WEEK 21 |
ERY, very quietly, making sure that no one should see her, Polynesia then slipped out at the back of the tree and flew across to the prison.
She found Gub-Gub poking his nose through the bars of the window, trying to sniff the cooking-smells that came from the palace-kitchen. She told the pig to bring the Doctor to the window because she wanted to speak to him. So Gub-Gub went and woke the Doctor who was taking a nap.
"Listen," whispered the parrot, when John Dolittle's face appeared: "Prince Bumpo is coming here to-night to see you. And you've got to find some way to turn him white. But be sure to make him promise you first that he will open the prison-door and find a ship for you to cross the sea in."
"This is all very well," said the Doctor. "But it isn't so easy to turn a black man white. You speak as though he were a dress to be re-dyed. It's not so simple. 'Shall the leopard change his spots, or the Ethiopian his skin,' you know?"
"I don't know anything about that," said Polynesia impatiently. "But you must turn this man white. Think of a way—think hard. You've got plenty of medicines left in the bag. He'll do anything for you if you change his color. It is your only chance to get out of prison."
"Well, I suppose it might be possible," said the Doctor. "Let me see—," and he
went over to his medicine-bag, murmuring something about "liberated chlorine on
animal-pigment—perhaps zinc-ointment, as a temporary measure,
Well, that night Prince Bumpo came secretly to the Doctor in prison and said to him,
"White Man, I am an unhappy prince. Years ago I went in search of The Sleeping Beauty, whom I had read of in a book. And having traveled through the world many days, I at last found her and kissed the lady very gently to awaken her—as the book said I should. 'Tis true indeed that she awoke. But when she saw my face she cried out, 'Oh, he's black!' And she ran away and wouldn't marry me—but went to sleep again somewhere else. So I came back, full of sadness, to my father's kingdom. Now I hear that you are a wonderful magician and have many powerful potions. So I come to you for help. If you will turn me white, so that I may go back to The Sleeping Beauty, I will give you half my kingdom and anything besides you ask."
"Prince Bumpo," said the Doctor, looking thoughtfully at the bottles in his medicine-bag, "supposing I made your hair a nice blonde color—would not that do instead to make you happy?"
"No," said Bumpo. "Nothing else will satisfy me. I must be a white prince."
"You know it is very hard to change the color of a prince," said the Doctor—"one of the hardest things a magician can do. You only want your face white, do you not?"
"Yes, that is all," said Bumpo. "Because I shall wear shining armor and gauntlets of steel, like the other white princes, and ride on a horse."
"Must your face be white all over?" asked the Doctor.
"Yes, all over," said Bumpo—"and I would like my eyes blue too, but I suppose that would be very hard to do."
"Yes, it would," said the Doctor quickly. "Well, I will do what I can for you. You will have to be very patient though—you know with some medicines you can never be very sure. I might have to try two or three times. You have a strong skin—yes? Well that's all right. Now come over here by the light—Oh, but before I do anything, you must first go down to the beach and get a ship ready, with food in it, to take me across the sea. Do not speak a word of this to any one. And when I have done as you ask, you must let me and all my animals out of prison. Promise—by the crown of Jolliginki!"
So the Prince promised and went away to get a ship ready at the seashore.
When he came back and said that it was done, the Doctor asked Dab-Dab to bring a basin. Then he mixed a lot of medicines in the basin and told Bumpo to dip his face in it.
The Prince leaned down and put his face in—right up to the ears.
He held it there a long time—so long that the Doctor seemed to get dreadfully anxious and fidgety, standing first on one leg and then on the other, looking at all the bottles he had used for the mixture, and reading the labels on them again and again. A strong smell filled the prison, like the smell of brown paper burning.
At last the Prince lifted his face up out of the basin, breathing very hard. And all the animals cried out in surprise.
For the Prince's face had turned as white as snow, and his eyes, which had been mud-colored, were a manly gray!
When John Dolittle lent him a little looking-glass to see himself in, he sang for joy and began dancing around the prison. But the Doctor asked him not to make so much noise about it; and when he had closed his medicine-bag in a hurry he told him to open the prison-door.
Bumpo begged that he might keep the looking-glass, as it was the only one in the Kingdom of Jolliginki, and he wanted to look at himself all day long. But the Doctor said he needed it to shave with.
Then the Prince, taking a bunch of copper keys from his pocket, undid the great double locks. And the Doctor with all his animals ran as fast as they could down to the seashore; while Bumpo leaned against the wall of the empty dungeon, smiling after them happily, his big face shining like polished ivory in the light of the moon.
When they came to the beach they saw Polynesia and Chee-Chee waiting for them on the rocks near the ship.
"I feel sorry about Bumpo," said the Doctor. "I am afraid that medicine I used will never last. Most likely he will be as black as ever when he wakes up in the morning—that's one reason why I didn't like to leave the mirror with him. But then again, he might stay white—I had never used that mixture before. To tell the truth, I was surprised, myself, that it worked so well. But I had to do something, didn't I?—I couldn't possibly scrub the King's kitchen for the rest of my life. It was such a dirty kitchen!—I could see it from the prison-window.—Well, well!—Poor Bumpo!"
"Oh, of course he will know we were just joking with him," said the parrot.
"They had no business to lock us up," said Dab-Dab, waggling her tail angrily. "We never did them any harm. Serve him right, if he does turn black again! I hope it's a dark black."
"But he didn't have anything to do with it," said the Doctor. "It was the King, his father, who had us locked up—it wasn't Bumpo's fault. . . . I wonder if I ought to go back and apologize—Oh, well—I'll send him some candy when I get to Puddleby. And who knows?—he may stay white after all."
"The Sleeping Beauty would never have him, even if he did," said Dab-Dab. "He looked better the way he was, I thought. But he'd never be anything but ugly, no matter what color he was made."
"Still, he had a good heart," said the Doctor—"romantic, of course—but a good
heart. After all, 'handsome is as handsome
"I don't believe the poor booby found The Sleeping Beauty at all," said Jip, the dog. "Most likely he kissed some farmer's fat wife who was taking a snooze under an apple-tree. Can't blame her for getting scared! I wonder who he'll go and kiss this time. Silly business!"
Then the pushmi-pullyu, the white mouse, Gub-Gub, Dab-Dab, Jip and the owl, Too-Too, went on to the ship with the Doctor. But Chee-Chee, Polynesia and the crocodile stayed behind, because Africa was their proper home, the land where they were born.
And when the Doctor stood upon the boat, he looked over the side across the water. And then he remembered that they had no one with them to guide them back to Puddleby.
The wide, wide sea looked terribly big and lonesome in the moonlight; and he began to wonder if they would lose their way when they passed out of sight of land.
But even while he was wondering, they heard a strange whispering noise, high in the air, coming through the night. And the animals all stopped saying Good-by and listened.
The noise grew louder and bigger. It seemed to be coming nearer to them—a sound like the Autumn wind blowing through the leaves of a poplar-tree, or a great, great rain beating down upon a roof.
And Jip, with his nose pointing and his tail quite straight, said,
"Birds!—millions of them—flying fast—that's it!"
And then they all looked up. And there, streaming across the face of the moon, like a huge swarm of tiny ants, they could see thousands and thousands of little birds. Soon the whole sky seemed full of them, and still more kept coming—more and more. There were so many that for a little they covered the whole moon so it could not shine, and the sea grew dark and black—like when a storm-cloud passes over the sun.
And presently all these birds came down close, skimming over the water and the land; and the night-sky was left clear above, and the moon shone as before. Still never a call nor a cry nor a song they made—no sound but this great rustling of feathers which grew greater now than ever. When they began to settle on the sands, along the ropes of the ship—anywhere and everywhere except the trees—the Doctor could see that they had blue wings and white breasts and very short, feathered legs. As soon as they had all found a place to sit, suddenly, there was no noise left anywhere—all was quiet; all was still.
And in the silent moonlight John Dolittle spoke:
"I had no idea that we had been in Africa so long. It will be nearly Summer when we get home. For these are the swallows going back. Swallows, I thank you for waiting for us. It is very thoughtful of you. Now we need not be afraid that we will lose our way upon the sea. . . . Pull up the anchor and set the sail!"
When the ship moved out upon the water, those who stayed behind, Chee-Chee, Polynesia and the crocodile, grew terribly sad. For never in their lives had they known any one they liked so well as Doctor John Dolittle of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.
And after they had called Good-by to him again and again and again, they still stood there upon the rocks, crying bitterly and waving till the ship was out of sight.
. . . crying bitterly and waving till the ship was out of sight
I woke before the morning, I was happy all the day,
I never said an ugly word, but smiled and stuck to play.
And now at last the sun is going down behind the wood,
And I am very happy, for I know that I've been good.
My bed is waiting cool and fresh, with linen smooth and fair,
And I must off to sleepsin-by, and not forget my prayer.
I know that, till to-morrow when I see the sun arise,
No ugly dream shall fright my mind, no ugly sight my eyes.
But slumber hold me tightly till I waken in the dawn,
And hear the thrushes singing in the lilacs round the lawn.
WEEK 21 |
A T the time of the Revolution there were but few people living on the north side of the Ohio River. But there were many Indians there. These Indians killed a great many white people in Kentucky.
The Indians were sent by British officers to do this killing. There was a British fort at Vincennes in what is now Indiana. There was another British fort or post at Kaskaskia in what is now the State of Illinois.
George Rogers Clark was an American colonel. He wanted to stop the murder of the settlers by the Indians. He thought that he could do it by taking the British posts.
He had three hundred men. They went down the Ohio River in boats. They landed near the mouth of the Ohio River. Then they marched a hundred and thirty miles to Kaskaskia.
Kaskaskia was far away from the Americans. The people there did not think that the Americans would come so far to attack them. When Clark got there, they were all asleep. He marched in and took the town before they waked up.
The people living in Kaskaskia were French. By treating them well, Clark made them all friendly to the Americans.
When the British at Vincennes heard that Clark had taken Kaskaskia, they thought that they would take it back again. But it was winter. All the streams were full of water. They could not march till spring. Then they would gather the Indians to help them, and take Clark and his men.
But Clark thought that he would not wait to be taken. He thought that he would just go and take the British. If he could manage to get to Vincennes in the winter, he would not be expected.
Clark started with a hundred and seventy men. The country was nearly all covered with water. The men were in the wet almost all the time. Clark had hard work to keep his men cheerful. He did everything he could to amuse them.
They had to wade through deep rivers. The water was icy cold. But Clark made a joke of it. He kept them laughing whenever he could.
At one place the men refused to go through the freezing water. Clark could not persuade them to cross the river. He called to him a tall soldier. He was the very tallest man in Clark's little army. Clark said to him, "Take the little drummer boy on your shoulders."
The little drummer was soon seated high on the shoulders of the tall man. "Now go ahead!" said Clark.
The soldier marched into the water. The little drummer beat a march on his drum. Clark cried out, "Forward!" Then he plunged into the water after the tall soldier. All the men went in after him. They were soon safe on the other side.
At another river the little drummer was floated over on the top of his drum. At last the men drew near to Vincennes. They could hear the morning and evening gun in the British fort. But the worst of the way was yet to pass. The Wabash River had risen over its banks. The water was five miles wide. The men marched from one high ground to another through the cold water. They caught an Indian with a canoe. In this they got across the main river. But there was more water to cross. The men were so hungry that some of them fell down in the water. They had to be carried out.
Clark's men got frightened at last, and then they had no heart to go any farther. But Clark remembered what the Indians did when they went to war. He took a little gunpowder in his hand. He poured water on it. Then he rubbed it on his face. It made his face black.
With his face blackened like an Indian's, he gave an Indian
The men were tired and hungry. But they soon reached dry ground. They were now in sight of the fort. Clark marched his little army round and round in such a way as to make it seem that he had many men with him. He wrote a fierce letter to the British commander. He behaved like a general with a large army.
After some fighting, the British commander gave up. Clark's little army took the British fort. This brave action saved to our country the land that lies between the Ohio River and the Lakes. It stopped the sending of Indians to kill the settlers in the West.
There are lions and roaring tigers, and enormous camels and things,
There are biffalo-buffalo-bisons, and a great big bear with wings,
There's a sort of a tiny potamus, and a tiny nosserus
But I gave buns to the elephant when I went down to the Zoo!
There are badgers and bidgers and bodgers, and a Superintendent's House,
There are masses of goats, and a Polar, and different kinds of mouse,
And I think there's a sort of a something which is called a
But I gave buns to the elephant when I went down to the Zoo!
If you try to talk to the bison, he never quite understands;
You can't shake hands with a mingo—he doesn't like shaking hands.
And lions and roaring tigers hate saying, "How do you
But I give buns to the elephant when I go down to the Zoo!
WEEK 21 |
D URING the warm weather, the Minks did not come often to the pond. Then they had to stay nearer home and care for their babies. In the winter, when food was not so plentiful and their youngest children were old enough to come with them, they visited there every day. It was not far from their home.
The Minks lived by a waterfall in the river, and had burrows in the banks, where the young Minks stayed until they were large enough to go out into the world. Then the fathers and mothers were very busy, for in each home there were four or five or six children, hungry and restless, and needing to be taught many things.
They were related to the Weasels who lived up by the farmyard, and had the same slender and elegant bodies and short legs as they. Like the Weasels, they sometimes climbed trees, but that was not often. They did most of their hunting in the river, swimming with their bodies almost all under water, and diving and turning and twisting gracefully and quickly. When they hunted on land, they could tell by smelling just which way to go for their food.
The Minks were a very dark brown, and scattered through their close, soft fur were long, shining hairs of an even darker shade, which made their coats very beautiful indeed. The fur was darker on their backs than on the under part of their bodies, and their tapering, bushy tails were almost black. Their under jaws were white, and they were very proud of them. Perhaps it was because they had so little white fur that they thought so much of it. You know that is often the way—we think most of those things which are scarce or hard to get.
There was one old Mink by the river who had a white tip on his tail, and that is something which many people have never seen. It is even more uncommon than for Minks to have white upper lips, and that happens only once in a great while. This Mink was a bachelor, and nobody knew why. Some people said it was because he was waiting to find a wife with a white tip on her tail, yet that could not have been, for he was too wise to wait for something which might never happen. However it was, he lived alone, and fished and hunted just for himself. He could dive more quickly, stay under water longer, and hunt by scent better than any other Mink round there. His fur was sleeker and more shining than that of his friends, and it is no wonder that the sisters of his friends thought that he ought to marry.
When the Minks visited together, somebody was sure to speak of the Bachelor's luck. They said that, whatever he did, he was always lucky. "It is all because of a white tip on his tail," they said. "That makes him lucky."
The young Minks heard their fathers and mothers talking, and wished that they had been born with white tips on their tails so that they could be lucky too. Once the Bachelor heard them wishing this, and he smiled and showed his beautiful teeth, and told them that it was not the tip of his tail but his whole body that made him lucky. He did not smile to show his teeth, because he was not at all vain. He just smiled and showed his teeth.
There was a family of young Minks who lived at the foot
of the waterfall, where the water splashed and dashed
in the way they liked best. There were four brothers
and two sisters in this
family, and the brothers were bigger than the sisters
Big Brother used to follow Bachelor around.
The other young Minks laughed at Big Brother, and asked
him if he thought his tail would turn white if he
followed the Bachelor long enough.
A few days after this, the Bachelor was caught in a
trap—a common, clumsy, wooden trap, put together with
nails and twine. It was not near the river, and none
of his friends would have found him, if
"Can't you get out?" said he.
"No," said the Bachelor. "I can't. The best way to get out is not to get in—and I've gotten in."
"Can't you do something with your lucky tail to make the trap open?" asked Big Brother.
"I could do something with my teeth," answered the Bachelor, "if they were only where the tip of my tail is. Why are Minks always walking into traps?" He was trying hard not to be cross, but his eyes showed how he felt, and that was very cross indeed.
Then Big Brother became much excited. "I have good teeth," said he, "Tell me what to do."
"If you will help me out," said the Bachelor, "I will give you my luck."
"And what shall I do with the tail I have?" asked the
young Mink, who thought that the Bachelor was to give
"Never mind now," answered the Bachelor, and he told the young Mink just where to gnaw. For a long time there was no sound but that of the young Mink's teeth on the wood of the trap. The Bachelor was too brave to groan or make a fuss, when he knew there was anybody around to hear. Big Brother's mouth became very sore, and his stomach became very empty, but still he kept at work. He was afraid somebody would come for the trap and the Mink in it, before he finished.
"Now try it," said he, after he had gnawed for quite a while. The Bachelor backed out as far as he could, but his body stuck in the hole. "You are rumpling your beautiful fur," cried the young Mink.
"Never mind the fur," answered the Bachelor. "I can smooth that down afterward. You will have to gnaw a little on this side." And he raised one of his hind feet to show where he meant. It was a beautiful hindfoot, thickly padded, and with short partly webbed toes, and no hair at all growing between them. The claws were short, sharp, and curved.
Big Brother gnawed away. "Now try it," said he. The Bachelor backed carefully out through the opening and stood there, looking tired and hungry and very much rumpled.
"You are a fine young Mink," said he. "We will get something to eat, and then we will see about making you lucky."
They went to the river bank and had a good dinner. The
Bachelor ate more than Big Brother, for his mouth was
not sore. But
"Now," said the Bachelor, "we will talk about luck. We will go to a place where nobody can hear what we say." They found such a place and lay down. The Bachelor rolled over three times and smoothed his fur; he was still so tired from being in the trap. Then he looked at the young Mink very sharply. "So you want my tail?" said he.
"You said you would give me your luck," answered Big Brother, "and everybody knows that your luck is in your tail."
The Bachelor smiled. "What will you do with the tail you have?" said he.
"I don't know," answered Big Brother.
"You wouldn't want to wear two?" asked the Bachelor.
"Oh, no," answered Big Brother. "How that would look!"
"Well, how will you put my tail in place of yours?" asked the Bachelor.
"I don't know," answered the young Mink, "but you are so wise that I thought you might know some way." He began to feel discouraged, and to think that the Bachelor's offer didn't mean very much after all.
"Don't you think?" said the Bachelor slowly, "don't you think that, if you could have my luck, you could get along pretty well with your own tail?"
"Why, yes," said the young Mink, who had begun to fear he was not going to get anything. "Yes, but how could that be?"
The Bachelor smiled again. "I always tell people,"
said he, "that my luck is not in my tail, and they
never believe it. I will tell you the secret of my
luck, and you can have luck like it, if you really care
enough." He looked all around to make sure that nobody
was near, and he listened very carefully with the two
little round ears that were almost hidden in his
"Is that all?" asked the young Mink.
"That is enough," answered the Bachelor. "Keep trying
and trying and trying, until you can dive deeper, stay
under water longer, run faster, and smell farther than
other Minks. Then you will have good luck when theirs
is poor. You will have plenty to eat when they are
hungry. You can beat in every fight. You can have
sleek, shining fur when theirs is dull. Luck is not a
The more the young Mink thought about it, the happier he became. "I don't see that I am to have your luck after all," said he. "When I have learned to do everything in the very best way, it will be luck of my own."
"Of course," answered the Bachelor. "Then it is a kind of luck that cannot be lost. If I carried mine in the tip of my tail, somebody might bite it off and leave me unlucky."
Big Brother kept the secret, and worked until he had
learned to be as lucky as the Bachelor. Then he
married the person he wanted, and she was very, very
handsome. It is said that one of their sons has a
Minnie and Mattie
And fat little May,
Out in the country,
Spending a day.
Such a bright day,
With the sun glowing,
And the trees half in leaf,
And the grass growing.
Squeals through his snout,
Frisks all about.
Cluck! Cluck! the mother hen
Summons her folk—
Ducklings all downy soft,
Yellow as yolk.
Cluck! Cluck! the mother hen
Summons her chickens
To peck the dainty bits
Found in her pickings.
Minnie and Mattie
And May carry posies,
Half of sweet violets,
Half of primroses.
Give the sun time enough,
Glowing and glowing,
He'll rouse the roses
And bring them blowing.
Don't wait for roses,
O Minnie, O Mattie
And wise little May.
Violets and primroses
For Minnie and Mattie
And fat little May.
WEEK 21 |
T HERE was a man who had three sons, the youngest of whom was called the Simpleton, and was despised, laughed at, and neglected, on every occasion. It happened one day that the eldest son wished to go into the forest to cut wood, and before he went his mother gave him a delicious pancake and a flask of wine, that he might not suffer from hunger or thirst.
When he came into the forest a little old grey man met him, who wished him good day, and said,
"Give me a bit of cake out of your pocket, and let me have a drink of your wine; I am so hungry and thirsty."
But the prudent youth answered,
"Give you my cake and my wine? I haven't got any; be off with you."
And leaving the little man standing there, he went off. Then he began to fell a tree, but he had not been at it long before he made a wrong stroke, and the hatchet hit him in the arm, so that he was obliged to go home and get it bound up. That was what came of the little grey man.
Afterwards the second son went into the wood, and the mother gave to him, as to the eldest, a pancake and a flask of wine. The little old grey man met him also, and begged for a little bit of cake and a drink of wine. But the second son spoke out plainly, saying,
"What I give you I lose myself, so be off with you."
And leaving the little man standing there, he went off. The punishment followed; as he was chopping away at the tree, he hit himself in the leg so severely that he had to be carried home.
Then said the Simpleton,
"Father, let me go for once into the forest to cut wood;" and the father answered, "Your brothers have hurt themselves by so doing; give it up, you understand nothing about it."
But the Simpleton went on begging so long, that the father said at last,
"Well, be off with you; you will only learn by experience."
The mother gave him a cake (it was only made with water, and baked in the ashes), and with it a flask of sour beer. When he came into the forest the little old grey man met him, and greeted him, saying,
"Give me a bit of your cake, and a drink from your flask; I am so hungry and thirsty."
And the Simpleton answered, "I have only a flour and water cake and sour beer; but if that is good enough for you, let us sit down together and eat."
Then they sat down, and as the Simpleton took out his flour and water cake it became a rich pancake, and his sour beer became good wine; then they ate and drank, and afterwards the little man said,
"As you have such a kind heart, and share what you have so willingly, I will bestow good luck upon you. Yonder stands an old tree; cut it down, and at its roots you will find some thing," and thereupon the little man took his departure.
The Simpleton went there, and hewed away at the tree, and when it fell he saw, sitting among the roots, a goose with feathers of pure gold.
He lifted it out and took it with him to an inn where he intended to stay the night. The landlord had three daughters who, when they saw the goose, were curious to know what wonderful kind of bird it was, and ended by longing for one of its golden feathers.
The eldest thought, "I will wait for a good opportunity, and then I will pull out one of its feathers for myself;" and so, when the Simpleton was gone out, she seized the goose by its wing—but there her finger and hand had to stay, held fast. Soon after came the second sister with the same idea of plucking out one of the golden feathers for herself; but scarcely had she touched her sister, than she also was obliged to stay, held fast. Lastly came the third with the same intentions; but the others screamed out,
"Stay away! for heaven's sake stay away!"
But she did not see why she should stay away, and thought, "If they do so, why should not I?" and went towards them. But when she reached her sisters there she stopped, hanging on with them. And so they had to stay, all night. The next morning the Simpleton took the goose under his arm and went away, unmindful of the three girls that hung on to it.
The three had always to run after him, left and right, wherever his legs carried him.
In the midst of the fields they met the parson, who, when he saw the procession, said,
"Shame on you, girls, running after a young fellow through the fields like this," and forthwith he seized hold of the youngest by the hand to drag her away, but hardly had he touched her when he too was obliged to run after them himself.
Not long after the sexton came that way, and seeing the respected parson following at the heels of the three girls, he called out,
"Ho, your reverence, whither away so quickly? You forget that we have another christening to-day;" and he seized hold of him by his gown; but no sooner had he touched him than he was obliged to follow on too.
As the five tramped on, one after another, two peasants with their hoes came up from the fields, and the parson cried out to them, and begged them to come and set him and the sexton free, but no sooner had they touched the sexton than they had to follow on too; and now there were seven following the Simpleton and the goose.
By and by they came to a town where a king reigned, who had an only daughter who was so serious that no one could make her laugh; therefore the king had given out that whoever should make her laugh should have her in marriage. The Simpleton, when he heard this, went with his goose and his hangers-on into the presence of the king's daughter, and as soon as she saw the seven people following always one after the other, she burst out laughing, and seemed as if she could never stop.
And so the Simpleton earned a right to her as his bride; but the king did not like him for a son-in-law and made all kinds of objections, and said he must first bring a man who could drink up a whole cellar of wine.
The Simpleton thought that the little grey man would be able to help him, and went out into the forest, and there, on the very spot where he felled the tree, he saw a man sitting with a very sad countenance.
The Simpleton asked him what was the matter, and he answered,
"I have a great thirst, which I cannot quench: cold water does not agree with me; I have indeed drunk up a whole cask of wine, but what good is a drop like that?"
Then said the Simpleton,
"I can help you; only come with me, and you shall have enough."
He took him straight to the king's cellar, and the man sat himself down before the big vats, and drank, and drank, and before a day was over he had drunk up the whole cellar-full.
The Simpleton again asked for his bride, but the king was annoyed that a wretched fellow, called the Simpleton by everybody, should carry off his daughter, and so he made new conditions. He was to produce a man who could eat up a mountain of bread.
The Simpleton did not hesitate long, but ran quickly off to the forest, and there in the same place sat a man who had fastened a strap round his body, making a very piteous face, and saying,
"I have eaten a whole bakehouse full of rolls, but what is the use of that when one is so hungry as I am? My stomach feels quite empty, and I am obliged to strap myself together, that I may not die of hunger."
The Simpleton was quite glad of this, and said,
"Get up quickly, and come along with me, and you shall have enough to eat."
He led him straight to the king's courtyard, where all the meal in the kingdom had been collected and baked into a mountain of bread. The man out of the forest settled himself down before it and hastened to eat, and in one day the whole mountain had disappeared.
Then the Simpleton asked for his bride the third time. The king, however, found one more excuse, and said he must have a ship that should be able to sail on land or on water.
"So soon," said he, "as you come sailing along with it, you shall have my daughter for your wife."
The Simpleton went straight to the forest, and there sat the little old grey man with whom he had shared his cake, and he said,
"I have eaten for you, and I have drunk for you, I will also give you the ship; and all because you were kind to me at the first."
Then he gave him the ship that could sail on land and on water, and when the king saw it he knew he could no longer withhold his daughter. The marriage took place immediately, and at the death of the king the Simpleton possessed the kingdom, and lived long and happily with his wife.
Three of us afloat in the meadow by the swing,
Three of us abroad in the basket on the lea.
Winds are in the air, they are blowing in the spring,
And waves are on the meadow like the waves there are at sea.
Where shall we adventure, to-day that we're afloat,
Wary of the weather and steering by a star?
Shall it be to Africa, a-steering of the boat,
To Providence, or Babylon or off to Malabar?
Hi! but here's a squadron a-rowing on the sea—
Cattle on the meadow a-charging with a roar!
Quick, and we'll escape them, they're as mad as they can be,
The wicket is the harbour and the garden is the shore.
WEEK 21 |
"Because ye are Sons of the Blood and call me Mother still."
W HILE the mother country, Phœnicia, was falling, by reason of Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Tyre, her young colony of Carthage, was rapidly springing into fame. She was destined to eclipse even the glories of Tyre. Once indeed,—not long after the fall of Tyre,—while Carthage was busy extending her dominions, she had a narrow escape from destruction.
Cambyses, King of Persia, had conquered Egypt with such ease, that he was looking about for another country to lay low. Carthage was great enough to prove a danger, so he determined to march against that city. But it was two thousand miles away by land, and by sea alone could he hope to reach it. His fleet was made up of Phœnician ships, and manned by Phœnician sailors. These refused to take part in the expedition against their own kith and kin.
"We are bound to the Carthaginians," they said, "by solemn oaths. They too are our children, and it would be wicked to make war against them." And Cambyses had to be content with this answer, and give up his cherished plan of reducing Carthage.
Like the Phœnicians, the Carthaginians soon established colonies across the seas; but they took care to protect them. The Great Sea was no longer free to them to come and go as they liked. Greek ships sailed the seas, Greek colonies had sprung up along the coasts.
Nevertheless they owned colonies on the coast of Africa; the islands of Sardinia, Malta, and Corsica were theirs, they owned the group of Balearic Islands, while a great part of Southern Spain was under their rule. They had inherited a spirit of commerce from the parent State.
So the colony of Carthage had all the energy and trading instincts of the mother country. She held her own on the Great Sea, at a time when rival ships were sailing the sea, and Greece and Rome were clamouring for ports and colonies around the coast. She held her own till greed of conquest seized her, and in trying to get more than she could keep, she fell.
The story of her fall will be told later.
How sweet is the shepherd's sweet lot!
From the morn to the evening he strays;
He shall follow his sheep all the day,
And his tongue shall be filled with praise.
For he hears the lambs' innocent call,
And he hears the ewes' tender reply;
He is watchful while they are in peace,
For they know when their shepherd is nigh.
WEEK 21 |
One day of the world, when it was young summer in Ireland, old Grannie Malone sat by her fireplace knitting. She was all alone, and in her lap lay a letter.
Sometimes she took the letter in her hands, and turned it over and over, and looked at it. Then she would put it down again with a little sigh.
"If I but had the learning," said Grannie Malone to herself, "I could be reading Michael's letters without calling in the Priest, and 't is long since he passed this door. 'T is hard work waiting until some one can tell me what at all is in it."
She stooped over and put a bit of peat on the fire, and because she had no one else to talk to, she talked to the tea-kettle. "There now," she said to it, " 't is a lazy bit of steam that 's coming out of the nose of you! I 'll be wanting my tea soon, and no water boiling."
She lifted the lid and peeped into the kettle. "'T is empty entirely!" she cried, "and a thirsty kettle it is surely, and no one but myself to fetch and carry for it!"
She got up slowly, laid her knitting and the letter on the chair, took the kettle off the hook, and went to the door.
There was but one door and one window in the one little room of her cabin, so if the sun had not been shining brightly it would have been quite dark within.
But the upper half of the door stood open, and the afternoon sun slanted across the earthen floor and brightened the dishes that stood on the old dresser. It even showed Grannie Malone's bed in the far end of the room, and some of her clothes hanging from the rafters overhead.
There was little else in the room to see, except her chair, a wooden table, and a little bench by the fire, a pile of peat on the hearth, and a bag of potatoes in the corner.
Grannie Malone opened the lower half of the door and stepped out into the sunshine. Some speckled hens that had been sunning themselves on the doorstep fluttered out of the way, and then ran after her to the well.
"Shoo—get along with you!" cried Grannie Malone. She flapped her apron at them. "'T is you that are always thinking of something to eat! Sure, there are bugs enough in Ireland, without your always being at my heels to be fed! Come now,—scratch for your living like honest hens, and I 'll give you a sup of water if it 's dry you are."
The well had a stone curb around it, and a bucket with a rope tied to it stood on the curb. Grannie let the bucket down into the well until she heard it strike the fresh spring water with a splash. Then she pulled and pulled on the rope. The bucket came up slowly and water spilled over the sides as Grannie lifted it to the curb.
She poured some of the water into the dish for the hens, filled her kettle, and then straightened her bent back, and stood looking at the little cabin and the brown bog beyond.
"Sure, it 's old we all are together," she said to herself, nodding her head. "The old cabin with the rain leaking through the thatch of a wet day, and the old well with moss on the stones of it. And the hens themselves, too old to cook, and too old to be laying,—except on the doorstep in the sunshine, the creatures!—But 't is home, thanks be to God."
She lifted her kettle and went slowly back into the house. The hens followed her to the door, but she shut the lower half of it behind her and left them outside.
She went to the fireplace and hung the kettle on the hook, blew the coals to a blaze with a pair of leaky bellows, and sat down before the fire once more to wait for the water to boil.
She knit round and round her stocking, and there was no sound in the room but the click-click of her needles, and the tick-tick of the clock, and the little purring noise of the fire on the hearth.
Just as the kettle began to sing, there was a squawking among the hens on the doorstep, and two dark heads appeared above the closed half of the door.
A little girl's voice called out, "How are you at all, Grannie Malone?"
And a little boy's voice said, "We 've come to bring you a sup of milk that Mother sent you."
Grannie Malone jumped out of her chair and ran to the door. "Och, if it 's not the McQueen Twins—the two of them!" she cried. "Bless your sweet faces! Come in, Larry and Eileen! You are as welcome as the flowers of spring. And how is your Mother, the day? May God spare her to her comforts for long years to come!"
She swung the door open as she talked, took the jug from Eileen's hand, and poured the milk into a jug of her own that stood on the dresser.
"Sure, Mother is well. And how is yourself, Grannie Malone?" Eileen answered, politely.
"Barring the rheumatism and the asthma, and the old age in my bones, I 'm doing well, thanks be to God," said Grannie Malone. "Sit down by the fire, now, till I wet a cup of tea and make a cakeen for you! And indeed it 's yourselves can read me a letter from my son Michael, that 's in America! It has been in the house these three days waiting for some one with the learning to come along by."
She ran to the chair and picked up the letter. The Twins sat down on a little bench by the fireplace, and Grannie Malone put the letter in their hands.
"We 've not got all the learning yet," Larry said. "We might not be able to read it."
"You can try," said Grannie Malone. Then she opened the letter, and a bit of folded green paper with printing on it fell out. "God bless the boy," she cried, "there 's one of those in every letter he sends me! 'T is money that is! Can you make out the figures on it, now?"
Larry and Eileen looked it over carefully. "There it is, hiding in the corner," said Larry. He pointed to a "5" on the green paper.
"Five pounds it is!" said Grannie Malone. "Sure it 's a fortune! Oh, it 's himself is the good son to me! What does the letter say?"
The Twins spread the sheet open and studied it, while Grannie hovered over them, trembling with excitement.
"Sure, that's Dear, is n't it?" said Eileen, pointing to the first word.
"Sure," said Larry; "letters always begin like that."
"Dear G-r-a-n-n-i-e," spelled Eileen. "What could that be but Grannie?"
" 'T is from my grandson, young Patrick, then," cried Grannie. "Indeed, he 's but the age of yourselves! How old are you at all?"
"We 're seven," said the Twins.
"Patrick might be eight," said his Grandmother, "but surely the clever children like yourselves and the two of you together should be able to make it out. There 's but one of Patrick, and there should be more learning between the two of you than in one alone, even though he is a bit older! Try now."
Larry and Eileen tried. This was the letter. It was written in a large staggery hand.
"Will you listen to that now!" cried Grannie Malone. "Is it taking me back to America, he 'd be! 'T is a terrible journey altogether, and a strange country at the end of it, for me to be laying my old bones in! But I 'd be a proud woman to see my own son, in any country of the world, and he an alderman!"
There was a letter from Michael himself in the envelope also, but the Twins could not read that, however much they tried.
So Grannie was obliged to put the two letters and the green paper under the clock over the fireplace, to wait until the Priest should pass that way.
Over in the meadow,
In the sand, in the sun,
Lived an old mother-toad
And her little toadie one,
"Wink!" said the mother;
"I wink," said the one:
So she winked and she blinked,
In the sand, in the sun.
Over in the meadow,
Where the stream runs blue;
Lived an old mother-fish
And her little fishes two.
"Swim!" said the mother;
"We swim," said the two:
So they swam and they leaped,
Where the stream runs blue.
Over in the meadow,
In a hole in a tree,
Lived a mother-bluebird
And her little bluebirds three.
"Sing!" said the mother;
"We sing," said the three:
So they sang and were glad,
In the hole in the tree.
Over in the meadow,
In the reeds on the shore;
Lived a mother-muskrat
And her little muskrats four.
"Dive!" said the mother;
"We dive," said the four:
So they dived and they burrowed,
In the reeds on the shore.
Over in the meadow,
In a snug beehive,
Lived a mother-honeybee
And her little honeys five.
"Buzz!" said the mother;
"We buzz," said the five:
So they buzzed and they hummed,
In the snug beehive.
Over in the meadow
In a nest built of sticks,
Lived a black mother crow
And her little crows six.
"Caw!" said the mother;
"We caw," said the six:
So they cawed and they called,
In their nest built of sticks.
Over in the meadow,
Where the grass is so even,
Lived a gay mother-cricket
And her little crickets seven.
"Chirp!" said the mother;
"We chirp," said the seven:
So they chirped cheery notes
In the grass soft and even.
Over in the meadow
By the old mossy gate,
Lived a brown mother-lizard
And her little lizards eight.
"Bask!" said the mother;
"We bask," said the eight:
So they basked in the sun,
On the old mossy gate,
Over in the meadow,
Where the clear pools shine,
Lived a green mother-frog
And her little froggies nine.
"Croak!" said the mother;
"We croak!" said the nine:
So they croaked and they plashed,
Where the clear pools shine.
Over in the meadow,
In a sly little den,
Lived a gray mother-spider
And her little spiders ten.
"Spin!" said the mother;
"We spin," said the ten:
So they spun lace webs,
In their sly little den.
Over in the meadow,
In the soft summer even,
Lived a mother firefly
And her little flies eleven.
"Glow," said the mother;
"We glow," said the eleven—
So they glowed like stars
In the soft summer even.
Over in the meadow,
Where the men dig and delve
Lived a wise mother ant,
And her little ants twelve.
"Toil," said the mother;
"We toil," said the twelve—
So they toiled and were wise
Where the men dig and delve.
WEEK 21 |
Exodus iii: 1, to iv: 31.
T must have been a great change in the life of Moses, after he had spent forty years in the palace as a prince, to go out into the wilderness of Midian, and live there as a shepherd. He saw no more the crowded cities, the pyramids, the temples of Egypt, and the great river Nile. For forty years Moses wandered about the land of Midian with his flocks, living alone, often sleeping at night on the ground, and looking up by day to the great mountains.
He wore the rough skin mantle of a shepherd; and in his hand was the long shepherd's staff. On his feet were sandals which he wore instead of shoes. But when he stood before an altar to worship God he took off his sandals. For when we take off our hats, as in church or a place where God is worshipped, the people of those lands take off their shoes, as a sign of reverence in a sacred place.
Moses was a great man, one of the greatest men that ever lived. But he did not think himself great or wise. He was contented with the work that he was doing; and sought no higher place. But God had a work for Moses to do, and all through those years in the wilderness God was preparing him for that work.
All through those years, while Moses was feeding his flock in Midian, the people of Israel were still bearing heavy burdens and working as slaves in Egypt, making brick and building cities. The king who had begun the hard treatment of the Israelites died, but another king took his place, and was just as cruel. He was called by the same name, Pharaoh, for this was the name given to all the kings of Egypt.
One day, Moses was feeding his flock on a mountain, called Mount Horeb. This mountain was also called Mount Sinai, and is spoken of by both names in the Bible. On the mountain Moses saw a bush which seemed to be on fire. He watched to see it burn up, but it was not destroyed, though it kept burning on and on. And Moses said to himself:
"I will go and look at this strange thing, a bush on fire, yet not burning up."
Moses sees the bush on fire.
As Moses was going toward the bush, he heard a voice coming out of the bush, calling him by name, "Moses, Moses!" He listened, and said, "Here I am."
The voice said, "Moses, do not come near; but take off your shoes from your feet, for you are standing on holy ground."
So Moses took off his shoes, and came near to the burning bush. And the voice came from the bush, saying:
"I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob. I have seen the wrongs and the cruelty that my people have suffered in Egypt, and I have heard their cry on account of their task-masters. And I am coming to set them free from the land of the Egyptians, and to bring them up to their own land, the land of Canaan, a good land, and large. Come, now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and you shall lead out my people from Egypt."
Moses knew what a great work this would be, to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, from the power of its king. He dreaded to take up such a task; and he said to the Lord:
"O Lord, who am I, a shepherd here in the wilderness, to do this great work, to go to Pharaoh, and to bring the people out of Egypt. It is too great a work for me."
And God said to Moses:
"Surely I will be with you, and will help you to do this great work. I will give you a sign of my presence with you. When you have led my people out of Egypt, you shall bring them to this mountain, and they shall worship me here. And then y ou shall know that I have been with you."
And Moses said to God:
"When I go to the children of Israel in Egypt, and tell them that the God of their fathers has sent me, they will say to me, 'Who is this God? What is his name?' For they have suffered so much, and have sunk so low, that I fear they have forgotten their God."
You remember that Moses had been out of Egypt and afar from his people for forty years, a long time, and in that time he did not know whether they had continued the worship of God.
And God said to Moses:
"My name is 'I AM,' the One who is always living. Do you go to your people and say to them, 'I AM hath sent me to you.' Do not be afraid; go to your people, and say to them what I have said to you, and they will listen to you and believe. And you shall take the elders of your tribes, the leading men among them, and shall go to King Pharaoh, and shall say to him, 'Let my people go, that they may worship me in the wilderness.' At first he will not let you go; but afterward, I will show my power in Egypt, and then he will let you go out of the land."
But Moses wished some sign, which he could give to his people, and to the Egyptians, to show them that God had sent him. He asked God to give him some sign. And God said to him:
"What is that which you have in your hand?" Moses said, "It is a rod, my shepherd's staff, which I use to guide the sheep."
And God said, "Throw it on the ground." Then Moses threw it down, and instantly it was turned into a snake. Moses was afraid of it, and began to run from it.
And God said, "Do not fear it, but take hold of it by the tail." Moses did so, and at once it became again a rod in his hand.
And God said again to Moses, "Put your hand into your bosom, under your garment, and take it out again."
Then Moses put his hand under his garment, and when he took it out it had changed, and was now as white as snow, and covered with a scaly crust, like the hand of a leper. He looked at it with fear and horror. But God said to him again:
"Put your hand into your bosom once more." Moses did so, and when he took it out, his hand was like the other, with a pure skin, no longer like a leper's hand.
And God said to Moses, "When you go to speak my words if they will not believe you, show them the first sign, and let your rod become a snake, and then a rod again. And if they still refuse to believe your words, show them the second sign; turn your hand into a leper's hand, and then bring it back as it was before. And if they still will not believe, then take some water from the river, and it shall turn to blood. Fear not, go and speak my words to your own people and to the Egyptians."
But Moses was still unwilling to go, not because he was afraid, but because he did not feel himself to be fit for such a great task. And he said to the Lord:
"Oh, Lord, thou knowest that I am not a good speaker; I am slow of speech, and cannot talk before men."
And God said, "Am not I the Lord, who made man's mouth? Go, and I will be with your lips, and will teach you what to say."
But Moses still hesitated, and he said, "O Lord, choose some other man for this great work; I am not able to do it."
And God said, "You have a brother, whose name is Aaron. He can speak well. Even now he is coming to see you in the wilderness. Let him help you, and speak for you. Let him do the speaking, and do you show the signs which I have given you."
At last Moses yielded to God's call. He went from Mount Sinai with his flocks, and took them home to Jethro his father-in-law; and then he went toward Egypt, and on the way he met his brother coming to see him. Then the two brothers, Moses and Aaron, came to the elders of Israel in the land of Goshen. They told the people what God had said, and they wrought before them the signs which God had given.
And the people said, "God has seen all our troubles, and at last he is coming to set us free." And they were glad, and gave thanks to God who had not forgotten them; for God never forgets those who call upon him.
If all were rain and never sun,
No bow could span the hill;
If all were sun and never rain,
There'd be no rainbow still.