WEEK 48 |
S AMMY JAY hadn't had so much fun for a long time as he found in watching the funny little school in Farmer Brown's old orchard, where Johnny Chuck was teaching his three baby Chucks the things that every little Chuck must learn, if he would grow up into a big Chuck. When they had learned to mind without waiting to ask why, and had learned the signals which told them just what to do when danger was near, Johnny began to lead them farther and farther away from home.
He took them up along the old stone wall and showed them how to find
The first time, two of them tried to squeeze into the same hole together, and each was in such a hurry that he wouldn't let the other go first. Then both lost their tempers and they began to fight about it, quite forgetting that if there was really any danger near, they surely would come to harm. Such a scolding as Johnny Chuck did give those two little Chucks! Then he made them try it all over again.
Once he found a foot print which Reddy Fox had made in some soft earth during the night, and made each little Chuck smell of it, while he told them all about Reddy and old Granny Fox and how smart and sly they were and how very, very fond they were of tender young Chucks for dinner.
The three little Chucks shivered when they smelled of Reddy's track, and the hair along their backs stood up in a way that was very funny to see.
Then Johnny Chuck took them over to the edge of the old orchard, where they could peep out over the Green Meadows. He pointed out old Whitetail the Marshhawk, sailing back and forth over the meadows, and told them how once, when he was a little Chuck and had run away from home, old Whitetail had nearly caught him. He told them about Farmer Brown's boy and about Bowser the Hound and a great many other things that little Chucks should learn about.
Now all the time that Johnny Chuck was teaching these things, he was
keeping the sharpest kind of a watch for danger, and there were many
times when he
would give the danger signal. Then they would all lie
flat down in the grass and keep perfectly still, or else scamper as
fast as they could along the little paths which Johnny had made, to
the safety of the snug home under the old
One morning, when Johnny Chuck had led the three little Chucks farther from home than usual, Farmer Brown's boy took it into his head to visit the old orchard. Johnny Chuck did not see him coming. You see, the orchard grass had grown so tall that even when he sat up his very straightest, Johnny could not always see over the top of it. So this morning he failed to see Farmer Brown's boy coming.
But Sammy Jay, sitting in his snug
Then he thought of all the fun he had had watching those three little Chucks learn their lessons, and suddenly the thought of anything happening to them made Sammy Jay feel uncomfortable. Almost without stopping to think, he screamed at the top of his lungs:
"Run, Johnny Chuck, run! Here comes Farmer Brown's boy!"
And Johnny Chuck ran. He didn't wait to ask questions or even to look.
He started the three little Chucks ahead of him, and he nipped their
heels to make
them run faster. And just in time they reached the snug
house under the old
Farmer Brown's boy was just in time to see them disappear. He watched Sammy Jay flying over to the Green Forest and screaming "Thief! thief!" as he flew.
"I wonder now if that jay warned those chucks purposely," said he, as he scratched his head thoughtfully.
If Peter Rabbit had been there, he could have told him that Sammy Jay did, for he knows all about Sammy Jay and his tricks. But Peter wasn't there. The fact is, Peter was very busy doing the most foolish of all the foolish things he has ever done—trying to change his name. You may read all about it in The Adventures of Peter Cottontail. You see it takes a whole book to tell all about Peter and his doings.
As I went through the garden gap,
Who should I meet but Dick Red-cap!
A stick in his hand, a stone in his throat,—
If you'll tell me this riddle, I'll give you a groat.
WEEK 48 |
O NE morning, when Kit and Kat ran out early to feed their ducklings, the frost nipped their noses and ears.
"It's getting colder every day. Very soon winter will come," Kat said.
They ran down to the canal. The old goose and the gander and the goslings—now half grown—were standing on the bank, looking unhappy: there was a thin sheet of ice all over the canal, and they could not go swimming.
Kit took a stick and broke the ice. Thin sheets of it, like pieces of broken glass, were soon floating about; and the old goose, the gander, and all the goslings went down the bank in a procession into the water.
They swam about among the pieces of ice for a while, but it was so cold that they soon came up on the bank into the sun again and wiggled their tails to shake out the water. Then they all sat down in the sun to get their feet warm.
Kit and Kat ran up and down the road and played tag until their cheeks were red and they were warm as toast. Then they ran into Vrouw Vedder's warm kitchen.
The kettle was singing on the fire, and there was a smell of coffee in the air. Vrouw Vedder gave the Twins some in a large cup. She put in a good deal of milk and gave them each a piece of sugar to sweeten it with.
"Is it Sunday?" asked Kat. On Sundays they sometimes had coffee. On other days they had milk.
"No," said Vrouw Vedder; "but it is cold, and I thought a cup of coffee would warm us all up."
While they were drinking their coffee, Kit and Kat talked about the ice, and what fun they would have with their sleds on the canals when winter came.
"I tell you what it is, Kat," said Kit; "I think we're big enough to have skates. Hans Hite isn't much bigger than I am, and he had skates last winter. I mean to ask Father this very day."
"Yah," said Kat—that is the way Dutch Twins always say yes—"Yah, and let us be very good and help mother all we can. I think maybe they will give skates to good Twins quite soon, even if we aren't very big yet—not big enough to be called Christopher and Katrina."
Vrouw Vedder was heating water and getting out her scrubbing brushes, so Kit and Kat knew that she was going to clean something.
"What are you going to scrub
"I'm going to scrub the stable," said Vrouw Vedder. "It is
getting too cold for the cows to stay all night in the pastures.
Father means to bring Mevrouw Holstein in
"We'll help you," said Kit and Kat very politely.
"Good children!" their mother said. "You may carry the brushes." So they opened a door beside the fireplace, and walked right into the stable.
The stable was really a part of the house. There were two stalls in the stable. Vrouw Vedder took her pails of water and her brushes and began to scrub. She scrubbed the walls, and the sides of the stalls, and the floor. The Twins scrubbed, too, until they were tired; and the stable was so clean, you would have liked to live there yourself.
"Let's play out here," said Kat. "Let's play house."
"All right," said Kit. "I'll be the father, and you be the mother."
"But who will be Twins?" said Kat.
"Let's get the ducklings," said Kit.
"They can be Twins, of course," said Kat. "They are, anyway."
So Kit ran out and brought in the ducklings. They were so tame they always ran to Kit and Kat, when they saw them coming. They were almost ducks now, they had grown so big.
"Let's give the Twins their dinner," said Kat. So she got some grain, and they both sat down on a little box and held the ducks in their laps and fed them from their hands. The ducks ate greedily.
"You have very bad manners," said Kat. "You will get your clothes all dirty." She took two rags and tied them around the ducks' necks for bibs. The ducks did not like bibs. They quacked.
"Now don't say anything like that," said Kat. "You must do just as you are told and not spill your food."
Then Kit got some water and a spoon and gave the Twins a drink, but they did not like the drink either.
"Now we must put them to sleep," said Kat. They rocked the ducks in their arms, but the ducks squawked dreadfully.
"What bad children to cry so!" said Kit. "You can have both the Twins"; and he gave his duck to Kat.
"You fix a bed for them," said Kat. So Kit turned up the box they had been sitting on, and put some hay in it; and they put the ducks in on the hay.
Pretty soon the ducks went to sleep. Kit and Kat ran away to play out of doors and forgot all about them.
They didn't think about them again until Father Vedder came home at night with Mevrouw Holstein. When he put the cow into the stall, he stumbled over the box. It was rather dark in the stable.
"Quack, quack!" said the ducks.
Kit and Kat were helping Father put the cow into the stall and get some hay for her. When the ducks quacked, Father Vedder said,
"What in the world is this?"
"Oh, our Twins! our Twins!" cried Kit and Kat. "Don't let Mevrouw Holstein step on the Twins!"
Father Vedder pulled out the box. Kit and Kat each took a duck and carried it out to the poultry house.
"Twins are a great care," said Kit and Kat.
"Now is the time to ask," whispered Kat to Kit, that night, when Father Vedder had finished his supper and was lighting his pipe. "You must ask very politely,—just the very politest way you can."
They went and stood before their father. They put their feet together. Kit made a bow, and Kat bobbed a curtsy.
"Dear parent," said Kit.
"That's a good start," whispered Kat. "Go on."
"Well, well, what now?" said Father Vedder.
"Dear parent, Kat and I are quite big now. I think we must be nearly four feet and a half high. Don't you think we are big enough to have skates this winter?"
"So that's it!" said Father Vedder. Then he smoked his pipe again.
"There was ice on the canal this morning," said Kat.
"So you think you are big enough to skate, do you?" said Father Vedder, at last. Mother Vedder was clearing away the supper. "What do you think about it, Mother?" said Father Vedder.
"They have been very good children," said the Vrouw. "There are the skates you and I had when we were children. We might try them on and see if they are big enough to wear them. They are in the bag hanging back of the press."
Kit and Kat almost screamed with joy.
"Our feet are quite large. I'm sure we can wear them," they said.
Father Vedder got the bag down and took out two pairs of skates. They had long curling ends on the runners. The Twins sat down on the floor. Father Vedder tried on the skates.
"They are still pretty large; but you will grow," he told the Twins. "You may have them if you will be very careful and not let them get rusty. By and by we will teach you to skate."
The Twins practiced standing in the skates on the kitchen floor; and, when bedtime came, they took the skates to bed with them.
"O Kit," said Kat, "I never supposed we'd get them so soon. Did you?"
"Well," said Kit, "you see, we're pretty big and very good. That makes a difference."
"It's very nice to be good when people notice it, isn't it?" said Kat.
"Yah," said Kit. "I'm going to be good now right along, all the
time; for very soon
"Oh! Oh!" said Kat.
"I'm going to
be good all the time
too. I'm going to
be good until after the feast of
WEEK 48 |
O NCE on a time there was a woman who had seven hungry children, and she was frying a pancake for them. It was a sweet milk pancake, and there it lay in the pan, bubbling and frizzling so thick and good, it was a delight to look at it. And the children stood round about, and the old father sat by and looked on.
"Oh, give me a bit of pancake, mother, dear, I am so hungry," said one child.
"Oh, darling mother," said the second.
"Oh, darling, good mother," said the third.
"Oh, darling, good, sweet mother," said the fourth.
"Oh, darling, pretty, good, sweet mother," said the fifth.
"Oh, darling, pretty, good, sweet, clever mother," said the sixth.
"Oh, darling, pretty, good, sweet, clever, kindest little mother," said the seventh.
So they begged for the pancake all around, the one more prettily than the other, for they were so hungry and so good.
"Yes, yes, children, only bide a bit till it turns itself"—she ought to have said, 'till I can get it turned,'—"and then you shall have some lovely sweet milk pancake. Only look how fat and happy it lies there."
When the pancake heard all this it became afraid, and in a trice it turned itself and tried to jump out of the pan, but it fell back into it again, the other side up. When it had been fried a little on the other side too, till it got firm and stiff, it jumped out of the pan to the floor and rolled off like a wheel through the door and down the hill.
"Holloa! Stop, pancake!" and away ran the mother after it, with the frying pan in one hand and the ladle in the other, as fast as she could, and all the children behind her, while the old father on crutches limped after them last of all.
"Hi! Won't you stop? Catch it! Stop, pancake!" they all screamed out, one after another, and tried to catch it on the run and hold it. But the pancake rolled on and on, and in a twinkling of an eye it was so far ahead that they couldn't see it.
So when it had rolled awhile it met a man.
"Good-day, pancake," said the man.
"Good-day, Manny Panny!" said the pancake.
"Dear pancake," said the man, "don't roll so fast; stop a little and let me eat you."
"No, no; I have run away from the mother, and the father, and seven hungry
children. I'll run away from you,
"Good-day, pancake," said the hen.
"The same to you, Henny Penny," said the pancake.
"Pancake, dear, don't roll so fast. Bide a bit and let me eat you up," said the hen.
"No, no; I have run away from the mother, and the father, and seven hungry
Just then it met a cock.
"Good-day, pancake," said the cock.
"The same to you, Cocky Locky," said the pancake.
"Pancake, dear, don't roll so fast, but bide a bit and let me eat you up."
"No, no; I have run away from the mother, and the father,
seven hungry children,
"Good-day, pancake," said the duck.
"The same to you, Ducky Lucky."
"Pancake, dear, don't roll away so fast; bide a bit and let me eat you up."
"No, no; I have run away from the mother,
and the father, and seven hungry
"Good-day, pancake," said the goose.
"The same to you, Goosey Poosey."
"Pancake, dear, don't roll so fast; bide a bit and let me eat you up."
"No, no; I have run away from the mother, the father,
seven hungry children,
So when it had rolled a long way off, it met a gander.
"Good-day, pancake," said the gander.
"The same to you, Gander Pander," said the pancake.
"Pancake, dear, don't roll so fast; bide a bit and let me have a bite."
"No, no; I've run away from the mother,
the father, seven hungry children,
So when it had rolled a long, long time, it met a pig.
"Good-day, pancake," said the pig.
"The same to you, Piggy Wiggy," said the pancake, and without a word more it began to roll and roll for dear life.
"Nay, nay," said the pig, "you needn't be in such a hurry; we two can go side by side through the wood; they say it is not too safe in there."
The pancake thought there might be something in that, and so they kept company. But when they had gone a while, they came to a brook. As for Piggy, he was so fat he could swim across. It was nothing for him, but the poor pancake could not get over.
"Seat yourself on my snout," said the pig, "and I'll carry you over."
So the pancake did that.
"Ouf, ouf," said the pig, and swallowed the pancake at one gulp, and then, as the poor pancake could go no farther, why—this story can go no farther either.
Doodle doodle doo,
The Princess lost her shoe:
Her Highness hopped,—
The fiddler stopped,
Not knowing what to do.
WEEK 48 |
T had been a cold and windy winter.
Day after day the
Then there had
been other days, when a strong wind stripped the trees
of their covering, and brought with it thousands of
small, hard flakes. These flakes were drier than the
ragged ones had been, and did not cling so lovingly to
everything they touched. They would rather frolic on
the ground, rising again and again from their
It is true that not all the winter had been cold and
stormy. There were times when the drifts melted slowly
into the earth, and the grass, which last summer had
been so tender and green, showed brown and matted on
the ground. Still the Great
This was when he was
talking to his cousin, the
"Have you been so hungry that you dreamed about food?"
"N-no, I can't say that I
have," said the Great
"Ah, that is dreadful," said the
It was only a few days
Somewhere, far beyond the
fields and forests of this part of the world,
When morning came and it
was the moon's turn to sink out of sight in the west,
the Owls went to bed in their hollow trees, and Crows,
"I wish you would stay with us all summer," said a friendly Goldfinch, as he flirted the snow off from a tall brown weed and began to pick out and eat the seeds.
"Stay all summer!" exclaimed a
"Why not ask the Goldfinches to come north with us?" suggested a Junco. "That would be much more sensible, for they can stand the cold weather as well as we, but we cannot stand warm days, such as I hear they have in this part of the country after the ice melts."
Then the older people of the group began to talk of the cares of life and many other things which did not interest their children, so the younger ones wandered away from them.
"I say," called a young
Junco to a young
"Yes indeed," answered
"And the animals," said the Junco.
"Yes! Wouldn't they stare at the Bears, though!"
"Humph," said a
"No," said the Crow. "I don't think very much of Bears anyway." He said this as though he had seen them all his life, but the Chickadees say that he never saw even a Cub.
"They haven't any big animals here," said the Junco to the Snow Bunting.
"Haven't we, though?" replied the Blue Jay. "Guess you wouldn't say that if you saw the Ground Hog. Would he say that?" he asked, turning to the young Grouse, Quail, Woodpeckers, Goldfinches, Chickadees, Squirrels, and Rabbits who stood around listening.
"No indeed!" they answered,
for they wanted their visitors to understand that the
Forest was a most wonderful place, and they really
"I don't believe he
is as big as a Bear,"
"How big is he?" asked the Junco.
The Crow looked at
the rock and gave a hoarse chuckle, for it was a
times larger than the
"In the Bats' cave," answered the
this very time the
The Grouse, Quail, Woodpeckers, Goldfinches,
Chickadees, Squirrels, and Rabbits gave one look. "Oh,
there is the
"Oh!" said the
The Crow pointed one claw at the
"I don't care," said the
WEEK 48 |
Early one morning Grandmother Grey got up, opened the windows and doors of the farmhouse, and soon everybody on the place was stirring. The cook hurried breakfast, and no sooner was it over than Grandfather Grey went out to the barn and hitched the two horses to the wagon.
"Get up, Robin and Dobbin!" he said, as he drove through the big gate. "If you knew who were coming back in this wagon you would not be stepping so slowly."
The old horses pricked up their ears when they heard this, and trotted away as fast as they could down the country road until they came to town. Just as they got to the railway station the train came whizzing in.
"All off!" cried the conductor, as the train stopped; and out came a group of children who were, every one of them, Grandfather and Grandmother Grey's grandchildren. They had come to spend Thanksgiving Day on the farm.
There was John, who was named for grandfather and looked just like him, and the twins, Teddie and Pat, who looked like nobody but each other. Their papa was grandfather's oldest son. Then there was Louisa, who had a baby sister at home, and then Mary Virginia Martin, who was her mama's only child.
"I tell you," said grandfather, as he helped them into the wagon, "your grandmother will be glad to see you!"
And so she was. She was watching at the window for them when they drove up, and when the children spied her they could scarcely wait for grandfather to stop the wagon before they scrambled out.
She was watching at the window for them.
"Dear me, dear me!" said grandmother, as they all tried to kiss her at the same time, "how you have grown."
"I am in the first grade," said John, hugging her with all his might.
"So am I," cried Louisa.
"We are going to be," chimed in the twins; and then they all talked at once, till grandmother could not hear herself speak.
Then, after they had told her all about their mamas and papas, and homes, and cats and dogs, they wanted to go and say "how do you do" to everything on the place.
"Take care of yourselves," called grandmother, "for I don't want to send any broken bones home to your mothers."
"I can take care of myself," said John.
"So can we," said the rest; and off they ran.
First they went to the kitchen where
Mammy 'Ria was getting ready to cook
the Thanksgiving dinner; then out to the
barnyard, where there were two new red
calves, and five little puppies belonging to
Juno, the dog, for them to see. Then they
climbed the barnyard fence and made haste
to the pasture where grandfather kept his
There were cows in this pasture, too, and Mary Virginia was afraid of them, even though she knew that they were the mothers of the calves she had seen in the barnyard.
"Silly Mary Virginia!" said John, and Mary Virginia began to cry.
"Don't cry," said Louisa. "Let's go to the hickorynut tree."
This pleased them all, and they hurried off; but on the way they came to the big shed where grandfather kept his plows and reaper and threshing machine and all his garden tools.
The shed had a long, wide roof, and there was a ladder leaning against it. When John saw that, he thought he must go up on the roof; and then, of course, the twins went, too. Then Louisa and Mary Virginia wanted to go, and although John insisted that girls could not climb, they managed to scramble up the ladder to where the boys were. And there they all sat in a row on the roof.
"Grandmother doesn't know how well
we can take care of ourselves," said John.
"But I am such a big boy that I can do
anything. I can ride a bicycle and go on
"So can I," said Louisa.
"We can ride on the trolley!" cried the twins.
"Mama and I go anywhere by ourselves," said Mary Virginia.
"Moo!" said something down below; and when they looked, there was one of the cows rubbing her head against the ladder.
"Don't be afraid, Mary Virginia," said Louisa. "Cows can't climb ladders."
"Don't be afraid, Mary Virginia," said John. "I'll drive her away."
So he kicked his feet against the shed roof and called "Go away! go away!" The twins kicked their feet, too, and called "Go away! go away!" and somebody, I don't know who, kicked the ladder and it fell down and lay in the dry grass. And the cow walked peacefully on, thinking about her little calf.
"There now!" exclaimed Louisa, "how shall we ever get down?"
"Oh, that's nothing," said John. "All I'll have to do is to stand up on the roof and call grandfather. Just watch me do it."
So he stood up and called
Then the twins called, "Grandfather! Grandmother!"
"Baa," said the sheep, as if beginning to think that somebody ought to answer all that calling.
Then they all called together: "Grandfather! Grandfather! Grandfather!" and when nobody heard that, they began to feel frightened and lonely.
"I want to go home to my mother! I wish I hadn't come!" wailed Mary Virginia.
"It's Thanksgiving dinner time, too," said John; "and there's turkey for dinner, for I saw it in the oven."
"Pie, too," said Louisa.
"Dear, dear!" cried the twins.
And then they all called together once more, but this time with such a weak little cry that not even the sheep heard it.
The sun grew warmer and the shadows straighter as they sat there, and grandmother's house seemed miles away when John stood up to look at it.
"They've eaten dinner by this time, I know," he said, as he sat down again; "and grandfather and grandmother have forgotten all about us."
But grandfather and grandmother had not forgotten them, for just about then grandmother was saying to grandfather. "You had better see where the children are, for Thanksgiving dinner will soon be ready and I know that they are hungry."
So grandfather went out to look for them. He did not find them in the kitchen nor the barnyard, so he called "Johnnie! Johnnie!" and when nobody answered he made haste to the pasture.
The children saw him coming, and long before he had reached the gate they began to call with all their might. This time grandfather answered, "I'm coming!" and I cannot tell you how glad they were.
In another minute he had set the ladder up again and they all came down. Mary Virginia came first because she was the youngest girl, and John came last because he was the biggest boy. Grandfather put his arms around each one as he helped them down, and carried Mary Virginia home on his back. When they got to the house dinner was just ready.
The turkey was brown, the potatoes were sweet,
The sauce was so spicy, the biscuits were beat,
The great pumpkin pie was as yellow as gold,
And the apples were red as the roses, I'm told.
It was such a good dinner that I had to tell you about it in rhyme!
And I'm sure you'll agree
With the children and me
That there's never a visit so pleasant to pay
As a visit to grandma on Thanksgiving Day.
There was a little woman, as I've been told,
Who was not very young, nor yet very old;
Now this little woman her living got
By selling codlins, hot, hot, hot!
WEEK 48 |
NCE upon a time there was a
One day, after the summer was all over
and all the things had been gathered,
everything was ready for the long
winter, Uncle John and the three little
came stamping in at the kitchen door,
with their skates hanging around their
necks and snow on their caps and
comforters. It was Thanksgiving morning,
and they had all been to the pond to
skate. And before they had got through
skating, it had begun to snow, and the
snow was covering the ice all up, but
it wasn't snowing very hard yet. Then
Uncle John and the little boys all took
off their mittens and their caps and
their comforters and their coats, and
While Uncle John and the boys had been off skating on the pond, Aunt Phyllis and Aunt Deborah had been very busy in the kitchen, getting ready for the Thanksgiving dinner. All the pies were already baked, the day before, and there were a lot of pies and the cranberry sauce was all made, and everything that they could get ready before Thanksgiving Day was all ready. But there were a good many things that had to be cooked that same morning, so that they would be nice. There was the squash and the potato and the turnips, and there was the turkey.
It was a great big turkey, the biggest
that Uncle Solomon could find and Aunt
fixed it all up, and she had stuffed it
with chestnuts and a lot of other nice
things. When the little boys came
And little Charles had to help Aunt Deborah and Aunt Phyllis and get things for them, and Uncle Solomon and Uncle John made the table as big as they could, and they got pitchers of water from the well, and two big pitchers of cider, from the cellar. Then, while they were all working hard, there was a knock at the door.
The knock wasn't at the kitchen door, but at the biggest door. And Aunt Deborah told little Charles to hurry and open the door and ask the people to step into the parlour. So little Charles ran to the door and there stood Sister Burbanks, and he asked her if she wouldn't please to step into the parlour. And so she did, but Uncle Burbanks said he guessed he would take the horse out to the barn. And Uncle Solomon went with him, to help. And pretty soon there was another knock, and there was Sister Graves and Uncle Graves. And Sister Graves came in and Uncle Graves went out to put the horse in the barn, and Uncle John went with him, to help.
And Sister Graves came in.
And pretty soon there was Uncle Moses and Uncle Abner and Aunt Mary and Sister Bodman and her two little boys. And the two little boys and all the aunts sat in the parlour, while all the uncles were out in the barn, putting up the horses. So little Charles sat in the parlour, too, and as soon as the turkey was done, Aunt Deborah told little John to go. And then there was a knock, and there were Aunt Deborah's father and mother.
Then Aunt Phyllis went
When everybody was ready, Aunt Deborah's
father said grace, but it was a very
short prayer. Then Uncle Solomon and
Uncle John began to sharpen
Then Aunt Deborah and Aunt Phyllis got up and took away all the plates they had been using, and the turkey platter and the ham platter, and put them out of the way, on another table. Then they brought the pies. There were mince pies and squash pies and apple pies, two kinds, and cranberry pies and potato pies. And there were nuts and apples and gingerbread and cake in the middle of the table. Then they helped to the pies, and almost everybody had two kinds, some of them more. They ate more pie than you would think anybody could eat, and the cider helped the pie go down; and then they had nuts and apples and cake and gingerbread.
But little Charles and little John were filled way up to their chins and they couldn't eat any nuts or apples then. So they filled their pockets with nuts, and each took an apple and a little piece of gingerbread. Then they put on their coats and comforters and caps and mittens and ran quickly out through the snow to the barn, and the two little Bodman boys went with them. They played about in the great open place in the barn, and chased each other and had a good time. And pretty soon they found they had some room for nuts and apples. The nuts were some hickory nuts that they had gathered themselves, with Uncle John. So they sat about and ate their apples and picked the meat out of the nuts and ate the meat, and looked out at the snow that was coming down very fast.
After the little boys had taken their nuts and apples and gone out to the barn, the other people sat at the table until they had finished their nuts and apples. Then all the uncles and aunts and the grandfathers and grandmothers went into the parlour and sat down. And Aunt Phyllis and Aunt Deborah hurried and took the plates off the table and began to clear up. And Aunt Mary heard the noise of the clearing up, and she couldn't stand it. So she got up and went back into the kitchen and told Aunt Deborah that she wasn't going to be sitting in the parlour with her hands folded while Aunt Deborah and Aunt Phyllis cleared up all that mess. So she put an apron around her black dress and helped. And Sister Burbanks and Sister Graves and Sister Bodman all came in and said the same thing. So they cleared up all the things very quickly and they all liked doing it. Then they took off their aprons and went back into the parlour and sat down.
Before they had been sitting in the parlour very long, Uncle Burbanks looked out of the window and saw that it was snowing very hard. So he said that if they wanted to get home with that carryall, they'd better be thinking of starting along, or else the snow would be too deep. So he went out to the barn to get his horse ready. And all the other uncles looked out and thought perhaps they'd better be starting along, too. So they all went out to the barn, and Uncle Solomon and Uncle John went with them to help; and all the aunts began putting on their coats and hoods and shawls and all the other things they wore to keep them warm and to keep the snow off them. And Aunt Deborah and Aunt Phyllis talked to them and said how glad they were that they could all come, and all the aunts said what a nice dinner it was, and what a good time they had had.
Then, pretty soon, Uncle Burbanks came along through the snow, leading his horse, and he stopped at the door, and Sister Burbanks got into the carryall, and he tucked the buffalo robe in about her feet and all around, to keep her dry and warm. Then he got in, in front, and they drove off. Then came Uncle Graves, and Uncle John with Sister Bodman's horse, and Uncle Moses and Uncle Abner, and Uncle Solomon with the other grandfather's horse. And all the people got into the carriages that were theirs, and they were all bundled up, and drove off through the snow. And when the other grandfather and grandmother drove off, little Charles and little John were hanging on behind. They rode down as far as the wide gate and then they tumbled off into the snow. And they ran back to the kitchen door and went in.
And that's all.
WEEK 48 |
A LONG the hot dusty road that led from the country of Moab to the fair land of Judah three women were walking with bowed heads and weary, halting steps. Their sorrowful, heavy eyes took no pleasure in the summer beauty of the harvest fields, the shimmering silver of the olive trees, and the rich promise of the vineyards which bordered their way. The whole world looked sad to them, seen through a mist of tears.
Ruth and Naomi
There behind them, in the land of Moab, each of these women had left green graves, which held all they loved best. Naomi, the eldest, was perhaps the most desolate. Her thoughts went back to the time when she was as young and fair as the two daughters-in-law who walked at her side—when, with her husband and her two boys, she had trod that very road, seeking a home in a strange country to escape the famine which threatened them in her own land. Now she was returning to her native town of Bethlehem a childless, lonely widow.
The younger women, who were the wives of those two dead sons, were very sorrowful too, but for them there might yet be happiness in the world. They still had near and dear relatives and many friends in Moab, which was their native land. They had come far enough now, and it was time for them to return.
"Turn again, my daughters," said Naomi, "and go your way."
Their homes lay behind, and she must journey on alone to the little hill town which she had not seen for so many long years. They had kindly come so far to see her on her way, but they must come no farther.
So the little party halted, and one of the young women, weeping bitterly, kissed her mother-in-law and turned to go back. But the other one, whose name was Ruth, clung to Naomi, and would not leave her.
In vain the elder woman urged her to return, and pointed out that Orpah had gone, that home and friends and happiness awaited her there, while in front was only poverty and loneliness. Ruth only clung the closer as she sobbed out her tender, loving words.
"Intreat me not to leave thee," she said, "or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me."
The tender words brought comfort to the heart of Naomi, as soft rain brings refreshment to the hard, dry earth. After all, she was not quite alone; she still had some one to love and care for. So together they journeyed on again, and at last came to the winding road which led up to the town of Bethlehem, nestling like a white bird upon the long ridge of hills.
Naomi knew every step of the way. It seemed almost like a dream to tread once more that winding road, to pass through the city gates and find her way to the little house she knew so well. Although she had been gone so many years there were still people who remembered her, and these came running out to greet her.
"Is this Naomi?" they asked wonderingly.
They could scarcely believe that this sad, broken-down woman could be the pleasant-faced, happy girl who had gone away with her husband and boys in the year of the great famine. But as they listened to her story they did not wonder that she seemed so old and talked so bitterly. It made them look very kindly upon the beautiful girl who kept so close to her mother-in-law, who had given up everything rather than leave her alone.
Naomi had been quite right when she had told Ruth that poverty lay before them. She had come back quite empty-handed, and it was necessary to find some work at once which would at least provide them with daily bread. Ruth, looking out over the fields where already the barley was being cut, made up her mind to go and work there. The poor were always allowed to follow the reapers and glean the stray ears of corn that fell unnoticed. She might at least gather enough to feed her mother-in-law and herself.
Very happily, then, Ruth set out, and found her way into the harvest field, which belonged to a rich man called Boaz. The reapers treated her kindly when she timidly asked for permission to glean there, and when the master arrived to see how the harvest went, he too noticed her at once, for she was very beautiful.
"Whose damsel is this?" he asked.
There were many people ready to tell him her name, and also to tell him how she had left her land and her people to come with Naomi, her mother-in-law. The story had been repeated all through the town.
Boaz listened with interest. Naomi was his kinswoman, and it was only right that he should help her. He would begin by helping the sweet-faced daughter-in-law who had chanced to come gleaning upon his land. So he went and spoke very kindly to the beautiful Ruth, and told her to come every day to his harvest field and share the reapers' food, and he would see that no one troubled her. He even told the reapers to let some handfuls of corn fall in her way, on purpose, so that there might be plenty for her to glean.
So each day Ruth went back and worked in the harvest fields, and each day as Boaz watched her he grew to love the gentle, loving-hearted woman more and more. And when at last the harvest days were over, he went to Naomi and asked that Ruth might become his wife.
There was no more poverty or hard work now for Ruth or Naomi, no anxious days of wondering how long their flour and oil would last. Boaz was very rich, and nothing was too good for his fair young wife, whom he had first seen humbly gleaning in his harvest field.
Happiness, too, began to steal back into the life of Naomi. Winter and spring passed, and when harvest time came round once more, all the sorrow and bitterness faded from her heart, for God sent a little child to comfort her. A baby son was born to Ruth, and the whole world seemed full of sunshine and happiness as she laid him in his grandmother's arms, and the two loving hearts rejoiced in their happiness, just as they had clung together in their sorrow.
Of course, they dreamed many happy dreams over the little downy head, and planned a splendid future for the baby, as all mothers and grandmothers will do. But even their dreams never touched the golden reality, for they did not know that he was to be the grandfather of King David, that in this same little town of Bethlehem there was to be born of his line a greater King yet, the King of Heaven.
Swan, swan, over the sea;
Swim, swan, swim!
Swan, swan, back again;
Well swum, swan!