WEEK 44 |
DOROTHY wept bitterly at the passing of her hope to get home to Kansas again; but when she thought it all over she was glad she had not gone up in a balloon. And she also felt sorry at losing Oz, and so did her companions.
The Tin Woodman came to her and said,
"Truly I should be ungrateful if I failed to mourn for the man who gave me my lovely heart. I should like to cry a little because Oz is gone, if you will kindly wipe away my tears, so that I shall not rust."
"With pleasure," she answered, and brought a towel at once. Then the Tin Woodman wept for several minutes, and she watched the tears carefully and wiped them away with the towel. When he had finished he thanked her kindly and oiled himself thoroughly with his jewelled oil-can, to guard against mishap.
The Scarecrow was now the ruler of the Emerald City, and although he was not a Wizard the people were proud of him. "For," they said, "there is not another city in all the world that is ruled by a stuffed man." And, so far as they knew, they were quite right.
The morning after the balloon had gone up with Oz the four travellers met in the Throne Room and talked matters over. The Scarecrow sat in the big throne and the others stood respectfully before him.
"We are not so unlucky," said the new ruler; "for this Palace and the Emerald City belong to us, and we can do just as we please. When I remember that a short time ago I was up on a pole in a farmer's cornfield, and that I am now the ruler of this beautiful City, I am quite satisfied with my lot."
"I also," said the Tin Woodman, "am well pleased with my new heart; and, really, that was the only thing I wished in all the world."
"For my part, I am content in knowing I am as brave as any beast that ever lived, if not braver," said the Lion, modestly,
[Illustration: "_The Scarecrow sat on the big throne._"]
"If Dorothy would only be contented to live in the Emerald City," continued the Scarecrow, "we might all be happy together."
"But I don't want to live here," cried Dorothy. "I want to go to Kansas, and live with Aunt Em and Uncle Henry."
"Well, then, what can be done?" enquired the Woodman.
The Scarecrow decided to think, and he thought so hard that the pins and needles began to stick out of his brains. Finally he said:
"Why not call the Winged Monkeys, and asked them to carry you over the desert?"
"I never thought of that!" said Dorothy, joyfully. "It's just the thing. I'll go at once for the Golden Cap."
When she brought it into the Throne Room she spoke the magic words, and soon the band of Winged Monkeys flew in through an open window and stood beside her.
"This is the second time you have called us," said the Monkey King, bowing before the little girl. "What do you wish?"
"I want you to fly with me to Kansas," said Dorothy.
But the Monkey King shook his head.
"That cannot be done," he said. "We belong to this country alone, and cannot leave it. There has never been a Winged Monkey in Kansas yet, and I suppose there never will be, for they don't belong there. We shall be glad to serve you in any way in our power, but we cannot cross the desert. Good-bye."
And with another bow the Monkey King spread his wings and flew away through the window, followed by all his band.
Dorothy was almost ready to cry with disappointment.
"I have wasted the charm of the Golden Cap to no purpose," she said, "for the Winged Monkeys cannot help me."
"It is certainly too bad!" said the tender hearted Woodman.
The Scarecrow was thinking again, and his head bulged out so horribly that Dorothy feared it would burst.
"Let us call in the soldier with the green whiskers," he said, "and ask his advice."
So the soldier was summoned and entered the Throne Room timidly, for while Oz was alive he never was allowed to come further than the door.
"This little girl," said the Scarecrow to the soldier, "wishes to cross the desert. How can she do so?"
"I cannot tell," answered the soldier; "for nobody has ever crossed the desert, unless it is Oz himself."
s "Is there no one who can help me?" asked Dorothy, earnestly.
"Glinda might," he suggested.
"Who is Glinda?" enquired the Scarecrow.
"The Witch of the South. She is the most powerful of all the Witches, and rules over the Quadlings. Besides, her castle stands on the edge of the desert, so she may know a way to cross it."
"Glinda is a good Witch, isn't she?" asked the child.
"The Quadlings think she is good," said the soldier, "and she is kind to everyone. I have heard that Glinda is a beautiful woman, who knows how to keep young in spite of the many years she has lived."
"How can I get to her castle?" asked Dorothy.
"The road is straight to the South," he answered, "but it is said to be full of dangers to travellers. There are wild beasts in the woods, and a race of queer men who do not like strangers to cross their country. For this reason none of the Quadlings ever come to the Emerald City."
The soldier then left them and the Scarecrow said,
"It seems, in spite of dangers, that the best thing Dorothy can do is to travel to the Land of the South and ask Glinda to help her. For, of course, if Dorothy stays here she will never get back to Kansas."
"You must have been thinking again," remarked the Tin Woodman.
"I have," said the Scarecrow.
"I shall go with Dorothy," declared the Lion, "for I am tired of your city and long for the woods and the country again. I am really a wild beast, you know. Besides, Dorothy will need someone to protect her."
"That is true," agreed the Woodman. "My axe may be of service to her; so I, also, will go with her to the Land of the South."
"When shall we start?" asked the Scarecrow.
"Are you going?" they asked, in surprise.
"Certainly. If it wasn't for Dorothy I should never have had brains. She lifted me from the pole in the cornfield and brought me to the Emerald City. So my good luck is all due to her, and I shall never leave her until she starts back to Kansas for good and all."
"Thank you," said Dorothy, gratefully. "You are all very kind to me. But I should like to start as soon as possible."
"We shall go to-morrow morning," returned the Scarecrow. "So now let us all get ready, for it will be a long journey."
One, two, three!
A bonny boat I see;
A silver boat, and all afloat
Upon a rosy sea.
One, two, three!
The riddle tell to me.
The moon afloat is the bonny boat,
The sunset is the sea.
WEEK 44 |
G REAT men of one kind are known only in new countries like ours. These men discover new regions. They know how to manage the Indians. They show other people how to live in a wild country.
One of the most famous of such men was Kit Carson. He knew all about the wild animals. He was a great hunter. He learned the languages of the Indians. The Indians liked him. He was a great guide. He showed soldiers and settlers how to travel where they wished to go.
Once he was marching through the wild country with other men. Evening came. He left the others, and went to shoot something to eat. It was the only way to get meat for supper.
When he had gone about a mile, he saw the tracks of some elks. He followed these tracks. He came in sight of the elks. They were eating grass on a hill, as cows do.
Kit Carson crept up behind some bushes. But elks are very timid animals. Before the hunter got very near, they began to run away. So Carson fired at one of them as it was running. The elk fell dead.
But just at that moment he heard a roar. He turned to see what made this ugly noise. Two huge bears were running toward him. They wanted some meat for supper, too.
Kit Carson's gun was empty. He threw it down. Then he ran as fast as he could. He wanted to find a tree.
Just as the bears were about to seize him, he got to a tree. He caught hold of a limb. He swung himself up into the tree. The bears just missed getting him.
But bears know how to climb trees. Carson knew that they would soon be after him. He pulled out his knife, and began to cut off a limb. He wanted to make a club.
A bear is much larger and stronger than a man. He cannot be killed with a club. But every bear has one tender spot. It is his nose. He does not like to be hit on the nose. A sharp blow on the nose hurts him a great deal.
Kit Carson got his club cut just in time. The bears were coming after him. Kit got up into the very top of the tree. He drew up his feet, and made himself as small as he could.
When the bears came near, one of them reached for Kit. Whack! went the stick on the end of his nose. The bear drew back, and whined with pain.
First one bear tried to get him, and then the other. But whichever one tried, Kit was ready. The bear was sure to get his nose hurt.
The bears grew tired, and rested awhile. But they kept up their screeching and roaring. When their noses felt better, they tried again. And then they tried again. But every time they came away with sore noses.
At last they both tried at once. But Carson pounded faster than ever. One of the bears cried like a baby. The tears ran out of his eyes. It hurt his feelings to have his nose treated in this rude way.
After a long time one of the bears got tired. He went away. After awhile the other went away too. Kit Carson staid in the tree a long time. Then he came down. The first thing he did was to get his gun. He loaded it. But the bears did not come back. They were too busy rubbing noses.
Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.
God bless Mummy. I know that's right.
Wasn't it fun in the bath tonight?
The cold's so cold, and the hot's so hot.
Oh! God bless Daddy—I quite forgot.
If I open my fingers a little bit more,
I can see Nanny's
It's a beautiful blue, but it hasn't a hood.
Oh! God bless Nanny and make her good.
Mine has a hood, and I lie in bed,
And pull the hood right over my head,
And I shut my eyes, and I curl up small,
And nobody knows that I'm there at all.
Oh! Thank you, God, for a lovely day.
And what was the other I had to say?
I said "Bless Daddy," so what can it be?
Oh! Now I remember. God bless Me.
Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.
WEEK 44 |
T HE Mice were having a great frolic in the corn-crib. The farmer's man had carelessly left a board leaning up against it in such a way that they could walk right up and through one of the big cracks in the side. It was the first time that some of them had ever been here. When the farmer built the crib, he had put a tin pan, open side down, on top of each of the wooden posts, and had then nailed the floor beams of the crib through these pans. That had kept the hungry Mice from getting into the corn.
This was a great day for them, and their gnawing-teeth would certainly be worn down enough without giving them any extra wear. That, you know, is one thing about which all Rats and Mice have to be very careful, for their front teeth are growing all the time, and they have to gnaw hard things every day to keep them from becoming too large.
There was only one thing that ever really troubled these Mice, and that was the Cat. They did not feel afraid of Hawks and Owls because they lived indoors. Weasels did not often come up to the barn, and men made so much noise when they were around that any wide-awake Mouse could easily keep out of their way. With the Cat it was different. She was always prowling around in the night-time, just when they had their finest parties; and many a young Mouse had been scared away from a midnight supper by seeing her eyes glowing like balls of fire in the darkness. By daylight it was not so bad, for they could see her coming, and besides, she slept much of the time then.
They were talking about her when in the corn-crib. "Have any of you seen the Cat to-day?" asked the Oldest Mouse.
Nobody answered. Then one young fellow,
who was always worrying, said:
she should come out of the barn now!
Supposing she should come right toward
corn-crib! Supposing she should stand
right under the floor! Supposing she
catch us as we jumped down!
But here the other young Mice all squeaked to him to stop, and one of them declared that it made her fur stand on end to think of it. The Oldest Mouse spoke quite sharply. "Supposing," said he to the first young Mouse, "you should eat more and talk less. There are enough pleasant things to speak about without scaring all your friends in this way."
The young Mouse who said that her fur stood on end couldn't eat anything more, she was so frightened. "What could we do," she said, "if the Cat should come?"
"Stay right where we are," answered her mother. "She couldn't reach us with the door closed. Now go on with your eating and don't be foolish."
A Rat ran up the board. "Good-morning," said he. "Have you heard the news?"
"No, no!" cried the Mice, hurrying to that side of the corn-crib, and peeping through the crack.
"The Yellow Kitten has been hunting with her mother, and they say that her brother is going to-night."
"Well," said a mother Mouse, "I knew we would have to expect it, but I did hope they would wait a while. Now, children," she added, "do be careful! I know that when you are looking for food you have to go into dangerous places, but don't stop there to talk or to clean your fur. Find safe corners for that, or I shall worry about you all the time."
"We will," squeaked all the little Mice together. "We will be very, very careful."
"Thank you for the news," said the Oldest Mouse to the Rat. "We will try to send you word of new dangers when we hear of them."
The Rat, who was a fine young fellow, ran down the board and away. They could not ask him in to lunch, because he was too large and stout to squeeze through the cracks, but he understood how it was, and knew that he could find food elsewhere. Now he ran to the Pig-pen to snatch a share of the breakfast which the farmer had just left there. He often did this as soon as the farmer went away, and the Pigs never troubled him. Perhaps that was because they knew that if they drove him away when he came alone, he would bring all his sisters and his cousins and his aunts, and his brothers and his uncles too, the next time, and would eat every bit of food they had.
After he had taken a hearty breakfast, he ran under the edge of the barn to clean himself. He was always very particular about this. His mother had taught him when very small that he must keep his fur well brushed and his face washed, and he did it just as a Cat would, by wetting his paws and scrubbing his face and the top of his head. He brushed his fur coat with his paws also.
While he was here, one of his cousins came from the barn above. She ran down the inside of the wall, head foremost, and her hind feet were turned around until they pointed backward. That let her hold on with her long, sharp claws, quite as a Squirrel does, and kept her from tumbling. She was much out of breath when she reached the ground, but it was not from running.
"What do you think that farmer has done now?" she cried. "It was bad enough for him to nail tin over the holes we gnawed into his grain-bins, but this is worse still. It needn't make us so much trouble, but it hurts my feelings."
"What is it?" asked her cousin.
"A trap!" said she. "A horrible, shining trap. The Rat from the other farm told me about it. It lies open and flat on the floor of a grain-bin,—the very one you and I gnawed into last night,—and there is a lovely piece of cheese in the middle of it. The Rat who told me about it says that as soon as one touches the cheese, the trap springs shut on him."
"Bah!" exclaimed the young Rat who had just eaten breakfast in the Pig-pen, "Let it stay there! We don't have to touch it, although I do mean to look at it some time. I believe in knowing about things."
"I wish you wouldn't look at it," said his cousin, who was very fond of him. "The Rat from the other farm says it is very dangerous to even look at traps, especially if your stomach is empty."
"Then the Rat from the other farm might better keep away," said this young fellow, as he put one paw up to see that his whiskers were all right. "I don't think very much of him anyway. He thinks he knows everything because he has travelled. I wish you would have nothing to do with him. I dare say you were in the grain-bin with him when you saw the trap."
"Yes," said she, "I was."
"Well," said he, "you both got away safely, and I shall too. I may not be very clever, but I think I do know enough to keep out of a trap." Then he turned into his hole and went to sleep. He had been running around all night, and was very tired. He was cross, too. This was the second time that his cousin had told him what the Rat from the other farm had said, and he thought she liked him altogether too well.
When he awakened, it was night again and he was aroused by the stamping of the Dappled Gray on the floor above his head. For a minute, he could hardly think where he was. Then it all came to him. He was in his own cozy little hole under the barn, and it was night. He remembered something about the Yellow Kitten. What was it? Oh yes, she had begun hunting. Well, he was not afraid of her yet. But there was something else—the trap! He wondered if his cousin were in that bin again. As like as not her friend, the Rat from the other farm, was showing her the trap now. He would go up there himself, and at once, too.
He ran up the wall, through an opening, and across the barn floor to the grain-bin. It was a moonlight night and the barn was not very dark. The cover of the bin was raised. Perhaps the farmer's man had forgotten to close it. Perhaps there was so little grain left in it that the man didn't care to. At any rate, he could now see the trap quite plainly. There was nobody else in the bin, and he went close to it.
"I would not touch it for anything," said he, as he entered the bin, "but it will not hurt me to look at it."
When he went nearer, he was very careful to see that his tail did not even brush against the chain which held the trap down. "So that is the terrible, dangerous trap?" said he. "It doesn't look particularly dreadful. That is fine-smelling cheese though." He sniffed two or three times. "I have tasted cheese only once in my whole life," said he, "and I am almost starved now. I wouldn't mind a nibble at that." He looked at it and thought about it until it seemed to him he could not go away and leave that cheese there.
Then he thought, "If I am very careful to step over these shining steel things and rest my feet only on the floor, it cannot spring the trap. Then I will snatch the cheese and jump. . . . I am pretty sure I can do it. . . . Why, yes, I know I can." So the Rat who had come just to look at the trap, began to lift first one foot and then another over the shining curved bars, and got all ready to catch up the cheese and run.
"Now!" he cried. "One, two, three!" He did snatch it and jump, but the trap jumped, too, in its own trappy way, and the Rat who got the cheese left the three tip rings of his tail to pay for it. "Ouch!" he cried. "My tail! My tail! My beautiful, long, bony tail, all covered with scales and short hair!" He did not care at all for the cheese now. He did not want to see it, for he would rather have had the point on his tail again than to eat a whole binful of cheese.
"How it will look!" said he. "So stumpy and blunt. And it has been so very useful always. I could wind it around a stick to hold myself up when my paws were full, and many a time I have rolled eggs across the floor by curling it around them." Then he heard Rat voices and scampered out and down to his own hole.
His cousin and the Rat from the other farm came into the bin. "Don't look at the trap," he was saying, "but just eat your grain from the farther corner."
"I won't," she answered, and she half closed her eyes to keep from seeing it. He was beside her and they stumbled over the cheese, which now lay on the floor away from the trap. "How does this happen?" said he. "We will eat it first and then find out." By this advice he showed that he was a Rat of excellent sense.
When they had eaten it, they began to look toward the trap. As there was no longer any cheese in it to tempt them, they felt perfectly safe in doing so. They found that it had been sprung, and there lay the last three rings of some Rat's tail.
"How dreadful!" she exclaimed. "I hope that was not lost by any of our friends."
"Hum-hum!" said the Rat from the other farm. "Now, whom have I seen wearing that? I have certainly seen that tail before—it was your cousin!"
"Poor fellow!" said she. "I must go to see him."
"Oh, don't go now," cried the Rat from the other farm. "I think he might want to be alone for a while. Besides," he added coaxingly, "you haven't tasted of the grain yet, and it is very good."
"W-well," answered she, "perhaps my cousin would just as soon not have me come now." So she waited, and the Rat from the other farm told her wonderful stories of his travels, and they had a very fine supper.
When her cousin began to run around again, he was a much sadder and wiser Rat. Sometimes the younger Rats would ask him how he lost the tip of his tail. "By not turning it toward a tempting danger," he would answer, very solemnly. Then, after he had told them the story, he always added, "The time to turn your tail toward a tempting danger is the minute you see it, for if you wait and look and long for something you ought not to take, there is sure to be trouble, and many a Rat has lost more than the tip of his tail in just that way."
Oh, Peterkin Pout and Gregory Grout
Are two little goblins black,
Full oft from my house I've driven them out,
But somehow they still come back.
They clamber up to the baby's mouth,
And pull the corners down;
They perch aloft on the baby's brow,
And twist it into a frown.
And one says "Must!" and t' other says "Can't!"
And one says "Shall!" and t' other says "Shan't!"
Oh, Peterkin Pout and Gregory Grout,
I pray you now, from my house keep out!
But Samuel Smile and Lemuel Laugh
Are two little fairies light;
They're always ready for fun and chaff,
And sunshine is their delight.
And when they creep into Baby's eyes,
Why, there the sunbeams are;
And when they peep through her rosy lips,
Her laughter rings near and far.
And one says "Please!" and t' other says "Do!"
And both together say "I love you!"
So, Lemuel Laugh and Samuel Smile,
Come in, my dears, and tarry awhile!
WEEK 44 |
I N Upland, which is a part of Sweden, there once lived a good woman who had an only daughter. All the other girls of the village were clever with their hands, and could weave and spin and knit and sew; but the old woman's daughter would do none of these things, and liked much better to sit with folded hands, watching the clouds in summer, and in winter-time watching the logs sparkle on the hearth. For a long time the mother was patient, for she was proud of her daughter's beauty as well as being ashamed of her idleness. But at last she decided that something must be done. So she made the girl sit with her spinning-wheel on the roof of the cottage. "Now," said she, "spin, or the whole village will see how lazy you are."
It seemed, however, that the daughter did not care if the whole village should see how lazy she was. She found it more amusing to sit upon the roof than to sit indoors. She could see everything that was going on, not only in the village, but in the meadows which surrounded it.
One day, as she sat beside her silent spinning-wheel, she saw some horsemen in green cloaks trotting along the highroad. Foremost rode a young man whose array was richer than that of the rest, and who had a hunting-horn of ivory and gold slung around his shoulder. He was the King's only son, going to the chase.
As he rode through the village, the Prince raised his eyes and saw the girl sitting on the roof beside her spinning-wheel. Much puzzled, he reined up his prancing steed, and demanded to know why she should sit there to spin.
"My lord," answered the girl's mother, "it is so that all the world may see how clever she is. And she is very clever. She can spin gold out of clay and straw."
The Prince, of course, did not understand that the good dame was only joking. "If that be so," said he, "she shall come home to the palace with me, and be my bride. For she is far prettier than any of the Princesses whom my father and mother want me to marry, and I am sure that none of them is as clever."
So the girl came down from the roof, and combed her long hair, and put on her cleanest white smock and her brightest embroidered apron, and her best string of amber beads, and went home with the Prince to his father's palace.
The King and Queen were astonished to see her, and to hear from their son that he had chosen her for his bride. But they were still more astonished when they heard the reason for his choice.
"If," said the King, "this maiden can truly spin pure gold from clay and straw, I am willing to receive her as a daughter-in-law. But not otherwise!"
"We must make sure," added the Queen. "She had better be locked up in the highest tower of the palace, with a bucket of clay and a bundle of straw. Then, if she has spun them into gold to-morrow morning, she shall be our son's bride. But if she is an impostor, she shall die."
The Prince thought that these terms were somewhat severe, but the whole Court agreed with the Queen. And whatever her Majesty said, his Majesty usually said, too!
When the girl found herself all alone in the high tower with only a spinning-wheel, a bucket of clay and a bundle of straw for company, she sat and wept bitterly, for she felt sure that the next day would be her last.
As she sat weeping, she heard a light patter of footsteps on the floor; and a moment later a little, squeaky voice asked what was amiss that she should be so sad. The girl looked up, and saw a dwarf standing before her. Dwarfs, especially fairy dwarfs, are seldom handsome. But this was the ugliest dwarf in all the history of goblins, imps, and elves.
"I have much reason to be sad," returned the girl, "for unless I have spun this clay and straw into pure gold by to-morrow morning, I must die."
"Is that all?" said the dwarf. "Why, then, I can help you. Do you see this pair of gloves? When you have put them on you will be able to spin gold out of anything you please."
The girl was delighted at this unexpected kindness, and began to thank the dwarf very politely, but he held up one of his little shrivelled hands to cut short the thanks.
"You must not," said he, "you must not think that I want no reward. Before I agree to lend you these gloves you must promise that, unless you can tell me my name when I return at moonrise to-morrow, you will come with me to the forest, and be my bride!"
In her despair the girl agreed to these hard terms, and as soon as the dwarf had vanished she pulled on the magic gloves and began to spin. Long before sunrise all the clay and all the straw had been spun into great masses of glittering red gold.
When the King and Queen climbed up into the tower they were dazzled at the sight of so much wealth. And, as the spinner was fair to look upon, and good and gentle, they agreed that their son was fortunate to have found such a bride.
Preparations for the wedding were immediately begun. But the bride had tears in her eyes all the time. The Prince said many gallant and polite things to her, before he went out hunting, but he could not win a single flicker of a smile from her in reply.
When he returned from the chase toward sunset he found his bride as silent and as sorrowful as ever.
"Is it," he asked her, "because you do not wish to marry me that you are so sad?"
"Oh, no!" answered the girl. And, indeed, she already loved the Prince with all her heart. But she had not the courage to tell him about her promise to the dwarf.
"Well," said the Prince, "perhaps it may amuse you to hear about a little adventure which befell me when I was out hunting to-day."
The bride said that she would like very much to hear about it, and the Prince then began, "I was walking in a grove of junipers, all alone, with none of my companions anywhere near. I heard somebody singing, in a queer, squeaky voice. I tiptoed in the direction whence the voice came, and there I saw the quaintest little old man dancing round one of the juniper trees."
"What did he sing?" asked the girl, eagerly; for she guessed that the little old man was none other than the dwarf who had lent her the magic gloves the night before, and whom she dreaded so much to see again.
"To-morrow is my wedding-day,
But the maiden weeps, and well she may,
The maiden weeps, and is wan with woe,
For she does not know—and how could she
That my name is Titelli-Ture!"
To the astonishment of the Prince, all the sadness of his young bride vanished when she had heard the words of the dwarf's song. She wiped the tears from her eyes, and looked a hundred times prettier than before, and began to talk quite cheerfully to him and the King and Queen. But she did not think it necessary to tell the reason of her joy.
At moonrise that night, when the girl was alone in her room in the high tower, the dwarf suddenly appeared before her.
The moment she beheld him she took the gloves and tossed them toward him, saying, "Thank you, Titelli-Ture, thank you!"
When he heard his own name the dwarf uttered one loud roar of rage, and flew away, taking with him the whole roof of the palace! Luckily, it was fine weather, so no rain came through the ceiling and spoilt the wedding-banquet or the gay garb of the wedding-guests. And, of course, the gold that the bride had spun was more than enough to pay for a new roof far better than the old one which Titelli-Ture had carried away with him. He was never heard of in that part of Sweden again.
Come up here, O dusty feet!
Here is fairy bread to eat.
Here in my retiring room,
Children, you may dine
On the golden smell of broom
And the shade of pine;
And when you have eaten well,
Fairy stories hear and tell.
WEEK 44 |
"Over the seas our galleys went,
With cleaving prows in order brave,
To a speeding wind and a bounding wave—
A gallant armament."
H ARDLY had Pyrrhus turned his back for the last time on Italy, when the first note of war, sounded between the Romans, and the men of Carthage. It came from that fair island—the foot of Italy, the Cyclops of the old Argonauts—Sicily. As Pyrrhus disappeared from the Western world he had cried, with his last breath, half in pity, half in envy, "How fair a battlefield are we leaving to the Romans and Carthaginians!"
The battlefield for the next hundred years was to be Sicily. Sooner or later, all knew that the struggle must come—the struggle for power between these two great nations. It was not a struggle for Sicily only, it was a contest for the sea—for possession of the blue Mediterranean, that washed the shores of Italy, that carried the ships of Carthage into every known port in Europe and North Africa.
Theirs was the greatest of all islands, the island of Sardinia; theirs the tiny Elba, with its wondrous supply of metals; theirs Malta, the outpost. From the Altar of the Philenæ on the one side to the Pillars of Hercules, on the other, stretched the country of the Carthaginians, the richest land of the ancient world. No wonder, then, they viewed the growing power of Rome with distrust; no wonder they prepared for the struggle, which they knew must come.
The Romans were not so well prepared. Up to this time all their fighting had been by land, they knew nothing of the sea. Great as soldiers, they had not the enterprise, that had prompted the sailors of Tyre and of Carthage, to enlarge the bounds of the world, and to guide their home-made ships into unknown seas.
To the Romans, as to the Egyptians, the great salt ocean, was an object of terror. But now the time had come, when the Romans must have a navy. They had some of the old triremes, such as the Greeks used; but they knew that the Carthaginians had newer and better ships at sea, than these old triremes, with their three banks of oars. One day, says an old story, a large ship from Carthage was washed ashore on the coast of Italy. It was a war vessel with sails and five banks of oars. The Romans set to work to copy it. Within sixty days, a growing wood was cut down and built into a fleet of a hundred ships on the new model. While the hundred ships were building, it is said, a large number of Roman landsmen were trained to row on dry land, and in two months the new fleet put to sea.
Never did ships sail under greater difficulties. But with admirable pluck, the sea-sick landsmen pulled their oars, heedless of the starting timbers, of the new unseasoned wood of their vessels. And forth into the Mediterranean, went the Romans against their new foes.
But the skill in naval warfare, which had taken the Carthaginians years and years to learn, could not be mastered by the men of Rome in a day. They devised a new method of naval fighting, by which they could board the enemy's ships and fight hand to hand. It was a clumsy idea, but they won their first sea-fight with the foe. They put up a strong mast, on the front of each ship, to which they lashed a kind of drawbridge, with a sharp spike of strong iron at the end, not unlike the long bill of a raven. When the enemy's ship drew near, they would let this heavy drawbridge fall with a crash, on to the deck of the attacking ship. The iron beak would pierce the planking, and in a few moments the Roman sailors would be on board the Carthaginian ships locked in a hand-to-hand battle.
Off the coast of Sicily the Carthaginians met the clumsy Roman fleet. They bore down upon it, laughing at the strange appearance of the vessels with uncouth masts, and wondering what was hanging on to those masts. Confidently thirty ships of Carthage advanced their decks cleared for action.
What was their surprise then, to find themselves suddenly imprisoned, by the iron beaks, which had excited their contempt, but a short time before. Round swung the fatal raven, pinning the ships together, while the Romans were leaping on to their decks, and fighting them hand to hand. After fifty of their ships of war had been destroyed in this way, the remainder refused to fight any more, and the Romans returned home, having won their first naval victory over the greatest naval Power, the world had yet seen.
A pillar was put up in the Forum, at Rome, adorned with the brazen beaks of the Carthaginian ships, which the clumsy skill of the Romans had enabled them to capture.
Good night! Good night!
Far flies the light;
But still God's love
Shall flame above,
Making all bright.
Good night! Good night!
WEEK 44 |
Even with a good breeze it took nearly an hour to sail across the lake. If they hadn't been in such a hurry to see the fun in town, the Twins and Pablo would have wished to have it take longer still.
Far away across the lake they could see
the town with its little bright-colored adobe houses and the spire of the church standing
up above the
As they drew nearer and nearer, they could see a bridge, and people passing over it, and flags flying, and then they turned into a river which ran through the town, where there were many other boats.
It took some time to find a good place to tie the boat, but at last it was done, and the whole party went ashore and started up the street toward the open square in the middle of the town.
Pedro and Pancho went ahead, each carrying three bundles of reeds on his back. Then came Pedro's wife with the bag of sweet potatoes, while Doña Teresa carried the baby. Pablo had the brasero and the wood, and Tonio and Tita brought up the rear with the molasses jug, the cooking-dishes, and their Judases all carefully packed together.
"Now, mind you, Tonio," said Doña Teresa as the procession started, "don't you get to watching everything in the street and forget that jug of molasses."
It was pretty hard to keep your mind on a jug when there were so many wonderful things to see. In the first place there was the street itself. No one had ever seen it so gay! Strings had been stretched back and forth across the street from the flat tops of the houses on either side, and from these strings hung thousands of tissue-paper streamers and pennants in all sorts of gorgeous colors.
The houses in Mexican towns are close to the street-line and stand very near together. They are built around a tiny open space in the center called a patio. The living-rooms open on the patio, so all that can be seen of a house from the street is a blank wall with a doorway, and perhaps a window or two with little balconies. Sometimes, if the door is open, there are glimpses of plants, flowers, and bird-cages in the little patio.
Pablo and Tonio and Tita had their hands full, but they kept their eyes open, and their mouths too. They seemed to feel they could see more that way.
It was not very long before they came to the public square or plaza of the town, and there on one side was the church whose spire they had seen from the boat.
On the other side was the market-place, and in the center of the square there was a
fountain. In another place there was a gayly painted
There were beds of gay geraniums at each corner of the square, and large trees made a pleasant shade where people could sit and watch the crowds, or listen to music, if the band were playing.
Pedro and Pancho went straight across the street to the market side. There were rows of small booths there, and already many of them were occupied by people who had things to sell. There were peanut-venders, and pottery-sellers; there were women with lace and drawn work; there were foods of all kinds, and flowers, and birds in cages, and chickens in coops or tied up by the legs, and geese and ducks,—in fact, I can't begin to tell you all the things there were for sale in that market.
Pedro found a stall with an awning over it and took possession at once. He and Pancho put down the bundles of reeds in a pile, and his wife sat on them. Pedro placed the brasero on the ground in front of her, and the sweet potatoes by her side. Pablo put down the wood, and Doña Teresa put the baby into her arms. Tita gave her the cooking-dishes, and Tonio was just going to hand her the jug, when bang-bang-bang!—three fire-crackers went off one right after the other almost in his ear! Tonio jumped at least a foot high, and oh—the jug! It accidentally tipped over sideways, and poured a puddle of molasses right on top of the baby's head!
It ran down his cheek, but the baby had the presence of mind to stick his tongue out sideways and lick up some of it, so it wasn't all wasted.
Doña Teresa said several things to Tonio while the baby was being mopped up. Tonio couldn't see why they should mind it if the baby didn't.
At last Doña Teresa finished by saying to the Twins and Pablo, "Now you run round the square and have a good time by yourselves, only see that you don't get into any more mischief; and come back when you're hungry."
Pedro and Pancho had already gone off by themselves, and as they didn't say where they
were going I can't tell you anything about it. I only know they were seen not long after
in front of a pulque shop (pulque is a kind of wine) talking in low tones with a Tall Man
on horseback, and that after that nobody saw them for a long time. It may be they went to
The Twins and Pablo with their precious Judases went to a bench near the fountain, and sat down to watch the fun. There were water-carriers filling their long earthen jars at the fountain; there were young girls in bright dresses who laughed a great deal; and there were young men in big hats and gay serapes who stood about and watched them.
There were more small boys than you could count. Twelve o'clock was the time that every one was supposed to set off his fire-crackers, and the children waited patiently until the shadows were very short indeed under the trees in the square and there had been one or two explosions to start the noise, then they tied their Judases up in a row to the back of the bench. They hung Tonio's Maestro in the middle, with Tita's donkey-boy on one side and the policeman on the other. Pablo's Judas was a policeman too, and they put him on the other side of the donkey-boy.
Then Pablo borrowed a match from a boy and set fire to the first cracker on his policeman. Fizz-fizz-bang! off went the first fire-cracker. Fizz-fizz-bang! off went the second one. When the third one exploded, the policeman whirled around on his string, one of his hands caught fire, and up he went in a puff of smoke.
They lighted the fuses on the donkey-boy and the other policeman, both at once, and last of all Tonio set fire to the Maestro Judas. He was the biggest one of all. While the fire-crackers went off in a series of bangs, Tonio jumped up and down and sang, "Pop goes the Maestro! Pop goes the Maestro!" and Tita and Pablo thought that was so very funny that they hopped about and sang it too.
Just as the last fire-cracker went off and Tonio's Judas caught fire, and all three of them were dancing and singing at the top of their lungs, Tonio saw the Señor Maestro himself standing in front of the bench with his hands in his pockets, looking right at them!
Tonio shut his mouth so quickly that he bit his tongue, and then Pablo and Tita saw the Maestro and stopped singing too, and they all three ran as fast as they could go to the other side of the square and lost themselves in the crowd.
They stayed away for quite a long time. They were in the crowd by a baker's shop when a great big Judas which hung high overhead exploded and showered cakes over them. They each picked up a cake and then ran back to show their goodies to their mothers. They could hardly get near the booth at first, because there was quite a little crowd around it, but they squirmed under the elbows of the grown people, and right beside the brasero eating a piece of candied sweet potato, and talking to Doña Teresa, whom should they see but the Señor Maestro?
Tonio wished he hadn't come. He turned round and tried to dive back into the crowd again, but the Señor Maestro reached out and caught him by the collar and pulled him back. Tonio was very much frightened. He thought surely the Maestro had told his mother about "Pop goes the Maestro," and that very unpleasant things were likely to happen.
"Anyway, there aren't any willow trees in the plaza," he said to himself. "That's one good thing."
But what really happened was this. The Maestro took three pennies out of his pocket, and said to Pedro's wife, "Please give me three pieces of your nice sweet potatoes for my three friends here!"
Pedro's wife was so busy with her cooking that she did not look up to see who his three friends were until she had taken the pennies and handed out the sweet potatoes. Then she saw Pablo and Tonio and Tita all three standing in a row looking very foolish.
She was quite overcome at the honor the Maestro had done her in buying sweet potatoes to give to her son, and Doña Teresa thought to herself, "They really must be very good and clean children to have the Maestro think so much of them as that." She thanked him, and Tonio and Tita and Pablo all thanked him.
After that there was a wonderful concert by a band all dressed in green and white uniforms with red braid, and at the end of the concert, it was four o'clock. Pedro's wife had sold all her sweet potatoes by that time and Pedro had sold all his reeds. Pancho had come back, the baby was sleepy, and every one was tired and ready to go home. So the whole party returned to the boat, this time without any heavy bundles except the baby to carry, and sailed away across the lake toward the hacienda.
Pancho and Doña Teresa and the Twins reached their little adobe hut just as the red rooster and the five hens and the turkey were flying up to their roost in the fig tree.
The fairies have never a penny to spend,
They haven't a thing put by,
But theirs is the dower of bird and flower
And theirs is the earth and sky.
And though you should live in a palace of gold
Or sleep in a dried up ditch,
You could never be as poor as the fairies are,
And never be as rich.
Since ever and ever the world began
They danced like a ribbon of flame,
They have sung their song through the centuries long,
And yet it is never the same.
And though you be foolish or though you be wise,
With hair of silver or gold,
You can never be as young as the fairies are,
And never be as old.
WEEK 44 |
T HE mist of long years enfolds the story of Bridget, the dearly loved saint of Ireland. Though we strive to see her clearly, the mist closes round and only lifts to show us, here and there, a flash of light upon her life, and while we gaze in wonder the light is gone.
But all the time, behind the mist, we feel there is a gracious presence, a white-robed maiden with a pure strong soul, who dwelt in the green isle of Erin; a gentle saint who dwells there still in the hearts of her people to bless and comfort them as of old. The mist of years cannot dim the eyes of those who love Saint Bridget's memory, nor can it bewilder their faithful hearts. Wise men may dispute the facts of her life, but to the poor, who love her, she is just their friend, the dear Saint Bridget whose touch made sick folk well, whose blessing increased the store of the poor, who helped sad weary mothers, and bent in loving tenderness over many a tiny cradle in those long ago days.
So now it comforts the mother's heart, when there are many little hungry mouths to fill, to remember how Saint Bridget's faith ever found a way to feed the poor and needy. When the cradle is made ready for the little one whom God will send, it is for Saint Bridget's blessing that the mother prays, counting it the greatest gift that God can give. She is such a homelike saint this Bridget of the fair green island, and she dwells so close to the heart of the people, that it is their common everyday life which holds the most loving memory of her helpful kindness.
In the first days of early spring her little flame-spiked flowers speak to them from the roadside, and bring her message of joy and hope, telling of the return of life, the swelling of green buds, the magic of the spring. We call her flower the common dandelion, but to Saint Bridget's friends it is "the little flame of God" or "the flower of Saint Bride." She herself has many names. Bride or Bridget, "Christ's Foster-Mother," Saint Bridget of the Mantle, the Pearl of Ireland.
Many stories and legends have grown up around the memory of Saint Bridget, but all agree in telling us that she was a little maiden of noble birth, and that her father, Dubtach, was of royal descent. We know too that she was born in the little village of Fochard in the north of Ireland, about the time when good Saint Patrick was beginning to teach the Irish people how to serve the Lord Christ.
Bridget was a strange thoughtful child, fond of learning, but clever with her hands as well as her head. In those days even noble maidens had plenty of hard work to do, and Bridget was never idle. In the early morning there were the cows to drive out to pasture, when the dew hung dainty jewels upon each blade of grass and turned the spiders' webs into a miracle of flimsy lace. The great mild-eyed cows had to be carefully herded as they wandered up the green hillside, for, should any stray too far afield, there was ever the chance of a lurking robber ready to seize his chance. Then, when the cows were safely driven home again, there was the milking to be done and the butter to be churned.
But in spite of all this work, Bridget found time for other things as well. There was always time to notice the hungry look in a beggar's face as she passed him on the road, time to stop and give him her share of milk and home-made bread, time to help any one in pain who chanced to come her way. The very touch of the child's kind, strong little hands seemed to give relief and many a poor sufferer blessed her as she passed, and talked of white-robed angels they had seen walking by her side, guiding and teaching her. And sure it was that in all that land there was no child with so kind a heart as little Bridget's, and no one with as fair a face.
Now the older Bridget grew the more and more beautiful she became, and her loveliness was good to look upon. She was as straight and fair as a young larch tree; her hair was yellow as the golden corn, and her eyes as deep and blue as the mountain lakes. Many noble lords sought to marry her, but Bridget loved none of them. There was but one Lord of her life, and she had made up her mind to serve Him.
"We will have no more of this," said her father angrily; "choose a prince of noble blood, and wed him as I bid thee."
"I have chosen the noblest Prince of all," said Bridget steadfastly, "and He is the Lord Christ."
"Thou shalt do as thou art bidden and marry the first man who asks thee," said her brothers, growing more and more angry.
But Bridget knew that God would help her, and prayed earnestly to Him. Then in His goodness God took away her beauty from her for a while, and men, seeing she was no longer fair to look upon, left her in peace.
At this time Bridget was but a young maiden of sixteen years, but old enough, she thought, to give up her life to the service of God. The good Bishop Maccail, to whom she went, was perplexed as he looked at the young maid and her companions. Did she know what God's service meant, he wondered? Was she ready to endure hardness instead of enjoying a soft life of pleasure and ease?
But even as he doubted, the legend says, he saw a strange and wonderful light begin to shine around the maiden's head, rising upwards in a column of flame, and growing brighter and brighter until it was lost in the glory of the shining sky.
"Truly this is a miracle," said the Bishop, shading his eyes, which were blinded by the dazzling light. "He who, each morning, sendeth His bright beams aslant the earth to wake our sleeping eyes, hath in like manner sent this wondrous light to clear my inward vision and show my doubting heart that the maiden is one whom God hath chosen to do His work."
Even then the careful Bishop sought to know more of Bridget's life ere he trusted the truth of the miracle. But there was nought to tell that was not good and beautiful. Out on the green hills, at work in the home, all her duties had been well and carefully performed. Happy, willing service had she given to all who needed her help, and there was but one fault to be found with her.
"She gives away everything that comes to her hand," said her parents. "No matter how little milk the cows are giving, the first beggar who asks for a drink has his cup filled. If there is but one loaf of bread in the house, it is given away. The poor have but to ask, and Bridget will give all that she can find."
"That is true," said Bridget gently, "but ye would not have me send them hungry away? Is it not Christ Himself we help when we help His poor?"
"Well, well, perhaps thou art right," answered her parents; "and this we must say, that in spite of all that is given away, we have never wanted aught ourselves, but rather our store has been increased."
Hearing all this, the Bishop hesitated no longer, but laid his hands in blessing upon Bridget's head, and consecrated both her and her companions to the service of God. And it is said that as she knelt before the altar, while the Bishop placed a white veil upon her head, she leaned her hand upon the altar step, and at her touch the dry wood became green and living once more, so pure and holy was the hand that touched it. At first there were but few maidens who joined themselves with Bridget in her work, but as time went on the little company grew larger and larger. Then Bridget determined to build their home beneath the shelter of an old oak tree which grew near her native village. It was from this oak tree that the convent was known in after years as "the cell of the oak" or Kil-dare. Here the poor and those in distress found their way from all parts, and never was any poor soul turned away without help from the good sisters and the tender-hearted Bridget. Here the sick were healed, the sorrowful comforted, and the hungry fed. Here the people learned to know the love of Christ through the tender compassion of His servant.
Far and near the fame of Bridget spread,
not only in Ireland but over many lands,
and the love of her became so deeply rooted in the hearts of the people,
There are so many wonderful stories clustering round the name of Saint Bridget that they almost make her seem a dim and shadowy person, but there is one thing that shines through even the wildest legend. The tender heart and the helping hand of good Saint Bridget are the keynote of all the wonders that have been woven around her name. We see her swift on all errands of mercy, eager to help the helpless, ready to aid all who were oppressed, and protecting all who were too weak to help themselves.
One story tells us of a poor wood-cutter who by mistake had slain a tame wolf, the King's favourite pet, and who for this was condemned to die. As soon as the news was brought to Saint Bridget, she lost not a moment, but set out in the old convent cart to plead with the King for his life. Perhaps her pleading might have been in vain had it not been that as she drove through the wood a wolf sprang out of the undergrowth and leapt into the car. Loving all animals, tame or wild, Saint Bridget nodded a welcome to her visitor and patted his head, and he, quite contentedly, crouched down at her feet, as tame as any dog.
Arrived at the palace, Saint Bridget demanded to see the King, and with the wolf meekly following, was led into his presence.
"I have brought thee another tame wolf," said Saint Bridget, "and bid thee pardon that poor soul, who did thee a mischief unknowingly."
So the matter was settled to every one's satisfaction. The King was delighted with his new pet, the poor man was pardoned, and Saint Bridget went home rejoicing.
Those sisters who dwelt in the Cell of the Oak seemed to be specially protected from all harm, and it is said that many a robber knew to his cost how useless it was to try and rob Saint Bridget.
Once there came a band of thieves who, with great cunning, managed to drive off all the cows belonging to the convent, and in the twilight to escape unnoticed. So far all went well, and the robbers laughed to think how clever they had been. But when they reached the river which they were obliged to cross, they found the waters had risen so high that it was almost impossible to drive the cows across. Thinking to keep their clothes dry, they took them off and bound them in bundles to the horns of the cows, and then prepared to cross the ford. But Saint Bridget's wise cows knew a better way than that, and immediately there was a stampede, and they set off home at a gallop, and never stopped until they reached the convent stable. The thieves raced after them with all their might, but could not overtake them, and so, crestfallen and ashamed, they had at last to beg for pardon and pray that their clothes might be returned to them.
In those days there were many lepers in Ireland, and when there was no one else to help and pity them, the poor outcasts were always sure of a kindly welcome from the gracious lady of Kildare. One of the stories tells of a wretched leper who came to Saint Bridget, so poor and dirty and diseased that no one would come near him. But like our blessed Lord, Saint Bridget felt only compassion for him, and with her own hands washed his feet and bathed his poor aching head. Then, seeing that his clothes must be washed, she bade one of the sisters standing by to wrap her white mantle round the man until his own clothes should be ready. But the sister shuddered and turned away; she could not bear to think of her cloak being wrapped around the miserable leper. Quick to mark disobedience and unkindness, a stern look came into Saint Bridget's blue eyes as she put her own cloak over the shivering form.
"I leave thy punishment in God's hands," she said quietly; and even as she spoke, the sister was stricken with the terrible disease, and as the cloak touched the beggar, he was healed of his leprosy.
Tears of repentance streamed down the poor sister's face, and her punishment was more than tender-hearted Saint Bridget could bear to see. Together they prayed to God for pardon, and at Saint Bridget's touch the leprosy was healed.
So Saint Bridget lived her life of mercy and loving-kindness, and because the people loved and honoured her above all saints, they placed her in their hearts next to the Madonna herself, and, by some curious instinct of tender love and worship, there came to be woven about her a legend which has earned for her the titles of "Christ's Foster-Mother" and "Saint Bridget of the Mantle."
It was on that night, so the legend runs, when the Blessed Virgin came to Bethlehem, weary and travel-worn, and could find no room in the village inn, that Saint Bridget was sent by God to help and comfort her. In the quiet hours of the starry night, when on the distant hills the wondering shepherds heard the angels' song, Saint Bridget passed the stable door and paused, marvelling at the light that shone with such dazzling brilliance from within. Surely no stable lantern could shed such a glow as that which shone around the manger there. Softly Saint Bridget entered and found the fair young Mother bending over the tiny newborn Child, wrapping His tender little limbs about with swaddling bands.
There was no need to ask who He was. Bridget knew it was the King, and kneeling there, she worshipped too. Then very tenderly she led the young Mother to a soft bed of sweet bay and prayed her that she would rest awhile.
"Sweet Mary," she implored, "rest, and I meanwhile will watch and tend the Child." And Mary, looking into Bridget's kind blue eyes, and feeling the touch of her tender strong hands, trusted her with her Treasure, and bade her take the Child and watch Him until the morning should break.
So Bridget took off her soft mantle and wrapped the Baby in it, and, sitting there, rocked Him to sleep, crooning to Him all the sweetest baby songs she knew.
Perhaps it was Saint Bridget's tender love for little children, and her gentle care for all poor mothers, that helped to weave this curious legend, but there is a beautiful truth hidden deep in the heart of the strange story too. For did not Christ Himself say of all kind deeds done to the poor, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me"; and again, "Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother and sister and mother."
So it is that Saint Bridget bears the name of Christ's foster-mother and is linked in this loving way with the Mother of our Lord. Year by year her memory lives on, and when February, the month of Saint Bride, comes round, when the bleating of the first lambs is heard on the hills, and the little flower of Saint Bridget lights up the wayside with its tiny yellow flame, the thought of good Saint Bridget, Christ's foster-mother, fills many a poor mother's heart with comfort. Did she not care for all young things and helpless weary souls? Did she not show how, by helping others, she helped the dear Lord Himself? Does she not still point out the way by which they too may find Him and live in the light of His love?
"Goodbye in fear, goodbye in sorrow,
Goodbye, and all in vain,
Never to meet again, my dear—"
"Never to part again."
"Goodbye today, goodbye tomorrow,
Goodbye till earth shall wane,
Never to meet again, my dear—"
"Never to part again."