the Green Meadows and in the Green
Forest, but it seemed as if everything had changed. And it was all
because that sweet whistle was a promise, a promise that every one
knew would come true. And so there was joy in all the hearts on the
Green Meadows and in the Green Forest. Even grim old
And then gentle Sister South Wind arrived. She came in the night, and in the morning there she was, hard at work making the Green Meadows and the Green Forest ready for Mistress Spring. She broke the icy bands that had bound the Smiling Pool and the Laughing Brook so long; and the Smiling Pool began to smile once more, and the Laughing Brook to gurgle and then to laugh and finally to sing merrily.
She touched the little banks of snow that remained, and straightway they melted and disappeared. She kissed the eight babies of Unc' Billy Possum, and they kicked off the bedclothes under which old Mrs. Possum had tucked them and scrambled out of the big hollow tree to play.
She peeped in at the door of Johnny Chuck and called softly, and Johnny Chuck awoke from his long sleep and yawned and began to think about getting up. She knocked at the door of Digger the Badger, and Digger awoke. She tickled the nose of Striped Chipmunk, who was about half awake, and Striped Chipmunk sneezed and then he hopped out of bed and hurried up to his doorway to shout good morning after her, as she hurried over to see if Bobby Coon was still sleeping.
Peter Rabbit followed her about. He couldn't understand it at all. Peter had smiled to himself when he heard how softly she had called at the doorway of Johnny Chuck's house, for many and many a time during the long winter Peter had stopped at Johnny Chuck's house and shouted down the long hall at the top of his voice without once waking Johnny Chuck. Now Peter nearly tumbled over with surprise, as he heard Johnny Chuck yawn at the first low call of gentle Sister South Wind.
"How does she do it? I don't understand it at all," said Peter, as he scratched his long left ear with his long left hind leg.
Gentle Sister South Wind smiled at Peter. "There are a lot of things
in this world that you will never understand, Peter Rabbit. You will
just have to believe them without understanding them and be content to
know that they are so," she said, and hurried over to the Green Forest
to tell Unc' Billy Possum that his old friend,
Little Jenny Wren fell sick,
Upon a time;
In came Robin Redbreast
And brought her cake and wine.
"Eat well of my cake, Jenny,
Drink well of my wine."
"Thank you, Robin, kindly,
You shall be mine."
Jenny she got well,
And stood upon her feet,
And told Robin plainly
She loved him not a bit.
Robin being angry,
Hopped upon a twig,
Saying, "Out upon you! Fie upon you!
WEEK 25 |
B OBBY and his father and mother had lived in a great city all of Bobby's life; but ever since he could remember they had been planning and saving for a home in the country.
Nothing pleased Bobby so much as to hear Father tell about this country home; and he was never tired of asking questions about it.
"Will it have a porch like the one at Grandmother's?" he would say.
"Yes, indeed," said Father. "A great roomy porch with
"Oh, yes!" said Bobby, "and will there be a tree in our yard?"
"More than one," said Father; "and in the largest one of all we will hang a swing."
Bobby never failed to clap his hands at the thought of that swing.
"And now tell about the wide, shining windows that will let in the sunshine and fresh air; and about the birds that will wake us up in the morning," he begged.
Father could tell about all these things.
Father could even draw a picture of the home.
He could even draw a picture of the home just as they wanted it to be but if Bobby asked when they would have their new home Father could only say:
"If we are willing to work for it, and save for it, and wait for it, we shall surely have a home in the country some day."
"I'm willing, and so is Mother," said Bobby. "Aren't you, Mother?" And he smiled till his face was as pleasant to see as a new moon.
T HE day that Bobby was five years old he went on a journey with his father and mother, and the funny part of it was that he did not know where they were going.
When his mother was dressing him he asked, "Where are we going, Mother?"
But Mother only said, "Oh, somewhere with Father."
And when Bobby asked him, Father laughed and answered, "You will know when you get there." It certainly was puzzling.
First of all they went to the railway station and got on a train.
"Now I know," said Bobby. "We are going to see Grandmother."
But when by and by the train stopped at a little town where Father said they must get off, why it was not the place where Grandmother lived at all!
A carriage and two fine horses were waiting for them at the town and away they rode through the streets and then out into a big beautiful country road.
"Now I know," said Bobby. "We are going to my Uncle John's house where we went when I was a baby."
"You have never been where we are going in all the days of your life, but there is no place to which you would rather go, not even to Grandmother's," said Father.
Bobby could not think of a place where he would rather go than to Grandmother's.
"Have you ever been there, Father?" he asked.
Oh, yes, Father had been there long ago. And he liked it so well that he had gone again and again.
"Have you been, Mother?"
Yes, once when Grandmother was in the city to stay with Bobby, and Mother and Father had gone out together, Father had taken Mother to the very place where they were going now.
Dear me, what a long way it was!
"Half a mile to go," said Father.
Then—"A quarter of a mile."
And at last—"Hurrah! Here we are."
The carriage stopped with a jolt, and Bobby looked out
to see a little brown house by the country road. Where
had he ever seen that house before? It had wide,
shining windows, and a great roomy porch where
"Why, it looks just like the home that we are going to have some day!" said Bobby, nearly falling out of the carriage in his excitement.
And what do you think? It was their home. Father had bought it for them.
They moved into it the very next week.
WEEK 25 |
Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were—
They lived with their Mother in a sand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir-tree.
"Now my dears," said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, "you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor."
"Now run along, and don't get into mischief. I am going out."
Then old Mrs. Rabbit took a basket and her umbrella, and went through the wood to the baker's. She bought a loaf of brown bread and five currant buns.
Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail, who were good little bunnies, went down the lane to gather blackberries:
But Peter, who was very naughty, ran straight away to Mr. McGregor's garden, and squeezed under the gate!
First he ate some lettuces and some French beans; and then he ate some radishes;
And then, feeling rather sick, he went to look for some parsley.
But round the end of a cucumber frame, whom should he meet but Mr. McGregor!
Mr. McGregor was on his hands and knees planting out young cabbages, but he jumped up and ran after Peter, waving a rake and calling out, "Stop thief!"
Peter was most dreadfully frightened; he rushed all over the garden, for he had forgotten the way back to the gate.
He lost one of his shoes among the cabbages, and the other shoe amongst the potatoes.
After losing them, he ran on four legs and went faster, so that I think he might have got away altogether if he had not unfortunately run into a gooseberry net, and got caught by the large buttons on his jacket. It was a blue jacket with brass buttons, quite new.
Peter gave himself up for lost, and shed big tears; but his sobs were overheard by some friendly sparrows, who flew to him in great excitement, and implored him to exert himself.
Mr. McGregor came up with a sieve, which he intended to pop upon the top of Peter; but Peter wriggled out just in time, leaving his jacket behind him.
And rushed into the tool-shed, and jumped into a can. It would have been a beautiful thing to hide in, if it had not had so much water in it. "Kertyschoo!"
Mr. McGregor was quite sure that Peter was somewhere in the tool-shed, perhaps hidden underneath a flower-pot. He began to turn them over carefully, looking under each.
Presently Peter sneezed—"Kertyschoo!" Mr. McGregor was after him in no time.
And tried to put his foot upon Peter, who jumped out of a window, upsetting three plants. The window was too small for Mr. McGregor, and he was tired of running after Peter. He went back to his work.
Peter sat down to rest; he was out of breath and trembling with fright, and he had not the least idea which way to go. Also he was very damp with sitting in that can.
After a time he began to wander about, going lippity—lippity—not very fast, and looking all round.
He found a door in a wall; but it was locked, and there was no room for a fat little rabbit to squeeze underneath.
An old mouse was running in and out over the stone doorstep, carrying peas and beans to her family in the wood. Peter asked her the way to the gate, but she had such a large pea in her mouth that she could not answer. She only shook her head at him. Peter began to cry.
Then he tried to find his way straight across the garden, but he became more and more puzzled. Presently, he came to a pond where Mr. McGregor filled his water-cans. A white cat was staring at some gold-fish, she sat very, very still, but now and then the tip of her tail twitched as if it were alive. Peter thought it best to go away without speaking to her; he had heard about cats from his cousin, little Benjamin Bunny.
He went back towards the tool-shed, but suddenly, quite
close to him, he heard the noise of a
Peter got down very quietly off the wheelbarrow; and started running as fast as he could go, along a straight walk behind some black-currant bushes.
Mr. McGregor caught sight of him at the corner, but Peter did not care. He slipped underneath the gate, and was safe at last in the wood outside the garden.
Mr. McGregor hung up the little jacket and the shoes for a scare-crow to frighten the blackbirds.
Peter never stopped running or looked behind him till he got home to the big fir-tree.
He was so tired that he flopped down upon the nice soft sand on the floor of the rabbit-hole and shut his eyes. His mother was busy cooking; she wondered what he had done with his clothes. It was the second little jacket and pair of shoes that Peter had lost in a fortnight!
I am sorry to say that Peter was not very well during the evening.
His mother put him to bed, and made some camomile tea; and she gave a dose of it to Peter!
"One table-spoonful to be taken at bed-time."
But Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper.
There was an old woman, as I've heard tell,
She went to market her eggs for to sell;
She went to market all on a market-day,
And she fell asleep on the King's highway.
There came by a pedlar whose name was Stout,
He cut her petticoats all round about;
He cut her petticoats up to the knees,
Which made the old woman to shiver and freeze.
When the little old woman first did wake,
She began to shiver and she began to shake;
She began to wonder and she began to cry,
"Lauk a mercy on me, this can't be I!
"But if it be I, as I hope it be,
I've a little dog at home, and he'll know me;
If it be I, he'll wag his little tail,
And if it be not I, he'll loudly bark and wail."
Home went the little woman all in the dark;
Up got the little dog, and he began to bark;
He began to bark, so she began to cry,
"Lauk a mercy on me, this is none of I!"
WEEK 25 |
EVENTEEN years is a long, long time to be getting ready to
fly; yet that is what the
The Cicada who got so very much puzzled had not been long out of his home in the warm, brown earth. He was the only Cicada anywhere around, and it was very lonely for him. However, he did not mind that so much when he was eating, or singing, or resting in the sunshine, and as he was either eating, or singing, or resting in the sunshine most of the time, he got along fairly well.
Because he was young and healthy he grew fast. He grew so very fast that after a while he began to feel heavy and stiff, and more like sitting still than like crawling around. Beside all this, his skin got tight, and you can imagine how uncomfortable it must be to have one's skin too tight. He was sitting on the branch of a bush one day, thinking about the wonderful great world, when—pop!—his skin had cracked open right down the middle of his back! The poor Cicada was badly frightened at first, but then it seemed so good and roomy that he took a deep breath, and—pop!—the crack was longer still!
The Cicada found that he had another whole skin under the outside one which had cracked, so he thought, "How much cooler and more comfortable I shall be if I crawl out of this broken covering," and out he crawled.
It wasn't very easy work, because he didn't have anybody to help him. He had to hook the claws of his outer skin into the bark of the branch, hook them in so hard that they couldn't pull out, and then he began to wriggle out of the back of his own skin. It was exceedingly hard work, and the hardest of all was the pulling his legs out of their cases. He was so tired when he got free that he could hardly think, and his new skin was so soft and tender that he felt limp and queer. He found that he had wings of a pretty green, the same color as his legs. He knew these wings must have been growing under his old skin, and he stretched them slowly out to see how big they were. This was in the morning, and after he had stretched his wings he went to sleep for a long time.
When he awakened, the sun was in the western sky, and he
tried to think who he was. He looked at himself, and instead
of being green he was a dull brown and black. Then he saw
his old skin clinging to the branch and staring him in the
face. It was just the same shape as when he was in it, and
he thought for a minute that he was dreaming. He rubbed his
head hard with his front legs to make sure he was awake, and
then he began to wonder which one he was. Sometimes he
thought that the old skin which clung to the bush was the
Cicada that had lain so long in the ground, and sometimes he
the soft, fat,
While he was wondering about this in a sleepy way, an old
Cicada from across the river flew down beside him. He
thought he would ask her, so he waved his feelers as
politely as he knew how, and said, "Excuse me,
"Why, that is easy enough," said the Madam Cicada; "You are you, of course. The part that you cast off and left clinging to the branch was very useful once. It kept you warm on cold days and cool on warm days, and you needed it while you were only a crawling creature. But when your wings were ready to carry you off to a higher and happier life, then the skin that had been a help was in your way, and you did right to wriggle out of it. It is no longer useful to you. Leave it where it is and fly off to enjoy your new life. You will never have trouble if you remember that the thinking part is the real you."
And then Madam Cicada and her new friend flew away to her home over the river, and he saw many strange sights before he returned to the meadow.
WEEK 25 |
H ARRIET is a little girl four years old. She lives with her Father and Mother in a great huge city.
When Harriet opened her eyes one Friday morning, the first thing she thought about was her baby, who always sleeps in a wee, small crib beside Harriet's big crib. Harriet reached down to the little bed and called, "Time to wake up, Florella May."
Then she lifted dolly into her own bed, hugged her close, and told her the very same story that Father had read to Harriet at bedtime last night.
Florella May listened very quietly. She liked best of all Harriet's stories the one about "The Three Bears." It made her shiver when Mamma Harriet spoke in a great, gruff voice, like the Big Bear's, and she wished very much for a taste of Baby Bear's porridge.
After the story was finished, Harriet's Mother came and said, "Now, little daughter, it's almost time for your porridge."
So Mother helped her dress, but Harriet put on her shoes and stockings all by herself. There was not time to dress Florella May, because Father was waiting for breakfast; but dolly seemed glad to take another nap.
When Harriet ran into the dining-room, Father
"Hullo, Miss Dusenberry! How do you find yourself this fine day?"
And Harriet jumped into Father's arms and answered
"I find myself ready to go to the beach with you, Mr. Father Robertson!"
"Oho! What do you suppose my big boys would think if their teacher went off to play on a school day?"
"They would think, 'We'll go to the beach
But Mother said: "Oh, we aren't ready to go to the
"Shall we go to-morrow?" asked Harriet. "Is
"Yes," answered Mother. "But come to breakfast now or our good food will be quite cold."
Then Father lifted Harriet into her high chair and tied on her bib, and Harriet said a little "Thank you" to God for the nice breakfast. Then she picked up her birthday spoon and began to eat her oatmeal.
When Harriet had eaten every bit, she smiled happily, for down at the bottom of her bowl was a picture which she always liked to see. There was a little Japanese garden and in the middle of it was a tiny bridge across a wee lake, and two funny little Japanese children were leaning over the railing of the bridge throwing crumbs to the swans in the water. Harriet owned a great many picture dishes, because she had two Grandmothers and four aunties and three uncles, and many friends who loved to give her presents; but ever since Mother had read the story of "The Japanese Twins" Harriet liked this bowl best of all.
Soon Father jumped up, kissed Mother and Harriet
Harriet ran to the window to wave her hand and throw kisses till Father turned the corner and she could see him no longer.
Then the busy day began. In fact, there was so much to do that Florella May slept in her nightie all day long, because her little Mother did not find time to dress her.
First there were the dishes to wash and wipe. Harriet knew how to wipe the knives and forks and spoons till they were so bright that she could see her face in them. This was a great help to Mother.
Next there were beds to make and rooms to be put in
order; and then it was time for
Mother worked at a high table, with a big
moulding-board and a large
Harriet stood by her own little table and she had a
little moulding-board and a little
First Mother made the cooky dough, then she put some of it into Harriet's bowl. Harriet stirred briskly for a long time. Then she sifted some flour through her tiny sifter on to her moulding-board. Then she rolled out the dough, very thin. And then she cut out the cookies.
First she used a crinkly-edged cutter as large and
round as a
Next she cut out a tiny heart, like a valentine the postman had brought her last Valentine's Day,—only the valentine was red and the cookies were yellow as gold.
Last of all she used the cutter that made a lot of little baby moon cookies, just like the tiny golden boat that Harriet loved to watch as it floated on the sky ocean at night.
Harriet was too little to attend to baking her cookies
in the great hot oven, so Mother did that for her,
while Harriet climbed into the
After a while Mother called, "Do you want to see your cookies, dear? They are all out of the oven."
Harriet ran into the kitchen and gazed with delight at her hearts and rounds and baby moons; and, oh joy! there in their midst was a tall, thin, boy cooky and a short, plump, girl cooky that Mother had made as a surprise for her little daughter.
Harriet gave her Mother a bear hug of thankfulness, but she did not ask to eat anything then, because she knew that cookies hot from the oven aren't good for a little girl's "tummy."
After a long, satisfied look at the panful Harriet
"Now, what are we going to do, Mother dearie?"
"I think I must next smooth out the wrinkles in your brown linen dress," said Mother. "That is a good dress for the beach, and though it is not soiled, it is a little too mussed for the first part of the day."
"It'll have lots and lots of wrinkles in it the last part of the day, won't it, Mother?" said Harriet gleefully.
"Yes, indeed!" laughed Mother. "After a day in the sand and the puddles it will be quite ready for Mrs. O'Brien to take home to wash on Monday."
While Mother ironed the linen dress, Harriet with her own little iron pressed the wrinkles out of Tommy Sweet Tooth's blue jumpers. Tommy Sweet Tooth was Harriet's boy doll. He had been a present from Aunt Grace on Harriet's last birthday. On the same birthday Aunt Helen had given Harriet the story of a funny little boy doll whose name was Tommy Sweet Tooth, so it isn't any wonder that the birthday "truly boy" was given the same name as the birthday story boy.
Presently it was lunch-time, and after lunch
Harriet loved to walk on the Parkway not far from the quiet little street on which she lived. The Parkway was a great wide avenue, almost wide enough for three streets. First there was the sidewalk in front of the row of high brick houses. Along the edge of the sidewalk was a strip of green grass with a row of tall trees standing with their roots in the soft grass. Beyond the trees was a paved roadway for heavy wagons and grocers' and butchers' carts.
Then came a broad gravel walk, bordered with grass and roofed over with two rows of beautiful, stately trees. Along both sides of the gravel walk were benches; and on this bright June afternoon the benches were filled with mothers and nurses, while ever so many babies were sleeping and laughing and crowing in their pretty carriages, and ever so many little boys and girls were trundling hoops and dragging little carts and pushing doll carriages and running about merrily in the sunshine.
Beyond the gravel walk was a wide, wide road along which automobiles whizzed swiftly and splendid horses drew shining carriages on their way to the Park at the end of the Parkway. And again beyond the wide road was another gravel walk and another narrow roadway, and another sidewalk.
So it is no wonder that Harriet felt it a long and dangerous journey to cross the Parkway; and even though the splendid policeman on his beautiful, glossy horse was on guard to take care of the people afoot, Harriet always clung tightly to Mother's hand till they were safe under the trees on the gravel.
There isn't time to tell about all the things that Harriet saw on that Friday afternoon. It was the first warm, bright day after many cloudy or rainy ones, so it seemed as if everybody had come out to enjoy the sunshine.
There was the peanut man with his shaggy pony and red cart and the squeaky whistle that kept blowing while the peanuts were roasting in the little oven.
There was the balloon man carrying red and yellow and green and purple balloons on one arm, a basket of gay paper windmills on the other arm, while a whistle in his mouth made the children think a canary bird must be flying about the Parkway.
Once Harriet had seen an automobile stop at the curb to let a little boy buy a yellow balloon, which his father fastened to the front of the car. Then the automobile whirled away with the balloon bobbing in the wind before it.
There was the hurdy-gurdy—or street piano, some
children called it—played
There were so many things to see that Harriet thought
had been very short when Mother
"It is time to go home now, dear, or Father will get there before we do."
You may be sure that at the end of this busy day Harriet was quite willing to go to bed early; only, of course, she had to have her bedtime story first.
This time she chose the story of
"The Elephant's Child." It was such fun to pull
Father's nose, the way the crocodile pulled the
inquisitive little elephant's, and to hear Father say,
"Led go, you are hurtig be!" just the way the
elephant child talked in the
After the story came the goodnight prayer, then oh, so many hugs and kisses for Father and Mother, and in two minutes more Harriet was fast asleep.
So that is the end of the First Story about Harriet and what she did on Friday.
Little Bobby Snooks was fond of his books,
And loved by his usher and master;
But naughty Jack Spry, he got a black eye,
And carries his nose in a plaster.
WEEK 25 |
O NCE upon a time there was a little boy who was almost five years old. And his mother used to let him wander about the garden and in the road near the house, for there weren't many horses going by, and the men who drove the horses that did go by knew the little boy and they were careful.
So this boy wandered about and played happily by himself.
He had his cat and his cart and his shovel and his hoe, and he always wore his overalls. And wherever he went his cat went too.
One morning he saw some men come with a big cart and two horses, and they stopped in a field near his house where there were some queer boards nailed on sticks that were stuck in the ground; and the boards turned corners, and there were strings across from one board to another.
And the men got out of the big cart and unhitched the horses from the cart, and the little boy thought he had better go there and see what they were going to do.
So he went, dragging his cart behind him, with his shovel and his hoe rattling in the bottom of it.
And his cat saw him going, and she ran on ahead with her bushy tail sticking straight up in the air.
And the little boy came to the men and the horses and he stopped and stood still.
And his cat stopped too, but she didn't stand still; she rolled over on her back on the ground and wanted to play, but nobody would pay any attention to her.
Pretty soon one of the men looked down and saw the little boy.
"Hello!" he said.
"Hello," said the little boy. "What are you going to do?"
"Why," said the man, "we're going to dig dirt."
"Are you going to dig a hole?" the little boy asked.
"Yes," said the man; "a great big hole."
"And what is the hole for?" the little boy asked. "Is it to plant something in?"
"No," said the man, "it's going to be the cellar of a house."
"Oh," said the little boy, "is it? And do you think I could help you dig? I've got my shovel and my cart."
"I'm afraid," said the man, "that it wouldn't do. You see that great scoop?"
He pointed to a big iron scoop that was in the cart.
The little boy looked and nodded.
"Is that a scoop? What is it for?"
"The horses drag it, and a man takes hold of those two
The little boy nodded again.
"You can watch us if you want to," the man said then. "But you must be careful not to get in the way of the horses."
"And can my kitty watch too?"
The man laughed and said his kitty could watch if she wanted to.
And the other men took pickaxes out of the cart, the handles of the pickaxes and their iron heads, and each man slipped the head of his pickaxe over the handle and gave it a tap on the ground to drive the head on.
And they walked slowly in under the strings between the boards and they got in a line.
And the little boy sat down on a stone that was just the right size and watched them. His cat came and got right between his feet.
Then the man at the end of the line raised his pickaxe high above his head, and the next man did the same, and then the third man, and so on to the other end of the line.
And the first man struck his pickaxe down hard into the ground, and it made the ground grunt, Mnh!
And the second man did the same, and the ground gave another grunt, Mnh!
And then the third man did the same thing, and so on to the other end of the line.
Then the first man was ready again, so that the sound of the pickaxes was as regular as the ticking of the tall clock.
When the pickaxe was in the ground, each man gave a kind of a pry that loosened the dirt.
And when they had picked, the men went ahead a little short step and picked a new place and left the loosened dirt behind, so that, pretty soon, they were walking on the dirt that they had loosened.
The cat had got tired of lying between the little boy's feet and having no attention paid to her, so she got up and ran off a little way, and stopped and looked back, but the little boy wouldn't look.
So she walked back, with her bushy tail straight up in the air, and rubbed against the little boy's legs.
Still the little boy didn't notice her. And the reason why he didn't notice her was that the horses were being hitched to the big iron scoop.
As soon as the horses were hitched to the scoop, they started walking along; and the scoop turned right over on its face, upside down, because the man didn't have hold of the handles.
And the horses dragged the scoop, upside down, and it bumped over the stones and made a ringing kind of noise, and they dragged it in between the boards and over the dirt that had been loosened by the pickaxes, and when they got to the end of the loosened dirt, they stopped.
Then the man turned the horses around, and he took hold of the handles of the scoop and turned it over; and he kept hold of the handles, and the horses started, and the scoop dug into the loose dirt and scooped it right up and carried it along.
Now the field, where they were digging the cellar,
sloped down behind where the cellar was to be, so that,
when the horses came to that part, they were walking
And the man let go of the handles of the scoop, and it turned over and dumped its load of dirt.
And when the horses heard the scoop bumping and banging on the ground, they turned around of their own accord and walked back to get a new load.
And so they did until they had scooped out all the dirt that had been loosened.
Then the pickaxe men went back and began again on the part that had been scooped, but the horses had to wait for the dirt to be loosened, and they stood outside of the cellar.
It was beginning to look a little bit like a cellar now, but a very shallow one.
And the little boy was getting tired of watching the pickaxes rise and fall and of listening to the noise the ground made. So he got up.
And his cat saw him getting up, and she ran to him, and she saw that he was going to the man with the horses, so she ran ahead, with her bushy tail sticking straight up in the air.
The man saw them coming, and he looked at the little boy and smiled.
"I've got to go now," the little boy said, when he had come to the man.
"So soon?" asked the man. "I hope you aren't tired."
"I think I'd better go home," the little boy said. "P'r'aps my mother would like to see me."
"I shouldn't wonder if she'd like to see you pretty often," the man said. "You tell her that you'll be safe here. I'll keep my eye on you."
"How will you get your eye on me?" the little boy asked.
The man laughed. "Will you come again?"
"I'll come to-morrow," the little boy said. "P'r'aps
I'll come this afternoon.
"Good-bye," said the man.
And he watched the little boy as he trudged away, dragging his cart, with his hoe and his shovel rattling in the bottom of it, and with his cat walking beside him and looking up into his face.
And that's all of this story.
This little pig went to market;
This little pig stayed at home
This little pig had roast beef;
This little pig had none;
This little pig cried "Wee, wee, wee!
I can't find my way
WEEK 25 |
M ANY long years had gone by since Jeremiah the prophet cried his warnings in the streets of Jerusalem, and every one of those warnings had come true. The Jews were now a conquered people under the rule of the great Roman Empire, and although they were allowed to have a king, he was only a vassal, or servant king. The people felt bitterly the loss of their freedom, and they longed more and more for the great Deliverer whom God had promised to send—the King who was to sit on David's throne and make them once more a free people.
The time was drawing very near now when that promise was to be fulfilled. The coming of the King was close at hand. As in the early morning before sunrise the sky in the east is lit by a slow, soft light, which begins to spread upwards, faintly at first and then glowing into full glory as the sun appears, so there were already signs that the great Dawn was near, that the dark night of sin and sorrow was to fade before the Light of the World. God was sending a messenger to prepare the way of the King, and to tell the people of His coming.
It was at the time when a cruel king called Herod was ruling at Jerusalem that there lived at Hebron an old priest, Zacharias, and his wife Elisabeth. Theirs was a pleasant home on the sunny slopes of the Judean hills. And it was a happy home, too, for both Zacharias and his wife served God and loved Him with all their hearts.
But although the home was a happy one, it was very quiet and rather lonely. No patter of children's feet had ever sounded there; no childish voices had ever broken the quiet. The old priest and his wife had longed to have a child; but the years passed on and they both grew old, and the hope died away. There was to be no son to bear their name.
Perhaps it was specially lonely for Elisabeth when her husband went to take his turn in the service of the beautiful Temple at Jerusalem; but she had grown accustomed to that. She never looked for any change, but just lived her quiet life day by day. She little thought that something was going to happen soon that would change her whole life.
Zacharias had gone up to the Temple to begin his share of the service, as he had so often done before. His part was to enter into the Holy Place where God's altar stood, and to swing the great golden censer before the altar, so that the fragrance of the incense should rise in its sweetness to heaven, together with the prayers of the people who knelt outside.
Now, suddenly, in the midst of his prayers, as he swung the golden censer, the old priest looked up, and saw through the blue smoke of the incense that he was not alone. There, on the right side of the altar, stood an angel, a shining messenger from God, a vision so glorious that at first Zacharias was afraid.
But the voice of the angel calmed his fears; and as he listened to the message which God had sent his heart almost stood still with joy.
"Fear not, Zacharias," said the angel: "for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth."
He was to be a very special child, the angel went on to say, and he was to do a very special work, for which he must be carefully trained.
It all seemed so wonderful that Zacharias could scarcely believe it could be true, even as he listened to the angel's words. The doubt in his heart made him long for some sign, that he might be quite sure that God meant to give him a son.
There was no need for a sign. It was Gabriel, the angel who stood in the presence of God, who had brought him the message. That surely should have been sufficient proof that the message was true. But because Zacharias had doubted, the sign was given.
"Thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed," said the angel, "because thou believest not my words."
This was the news which the old priest brought home with him when the time of his service was ended; this was the wonderful happening which was to change the whole life of Elisabeth, the patient, lonely old woman.
The words of the angel Gabriel came true. God kept His promise and sent a little son to gladden the hearts of Zacharias and Elisabeth. But through all the months before the baby was born the old priest was dumb. Not a word could he speak, until the child was eight days old and it was time to give him his name.
"You will, of course, call him Zacharias, after his father," said the rejoicing relations and friends.
But Elisabeth answered quietly, "Not so; but he shall be called John."
That was not a family name, objected the relations; they were sure she was making a mistake. They would try, by making signs, to ask the dumb father what name he wanted.
Zacharias understood their signs, and as he could not speak he called for a writing tablet, and when it was brought he wrote clearly the words, "His name is John." Even as he wrote, proving by his words that he believed all the angel had said to him, God took away the punishment which had been sent to him because he had doubted. His speech came back, and he could now talk and thank God in beautiful words as well as silently in his heart.
It was all so strange, that as the people talked together and looked at the baby they asked each other, "What kind of child will this be?"
Then God's Holy Spirit filled the heart of the old priest, and taught him the wonderful song which we so often sing in church, beginning, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: for He hath visited and redeemed His people;" and going on to say, "And thou, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways."
In that far-away country in those olden days the roads were often very rough and badly kept, and it was the custom when a king was to pass by that servants were sent a long way ahead, to clear the path and make it as smooth as possible before the king came. They would remove the stones, clear away any branches of trees which might have fallen across the way, and tell all those they met to stand aside and leave the road clear for the coming of the king.
And this was the work which God had set for the little son of Zacharias and Elisabeth. Only it was not just an ordinary road that he was to prepare and keep clear, nor was it for any earthly king that the way was to be made ready. The King was Jesus Christ, the promised Deliverer; the road was the hearts of His people, who were neither ready nor fit to welcome Him.
As the little lad grew up, his father and mother would begin to tell him about the work he was to do; and they trained him carefully, too, as the angel had directed, making him hardy and strong both in mind and body. The King's messenger would need all his strength and courage to prepare that rough and crooked road before the coming of the King.
I had a little moppet,
I put it in my pocket,
And fed it with corn and hay.
There came a proud beggar.
And swore he should have her;
And stole my little moppet away.