Text of Plan #938
  WEEK 7  

  Monday  


The Adventures of Reddy Fox  by Thornton Burgess

Granny Fox Takes Care of Reddy

R EDDY FOX was so sore and lame that he could hardly hobble. He had had the hardest kind of work to get far enough ahead of Bowser the Hound to mix his trail up so that Bowser couldn't follow it. Then he had limped home, big tears running down his nose, although he tried hard not to cry. "Oh! Oh! Oh!" moaned Reddy Fox, as he crept in at the doorway of his home.

"What's the matter now?" snapped old Granny Fox, who had just waked up from a sun nap.

"I—I've got hurt," said Reddy Fox, and began to cry harder.

Granny Fox looked at Reddy sharply. "What have you been doing now—tearing your clothes on a barbed-wire fence or trying to crawl through a bull-briar thicket? I should think you were big enough by this time to look out for yourself!" said Granny Fox crossly, as she came over to look at Reddy's hurts.

"Please don't scold, please don't, Granny Fox," begged Reddy, who was beginning to feel sick to his stomach as well as lame, and to smart dreadfully.

Granny Fox took one good look at Reddy's wounds, and knew right away what had happened. She made Reddy stretch himself out at full length and then she went to work on him, washing his wounds with the greatest care and binding them up. She was very gentle, was old Granny Fox, as she touched the sore places, but all the time she was at work her tongue flew, and that wasn't gentle at all. Oh, my, no! There was nothing gentle about that!

You see, old Granny Fox is wise and very, very sharp and shrewd. Just as soon as she saw Reddy's hurts, she knew that they were made by shot from a gun, and that meant that Reddy Fox had been careless or he never, never would have been where he was in danger of being shot.

"I hope this will teach you a lesson!" said Granny Fox. "What are your eyes and your ears and your nose for? To keep you out of just such trouble as this.

"A little Fox must use his eyes

Or get some day a sad surprise.

"A little Fox must use his ears

And know what makes each sound he hears.

"A little Fox must use his nose

And try the wind where'er he goes.

"A little Fox must use all three

To live to grow as old as me.

"Now tell me all about it, Reddy Fox. This is summer and men don't hunt foxes now. I don't see how it happens that Farmer Brown's boy was waiting for you with a gun."

So Reddy Fox told Granny Fox all about how he had run too near the old tree trunk behind which Farmer Brown's boy had been hiding, but Reddy didn't tell how he had been trying to show off, nor how in broad daylight he had stolen the pet chicken of Farmer Brown's boy. You may be sure he was very careful not to mention that.

And so old Granny Fox puckered up her brows and thought and thought, trying to find some good reason why Farmer Brown's boy should have been hunting in the summer time.

"Caw, caw, caw!" shouted Blacky the Crow.

The face of Granny Fox cleared. "Blacky the Crow has been stealing, and Farmer Brown's boy was out after him when Reddy came along," said Granny Fox, talking out loud to herself.

Reddy Fox grew very red in the face, but he never said a word.

 



The Real Mother Goose  by Blanche Fisher Wright

Solomon Grundy

Solomon Grundy,

Born on a Monday,

Christened on Tuesday,

Married on Wednesday,

Took ill on Thursday,

Worse on Friday,

Died on Saturday,

Buried on Sunday.

This is the end

Of Solomon Grundy.

 


  WEEK 7  

  Tuesday  


The Eskimo Twins  by Lucy Fitch Perkins

The Feast

Part 1 of 2

I

T HE moment the sun had gone out of sight all the people in the village came pouring out of their tunnels on their way to the feast at Kesshoo's house.

Kesshoo's house was so small that it seemed as if all the people could not possibly get into it.

But the Eskimos are used to crowding into very small spaces, indeed. Sometimes a man and his wife and all his children will live in a space about the size of a big double bed.

First the Angakok came out of his igloo, looking fatter than ever. The Angakok always found plenty to eat somehow. Both his wives were thin. Their faces looked like baked apples all brown and wrinkled.


[Illustration]

When they reached Kesshoo's house, the Angakok went into the tunnel first.

Now I can't tell you whether he had grown fatter during the five days, or whether the entrance had grown smaller, but this much I know: the Angakok got stuck! He couldn't get himself into the room no matter how much he tried! He squirmed and wriggled and twisted, until his face was very red and he looked as if he would burst, but there he stayed.

Other people had crawled into the tunnel after him. His two wives were just behind. Everybody got stuck, of course, because no one could move until the Angakok did. He was just like a cork in the neck of a bottle.

Kesshoo and Koolee and the twins and Nip and Tup were all in the igloo. When they saw the Angakok's face come through the hole they thought, of course, the rest of him would come too. But it didn't, and the Angakok was mad about it.

"Why don't they build igloos the way they used to?" he growled. "Every year the tunnels get smaller and smaller! Am I to remain here forever?" he went on. "Why doesn't somebody help me?"

Kesshoo and Koolee seized him under his arms. They pulled and pulled. The two wives pushed him from behind.

"I-yi! I-yi!" screamed the Angakok. "You will scrape my skin off!"

He kicked out behind with his feet. His wives backed hastily, to get out of the way. That made them bump into Koko's mother who was just behind them. Her baby was in her hood, and when she backed, the baby's head was bumped on the roof of the tunnel.

The baby began to roar. In the tunnel it sounded like a clap of thunder. The wives of the Angakok and Koko's mother all began to talk at once, and with that and the baby's crying I suppose there never was a tunnel that held so much noise. It all came into the igloo, and it sounded quite frightful. The twins crept into the farthest corner of the sleeping bench and watched their father and mother and the Angakok, with their eyes almost popping out of their heads.

Nip and Tup thought they would help a little, so they jumped off the bench; and barked at the Angakok. You see, they didn't know he was a great medicine man. They thought maybe he ought not to be there at all.


[Illustration]

Nip even snapped at the Angakok's ear!

That made the Angakok more angry than ever. He reached into the room, seized Nip with one hand and flung him up on to the sleeping bench. Nip lit on top of Menie. Nip was very much surprised, and so was Menie.


[Illustration]

Now, whether the jerk he gave in throwing Nip did it or not, I cannot say, but at that instant Kesshoo and Koolee both gave a great pull in front. At the same moment the two wives gave a great push behind, and the next moment after that, there was the Angakok, still red, and still angry, sitting on the edge of the sleeping bench in the best place near the fire!

Then his two wives came crawling through. The Angakok looked at them as if he thought they had made him stick in the tunnel, and had done it on purpose, too. The wives scuttled up on to the sleeping bench, and got into the farthest corner of it as fast as they could.

The women and children always sat back on the bench at a feast.

When Koko's mother came in, the baby was still crying. She climbed up on to the bed with him, and Menie and Monnie showed him the pups and that made the baby laugh again.

As fast as they came in, the women and children packed themselves away on the sleeping bench. The men sat along the edge of it with their feet on the floor.

II

The smell of food soon made everybody cheerful. When at last they were all crowded into the room, Koolee placed the bear's head and other pans of meat on the floor.


[Illustration]

Then she crawled back on to the bench with the other women.

The Angakok was the first one to help himself. He reached down and took a large chunk of meat. He held it up to his mouth and took hold of the end with his teeth. Then he sawed off a huge mouthful with his knife.

It looked as if he would surely cut off the end of his nose too, but he didn't.

When the men had all helped themselves, pieces of meat were handed out to the women and children.

Soon they were all eating as if their lives depended on it. And now I think of it, their lives did depend on it, to be sure! I will not speak about their table manners. In fact, they hadn't any to speak of! They had nothing to eat with the meat—not even salt—but it was a great feast to them for all that, and they ate and ate until every scrap was gone.

The Angakok grew better-natured every minute. By the time he had eaten all he could hold he was really quite happy and benevolent! He clasped his hands over his stomach and smiled on everybody.

The women chattered in their corner of the sleeping-bench, and Koolee showed Koko's mother the new fur suit trimmed with white rabbit's skin that she was making for Menie. And Koko's mother said she really must make one for Koko just like it.

The twins and Koko talked about a trap to catch hares which they meant to make as soon as the long days began again, and the baby went to sleep on a pile of furs in the corner. Menie fed the pups with some of his own meat, and gave them each a bone. Nip and Tup buried their bones under the baby and then went to sleep too.

 



Mother Goose  by Frederick Richardson

Little Bo-Peep


[Illustration]

 


  WEEK 7  

  Wednesday  


Fairy Tales Too Good To Miss—In the Meadow  by Lisa M. Ripperton

The Princess on the Pea

T HERE was once a Prince who wanted to marry a Princess; but she was to be a real  princess. So he traveled about, all through the world, to find a real one, but everywhere there was something in the way. There were princesses enough, but whether they were real  princesses he could not quite make out; there was always something that did not seem quite right. So he came home again, and was quite sad; for he wished so much to have a real princess.

One evening a terrible storm came on. It lightened and thundered, the rain streamed down; it was quite fearful! Then there was a knocking at the town gate, and the old King went out to open it.

It was a Princess who stood outside the gate. But, mercy! how she looked from the rain and the rough weather! The water ran down from her hair and her clothes; it ran in at the points of her shoes and out at the heels; and yet she declared that she was a real princess.

"Yes, we will soon find that out," thought the old Queen. But she said nothing, only went into the bedchamber, took all the bedding off, and put a pea on the flooring of the bedstead; then she took twenty mattresses and laid them upon the pea, and then twenty eider-down beds upon the mattresses. On this the Princess had to lie all night. In the morning she was asked how she had slept.


[Illustration]

"Oh, miserably!" said the Princess. "I scarcely closed my eyes all night long. Goodness knows what was in my bed. I lay upon something hard, so that I am black and blue all over. It is quite dreadful!"

Now they saw that she was a real princess, for through the twenty mattresses and the twenty eider-down beds she had felt the pea. No one but a real princess could be so delicate.

So the Prince took her for his wife, for now he knew that he had a true princess; and the pea was put in the museum, and it is there now unless somebody has carried it off.

Look you, this is a true story.

 



The Real Mother Goose  by Blanche Fisher Wright

Hush-a-Bye


[Illustration]

Hush-a-bye, baby, on the tree top!

When the wind blows the cradle will rock;

When the bough breaks the cradle will fall;

Down will come baby, bough, cradle and all.

 


  WEEK 7  

  Thursday  


Among the Forest People  by Clara Dillingham Pierson

The Story of the Cowbird's Egg

[Illustration]

O N the edge of the forest next to the meadow, a pair of young Goldfinches were about to begin housekeeping. They were a handsome couple, and the birds who were already nesting near by were much pleased to see them tree-hunting there.

Mr. Goldfinch was a fine, cheerful little fellow, every feather of whose black and yellow coat was always well oiled and lying in its proper place. His wife was dressed in a dull, greenish brown with a touch of yellow on her breast. "Bright yellow and black does very well for Mr. Goldfinch," she would say, "but for one who has to sit on the nest as long as I shall have to, it would never do. People would see me among the leaves and know just where to find my eggs."

Mr. Goldfinch thought that there was never a bird who had a prettier, dearer, or harder-working little wife than he, and he would wonder how he was ever happy before he knew her. That is a way that people have of forgetting the days that are past; and the truth is that Mr. Goldfinch had made fun of the Robins and other birds all spring, because they had to build nests and hunt worms for their babies, while he had nothing to do but sing and sleep and feed himself. In those days the Robins used to call after him as he flew away, "Silly fellow! Silly fellow! Silly!" They knew that there is something sweeter in life than just taking good care of one's self.

One afternoon Mr. Goldfinch saw a tiny green-brown bird on a sweetbriar bush, and as he watched her he thought her the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. She had such a dainty way of picking out the seeds, and gave such graceful hops from one twig to another. Then Mr. Goldfinch fluffed up his feathers and swelled out his throat and sang her such songs as he had never sung before. He did not want her to speak to anybody else, and yet he could not help her doing so, for Goldfinches always go together in crowds until they have homes of their own, and at this time they were having concerts every morning. He showed her where the finest dandelion seeds could be found, and one bright and sunshiny day she became Mrs. Goldfinch, and they went together to find a place for their home.

They began one nest and had it nearly done, when Mr. Goldfinch said it was not in a good place, and tore it all to pieces. Mrs. Goldfinch felt very badly about this and talked it over with some of her Goldfinch neighbors. They told her not to mind it at all, that their husbands often did the same thing, and that sometimes they came to like the new place much better than the old. At any rate, there was no use in getting cross about it, because that was something she would have to expect.

Mr. Goldfinch was sure that they had built too near the ground, and he had chosen a crotch above. Toward this he was dragging the bits of grape-vine and cedar-bark which were woven into their first nest. He said they could also use some of the grasses and mosses which they had gotten together, and he even told his wife of some fine thistle-down which he could bring for the inside, where the eggs were to be laid. Mrs. Goldfinch watched him tugging with bill and both feet to loosen the bits of bark, and she said to herself: "Dear fellow! what a helper he is! I won't mind rebuilding if it makes him happy," and she went to work with a will.

When the sun went down in the west the next night the second nest was done, and it was the last thing at which the Goldfinches looked before tucking their heads under their wings and going to sleep. It was the first thing that they saw the next morning, too, and they hopped all around it and twittered with pride, and gave it little tweaks here and little pokes there before they flew away to get breakfast.

While they were gone, Mrs. Cowbird came walking over the grass and dry leaves to the foot of the tree. She wagged her head at every step, and put on as many airs as though she were showily dressed, instead of wearing, as she always does, a robe of dull brownish gray. She had seen the Goldfinches fly away, and she was looking for their home. She was a lazy creature in spite of her stirring ways, and she wished to find a nice little nest in which to lay an egg. You know Cowbirds never think of building nests. They want all of their time to take care of themselves, which is a very foolish way of living; but then, you could never make a Cowbird think so!

"That nest is exactly right," said Mrs. Cowbird. "I will lay my egg there at once, and when Mrs. Goldfinch has laid hers she will have to hatch them all together and take care of my baby for me. What an easy way this is to bring up one's family! It is really no work at all! And I am sure that my children will get along well, because I am always careful to choose the nests of small birds for them. Then they are larger and stronger than the other babies, and can get more than their share of food."

So she laid a big white egg with gray and brown spots on it in the Goldfinches' new home, and then she flew off to the Cowbird flock, as gay and careless as you please. When the Goldfinches came back, they saw the egg in their nest and called all their neighbors to talk it over. "What shall I ever do?" said Mrs. Goldfinch. "I wanted my nest for my own eggs, and I meant to lay them to-morrow. I suppose I shall have to sit on this one too, but it won't be at all comfortable."

"I wouldn't," said one of her neighbors, a Yellow Warbler. "I left my nest once when such a thing happened to me, and built a new one for my own eggs."

"Oh dear!" cried Mrs. Goldfinch, "we have built two already, and I cannot build another.

"Well, whatever you do," said a Vireo, "don't hatch the big egg out with your own. I did once, and such a time as I had! The young Cowbird pushed two of my little Vireos out onto the ground, and ate so much that I was quite worn out by the work of hunting for him."

"My dear," said Mr. Goldfinch, "I have an excellent plan. We will put another floor in our nest, right over this egg, and then by adding a bit all around the sides we can have plenty of room for our own children. It will be much less work than beginning all over again, and then the Cowbird's egg will be too cool to hatch."

Everybody called this a most clever plan, and Mr. Goldfinch was very proud to have thought of it. They went to work once more, and it was not so very long before the new floor was done and the new walls raised. Then, oh, wonder of wonders! there were soon four tiny, pearly eggs of their own lying on the thistle-down lining of the nest.

Mrs. Goldfinch had to stay very closely at home now, but her husband went off with his friends a great deal. He bathed and sang and preened his feathers and talked about his queer nest and his bright little wife, after the manner of Goldfinches everywhere.

His friends laughed at him for helping so much about the nest, for, you know, Goldfinches do not often help their wives about home. He cocked his handsome head on one side and answered: "My wife seemed to need me then. She is not so very strong. And I do not know what she would ever have done about the strange egg, if I had not been there to advise her."

When he got back to his home that night, Mrs. Goldfinch said: "I have been wondering why we did not roll the Cowbird's egg out on the ground, instead of going to all that trouble of building around it."

And Mr. Goldfinch declared that he believed she was the only bird who had ever thought of such a thing. "It could have been done just as well as not," he said. "I must tell that to the other birds in the morning. How lucky I am to have such a bright wife! It would be dreadful if such a clever fellow as I had a dull mate!"

 



Mother Goose  by Frederick Richardson

The Tailors and the Snail


[Illustration]

 


  WEEK 7  

  Friday  


More Mother Stories  by Maud Lindsay

The White Dove

There was once upon a time a white dove that lived next door to a growly, grizzly bear.

The dove had a voice as sweet as music, but the bear had a terrible growl. He was always snarling, growling, and quarreling, till the white dove said: "I cannot stand it any longer. I must find a new home."

So, early the next morning, she started out to find the new home. First she went to the creek and dipped her wings in the shining water till they were as white as snow, and then away she flew, over the hills and the valley.


[Illustration]

So, early the next morning, she started out to find the new home.

"Coo, coo! I should like to live with a good child," she said as she flew.

By and by she came to a small, white house by the roadside, and there on the doorstep sat a little girl who looked so much like a good child that the white dove lighted on a tree by the gate and called, with her voice as sweet as music: "Coo, coo! may I come in? Coo, coo! may I come in?"

But the little girl did not hear, for just then her mother called from the kitchen: "Little daughter, come here! I want you to rock the baby to sleep." And before the dove had time to call again the little girl began to cry as loudly as she could: "Boo-hoo! Boo-hoo! I—don't—want—to—come—in! Boo-hoo! Boo-hoo!"

"Coo, coo," called the white dove. But it did no good, so she spread her wings and flew away.

"I should rather live next door to a growly, grizzly bear," she said to herself, "than in the house with a child who cries like that."

On and on she flew, over the tree tops and roofs, till she reached a big house that had a great many doors and windows. The windows were open, and, looking in, the white dove saw half a dozen boys and girls playing together.

Oh! what a noise there was! The baby had waked up long before he was through with his nap, and he was crying about it, and the nurse was singing to him; and all the rest were running and screaming and jumping, till all together there was such a din that the white dove could not make herself heard, although she called many times.

At last, however, somebody spied her, and then what a terrible time she had!

Every child in the room began to push and scramble to get her. "She's mine!" "She's mine!" "I saw her first!" "You didn't!" "I did!" they cried, all talking at once, till the white dove spread her wings and flew away.

"It would be almost as bad as living next door to a growly, grizzly bear to live in the house with all that noise," she said as she flew away.

Her white wings were weary and she began to think that she would have to turn back, when she heard a sound as sweet as her own voice. It came from a brown house near by, and the white dove made haste to the door to find out what the sound was.

When she put her head in at the door she saw a little girl rocking her baby brother to sleep in his cradle; and it was this little girl who had the voice like music. As she rocked the cradle she sang:—

"All the pretty little horses,

White and gray and black and bay;

All the pretty little horses,

You shall see some day, some day,

All the pretty little horses."

— An Old Lullaby

"Coo, coo! may I come in?" called the white dove softly at the door; and the little girl looked up.

Now the child had often thought that she would rather have a white dove than anything else in the world, and she whispered back: "Dear dove, come in." Then the white dove went in and lived there all the days of her life and never had to go back to live by the growly, grizzly bear any more, for she had found a home with a good child, and that is the best home in the world.

 



The Real Mother Goose  by Blanche Fisher Wright

Burnie Bee

Burnie bee, burnie bee,

Tell me when your wedding be?

If it be to-morrow day,

Take your wings and fly away.

 


  WEEK 7  

  Saturday  


The Sandman: More Farm Stories  by Willliam J. Hopkins

The Fox Story

dropcap image 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 let 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 wheat-field.

One morning in the winter, when snow was on the ground, Uncle John came in from the barn to breakfast. And when he came in, Uncle Solomon was there, standing by the fire. And Uncle John spoke to him. He said, "Father, there was a fox around in the night. I saw his tracks by the hen-house just now." And Uncle Solomon said, "Did you? Guess we better look him up." And little John was there, in the kitchen, and he heard what they said. But he didn't ask if he could go with them, because he knew they wouldn't let him.

So, after breakfast, Uncle John got down the gun, and he cleaned it and made it all right, and then Uncle Solomon came along and they wrapped themselves up warm and went out. Outside was the dog, and he went with them. It was a hound, that is a kind of dog that likes to go after foxes, and Uncle Solomon and Uncle John wanted him to go, so that he could show them where the fox had gone. Then they went to the hen-house, to find the fox tracks, so that they could follow them.

When they had gone, little John and little Charles watched from the window, and they saw Uncle Solomon and Uncle John walking along in the snow, after the dog, and they went across the fields, just the way the fox had gone. Then little John spoke to little Charles, and he said, "Come on, Charles." And little Charles didn't know where little John wanted him to go, but he put on his coat and his comforter and his cap and his mittens and his thick stockings, and little John wrapped up the same way, and then they got little Sam. So the three little boys started out of the kitchen door, and they walked quickly along the little track, past the shed and past the barn and past the orchard to the wheat-field, and they climbed over the bars and went across, and into the maple-sugar woods. Then they ran along the little road in the maple-sugar woods until they came to the right place to get out over the wall. And they went wading through the snow to the wall and little Charles climbed up. Then little Charles took little Sam's hand and pulled, and little John boosted, and so little Sam got up on the wall and down on the other side.

Then the three little boys went wading across that field and the next field and the next, and they came to the wall that was beside the woods where they caught the woodchuck. And they walked along by that wall until they came to a corner, and then they all climbed up and sat on the top of the wall, on a flat stone. They looked all around, but they didn't see anybody, and they didn't know where to go to see Uncle Solomon and Uncle John hunting the fox, so they thought they would stay where they were, on top of that wall. And they sat there and listened and didn't make any noise, and pretty soon they heard the dog, far away, but they couldn't hear anything else. And little Charles looked one way and little John looked another way, and they all listened and kept very still.

Then, all on a sudden, while little John was looking into the woods on his side, he saw the fox. The fox was trotting along, and not hurrying much, holding his tail up from the ground and turning his ears back once in awhile to listen. He didn't see the little boys, and he didn't hear them because they were so still. And he didn't smell them, because the wind was blowing the wrong way, so he didn't know they were sitting there on the wall. And little John gave little Sam a poke, very softly, and little Sam turned around slowly and saw the fox, and he poked little Charles. So they sat very still, watching the fox, and they wondered what he would do.

While they watched him, the fox stopped and listened again, and then he looked at the wall, but not at the part where the little boys were. And he gave a little jump and ran right up the wall and stood on the top. And he was pretty near the three little boys. There he waited a little while, and he turned his head and listened again, and the noise of the dog was coming nearer. Then the fox began to look around, and at last he looked where the little boys were, so near. When he saw them, he was frightened, and he gave a jump, quickly, and ran along the wall until he came to another wall that joined on. And he turned off and ran along that other wall for awhile, until he came to a gate, and there he had to jump off and run in the snow. But he ran very fast, and in a little while the boys couldn't see him any more, he was so far off. So they sat there and waited until Uncle Solomon and Uncle John came along.


[Illustration]

He was pretty near the three little boys.

When they had been waiting quite awhile, the dog came along just in the place where the fox had been. The little boys called the dog, but he wouldn't pay any attention to them. He scrambled up on the top of the wall, and then he sniffed around and ran along the way the fox had gone, and pretty soon he was so far off they couldn't see him, either. Then in another little while, Uncle Solomon, and Uncle John came walking along.


[Illustration]

Uncle Solomon saw the little boys and he said, "Hello, boys. Haven't seen a fox, have you?"

And the little boys all called out, "Yes, we have." So little Charles told how the fox had come and climbed up on the wall, and when he saw them, he had run away, very fast. And then he told about the dog. And Uncle John stood up on the wall and looked all around, but he couldn't see the fox and he couldn't see the dog either. Then he asked Uncle Solomon what he thought they would better do. And Uncle Solomon said it wasn't any use chasing that fox, because he had gone too far away, and they wouldn't catch him. And Uncle John said that was just what he thought.

So Uncle Solomon and Uncle John and the three little boys all walked along through the woods, and down the lane to the road, and along the road to the farm-house; and in at the wide gate and up to the kitchen door. And they went in and took off their things. But the dog didn't come home until the next day.

And that's all.

 



Ring o' Roses  by L. Leslie Brooke

To Market, To Market

[Illustration]

To market, to market, to buy a fat Pig;

Home again, home again, dancing a jig.

[Illustration]

To market, to market, to buy a fat Hog;

Home again, home again, jiggety-jog.

[Illustration]

[Illustration]
 


  WEEK 7  

  Sunday  


The Nursery Book of Bible Stories  by Amy Steedman

Joseph, the Ruler

II

I T was a dreadful thing to be sold for a slave, and Joseph might well have become sullen and hopeless in the strange land of Egypt to which the merchantmen took him. But instead of being sorry for himself and thinking only of the unkindness and wickedness of his brothers, he made the best of everything, and set himself to do his new work as well as possible. If he was a slave he would be a thoroughly good slave.

So it was that his first master, Potiphar, soon found that this fair-haired, good-looking Hebrew boy was one to be trusted; and as time went on, he not only gave him his freedom, but made him the chief servant of his household. Then, just when happy days dawned again for Joseph, the sunshine was once more overshadowed. His master's wife accused him of doing wrong, and declared he was thoroughly bad; and so all his well-deserved favours were taken from him, and he was put in prison.

Even in prison, however, Joseph's quiet goodness and his wise ways made him a favourite with every one. He was the friend of all the prisoners, and ere long became the governor's right hand. Still it was weary work to be shut up in prison, and he longed with all his heart for freedom and a chance to win a place for himself in the great world. He knew that Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, was not unfriendly to strangers. If only he could reach his ear all might be well.

At last the chance came. There were two of Pharaoh's servants in the prison, one the king's cupbearer, and the other his chief baker, and both these men were sorely troubled one night because of the dreams they had dreamt. There surely was a meaning in these dreams, but who could explain them?

Now Joseph had thought a great deal about dreams, and so he listened to these men, and told them what it seemed to him their dreams must mean. The chief baker's dream was a sad one. He had dreamt of three baskets, which he carried on his head, baskets filled with the king's food, but the birds had come and eaten up all the food. The three baskets were three days, said Joseph, and in three days the baker would be hanged and the birds would eat his flesh. But the cupbearer's dream was a happy one, for he had seen a vine which bore three clusters of grapes, which he had pressed out into the king's cup and presented to Pharaoh. The three clusters of grapes were three days, said Joseph, and in three days' time the cupbearer would be once more free and hand the king his golden cup.

"But think of me when it shall be well with thee," added Joseph to the cupbearer wistfully, "and show kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: for indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon."

In three days all that Joseph had said came true. The chief baker was hanged, and the chief butler was set free and stood once more before the king. Only, he quite forgot the man who had been so kind to him in prison, and for two years never once thought of Joseph.

But at last something happened which reminded him. Once again it was a dream, but this time the dreamer was Pharaoh, the great king. He had sent for all the cleverest men in the land to explain his dreams to him, but no one could find a meaning for them. Then the cupbearer suddenly remembered Joseph, and came and told the king all that had happened when he was in prison. Surely it would be worth while to try this man. So Pharaoh sent and brought Joseph out of prison, and asked him if it was true that he could tell the meaning of dreams.

There was no pride or boastfulness in Joseph's answer. Of himself, he said, he could do nothing, but with God's help he would tell the king all that he could.

So Pharaoh told his dreams, and as Joseph listened he knew at once that they had been sent as a warning from God. Seven years of good harvests and plenty of food were coming, and after that seven years of famine when, if all the food of the good years was eaten up, the people would starve. The warning dreams had been sent so that the corn should be saved up and stored; and it would be a good plan, said Joseph, to find the very wisest and best man in all the land who would undertake to do this.

Pharaoh listened thoughtfully, and soon made up his mind. He felt at once that Joseph was a man to be trusted.

"Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this," he said, "there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou."

It was a great chance for Joseph, one day a poor unknown prisoner and the next the greatest man except the king in all the land of Egypt. But although his outside life was changed, he himself remained just the same. He was as keen as ever on doing his best, as brave and fearless in serving God and the king, as wise in ruling as he had been in serving.

So, when the years of famine came there were great stores of corn laid up to feed the Egyptians; and not only the people of Egypt, but strangers from other lands, came to Joseph the Ruler to buy food.

Then it was that one day ten tired, travel-stained men arrived at the city, saying they had come from the far-distant land of Canaan to buy corn for their wives and families, who were starving. Joseph knew them at once. They were his ten brothers—those brothers whom he had last seen when, as a helpless young boy, he had knelt and begged them for mercy. Now they came kneeling to the great ruler, little dreaming that this powerful prince was the young brother they had betrayed and sold.


[Illustration]

Joseph and His Brothers

And Joseph did not mean to tell them just yet. He pretended to take them for spies, and spoke roughly to them.

"Thy servants are no spies," the brothers answered humbly. "We are the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not."

Even then Joseph pretended that he did not believe them. No, they must first prove their words by bringing their youngest brother to him. They might leave one of their number behind as a hostage, and take corn for their families and return to fetch their brother. For Joseph longed to see Benjamin again, the little brother whom he had so dearly loved.

At first Jacob would not hear of letting the boy go. He remembered Joseph's sad fate, and refused to trust Benjamin to his brothers. But presently, when all the corn was eaten up, and it seemed as if they must all die of hunger, he agreed that there was nothing else to do but to allow Benjamin to go down to Egypt and buy more corn from the great ruler.

Then Joseph could pretend no longer. The sight of Benjamin awoke all the old love in his heart, and he was obliged to turn away his head lest his brothers should see that his eyes were full of tears. Afterwards he sent every one away, and when he was alone with his brothers he told them who he was.

There was no fear of famine for them now. Nothing in all the land was too good for the brothers of the great ruler, and ere long there were wagons and camels on their way to Canaan to fetch Jacob, the old father, and all the wives and little ones belonging to the ten brothers. They would all now share in Joseph's good fortune.

So Jacob's sorrow was turned into joy when the news was brought to him that Joseph was alive, and governor over all the land of Egypt.

It sounded almost like a magic tale, and Jacob could not believe it at first; but joy gave him strength to endure the long journey. And there at the end Joseph stood waiting to welcome him—Joseph, the great ruler, held in such honour in that land; Joseph, the man whose word was law, and who was clad in rich robes, and lived in princely state. But in Jacob's eyes he was still just the little lad who, in his gay coat of many colours, had tended the sheep in the home fields and been the light of his father's eyes.

 



The Real Mother Goose  by Blanche Fisher Wright

Three Wise Men of Gotham


[Illustration]

Three wise men of Gotham

Went to sea in a bowl;

If the bowl had been stronger

My song had been longer.