WEEK 8 |
OHNNY CHUCK came running up to the edge of the old briar patch quite
out of breath. You see, he is so round and fat and
"Peter! Peter Rabbit! Oh, Peter!" he called. No one answered. Johnny Chuck looked disappointed. It was the middle of the morning, and he had thought that Peter would surely be at home then. He would try once more.
"Oh, you Peter Rabbit!" he shouted in such a high pitched voice that it was almost a squeal.
"What you want?" asked a sleepy voice from the middle of the old briar patch.
Johnny Chuck's face lighted up. "Come out here, Peter, where I can look at you," cried Johnny.
"Go away, Johnny Chuck! I'm sleepy," said Peter Rabbit, and his voice sounded just a wee bit cross, for Peter had been out all night, a habit which Peter has.
"I've got some news for you, Peter," called Johnny Chuck eagerly.
"How do you know it's news to me?" asked Peter, and Johnny noticed that his voice wasn't quite so cross.
"I'm almost sure it is, for I've just heard it myself, and I've hurried right down here to tell you because I think you'll want to know it," replied Johnny Chuck.
"Pooh!" said Peter Rabbit, "it's probably as old as the hills to me. You folks who go to bed with the sun don't hear the news until it's old. What is it?"
"It's about Reddy Fox," began Johnny Chuck, but Peter Rabbit interrupted him.
"Shucks, Johnny Chuck! You are slow! Why, it was all over Green Meadows last night how Reddy Fox had been shot by Farmer Brown's boy!" jeered Peter Rabbit. "That's no news. And here you've waked me up to tell me something I knew before you went to bed last night! Serves Reddy Fox right. Hope he'll be lame for a week," added Peter Rabbit.
"He can't walk at all!" cried Johnny Chuck in triumph, sure now that Peter Rabbit hadn't heard the news.
"What's that?" demanded Peter, and Johnny Chuck could hear him begin to hop along one of his little private paths in the heart of the old briar patch. He knew now that Peter Rabbit's curiosity was aroused, and he smiled to himself.
In a few minutes Peter thrust a
"I've a good mind not to tell you, Mr.
"Oh, please, Johnny Chuck," pleaded Peter Rabbit.
Finally Johnny gave in. "I said that Reddy Fox can't walk. Aren't you glad, Peter?"
"How do you know?" asked Peter, for Peter is very suspicious of Reddy Fox, and has to watch out for his tricks all the time.
"Jimmy Skunk told me. He was up by Reddy's house early this morning and saw Reddy try to walk. He tried and tried and couldn't. You won't have to watch out for Reddy Fox for some time, Peter. Serves him right, doesn't it?''
"Let's go up and see if it really is true!" said Peter suddenly.
"All right," said Johnny Chuck, and off they started.
Ride away, ride away,
Johnny shall ride,
And he shall have pussy-cat
Tied to one side;
And he shall have little dog
Tied to the other,
And Johnny shall ride
To see his grandmother.
WEEK 8 |
After a while the Angakok turned his face to the wall, as he always did when he meant to tell a story or sing a song. Then he said, "Listen, my children!" He called everybody—even the grown up people—his children! Everybody listened. They always listened when the Angakok spoke.
The Angakok knew the secrets of the sun, moon, and stars. He had told them so many times! The people believed it, and it may be that the Angakok really believed it himself, though I have some doubt about that.
"Listen, my children," said the Angakok, "and I will tell you wonderful things.
"There is a world beneath the sea! You catch glimpses of that world yourselves in calm summer weather, when the water is still, and you know that I speak the truth!
"Then you can see the shadows of rocks and islands and glaciers in the smooth water. Far below you see blue sky and white clouds. That is the calm world in which the Spirits of the Dead live. I have visited that underworld, many times—I have talked there with the spirits of your ancestors."
The Angakok paused and looked around to see if every one was paying attention. Then he went on with his story.
"Do you remember how two springs ago there were so few walruses and seals along the coast that you nearly died for lack of food and oil?" he said. "My children, it was I who brought the seals and walruses back to you! Without my efforts you might all have starved!
"I will tell you of the perils of a fearful journey which I undertook for your sakes. Then you will see what you owe to the skill and faithfulness of your Angakok!"
All the people looked very solemn, and nodded their heads. The Angakok went on.
"You must know that in the depths of the underworld, far beyond the beautiful abode of the Spirits of the Dead, lives the Old Woman of the Sea!
"There she sits forever and forever beside a monstrous lamp. Underneath the lamp is a great saucer to catch the oil which drips from it.
"In that saucer there are whole flocks of sea-birds swimming about! All the animals that live in the sea—the whales and walruses, the codfish and the seals—swarm in the saucer of the Old Woman of the Sea. That is where they all come from. Sometimes the Old Woman of the Sea keeps all the creatures in the saucer. Then there are no seal or fish or walrus along our coasts, and there is hunger among the innuit (human beings).
"At the time of my journey she had kept all the creatures for so long a time in her saucer that you and many others were nearly dead for lack of food."
"It was then that I prepared myself for the perils of this journey to the underworld. I called my Tornak, or guiding spirit, to lead my steps. Without his Tornak an Angakok can do nothing. The Tornak came at once in answer to my call. He took me by the hand, and we plunged down into the water. First we passed through the beautiful World of Spirits, where it is always summer. This part of the way was quite pleasant, but on the farther side of that world we came to a fearful abyss. It could be crossed only on a large slippery wheel, as slippery as ice."
"I mounted this wheel and was whirled across the chasm. No sooner had I reached the other side than new terrors came upon me. I had to pass by great cauldrons of boiling oil, in which seals were swimming about."
"A misstep would have sent me plunging into the boiling oil, and you would have lost your Angakok forever!"
The thought of this was so dreadful that the Angakok paused and wiped his eyes. Then he went on again with his story.
"However, with great courage I kept upon my way until at last I saw the Old Woman's house! A deep gulf lay between us and her dwelling, and outside it stood a great dog with bloody jaws. This dog guards the entrance, and he sleeps only for a single moment, once in a very great while."
"For six days I and my Tornak waited there for the dog to sleep. At last on the seventh day he closed his eyes! Instantly the Tornak seized my hand and drew me across the bridge which spanned the chasm. This bridge was as narrow as a single thread."
"When we were safely across the bridge we passed the sleeping dog and boldly entered the Old Woman's house. The Old Woman is terrible to look upon! Her hand is the size of a large walrus, and her teeth like the rocks along the coast!" The Angakok dropped his voice to a whisper.
"However, when she looked upon me she trembled!" he said. "She saw at once that I possessed great power, and was a great Angakok. I spoke to her flattering words. Then I told her of the hunger of my children!"
"I begged that she would send the seal and walrus and sea-birds to our coast at once. But she had no mind to yield to my requests. Then I stormed and threatened." The Angakok's voice grew louder. "The walls shook with the thunder of my voice! At last I seized her by the hair! I tipped over the saucer with my foot! My great power prevailed against the mighty sorceress!"
"The seal and walrus swam away. The birds flew into the air and were gone. I had conquered the Old Woman of the Sea! My children were saved!" The Angakok was silent for a moment. Then he spoke again in a natural voice.
"When I opened my eyes in my own igloo again," he said, "the famine was already over. Flocks of sea-birds were flying overhead. The sea swarmed with fish, and with walrus and seal. Every one along the whole coast was happy. Ask yourselves—is it not so?"
The Angakok seemed very much pleased with himself, and he looked about, as if he expected every one else to be pleased with him too. All the people were filled with wonder at his great power. They began to talk among themselves.
"Yes, I remember the famine well," said Koko's father. "I was away up the coast that season. Several died in our village for lack of food."
Other men remembered things about other times when food had been scarce.
"It is lucky," they said to each other, "that here we have a great Angakok who understands all the secrets of the World and who can save us from such dreadful things."
At last Kesshoo said, "Will you tell us, great Angakok, how you make these wonderful journeys?"
"Do you really wish to know?" asked the Angakok. "If you do, I will summon my guiding spirits to tell you, but they will speak only in the darkness."
Kesshoo took the lamp at once and put it out in the tunnel. Then he placed a thick musk-ox hide over the entrance, so that not a single ray of light came into the room. The darkness could almost be felt. Everybody sat very still and listened.
Soon a heavy body was heard to strike the floor with a dull thud, and a strange voice said, "Who calls me?"
Another voice said, "You are called, mighty spirits, to tell these children of the labors of their Angakok."
Then began all sorts of strange noises, as of different persons speaking. All the voices sounded much like the Angakok's, and they all said what a great medicine man the Angakok was, and how everyone in the village must be sure to do what he told them to!
At last the Angakok himself spoke, in his own voice. "I will tell you how I make these strange journeys," he said.
"My body is now lying on the floor at your feet. Now I begin to rise. You cannot see me. You cannot touch me. Now I am floating about your heads, now I am touching the roof! I can go wherever I please! Nothing can stop me! I know the secret places of the sun, moon, and stars. I can fly through the roof and go at once to the moon, if I wish to."
Then the voice was still. Nobody moved or spoke.
Monnie had gone to sleep in the corner of the bed, but Koko and Menie were still awake. They had listened to every word about the Old Woman of the Sea, and how the Angakok traveled to the moon.
You know I told you before that Koko was six. He wanted to know all about things. So he spoke right out in the dark, when every one else was still.
He said, "Mother, if the Angakok can go anywhere he wants to, why couldn't he get out of the tunnel?"
Koko's mother tried to hush him up. "Sh, sh," she said, and put her hand over his mouth. At least she thought she did, but she made a mistake in the dark and put her hand over Menie's mouth instead!
Menie tried to say, "I never said a word," but he could only make queer sounds, because Koko's mother's hand was tight on his mouth.
Of course Koko didn't know his mother was trying to keep him still, so he said again, "Why is it, mother?"
Koko's mother heard Koko's voice speaking just as plainly as ever though she was sure she had her hand over his mouth! She was frightened.
"Magic! magic!" she screamed. "Bring the light! Koko is bewitched! I have my hand over his mouth, yet you hear that he talks as plainly as ever!"
Koko tried to say, "Your hand isn't over my mouth," and Menie tried to say, "It's over mine!" but he could only say, "M-m-m," because she held on so tight!
Koko's mother was making so much noise herself that she wouldn't have heard what either one said anyway. The baby woke up and whimpered. Nip and Tup woke up and barked like everything.
Kesshoo got the light from the tunnel as quickly as he could, and set it on the bench. Then every one saw what was the matter! They all laughed—all but Menie and the Angakok. The Angakok said to Koko's father, "You'd better look after that boy. He is disrespectful to me. That is a bad beginning!"
Koko's father was ashamed of him. He said, "Koko is so small!"
But the Angakok said, "Koko is six. He is old enough to know better."
Everybody was so glad to see the light again that they all began to talk at once.
Some one said to Kesshoo, "Tell us about the long journey to the south you took once long ago."
Then everybody else listened, while Kesshoo told about how once he had taken his dog sledge with a load of musk ox and seal skins on it far down the coast and how at last he had come to a little settlement where the houses were all made of wood, if they would believe it!
He told them that in the bay before the village there was a boat as big as the Big Rock itself. It had queer white wings, and the wind blew on these wings and made the boat go!
Kesshoo had been out in a kyak to see it. He had even paddled all round it. The men on the great boat had fair hair, and one of them, the chief man of all, had bought some of Kesshoo's skins and one of his dogs. The man was a great chief. His name was Nansen.
This great chief had told Kesshoo that he was going to take a sledge and go straight into the inland country where the Giants live! He said he was going to cross the great ice! No man had ever done that since the world began.
Kesshoo thought probably the great chief had been eaten by the Giants, but he did not know surely, because he had never been back there since to find out. And to be sure, if he had been eaten by Giants, no one ever would know about it anyway.
Then Kesshoo showed them all a great knife that the white chief had given him, in exchange for a sealskin, and two steel needles that he had sent to Koolee. Koolee kept the needles in a little ivory case all by themselves.
She always carried the case in her kamik, so it would not be lost. She could do wonderful sewing with the needles. Koolee was very proud of her sewing. No one else in the whole village could sew so well, because they had not such good needles to do it with. Koolee used them only for her very finest work.
At last the Angakok said, "It is time to go home." He called to his wives. They climbed down off the bench.
That started the others. One after another they put on their upper garments, which they had taken off in the warm igloo, said good bye, and popped down into the tunnel. Last of all came the Angakok's turn.
Then Kesshoo and Koolee and the Angakok's wives all began to look very anxious. The Angakok looked a little worried himself. If he had stuck coming in, what would happen now after he had eaten so much!
He got down on his hands and knees, and looked at the hole. He had taken off his thick fur coat when he came in. Now he took off his undercoat, and his thick fur trousers! He gave them to his wives.
Then he stretched himself out just as long as he possibly could and slowly hitched himself down into the tunnel, groaning all the way.
Kesshoo and Koolee and the wives waited until his feet disappeared, and they heard him scraping along through the tunnel. Then they breathed a great sigh of relief, and the two wives popped down after him.
The last Kesshoo and Koolee heard of the Angakok, was a kind of muffled roar when a piece of ice fell from the top of the tunnel on to his bare back.
Menie and Monnie and the pups were already sound asleep in their corner of the bench when their father and mother fixed the lamp for the night and crawled in among the fur robes beside them.
WEEK 8 |
HERE was once upon a time a Spanish Hen, who hatched out some nice little
chickens. She was much pleased with their looks as they came from the shell.
One, two, three, came out plump and fluffy; but when the fourth shell broke, out
came a little
The Hen-mother did not know what in the world to do with the queer little
One day the little Half-Chick said, "Mother, I am off to Madrid, to see the
The poor Hen-mother did everything she could think of, to keep him from doing so
foolish a thing, but the little
When he had gone some distance the little Half-Chick came to a little brook that was caught in the weeds and in much trouble.
"Little Half-Chick," whispered the Water, "I am so choked with these weeds that I cannot move; I am almost lost, for want of room; please push the sticks and weeds away with your bill and help me."
"The idea!" said the little Half-Chick. "I cannot be bothered with you; I am off
for Madrid, to see the King!" And in spite of the brook's begging he went away,
A bit farther on, the Half-Chick came to a Fire, which was smothered in damp sticks and in great distress.
"Oh, little Half-Chick," said the Fire, "you are just in time to save me. I am almost dead for want of air. Fan me a little with your wing, I beg."
"The idea!" said the little Half-Chick. "I cannot be bothered with you; I am off
to Madrid, to see the King!" And he went laughing off,
When he had hoppity-kicked a good way, and was near Madrid, he came to a clump of bushes, where the Wind was caught fast. The Wind was whimpering, and begging to be set free.
"Little Half-Chick," said the Wind, "you are just in time to help me; if you will brush aside these twigs and leaves, I can get my breath; help me, quickly!"
"Ho! the idea!" said the little Half-Chick.
"I have no time to bother with you.
I am going to Madrid, to see the King."
And he went off,
After a while he came to Madrid and to the palace of the King.
"The very thing for the King's dinner!" she said.
"I was needing a chicken!" And
she seized the little
The Water came over the little Half-Chick's feathers, over his head, into his
eye. It was terribly uncomfortable.
"Water, don't drown me! Stay down, don't come so high!"
But the Water said, "Little Half-Chick, little Half-Chick, when I was in trouble you would not help me," and came higher than ever.
Now the Water grew warm, hot, hotter, frightfully hot;
But the Fire said, "Little Half-Chick, little Half-Chick, when I was in trouble you would not help me," and burned hotter than ever.
Just as the little Half-Chick thought he must suffocate,
the Cook took the cover
off, to look at the dinner.
"Dear me," she said, "this chicken is no good; it is
burned to a cinder." And she picked the
In the air he was caught by a breeze and taken up higher than the trees. Round and round he was twirled till he was so dizzy he thought he must perish. "Don't blow me so? Wind," he cried, "let me down!"
"Little Half-Chick, little Half-Chick," said the Wind, "when I was in trouble you would not help me!" And the Wind blew him straight up to the top of the church steeple, and stuck him there, fast!
There he stands to this day, with his one eye,
his one wing, and his one leg. He
As I was going up Pippen Hill,
Pippen Hill was dirty;
There I met a pretty Miss,
And she dropped me a curtsy.
Little Miss, pretty Miss,
Blessings light upon you;
If I had half-a-crown a day,
I'd spend it all upon you.
WEEK 8 |
S TRANGE as it may seem, there had never been any Mourning Doves in the forest until this year, and when a pair came there to live, the people were much excited. They talked about the Doves' song, so sweet and sad, and about their soft coats of brown and gray, and they wondered very much what kind of home they would build. Would it be a swinging pocket of hairs, strings, and down, like that of the Orioles? Would it be stout and heavy like the nests of the Robins? Or would it be a ball of leaves and grasses on the ground, with a tiny doorway in one side, like that of the Ovenbird?
You can see that the forest people were really very much interested in the Mourning Doves, and so, perhaps, it is not strange that, when the new couple built their nest in the lower branches of a spruce tree, everybody watched it and talked about it.
"Really," said one of the Blackbirds, who had flown
over from the swamp near by, "I never should think of
calling that thing a nest! It is nothing but a few
twigs and sticks laid together. It is just as flat as
"I wouldn't worry about the little Doves yet," said a Warbler. "I don't think there will ever be any little Doves in that nest. The eggs will roll off of it long before they are ready to hatch, and the nest will blow to pieces in the first storm we have."
"Well," said the Blackbird, as she started for home, "I shall want to know how the Mourning Doves get on. If any of you are over my way, stop and tell me the news."
Some days after this, a Quail, passing under the Doves' home, happened to look up and see two white eggs in the nest. It was so very thin that she could see them quite plainly through the openings between the twigs. Later in the day, she spoke of this to a Grouse, saying, "I came by the Mourning Doves' nest and saw two white eggs through the bottom."
After she went away, the Grouse said to a wild Rabbit: "The Quail told me that the Mourning Dove's eggs went right through the bottom of her nest, and I don't wonder. It wasn't strong enough to hold anything."
At sunset, the Rabbit had a short visit
Now, of course the Rabbit was mistaken when he said anybody had told him that those two eggs were broken; just as much mistaken as the Grouse was when she said somebody had told her that the eggs had fallen. They both thought they were right, but they were careless listeners and careless talkers, and so each one had changed it a bit in the telling.
The next day it rained, and the next, and the next.
Then it was the turn of the other birds to be surprised. "Why," they chirped, "we heard that your eggs had fallen through your nest and had broken and killed the tiny Dove babies inside. Is it true?"
"Not a word of it," answered Mrs. Mourning Dove. "The nest is all right, and the eggs were not broken until my two little darlings broke them with their sharp beaks."
"Here they are," she added, fondly. "Did you ever see
such pretty ones? See him open his bill, the dear!
And did you ever see such a neck as she has?
"But do you feel perfectly safe to leave them in that nest?" asked the Oriole politely. "My babies are so restless that I should be afraid to trust them in it."
"That is what people always say," answered
When her callers went away, they could not say enough
"Perhaps we all would," the others agreed. "She
certainly is a very pleasant
bird, and she is
bringing up her children well.
WEEK 8 |
Once upon a time there was a little girl who started out with her mama one sun-shiny day to visit the city. She was just as happy as she could be for they were going to the Toyman's shop, and she had a silver piece of money in her pocket to buy a toy there.
"Here I go with a hop, hop, hop,
All the way to the Toyman's shop,"
she sang over and over as she danced along beside her mama.
"Here I go with a hop, hop, hop, all the way to the Toyman's shop."
On the way they met a little boy who was going with his mama to visit the city that sunshiny day. He was just as happy as he could be for they were going to the Toyman's shop and he had a silver piece of money in his pocket to buy a toy there.
When he saw the little girl and heard her
merry song he wanted to go with her, so he
caught hold of her hand, and off they danced
singing over and
"Here we go with a hop, hop, hop,
All the way to the Toyman's shop."
There was not a shop in the city so fine
and so beautiful as the Toy shop that
sun-shiny day when the two little children came
dancing along. The windows were gay
with lovely dolls, the counters were filled
with picture books, the shelves were loaded
down with toys, and the Toyman was never
too busy their names to tell. When he saw
the children he
"Who comes here with a hop, hop, hop,
All the way to the Toyman's shop?
Laughing lassies or merry boys,
All are welcome to see my toys
Bells to jingle, and horns to blow,
Trains and whistles, and balls to throw,
Hoops to trundle and drums to beat,
Dainty dishes and dollies sweet.
Some for lassies and some for boys,
Take your choice of the Toyman's toys."
The little boy had already made up his mind. He wanted a drum. He paid the Toyman for it with his silver piece of money, and hung it about his neck like a drummer boy.
"Bum, bum, bum," said the little drum when he beat upon it with the drumsticks, and he thought it was the finest music in the world.
"Hear that," he said to the little girl. "It sounds just like the band. You had better get one too."
But the little girl did not want a drum. She liked the books with their bright colored pictures, and the tea-sets with flowers painted on them, and the dolls, that could open and shut their eyes.
"Which one shall I buy?" she said to her mama, but at last she decided herself, and what do you think she chose? A doll, the prettiest one. It had yellow hair and blue eyes, and when she had paid the Toyman for it she took it in her arms and hugged and kissed it.
Then the two little children went home
with their mamas, singing their merry
"Here we go with a hop, hop, hop,
All the way from the Toyman's shop."
The drum was so fine, the doll was so sweet, and they were as happy as they could be.
Where have you been?"
"I've been to London
To look at the Queen."
What did you there?"
"I frightened a little mouse
Under the chair."
WEEK 8 |
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 went up
past the kitchen door and past
the shed and past the barn and past the orchard to the
So the man that built the farm-house took his axe, one day, when the snow was on the ground, and he went to the place where he wanted the fields and he began to cut down the trees. There were big trees and little trees, and it took him a long time to cut down all the trees on the place where the field would be. He cut off all the branches, and the branches and the little trees he cut up with his axe to burn in the fireplaces; and he piled all that wood near the kitchen door. But the big logs—the trunks of the big trees after the branches were cut off—he was going to take to the mill, to have them sawed into boards.
So, one morning, after that was all done, the man got out the oxen. There were two yoke of oxen—two oxen they call a "yoke" of oxen, because two are yoked together—and they came out of the barn and put their heads down and he put the yokes over and the bows under and he hooked the tongue of a great sled to each yoke. And on each sled was a great chain.
Then he said: "Gee up there," and the oxen all started walking slowly along, and they walked out of the wide gate and along the road until they came to the place where the trees were all cut down, and there they stopped. And the sleds were beside one of the big logs, one sled at each end.
Then they unhooked the tongues of the sleds from the yokes and led the oxen out of the way. And the man and two other men that were helping him put some little logs sloping from the ground up to the sleds, and with poles that had hooks on the ends they rolled the great log up the little logs on to the sleds, so that it rested on them. And there was one sled under each end, but under the middle there was nothing. Then they fastened that log to the sleds, so that it couldn't roll off, and they rolled another log up on the other side and fastened that; and they rolled another log up on top of the first two. Then they fastened the tongue of each sled to the logs, and the logs were held on with the great chains, so they couldn't roll off. Then they hooked a chain to the first sled and to one of the yokes, and another chain from that yoke to the other yoke. And the man said: "Gee up there," and all the oxen pulled as hard as they could, and the sleds started sliding along the ground on the snow and into the road. And the oxen walked slowly along the road, pulling the sleds with the logs on them, for a long way.
When they had gone along the road for a long way, they came to a place where there was a building beside a little river. And on the side of the building was a wheel so large that it reached down into the water. And when the water ran along, it made the wheel turn around and that made a big saw go, inside the building.
And the oxen pulled the sleds with the logs up beside the building and there was a strong carriage that ran on wheels on a track. And the men unfastened the chains and rolled a log off on to the carriage and fastened it there. Then they pushed on the carriage and it rolled along toward the saw, and the saw was going. And the end of the log came against the saw and the saw made a great screeching noise and began to cut into the log, and it kept on cutting and the men pushed, and the saw cut all the way through the log to the other end, and that piece fell off. That piece was round on one side and flat on the other.
Then they rolled the carriage back and fastened the log farther over and pushed it up against the saw again, and the saw cut off another piece that was flat on both sides. That piece was a board. And that way they cut the log all up into boards, and then they cut up the other logs the same way.
When the logs were all cut into boards, the men put the
boards on the sleds and fastened
them on just the same way the logs had been fastened,
and the oxen started and turned
around and walked along the road until they came to the
And the other big logs they took to the saw-mill on other days and sawed them up into boards, so that the man had all the boards he needed to build the shed and the chicken house and all the other things and some to give to the men for helping him.
And when that was done, the man took off the yokes and the old oxen went into the barn and went to sleep.
And that's all.
WEEK 8 |
M ANY long years had passed since the days when Joseph's brothers and their families had settled in the land of Egypt. They were a great nation in numbers now, but the Egyptians still ruled over them, and used them as servants. The Pharaoh who had been so kind to the shepherds from Canaan was dead long ago, and the new kings, or Pharaohs, as they were called, hated foreigners, and began to treat the Israelites very harshly. There were too many of them, they said; it was dangerous to have so many strong, powerful slaves. They must be kept down, and made to work from morning till night, and be beaten if they did not work fast enough.
That was very hard for the poor people; but worse was to come. An order was issued one day which spread sorrow through all the land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived. Every baby boy that was born was to be thrown into the river. Girl babies might be allowed to live, for they would be useful as slaves, but boys might grow up to fight for their country, and so they must be destroyed.
In one little house, not far from the great river Nile, a woman sat holding her tiny baby in her arms, while the tears ran down her cheeks. He was such a beautiful baby, so strong and fair and healthy; but the king's order was that he was to be thrown into the river, where the cruel, hungry crocodiles were waiting to snap up everything they could find for a meal. Jochebed, the poor mother, held her baby closer in her arms. No, she could not obey the king's order. She would try and hide the baby for a little while, at any rate.
It was easy to hide a baby while he was still tiny and slept most of the day; but when he grew bigger it was much more difficult. His sister Miriam did her best to help her mother; but any day, now that the baby was three months old, he might be discovered, and something must be done at once.
So Jochebed thought of a plan, and prayed to God that He would help her to carry it out. At the edge of the river there grew tall bulrushes, which, when cut down and dried, could be made into many useful things. Taking some of these bulrushes, she wove them into a little cradle with a cover to it, just like a little ark, and this she covered with a kind of pitch, so that not a drop of water could come through. Inside the cradle she made a soft bed, and laid the baby there while he was fast asleep, and set the ark afloat in the water where the bulrushes were growing. She knew that presently the great princess, Pharaoh's daughter, would come down to bathe in the river, and would notice the queer little ark floating there.
Very soon the royal procession came winding down from the palace towards the river, as the princess in her gorgeous robes made her way to bathe in the pool of the lotus flowers. But at the edge of the river she stopped. What was that among the bulrushes? It was no lotus flower, but a strange-looking covered basket, and she ordered her maidens to bring it to her.
The little ark was lifted out of the water and carried to the princess. There was surely something alive inside, and the princess was full of curiosity as she leaned down and lifted the cover to look in. Then she started back in amazement. The dearest little baby she had ever seen lay there, all rosy and fresh after his sleep, gazing up at her with wide-open eyes. The maidens crowded round, and the sight of all those strange faces was more than the baby could bear. He puckered up his face and began to cry.
"She saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept."
The princess loved babies, and she had none of her own. That little wailing cry went to her heart. She guessed at once that this was one of the Hebrew babies which had been ordered to be destroyed, and she made up her mind that this beautiful boy should at least be saved.
All this time Miriam had been watching from her hiding-place close by, and with anxious, beating heart she came forward now. Could she help the princess? she asked. Should she run and find some Hebrew woman who might look after the baby?
Perhaps the princess guessed that the baby's mother would not be far off, and she must have smiled a little when a nurse was so quickly found. But she took no notice of that.
"Take this child away," she said, when Jochebed stood humbly before her, "and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages."
It was merely as a nurse that the mother was hired. The great princess meant to adopt the baby as her own. But he was safe, and Jochebed's heart was full of gratitude to God as she took her little son into her arms again.
As long as he needed a nurse the baby was left to be looked after by his mother in the little house by the river side. The princess called him Moses, which means "drawn out," because he had been drawn out of the water, and she had made up her mind that as soon as he was old enough he should come to live with her at the palace, and be brought up as a prince. He would be treated just as if he was really her son.
But his poor mother had him for those first precious years while he was still a little boy, and she did not waste one minute of that time in her training of him. She taught him about God, and told him all the wonderful stories about his own country, so that he should never forget that he belonged to God's people, even when he should become a prince in the Egyptian palace. Just as a gardener sows seeds in a garden which afterwards grow up into beautiful flowers, so she sowed the seeds of truth in the heart of her little son, which long afterwards were to blossom out and bear such wonderful fruit.
Then when Moses was old enough to do without a nurse, she took him to the palace, and "brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son."
Mister East gave a feast;
Mister North laid the cloth;
Mister West did his best;
Mister South burnt his mouth
Eating cold potato.