WEEK 11 |
NCE upon a time, many years ago—when our grandfathers were little children—there was a doctor; and his name was Dolittle—John Dolittle, M.D. "M.D." means that he was a proper doctor and knew a whole lot.
A little town called Puddleby-on-the-Marsh
He lived in a little town called, Puddleby-on-the-Marsh. All the folks, young and old, knew him well by sight. And whenever he walked down the street in his high hat everyone would say, "There goes the Doctor!—He's a clever man." And the dogs and the children would all run up and follow behind him; and even the crows that lived in the church-tower would caw and nod their heads.
The house he lived in, on the edge of the town, was quite small; but his garden was very large and had a wide lawn and stone seats and weeping-willows hanging over. His sister, Sarah Dolittle, was housekeeper for him; but the Doctor looked after the garden himself.
He was very fond of animals and kept many kinds of pets. Besides the gold-fish in the pond at the bottom of his garden, he had rabbits in the pantry, white mice in his piano, a squirrel in the linen closet and a hedgehog in the cellar. He had a cow with a calf too, and an old lame horse—twenty-five years of age—and chickens, and pigeons, and two lambs, and many other animals. But his favorite pets were Dab-Dab the duck, Jip the dog, Gub-Gub the baby pig, Polynesia the parrot, and the owl Too-Too.
His sister used to grumble about all these animals and said they made the house untidy. And one day when an old lady with rheumatism came to see the Doctor, she sat on the hedgehog who was sleeping on the sofa and never came to see him any more, but drove every Saturday all the way to Oxenthorpe, another town ten miles off, to see a different doctor.
And she never came to see him any more.
Then his sister, Sarah Dolittle, came to him and said,
"John, how can you expect sick people to come and see you when you keep all these animals in the house? It's a fine doctor would have his parlor full of hedgehogs and mice! That's the fourth personage these animals have driven away. Squire Jenkins and the Parson say they wouldn't come near your house again—no matter how sick they are. We are getting poorer every day. If you go on like this, none of the best people will have you for a doctor."
"But I like the animals better than the 'best people'," said the Doctor.
"You are ridiculous," said his sister, and walked out of the room.
So, as time went on, the Doctor got more and more animals; and the people who came to see him got less and less. Till at last he had no one left—except the Cat's-meat-Man, who didn't mind any kind of animals. But the Cat's-meat-Man wasn't very rich and he only got sick once a year—at Christmas-time, when he used to give the Doctor sixpence for a bottle of medicine.
Sixpence a year wasn't enough to live on—even in those days, long ago; and if the Doctor hadn't had some money saved up in his money-box, no one knows what would have happened.
And he kept on getting still more pets; and of course it cost a lot to feed them. And the money he had saved up grew littler and littler.
Then he sold his piano, and let the mice live in a bureau-drawer. But the money he got for that too began to go, so he sold the brown suit he wore on Sundays and went on becoming poorer and poorer.
And now, when he walked down the street in his high hat, people would say to one another, "There goes John Dolittle, M.D.! There was a time when he was the best known doctor in the West Country—Look at him now—He hasn't any money and his stockings are full of holes!"
But the dogs and the cats and the children still ran up and followed him through the town—the same as they had done when he was rich.
Sleep, baby, sleep!
Thy father's watching the sheep,
Thy mother's shaking the dreamland tree,
And down drops a little dream for thee.
Sleep, baby, sleep.
Sleep, baby, sleep!
The large stars are the sheep;
The little stars are the lambs, I guess,
The bright moon is the shepherdess.
Sleep, baby, sleep.
WEEK 11 |
W HEN Franklin was an old man, he wrote a curious letter. In that letter he told a story. It was about something that happened to him when he was a boy.
Here is the story put into verses, so that you will remember it better. Some day you can read the story as Franklin told it himself. You will hear people say, "He paid too much for the whistle." The saying came from this story.
As Ben with pennies in his pocket
Went strolling down the street,
From a boy he chanced to meet,
Whistling fit to burst his buttons,
Blowing hard and stepping high.
Then Benny said, "I'll buy your whistle;"
But "Toot! toot-toot!" was the reply.
But Benny counted out his pennies,
The whistling boy began to smile;
With one last toot he gave the whistle
To Ben, and took his penny pile.
Now homeward goes the whistling Benny,
As proud as any foolish boy,
And in his pockets not a penny,
But in his mouth a noisy toy.
"Ah, Benny, Benny!" cries his mother,
"I cannot stand your ugly noise."
"Stop, Benny, Benny!" says his father,
"I cannot talk, you drown my voice."
At last the whistling boy remembers
How much his money might have bought.
"Too many pennies for a whistle,"
Too many pennies for a whistle
Is what we all pay, you and I,
Just for a little foolish pleasure
Pay a price that's quite too high.
One of the chairs is South America,
One of the chairs is a ship at sea,
One is a cage for a great big lion,
And one is a chair for Me.
THE FIRST CHAIR.
When I go up the Amazon,
I stop at night and fire a gun
To call my faithful band.
And Indians in twos and threes,
Come silently between the trees,
And wait for me to land.
And if I do not want to play
With any Indians today,
I simply wave my hand.
And then they turn and go
They always understand.
THE SECOND CHAIR.
I'm a great big lion in my cage,
And I often frighten Nanny with a roar.
Then I hold her very tight, and
Tell her not to be so
And she doesn't be so frightened any more.
THE THIRD CHAIR.
When I am in my ship, I see
The other ships go sailing by.
A sailor leans and calls to me
As his ship goes sailing by.
Across the sea he leans to me,
Above the winds I hear him cry:
"Is this the way to
He calls as he goes by.
THE FOURTH CHAIR.
Whenever I sit in a high chair
For breakfast or dinner or tea,
I try to pretend that it's my chair,
And that I am a baby of three.
Shall I go off to South America?
Shall I put out in my ship to sea?
Or get in my cage and be lions and tigers?
Or—shall I be only Me?
WEEK 11 |
W HEN the Caddis Fly felt like laying eggs, she crawled down the stalk of one of the pond plants and laid them there. She covered them with something sticky, so that they were sure to stay where she put them. "There!" she said, as she crawled up to the air again. "My work is done." Soon after this, she lay down for a long, long rest. What with flying, and visiting, and laying eggs, she had become very tired; and it was not strange, for she had not eaten a mouthful since she got her wings.
This had puzzled the Dragon-Flies very much. They could not understand it, because they were always eating. They would have liked to ask her about it, but they went to sleep for the night soon after she got up, and whenever she saw them coming she flew away. "I do not seem to feel hungry," said she, "so why should I eat? Besides," she added, "I couldn't eat if I wanted to, my mouth is so small and weak. I ate a great deal while I was growing—quite enough to last me—and it saves time not to bother with hunting food now."
When her eggs hatched, the larvæ were slender,
The Caddis Worms soon found that white was not a good
color to wear, and they talked of it among themselves.
They were very bright larvæ. One day the biggest
one was standing on a stem of pickerel-weed, when his
sister came toward him. She did not come very fast,
because she was neither swimming nor walking, but
biting herself along. All the
"What is the matter?" called the Biggest Caddis Worm. "Don't hurry so. There is lots of time." That was just him, for he was lazy. Everybody said so.
"I must hurry," said she, and she breathed very fast with the white breathing hairs that grew on both sides of her body. She picked herself up from her last somersault and stood beside her brother, near enough to speak quite softly. "I have been getting away from Belostoma," she said, "and I was dreadfully afraid he would catch me."
"Well, you're all right now, aren't you?" asked her brother. And that was also like him. As long as he could have enough to eat and was comfortable, he did not want to think about anything unpleasant.
"No, I'm not," she answered, "and I won't be so long
as any hungry fish or
"You are not so white as you were," said her brother.
"None of us children
are. Our heads and the front part of our bodies are
turning brown and getting harder." That was true, and
he was particularly
"Yes, but what about the rest of us?" said she, and surely there was some excuse for her if she was impatient. "If Belostoma can see part of me and chase that, he will find the rest of me rather near by."
"Keep quiet then, and see if you don't get hard and brown all over," said he.
"I never shall," said she. "I went to the Clams and asked them if I would, and they said 'No.' I'm going to build a house to cover the back part of my body, and you'd better do the same thing."
The Biggest Caddis Worm looked very much surprised. "Whatever made you think of that?" said he.
"I suppose because there wasn't anything else to think of," said she. "One has to think of something."
"I don't," said he.
She started away to where her other brothers and sisters were. "Where are you going?" cried he.
"Going to build my house," answered she. "You'd better come too."
"Not now," said he. "I am waiting to get the rest of my breakfast. I'll come by and by."
The Biggest Caddis Worm stood on the pickerel-weed and
ate his breakfast. Then he stood there a while longer.
"I do not think it is well to work right after eating,"
he said. Below him in the water, his brothers and
sisters were busily gathering tiny sticks, stones, and
bits of broken shell, with which to make their houses.
"I'm going to make my house big enough so I can pull in my head and legs when I want to," said one.
"So am I," cried all the other Caddis Worms.
After a while, somebody said, "I'm going to have an open door at the back of my house." Then each of his busy brothers and sisters cried, "So am I."
When the tiny houses were done, each Caddis Worm
crawled inside of his own, and lay with head and legs
outside the front door. The white part of their bodies
did not show at all, and, if they wanted to do so, they
could pull their heads in. Even Belostoma, the Giant
"Let's hook ourselves in!" cried one Caddis Worm, and all the others answered, "Let's."
So each hooked himself in with the two stout hooks
which grew at the end of his
body, and there they were as snug and comfortable as
Clams. About this time the
"Yes," answered the rest joyfully. "See us pull in our
heads." And they all pulled in their heads and poked
them out again. He was the only
"I must have a home," said he. "I wish one of you Worms would give me yours. You could make yourself another, you know. There is lots more stuff."
"Make it yourself," they replied. "Help yourself to stuff."
"But I don't know how," he said, "and you do."
"Whose fault is that?" asked his sister. Then she was afraid that he might think her cross, and she added quickly, "We'll tell you how, if you'll begin."
The Biggest Caddis Worm got together some tiny sticks and stones and pieces of broken shell, but it wasn't very much fun working alone. Then they told him what to do, and how to fasten them to each other with silk. "Be sure you tie them strongly," they said.
"Oh, that's strong enough,"
he answered. "It'll do,
anyhow. If it comes to pieces I can fix it." His
brothers and sisters thought he should make it stouter,
yet they said nothing more, for he would not have liked
it if they had; and they had already said so once.
When he crawled into his house and hooked himself in,
there was not a
The Biggest Caddis Worm's house was
not well fastened together, and every day he said, "I
really must fix it
When they had changed their skin many times, the Caddis Worms became more quiet and thoughtful. At last the sister who had first planned to build houses, fastened hers to a stone, and spun gratings across both its front and its back doors. "I am going to sleep," she said, "to grow my feelers and get ready to fly and breathe air. I don't want anybody to awaken me. All I want to do is to sleep and grow and breathe. The water will come in through the gratings, so I shall be all right. I couldn't sleep in a house where there was not plenty of fresh water to breathe." Then she cuddled down and dozed off, and when her brothers and sisters spoke of her, they called her "the Caddis Nymph."
They did not speak of her many times, however, for they soon fastened their houses to something solid, and spun gratings in their doorways and went to sleep.
One day a Water-Adder came around where all the Caddis
Soon Belostoma, the Giant Water-Bug, came that way.
"What is this?" he exclaimed, as he saw the sleeping
When the other Caddis Nymphs awakened, they bit through their gratings and had a good visit before they crawled out of the pond into their new home, the air. "Has anybody seen my biggest brother?" asked one Nymph of another, but everybody answered, "No."
Each looked all around with his two
I know the song that the bluebird is singing,
Up in the apple tree, where he is swinging.
Brave little fellow! the skies may look dreary,
Nothing cares he while his heart is so cheery.
Hark! how the music leaps out from his throat!
Hark! was there ever so merry a note?
Listen awhile, and you'll hear what he's saying,
Up in the apple tree, swinging and swaying.
"Dear little blossoms, down under the snow,
You must be weary of winter, I know;
Hark! while I sing you a message of cheer,
Summer is coming and springtime is here!
"Little white snowdrop, I pray you arise;
Bright yellow crocus, come, open your eyes;
Sweet little violets hid from the cold,
Put on your mantle of purple and gold;
Daffodils, daffodils! Say, do you hear?
Summer is coming, and springtime is here!"
WEEK 11 |
T HE little Jackal was very fond of shell-fish. He used to go down by the river and hunt along the edges for crabs and such things. And once, when he was hunting for crabs, he was so hungry that he put his paw into the water after a crab without looking first,—which you never should do! The minute he put in his paw, snap!—the big Alligator who lives in the mud down there had it in his jaws.
"Oh, dear!" thought the little Jackal; "the big Alligator has my paw in his mouth! In another minute he will pull me down and gobble me up! What shall I do? what shall I do?" Then he thought, suddenly, "I'll deceive him!"
So he put on a very cheerful voice, as if nothing at all were the matter, and he
"Ho! ho! Clever Mr. Alligator! Smart Mr. Alligator, to take that old bulrush root for my paw! I'll hope you'll find it very tender!"
The old Alligator was hidden away beneath the mud and bulrush leaves, and he couldn't see anything. He thought, "Pshaw! I've made a mistake." So he opened his mouth and let the little Jackal go.
The little Jackal ran away as fast as he could, and as he ran he called
"Thank you, Mr. Alligator! Kind Mr. Alligator! So kind of you to let me go!"
The old Alligator lashed with his tail and snapped with his jaws, but it was too late; the little Jackal was out of reach.
After this the little Jackal kept away from the river, out of danger. But after
about a week he got such an appetite for crabs that nothing else would do at
all; he felt that he must have a crab. So he went down by the river and looked
all around, very carefully. He didn't see the old Alligator, but he thought to
himself, "I think I'll not take any chances." So
he stood still and began to
talk out loud to himself. He
"When I don't see any little crabs on the land I most generally see them sticking out of the water, and then I put my paw in and catch them. I wonder if there are any fat little crabs in the water today?"
The old Alligator was hidden down in the mud at the bottom of the river, and when he heard what the little Jackal said, he thought, "Aha! I'll pretend to be a little crab, and when he puts his paw in, I'll make my dinner of him." So he stuck the black end of his snout above the water and waited.
The little Jackal took one look, and then he
"Thank you, Mr. Alligator! Kind Mr. Alligator! You are exceedingly kind to show me where you are! I will have dinner elsewhere." And he ran away like the wind.
The old Alligator foamed at the mouth, he was so angry, but the little Jackal was gone.
For two whole weeks the little Jackal
kept away from the river. Then, one day he
got a feeling inside him that nothing but crabs could satisfy; he felt that he
must have at least one crab. Very cautiously, he went down to the river and
looked all around. He saw no sign of the old Alligator. Still, he did not mean
to take any chances. So he stood quite still and began to talk to
himself,—it was a little way he had. He
"When I don't see any little crabs on the shore, or sticking up out of the water, I usually see them blowing bubbles from under the water; the little bubbles go puff, puff, puff, and then they go pop, pop, pop, and they show me where the little juicy crabs are, so I can put my paw in and catch them. I wonder if I shall see any little bubbles to-day?"
The old Alligator, lying low in the mud and weeds, heard this, and he thought, "Pooh! That's easy enough; I'll just blow some little crab-bubbles, and then he will put his paw in where I can get it."
So he blew, and he blew, a mighty blast, and the bubbles rose in a perfect whirlpool, fizzing and swirling.
The little Jackal didn't have to be told who was underneath those bubbles: he
took one quick look, and off he ran. But as he went, he
"Thank you, Mr. Alligator! Kind Mr. Alligator! You are the kindest Alligator in the world, to show me where you are, so nicely! I'll breakfast at another part of the river."
The old Alligator was so furious that he crawled up on the bank and went after the little Jackal; but, dear, dear, he couldn't catch the little Jackal; he ran far too fast.
After this, the little Jackal did not like to risk going near the water, so he ate no more crabs. But he found a garden of wild figs, which were so good that he went there every day, and ate them instead of shell-fish.
Now the old Alligator found this out, and he made up his mind to have the little Jackal for supper, or to die trying. So he crept, and crawled, and dragged himself over the ground to the garden of wild figs. There he made a huge pile of figs under the biggest of the wild fig trees, and hid himself in the pile.
After a while the little Jackal came dancing into the garden, very happy and care-free,—but looking all around. He saw the huge pile of figs under the big fig tree.
"H-m," he thought, "that looks singularly like my friend, the Alligator. I'll investigate a bit."
He stood quite still and began to talk to himself,—it was a little way he
"The little figs I like best are the fat, ripe, juicy ones that drop off when the breeze blows; and then the wind blows them about on the ground, this way and that; the great heap of figs over there is so still that I think they must be all bad figs."
The old Alligator, underneath his fig pile,
"Bother the suspicious little Jackal, I shall have to make these figs roll about, so that he will think the wind moves them." And straightway he humped himself up and moved, and sent the little figs flying,—and his back showed through.
The little Jackal did not wait for a
second look. He ran out of the garden like
the wind. But as he ran he called
"Thank you, again, Mr. Alligator; very sweet of you to show me where you are; I can't stay to thank you as I should like: good-by!"
At this the old Alligator was beside himself with rage. He vowed that he would have the little Jackal for supper this time, come what might. So he crept and crawled over the ground till he came to the little Jackal's house. Then he crept and crawled inside, and hid himself there in the house, to wait till the little Jackal should come home.
By and by the little Jackal came dancing home, happy and care-free,—BUT looking all around. Presently, as he came along, he saw that the ground was all scratched up as if something very heavy had been dragged over it. The little Jackal stopped and looked.
"What's this? what's this?" he said.
Then he saw that the door of his house was crushed at the sides and broken, as if something very big had gone through it.
"What's this? What's this?" the little Jackal said. "I think I'll investigate a little!"
So he stood quite still and began to talk to himself (you remember, it was a
little way he had), but loudly. He
"How strange that my little House doesn't speak to me! Why don't you speak to me, little House? You always speak to me, if everything is all right, when I come home. I wonder if anything is wrong with my little House?"
The old Alligator thought to himself that he must certainly pretend to be the
little House, or the little Jackal would never come in. So he put on as pleasant
a voice as he could (which is not saying much) and
"Hullo, little Jackal!"
Oh! when the little Jackal heard that, he was frightened enough, for once.
"It's the old Alligator," he said, "and if I don't make an end of him this time he will certainly make an end of me. What shall I do?"
He thought very fast. Then he spoke out pleasantly.
"Thank you, little House," he said, "it's good to hear your pretty voice, dear little House, and I will be in with you in a minute; only first I must gather some firewood for dinner."
Then he went and gathered firewood, and more firewood, and more firewood; and he piled it all up solid against the door and round the house; and then he set fire to it!
And it smoked and burned till it smoked that old Alligator to smoked herring!
When I am grown to man's estate
I shall be very proud and great,
And tell the other girls and boys
Not to meddle with my toys.
WEEK 11 |
"Conquering, holding, daring, venturing, as we go the unknown ways,
Pioneers, O Pioneers!"
A LONG the northern coast of Africa they kept, till they reached the spot known to the people of old as the "Pillars of Hercules." These were lofty rocks which were supposed to mark the limit of the world in this direction. It was, according to their ideas, the farthest point reached by the god Hercules. Beyond this point was the home of the gods, so they said, and heaven and earth met together. If they could please the gods, then the Phœnician sailors might pass this point and discover the truth of their belief; but either the sea was too rough for them or the sailors were too timid, for twice they returned home without having passed the Pillars.
Again they tried, and again they failed. At last a third fleet of Phœnician ships was fitted out; and this time they managed to pass through the narrow straits, and to penetrate the mysteries beyond.
There were no gods. The Pillars of Hercules were not the ends of the world. The rocky gates opened a path from the Great Sea, to the boundless waters of the Atlantic Ocean, which were to play such a great part in the history of the New World.
It was on this well-known voyage, that they founded the city of Gades, a port on the coast of Spain. Here they built a beautiful temple to the god Hercules, who had allowed them to pass the narrow straits. This city is our modern Cadiz, the most ancient town in all Europe.
The surrounding country they called Tarshish. Here they found a quantity of silver.
"The ships of Tarshish," says the prophet Ezekiel, to Phœnicia, "were thy caravans; so wert thou replenished, and very glorious in the midst of the sea."
So much silver, indeed, did the Phœnicians get at Tarshish, that, in order to carry home as much as they could, they made anchors of silver for their ships, leaving the old iron anchors behind.
"Rivers of the liquid metal, mountains of solid ore, forests and meadows covered with silver: silver, silver, silver everywhere, in the land beyond the Pillars of Hercules," sang the old poets.
There is an old story that says, when the Phœnicians had passed through the Straits of Gibraltar, they took their course along the coast of Africa; but they were carried away far into the ocean by a strong wind. After being driven about many days by the storm, they came to a large island, which was so fertile and possessed such a glorious climate, that they thought it must be a dwelling for the gods, rather than of men.
They called them the "Isles of the Blessed."
There is little doubt, that the old Phœnician ships got as far as the English Channel, in their search for wealth, braving the high seas of the Bay of Biscay to do this. Coasting along the shores of Spain and France, they reached the Scilly Isles off the coast of Cornwall—the Tin Islands, as they called them—in order to carry tin back to Phœnicia.
Thus Phœnicia became the mistress of the Great Sea.
Backwards and forwards, went the Phœnicians, between their own country and foreign lands, collecting wealth, planting colonies, taking possession of whole islands, undisputed. They improved their ships, they grew more and more adventurous, until their country, that narrow strip of land shut in between the mountains of Lebanon and the Great Sea, became very rich.
They were conquerors of the sea indeed, merchants of the people of many isles, strong to do and dare, the first Naval Power in the Old World.
I saw you toss the kites on high
And blow the birds about the sky;
And all around I heard you pass,
Like ladies' skirts across the grass—
O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!
I saw the different things you did,
But always you yourself you hid.
I felt you push, I heard you call,
I could not see yourself at all—
O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!
O you that are so strong and cold,
O blower, are you young or old?
Are you a beast of field and tree,
Or just a stronger child than me?
O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!
WEEK 11 |
W HEN the children came into the kitchen the next morning, they found their new friend beating mush and milk together for their breakfast, and there was a smell of coffee in the air.
"Sit right down and eat," said she, pushing a stool toward the table with her foot. "I've milked the goats for you. They didn't give much, poor things, and it's no wonder, after such a day as they had yesterday! The wonder is that they gave any at all. I've made coffee for you, for you've a long day ahead of you, and it will cheer up your insides. It's a lucky thing for you the day is so fine. I thought I heard it rain in the night, but old Pilatus' head has no cloud cap this morning, and he is a good weather prophet."
The baby was already seated in her high chair at the table, beating upon it with a spoon to welcome them, and the children were soon seated beside her putting away a great store of the good mush. The farmer's wife had no one but the baby to talk to during the long days when her husband was away, and she made the most of her time while the children were with her. She told them all about her cows and her pigs and her chickens, just how much hay her husband brought down from his highland meadow on his back the previous summer, and how many cheeses he expected to bring home from the alp at the end of the season. And when at last they had eaten all they could, she put up a lunch for them, and gave them full directions for reaching their own village.
"It's not hard at all," said she, "for though it is still a long way to the foot of the mountain, you've only to follow the road, and if you don't know which turn to take at a cross-roads, there'll always be somebody to ask somewhere along the way. If you could get so far down the mountain and across the glacier by yourselves you've nothing to fear now, and you'd better make all the speed you can, for my heart bleeds for your poor mother. She must be half dead with anxiety by now."
She kissed them good-bye at the door and stood with her baby on her arm, gazing after them when they drove the goats out of the door-yard and started down the highway toward their home. They did not forget to thank their kind hostess, and after they had started turned again and again to wave a farewell to her. She waved to them in return, and the baby also fluttered her tiny pink hand until they were quite out of sight.
"We'll never forget her, shall we?" said Leneli.
"Never," answered Seppi, fervently. "She's almost as good as Mother! And doesn't she make good pancakes, though?"
They set their faces northward and trudged along, hurrying rather than slacking their speed as the miles lengthened behind them, for as the distance between them and their home shortened, their eagerness to get there increased. It was a good twelve miles from the farm-house where they had spent the night to their own village, and a mile this side of the village and a mile up the mountain-slope was their own dear home. This, to the sturdy Swiss boy and girl, brought up in the mountains, was not a hard walk, but they knew that goats must not be driven too fast if they are expected to give any milk, so it was late afternoon before the cavalcade reached the foot of their own hill-side and began the last climb of the weary journey.
The children could see their own roof, weighted down by stones, peeping over the edge of the hill long before they were anywhere near it, and they fastened their homesick eyes upon it as a sailor fixes his upon the North Star at sea. Now they could see the whole house, with the goat-shed and cow-stables back of it, the straw-stack, and the southern slope of the garden.
They strained their eyes for a glimpse of their mother, but there was no movement to be seen anywhere about the place. Even the breeze had died down, so there was not so much as a flutter among the trees as they drew nearer and nearer. At last, unable to hold themselves back longer, they broke into a run and came dashing into the yard with all the goat-bells jingling, Bello barking, and their own voices raised in a joyful shout: "Mother, Mother, where are you? We're home!"
But to their surprise and great disappointment, there was no answer. The house was as still as if it were asleep. Leaving the goats to Bello, the children dashed into the kitchen. There was no one there, and there was no sound but the loud tick-tock of the cuckoo clock. They dashed upstairs to the bedrooms and back again to the kitchen. Everywhere silence.
"It's just as if the house were dead when Mother isn't in it," sobbed Leneli. "Where can she be? And Roseli too!"
"Roseli is where Mother is, you may be sure," said Seppi.
They ran outdoors again, and found Bello barking madly at Nanni, who was having a blissful time with the carrot-tops, which she refused to leave even when Bello, who knew very well she shouldn't be in the garden at all, nipped at her heels.
"We'll have to shut up the goats," said Seppi, as he ran to Bello's assistance.
They drove them into the shed, gave them some hay, and then rested their weary legs for a moment, siting on the kitchen steps, while they considered what to do next.
Then an awful thought struck Leneli. "The avalanche!" she gasped. "Maybe she was caught by it!"
Seppi grew pale and gulped down a sob. "No," he said, when after a moment he could speak. "I don't believe it! There's no sign of the avalanche about here, and Mother never goes away from home. She's trying to find us; that's what she's doing!"
Leneli collapsed on the step. "Oh, Seppi," she cried, "do you suppose she's lost on the mountain just as we've found ourselves and got home again?" The thought was too much for her, and she sobbed afresh.
"Well," said Seppi, "crying won't do any good. Let's go and see if we can find her."
Weary as they were, they started at once to their feet to begin this new quest, even though the shadows were long across the flower-starred mountain-slopes and the sun was already sinking toward the west.
Ladybird, ladybird! fly away home!
The field-mouse has gone to her nest,
The daisies have shut up their sleepy red eyes,
And the bees and birds are at rest.
Ladybird, ladybird! fly away home!
The glow-worm is lighting her lamp,
The dew's falling fast, and your fine speckled wings
Will flag with the close-clinging damp.
Ladybird, ladybird! fly away home!
Good luck if you reach it at last!
The owl's come abroad, and the bat's on the roam,
Sharp-set from their Ramazan fast.
Ladybird, ladybird! fly away home!
The fairybells tinkle afar!
Make haste or they'll catch you, and harness you fast
With a cobweb to Oberon's car.
Ladybird, ladybird! fly away home!
To your house in the old willow tree,
Where your children so dear have invited the ant
And a few cozy neighbors to tea.
Ladybird, ladybird! fly away home!
And if not gobbled up by the way,
Nor yoked by the fairies to Oberon's car,
You're in luck! and that's all I've to say!
WEEK 11 |
Genesis xviii: 1, to xix: 30.
NE day Abraham,—for we shall call him now by his new name,—was sitting in the door of his tent, when he saw three men coming toward him. He knew from their looks that they were not common men. They were angels, and one of them seems to have been the Lord God himself, coming in the form of a man.
When Abraham saw these men coming, he went out to meet them, and bowed to them; and he said to the one who was the leader:
"My Lord, do not pass by; but come and rest a little under the tree. Let me send for water to wash your feet; and take some food; and stay with us a little while."
So this strange person, who was God in the form of a man, sat with his two followers in Abraham's tent, under the oak-trees at Hebron. They took some food which Sarah, Abraham's wife, made ready for them, and then the Lord talked with Abraham. He told Abraham again that in a very little time God would send to him and Sarah a little boy, whose name should be Isaac. In the language that Abraham spoke, the name Isaac means "laughing;" because Abraham and Sarah both laughed aloud when they heard it. They were so happy that they could scarcely believe the news.
Then the three persons rose up to go, and two of them went on the road which led toward Sodom, down on the plain of Jordan, below the mountains. But the one whom Abraham called "My Lord" stopped after the others had gone away, and said:
"Shall I hide from Abraham what I am going to do? For Abraham is to be the father of a great people, and all the world shall receive a blessing through him. And I know that Abraham will teach his children and all those that live with him to obey the will of the Lord, and to do right. I will tell Abraham what I am going to do. I am going down to the city of Sodom and the other cities that are near it, and I am going to see if the city is as bad as it seems to be; for the wickedness of the city is like a cry coming up before the Lord."
And Abraham knew that Sodom was very wicked, and he feared that God was about to destroy it. And Abraham said:
"Wilt thou destroy the righteous with the wicked, the good with the bad, in Sodom? Perhaps there may be fifty good people in the city. Wilt thou not spare the city for the sake of fifty good men who may be in it? Shall not the Judge and Ruler of all the earth do right?"
And the Lord said:
"If I find in Sodom fifty good people, then I will not destroy the city, but will spare it for their sake."
Then Abraham said again:
"Perhaps I ought not to ask anything more, for I am only a common man, talking with the Lord God. But suppose that there should be forty-five good people in Sodom, wilt thou destroy the city because it needs only five good men to make up the fifty?"
And the Lord said, "I will not destroy it, if there are forty-five good men in it." And Abraham said, "Suppose there are forty good people in it,—what then?" And the Lord said, "I will spare the city, if I find in it forty good men." And Abraham said, "O Lord, do not be angry, if I ask that if there are thirty good men in the city, it may be spared." And the Lord said, "I will not do it, if I find thirty good men there." And Abraham said, "Let me venture to ask that thou wilt spare it if twenty are there." The Lord said: "I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty good men, if they are there." Then Abraham said, "O, let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak only this once more. Perhaps there may be ten good men found in the city." And the Lord said, "If I find ten good men in Sodom, I will spare the city."
And Abraham had no more to say. The Lord in the form of a man went on his way toward Sodom; and Abraham turned back, and went to his tent.
You remember that Lot, the nephew of Abraham, chose the land of Sodom for his home (Story Five), and lived there, though the people were so wicked. You remember, too, how Lot was carried away captive when Sodom was taken by its enemies, and how he was rescued by Abram. (Story Six.) But after all that had happened, Lot went to live in Sodom again; and he was there when the angels came to Abraham's tent, as we read in the last story.
Two of the angels who had visited Abraham went down to Sodom, and walked through the city, trying to find some good men; for if they could find only ten, the city would be saved. But the only good man whom they could find was Lot. He took the angels, who looked like men, into his house, and treated them kindly, and made a supper for them.
The men of Sodom, when they found that strangers were in Lot's house, came before the house in the street, and tried to take the two men out that they might do them harm, so wicked and cruel were they. But the men of Sodom could do nothing against them, for when they tried to break open the door, and Lot was greatly frightened, the two angels struck all those wicked men blind in a moment, so that they could not see, and felt around in the dark for the door.
Then the angels said to Lot:
"Have you here any others besides yourself, any sons, or sons-in-law, or daughters? Whomever you have, get them out of this city quickly, for we are here to destroy this place, because it is so very wicked."
Then Lot went to the houses where the young men lived who had married some of his daughters, and said to them:
"Hurry, and get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy it."
But his sons-in-law, the husbands of his daughters, would not believe his words; they only laughed at him. What a mistake it was for Lot to live in a wicked city, where his daughters were married to young men living there!
And when the morning was coming, the two angels tried to make poor Lot hasten away. They said:
"Rise up quickly, and take your wife, and your two daughters that are here. If you do not haste, you will be destroyed with the city."
But Lot was slow to leave his house, and his married daughters, and all that he had; and the two angels took hold of him, and of his wife, and his two daughters; and the angels dragged them out of the city. God was good to Lot, to take him out of the city before it was destroyed.
And when they had brought Lot and his wife and his daughters out of the city, one of the angels said to him:
"Escape for your life; do not look behind you; do not stop anywhere in the plain; climb up the mountain, or you may be destroyed!"
And Lot begged the angels not to send him so far away. He said, "O my Lord, I cannot climb the mountain. Have mercy upon me, and let me go to that little city that lies yonder. It is only a little city, and you can spare it. Please to let me be safe there."
And the angel said, "We will spare that city for your sake; and we will wait until you are safe before we destroy these other cities."
So Lot ran to the little city, and there he found safety. In the language of that time, the word "Zoar" means little; so that city was afterward called Zoar. It was the time of sunrise when Lot came to Zoar.
Then, as soon as Lot and his family were safely out of Sodom, the Lord caused a rain of fire to fall upon Sodom and the other cities on the plain. With the fire came great clouds of sulphur smoke, covering all the plain. So the cities were destroyed, and all the people in them; not one man or woman or child was left.
While Lot and his daughters were flying from the city, Lot's wife stopped, and looked back; and she became a pillar of salt, standing there upon the plain. Lot and his two daughters escaped, but they were afraid to stay in the little city of Zoar. They climbed up the mountain, away from the plain, and found a cave, and there they lived. So Lot lost his wife, and all that he had, because he had made his home among the wicked people of Sodom.
And when Abraham, from his tent door on the mountain, looked down toward the plain, the smoke was rising from it, like the smoke of a great furnace.
And that was the end of the cities of the plain, Sodom, and Gomorrah, and the other cities with them. Zoar alone was saved, because Lot, a good man, prayed for it.
Sodom and Gomorrah burned up.
The city mouse lives in a house—
The garden mouse lives in a bower,
He's friendly with the frogs and toads,
And sees the pretty plants in flower.
The city mouse eats bread and cheese—
The garden mouse eats what he can;
We will not grudge him seeds and stalks,
Poor little timid furry man.