WEEK 31 |
A FTER old Whitetail the Marshhawk passed Johnny Chuck without offering to touch him, Johnny began to feel very brave and bold and important. He strutted and swaggered along as much as his short legs would let him. He held his head very high. Already he felt that he had had an adventure and he longed for more. He forgot the terrible lonesome feeling of a little while before. He forgot that he had given away the only home he had. He didn't know just why, but right down deep inside he had a sudden feeling that he really didn't care a thing about that old home. In fact, he felt as if he wouldn't care if he never had another home. Yes, Sir, that is the way that Johnny Chuck felt. Do you know why? Just because he had just begun to realize how big and strong he really was.
Now it is a splendid thing to feel big and strong and brave, a very splendid thing! But it is a bad thing to let that feeling turn to pride, foolish pride. Of course old Whitetail hadn't really been afraid of Johnny Chuck. He had simply passed Johnny with a wink, because there was plenty to eat without the trouble of fighting, and Whitetail doesn't fight just for the fun of it.
But foolish Johnny Chuck really thought that old Whitetail was afraid of him. The more he thought about it, the more tickled he felt and the more puffed up he felt. He began to talk to himself and to brag. Yes, Sir, Johnny Chuck began to brag:
"I'm not afraid of any one;
They're all afraid of me!
I only have to show my teeth
To make them turn and flee!"
"Pooh!" said a voice. "Pooh! It would take two like you to make me run away!"
Johnny Chuck gave a startled jump. There was a strange Chuck glaring at him from behind a little bunch of grass. He was a big, gray old Chuck whom Johnny never had seen on the Green Meadows before, and he didn't look the least bit afraid. No, Sir, he didn't look the teeniest, weeniest bit afraid! Somehow, Johnny Chuck didn't feel half so big and strong and brave as he had a few minutes before. But it wouldn't do to let this stranger know it. Of course not! So, though he felt very small inside, Johnny made all his hair bristle up and tried to look very fierce.
"Who are you and what are you doing on my Green Meadows?" he demanded.
"Your Green Meadows! Your Green Meadows! Ho, ho, ho! Your Green Meadows!" The stranger laughed an unpleasant laugh. "How long since you owned the Green Meadows? I have just come down on to them from the Old Pasture, and I like the looks of them so well that I think I will stay. So run along, little boaster! There isn't room for both of us here, and the sooner you trot along the better." The stranger suddenly showed all his teeth and gritted them unpleasantly.
Now when Johnny Chuck heard this, great anger filled his heart. A stranger had ordered him to leave the Green Meadows where he had been born and always lived! He could hardly believe his own ears. He, Johnny Chuck, would show this stranger who was master here!
With a squeal of rage, Johnny sprang at the gray old Chuck. Then began
such a fight as the Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother
With a squeal of rage, Johnny sprang at the gray old Chuck.
Over and over the two little fighters rolled, biting and scratching
and tearing and growling and snarling. Jolly, round, red
Now the stranger was old and his teeth were worn, while Johnny was young and his teeth were very sharp. After a long, long time, Johnny felt the stranger growing weaker. Johnny fought harder than ever. At last the stranger cried "Enough!" and when he could break away, started back towards the Old Pasture. Johnny Chuck had won!
Molly, my sister and I fell out,
And what do you think it was all about?
She loved coffee and I loved tea,
And that was the reason we couldn't agree.
WEEK 31 |
B OBBY, and Father and Mother could often tell what was coming along the Big Road before they saw it, because of the sound it made.
Rumble, jumble, that meant a heavy wagon. Honk! honk!
called the automobiles.
But one day as Bobby and Mother sat out on the porch
they heard something that puzzled both of them.
"It sounds like rusty chains to me," said Mother.
"Oh, yes!" said Bobby. "Like the chain in the well at Grandmother's."
"I guess it is a moving-van," called Father, coming to the door to listen.
"I guess it is a wheelbarrow," said Mother.
"I guess it is," began Bobby, but before he could say
what he thought it was,
"Why it is an ox-wagon!" said Mother. "When did I ever see such a thing before?"
The ox-wagon had great heavy wheels that creaked at
every turn. It was drawn by two
The driver walked beside the oxen with a long whip in his hand, but he did not strike the oxen with it. He only cracked it in the air above their heads. It made a loud noise but the oxen plodded along as if they had not heard it, so far as Bobby could tell. You would have thought they had all day in which to get to town.
When the driver wanted the oxen to turn to the right he called "Gee!" and when he wanted them to turn to the left he said "Haw!" And the oxen did just what he told them to do.
The ox-wagon man had kindling-wood to sell and Father
bought it from him. While he was throwing it into the
Bobby began to feel very much at home on the Big Road
now that he knew the
HOUGH Bobby watched for the ox-wagon man every day, it
was not until the next week
that he spied him coming down the road. He was walking
beside the oxen with his whip in his hand, Buck and
Bright were plodding along just as if they had all day
for their journey, and the wagon wheels were
"Good morning," called Bobby when they all got to his gate.
"Good morning," called Bobby.
"Good morning," said the ox-wagon man. "I don't
suppose your ma wants any
"No, indeed," said Bobby. "We haven't used even half of what we bought the other day; but when that is gone we'll be sure to want some."
"Well," said the ox-wagon man, "I'll sell this kindling in town, and then I'll have to buy something for Johnny, I guess."
"Who's Johnny?" asked Bobby.
"Johnny's my little chap," said the ox-wagon man. "He's a little bigger than you but he's lame. He can't get around without crutches. 'Most every time I sell kindling in town I buy him something."
"What are you going to get him
"I haven't fully made up my mind," said the ox-wagon man. "What would you get if you were in my place?"
"You might get him a whistle," said Bobby.
But Johnny had a whistle.
"He made it himself out of a piece of willow. He's the
handiest little fellow about whittling that I ever did
see, though I do say it myself," said the
"A ball," suggested Bobby.
"Johnny's got a ball. He made it himself out of
string, and his ma sewed it round and round so it would
hold. You just ought to see Johnny throw that ball, and
Towser—that's his yellow dog—bring it back to him.
Johnny's got plenty of fun in him," said the
"He might like a flag," said Bobby.
"His ma's pieced him a flag long ago," said the
"Perhaps you'll see something in the stores when you get to town that you think he will like," said Bobby politely. "And perhaps if I am out here when you come back you'll show me what you have bought."
"I'll call you," promised the ox-wagon man, cracking his whip high in the air as he spoke.
Plod, plod, and creak, creak! Bobby thought the
oxen would never, never get the load of
But late in the afternoon just before the sun went
down, he heard the wagon coming, and ran out to the
gate before the
"What did you get for Johnny?" he asked.
"A mouth-organ," said the ox-wagon man, taking it out of his pocket to show to Bobby.
Bobby had always called a mouth-organ a French harp, but no matter what it was called he thought it was just the present for Johnny.
WEEK 31 |
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.
Pussy-cat Mew jumped over a coal,
And in her best petticoat burnt a great hole.
Poor Pussy's weeping, she'll have no more milk
Until her best petticoat's mended with silk.
WEEK 31 |
E VERYTHING in the meadow was dry and dusty. The leaves on the milkweeds were turning yellow with thirst, the field blossoms drooped their dainty heads in the sunshine, and the grass seemed to fairly rattle in the wind, it was so brown and dry.
All of the meadow people when they met each other would say,
"Well, this is hot," and the
The Grasshoppers and Locusts were very happy, for such weather was exactly what they liked. They didn't see how people could complain of such delightful scorching days. But that, you know, is always the way, for everybody cannot be suited at once, and all kinds of weather are needed to make a good year.
The poor Tree Frog crawled into the coolest place he could
find—hollow trees, shady nooks under the ferns, or even
beneath the corner of a great stone. "Oh," said he, "I wish
I were a Tadpole again, swimming in a shady pool. It is such
a long, hot journey to the marsh that I cannot go. Last
night I dreamed that I was a Tadpole, splashing in the
water, and it was hard to awaken and find myself only an
Over his head the Katydids were singing, "Lovely weather!
Lovely weather!" and the
Sure enough, the very next day a tiny cloud drifted across
the sky, and the
The little white cloud grew bigger and blacker, and another
came following after, then another, and another, and
another, until the sky was quite covered with rushing black
clouds. Then came a long, low rumble of thunder, and all the
meadow people hurried to find shelter. The Moths and
Butterflies hung on the undersides of great leaves. The
Grasshoppers and their cousins crawled under burdock and
mullein plants. The Ants scurried around to find their
own homes. The Bees and Wasps, who had been gathering honey for
their nests, flew swiftly back. Everyone was hurrying to be
ready for the shower, and above all the rustle and stir
could be heard the voice of the old Frog,
The wind blew harder and harder, the branches swayed and tossed, the leaves danced, and some even blew off of their mother trees; the hundreds of little clinging creatures clung more and more tightly to the leaves that sheltered them, and then the rain came, and such a rain! Great drops hurrying down from the sky, crowding each other, beating down the grass, flooding the homes of the Ants and Digger Wasps until they were half choked with water, knocking over the Grasshoppers and tumbling them about like leaves. The lightning flashed, and the thunder pealed, and often a tree would crash down in the forest near by when the wind blew a great blast.
When everybody was wet, and little rivulets of water were trickling through the grass and running into great puddles in the hollows, the rain stopped, stopped suddenly. One by one the meadow people crawled or swam into sight.
The Digger Wasp was floating on a leaf in a big puddle. He was too tired and wet to fly, and the whirling of the leaf made him feel sick and dizzy, but he stood firmly on his tiny boat and tried to look as though he enjoyed it.
The Ants were rushing around to put their homes in shape,
the Spiders were busily eating their old webs, which had
been broken and torn in the storm, and some were already
beginning new ones. A large family of Bees,
The Snake went gliding through the
wet grass, as hungry as
"Now don't be silly," said the
WEEK 31 |
I HATE dreadfully to tell you this story about Harriet, because I shall have to tell that on this day she was a very naughty little girl—oh, very naughty, indeed!
It began with her being waked up before she had had a long enough sleep. James, the janitor down in the basement, blew a very shrill whistle on the speaking-tube.
Harriet awoke with a start. She began to cry. First it was a frightened cry, and Mother sympathized with her, but soon it changed to a cross cry.
While Mother was washing her face, Harriet cried again
because she said Mother got soap in her eyes. Dear
"There is no soap in your eyes, dear. I haven't put a bit of soap on the wash cloth yet."
But Harriet insisted that her eyes smarted from soap.
Then, when Mother combed her hair, softly and carefully, Harriet cried again and said Mother was pulling awfully.
Mother took no notice because she knew Harriet was very tired, and she hoped her little girl would feel better after breakfast.
But at the breakfast table there was more trouble. First Harriet accidentally tipped over her glass of milk. The milk made a great pool on the clean tablecloth and ran down on Harriet's pinafore and the dining-room rug.
After Mother had dried the wet things and had taken her
seat at the table again, Harriet dropped her porridge
spoon on the carpet. Then Mother
"Dearie, be careful! You are very careless this morning."
And Harriet answered crossly, "I don't care!"
Then Father looked sternly at her and said, "Harriet!"
That made Harriet sit up and behave herself for a
while, because Father
had a way of saying "Harriet!" or "John!" or
"Sam!" or any other name that would make even a big
When Father went off to school Harriet did not run to
the window to wave
The next disagreeable thing she did was to get all her playthings out and strew them over the floor, leaving many of them near the door so that Mother had difficulty getting in and out of the room.
"Your toys are in my way here, Harriet. Please move them away from the door."
Then Harriet answered, quite
Yes, she actually did say that naughty thing to her dear, kind Mother! Would you believe a nice little girl could say such a thing to her Mother? But Harriet really did!
Mother was so astonished that she could hardly believe
her ears. Then she
"Why, Harriet Ames Robertson! What is the matter with you this morning? What has happened to my little daughter?"
"I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, like the Cock and the Mouse!"
I must tell you what Harriet meant. Not long before she had received a present of a little book called "The Cock and the Mouse and the Little Red Hen." The book had many droll pictures in it, and the story, Harriet thought, was perfectly delightful. It told about a Cock and a Mouse and a Little Red Hen who lived in a little white house on a hill. One morning the Cock and the Mouse were very naughty and the good Little Red Hen had lots of trouble with them. Finally a bad Fox got into the house and carried away in his bag the Cock and the Mouse and the Little Red Hen. Then the Cock and the Mouse were sorry they had been so bad; and the Little Red Hen got them all safely out of the bag, and after that the Cock and the Mouse were as good as gold.
The story had explained that the Cock and the Mouse got up on the wrong side of the bed that morning and that was the reason they were so cross.
So Harriet thought she could explain her naughtiness to her Mother by saying the same thing.
"Oho! So that is what's the matter! Very well, then, I shall be the Fox and shall put you into my great bag until you decide to be a good little girl again."
Harriet looked a good deal interested and a little bit
scared as Mother got the
"Now, when you are ready to be as good as the Little Red Hen you may snip your way out of the bag."
At first Harriet thought this was fun. Then she began
thinking how bad the Cock and the Mouse had been, and
how sorry they had felt when they were shut up in the
bag, and she began to feel sorry too. Presently she
cried a little, not a cross cry but a sorry cry, and
"Now I'm good, Mother dearie!"
And Mother said, "Very well, Little Red Hen. Get out your scissors and snip a hole in the bag."
So Harriet made believe her fingers were scissors, and
she made a hole in the newspapers, and jumped out of
the basket, and ran to her Mother, her face all smiles,
"Now I'm good, Mother, now I'm good!"
"Well, I'm very thankful to hear it," said Mother as she kissed her little daughter.
Harriet played quietly on the floor for a time while her mother sewed.
"Mother, I think I like stories of naughty people better than stories of good people."
Mother's face was bent over her sewing as she
"I have often noticed that, my dear."
"I think Daddy does, too, Mumsey," said Harriet. "He always laughs like anything at Pinocchio and the Elephant's Child and Brer Rabbit when they are naughty."
"But Pinocchio and the Elephant's Child were severely punished for their naughtiness and they reformed and became good," said Mother.
"But Brer Rabbit never was good," said Harriet; "and Daddy likes him the best of all."
Mother did not reply. Soon Harriet said
"Daddy was a naughty boy himself when he was little."
"How do you know that?" asked Mother.
"I heard him tell Uncle Ned how he brought a calf into school one day, and Uncle Ned and Daddy laughed hard," said Harriet.
"But Father is very good now," said Mother.
"Well, he had lots of fun first," answered Harriet.
Mother hastily got up and went out to the kitchen to see to her cooking.
All the morning Harriet was as good as possible. At the lunch table she was most polite and careful, and after her nap, you would never have believed that Harriet's sunny face belonged to the same little girl as the one who had cried so much and been so cross in the morning.
After Harriet's "forty winks"—that's what she called her little nap—she and Mother put on their fresh afternoon dresses and ribbons ready to go out in the sunshine.
"Where are we going this afternoon, Mother?" asked Harriet.
"We will go to the library first," said Mother, "and then perhaps we'll stop and see Billy."
"Oh, goody!" squealed Harriet.
So they walked down their quiet little street, and then along the noisy avenue of shops, and then down another quiet street to the nearest branch library. They walked up the steps into the big front door of the library, and Mother put her books down on the counter of the desk where a young lady stamped Mother's card to show it was all right for her to go and get some other books. They walked around back of the desk and into the children's room, and Mother left her little daughter in the children's room while she went off to the grown people's shelves to find books for herself.
"What kind of a book would you like
"I want a big book, with lighthouses and whales in it," answered Harriet promptly.
"Very well, I think I can find you one," said Miss Graham.
But all the sea books in the children's room had been taken out by the other children, so Miss Graham went to the grown people's department, and presently came back bringing a large book which she put down on the table in front of Harriet.
"Don't try to lift this yourself, honey, or you may drop it and break it," said Miss Graham.
"No; I'll be very careful," said Harriet.
You see she was still being as polite as the Little Red Hen!
Harriet enjoyed the sea pictures so much that she was not ready to go when Mother came for her.
"Oh, Mother, may I take this book home?" she begged.
"Not this afternoon, dear, it is so heavy," said Mother. "I'll tell you what we'll do. We will take its name and get Daddy to bring it home the next time he comes to the library."
Harriet's lips were getting ready to pout, but she
suddenly thought that she was being the good Little Red
Hen, so she made her lips look pleasant and said very
"All right, Mother dear."
Now they walked back up the library street for two long
blocks. All the houses on this street looked exactly
alike. They all had high stone steps up to the front
doors. These were not apartment houses, but
Harriet and her Mother stopped at the house with number 668 on its front door. They rang the doorbell and soon heard small feet clattering along the hall. Then the door was opened by a little girl nine years old.
"Oh, Harriet!" cried the little girl; "I'm so glad to see you."
The little girl, whose name was Frances, hugged and
kissed Harriet and her Mother, then led them into the
"I'll go and tell Mother you are here, Mrs. Robertson."
"Is Billy awake?" asked Harriet, as Frances turned to
"No, but he will be before long," said Frances. "We'll have time to show you our tent out in the yard before he wakes up."
Soon Frances's Mother came downstairs and greeted Harriet and her Mother. Then the two little girls went down into the tiny yard at the back of the house and there was the nicest little tent that ever you saw. Frances's big brother Arthur had set it up for his little sisters Frances and Margaret. This afternoon two little neighbors, Priscilla and Betty, were playing with Frances and Margaret, and they were just getting ready for afternoon tea when Harriet and Frances arrived.
All the children were glad to see Harriet. The tent was just large enough to allow the five little girls to squeeze into it, and oh! how good the "cambric tea" tasted from the tiny pink rosebud cups and the wee pewter spoons!
After a while Frances's Mother came to the window and
"Girls, Billy is awake. Do you want to see him?"
Indeed, they did want to see Billy. They hastily left
There was Baby Billy on Harriet's Mother's lap; and
when the little girls flocked around him he laughed and
crowed with delight, clapping his
dimpled hands and playing
It was very hard for both Harriet and her Mother to leave the lovely baby and all the nice people at Frances's house, but Mother promised they would come again soon and next time they would stay longer. So after hugs and kisses, Harriet started down the long stone steps with her Mother. She turned to wave to the little girls until she got down to the corner of the street; and there, because it was getting late, Mother and Harriet took the trolley car home to Daddy and dinner.
After dinner Harriet begged her Mother and Daddy to play the Cock and the Mouse and the Little Red Hen. Mother was the Mouse and Harriet was the good Little Red Hen. Daddy had to be first the Cock, then the bad Fox, then the Cock again. Daddy was such a rude Cock and such a fierce Fox, and Mother was such a naughty Mouse that Harriet, the Little Red Hen, privately resolved that she would never again be so bad as she had been that morning before she changed to the Little Red Hen.
And I hope she remembered her resolve, always, don't you?
And this is the end of the Seventh Story about Harriet and what she did on Thursday.
There was a little girl who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead;
When she was good, she was very, very good,
And when she was bad she was horrid.
WEEK 31 |
O NCE upon a time there was a little boy, and he was almost five years old, and his name was David. 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 his hoe, and he always wore his overalls when he was playing.
They were building a new house in the field next to David's house, and it was all done on the outside, but it wasn't painted.
And the men were working inside, for David could hear the hammering, and sometimes he could hear them sawing.
One morning, after breakfast, David went to his mother and said that the foreman wanted him to come to the new house that morning, for the plumbers would be there.
He didn't know what plumbers were.
"What are plumbers, mother?"
"They are men who mend the pipes, dear," his mother answered.
"What pipes?" he asked. "Are the pipes broken?"
His mother laughed. "Well, I suppose they put in the
water pipes, and the bathtubs and the basins and the
David nodded, and let his mother kiss him, and then he went out.
And his cat was there, waiting for him, and his cart was there, with his shovel and his hoe in the bottom of it. And he stooped down and took hold of the handle of his cart, and he trudged to the new house, dragging his cart.
The mortar man had gone some time before, and there wasn't
"Hello, Davie," he called.
"Hello," David called back.
"You're just in time to go into the house with me," the foreman said.
So David dropped the handle of his cart and the foreman took hold of his hand, and they went up the steps and into the house.
The partition walls between the rooms weren't all done, and David could see right through them in some places into the next room.
And the foreman and David went through the place that would be the front hall when it was done, with the front stairs going up out of it and some carpenters were working there now and there was a great mess.
"What are the carpenters doing?" David asked.
"They're nailing on laths, Davie," the foreman
answered. "Laths, you see, are the little thin sticks
that go on the
David nodded, but they were in the back hall now, with the back stairs going up out of it, and he forgot the carpenters and the laths.
Under the back stairs were some stairs that went down to the cellar, and the foreman started down.
"Be careful of the steps, Davie," said the foreman. "They have to have these rough boards on them now, while the workmen are here, so that the real steps won't get all dirty and worn. When the men are almost through, about the last thing they do is to lay floors and put nice boards on the stairs."
David couldn't see very well, but he could feel that the boards of the stairs were uneven and rough, and some of them were small; but he was careful, and he went slowly, and at last he was on the cellar floor.
Far off in the very end of the cellar he saw a lantern lighted, and a flickering light which moved about, high up.
Then, as he got used to the darkness, he saw the legs of two men; and they had great wrenches and were doing something to long pipes, and they had a candle which they held close up to the pipes, so that they could see.
And the pipes went along close to the beams overhead, so that the men were all the time bumping their heads and knocking their elbows on the beams, and they didn't have room enough to work.
That was the reason why David had seen only their legs when he first came down.
It wasn't a very convenient way to work, but the men didn't seem to mind. Perhaps they were used to it.
"Are those the pipes that the water goes through?" David asked.
"Yes, Davie," the foreman said. "It comes in through the wall there, close down to the floor, from that pipe that you saw the men laying in the street.
"Then it goes up and through these pipes to the back of the cellar, and then up again to the kitchen and the pantry and the bathrooms.
"It isn't much fun being down here, is it?"
"No," David said, "it isn't."
The foreman laughed.
"Well, you wait a half a jiffy and we'll go up."
So David waited while the foreman took a paper out of his pocket.
And first he looked at the paper and then he looked at the pipes, and then he looked at the paper again.
Then he folded the paper and put it into his pocket, and he took David's hand and they went up the cellar stairs, and through a door into the kitchen.
There David saw the legs of two other men who were lying down under the sink.
They had a stump of a candle, too, for David could see its flickering light.
And there was a kind of a lamp out on the floor beyond, and it burned with a sputtering and a hissing and a roaring, and it threw a big bluish kind of a flame straight out, like water out of a hose.
David watched the men for nearly a minute without saying anything, but he couldn't guess what they were up to.
"What are they doing?" he asked at last.
"They're putting in the waste pipe and the trap," said the foreman; "but you don't know what that is, of course. They're putting in the pipe that the water runs through when it runs out of the sink."
"Oh, I know," David cried. "It's for the dirty water that the pots and pans have been washed in; the soapy water."
"That's just right, Davie."
"Well," David said, "why do they have to be lying down to do it? I should think they'd rather do it standing up or sitting down."
At that, one of the men poked his head out and smiled at David.
"You got that just right, too," he said; "but here's where it has to go, and there's no other way that I know of."
"The pipe has to be under the sink, Davie, for the water to run into it," the foreman said. "Now come on, and we'll go upstairs again."
So the foreman and David went up the back stairs very slowly and carefully, for there were rough boards on those stairs, too; and they went through a door and through the upstairs hall, and through another door into a small square room.
The foreman said that that room would be the bathroom. No plaster was on the walls yet, but the laths were all on. And there wasn't any bathtub yet, nor any basin; only some pipes sticking up out of the floor.
And David saw the bodies and the legs of two more men.
These men had their heads and shoulders through a great square hole in the floor, and their bodies and their legs were lying on the floor and sticking out straight.
David laughed. "Water-pipe men are funny men," he said.
One of the men lifted his head out of the hole in the floor and smiled at David, but he didn't say anything.
"They're putting in the waste pipe and the trap," the foreman said, "that is, the pipe that the water will run through when it runs out of the bathtub. A tub will be here, Davie, after the floor is laid."
"Would you like to be a plumber, Davie?" the foreman asked, smiling.
David shook his head.
"I think I'd better go now," he said. "My kitty won't know where I am."
So the foreman laughed, and he tucked David under his arm and carried him downstairs and out of the front door, and he set him down on the ground.
"Good-bye, Davie," said the foreman.
"Good-bye," said David.
And he took hold of the handle of his cart, and walked home as fast as he could, dragging his cart, and his shovel and his hoe rattled in the bottom of it.
When he got home, there was his cat waiting for him.
David dropped the handle of his cart, and ran around to the back of the house and got an old grocery box that he used to play with.
He kept all his things at the back of the house: old broken grocery boxes and old tin cans and rows of bottles, some of them filled with water and some filled with thin mud and some empty, and nails and pieces of iron and sticks but not his toys.
And David dragged the old grocery box around to the front, and put it opposite the end of a step.
Not all of the boards which had been nailed on for a cover were taken off, so that the inside of the box was hard to get at, and it was rather dark.
Then he picked up two short sticks and put them on the step.
David hurried to do all these things, and when he had
them done, he hurried into the house and into the
Then he pushed the chair over near where the matches were, and he climbed up again and got three matches. And then he hurried out again.
He scratched one of the matches on the piazza floor and managed to get the candle lighted with that first match.
So he dropped the other two matches, he didn't know where, and he carried his candle to the grocery box, very carefully, so that it shouldn't blow out, and he reached in and put it in a corner.
Then he lay down on the step and put his head and shoulders and his arms inside the box, and he took the two short sticks in his hands.
David's mother had heard the chair scraping on the dining-room floor, when he pushed it over to get the matches, and she thought that, as likely as not, that was David, and she thought that she had better see what he was doing.
She didn't think there was any great hurry about it, and so she came downstairs in a few minutes, and she went out upon the piazza.
There she saw David's body and his fat little legs sticking out straight on the step, but his head and his arms were in the box, so she couldn't see them.
And there was a light flickering inside the box, and there was a noise of scraping and knocking, once in a while.
But she wasn't surprised.
"What in the world are you doing, dear?" she asked.
David drew his head out of the box so that he could see his mother and answer her. His face was pretty red.
"I'm a plumber, mother," he said, "and I'm doing the work in the bathroom. Plumbers always do it this way."
David's mother laughed.
"So they do, dear, pretty nearly," she said. "Be very careful of the candle, and don't burn yourself or set the box afire, and be sure to blow it out when you are through."
And David nodded and put his head back in the box, and his mother went in, smiling.
And his cat came and stood on the cover boards that had been left on, and she put her head down and peered into the box, but she didn't get in.
And that's all of the plumber story.
There was a crooked man, and he went a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile:
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a crooked little house.
WEEK 31 |
I T seemed at the end as if the King's life had been a failure. Where was His throne? Where was His crown?
Cruel men had seized Him and dragged Him before the judge. The people who had once cried, "Hosanna to the King of Israel!" now shouted, "Crucify Him! crucify Him!" His only crown was a wreath of thorns which the mocking soldiers placed upon His head. His throne was a wooden cross to which they nailed Him, driving the nails through those kind hands which had brought comfort and healing and blessing to so many, and through the tired feet which had trod so faithfully the path of suffering.
Jesus on the Cross
To His friends, even perhaps to His dear mother, everything looked black and full of despair. All their hopes were as dead as the quiet body which they laid in the tomb of the silent garden.
That was upon Good Friday; but Easter morning was close at hand.
Very early on the third day, before there was any sign of light, while the stars still looked down on the quiet, sleeping world, a strange thing happened to the soldiers who were keeping guard over the tomb. The wicked men who had put the King to death had been afraid that His friends might steal His body and pretend He was alive, so they had set these soldiers there to watch. All had been quiet until the early morning, and then suddenly the earth shook, and the terrified soldiers saw that Heaven's gates had opened and an angel had come down and rolled away the stone which guarded the opening of the tomb. They were too frightened to stay there any longer, and they fled away from the garden and back to the city.
Though it was so early and still dark, a little company of women were on their way to the silent garden that Easter morning. There was a scent of flowers in the soft air, and as the light dawned in the east the birds began to wake and sing their morning songs. Spring had come. The trees which had looked so gray and dead were bursting into tender green leaves, and seeds which had lain buried in the earth were pushing up living shoots and tiny buds. But the women did not notice flowers or birds or budding trees. It was a dead world to them, because He, their King, was dead, and their own hearts, too, seemed dead with grief.
They reached the garden, and came to the tomb cut out of the rock. Surely some one had been there before them. In the dim light it seemed as if the stone had been rolled away. Trembling and frightened, they went closer, and, stooping down, looked into the tomb. It was empty. The body of the King was not there.
Could some one have stolen that precious body? The women looked at one another in bewildered terror. What should they do? One of them, Mary Magdalene, started at once to go back and tell His disciples; but the others waited there, too full of grief to do anything but just stand and gaze at the empty tomb. Presently they looked carefully in again to make sure; and suddenly, to their amazement, they saw the tomb was empty no longer. An angel sat there, clothed in shining white robes, whose face shone with a heavenly light.
"Be not afraid," they heard him say, as they knelt before him in their terror. "Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: He is risen: He is not here."
"He is not here: for He is risen."
God's angels had carried many a message of joy from Heaven to earth, but never a more joyful one than this. The King was alive. He had conquered death, and was alive for evermore. It was the Resurrection morning, and just as spring was waking into life those seeds which had been buried under ground, so the bodies which slept in their graves would one day rise again through the power of the King of Heaven, who had Himself risen from the dead.
Presently two of the Master's disciples came hurrying into the garden, followed by the woman who had gone to call them. They saw the empty tomb and heard about the shining angel, and they were bewildered, and scarcely knew what to believe. They should have remembered how Jesus had told them He would rise again; but it seemed too good to be true.
It was the poor, sorrowful woman, Mary Magdalene, who first saw the risen King. She was kneeling by the empty tomb and weeping bitterly, for she had not seen the angel, and she still thought some one had stolen His body away. Then through her tears she saw a man standing near her, whom she took to be the gardener, and she begged Him to tell her if He knew where the body of Jesus was. Her eyes were so dim with weeping that she could not see clearly, but her ears could never mistake her Lord's voice, the voice that now called her by name, "Mary."
It was the King Himself who stood there: her Lord and Master at whose feet she knelt.
One by one He showed Himself to His friends and followers, sometimes when they were in little groups of two or three, sometimes when there were many of them gathered together. Each one of them saw and believed, and the one who still doubted was shown in His Master's hands and feet the print of the cruel nails, and the mark of the sword-thrust in His side. There was no room for doubt. It was indeed Jesus, their Lord and Master.
For some little time yet the King remained on earth to help and teach His followers, and to show them that He was indeed alive.
Summer had now come, the fields of golden grain were almost ready for the harvest sickle, and the time drew near when God's Son must return to His Father's kingdom once more.
On the grassy hill top of Mount Olivet the disciples were gathered together with Jesus in their midst; and as He blessed them He was parted from them, and ascended into Heaven, leaving them gazing upwards as a cloud hid Him from their sight.
Once more they were left alone, once more their King was taken from them, but this time it was no hopeless parting. At the side of the little group of men who still stood gazing upwards two angels now appeared, who told them that they ought not to be sorrowful, but, rather, full of triumphant joy. The King was only parted from them for a time. They would see Him again, for He would return in glory, even as they had seen Him ascend into Heaven, a King for evermore.
Friday night's dream, on Saturday told,
Is sure to come true, be it never so old.