WEEK 4 |
O L' MISTAH BUZZARD was right. Trouble was right at the heels of Reddy Fox, although Reddy wouldn't have believed it if he had been told. He had stolen that plump pet chicken of Farmer Brown's boy for no reason under the sun but to show off. He wanted every one to know how bold he was. He thought himself so smart that he could do just exactly what he pleased and no one could stop him. He liked to strut around through the Green Forest and over the Green Meadows and brag about what he had done and what he could do.
Now people who brag and boast and who like to show off are almost sure to come to grief. And when they do, very few people are sorry for them. None of the little meadow and forest people liked Reddy Fox, anyway, and they were getting so tired of his boasting that they just ached to see him get into trouble. Yes, Sir, they just ached to see Reddy get into trouble.
"Reddy Fox is getting so puffed up that pretty soon he won't be able to see his own feet," said Peter Rabbit.
"Well, what if he doesn't?" demanded Jimmy Skunk.
Peter looked at Jimmy in disgust:
"He comes to grief, however fleet,
Who doesn't watch his flying feet.
"Jimmy Skunk, if you didn't have that little bag of scent that everybody is afraid of, you would be a lot more careful where you step," replied Peter. "If Reddy doesn't watch out, someday he'll step right into a trap."
Jimmy Skunk chuckled. "I wish he would!" said he.
Now when Farmer Brown's boy heard about the boldness of Reddy Fox, he shut his mouth tight in a way that was unpleasant to see and reached for his gun. "I can't afford to raise chickens to feed foxes!" said he. Then he whistled for Bowser the Hound, and together they started out. It wasn't long before Bowser found Reddy's tracks.
"Bow, wow, wow, wow!" roared Bowser the Hound.
Reddy Fox, taking a nap on the edge of the Green Forest, heard Bowser's big, deep voice. He pricked up his ears, then he grinned. "I feel just like a good run to-day," said he, and trotted off along the Crooked Little Path down the hill.
Now this was a beautiful summer day and Reddy knew that in summer men and boys seldom hunt foxes. "It's only Bowser the Hound," thought Reddy, "and when I've had a good run, I'll play a trick on him so that he will lose my track." So Reddy didn't use his eyes as he should have done. You see, he thought himself so smart that he had grown careless. Yes, Sir, Reddy Fox had grown careless. He kept looking back to see where Bowser the Hound was, but didn't look around to make sure that no other danger was near.
Ol' Mistah Buzzard, sailing 'round and 'round, way up in the blue, blue sky, could see everything going on down below. He could see Reddy Fox running along the edge of the Green Forest and every few minutes stopping to chuckle and listen to Bowser the Hound trying to pick out the trail Reddy had made so hard to follow by his twists and turns. And he saw something else, did Ol' Mistah Buzzard. It looked to him very much like the barrel of a gun sticking out from behind an old tree just ahead of Reddy.
"Ah reckon it's just like Ah said: Reddy Fox is gwine to meet trouble right smart soon," muttered Ol' Mistah Buzzard.
As I was going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven wives.
Every wife had seven sacks,
Every sack had seven cats,
Every cat had seven kits.
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
How many were going to St. Ives?
WEEK 4 |
T HE first thing that was done after they got the sledge back to the village was to feed the dogs. The dogs were very hungry; they had smelled the fresh meat for a long time without so much as a bite of it, and they had had nothing to eat for two whole days. They jumped about and howled again and got their harnesses dreadfully tangled.
Kesshoo unharnessed them and gave them some bones, and while they
were crunching them and quarreling among themselves, Koolee
crawled into the igloo and brought out a bowl. The bowl was made
"This is for a charm," said Koolee. "If you each take a sip of water from this bowl my son will always have good luck in spying bears!"
She passed the bowl around, and each person took a sip of the
water. When Menie's turn came he took a big, big mouthful,
because he wanted to be very brave, indeed, and find a bear every
week. But he was in too much of a hurry. The water went down his
"That's a poor beginning for a great
Everybody laughed at Menie. Menie hated to be laughed at. He went away and found Nip and Tup. They wouldn't laugh at him, he knew. He thought he liked dogs better than people anyway.
Nip and Tup were trying to get their noses into the circle with the other dogs, but the big dogs snapped at them and drove them away, so Menie got some scraps and fed them.
Meanwhile Koolee stood by the sledge and divided the meat among her neighbors. First she gave one of the hind legs to the wives of the Angakok, because he always had to have the best of everything. She gave the kidneys to Koko's mother. To each one she gave just the part she had asked for. When each woman had been given her share, Kesshoo took what was left and put it on the storehouse.
The storehouse wasn't really a house at all. It was just a great stone platform standing up on legs, like a giant's table. The meat was placed on the top of it, so the dogs could not reach it, no matter how high they jumped.
When the rest of the meat was taken care of, Koolee took the bear's head and carried it into the igloo.
All the people followed her. Then Koolee did a queer thing. She placed the head on a bench, with the nose pointing toward the Big Rock, because the bear had come from that direction. Then she stopped up the nostrils with moss and grease. She greased the bear's mouth, too.
"Bears like grease," she said. "And if I stop up his nose like that bears will never be able to smell anything. Then the hunters can get near and kill them before they know it." You see Koolee was a great believer in signs and in magic. All the other people were too.
She called to the twins, "Come here, Menie and Monnie."
The twins had come in with the others, but they were so short they were out of sight in the crowd. They crawled under the elbows of the grown people and stood beside Koolee.
"Look, children," she said to them, "your grandfather, who is dead, sent you this bear. He wants you to send him something. In five days the bear's spirit will go to the land where your grandfather's spirit lives. What would you like to have the bear's spirit take to your grandfather for a gift?"
"I'll send him the little fish that father carved for me out of bone," said Menie. He squirmed through the crowd and got it from a corner of his bed and brought it to his mother. She put it on the bear's head.
Monnie gave her a leather string with a lucky stone tied to it. Koolee put that on the bear's head too.
Then she said, "There! In five days' time the bear's spirit will give the shadows of these things to your grandfather. Then we can eat the head, but not until we are sure the bear's spirit has reached the home of the Dead."
"That is well," the Angakok said to the twins, when Koolee had finished. "Your grandfather will be pleased with your presents, I know. Your grandfather was a just man. I knew him well. He always paid great respect to Me. Whenever he brought a bear home he gave me not only a hind leg, but the liver as well! I should not be surprised if he sent the bear this way, knowing how fond I am of bear's liver."
The Angakok placed his hand on his stomach and rolled up his eyes. "But times are not what they once were," he went on. "People care now only for their own stomachs! They would rather have the liver themselves than give it to the Angakok! They will be sorry when it is too late."
He shook his head and heaved a great sigh. Koolee looked at Kesshoo. She was very anxious. Kesshoo went out at once to the storehouse. He climbed to the top and got the liver.
By this time all the people had crawled out of the igloo again, and were ready to carry home their meat. Kesshoo ran to the Angakok and gave him the bear's liver. The Angakok handed it to one of his wives to carry. The other one already had the bear's leg. He said to Kesshoo, "You are a just man, like your father. I know the secrets of the sun, moon, and stars. You know your duty! You shall have your reward." He looked very solemn and waddled away toward his igloo with the two wives behind him carrying the meat. All the rest of the people followed after him and went into their own igloos.
WEEK 4 |
N the barnyard where the Ducks and Chickens lived were
The little Chickens walked along until they got out into the country, and then they came to a garden with a low fence around it. Looking through the palings, the little Rooster spied a bed of strawberries, some of them just beginning to turn a little yellow and some of them quite green. None of them were ripe, for the sun had not been warm enough. "Now," said the little Rooster in a loud voice, "I shall have just as many strawberries as I can eat."
"Surely," said the little Hen, "you are not going to eat those green strawberries."
"Yes, I am," said the little Rooster.
"Oh! please do not," said the Hen, "they will make you sick; wait a few days and they will be ripe, and we can come again."
"You are so foolish," said the little Rooster, "you always want me to wait," and with that he stretched out his wings and flew over the fence into the strawberry bed. He ate and ate until he was full. The little Hen stayed outside and kept thinking how sick he would be. After a while they walked home, and the night came and all the Chickens were asleep. The little Hen was suddenly startled in the night by a loud groan. "Oh! dear me; I'm so sick! Oh! how my stomach aches!" The poor little Hen was so frightened, because it was the little Rooster who was so sick. She got up and waited on him, but he was a very sick Rooster—he was so sick he could not get up the next morning—however, he recovered.
The Spring passed and Summer came. It was so warm that the little Hen and the little Rooster thought they would like to walk out in the country.
As they started and walked along they became very much heated. After a while they came to a clear, beautiful stream. "Now," said the little Rooster, "I shall have a nice, cool drink of water after this hot walk." "Now, my dear little Rooster," said the Hen, "won't you please sit down under these shady trees and get cooled off before you drink; because you know when one is overheated it is not good to drink cold water."
"Nonsense!" said the little Rooster, "I am not going to wait," and with this he put his bill down in the water and threw his head back until he could not drink another drop. The little Hen sat down and waited until she was rested.
That night the little Rooster was very sick again; this time the little Hen thought he was going to die. She put his feet in warm water and put a mustard plaster on him. He recovered, but he was very weak for a long time.
Summer passed, Autumn came, and Jack Frost had made only one visit to the little streams, so they had only a very thin sheet of ice over them. One nice day the little Hen and the little Rooster went out for another walk. They came to a stream; the little Rooster stepped on the ice and begged the little Hen to skate with him.
"No," said the little Hen, "the ice is too thin; it will break; we had better wait."
"Wait, indeed," said the little Rooster, "you are always talking about waiting."
With this he skated off nearly to the middle of the stream, came back and begged again.
"No," said the little Hen. Then he went to the middle and came back and begged again.
"No," said the little Hen.
The third time he skated almost across the stream. The Hen was sitting on a stone crying, when she heard a crackling sound—Crack! Pop went the ice under the little Rooster and he fell into the water and was drowned.
Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November;
February has twenty-eight alone,
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting leap-year, that's the time
When February's days are twenty-nine.
WEEK 4 |
RS. RED-HEADED WOODPECKER bent her handsome head down
and listened. "Yes, it is! It certainly is!" she
cried, as she heard for a second time the faint
"So it is that one," she cried. "I thought it would be. I was certain that I laid that one first." And she arched her neck proudly, as the beak of her eldest child came through a crack in the shell. Now nobody else could have told one egg from another, but mothers have a way of remembering such things, and it may be because they love their children so that sometimes their sight is a little sharper, and their hearing a little keener than anybody else's.
However that may be, she stood watching while the tiny
bird chipped away the shell and squeezed out of the
opening he had made. She did not even touch a piece of
the shell until he was well out of it, for she knew
that it is always better for children to help
themselves when they can. It makes them strong and
fits them for life. When the little
The newly hatched bird was a tired little fellow, and
the first thing he did was to take a nap. He was cold,
too, although the weather was fine and sunshiny. His
down was all wet from the moisture inside the egg, and
you can imagine how he felt, after growing for so long
inside a warm, snug shell, to suddenly be without it
and know that he could never again have it around him.
Even if it had been whole once more, he could not have
been packed into it, for he had been stretching and
growing every minute since he left it. It is for this
reason that the
But who can tell what the other three children, who had not cracked the shell, were thinking? Could they remember the time when they began to be? Could they dream of what would happen after they were hatched? Could they think at all? They were tiny, weak creatures, curled up within their shells, with food packed all around them. There had been a time when they were only streaks in the yellow liquid of the eggs. Now they were almost ready to leave this for a fuller, freer life, where they could open their bills and flutter their wings, and stretch their legs and necks. It had been a quiet, sheltered time in the shell; why should they leave it? Ah, but they must leave it, for they were healthy and growing, and when they had done so, they would forget all about it. By the time they could talk, and that would be very soon, they would have forgotten all that happened before they were hatched. That is why you can never get a bird to tell you what he thought about while in an egg.
After the young Woodpecker's three sisters reached the
outside world, the father and mother were kept busy
hunting food for them, and they were alone much of the
time. It was not long before they knew their parents'
voices, although, once in a while, before they got
their eyes open, they mistook the call of the Tree Frog
below for that of the Woodpeckers. And this was not
strange, for each says,
When they had their eyes open there was much to be seen. At least, they thought so. Was there not the hollow in their dear, dry old tree, a hollow four or five times as high as they could reach? Their mother had told them how their father and she had dug it out with their sharp, strong bills, making it roomy at the bottom, and leaving a doorway at the top just large enough for them to pass through. Part of the chips they had taken away, as the mother had taken the broken shells, and part had been left in the bottom of the hollow for the children to lie on. "I don't believe in grass, hair, and down, as a bed for children," their father had said. "Nice soft chips are far better."
And the Woodpecker children liked the chips, and played with them, and pretended that they were grubs to be caught with their long and bony tongues; only of course they never swallowed them.
It was an exciting time when their feathers began to grow. Until then they had been clothed in down; but now the tiny quills came pricking through their skin, and it was not so pleasant to snuggle up to each other as it had once been. Now, too, the eldest of the family began to show a great fault. He was very vain. You can imagine how sorry his parents were.
Every morning when he awakened he looked first of all
at his feathers. Those on his breast were white, and
he had a white band on his wings. His tail and back
and nearly the whole of his wings were
The sisters were getting their new suits at the same time, and there was just as much reason why they should be vain, but they were not. They were glad (as who would not be?) and they often said to each other: "How pretty you are growing!" They looked exactly like their brother, for it is not with the Woodpeckers as with many other birds,—the sons and daughters are dressed in precisely the same way.
As for the vain young Woodpecker, he had many troubles. He was not contented to let his feathers grow as the grass and the leaves grow, without watching. No indeed! He looked at each one every day and a great many times every day. Then, if he thought they were not growing as fast as they should, he worried about it. He wanted to hurry them along, and sometimes, when his sisters did not seem to be looking, he took hold of them with his bill and pulled. Of course this did not make them grow any faster and it did make his skin very sore, but how was he to know? He had not been out of the shell long enough to be wise.
It troubled him, too, because he could not see his red feathers. He twisted his head this way and that, and strained his eyes until they ached, trying to see his own head and neck. It was very annoying. He thought it would have been much nicer to have the brightest feathers in a fellow's tail, where he could see them, or at any rate on his breast; and he asked his mother why it couldn't be so.
"I once knew a young Woodpecker," she said, "who thought of very little but his own beauty. I am afraid that if he had been allowed to wear his red feathers in his tail, he would never have seen anything else in this wonderful great world, but just his own poor little tail." She looked out of the doorway as she spoke, but he knew that she meant him.
Things went on in this way until the children were
ready to fly. Then there were daily lessons in flying,
alighting, clinging to branches, and tapping for food
on the bark of trees. They learned, too, how to support
themselves with their stiff tails when they were
walking up trees or stopping to eat with their claws
hooked into the bark. Then Mrs.
It was on his way back from an orchard one day, that
the vain young Woodpecker stopped to talk with an old
It may be that the Gray Squirrel's
sight was not good, and so he mistook the Woodpecker
for quite another fellow. He was speaking of an old
tree where he had spent the last winter. "I believe a
As the young
This puzzled his father. "Whose feathers should you look through?" said he. "What do you mean?"
"Well," answered the son, "somebody said that I saw the world through my own feathers, and I don't see how I can get anybody else's."
How his father did laugh! "I don't see why you should look through any feathers," said he. "What he meant was that you thought so much of your own plumage that you did not care for anything else; and it is so. If it were intended you should look at yourself all the time, your eyes would have been one under your chin and the other in the back of your head. No! They are placed right for you to look at other people, and are where they help you hunt for food."
"How often may I look at my own feathers?" asked the young Woodpecker. He was wondering at that minute how his tail looked, but he was determined not to turn his head.
The old Woodpecker's eyes twinkled. "I should think," he said, "that since you are young and have no family to look after, you might preen your feathers in the morning and in the afternoon and when you go to sleep. Then, of course, when it is stormy, you will have to take your waterproof out of the pocket under your tail, and put it on one feather at a time, as all birds do. That would be often enough unless something happened to rumple them."
"I will not look at them any oftener," said the young
His mother sighed when she heard of the change. "I am very glad," said she. "But isn't that always the way? His father and I have talked and talked, and it made no difference; but let somebody else say he is silly and vain, and behold!"
WEEK 4 |
LONG, long ago there lived, in a kingdom far away, five knights who were so good and so wise that each one was known by a name that meant something beautiful.
The first knight was called Sir Brian the Brave. He had killed the great lion that came out of the forest to frighten the women and children, had slain a dragon, and had saved a princess from a burning castle; for he was afraid of nothing under the sun.
The second knight was Gerald the Glad, who was so happy himself that he made everybody around him happy too; for his sweet smile and cheery words were so comforting that none could be sad or cross or angry when he was near.
Sir Kenneth the Kind was the third knight, and he won his name by his tender heart. Even the creatures of the wood knew and loved him, for he never hurt anything that God had made.
The fourth knight had a face as beautiful as his name, and he was called Percival the Pure. He thought beautiful thoughts, said beautiful words, and did beautiful deeds, for he kept his whole life as lovely as a garden full of flowers without a single weed.
Tristram the True was the last knight, and he was leader of them all.
The king of the country
trusted these five knights; and one morning in the early
spring-time he called them to him and
"My trusty knights, I am growing old, and I long to see in my kingdom many knights like you to take care of my people; and so I will send you through all my kingdom to choose for me a little boy who may live at my court and learn from you those things which a knight must know. Only a good child can be chosen. A good child is worth more than a kingdom. And when you have found him, bring him, if he will come willingly, to me, and I shall be happy in my old age."
Now the knights were well pleased with the words of the king, and at the first peep of day they were ready for their journey, and rode down the highway with waving plumes and shining shields.
No sooner had they started on their journey than the news spread abroad over the country, and many fathers and mothers who were anxious for the favor of the king sent messengers to invite the knights to visit them.
The parents' messages were so full of praises of their children that the knights scarcely knew where to go. Some of the parents said that their sons were beautiful; some said theirs were smart; but as the knights cared nothing for a child who was not good, they did not hurry to see these children.
On the second day, however, as they rode along, they met a company of men in very fine clothes, who bowed down before them; and while the knights drew rein in astonishment, a little man stepped in front of the others to speak to them.
He was a fat little man, with a fat little voice; and he told the knights that he had come to invite them to the castle of the Baron Borribald, whose son Florimond was the most wonderful child in the world.
"Oh! there is nothing he cannot do," cried the fat little man whose name was Puff. "You must hear him talk! You must see him walk!"
So the knights followed him; and when they had reached the castle, Florimond ran to meet them. He was a merry little fellow, with long fair curls and rosy cheeks; and when he saw the fine horses he clapped his hands with delight. The baron and baroness, too, were well pleased with their visitors, and made a feast in their honor; but early the next morning, the knights were startled by a most awful sound which seemed to come from the hall below.
"Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo!" It sounded something like the howling of a dog; but as they listened, it grew louder and louder, until it sounded like the roaring of a lion.
The knights seized their swords and rushed down to see
what was the matter; and there, in the middle of
the hall, stood Florimond, his cheeks puffed up and his
eyes swollen,—and right out of his open mouth came
that terrible noise:
His mamma and papa were begging him to be quiet. The cook had run up with a pie, and the nurse with a toy, but Florimond only opened his mouth and screamed the louder, because the rain was coming down, when he wanted to play out of doors!
Then the knights saw that they were not wanted, and they hurried upstairs to prepare for their journey. The baron and baroness and fat little Puff all begged them to stay, and Florimond cried again when they left him; but the knights did not care to stay with a child who was not good.
The knights began to think that their mission was a difficult one; but they rode on, asking at every house: "Is there a good boy here?" only to be disappointed many times.
North, south, east, and west, they searched; and at last, one afternoon, they halted under an oak tree, to talk, and they decided to part company.
each take his own way," said Tristram the True, "and
Then they bade each other farewell, and each rode away, except Sir Tristram, who lingered long under the oak tree; for he was the leader, and had many things to think about.
Just as the sun was red in the west, he saw a little boy coming towards him, with a bundle of sticks on his back.
"Greeting to you, little boy," said he.
"Greeting to you, fair sir," said the boy, looking up with eager eyes at the knight on his splendid horse, that stood so still when the knight bade it.
"What is your name?" asked the knight.
"My name is little Gauvain," replied the child.
"And can you prove a trusty guide, little Gauvain, and lead me to a pleasant place where I may rest to-night?" asked the knight.
"Ay, that I can," Gauvain answered gladly, his whole face lighting up with pleasure; but he added quickly, "I can, if you will wait until I carry my sticks to Granny Slowsteps, and bring her water from the spring; for I promised to be there before the setting of the sun."
Now little Gauvain wanted to help the good knight so much that he was sorry to say this; but Sir Tristram told him to run, and promised to wait patiently until his return; and before many moments Gauvain was back, bounding like a fawn through the wood, to lead the way to his own home.
When they came there the little
dog ran out to meet them, and the cat rubbed
up against Gauvain, and the mother called from the
"Is that my sunbeam coming home to roost?" which made Gauvain and the knight both laugh.
And the mother called from the kitchen:—"Is that my sunbeam coming home to roost?"
Then the mother came out in haste to welcome the stranger; and she treated him with honor, giving him the best place at the table and the hottest cakes.
She and little Gauvain lived all alone, for the father had gone to the wars when Gauvain was a baby, and had died fighting for the king.
She had cows, horses, and pigs, hens, chickens, and a dog and a cat, and one treasure greater than a kingdom, for she had a good child in her house.
Sir Tristram found this out very soon, for little Gauvain ran when he was called, remembered the cat and dog when he had eaten his own supper, and went to bed when he was told, without fretting, although the knight was telling of lions and bears and battles, and everything that little boys like to hear about.
Sir Tristram was so glad of this that he could hardly wait for the time to come when he should meet his comrades under the oak tree.
"I have found a child whom you must see," he said, as soon as they came together.
"And so have I," cried Gerald the Glad.
"And I," exclaimed Kenneth the Kind.
"And I," said Brian the Brave.
"And I," said Percival the Pure; and they looked at each other in astonishment.
"I do not know the child's name," continued Gerald the Glad; "but as I was riding in the forest I heard some one singing the merriest song! And when I looked through the trees I saw a little boy bending under a heavy burden. I hastened to help him, but when I reached the spot he was gone. I should like to hear him sing again."
"I rode by the highway," said Sir Brian the Brave, "and I came suddenly upon a crowd of great, rough fellows who were trying to torment a small black dog; and just as I saw them, a little boy ran up, as brave as a knight, and took the dog in his arms, and covered it with his coat. The rest ran away when I rode up; but the child stayed, and told me his name—Gauvain."
"Why!" exclaimed Kenneth the Kind, "he is the boy who brings wood and water for Granny Slowsteps. I tarried all night at her cottage, and she told me of his kindness."
"I saw a lad at the spring near by," said Percival the Pure. "He hurried to fill his bucket, and some rude clown muddied the water as the child reached down; but he spoke no angry words, and waited patiently till the water was clear again. I should like to find his home and see him there."
Now Sir Tristram had waited to hear them all;
but when Sir Percival had finished, he arose and
"Come, and I will carry you to the child!" And when the knights followed him, he led them to the home where little Gauvain was working with his mother, as happy as a lark and as gentle as a dove.
It was noonday, and the sun was shining brightly on the shields of the knights, and their plumes were waving in the breeze; and when they reached the gate, Sir Tristram blew a loud blast on a silver trumpet.
Then all the hens began to cackle, and the dog began to bark, and the horse began to neigh, and the pigs began to grunt; for they knew that it was a great day. And little Gauvain and his mother ran out to see what the matter was.
When the knights saw Gauvain they looked
at each other, and every one cried out: "He is
the child!" And Tristram the True said to the
"Greeting to you! The king, our wise ruler, has sent us here to see your good child; for a good child is more precious than a kingdom. And the king offers him his love and favor if you will let him ride with us to live at the king's court and learn to be a knight."
Little Gauvain and his mother were greatly astonished. They could scarcely believe that such a thing had happened; for it seemed very wonderful and beautiful that the king should send messengers to little Gauvain. After the knights had repeated it, though, they understood; and little Gauvain ran to his mother and put his arms around her; for he knew that if he went with the knights he must leave her, and the mother knew that if she let him go she must live without him.
The rooster up on
the fence crowed a very loud
"I cannot spare my good child from my home. The king's love is precious; but I love my child more than the whole world, and he is dearer to me than a thousand kingdoms."
Little Gauvain was so glad when he heard her answer that he looked again at the knights with a smiling face, and waved his hand to them as they rode away. All day and all night they rode, and it was the peep of day when they came to the king's highway. Then they rode slowly, for they were sad because of their news; but the king rejoiced when he heard it, for he said: "Such a child, with such a mother, will grow into a knight at home."
The king's words were true; for when the king was an old, old man, Gauvain rode to his court and was knighted.
Gauvain had a beautiful name of his own then, for he was called "Gauvain the Good"; and he was brave, happy, kind, pure, and true. And he was beloved by all the people in the world, but most of all by his mother.
Hush, baby, my dolly, I pray you don't cry,
And I'll give you some bread, and some milk by-and-by;
Or perhaps you like custard, or, maybe, a tart,
Then to either you're welcome, with all my heart.
WEEK 4 |
NCE upon a time there was a farm-house, and
it was painted white and had green
blinds; and it stood not far from the
road. In the fence was a wide gate to
the wagons through to the barn. And the
wagons, going through, had made a little
track that led up past the kitchen door
and past the shed and past the barn and
past the orchard to the
One morning, after winter had begun and
snow was on the ground, Uncle John
got out the oxen. They put their heads
down low, and he put the yoke over and
the bows under, and he fastened the
tongue of the sled to the yoke. The sled
a good deal like little John's sled,
only very much bigger, with wooden
and very strong. On the sled was Uncle
John's axe, and he put on some
ropes besides. Then the old oxen started
and walked slowly along the little
track, past the barn and past the
orchard to the
When they got to that place, the old oxen stopped and stood still in the snow and Uncle John took his axe and looked about, at the trees, to see which one he should cut down. There was some wood already cut, piled up on the ground. It was some that Uncle John and Uncle Solomon had cut the winter before, and had piled up so that it would dry. Every winter, when it was cold and the trees had stopped growing, they cut down enough to last all winter and all summer. And then they piled it up to dry, because wood that isn't dry makes a great smoke and doesn't burn very well.
Pretty soon Uncle John saw a tree that he thought would be a good tree to cut down, to burn. It was a hickory tree, and the wood of the hickory tree, after it is dry, is the best wood to burn. So when Uncle John had found that tree, he looked around, to see which way it ought to fall, so that it would be in a good place for him to work at it, and so that it wouldn't hurt a lot of other trees while it was falling. When he knew just where he wanted the tree to fall, he began on that side, and he chopped at the tree with his axe. And great big chips fell out on the snow, and some of them came flying out so hard, they almost hit little John where he was playing, a little way off. And after Uncle John had been chopping a while, there was a deep place cut in the tree, that made it look as if it had its mouth open. Then Uncle John went around to the other side of the tree and began to chop there.
When Uncle John had been chopping a little while, on the other side of the tree, little John got tired of watching the axe and the chips that flew out, and he was cold. So he went near Uncle John and said he was cold, and Uncle John stopped chopping and listened. Then he said they would have a fire if little John would wait just a minute longer, because the tree was almost ready to fall. So little John watched and Uncle John chopped some more, and then he called out to little John to take care, because the tree was going to fall. And the tree was almost cut through, so that only a little piece was left to hold it up. And little John got out of the way, and just then the tree gave a great shiver when Uncle John hit it with his axe. Then Uncle John stopped chopping and looked up at the tree, and then he got out of the way.
Then the tree began to fall over very slowly.
Then the tree began to fall over very slowly and the top went over sidewise, and it went down, faster and faster, and at last it went very fast, and it struck the ground, with a great crashing noise, and all the little branches that were underneath were smashed.
When the tree was down, Uncle John began
to build the fire, because he had
promised little John. Uncle John wasn't
cold, but little John hadn't been
chopping, so he was cold. And Uncle John
went about and picked up a great many
pieces of the branches that were lying
about, and he made them into a pile.
Uncle John was chopping the branches off
the hickory tree, so that he could cut
the tree up into logs the right size to
burn. There weren't any very big
branches, but there were a good many
little ones, so before he had all the
branches chopped off, it was almost time
to go home. So Uncle John stopped
chopping and he made the oxen pull the
sled beside the pile of wood that was
there already, and he began to pile the
wood on the sled, and little John
helped. When the wood was all piled on
the sled, Uncle John looked at the
bonfire, and he saw that it was almost
out, and he said, "Gee up." And the oxen
started and walked along the little road
in the woods to the
Then Uncle John piled all the wood in the shed, so that it would be easy for him to take it into the kitchen. And he made the oxen back the sled into the shed, and he unhooked the tongue of the sled from the yoke, and he took off the yoke, and the old oxen went into the barn and went to sleep.
And that's all.
WEEK 4 |
T HERE was sadness in the home of Abraham, the great chief, and his son Isaac. Sarah's tent was empty now, and Isaac, her son, went about sorrowfully, for he sorely missed his mother, whom he had loved with all his heart. Abraham was an old man now, and his life was nearly over; but Isaac was young, and the future looked very lonely and very sad to him.
Abraham watched his son with anxious eyes. It was not good for him to grieve so sorely. Surely it was time that he should marry and have a wife to bring back happiness to him. But it must be the right kind of wife; his son must not choose any of the ordinary women amongst whom they lived. No, he would send his old and trusted servant back to that far-away home he had left so long ago, and bid him bring from there a maiden of his own people, one who would be a fit wife for his only son. So here the story begins.
It was evening, and the little village, perched on the side of the hill, shone white in the last rays of the setting sun against its rocky background. Below, in the plain, evening shadows had already begun to gather as a weary traveller made his way with his swaying train of camels towards the well, sheltered by palm trees at the foot of the hill.
He was an old man, and his dusty sandals and travel-stained appearance showed that he had come a long distance. The camels, too, were travel-worn and thirsty. There was no one at the well as the old man, Abraham's trusted servant, drew near; and after he had made the camels kneel down he sat himself at the well side to wait until the women of the village should come to draw the evening supply of water.
It was a difficult errand on which his master had sent him. How was he to find out which of all the village maidens was the right wife for Isaac, his beloved master's son? Surely the best thing he could do was to ask God to help him. So there, in the gathering twilight, the old servant knelt and asked God to be graciously kind to him, and to show him by a sign which maiden he should choose. He would ask for a drink, and the one who answered, "Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also," would be the one he sought.
He had not long to wait, for scarcely was his prayer ended when down the path that led from the village came a young girl carrying a pitcher upon her shoulder. The old man watched her keenly. "She is very fair to look upon," he said to himself. He wondered if she would also have a kind heart. Then after she had filled her pitcher he determined to try the test, and went forward to meet her.
"Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher," he said.
Immediately the girl lowered her water-jug from her shoulder and held it towards him.
"Drink, my lord," she said kindly; and as she looked round on the tired beasts kneeling patiently there, she added, "I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking."
It seemed almost too good to be true. The old man could only stand and look at her in silent wonder as she gave the camels their drink. Then he took from his pack two golden bracelets and a wonderful gold ear-ring, and presented them to her, asking her name, and if she thought he could find a lodging in the village.
If he had had any doubts about the sign these vanished now as he listened to her answer. She was Rebekah, the daughter of his master's own brother, not only one of his race, but one of his own family.
So he followed her as she went on ahead to tell her father of the traveller who was coming, and when he arrived there was a warm welcome awaiting him, and everything in readiness for his comfort.
But before the faithful servant would even eat or drink he declared that he must tell them the reason of his coming: how his master Abraham had sent him to seek for a wife for his only son, and how God had showed him by a sign that Rebekah was the maiden of his choice.
The family listened wonderingly. Surely it was plain that they must let their beautiful Rebekah return with the servant to be Isaac's bride, for God had clearly shown that it was His will.
That night there was much feasting and rejoicing, but next morning a little sadness crept in. It was not easy to part with the only daughter of the house. Would it not be possible to wait for a few days? asked her mother wistfully.
"No," said the old servant decidedly, "send me away, that I may return at once."
"We will call Rebekah," said her mother, "and she shall decide."
Rebekah came and answered the question bravely. Yes, she would go. She was ready to start at once on that long journey, ready to trust herself to the faithful servant whom God had sent to fetch her.
She was very young; all unknown and untried the future lay before her. It might be a shining path of happiness, or rough with the stones of difficulty, but it was the path God had chosen for her.
So after many farewells they set out, a long train of swaying camels, to journey to that far-off land where Abraham and his son Isaac dwelt.
It was again evening time as the journey drew to an end. Isaac had wandered out into the fields after his day's work, to be alone with his sorrowful thoughts. He was watching the sun dip down in the west, when far along the winding strip of white road a cloud of dust caught his eye. Travellers must be coming that way. Closer and closer they came, until the camels and their riders could be clearly seen through the dust. Then Isaac saw that it was the faithful servant who had returned; and as they stopped and dismounted, he knew that the silent girl who stood there with veiled face was the wife his father had desired for him.
Quickly the servant told his story, and then Isaac came near and took Rebekah's hand and led her away. There was but one place for this beautiful maiden who had so trustfully left her home to come to him. Straight to his mother's tent he took her, that silent tent which now would be empty no longer; and ere long all his loneliness and sorrow vanished, and his empty heart too was filled with love for his beautiful wife who had come to comfort him for the loss of his mother.
A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in June
Is worth a silver spoon;
A swarm of bees in July
Is not worth a fly.