Text of Plan #953
  WEEK 2  


My Father's Dragon  by Ruth Stiles Gannett

My Father Runs Away


"W ILD Island is practically cut in two by a very wide and muddy river," continued the cat. "This river begins near one end of the island and flows into the ocean at the other. Now the animals there are very lazy, and they used to hate having to go all the way around the beginning of this river to get to the other side of the island. It made visiting inconvenient and mail deliveries slow, particularly during the Christmas rush. Crocodiles could have carried passengers and mail across the river, but crocodiles are very moody, and not the least bit dependable, and are always looking for something to eat. They don't care if the animals have to walk around the river, so that's just what the animals did for many years."

"But what does all this have to do with airplanes?" asked my father, who thought the cat was taking an awfully long time to explain.

"Be patient, Elmer," said the cat, and she went on with the story. "One day about four months before I arrived on Wild Island a baby dragon fell from a low-flying cloud onto the bank of the river.


He was too young to fly very well, and besides, he had bruised one wing quite badly, so he couldn't get back to his cloud. The animals found him soon afterwards and everybody said, 'Why, this is just exactly what we've needed all these years!' They tied a big rope around his neck and waited for the wing to get well. This was going to end all their crossing-the-river troubles."

"I've never seen a dragon," said my father. "Did you see him? How big is he?"

"Oh, yes, indeed I saw the dragon. In fact, we became great friends," said the cat. "I used to hide in the bushes and talk to him when nobody was around. He's not a very big dragon, about the size of a large black bear, although I imagine he's grown quite a bit since I left. He's got a long tail and yellow and blue stripes. His horn and eyes and the bottoms of his feet are bright red, and he has gold-colored wings."

"Oh, how wonderful!" said my father. "What did the animals do with him when his wing got well?"

"They started training him to carry passengers, and even though he is just a baby dragon, they work him all day and all night too sometimes. They make him carry loads that are much too heavy, and if he complains, they twist his wings and beat him. He's always tied to a stake on a rope just long enough to go across the river. His only friends are the crocodiles, who say 'Hello' to him once a week if they don't forget. Really, he's the most miserable animal I've ever come across. When I left I promised I'd try to help him someday, although I couldn't see how. The rope around his neck is about the biggest, toughest rope you can imagine, with so many knots it would take days to untie them all.

"Anyway, when you were talking about airplanes, you gave me a good idea. Now, I'm quite sure that if you were able to rescue the dragon, which wouldn't be the least bit easy, he'd let you ride him most anywhere, provided you were nice to him, of course. How about trying it?"

"Oh, I'd love to," said my father, and he was so angry at his mother for being rude to the cat that he didn't feel the least bit sad about running away from home for a while.

That very afternoon my father and the cat went down to the docks to see about ships going to the Island of Tangerina. They found out that a ship would be sailing the next week, so right away they started planning for the rescue of the dragon. The cat was a great help in suggesting things for my father to take with him, and she told him everything she knew about Wild Island. Of course, she was too old to go along.

Everything had to be kept very secret, so when they found or bought anything to take on the trip they hid it behind a rock in the park. The night before my father sailed he borrowed his father's knapsack and he and the cat packed everything very carefully. He took chewing gum, two dozen pink lollipops, a package of rubber bands, black rubber boots, a compass, a tooth brush and a tube of tooth paste, six magnifying glasses, a very sharp jackknife, a comb and a hairbrush, seven hair ribbons of different colors, an empty grain bag with a label saying "Cranberry," some clean clothes, and enough food to last my father while he was on the ship. He couldn't live on mice, so he took twenty-five peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and six apples, because that's all the apples he could find in the pantry.

When everything was packed my father and the cat went down to the docks to the ship. A night watchman was on duty, so while the cat made loud queer noises to distract his attention, my father ran over the gang-plank onto the ship. He went down into the hold and hid among some bags of wheat. The ship sailed early the next morning.




Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee

Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee

Resolved to have a battle,

For Tweedle-dum said Tweedle-dee

Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

Just then flew by a monstrous crow,

As big as a tar barrel,

Which frightened both the heroes so,

They quite forgot their quarrel.


  WEEK 2  


Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans  by Edward Eggleston

Marquette in Iowa

T HE first white men to go into the middle of our country were Frenchmen. The French had settled in Canada. They sent missionaries to preach to the Indians in the West. They also sent traders to buy furs from the Indians.

Frenchmen heard the Indians talk about a great river in the West. But no Frenchman had ever gone far enough to see the Mississippi.

Marquette was a priest. Joliet was a trader. These two men were sent to find the great river that the Indians talked about.

They traveled in two birch canoes. They took five men to paddle the canoes. They took some smoked meat to eat on the way. They also took some Indian corn. They had trinkets to trade to the Indians. Hatchets, and beads, and bits of cloth were the money they used to pay the Indians for what they wanted.

The friendly Indians in Wisconsin tried to persuade them not to go. They told them that the Indians on the great river would kill them.

The friendly Indians also told them that there was a demon in one part of the river. They said that this demon roared so loud that he could be heard a long way off. They said that the demon would draw the travelers down into the water. Then they told about great monsters that ate up men and their canoes.

But Marquette and the men with him thought they would risk the journey. They would not turn back for fear of the demon or the monsters.

The two little canoes went down the Wisconsin River. After some days they came to the Mississippi. More than a hundred years before, the Spaniards had seen the lower part of this river. But no white man had ever seen this part of the great river. Marquette did not know that any white man had ever seen any part of the Mississippi.

The two little canoes now turned their bows down the river. Sometimes they saw great herds of buffaloes. Some of these came to the bank of the river to look at the men in the canoes. They had long, shaggy manes, which hung down over their eyes.

For two weeks the travelers paddled down the river. In all this time they did not see any Indians. After they had gone hundreds of miles in this way, they came to a place where they saw tracks in the mud. It was in what is now the State of Iowa.

Marquette and Joliet left the men in their canoes, and followed the tracks. After walking two hours, they came to an Indian village. The Frenchmen came near enough to hear the Indians talking. The Indians did not see them.

Joliet and Marquette did not know whether the Indians would kill them or not. They said a short prayer. Then they stood out in full view, and gave a loud shout.

The Indians came out of their tents like bees. They stared at the strangers. Then four Indians came toward them. These Indians carried a peace pipe. They held this up toward the sun. This meant that they were friendly.

The Indians now offered the peace pipe to the Frenchmen. The Frenchmen took it, and smoked with the Indians. This was the Indian way of saying, "We are friends."


Marquette and Joliet

Marquette asked the Indians what tribe they belonged to. They told him that they were of the tribe called the Illinois.

They took Joliet and Marquette into their village. They came to the door of a large wig-wam. A chief stood in the door. He shaded his eyes with both hands, as if the sun were shining in his face. Then he made a little speech.

He said, "Frenchmen, how bright the sun shines when you come to see us! We are all waiting for you. You shall now come into our houses in peace."

The Illinois Indians made a feast for their new friends. First they had mush of corn meal, with fat meat in it. One of the Indians fed the Frenchmen as though they were babies. He put mush into their mouths with a large spoon.

Then came some fish. The Indian that fed the visitors picked out the bones with his fingers. Then he put the pieces of fish into their mouths. After this they had some roasted dog. The Frenchmen did not like this. Last, they were fed with buffalo meat.

The next morning six hundred Indians went to the canoes to tell the Frenchmen good-by. They gave Marquette a young Indian slave. And they gave him a peace pipe to carry with him.


A. A. Milne

Buckingham Palace

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace—

Christopher Robin went down with Alice.

Alice is marrying one of the guard.

"A soldier's life is terrible hard,"

Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace—

Christopher Robin went down with Alice.

We saw a guard in a sentry-box.

"One of the sergeants looks after their socks,"

Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace—

Christopher Robin went down with Alice.

We looked for the King, but he never came.

"Well, God take care of him, all the same,"

Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace—

Christopher Robin went down with Alice.

They've great big parties inside the grounds.

"I wouldn't be King for a hundred pounds,"

Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace—

Christopher Robin went down with Alice.

A face looked out, but it wasn't the King's.

"He's much too busy a-signing things,"

Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace—

Christopher Robin went down with Alice.

"Do you think the King knows all about me?"

"Sure to, dear, but it's time for tea,"

Says Alice.


  WEEK 2  


Among the Farmyard People  by Clara Dillingham Pierson

The Lonely Little Pig


O NE day the Brown Hog called to her twelve young Pigs and their ten older brothers and sisters, "Look! look! What is in that cage?"

The twenty-two stubby snouts that were thrust through the opening of the rail-fence were quivering with eagerness and impatience. Their owners wished to know all that was happening, and the old mother's eyes were not so sharp as they had once been, so if the Pigs wanted to know the news, they must stop their rooting to find it out. Bits of the soft brown earth clung to their snouts and trembled as they breathed.

"It looks like a Pig," they said, "only it is white."

"It is a Pig then," grunted their mother, as she lay in the shade of an oak tree. "There are white Pigs, although I never fancied the color. It looks too cold and clean. Brown is more to my taste, brown or black. Your poor father was brown and black, and a finer looking Hog I never saw. Ugh! Ugh!" And she buried her eyes in the loose earth. The Pigs looked at her and then at each other. They did not often speak of their father. Indeed the younger ones did not remember him at all. One of the Cows said he had such a bad temper that the farmer sent him away, and it is certain that none of them had seen him since the day he was driven down the lane.

While they were thinking of this and feeling rather sad, the wagon turned into their lane and they could plainly see the Pig inside. She was white and quite beautiful in her piggish way. Her ears stood up stiffly, her snout was as stubby as though it had been broken off, her eyes were very small, and her tail had the right curl. When she squealed they could see her sharp teeth, and when she put her feet up on the wooden bars of her rough cage, they noticed the fine hoofs on the two big toes of each foot and the two little toes high on the back of her legs, each with its tiny hoof. She was riding in great style, and it is no wonder that the twenty-two Brown Pigs with black spots and black feet opened their eyes very wide. They did not know that the farmer brought her in this way because he was in a hurry, and Pigs will not make haste when farmers want them to. The Hogs are a queer family, and the Off Ox spoke truly when he said that the only way to make one hurry ahead is to tie a rope to his leg and pull back, they are so sure to be contrary.

"She's coming here!" the Brown Pigs cried. "Oh, Mother, she's coming here! We're going to see the men take her out of her cage."

The old Hog grunted and staggered to her feet to go with them, but she was fat and slow of motion, so that by the time she was fairly standing, they were far down the field and running helter-skelter by the side of the fence. As she stared dully after them she could see the twenty-two curly tails bobbing along, and she heard the soft patter of eighty-eight sharp little double hoofs on the earth.

"Ugh!" she grunted. "Ugh! Ugh! I am too late to go. Never mind! They will tell me all about it, and I can take a nap. I haven't slept half the time to-day, and I need rest."

Just as the Mother Hog lay down again, the men lifted the White Pig from the wagon, cage and all, so she began to squeal, and she squealed and squealed and squealed and squealed until she was set free in the field with the Brown Pigs. Nobody had touched her and nobody had hurt her, but it was all so strange and new that she thought it would make her feel better to squeal. When she was out of her cage and in the field, she planted her hoofs firmly in the ground, looked squarely at the Brown Pigs, and grunted a pleasant, good-natured grunt. The Brown Pigs planted their hoofs in the ground and grunted and stared. They didn't ask her to go rooting with them, and not one of the ten big Pigs or the twelve little Pigs said, "We are glad to see you."

There is no telling how long they would have stood there if the Horses had not turned the wagon just then. The minute the wheels began to grate on the side of the box, every Brown Pig whirled around and ran off.


Every brown pig ran off.

The poor little White Pig did not know what to make of it. She knew that she had not done anything wrong. She wondered if they didn't mean to speak to her. At first she thought she would run after them and ask to root with them, but then she remembered something her mother had told her when she was so young that she was pink. It was this: "When you don't know what to do, go to sleep." So she lay down and took a nap.

The Brown Pigs did not awaken their mother, and when they stopped in the fence-corner one of them said to their big sister, "What made you run?"

"Oh, nothing," said she.

"And why did you run?" the little Pigs asked their big brother.

"Because," he answered.

After a while somebody said, "Let's go back to where the White Pig is."

"Oh, no," said somebody else, "don't let's! She can come over here if she wants to, and it isn't nearly so nice there."

You see, they were very rude Pigs and not at all well brought up. Their mother should have taught them to think of others and be kind, which is really all there is to politeness. But then, she had very little time left from sleeping, and it took her all of that for eating, so her children had no manners at all.

At last the White Pig opened her round eyes and saw all the Brown Pigs at the farther end of the field. "Ugh!" said she to herself, "Ugh! I must decide what to do before they see that I am awake." She lay there and tried to think what her mother, who came of a very fine family, had told her before she left. "If you have nobody to play with," her mother had said, "don't stop to think about it, and don't act as though you cared. Have a good time by yourself and you will soon have company. If you cannot enjoy yourself, you must not expect others to enjoy you."

"That is what I will do," exclaimed the White Pig. "My mother always gives her children good advice when they go out into the world, and she is right when she says that Pigs of fine family should have fine manners. I will never forget that I am a Yorkshire. I'm glad I didn't say anything mean."

So the White Pig rooted in the sunshine and wallowed in the warm brown earth that she had stirred up with her pink snout. Once in a while she would run to the fence to watch somebody in the lane, and before she knew it she was grunting contentedly to herself. "Really," she said, "I am almost having a good time. I will keep on making believe that I would rather do this than anything else."

* * * * * * *

The big sister of the Brown Pigs looked over to the White Pig and said, "She's having lots of fun all by herself, it seems to me."

Big brother raised his head. "Let's call her over here," he answered.

"Oh, do!" cried the twelve little Pigs, wriggling their tails. "She looks so full of fun."

"Call her yourself," said the big sister to the big brother.

"Ugh!" called he, "Ugh! Ugh! Don't you want to come over with us, White Pig?"

You can imagine how the White Pig felt when she heard this; how her small eyes twinkled and the corners of her mouth turned up more than ever. She was just about to scamper over and root with them, when she remembered something else that her mother had told her: "Never run after other Pigs. Let them run after you. Then they will think more of you."

She called back, "I'm having too good a time here to leave my rooting-ground. Won't you come over here?"

"Come on," cried all the little Pigs to each other. "Beat you there!"

They ate and talked and slept together all afternoon, and when the Brown Hog called her children home, they and the White Pig were the best of friends. "Just think," they said to their mother, "the White Pig let us visit her, and she is just as nice as she can be."

The White Pig in her corner of the pen heard this and smiled to herself. "My mother was right," she said; " 'Have a good time alone, and everybody will want to come.' "




Little Jack Frost

Little Jack Frost went up the hill,

Watching the stars and the moon so still—

Watching the stars and the moon so bright

And laughing aloud with all his might.

Little Jack Frost ran down the hill,

Late in the night when the winds were still,

Late in the fall when the leaves fell down

Red and yellow and faded brown.

Little Jack Frost walked through the trees;

"Ah," sighed the flowers, "we freeze, we freeze!"

"Ah," sighed the grasses, "we die, we die!"

Said little Jack Frost, "Good-by, good-by."

Little Jack Frost tripped 'round and 'round

Spreading much snow on the frozen ground,

Nipping the breezes, icing the streams,

Chilling the warmth of the sun's bright beams.

But when Dame Nature brought back the spring,

Brought back the birds that chirp and sing,

Melted the snow and warmed the sky,

Little Jack Frost went pouting by.

The flowers opened their eyes of blue,

Green buds peeped out and grasses grew;

It was so warm and scorched him so,

Little Jack Frost was glad to go.


  WEEK 2  


Fairy Tales Too Good To Miss—Up the Stairs  by Lisa M. Ripperton

Brier Rose

A LONG time ago there lived a king and a queen, who said every day, "If only we had a child"; but for a long time they had none.

It fell out once, as the Queen was bathing, that a frog crept out of the water on to the land and said to her: "Your wish shall be fulfilled; before a year has passed you shall bring a daughter into the world."

The frog's words came true. The Queen had a little girl who was so beautiful that the King could not contain himself for joy, and prepared a great feast. He invited not only his relations, friends, and acquaintances, but the fairies, in order that they might be favorably and kindly disposed toward the child. There were thirteen of them in the kingdom, but as the King had only twelve golden plates for them to eat off, one of the fairies had to stay at home.


The feast was held with all splendor, and when it came to an end the fairies all presented the child with a magic gift. One gave her virtue, another beauty, a third riches, and so on, with everything in the world that she could wish for.

When eleven of the fairies had said their say, the thirteenth suddenly appeared. She wanted to revenge herself for not having been invited. Without greeting anyone, or even glancing at the company, she called out in a loud voice, "The Princess shall prick herself with a distaff in her fifteenth year and shall fall down dead"; and without another word she turned; and left the hall.

Everyone was terror-stricken, but the twelfth fairy, whose wish was still unspoken, stepped forward. She could not cancel the curse, but could only soften it, so she said: "It shall not be death, but a deep sleep lasting a hundred years, into which your daughter shall fall."

The King was so anxious to guard his dear child from the misfortune that he sent out a command that all the distaffs in the whole kingdom should be burned.

All the promises of the fairies came true.

The Princess grew up so beautiful, modest, kind, and clever that everyone who saw her could not but love her. Now it happened that on the very day when she was fifteen years old the King and Queen were away from home, and the Princess was left quite alone in the castle. She wandered about over the whole place, looking at rooms and halls as she pleased, and at last she came to an old tower. She ascended a narrow, winding staircase and reached a little door. A rusty key was sticking in the lock, and when she turned it the door flew open. In a little room sat an old woman with a spindle, busily spinning her flax.

"Good day, Granny," said the Princess; "what are you doing?"


"I am spinning," said the old woman, and nodded her head. "What is the thing that whirls round so merrily?" asked the Princess; and she took the spindle and tried to spin too.

But she had scarcely touched it before the curse was fulfilled, and she pricked her finger with the spindle. The instant she felt the prick she fell upon the bed which was standing near, and lay still in a deep sleep which spread over the whole castle.

The King and Queen, who had just come home and had stepped into the hall, went to sleep, and all their courtiers with them. The horses went to sleep in the stable, the dogs in the yard, the doves on the roof, the flies on the wall; yes, even the fire flickering on the hearth grew still and went to sleep, and the roast meat stopped crackling; and the cook, who was pulling the scullion's hair because he had made some mistake, let him go and went to sleep. And the wind dropped, and on the trees in front of the castle not a leaf stirred.


But round the castle a hedge of brier roses began to grow up; every year it grew higher, till at last it surrounded the whole castle so that nothing could be seen of it, not even the flags on the roof.

But there was a legend in the land about the lovely sleeping Brier Rose, as the King's daughter was called, and from time to time princes came and tried to force a way through the hedge into the castle. But they found it impossible, for the thorns, as though they had hands, held them fast, and the princes remained caught in them without being able to free themselves, and so died a miserable death.

After many, many years a prince came again to the country and heard an old man tell of the castle which stood behind the brier hedge, in which a most beautiful maiden called Brier Rose had been asleep for the last hundred years, and with her slept the King, Queen, and all her courtiers. He knew also, from his grandfather, that many princes had already come and sought to pierce through the brier hedge, and had remained caught in it and died a sad death.


Then the young Prince said: "I am not afraid; I am determined to go and look upon the lovely Brier Rose."

The good old man did all in his power to dissuade him, but the Prince would not listen to his words.

Now, however, the hundred years were just ended, and the day had come when Brier Rose was to wake up again. When the Prince approached the brier hedge it was in blossom, and was covered with beautiful large flowers which made way for him of their own accord and let him pass unharmed, and then closed up again into a hedge behind him.

In the courtyard he saw the horses and dappled hounds lying asleep, on the roof sat the doves with their heads under their wings, and when he went into the house the flies were asleep on the walls, and near the throne lay the King and Queen; in the kitchen was the cook, with his hand raised as though about to strike the scullion, and the maid sat with the black fowl before her which she was about to pluck.


He went on farther, and all was so still, that he could hear his own breathing. At last he reached the tower, and opened the door into the little room where Brier Rose was asleep. There she lay, looking so beautiful that he could not take his eyes off her; he bent down and gave her a kiss. As he touched her, Brier Rose opened her eyes and looked quite sweetly at him.


Then they went down together; and the King and the Queen and all the courtiers woke up, and looked at each other with astonished eyes. The horses in the stable stood up and shook themselves, the hounds leaped about and wagged their tails, the doves on the roof lifted their heads from under their wings, looked around, and flew into the fields; the flies on the walls began to crawl again, the fire in the kitchen roused itself and blazed up and cooked the food, the meat began to crackle, and the cook boxed the scullion's ears so soundly that he screamed aloud, while the maid finished plucking the fowl. Then the wedding of the Prince and Brier Rose was celebrated with all splendor, and they lived happily till they died.


Robert Louis Stevenson

The Land of Counterpane

When I was sick and lay a-bed,

I had two pillows at my head,

And all my toys beside me lay,

To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so

I watched my leaden soldiers go,

With different uniforms and drills,

Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets

All up and down among the sheets;

Or brought my trees and houses out,

And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still

That sits upon the pillow-hill,

And sees before him, dale and plain,

The pleasant land of counterpane.


  WEEK 2  


On the Shores of the Great Sea  by M. B. Synge

Into Africa

"And Abraham went down into Egypt to sojourn there."

—Genesis xii. 10.

T HE land of Canaan was now before him. It was a low-lying country, now marked on modern maps as Syria,—the old highway between the tract of land known as Asia and that known now as Africa. Its coast was washed by the blue sea, known to men of old time as the Great Sea, on the waters of which no one had as yet ventured to trust themselves.

As pilgrims travel now in the East, so would Abraham have travelled then through this land of Canaan, with his wife and young Lot. With all his possessions heaped high on the backs of camels and asses, with his slaves running along by his side, with his flocks of sheep and goats moving under the towering forms of the camels, he would start slowly into the new country. Abraham himself, in a scarlet robe, as chief of the tribe, would guide the march, settling where the nightly tent should be pitched, and arranging pasture and water for the flocks and herds. On and on, under the fiercely blazing sun, the long caravan would slowly travel, ever journeying southwards.

He was the first explorer of a new land of whom there is a full account.

But while he yet journeyed, there came on one of those droughts to which the land of Canaan was always subject, when day after day the sky was blue and cloudless, when no rains fell to water the thirsty land, and Abraham went on still farther south till he reached Africa.

Now, while the great colony on the banks of the river Euphrates was growing and thriving away in Asia, another colony was growing along the banks of the Nile—the greatest river in Africa. Here family after family had come, attracted by the fertile land watered by the Nile, in just the same way as the Chaldeans had settled by the Euphrates. And this country was known as Egypt—the gift of the Nile.

So out of the shadowland of early history we get these two settlements—the Chaldeans on the Euphrates in Asia and the Egyptians on the Nile in Africa. They were hundreds of miles apart, and though men may have journeyed from one to the other before, yet Abraham is the first traveller of whom we have any record.

It must have been with feelings of awe that he approached the land of Egypt. He might be denied the corn he had come hither to obtain, he might be slain, unknown dangers and difficulties might lie before him. He must have been surprised at what he found in Egypt, after all. He found a very old settlement, as old as—perhaps older than—that from which he had come.

The Egyptians could tell him stories of a king, that had ruled over them thousands of years ago, called Menes, a king who had built their wonderful city of Memphis on the Nile, where the modern town of Cairo stands to-day. They could point to their thirty pyramids, the tombs of their kings, and the great temple of the Sphinx, standing round about their old city, even as some of them stand round about Cairo to-day.

They could tell Abraham the story of how those pyramids were built; of the immense granite blocks which were brought five hundred miles; of the great causeway, which took ten years to construct, along which these blocks could be carried; of the twenty years it took to build one pyramid, and the thousands and thousands of men employed in the work.


And under these massive structures the old Eastern kings slept their last sleep; while to-day we still wonder at the industry and patience of the ancient Egyptians.

"Soldiers," said the great Napoleon, as he led the French army through the heart of Egypt some hundred years ago—"Soldiers, forty centuries look down upon you, from the top of the pyramids."

Indeed, later on, when roads cut up the countries of the earth, and ships sailed on the seas, these old pyramids of Egypt were ranked among the Seven Wonders of the World.

This strange land to which Abraham had come was a land of plenty; there was corn growing along the fertile valley, for the mighty Nile depended not on local rains to water the earth. And the great king, or Pharaoh, as he was called, treated Abraham well. It is said that the Chaldean explorer taught the Egyptians astronomy; he certainly did well in the strange land, and when he left, Pharaoh gave him sheep and oxen, men-servants and maid-servants, and Abraham was a very rich man.


Robert Louis Stevenson


Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,

A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;

Blinks but an hour or two; and then,

A blood-red orange, sets again.

Before the stars have left the skies,

At morning in the dark I rise;

And shivering in my nakedness,

By the cold candle, bathe and dress.

Close by the jolly fire I sit

To warm my frozen bones a bit;

Or with a reindeer-sled, explore

The colder countries round the door.

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap

Me in my comforter and cap;

The cold wind burns my face, and blows

Its frosty pepper up my nose.

Black are my steps on silver sod;

Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;

And tree and house, and hill and lake,

Are frosted like a wedding cake.


  WEEK 2  


The Swiss Twins  by Lucy Fitch Perkins

The Twins Learn a New Trade

Part 1 of 2


A T five o'clock the next morning Father and Mother Adolf were already up, and the cuckoo woke Fritz, but though he shouted five times with all his might and main, neither Seppi nor Leneli stirred in their sleep.

"Fritz, go wake the Twins," said Mother Adolf, when he came to the door of the shed where she was milking the goats. "Only don't wake the baby. I want her to sleep as long as she will."

"Yes, Mother," said Fritz dutifully, and he was off at once, leaping up the creaky stairs three steps at a time.

He went first to Leneli's bed and tickled her toes. She drew up her knees and slept on. Then he went to Seppi's bed, and when shaking and rolling over failed to rouse him, he took him by one leg and pulled him out of bed. Seppi woke up with a roar and cast himself upon Fritz, and in a moment the two boys were rolling about on the floor, yelling like Indians. The uproar woke Leneli, and the baby too, and Mother Adolf, hearing the noise, came running from the goat-shed just in time to find Seppi sitting on top of Fritz beating time on his stomach to a tune which he was singing at the top of his lungs. The baby was crowing with delight as she watched the scuffle from Leneli's arms.

Mother Adolf gazed upon this lively scene with dismay. Then she picked Seppi off Fritz's stomach and gazed sternly at her oldest son. "Fritz," said she, "I told you to be quiet and not wake the baby."

"I was quiet," said Fritz, sitting up. "I was just as quiet as I could be, but they wouldn't wake up that way, so I had to pull Seppi out of bed; there was no other way to get him up." He looked up at his mother with such honest eyes that in spite of herself her lips twitched and then she smiled outright.

"I should have known better than to send such a great overgrown pup of a boy as you on such an errand," she said. "Bello would have done it better. Next time I shall send him.

"And now, since you are all awake, I will tell you the great news that Father told me last night. He has been chosen by the commune to take the herds of the village up to the high alps to be gone all summer. He will take Fritz with him to guard the cattle while he makes the cheese. There is no better cheese-maker in all the mountains than your father, and that is why the commune chose him," she finished proudly.

More than anything else in the world, every boy in that part of Switzerland longs to go with the herds to the high mountain pastures for the summer, and Fritz was so delighted that he turned a somersault at once to express his feelings. When he was right side up again, a puzzled look came over his face, and he said, "Who will take care of our own goats?"

"Ah," answered his mother, and she sighed a little. "There is no one but Seppi and Leneli. Together they must fill your place, and you, Fritz, must take them with you to-day up the mountain to learn the way and begin their work."

"To-day! This very day?" screamed the Twins. They had never been up to the goat-pastures in their lives, and it was a most exciting event.

Then Leneli thought of her mother. She flung her arms about her neck. "But who will stay with you, dear Mother?" she cried. "All day you will be alone, with everything to do and no one to speak to but the baby."

"Yes," sighed the mother, "that is true. It will be a long, lonely summer for me, but there is no other way, so we must each do our part bravely and not complain. It is good fortune that Father and Fritz will both be earning money in the alps, and, with wise old Bello to help you, you will soon be as good goatherds as your brother. Come, now, hurry and eat your breakfasts, for the goats are already milked and impatient to be gone."

She took Roseli in her arms and disappeared down the stairs, and when, a few moments later, the Twins and Fritz came into the kitchen, she had their breakfast of bread and milk ready for them, and their luncheon of bread and cheese wrapped in a clean white cloth for Fritz to put in his pocket.

Father Adolf came back from the garden, where he had been hoeing potatoes, to see the little procession start away for the hills. First came the goats, frisking about in the fresh morning air and jingling all their bells. Then came Bello, looking very important, then Fritz with a cock's feather in his cap and his little horn and his cup slung over his shoulder, and last of all the Twins.


"It's a long way, my children," said Mother Adolf, as she kissed them good-bye. "Your legs will get tired, but you must climb on just the same. If every one stopped when he was tired, the world's work would never be done. Learn the way carefully and remember always to pray if any danger comes. You are very near the good God on the mountain, and He will take care of you if you ask Him, never fear."

"Obey Fritz," said Father Adolf, "and do not stray off by yourselves. Stay always with Fritz and the goats."

"We will," cried the Twins, and away they ran to join their brother, who was already some little distance ahead of them. They turned as the path rounded the great cliff where the echoes lived, and the Twins waved their hands, while Fritz played his merry little tune on the horn. Then the rocks hid them from view, and the long climb began in earnest.


George MacDonald

The Baby

Where did you come from, baby dear?

Out of the everywhere into the here.

Where did you get your eyes so blue?

Out of the sky as I came through.

What makes the light in them sparkle and spin?

Some of the starry spikes left in.

Where did you get that little tear?

I found it waiting when I got here.

What makes your forehead so smooth and high?

A soft hand stroked it as I went by.

What makes your cheek like a warm, white rose?

Something better than any one knows.

Whence that three-cornered smile of bliss?

Three angels gave me at once a kiss.

Where did you get that pearly ear?

God spoke, and it came out to hear.

Where did you get those arms and hands?

Love made itself into hooks and bands.

Feet, whence did you come, you darling things?

From the same box as the cherub's wings.

How did they all just come to be you?

God thought about me, and so I grew.

But how did you come to us, you dear?

God thought of you, and so I am here.


  WEEK 2  


Our Island Saints  by Amy Steedman

Saint Kentigern

Part 2 of 2

So time went on, and Kentigern grew into a tall lad, the comfort and joy of his master. He was almost a man now, and it was time that he should leave the monastery and his sheltered life there, and find his own work in the world.

Not in anger this time did he plan his departure, but with a humble heart, and he prayed to God for guidance. Not only was he the cause of much quarrelling and jealousy among the rest, but, what was even worse, people had begun to praise and flatter him and call him a wonderful boy, and he felt sure that it was time he should go. So he made up his mind to leave the monastery, and early one morning, after his work was done, he started forth.

It was to the river that Kentigern bent his steps, scarcely knowing which way to turn, but drawn to the place where the shepherds' fire had warmed him as a tiny baby, where the cry of the sea-birds and the moan of the sea had drowned his first feeble wail. Journeying on and on by the side of the winding Forth, he reached at last a place where a bridge spanned the silver river. The water was flowing quietly beneath him as he crossed the bridge, but when he had reached the other side it rose higher and higher in a great spate until the bridge was entirely swamped. Then, as Kentigern stood and watched the furious torrent, he saw his old master on the opposite bank, leaning with one hand upon his staff and with the other beckoning him to return. The aged saint had followed him all the long way from the monastery, and his voice came sounding mournfully across the rushing waters.

"Alas, my son, light of my eyes, staff of my old age, wherefore dost thou leave me?"

"My father," cried Kentigern, "it grieves me sorely, but I must go forth to my work. Thou knowest that as truly as I do."

"Then let me come with thee, my son," cried the old man. "Thou hast been mine since the day when the angels sang of thy birth, and the shepherds placed thee in my arms."

"I know it," said the boy, and he stretched out his arms with a loving gesture towards the old man, "but I must go forth, and my work lies yonder, while thy work lies behind. Fare thee well, and God guard and keep thee until the time when He shall take thee home."

Saint Servanus knew that the boy was right, and that he must finish his life-work alone, while the strong young lad, the herald of the dawn, should carry the light into the dark places of the land. Sorrowfully, then, he returned to the monastery, and Kentigern journeyed on alone.

For a while Kentigern lived and worked at Camock, but as the years went by, the fame of his holy life and the good deeds which he did reached the ears of the king of that country.

The Church was then in evil plight, for although the people had been taught the true religion in days gone by, they had sadly lapsed, and many had learned to worship idols and believe in strange gods, as did the pagans who had invaded their land.

The King and the clergy, therefore, of the Cambrian region sought to strengthen and fortify the Church, and what better weapon could they find for their purpose than this wonderful young man, whose influence over people was so marvellous and who lived such a pure and blameless life?

But when they came to tell Kentigern that they had decided to make him a bishop, he was amazed and dismayed.

"I am too young," he said.

"Thy ways are staid, and thou hast much learning," they answered.

"It would take me from my prayers and meditations," urged Kentigern.

"There are other souls to be saved besides thine own," they gravely answered.

Then Kentigern bowed his head, and said sadly, "But I am not worthy"; and they answered, "Because thou thinkest thyself unworthy, we are all the more certain that thou art the one man we seek."

There was more talk after this, and at last Kentigern saw that there was no other way but to accept the post of honour and difficulty. A bishop from Ireland was ready to consecrate him to his high office, and he was made Bishop of Glesgu, a little place on the banks of the Clyde. There a wattled church was built and a fortified monastery, and there, in the midst of a wild country and a still wilder people, Kentigern began his rule. Little by little, houses were built close around the church and monastery until a village was formed. Then the village became a town, and as the years rolled by the town grew into the great city of Glasgow.

But in the days of Saint Kentigern Glesgu meant only "the dear family," for so the saint named the little gathering of God's servants who dwelt together under one rule and had all things in common, seeking only to do God's service.

There was no jealousy or ill-feeling now for Kentigern to fight against, for the brethren all loved their bishop and obeyed him as their master. But it was no life of ease to which he was called, but one of difficulty, hardship, and strenuous work. Early in the morning he rose from his bed, which boasted no soft pillow nor warm covering, and however cold the morning, he plunged into the river close by to brace his body for his day's work. The clothes he wore were rough and coarse below, but above he wore a pure white alb or cloak and the stole of his office over his shoulder. And well might the white folds of his mantle be to men a sign of the pure childlike soul that dwelt in the strong man's body.

It is said that, as he knelt before the altar, the prayers which rose from "the golden censer of his heart" seemed to reach to the very gates of heaven, for often as the faithful people knelt around him they saw a white dove with a golden beak descend and hover above his head, overshadowing with its snowy wings the altar and the kneeling bishop.

There was little rest for the servants of God in those days. Far and near they journeyed among the people scattered around the wild countryside. However far the journey, Kentigern always went on foot, and there was no hardship which he shrank from enduring if he could but bring one lost sheep back into the fold. Preaching, teaching, building churches, strengthening and leading back those that had wandered from the True Light, his work went on from day to day.

But once in the year, when the season of Lent came round, Kentigern left his brethren and went to dwell alone in a far-off cave. It was the time when our Lord had gone into the wilderness to wrestle with the tempter, and well did Kentigern know how blessed it was to be alone with God.

In the lonely cave there was nothing to chain his thoughts to earth and men. The song of the birds, the rippling laughter of the burns unlocked from their winter bonds of ice, the little grey furry caps of the willow buds, the soft green of the sprouting grass, everything fitted in with the praise and prayer which filled his days.

Then when Good Friday came he returned to his brethren, wan and wasted indeed with fasting, but with a face that seemed to reflect the light of heaven, so near to its gates had he dwelt.

But although Kentigern fasted and endured many hardships, he had always a happy cheerful face, and he had no belief in gloomy looks. Often he would tell his brethren that what he disliked above all was a hypocrite who went about sighing with eyes cast down and a long face. They seemed, he said, to think they were walking after the manner of turtle-doves, whereas in reality it was the peacock they resembled. And what was the use of looking down on the dust when eyes might be lifted to heaven? No, hypocrisy was one of the little foxes that spoiled the grapes, and God loved those who did their work with a cheerful countenance and simplicity of heart.

So many years passed away and then evil times befell the "dear family" at Glesgu. Another king now reigned, one who hated the Church and talked with scornful contempt of the bishop and his workers. The seasons, too, had been bad and the harvest poor, and Kentigern found that there was no corn to feed the brethren nor to give to the poor who came to him for aid.

It was surely the duty of the King to help his people, so the bishop went boldly to the court and asked that out of his abundance the King would spare corn for his hungry people.

The King laughed aloud at the request and answered with mocking words.

"Thou who teachest others to cast their burden upon the Lord, should surely practise thyself the same. How is it that thou who fearest God art poor and hungry, while I, who have never sought the kingdom of heaven, have all things I can desire, and Plenty smileth upon me? Therefore what thou preachest is a lie."

Calmly then did Kentigern make answer that God has often seen fit to afflict the just and allow the wicked to flourish like a green bay tree.

This enraged the King still further, and he bade Kentigern work a miracle if he could.

"If, without the aid of human hands and trusting only in thy God, thou canst transfer to thy house all the grain that is in my barns, I will yield it to thee as a gift," he said, with a mocking laugh.

Kentigern left the King, carrying with him an anxious heavy heart. There were so many hungry mouths to fill and all depended upon him. But not for a moment did he lose his faith in the goodness of God, and he prayed earnestly to Him that the daily bread might be provided.

That very night a great storm came sweeping down the river and the waters began to rise. Higher and higher swelled the torrent until it overflowed the river bank, and swirling round the King's barns, it lifted them bodily from the ground and carried them out on to the river. There the current caught them and swept them along till they reached the place where Kentigern dwelt, where it left them high and dry, with not so much as a grain of corn spoilt by the water. So God took the King's gift to feed His people.

The mocking King was filled with fury when he learned what had happened, and so cruel became his persecution of Kentigern and his brethren, that they at last determined to leave the monastery and to seek afar off some place where they might dwell in peace.

Travelling southward, Kentigern dwelt some time in Cumberland, where, as was his custom wherever he rested, he erected a stone cross, as a sign of his faith, at a little place still known as Crossfell. Then, travelling on by the seashore, he sought in the wild country for some convenient place where he might found another home.

There is a legend that tells of a white boar that guided him, but it was more likely a kindly stream like his own river Clyde which led him by its silver thread to a place which seemed all that he could wish.

They were no mere dreamers these monks of old, and they did not look for miracles to work for them when the work could be done with their own hands. The wilderness was soon humming as with a hive of bees, and in a wonderfully short space of time trees were cut down, fashioned into beams, fitted together, and a great wooden church and monastery was built to the glory of God.

But it seemed as if Kentigern was never to be free from persecution, for scarcely was the monastery finished when the prince of North Britain came riding through the forest with his followers, and demanded what these strangers meant by settling on his land.

In vain did Kentigern answer peaceably. The prince would not be appeased, and in his anger he threatened to pull down the church and chase the builders off the land.

Then a strange thing happened, for suddenly the light of day faded from the eyes of the angry man and black darkness came swiftly over him.

"What is this?" he cried, staggering forward, stretching out helpless groping hands. "The light is gone. I can see nothing."

In haste his men came crowding round and lifted him up, but they saw at once that he was blind and they knew not what to do.

"Bring him hither to me," said Kentigern, and the men led him forward, guiding his stumbling steps.

The heart of the good bishop was touched by the sight of the helpless man, and he earnestly prayed to God that He would lighten the darkness and restore sight to those dull eyes. Even as he prayed the light returned, and the grateful prince knelt at the feet of the saint and kissed the hem of his robe in reverence and thankfulness.

There was no more talk of pulling down the church or chasing the brethren, but the prince humbly sat at Kentigern's feet to be taught to know the True Light which alone could lighten the darkness of his mind.

So things prospered greatly at the new monastery, which grew even greater and more powerful than the old home at Glesgu. But just as Kentigern was beginning to dream of a rest in his old age and thought to end his days in his peaceful new home, he was called once again to fresh labours.

A new king had come to reign over the Cambrian kingdom; one who loved the Church, and strove to establish it once more in his kingdom. Surely, then, the first thing to be done was to send for the good bishop and bid the shepherd return to gather together his flock once more in the old home at Glesgu.

It was hard to leave the home he had made and begin all over again the old work and struggle, but Kentigern never hesitated. The new monastery was left under the care of a faithful brother, Saint Asaph, and Kentigern once more turned his face northwards and returned to his native land.

Many years he laboured, and with him returned peace and prosperity, for the brethren were busy skilled workers, and they taught the people to work the land to the best advantage. The King, too, put all things in his kingdom under the rule of the wise bishop, so that his word was law throughout the country. And it is said that the holy Saint Columba journeyed from his island home to greet the saint whose fame had spread even as far as Iona.

So the herald of the dawn did indeed bring light into the dark places of his beloved land, and when his work was done on the morn of the Epiphany, when the silver lamp of the morning star was paling in the light of the coming dawn, the angels came to carry home the soul of him at whose birth they had sung their "Gloria in Excelsis." And surely now their song must have risen in still higher triumph, for his warfare was accomplished, the work of the weary old man was finished, and behold, his soul was still as the soul of a little child!


Christina Georgina Rossetti

The Year

January cold desolate;

February all dripping wet;

March wind ranges;

April changes;

Birds sing in tune

To flowers of May,

And sunny June

Brings longest day;

In scorched July

The storm-clouds fly


August bears corn,

September fruit;

In rough October

Earth must disrobe her;

Stars fall and shoot

In keen November;

And night is long

And cold is strong

In bleak December.