WEEK 27 |
M ISTRESS SPRING was making everybody happy on the Green Meadows and in the Green Forest and around the Smiling Pool. With her gentle fingers she wakened one by one all the little sleepers who had spent the long winter dreaming of warm summer days and not knowing anything at all of rough, blustering Brother North Wind or Jack Frost. As they wakened, many began to sing for joy. But the clearest, loudest singers of all lived in the Smiling Pool.
It was a long time before Peter Rabbit and Johnny Chuck knew where
they lived. Every night just before going to
bed, Johnny Chuck would
sit on his
"Spring! Spring! Spring! Spring!
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Spring!
So gentle, so loving, so sweet and so fair!
Oh, who can be cross when there's love
Be happy! Be joyful! And join in our song
And help us to send the glad tidings along!
Spring! Spring! Spring! Spring!
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Spring!"
When Johnny Chuck had first heard them, he had looked in all the
"I believe they are down in the old bulrushes around the Smiling Pool," said Peter Rabbit, as he stood listening with a hand behind one long ear.
So over to the Smiling Pool they hurried. The nearer they got, the louder became the voices singing:
"Spring! Spring! Spring! Spring!
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Spring!"
But look as they would, they couldn't see a single singer among the brown bulrushes. It was very strange, very strange indeed! It seemed as if the voices came right out of the Smiling Pool itself!
When Peter Rabbit made a little noise, as he hopped out on the bank where he could look all over the Smiling Pool, the singing stopped. After he had sat perfectly still for a little while, it began again. There was no doubt about it this time; those voices came right out of the water.
Johnny Chuck stared at Peter Rabbit, and Peter stared at Johnny Chuck. Nobody was to be seen in the Smiling Pool, and yet there were those voices—oh, so many of them—coming right out of the water.
"How can birds stay under water and still sing?" asked Johnny Chuck.
"Ho, ho, ho! Ha, ha, ha!"
Peter Rabbit and Johnny Chuck whirled around, to find Jerry Muskrat peeping up at them from a hole in the bank almost under their feet.
"Ho, ho, ho! That's the best joke this spring!" shouted Jerry Muskrat,
and laughed until he had to hold his sides. "Birds under water!
"Ho, ho, ho! That's the best joke this spring!"
shouted Jerry Muskrat.
There was a fat man of Bombay,
Who was smoking one sunshiny day;
When a bird called a snipe
Flew away with his pipe,
Which vexed the fat man of Bombay.
WEEK 27 |
T HERE were no houses or people nearer than the town, but Bobby and Mother and Father in the little brown house had plenty of neighbors.
Every time Bobby went out to swing or to play he saw some of them peeping at him from bush, or tree, or hurrying away through the grass at the sound of his feet.
There was the big lively
A slim green lizard went slipping through the grasses
almost every day; and a
And just at twilight time the katydids would begin their music in the trees. "Katy did! Katy didn't! Katy did! Katy didn't!" Over and over and over it went, but what Katy did or did not do Bobby never could find out.
Then too there was old Neighbor Owl, who sometimes came, when the night was dark, to sit in a tree on the other side of the Big Road.
"Who-o? Who-o?" he called just as if he wanted to know who lived in the little brown house.
Father would answer him politely: "Mr. and Mrs. Randolph and their little boy Bobby." But it made no difference. The very next night perhaps the owl would ask, Whoo? Whoo?
But of all the neighbors, the one that Bobby liked best was the little brown rabbit with long ears and a scrap of a tail.
The first time he saw the brown rabbit, he ran after her as fast as he could, for he thought to himself, "How nice it would be to have a Bunny rabbit for a pet!"
But dear me, how quick the rabbit was! She was into the wood before Bobby could say Jack Robinson or anything else; and when he got there he spied her going like a streak of lightning through the bushes.
Bobby stumbled over a sourwood stump, and tumbled over
a hickory log, and got his feet tangled in a wild
When he got home he was sorry he had chased the rabbit. He was so afraid that he had frightened her away.
But the next day he caught a glimpse of her again, leaping across the road.
Bobby told Father about the little brown rabbit and not long after Father said to him:
"How would you like to go with me to the little brown rabbit's home?"
"Really, Father?" asked Bobby.
"Really, Bobby," answered Father.
And as Bobby thought nothing could be pleasanter they started right out.
The little brown rabbit lived in a hole in the ground that was called a burrow. She had dug it for herself in a bank of earth that sloped from a green field down to the Big Road.
Father pushed aside the leaves and vines that covered it and there in the snug safe burrow, that was lined with hair from the little brown rabbit's own coat, Father and Bobby saw—what do you think? Five baby rabbits! And when Bobby saw those baby rabbits he was glad, you may be sure, that he had not caught their mother, the little brown rabbit.
O NE afternoon Bobby went to play in the wood beyond the little brown house.
The wood was full of things
that Bobby liked,—blue and white violets, tall Indian pinks, and soft
green moss. He found a gay bird's feather for his cap,
His hands and his pockets, too, were soon filled with treasures to take home with him.
But which was the way home? Was it through the thunderberry-bushes and tall green trees on this side, or was it through the tall green trees and thunderberry-bushes on that side? Bobby went first one way and then the other, but no matter how he turned he could not see the little brown house.
It was getting late, too. The katydids were already beginning their "Katy did" and "Katy, didn't." Bobby did not like to hear them at all; not when he was in the wood by himself and could not find the way home.
"Father! Mother!" he called, but no one answered.
"Father! Mother!" he called.
It really was enough to make a little boy cry, and to
tell the truth there were two big tears in Bobby's
eyes. They were just about to roll down his cheeks when
all at once he came to a road that wound through the
wood like a white
"Why it is the Big Road!" said Bobby, speaking out
loud in his surprise. Yes, and there by the side of the
road was the great log where he and Mother and Father
had waited for the grey squirrel, and there was the
grey squirrel himself scampering through the bushes.
And when Bobby had followed the road from the wood the
first thing he spied was the
There was no doubt about the way home then, and a smiling little boy went running down the road. He did not stop to take breath till he was home again.
Mother and Father were out watching for him, and they were as glad as he when the Big Road brought him back to them.
And it was wonderful how pleasant the katydids sounded to Bobby when he was safe at home.
WEEK 27 |
O NE morning a little rabbit sat on a bank.
He pricked his ears and listened to the trit-trot, trit-trot of a pony.
A gig was coming along the road; it was driven by Mr. McGregor, and beside him sat Mrs. McGregor in her best bonnet.
A S soon as they had passed, little Benjamin Bunny slid down into the road, and set off—with a hop, skip, and a jump—to call upon his relations, who lived in the wood at the back of Mr. McGregor's garden.
T HAT wood was full of rabbit holes; and in the neatest, sandiest hole of all lived Benjamin's aunt and his cousins—Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter.
Old Mrs. Rabbit was a widow; she earned her living by knitting rabbit-wool mittens and muffatees (I once bought a pair at a bazaar). She also sold herbs, and rosemary tea, and rabbit-tobacco (which is what we call lavender).
L ITTLE Benjamin did not very much want to see his Aunt.
He came round the back of the fir-tree, and nearly tumbled upon the top of his Cousin Peter.
P ETER was sitting by himself. He looked poorly, and was dressed in a red cotton pocket-handkerchief.
"Peter,"—said little Benjamin, in a whisper,—"who has got your clothes?"
P ETER replied,—"The scarecrow in Mr. McGregor's garden," and described how he had been chased about the garden, and had dropped his shoes and coat.
Little Benjamin sat down beside his cousin and assured him that Mr. McGregor had gone out in a gig, and Mrs. McGregor also; and certainly for the day, because she was wearing her best bonnet.
P ETER said he hoped that it would rain.
At this point old Mrs. Rabbit's voice was heard inside the rabbit hole, calling: "Cotton-tail! Cotton-tail! fetch some more camomile!"
Peter said he thought he might feel better if he went for a walk.
T HEY went away hand in hand, and got upon the flat top of the wall at the bottom of the wood. From here they looked down into Mr. McGregor's garden. Peter's coat and shoes were plainly to be seen upon the scarecrow, topped with an old tam-o'-shanter of Mr. McGregor's.
L ITTLE Benjamin said: "It spoils people's clothes to squeeze under a gate; the proper way to get in is to climb down a pear-tree."
Peter fell down head first; but it was of no consequence, as the bed below was newly raked and quite soft.
I T had been sown with lettuces.
They left a great many odd little footmarks all over the bed, especially little Benjamin, who was wearing clogs.
L ITTLE Benjamin said that the first thing to be done was to get back Peter's clothes, in order that they might be able to use the pocket-handkerchief.
They took them off the scarecrow. There had been rain during the night; there was water in the shoes, and the coat was somewhat shrunk.
Benjamin tried on the tam-o'-shanter, but it was too big for him.
T HEN he suggested that they should fill the pocket-handkerchief with onions, as a little present for his Aunt.
Peter did not seem to be enjoying himself; he kept hearing noises.
B ENJAMIN, on the contrary, was perfectly at home, and ate a lettuce leaf. He said that he was in the habit of coming to the garden with his father to get lettuces for their Sunday dinner.
(The name of little Benjamin's papa was old Mr. Benjamin Bunny.)
The lettuces certainly were very fine.
P ETER did not eat anything; he said he should like to go home. Presently he dropped half the onions.
L ITTLE Benjamin said that it was not possible to get back up the pear-tree with a load of vegetables. He led the way boldly towards the other end of the garden. They went along a little walk on planks, under a sunny, red brick wall.
The mice sat on their doorsteps cracking cherry-stones; they winked at Peter Rabbit and little Benjamin Bunny.
P RESENTLY Peter let the pocket-handkerchief go again.
T HEY got amongst flower-pots, and frames, and tubs. Peter heard noises worse than ever; his eyes were as big as lolly-pops!
He was a step or two in front of his cousin when he suddenly stopped.
T HIS is what those little rabbits saw round that corner!
Little Benjamin took one look, and then, in
half a minute less than no time, he hid
himself and Peter and the onions underneath
T HE cat got up and stretched herself, and came and sniffed at the basket.
Perhaps she liked the smell of onions!
Anyway, she sat down upon the top of the basket.
S HE sat there for five hours.
I cannot draw you a picture of Peter and Benjamin underneath the basket, because it was quite dark, and because the smell of onions was fearful; it made Peter Rabbit and little Benjamin cry.
The sun got round behind the wood, and it was quite late in the afternoon; but still the cat sat upon the basket.
A T length there was a pitter-patter, pitter-patter, and some bits of mortar fell from the wall above.
The cat looked up and saw old Mr. Benjamin Bunny prancing along the top of the wall of the upper terrace.
He was smoking a pipe of rabbit-tobacco, and had a little switch in his hand.
He was looking for his son.
O LD Mr. Bunny had no opinion whatever of cats.
He took a tremendous jump off the top of the wall on to the top of the cat, and cuffed it off the basket, and kicked it into the green-house, scratching off a handful of fur.
The cat was too much surprised to scratch back.
W HEN old Mr. Bunny had driven the cat into the green-house, he locked the door.
Then he came back to the basket and took out his son Benjamin by the ears, and whipped him with the little switch.
Then he took out his nephew Peter.
T HEN he took out the handkerchief of onions, and marched out of the garden.
W HEN Mr. McGregor returned about half an hour later he observed several things which perplexed him.
It looked as though some person had been walking all over the garden in a pair of clogs—only the footmarks were too ridiculously little!
Also he could not understand how the cat could have managed to shut herself up inside the green-house, locking the door upon the outside.
W HEN Peter got home his mother forgave him, because she was so glad to see that he had found his shoes and coat. Cotton-tail and Peter folded up the pocket-handkerchief, and old Mrs. Rabbit strung up the onions and hung them from the kitchen ceiling, with the bunches of herbs and the rabbit-tobacco.
Poor old Robinson Crusoe!
Poor old Robinson Crusoe!
They made him a coat
Of an old Nanny goat.
I wonder why they should do so!
With a ring-a-ting-tang,
And a ring-a-ting-tang,
Poor old Robinson Crusoe!
WEEK 27 |
T HERE came a day when all the meadow people rushed back and forth, waving their feelers and talking hurriedly to each other. The fat old Cricket was nowhere to be seen. He said that one of his legs was lame and he thought it best to stay quietly in his hole. The young Crickets thought he was afraid. Perhaps he was, but he said that he was lame.
All the insects who had holes crawled into them carrying food. Everybody was anxious and fussy, and some people were even cross. It was all because the farmer and his men had come into the meadow to cut the grass. They began to work on the side nearest the road, but every step which the Horses took brought the mower nearer to the people who lived in the middle of the meadow or down toward the river.
"I have seen this done before," said the Garter Snake. "I
got away from the big mower, and hid in the grass by the
trees, or by the stumps where
the mower couldn't come. Then
the men came and cut that grass with their scythes, and I
had to wriggle away over the short, sharp
"They are not so bad after all," said the
A Meadow Mouse came hurrying along. "I must get home to my babies," she said. "They will be frightened if I am not there."
"Much good you can do when you are there!" growled a voice down under her feet. She was standing over the hole where the fat old Cricket was with his lame leg.
The mother Meadow Mouse looked rather angry for a minute, and then she answered: "I'm not so very large and strong, but I can squeak and let the Horses know where the nest is. Then they won't step on it. Last year I had ten or twelve babies there, and one of the men picked them up and looked at them and then put them back. I was so frightened that my fur stood on end and I shook like June grass in the wind."
"Humph! Too scared to run away," said the voice under her feet.
"Mothers don't run away and leave their children in danger," answered the Meadow Mouse. "I think it is a great deal braver to be brave when you are afraid than it is to be brave when you're not afraid." She whisked her long tail and scampered off through the grass. She did not go the nearest way to her nest because she thought the Garter Snake might be watching. She didn't wish him to know where she lived. She knew he was fond of young Mice, and didn't want him to come to see her babies while she was away. She said he was not a good friend for young children.
"We don't mind it at all," said the Mosquitoes from the lower part of the meadow. "We are unusually hungry today anyway, and we shall enjoy having the men come."
"Nothing to make such a fuss over," said a Milkweed Butterfly. "Just crawl into your holes or fly away."
"Sometimes they step on the holes and close them," said an Ant. "What would you do if you were in a hole and it stopped being a hole and was just earth?"
"Crawl out, I suppose," answered the Milkweed Butterfly with a careless flutter.
"Yes," said the Ant, "but I don't see what there would be to crawl out through."
The Milkweed Butterfly was already gone. Butterflies never worry about anything very long, you know.
"Has anybody seen the Measuring Worm?" asked the Katydid. "Where is he?"
"Oh, I'm up a tree," answered a pleasant voice above their heads, "but I sha'n't be up a tree very long. I shall come down when the grass is cut."
"Oh, dear, dear, dear!" cried the Ants, hurrying around. "We can't think what we want to do. We don't know what we ought to do. We can't think and we don't know, and we don't think that we ought to!"
"Click!" said a Grasshopper, springing into the air. "We
must hurry, hurry,
hurry!" He jumped from a stalk of
Up in the tree where the Measuring Worm was, some Katydids were sitting on a branch and singing shrilly: "Did you ever? Did you ever? Ever? Ever? Ever? Did you ever?" And this shows how much excited they were, for they usually sang only at night.
Then the mower came sweeping down the field, drawn by the Blind Horse and the Dappled Gray, and guided by the farmer himself. The dust rose in clouds as they passed, the Grasshoppers gave mighty springs which took them out of the way, and all the singing and shrilling stopped until the mower had passed. The nodding grasses swayed and fell as the sharp knives slid over the ground. "We are going to be hay," they said, "and live in the big barn."
"Now we shall grow some more tender green blades," said the grass roots.
"Fine weather for haying," snorted the Dappled Gray. "We'll cut all the grass in this field before noon."
"Good feeling ground to walk on," said the Blind Horse, tossing his head until the harness jingled.
Then the Horses and the farmer and the mower passed far away, and the meadow people came together again.
"Well," said the Tree Frog. "That's over for a while."
The Ants and the Grasshoppers came back to their old places. "We did just the right thing," they cried joyfully. "We got out of the way."
The Measuring Worm and the Katydids came down from their tree as the Milkweed Butterfly fluttered past. "The men left the grass standing around the Meadow Mouse's nest," said the Milkweed Butterfly, "and the Cows up by the barn are telling how glad they will be to have the hay when the cold weather comes."
"Grass must grow and hay be cut," said the wise old Tree
Frog, "and when the time comes we always know what to do.
"I think," said the fat old Cricket, as he crawled out of his hole, "that my lame leg is well enough to use. There is nothing like rest for a lame leg."
WEEK 27 |
A LTHOUGH Harriet had gone to sleep so early, she did not waken until late the next morning. Father and Mother had eaten their breakfast while Harriet was still far away in Dreamland. After a while a very bright little ray of sunshine ran across Harriet's face and she opened her eyes quickly and sat up in bed.
"Mother dear, what day is this?" she called.
"Oh, good morning, dear," said Mother. "This is Sunday and a very beautiful Sunday it is, too."
"Are we going to church
"Yes," said her Mother; "since you have waked up at last. I began to think Father would have to go alone."
Then Harriet ran to the bathroom, where she was soon splashing in the big white tub.
And when her Mother had
rubbed her dry and when her hair had been brushed till
it shone, Harriet
"Now I'm as clean as the children of Grubbylea, after Clean Peter had scrubbed them."
"Clean Peter" was another of Harriet's
Then her Mother helped put on
the dainty underclothes and the white socks and ankle
ties, but she did not put on Harriet's dress. She
"I think I'll let you wear your blue kimono until after breakfast, then we'll be sure not to have any spots on the new white dress."
So Harriet ate her breakfast sitting at the table all by herself. She was a very hungry little girl, too, because it was such a long time since she had last eaten.
Besides her big, juicy orange and a large dish of
oatmeal, she ate a delicious
"Well! Well!" said Father. "Somebody has a big appetite this morning! If one day of ocean breezes makes our daughter so hungry, what do you suppose will happen, Little Mother, if we spend a whole summer on the Maine coast?"
"I hope it will mean that we'll bring home a little girl with more flesh on her bones than Harriet has now," said Mother. "She has not been hungry enough since she had the measles last spring."
The next thing to do was to put on the new white dress. This was a very pretty dress, because Aunt Maud, who knew how to do all sorts of lovely things with her fingers, had made it for Harriet. There were tiny white roses embroidered here and there upon it. And when the white hat went on, with its wreath of little pink rosebuds matching the pink bow in her hair, Harriet's Father and Mother thought their little girl looked sweeter than the June day itself.
The walk to church was very pleasant. All the streets looked especially clean and tidy. The sky above was so blue, so blue, and a gentle breeze made the fresh green leaves dance and sparkle in the sunshine.
Some of the people were out in their tiny square front yards tending their bits of flower beds which made even the city streets look gay. Many fathers and mothers and children, many young ladies and gentlemen, all dressed in their best, were walking along the streets, some on their way to church, others going to the train for a day in the country, perhaps.
It was only a few blocks from Harriet's house to the church. As they went into the door the great organ was playing one of the lovely things that Harriet's Mother often played on the piano at home. So Harriet enjoyed listening, and feeling the throb of the organ as it almost seemed to make the church building tremble with its music.
Soon the minister came into the pulpit and all the people rose and sang, "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow." Harriet sang at the top of her voice.
She knew that "blessings" meant her dear Father and Mother, her pleasant home, her kind aunties and uncles and grandparents, her books and toys and days at the beach and the Park, and all the many, many things that made her a happy little girl. And so she joined in thanking God for sending her these blessings.
The first part of the church service was always more
interesting than the last. There was a chance to stand
for the hymns when a little girl got tired of sitting
still. There were the pennies
to drop into the collection plate as it was passed. The
minister, too, always preached a little sermon for the
children, and he told stories so clearly that even
To sit still through the grown-ups' sermon was rather tiresome and many of the boys and girls went home after the children's sermon. Harriet, however, stayed with her parents, because there was no big sister to take her home.
She did not mind the quiet time very much, because she had a busy little mind for making up stories, and Mother always brought a small picture book and paper and pencil for Harriet to amuse herself with.
The book to-day was "Peter Rabbit," and what was more
Harriet had her Peter Rabbit handkerchief with her. She
knew every word of the story, so she
After a while she drew pictures; and then she got tired of everything and climbed into Father's arms, snuggling down and resting quietly till the end of the service.
How good it felt to be able to move about and talk again! Harriet had to shake hands with a great many friends on the way down the aisle; and when the minister in the vestibule saw her, he picked her up in his arms and kissed her, while Harriet hugged him so hard that his face got quite red with the squeezing. He seemed to like the hugging, though, because he and Harriet were special friends.
On the walk home the streets were even fuller of people than they had been earlier in the day. Every one looked glad of the bright Sunday when there was time to be out of doors and one did not have to hurry off to a long day's work.
As soon as they reached home, Harriet went to Florella May's crib and picked up her dolly, saying, "Why, my poor little daughter, did you think Mother had forgotten you?" And she tried to make up to her neglected child by being very loving.
She took off Florella May's nightie and dressed her
carefully, from her
Florella May had to have a chair at the table next to Harriet's chair, and Harriet gave her child many tastes of the food from her own plate.
Dinner on Sunday was always a simple meal, but the dessert was sure to be a fine surprise. After the dishes for the first course had been taken to the kitchen, Harriet could hardly sit still. And when Father brought in, on a platter, a great pink mound with bits of red showing in it, Harriet bobbed up and down in her high chair, crying, "Strawberry ice cream! Oh, goody, goody!"
Sure enough, it was ice cream with real strawberries crushed in it, and Father had made it in their own freezer while Harriet had been asleep. Besides, there were little cakes that came in tin boxes from the grocery store; and Harriet ate very slowly so as to make the good taste last as long as possible.
After dinner on Sundays Harriet and her Father always
played a game that was great fun. First they took
Mother by the hand and led her into the
"Now you stay here and have a nice rest. We are going to do the dishes."
Then the play began. Harriet was Mother in this game,
and Father was Harriet's little daughter Polly! It was
such fun to
First Harriet tied an apron on Father—I mean, on
"Polly." Then she
"Now, Polly, if you are a good little girl and help me
clear the table and wash the dishes, I know where there
is something very nice that
"Oh, I'll be awful good," said Polly, in a little squeaky voice, very different from Father's big, deep, everyday voice.
Then Polly began to work so briskly that Mother Harriet
"Take care, Polly! You'll be dropping the dishes and smashing them if you hurry so."
Then Polly worked so slowly and
When they went back into the sitting-room she said to
"Daddy's a very jokish man, isn't he, Mother?"
"Indeed he is," said Mother. "I think he's only
Now there was a quiet hour while Harriet played with her dolls, and Father and Mother read their books. Then there was a Sunday School hour when Father told Harriet Bible stories, about Joseph and his coat of many colors, about Daniel in the lion's den, about the little shepherd boy who slew the big giant, and best of all about the Baby in the manger on the first Christmas Day.
After the stories there was music. Mother played beautifully on the piano and Father had a fine deep voice. Harriet had a pretty voice, too, so they sang, "Watchman, tell us of the night," and "Now the day is over," and others of Harriet's favorite hymns.
Then Harriet and her Father took turns choosing what Mother was to play for them. First Harriet chose the "Spring Song," because it made her think of fairies dancing on the soft green grass of early spring. Then Father asked for the "Funeral March," that reminded one of a slow, solemn procession and a whole nation weeping for the loss of one of its great men. Then Harriet chose "To a wild rose," so delicate, so sweet, like the dainty flower that grows along country roads in June.
After the music it was
Oh, how good everything tasted with all these
Soon after supper Harriet was quite sleepy enough to go to bed. But first she gave Father "bushels of kisses," because she said it would be so long before he could be at home again all day to do nice, jolly things for Mother and Harriet.
And almost as soon as her head touched her pillow the sandman came and Harriet was sound asleep.
So this is the end of the Third Story about Harriet and what she did on Sunday.
A riddle, a riddle, as I suppose,
A hundred eyes and never a nose!
WEEK 27 |
O NCE upon a time there was a little boy and he was almost five years old. And there weren't any other children near for him to play with, so he used to play happily all by himself.
He had his cat and his cart and his shovel and hoe, and he always wore his overalls when he was playing.
They were building a house in the field next to that little boy's house, and he used to go there almost every day to watch the men and to help.
One day it was late when he went, because his mother had taken him with her down to the Square to do an errand, and when he came back he had to change his clothes and put on his overalls. His mother wouldn't let him wear his overalls down to the Square.
And when he had his overalls on, he hurried and got his cart and his shovel and his hoe, and he called his cat, and she came running, with her bushy tail sticking straight up in the air.
And he hurried to the new house, dragging his cart; and his shovel and his hoe rattled in the bottom of it.
The mortar man saw him.
"Hello," he said.
"Hello," said the little boy. "Did you wonder where I was?"
"I did that," said the mortar man.
"Well, I had to go on an errand with my mother," the little boy said, "but I hurried and came as soon as I could, and here I am. Do you want some sand?"
But the mortar man didn't want any more sand then. He filled his hod with mortar, and he stooped down and took the hod of mortar on his shoulder, and he went trotting to the ladder, and he went down the ladder.
The Mortar Man
Then the little boy couldn't see him, because the cellar walls were done and the carpenters had come, and they had put on the great square beams that lie on top of the cellar walls, and they had put in the beams that go across from one side to the other and hold up the floors.
But there were some men in the cellar, for the little boy could hear them laughing and talking.
And the mortar man had told him that they were the bricklayers who were building the chimneys and two of the masons who were smearing mortar over all the cracks of the wall, so that the water wouldn't leak through from the ground into the cellar.
The little boy wished that he could see those men, but he was afraid that it wouldn't be being careful to go down that ladder, and he didn't think he could do it, anyway, for the steps were too far apart.
So he looked about and he saw the man who had held the handles of the scoop, and who had held him that other day, while he looked down into the cellar and saw the masons building the wall. He was called the foreman.
The foreman was glad to see the little boy, and beckoned to him.
And the little boy went, and the foreman took hold of his hand, and they went together right up on the floor beams; but the foreman carried him when they got up there, because there weren't any boards on the beams yet, and the little boy might have fallen through between the beams.
And when they got to the right place, they both stooped over and looked down between the beams, through a great big square hole. A chimney would come up through the hole, and the bricklayers were building it.
The little boy was surprised to see how enormous a chimney had to be at the bottom.
There were four men laying bricks as fast as ever they could, but it was all the little boy could do to watch one of the men.
First, he took up a brick from the pile, with his left hand, and he generally tossed the brick up a little way in the air, and it turned over before he caught it again, so that he saw all sides of it; and, with the flat trowel which he held in his right hand, he scooped up some mortar.
And he slapped the trowelful of mortar down on the bricks where he wanted to put that other brick, and he gave a little wipe with the trowel around the edges, and he pressed the brick that he was holding in his left hand down into place, and he tapped the brick with the handle of the trowel, and the mortar squeezed out all around, and, with his trowel, he scooped off the mortar that had squeezed out, and he slapped that down in a new place.
Then he began again, and reached down for another brick.
The little boy was so busy watching the bricklayer that he forgot all about the masons who were putting mortar on the wall.
But, pretty soon, all the men said something to all the other men, and they stopped laying bricks, and they began to take off their overalls.
"What are they going to do now?" the little boy asked.
"They are going to eat their dinner," said the foreman. "Come on."
So the foreman and the little boy got down on the ground again, and the foreman set the little boy down, and he took his hand, and they went back, near the pile of sand, where there were some nice boards to sit on.
And the men all came trooping out of the cellar, and each man went and got his dinner from the place where he had put it when he came there in the morning.
Some of the men had their dinner in pails and some had theirs in baskets and one man had his in a newspaper, so that he wouldn't have anything to carry home at night.
And the men came where the nice boards were, and they sat around anywhere, and they opened their pails and their baskets and the newspaper bundle, and they began to eat their dinners.
The little boy had sat down, too, but he didn't feel very comfortable.
He thought that, perhaps, he ought to have brought his dinner, but he didn't know about it, so how could he have brought it?
And he got up and started home, but the foreman called after him and asked him why he was going.
And the little boy said that he was going to bring his dinner, too, and eat it with them.
And the foreman said that they would give him some of their dinner, and that there were all sorts of nice things that their wives had cooked.
And the little boy said that he would ask his mother, and he would hurry as fast as he could.
In a few minutes, the little boy came back to the place where the men were sitting.
He walked very carefully, because he was carrying a cup of milk; and his cat walked beside him and looked up at the cup of milk all the time, and, every few steps, she stood on her hind legs and tried to reach the milk.
But she couldn't, and the little boy didn't pay any attention to her.
When he got to the men, the foreman asked him what his mother said.
And the little boy told him that his mother said he could have some of their things if they didn't give him any cake or any pie, and that any of the men could have their tea or coffee warmed for them if they would take it to his house.
The men who had tea or coffee were glad to hear that, and they went to the little boy's house and took their tea and their coffee.
Some had it in bottles and some had it in the covers of
The foreman didn't go, and the little boy sat down close to him and began to drink his milk but his cat bothered him by trying to get it.
So the little boy gave her a push with his foot.
"Get away, kitty," he said. "You can't have any."
Then the foreman laughed, and he broke off a piece of white bread and gave it to the little boy. And the little boy took a great enormous bite.
"Is it good?" the foreman asked.
The little boy nodded. "M—m—m!" he said. He couldn't really say anything because he had his mouth full of bread.
"My wife made it," said the foreman. "I think she's a very fine cook."
The little boy put his mouthful of bread in his cheek so that he could speak.
"Yes," he said, "I think so too."
The foreman laughed again, and then the men began to come back.
They all wanted to give the little boy something and some of them gave him other little pieces of white bread, and some of them gave him little corners of their sandwiches, and some gave him little pieces of dark-colored bread.
And he ate his pieces of bread and drank his milk, and the foreman gave him two of some little thin molasses cookies that were all crackly and crumbly; for little crackly cookies like those aren't much like cake.
When all the men had finished their dinner and had drunk their tea and their coffee, they went and put their pails and their baskets away and then came back and sat down again, and some of them got out their pipes and filled them.
The little boy was very happy, and he sat on the board with his hands in his lap, and he smiled.
"Now," said the foreman, "there's time for a story before you go to work again. Do any of you know a story?"
He looked all about and, last of all, he looked at the little boy. "Do you know any story?"
"Well," the little boy said, "I know about Jonah."
"Will you tell us about Jonah?" the foreman asked. "I should like to hear that story."
"Yes," said the little boy, "I will tell it. Well, once upon a time there was a man named Jonah. And he had to go to Nineveh to tell the people how bad they were. But he didn't want to go; so he didn't. He ran away in a ship.
"And when he got into the ship, he lay down and went to sleep. And the ship started, and pretty soon the wind began to blow terribly hard, and there were 'normous great waves, and the ship got all tippy. And the sailors were afraid, and they threw out the things that were in the ship.
"So the captain went to the place where Jonah was. 'Wake up, Jonah!' he said. 'Why don't you get up and pray?'
"Then the sailors talked together, and said that it must be Jonah's fault. 'Who is this Jonah, anyway?' they said. 'Where did he come from, and what is he doing here? Let's ask him.'
"So they did. And Jonah told them, and said, 'I guess you'll have to throw me out of the ship.' So they threw Jonah over into the water, and there wasn't any more storm.
"And Jonah, he went down and down and down in the water, and I guess he thought he was going to be drowned. Then a great, big whale came along and saw Jonah, and he opened his mouth wide and went at Jonah and swallowed him. But he didn't bite him or chew him or anything.
"But Jonah was terribly scared, 'cause he couldn't hardly guess where he was. The insides of the whale were all wet, and it was all pitchy dark in there.
"There wasn't anything for Jonah to do but to think,
and after he had thought for a long, long time, the
"And then he went to Nineveh and told them to be more better, and they did be."
And that's all of Jonah.
Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water;
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.
WEEK 27 |
T HE little family from Bethlehem had only been in far-away Egypt for a year when news came that the cruel King Herod was dead, and God's word came once again to Joseph, telling him it was now safe to take the young Child and Mary His mother back to their native land. But before they reached Bethlehem they heard that Herod's son was now king, and that he was as cruel as his father had been; so they were afraid to go on, and instead they turned aside from the road and went by the winding path that led through the valley to Nazareth. There, in the quiet little village among the flowery fields, they made their home again, and Joseph once more took up his trade of village carpenter.
The Baby Jesus was but a little child when they first came to Nazareth, but He soon grew into a strong, tall boy. Only His sweet mother could have told us stories of His wonderful baby days, but all these precious stories she kept in her heart. We only know that Jesus grew "in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man," that He must have been the happiest child that ever lived because He never did anything wrong, but was kind and unselfish and full of love, first for His mother and then for every one else. He loved all God's creatures too, and the flowers and the birds. Afterwards when He became a man, and was teaching the people, He often spoke of the many things He had learnt to love as a child in the little village of Nazareth—the coloured flowers that made the fields so beautiful in spring, and the common brown sparrows which were of so little value, but which were in His Father's care.
So the years passed, until the Boy Jesus grew to be twelve years old, which was the age when Jewish boys were allowed to go with their parents for the first time to worship at the beautiful Temple at Jerusalem.
It was in the month of April that the great festival called the Passover was held, and great crowds of people wended their way along the roads that led to Jerusalem from all the villages and towns round about. It was pleasant to travel along the winding road down the valley, through the flowery fields of Nazareth, to rest under the cool green shade of the trees during the mid-day heat, to pitch white tents at night, and rest until the sun rose next day and the journey once more began. It was a wonderful journey for the Boy Jesus; and when, on the fourth day, they came in sight of Jerusalem, the great city, and saw the sun shining on the golden roof of the beautiful Temple and on the dazzling white marble of its pillars, it must have filled His heart with a great happiness. He knew all about the history of that holy city, and that the great Temple was His Father's house, but there were many other things He longed to know, many questions He wanted to ask.
All through the days of the festival the Boy Jesus was to be found in the wonderful Temple. But it was not the call of the silver trumpets, the sight of the hundreds of white-robed priests, the beauty of all the exquisite coloured marbles, or the glory of the golden treasures that drew Him there. He wanted to listen to the great teachers who taught in the Temple; He wanted to ask them questions, and to learn all that He could about His Father's house.
So, when the festival had come to an end and the people had started on their homeward journey again, Mary found that her son was missing. They had gone on for a whole day, thinking He was with the other boys, but at night discovered that He was not there at all, but must have been left behind.
Sorely troubled and in great distress Mary and Joseph turned back at once, and for three nights and days they never rested while they searched for Him. They looked through all the tents pitched outside the city, they searched through all the city itself, but in vain. At last, on the third day, they went to that part of the Temple where the great teachers were assembled together, and there in their midst they found Jesus, who sat listening, and asking questions.
"They found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors."
The poor tired mother's heart was sore with grief and anxiety.
Never before had her son caused her any pain or trouble, and now, as she
stretched out her hands to Him, she cried out the reproachful
"Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing."
Ah! but she was forgetting that He was not only her son but the Son of God, that before everything else He owed obedience to His Father, and must prepare for the work He had been sent to do. Surely she should have known that, and should not have been so troubled and afraid.
"How is it that ye sought me?" said Jesus, wonderingly. "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"
He did not mean to hurt His gentle mother, but she must understand that God's work came before everything else. It was necessary to tell her that. But afterwards He rose obediently to go with her, leaving those learned men to wonder who this Boy could be who had asked such deep questions and showed such wonderful wisdom.
It was not time yet to begin the great work, and Jesus was ready to go back cheerfully and obediently to the little home at Nazareth, to work with Joseph in the carpenter's shop, and help His mother in the house. But all the time, day by day, He was learning to prepare Himself to be ready for the time when His work should begin.
The Boyhood of Jesus at Nazareth
My maid Mary she minds the dairy,
While I go a-hoeing and mowing each morn;
Gaily run the reel and the little spinning wheel,
While I am singing and mowing my corn.