WEEK 37 |
ES, he was the most beautiful Prince that ever was born. Of course, being a prince, people said this: but it was true besides. When he looked at the candle, his eyes had an expression of earnest inquiry quite startling in a new-born baby. His nose—there was not much of it certainly, but what there was seemed an aquiline shape; his complexion was a charming, healthy purple; he was round and fat, straight-limbed and long—in fact, a splendid baby, and everybody was exceedingly proud of him, especially his father and mother, the King and Queen of Nomansland, who had waited for him during their happy reign of ten years—now made happier than ever, to themselves and their subjects, by the appearance of a son and heir.
The only person who was not quite happy was the King's brother, the heir-presumptive, who would have been king one day had the baby not been born. But as his majesty was very kind to him, and even rather sorry for him—insomuch that at the Queen's request he gave him a dukedom almost as big as a county,—the Crown Prince, as he was called, tried to seem pleased also; and let us hope he succeeded.
The Prince's christening was to be a grand affair. According to the custom of the country, there were chosen for him four-and-twenty godfathers and godmothers, who each had to give him a name, and promise to do their utmost for him. When he came of age, he himself had to choose the name—and the godfather or godmother—that he liked the best, for the rest of his days.
Meantime all was rejoicing. Subscriptions were made among the rich to give pleasure to the poor: dinners in town-halls for the workingmen; tea-parties in the streets for their wives; and milk and bun feasts for the children in the school-rooms. For Nomansland, though I cannot point it out in any map, or read of it in any history, was, I believe, much like our own or many another country.
As for the Palace—which was no different from other palaces—it was clean "turned out of the windows," as people say, with the preparations going on. The only quiet place in it was the room which, though the Prince was six weeks old, his mother the Queen had never quitted. Nobody said she was ill, however; it would have been so inconvenient; and as she said nothing about it herself, but lay pale and placid, giving no trouble to anybody, nobody thought much about her. All the world was absorbed in admiring the baby.
The christening-day came at last, and it was as lovely as the Prince himself. All the people in the palace were lovely too—or thought themselves so, in the elegant new clothes which the queen, who thought of everybody, had taken care to give them, from the ladies-in-waiting down to the poor little kitchenmaid, who looked at herself in her pink cotton gown, and thought, doubtless, that there never was such a pretty girl as she.
All the people in the palace were lovely too—or thought themselves so, . . . from the ladies-in-waiting down. . .
The poor little kitchenmaid . . . in her pink cotton gown . . . thought doubtless, there never was such a pretty girl.
By six in the morning all the royal household had dressed itself in its very best; and then the little Prince was dressed in his best—his magnificent christening-robe; which proceeding his Royal Highness did not like at all, but kicked and screamed like any common baby. When he had a little calmed down, they carried him to be looked at by the Queen his mother, who, though her royal robes had been brought and laid upon the bed, was, as everybody well knew, quite unable to rise and put them on.
She admired her baby very much; kissed and blessed him, and lay looking at him, as she did for hours sometimes, when he was placed beside her fast asleep; then she gave him up with a gentle smile, and saying "she hoped he would be very good, that it would be a very nice christening, and all the guests would enjoy themselves," turned peacefully over on her bed, saying nothing more to anybody. She was a very uncomplaining person—the Queen, and her name was Dolorez.
Everything went on exactly as if she had been present. All, even the King himself, had grown used to her absence, for she was not strong, and for years had not joined in any gaieties. She always did her royal duties, but as to pleasures, they could go on quite well without her, or it seemed so. The company arrived: great and notable persons in this and neighboring countries; also the four-and-twenty godfathers and godmothers, who had been chosen with care, as the people who would be most useful to his Royal Highness should he ever want friends, which did not seem likely. What such want could possibly happen to the heir of the powerful monarch of Nomansland?
They came, walking two and two, with their coronets on their heads—being dukes and duchesses, prince and princesses, or the like; they all kissed the child and pronounced the name each had given him. Then the four-and-twenty names were shouted out with great energy by six heralds, one after the other, and afterwards written down, to be preserved in the state records, in readiness for the next time they were wanted which would be either on his Royal Highness's coronation or his funeral. Soon the ceremony was over, and everybody satisfied; except, perhaps, the little Prince himself, who moaned faintly under his christening robes, which nearly smothered him.
In truth, though very few knew, the Prince in coming to the chapel had met with a slight disaster. His nurse—not his ordinary one, but the state nursemaid, an elegant and fashionable young lady of rank, whose duty it was to carry him to and from the chapel, had been so occupied in arranging her train with one hand, while she held the baby with the other, that she stumbled and let him fall, just at the foot of the marble staircase. To be sure, she contrived to pick him up again the next minute, and the accident was so slight it seemed hardly worth speaking of. Consequently, nobody did speak of it. The baby had turned deadly pale, but did not cry, so no person a step or two behind could discover anything wrong; afterwards, even if he had moaned, the silver trumpets were loud enough to drown his voice.
It would have been a pity to let anything trouble such a day of felicity.
So, after a minute's pause, the procession had moved on. Such a procession! Heralds in blue and silver; pages in crimson and gold; and a troop of little girls in dazzling white, carrying baskets of flowers, which they strewed all the way before the nurse and child,—finally the four-and-twenty godfathers and godmothers, as proud as possible, and so splendid to look at that they would have quite extinguished their small godson—merely a heap of lace and muslin with a baby-face inside—had it not been for a canopy of white satin and ostrich feathers, which was held over him wherever he was carried.
The procession had moved on. Such a procession! Heralds in blue and silver; pages in crimson and gold.
Thus, with the sun shining on them through the painted windows, they stood; the King and his train on one side, the Prince and his attendants on the other, as pretty a sight as ever was seen out of fairyland.
"It's just like fairyland," whispered the eldest little girl to the next eldest, as she shook the last rose out of her basket; "and I think the only thing the Prince wants now is a fairy godmother."
"Does he?" said a shrill but soft and not unpleasant voice behind; and there was seen among the group of children somebody—not a child yet no bigger than a child: somebody whom nobody had seen before, and who certainly had not been invited, for she had no christening clothes on.
She was a little old woman dressed all in grey: grey gown, grey hooded cloak, of a material excessively fine, and a tint that seemed perpetually changing, like the grey of an evening sky. Her hair was grey, and her eyes also; even her complexion had a soft grey shadow over it. But there was nothing unpleasantly old about her, and her smile was as sweet and childlike as the Prince's own, which stole over his pale little face the instant she came near enough to touch him.
"Take care. Don't let the baby fall again."
"Take care, don't let the baby fall again."
The grand young lady nurse started, flushing angrily.
"Who spoke to me? How did anybody know?—I mean, what business has
"Nevertheless I must kiss him. I am his godmother."
"You!" cried the elegant lady nurse.
"You! !" repeated all the gentlemen and ladies in waiting.
"You! ! !" echoed the heralds and pages—and they began to blow the silver trumpets, in order to stop all further conversation.
The Prince's procession formed itself for returning—the King and his train having already moved off toward the palace—but, on the topmost step of the marble stairs stood, right in front of all, the little old woman clothed in grey.
She stretched herself on tiptoe by the help of her stick, and gave the little Prince three kisses.
"This is intolerable!" cried the young lady nurse, wiping the kisses off rapidly with her lace handkerchief. "Such an insult to his Royal Highness! Take yourself out of the way, old woman, or the King shall be informed immediately."
"The King knows nothing of me, more's the pity," replied the old woman, with an indifferent air, as if she thought the loss was more on his Majesty's side than hers. "My friend in the palace is the King's wife."
"Kings' wives are called queens," said the lady nurse, with a contemptuous air.
"You are right," replied the old woman. "Nevertheless, I know her Majesty well, and I love her and her child. And—since you dropped him on the marble stairs (this she said in a mysterious whisper, which made the young lady tremble in spite of her anger)—I choose to take him for my own. I am his godmother, ready to help him whenever he wants me."
"You help him!" cried all the group breaking into shouts of laughter, to which the little old woman paid not the slightest attention. Her soft grey eyes were fixed on the Prince, who seemed to answer to the look, smiling again and again in the causeless, aimless fashion that babies do smile.
"His Majesty must hear of this," said a gentleman-in-waiting.
"His Majesty will hear quite enough news in a minute or two," said the old woman sadly. And again stretching up to the little Prince, she kissed him on the forehead solemnly.
"Be called by a new name which nobody has ever thought of. Be Prince Dolor, in memory of your mother Dolorez."
"In memory of!" Everybody started at the ominous phrase, and also at a most terrible breach of etiquette which the old woman had committed. In Nomansland, neither the king nor the queen was supposed to have any Christian name at all. They dropped it on their coronation-day, and it never was mentioned again till it was engraved on their coffins when they died.
"Old woman, you are exceedingly ill-bred," cried the eldest lady-in-waiting, much horrified. "How you could know the fact passes my comprehension. But even if you did know it, how dared you presume to hint that her most gracious Majesty is called Dolorez?"
"Was called Dolorez," said the old woman, with a tender solemnity.
The first gentleman, called the Gold-stick-in-waiting, raised it to strike her, and all the rest stretched out their hands to seize her; but the grey mantle melted from between their fingers like air; and, before anybody had time to do anything more, there came a heavy, muffled, startling sound.
The great bell of the palace—the bell which was only heard on the death of some one of the Royal family, and for as many times as he or she was years old—began to toll. They listened, mute and horror-stricken. Some one counted: One—two—three—four—up to nine and twenty—just the queen's age.
It was, indeed, the Queen. Her Majesty was dead! In the midst of the festivities she had slipped away, out of her new happiness and her old sufferings, not few nor small. Sending away all her women to see the sight—at least, they said afterwards, in excuse, that she had done so, and it was very like her to do it—she had turned with her face to the window, whence one could just see the tops of the distant mountains—the Beautiful Mountains, as they were called—where she was born. So gazing, she had quietly died.
When the little Prince was carried back to his mother's room, there was no mother to kiss him. And, though he did not know it, there would be for him no mother's kiss any more.
As for his Godmother—the little old woman in grey who called herself so—whether she melted into air, like her gown when they touched it, or whether she flew out of the chapel window, or slipped through the doorway among the bewildered crowd, nobody knew—nobody ever thought about her.
Only the nurse, the ordinary homely one, coming out of the Prince's nursery in the middle of the night in search of a cordial to quiet his continual moans, saw, sitting in the doorway, something which she would have thought a mere shadow, had she not seen shining out of it two eyes, grey and soft and sweet. She put her hand before her own, screaming loudly. When she took them away the old woman was gone.
First you must know, however, that when our houses of logs had been built, we had nothing with which to make a chimney such as one finds in London. We had no bricks, and although, mayhap, flat rocks might have been found enough for two or three, there was no mortar in the whole land of Virginia with which to fasten them together.
Therefore it was we were forced to build a chimney of logs, laying it up on the outside much as we had the house, but plentifully besmearing it with mud on the inside, and chinking the crevices with moss and clay.
When this had been done, a hole was cut for the smoke, directly through the side of the house. The danger of setting the building on fire was great; but we strove to guard against it so much as possible by plastering a layer of mud over the wood, and by keeping careful watch when we had a roaring fire. Oftentimes were we forced to stop in the task of cooking, take all the vessels from the coals, and throw water upon the blazing logs.
The chimney was a rude affair, of course, and perhaps if we had had women among us, they would have claimed that no cooking could be done, when all the utensils were placed directly on the burning wood, or hung above it with chains fastened to the top of the fireplace; but when lads like Nathaniel and me, who had never had any experience in cooking with proper tools, set about the task, it did not seem difficult, for we were accustomed to nothing else.
And this is how we could roast a turkey: after drawing the entrails from the bird, we filled him full of chinquapin nuts, which grow profusely in this land, and are, perhaps, of some relation to the chestnut. An oaken stick, sufficiently long to reach from one side of the fireplace to the other, and trimmed with knives until it was no larger around than the ramrod of a matchlock, forms our spit, and this we thrust through the body of the bird from end to end. A pile of rocks on either side of the fireplace, at a proper distance from the burning wood, serves as rests for the ends of the wooden spit, and when thus placed the bird will be cooked in front of the fire, if whosoever is attending to the labor turns the carcass from time to time, so that each portion may receive an equal amount of heat.
I am not pretending to say that this is a skillful method of cooking; but if you had been with us in Jamestown, and were as hungry as we often were, a wild turkey filled with chinquapin nuts, and roasted in such fashion, would make a very agreeable dinner.
We were put to it for a table; but yet a sort of shelf made from a plank roughly split out of the trunk of a tree, and furnished with two legs on either end, was not as awkward as one may fancy, for we had no chairs on which to sit while eating; but squatted on the ground, and this low bench served our purpose as well as a better piece of furniture would have done.
When the captain was at home, he carved the bird with his hunting knife, and one such fowl would fill the largest trencher bowl we had among us.
Nor could we be overly nice while eating, and since we had no napkins on which to wipe our fingers, a plentiful supply of water was necessary to cleanse one's hands, for these wild turkeys are overly fat in the months of September and October, and he who holds as much of the cooked flesh in his hand as is needed for a hearty dinner, squeezes therefrom a considerable amount in the way of grease.
We were better off for vessels in which to put our food, than in many other respects, for we had of trencher bowls an abundance, and the London Company had outfitted us with ware of iron, or of brass, or of copper, until our poor table seemed laden with an exceeding rich store.
To provide lights for ourselves, now that the evenings were grown longer, was a much more difficult task than to cook without proper conveniences, for it cost considerable labor. We had our choice between the candle-wood, as the pitch pine is called, or rushlights, which last are made by stripping the outer bark from common rushes, thus leaving the pith bare; then dipping these in tallow, or grease, and allowing them to harden.
In such manner did we get makeshifts for candles, neither pleasing to the eye nor affording very much in the way of light; yet they served in a certain degree to dispel the darkness when by reason of storm we were shut in the dwellings, and made the inside of the house very nearly cheerful in appearance.
To get the tallow or grease with which to make these rushlights, we saved the fat of the deer, or the bear, or even a portion of the grease from turkeys, and, having gathered sufficient for the candle making, mixed them all in one pot for melting.
The task of gathering the candle-wood was more pleasing, and yet oftentimes had in it more of work, for it was the knots of the trees which gave the better light, and we might readily fasten them upon an iron skewer, or rod, which was driven into the side of the house for such purpose.
Some of our people, who were too lazy to search for knots, split the wood into small sticks, each about the size of a goose quill, and, standing three or four in a vessel filled with sand, gained as much in the way of light as might be had from one pine knot.
Of course, those who were overly particular, would find fault with the smoke from this candle-wood, and complain of the tar which oozed from it; but one who lives in the wilderness must not expect to have all the luxuries that can be procured in London.
Dark brown is the river,
Golden is the sand.
It flows along for ever,
With trees on either hand.
Green leaves a-floating,
Castles of the foam,
Boats of mine a-boating—
Where will all come home?
On goes the river
And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
Away down the hill.
Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore.
WEEK 37 |
HERE once lived in Greece a very wise man whose name
One summer he built himself a house, but it was so small that his neighbors wondered how he could be content with it.
"What is the reason," said they, "that you, who are so great a man, should build such a little box as this for your dwelling house?"
"Indeed, there may be little reason," said he; "but, small as the place is, I shall think myself happy if I can fill even it with true friends."
There were some honeysuckle bushes in the park.
Bees came to visit them in spring. They liked the nectar that they found in the pink flowers.
Soon the pink parts of the flowers fell and berries grew. There were seeds in the berries.
At first the berries were small and hard and green. When they were ripe they were soft and red.
Bluebirds visited these bushes in summer when the berries were ripe.
There were father and mother bluebirds and young bluebirds.
Some of the young birds had on their first feathers. They had little white spots on their backs. Their front feathers were brown and white. Their tails and part of the wing feathers were blue. They were too young to look like old birds.
The young birds picked berries. The old birds helped them, too. The babies opened their bills and asked for food. So the father and mother birds gave them more berries.
The bluebirds flew to other parts of the park with berries in their mouths. They dropped honeysuckle seeds in many different places.
The seeds lay on the ground all winter. In the spring they grew. So there were many little bushes in the park.
Mr. Gray showed the bushes to Don and Nan and said, "Some of these honeysuckles are too near the path. Will you help me dig them?"
Nan said, "I wish we might have all the honeysuckle bushes we dig up. We could plant them at the farm. They would grow and have pink flowers and red berries.
"Then every summer there would be more berries for bluebirds."
So Mr. Gray gave them the young bushes that were too near the path.
The sun is not a-bed, when I
At night upon my pillow lie;
Still round the earth his way he takes,
And morning after morning makes.
While here at home, in shining day,
We round the sunny garden play,
Each little Indian sleepy-head
Is being kissed and put to bed.
And when at eve I rise from tea,
Day dawns beyond the Atlantic Sea;
And all the children in the west
Are getting up and being dressed.
WEEK 37 |
P ETER RABBIT never will forget his surprise when Jenny Wren asked him one spring morning if he had seen anything of her big cousin. Peter hesitated. As a matter of fact, he couldn't think of any big cousin of Jenny Wren. All the cousins he knew anything about were very nearly Jenny's own size.
Now Jenny Wren is one of the most impatient small persons in the world. "Well, well, well, Peter, have you lost your tongue?" she chattered. "Can't you answer a simple question without talking all day about it? Have you seen anything of my big cousin? It is high time for him to be here."
"You needn't be so cross about it if I am slow," replied Peter. "I'm just trying to think who your big cousin is. I guess, to be quite honest, I don't know him."
"Don't know him! Don't know him!" sputtered Jenny. "Of course you know him. You can't help but know him. I mean Brownie the Thrasher."
In his surprise Peter fairly jumped right off the ground. "What's that?" he exclaimed. "Since when was Brownie the Thrasher related to the Wren family?"
"Ever since there have been any Wrens and Thrashers," retorted Jenny. "Brownie belongs to one branch of the family and I belong to another, and that makes him my second cousin. It certainly is surprising how little some folks know."
"But I have always supposed he belonged to the Thrush family," protested Peter. "He certainly looks like a Thrush."
"Looking like one doesn't make him one," snapped Jenny. "By this time you ought to have learned that you never can judge anybody just by looks. It always makes me provoked to hear Brownie called the Brown Thrush. There isn't a drop of Thrush blood in him. But you haven't answered my question yet, Peter Rabbit. I want to know if he has got here yet."
"Yes," said Peter. "I saw him only yesterday on the edge of the Old Pasture. He was fussing around in the bushes and on the ground and jerking that long tail of his up and down and sidewise as if he couldn't decide what to do with it. I've never seen anybody twitch their tail around the way he does."
Jenny Wren giggled. "That's just like him," said she. "It is because he thrashes his tail around so much that he is called a Thrasher. I suppose he was wearing his new spring suit."
"I don't know whether it was a new suit or not, but it was mighty good looking," replied Peter. "I just love that beautiful reddish-brown of his back, wings and tail, and it certainly does set off his white and buff waistcoat with those dark streaks and spots. You must admit, Jenny Wren, that any one seeing him dressed so much like the Thrushes is to be excused for thinking him a Thrush."
"I suppose so," admitted Jenny rather grudgingly. "But none of the Thrushes have such a bright brown coat. Brownie is handsome, if I do say so. Did you notice what a long bill he has?"
Peter nodded. "And I noticed that he had two white bars on each wing," said he.
BROWNIE THE THRASHER
You cannot mistake him because of his bright reddish‑brown coat, long tail, and spotted breast.
CHEWINK THE TOWHEE
He is black and white with reddish‑brown sides, usually on the ground in a thicket.
"I'm glad you're so observing," replied Jenny dryly. "Did you hear him sing?"
"Did I hear him sing!" cried Peter, his eyes shining at the
memory. "He sang especially for me. He flew up to the top of a
tree, tipped his head back and sang as few birds I know of can
sing. He has a wonderful voice, has Brownie. I don't know of
anybody I enjoy listening to more. And when he's singing he acts
as if he enjoyed it himself and knows what a good singer he is. I
noticed that long tail of his hung straight down the same way
"Of course it did," replied Jenny promptly. "That's a family trait. The tails of both my other big cousins do the same thing."
"Wha-wha-what's that? Have you got more big cousins?" cried Peter, staring up at Jenny as if she were some strange person he never had seen before.
"Certainly," retorted Jenny. "Mocker the Mockingbird and Kitty the Catbird belong to Brownie's family, and that makes them second cousins to me."
Such a funny expression as there was on Peter's face. He felt that Jenny Wren was telling the truth, but it was surprising news to him and so hard to believe that for a few minutes he couldn't find his tongue to ask another question. Finally he ventured to ask very timidly, "Does Brownie imitate the songs of other birds the way Mocker and Kitty do?"
Jenny Wren shook her head very decidedly. "No," said she. "He's perfectly satisfied with his own song." Before she could add anything further the clear whistle of Glory the Cardinal sounded from a tree just a little way off. Instantly Peter forgot all about Jenny Wren's relatives and scampered over to that tree. You see Glory is so beautiful that Peter never loses a chance to see him.
As Peter sat staring up into the tree, trying to
get a glimpse of
Glory's beautiful red coat, the clear, sweet whistle sounded once
more. It drew Peter's eyes to one of the upper branches, but
instead of the beautiful, brilliant coat of Glory the Cardinal he
saw a bird about the size of Welcome Robin dressed in sober
"Fooled you that time, didn't I, Peter?" he chuckled. "You thought you were going to see Glory the Cardinal, didn't you?"
Then without waiting for Peter to reply, this sober-looking stranger gave such a concert as no one else in the world could give. From that wonderful throat poured out song after song and note after note of Peter's familiar friends of the Old Orchard, and the performance wound up with a lovely song which was all the stranger's own. Peter didn't have to be told who the stranger was. It was Mocker the Mockingbird.
"Oh!" gasped Peter. "Oh, Mocker, how under the sun do you do it? I was sure that it was Glory whom I heard whistling. Never again will I be able to believe my own ears."
Mocker chuckled. "You're not the only one I've fooled, Peter," said he. "I flatter myself that I can fool almost anybody if I set out to. It's lots of fun. I may not be much to look at, but when it comes to singing there's no one I envy."
"I think you are very nice looking indeed," replied Peter politely. "I've just been finding out this morning that you can't tell much about folks just by their looks."
"And now you've learned that you can't always recognize folks by their voices, haven't you?" chuckled Mocker.
"Yes," replied Peter. "Hereafter I shall never be sure about any feathered folks unless I can both see and hear them. Won't you sing for me again, Mocker?"
Mocker did. He sang and sang, for he clearly loves to sing. When he finished Peter had another question ready. "Somebody told me once that down in the South you are the best loved of all the birds. Is that so?"
"That's not for me to say," replied Mocker modestly. "But I can tell you this, Peter, they do think a lot of me down there. There are many birds down there who are very beautifully dressed, birds who don't come up here at all. But not one of them is loved as I am, and it is all on account of my voice. I would rather have a beautiful voice than a fine coat."
Peter nodded as if he quite agreed, which, when you think of it, is rather funny, for Peter has neither a fine coat nor a fine voice. A glint of mischief sparkled in Mocker's eyes. "There's Mrs. Goldy the Oriole over there," said he. "Watch me fool her."
He began to call in exact imitation of Goldy's voice when he is
anxious about something. At once
Suddenly Peter remembered what Jenny Wren had told him. "Was Jenny Wren telling you the truth when she said that you are a second cousin of hers?" he asked.
Mocker nodded. "Yes," said he, "we are relatives. We each belong
to a branch of the same family." Then he burst into
"Away with you, vile insect!" said a Lion angrily to a Gnat that was buzzing around his head. But the Gnat was not in the least disturbed.
"Do you think," he said spitefully to the Lion, "that I am afraid of you because they call you king?"
The next instant he flew at the Lion and stung him sharply on the nose. Mad with rage, the Lion struck fiercely at the Gnat, but only succeeded in tearing himself with his claws. Again and again the Gnat stung the Lion, who now was roaring terribly. At last, worn out with rage and covered with wounds that his own teeth and claws had made, the Lion gave up the fight.
The Gnat buzzed away to tell the whole world about his victory, but instead he flew straight into a spider's web. And there, he who had defeated the King of beasts came to a miserable end, the prey of a little spider.
The least of our enemies is often the most to be feared.
Pride over a success should not throw us off our guard.
WEEK 37 |
A second time the iron was heated and a second time a shoe was put into the cauldron of ice-cold water; as the water hissed around it one of the brothers came forward and told:
HE shoes with which a man could walk on the surface of the water and walk in the depths of the water once belonged to the Wee Folk of Faerie, and they were given by them to a King in a certain land. Not gladly did the Wee Folk of Faerie give the shoes that were part of their three treasures—they gave them as ransom for their King Iubdan, who was being held by this other King.
Now when this other King—Fergus was his name—obtained these shoes he became fonder and fonder of using them. He went upon the rivers of his land, walking upon the surface of their waters, and he went down into the depths of the lakes. And to the lakes that were at the farthest parts of his kingdom he went more and more. On empty lakes where the boat of a fisherman had never been he would go walking on his fairy shoes. He could follow the wild duck and her brood across the lake, walking on the water. And then he could go down into the depths of the lake and watch all that were there—the great eels moving swiftly through the water and the grey and the speckled fishes moving up and down.
He began to care more for the water with its silence and its strange sights than he did for the upper world with its songs of birds; he was no longer happy when he was sitting upon the judgment seat, or when he was driving in his royal chariot, or when he was hunting upon the plains of his land: his thoughts were always on the silent things that were in the waters of the lakes. Into lakes that were farther away, and into lakes that were deeper and deeper, King Fergus ever went.
There was in his country a lake that no man had ever dived into. This lake was called Loch Rury. King Fergus put on his fairy shoes and went upon the surface of this lake. He went below the surface and down into the depths, and he walked amongst the kingly crowns and the sword-hilts that had been cast into the lake. He walked amongst them saying to himself that no King in all the world had been able to see what he was seeing. And as he was walking there and thinking these thoughts, Muirdris the Water-Horse appeared before him.
The lips of the Water-Horse were drawn back, and on them there was a grin of such malignancy that the heart of Fergus, the King, was as if it had been squeezed and wrung by strong hands. He dashed up to the top of the water as if through drowning waves. He swam upon the lake, struggling, not using the fairy shoes to walk or to run upon the water. He saw the clear sky again and the birds flying across, and he knew that never again would he go down through the depths of the water nor let himself be looked upon by the fearful things that were there.
And then he heard the scream of Muirdris the Water-horse as it came after him through the water. He looked back at the creature, and his face became twisted by the terror that he felt. He threw himself upon the shore, and he lay there until his attendants found him and brought him back to his palace.
The face of Fergus was all twisted and awry. And when they looked upon him in his litter his captains spoke to one another and said, "Our master can no longer be King. No one with a blemish may be King over the men of this land, and this twisted face is a great, great blemish.
So they said as they carried him in in his litter, and the King not hearing them, for he was senseless from terror. But at the Council that they held they said, "If we should bring back the one who should succeed this King, there would be war in this land." And then they said, "Let Fergus rule us still, but let it be kept from the people that his face is blemished, and let it be kept from the King, too, that he may not know of his blemish."
The King never went near water thereafter, and he never saw himself in a stream, or river, or lake. And he never saw himself in any mirror. The Queen had all the mirrors sent out of the palace. And they told the King that a wise woman had told the Queen that she would die upon the day that she saw her face in the mirror with either pallor or a blush upon it.
And those who trimmed the beard or the hair of Fergus did it without having a mirror or any shining thing before them. Before he went into the houses of his nobles, couriers went before him and had the mirrors in the houses and all things with shining surfaces taken away. So by forethought they baffled the malignancy of the Water-Horse.
In his thoughts the King often met the Water-Horse, and in his thoughts he always fled before it. But no one ever said a word to him that might remind him of the lake where he had met the Water-Horse. No one for a long time. And then a bond-maid did it. The King had reproved her for some negligence. She answered him back. And then he took a switch and struck her for answering him back. "If you had been so brave," she said, "when the Water-Horse faced you, you would not now be keeping from the sight of a twisted face."
And then the King remembered that he had never looked at himself in a mirror since he had come out of the lake where he had met Muirdris the Water-Horse. He called to his attendants and ordered them to bring a mirror to him. They brought one and the King looked into it. He saw a face that was twisted and awry. "The Water-Horse of Loch Rury did this to me," he said. Afterwards he said, "I am not fit to be your King, both because I have a blemish and because I have not avenged myself on the creature that put such a blemish upon me as this twisted face."
He took the fairy shoes that he had left aside for so long, the shoes that the Wee Folk of Faerie had given him as a ransom for their King, and he took his great sword in his hand, and once more he went to Loch Rury, and went down into its depths. His people gathered upon the shores of the lake to await what might happen. Their King had promised them that he would win back his own unblemished face.
He went through the depths of the lake. He stood amongst the crowns and the sword-hilts that Kings had cast into it. He heard the scream of Muirdris the Water-Horse. And then it came to him, its teeth bared in a grin of malignancy. The King faced the creature and fought with it, his sword striking at its hard skin and hard sinews while it fought him with teeth and hoofs.
The King faced the creature and fought with it.
The people gathered upon the shores saw the waters of the lake boil up and redden. Then the head of their King appeared above the waters. His face was no longer twisted; from it had gone the blemish that the terror of the Water-Horse had given it. In his hands he held the head of the Water-Horse. "O my people," he cried out to them, "I, and not Muirdris, have conquered." He looked at them, his face unblemished. "Fergus, Fergus!" they cried to him. The land never knew him again; he sank down into the water.
ONE day in May a great storm burst upon the island. All day and far into the night the rain fell and the wind blew, the lightnings flashed, and the thunder rolled.
But I was used to such storms, and I minded it but little. I stayed home in my castle, and felt very thankful that I had a place so safe and dry and comfortable.
I sat up quite late, reading my Bible by the light of a little lamp I had made, and thinking of my strange lot in life. Suddenly I heard a sound which I felt sure was the noise of a gun fired at sea.
I started up quickly. I threw on my raincoat and mounted to my lookout on the top of the great rock.
The rain had stopped and the wind was going down. It was now past midnight, and very dark.
A moment after I had reached my place there was a flash of light that caused me to stop and listen for another gun.
In a few seconds I heard it. It seemed to come from that part of the sea where I was once caught by the strong current and driven far out in my boat.
I knew at once that the shots were fired from some ship in distress. Perhaps she was being driven upon the shore by the wind and waves. Could I do anything to help the poor men on board?
With great labor and danger to myself I gathered some sticks and brush into a pile on the rock and set it on fire.
The wood was not dry, but when the fire was once kindled it blazed up fiercely and cast a light over all the rocks and trees about me.
I felt sure that if there were sailors on the ship, they could not help but see it. And no doubt they did see it, for I soon heard another gun.
All night long I kept the fire burning; but no other sound besides the wind did I hear.
When it was broad day and the mists had cleared away, I turned my spyglass toward that part of the sea from which the sounds came.
Far away from the shore there was surely something; but whether it was a wreck or a ship under sail, I could not tell. The distance was too great.
I watched it from time to time all day. It did not move.
"It must be a ship at anchor," I said to myself.
Early the next morning I took my gun and went down toward that side of the island where the current had once caught me. When I had come to the shore there, I climbed upon some rocks and looked out over the sea.
The air was very clear now, and I could plainly see the ship.
She was not at anchor. She was fast on some great rocks of which there were many in that part of the sea.
I saw that the masts of the vessel were broken, and that her hull was lying more than halfway out of the water.
I thought of the sailors who must have been on board, and wondered if any had escaped. It seemed impossible that any could have reached the shore through the furious sea that was raging during the storm.
"Oh, that one had been saved!" I cried as I walked up and down the shore.
I wrung my hands, my lips were firmly set, my eyes were full of tears.
"Oh, that one had been saved!" I cried again and again.
It was thus that after so many lonely years without seeing a friendly face I longed to have at least one companion to talk with and to share my hopes and fears.
The sea was now quite calm. Even among the rocks the water was smooth.
Seeing everything thus favorable, I made up my mind to get my canoe and go out to the wreck.
I hurried back to my castle to get things ready for my voyage.
I packed a big basket with bread; I filled a jug with fresh water; I put a compass in my pocket that I might have it to steer by; I threw a bag full of raisins upon my shoulder.
Loaded with all these necessary things, I went round to the place where my canoe was hidden. I found her half full of water, for she had been lying there neglected for a long time.
With much labor I bailed the water out of her and got her afloat. Then I loaded my cargo into her, and hurried home for more.
My second load was a bag full of rice, the umbrella to set up over my head for shade, another jug of water, a cheese, a bottle of milk, and about two dozen barley cakes.
All these I carried around to my canoe. If there were men on board the wreck they might be in need of food.
When I had arranged everything in good order, I started out.
I kept the canoe quite close to the shore until I had rounded the point past which the dangerous current flowed. Being then in smooth water, I struck boldly out toward the wreck.
Soon, however, upon looking a little ahead of me, I saw the second current flowing in a great eddy past a long line of half-hidden rocks.
As I looked on these rapid currents, my heart began to fail me. I knew that if I should be driven into one of them, it would carry me a great way out to sea. It would carry me so far that I should never be able to get back again.
Yet I was determined to persevere in my venture.
John Grumblie vow'd by the light of the moon,
And the green leaves on the tree,
That he could do more work in a day
Than his wife could do in three.
"With all my heart," his wife, Betty, said,
"If that you will allow,
To-morrow you 'll stay at home in my stead,
And I'll go drive the plow."
"But you must milk Tidy, the cow,
For fear that she go dry;
And you must feed the little pigs
That are within the sty.
And you must mind the speckled hen,
For fear she lay away;
And you must reel the spool of yarn
That I spun yesterday."
The old woman took a staff in her hand,
And went to drive the plow;
Her husband took a pail in his hand,
And went to milk the cow.
But Tidy hinched, and Tidy flinched,
And Tidy broke his nose,
And Tidy gave him such a blow,
That blood ran down to his toes.
"High, Tidy! ho, Tidy! high, Tidy!
Tidy, stand thou still;
If ever I milk thee, Tidy, again,
'T will be sore against my will."
He went to feed the little pigs
That ran within the sty;
He hit his head against the beam,
And he made the blood to fly.
He went to mind the speckled hen,
For fear she'd lay astray;
And he forgot to reel the yarn
His wife spun yesterday.
So he swore by the sun, the moon, and the stars,
And the green leaves on the tree,
If his wife ne'er did a day's work in her life,
She would ne'er be blamed by he!
WEEK 37 |
"With such mad seas the daring Gama fought
For many a weary day and many a dreadful night;
Incessant labouring round the Stormy Cape,
By bold ambition led."
T EN years had passed away since Bartholomew Diaz had made his famous discovery with regard to the south of Africa, and still nothing further had been done. The King of Portugal had prepared three strong ships for an expedition, but he had not found a commander as yet. He was full of care both day and night as to whom he should entrust with so great an enterprise.
One day he was sitting in his hall of business, busy giving orders, when he raised his eyes and saw one of the gentlemen of his household crossing the hall. It was Vasco da Gama, a nobleman of high birth and a well-known sailor. As soon as the king saw him he called him.
"I should rejoice if you would undertake a service which I require of you, in which you must labour much," he said, as his subject knelt before him.
"Sire," answered Vasco da Gama, kissing the king's hand, "I am a servant for any labour that may be, and since my service is required I will perform it so long as my life lasts."
At last, early in the month of July 1497, all was ready. Vasco da Gama on horseback, with all the men of his fleet on foot, richly dressed in liveries and accompanied by all the courtiers, went down to the riverside and embarked in their boats. Reaching their ships, they sailed to the mouth of the Tagus, where they waited for a wind to take them out to sea. Meanwhile an immense crowd gathered on the shore. Men and women were weeping, priests and monks were praying. All were filled with despair for those whom they never expected to see again. Surely they would be buried in the enormous sea-waves that broke around the Stormy Cape whither they were bound. It were better, they cried, to die on shore than so far away from home. The poet Camoens—called the Virgil of Portugal—tells us that the shining sands were wet with their tears; but the commanders resolutely turned their eyes away to the open sea, and soon, with the royal standard flying from the masthead, the three ships sailed away.
For four long months they sailed to the south, until one November day, at noon, Vasco da Gama sailed before a wind past the formidable Cape, to which the King of Portugal had given the undying name of Good Hope.
It is interesting to note that
After anchoring for a few days in a little port near the Cape, they again stood out to sea. And now the wind blew with renewed fury, the sea was terrible to behold, and the sailors suffered severely. They besought their commander to turn back.
"Put your trust in the Lord, we shall yet double the Cape," answered Vasco da Gama resolutely. Night and day he worked with the men, enduring all their hardships. As they stood farther out to sea the storms increased, enormous waves dashed over the ships, and every moment they seemed to be going to pieces. Again the sailors and pilots cried to him to have pity on them and to turn the ship back to land.
Then the commander grew angry, and swore that come what might he meant to double the Cape of Good Hope. And the crews worked with fresh vigour when they saw such pluck and perseverance, until after some days they again made land: the seas grew calmer, the winds hushed, and they all knew that the Cape had been doubled at last.
"And great joy fell upon them," says the old Portuguese historian, "and they gave great praise to the Lord on seeing themselves delivered from death."
But their troubles were not over yet. Another storm broke with redoubled fury on them, the seas "rose toward the sky and fell back in heavy showers that flooded the ships."
"Turn back! turn back!" cried the terrified sailors once more, till the commander was forced to answer that he would throw into the sea whosoever spoke of such a thing again. For backwards he would not go, even though he saw a hundred deaths before his eyes. If he did not find that for which he was searching he would not return to Portugal at all.
They now passed Algoa Bay and the little island of Santa Cruz, where Diaz had put up his cross.
As it was Christmas Day, to the coast along which they were sailing they gave the name of Natal. Keeping along
the coast, they came presently to the mouth of a large river, up which Vasco da Gama sailed his ships, which
were now badly in need of repair. So thankful were the weary mariners for this shelter that they exclaimed, "It
is the mercy of the Lord," three times, for which reason they named it the River of Mercy, though
Having repaired the ships and refreshed the men, the commander set up a marble pillar, on which was engraved: "Of the lordship of Portugal, kingdom of Christians."
Then Vasco da Gama called his men together and spoke to them about their want of courage and thoughts of treason, until they wept and promised to serve him to the end. So they weighed anchor and sailed out of the river.
O NCE upon a time a peasant owned a cat which was so disagreeable and mischievous that all the neighbors complained about him. Finally the peasant became impatient and said to his wife, "I have decided to get rid of our cat. He is such a nuisance that I feel we ought not to keep him any longer."
"I do not blame you," replied his wife. "My patience, too, is worn out listening to the stories told about that mischievous animal."
In a few days the peasant put the cat into a large sack and walked far into a leafy forest. Then he opened the sack and let the cat bound away. How many interesting things there were in the depths of the beautiful wood! After wandering about for a few hours the cat began to feel quite at home, especially when he found a little deserted cabin where he took up his abode and dined bountifully on mice and birds.
One day when Master Cat was walking proudly along a path which led to a pond, he met Miss Fox, who looked at him with great interest and curiosity. When she came close enough to be heard, she said, "Your pardon, good sir, but may I ask who you are, and why you are walking in the forest?"
Master Cat raised his head very high and replied proudly: "I am the bailiff of the forest. My name is Ivan, and I have been sent from Siberia to become governor of this vast wood."
"Oh, indeed," said Miss Fox. "Dear Master Bailiff, will you not honor me with your presence at dinner? I shall be most proud to entertain such a distinguished guest."
"Lady, I accept your invitation," replied Master Cat, making a profound bow.
Now Miss Fox knew well how to entertain. She not only provided the greatest delicacies for her table, but she chatted in the merriest fashion and told the bailiff many interesting things about life in the forest.
"My dear Sir Bailiff; do have another serving of this savory pie. The forest, you know, gives one a good appetite," said she, with a side glance at her visitor.
"Thank you, dear lady," returned Master Ivan. "It is indeed delicious. I have tasted nothing so good for weeks. What a cozy home you have here."
"It is very comfortable," replied Miss Fox. "But I am often a little lonely. May I ask, sir, are you married or single?"
"I am single," replied Mr. Bailiff.
"Why, so am I," said his companion, dropping her eyes shyly. "Master Ivan, the Bailiff, will you not marry me?"
The guest was a little astonished, but he finally consented to marry Miss Fox. Their wedding was attended with much ceremony, and the bailiff came to live in his wife's cozy home.
A few days after their marriage Ivan said: "Madam, I am very hungry. Go on a little hunting trip and bring me home a fine dinner." Away went the wife toward a deep hollow. She had not gone very far when she met her old friend the wolf.
"Good morning, my dear friend," he began. "I have been looking in vain for you in the forest. Do tell me where you have been."
Madam Fox replied coyly: "Oh, I am married, you know. My husband is the bailiff of the forest."
"Indeed," said the wolf. "How I should like to see his honor, your husband."
"That can be managed if you will follow my advice closely. You see, my husband is very ferocious, and unless you do as I say he might devour you. However, I'll see what can be done. Let me see. You had better get a lamb and place it on our doorstep. Then hide in the bushes which grow near. When my husband opens the door, you can get a very good look at him," said Madam Fox, proudly.
The wolf ran away in search of a lamb, and Madam continued on her way. In a short time she met a bear. "Good day, my good friend," he said. "I have missed you for some time. May I ask where you have been?"
"Oh," said Madam, "is it possible you have not heard of my marriage with Ivan, the bailiff of the forest?"
"Is it true? Then I offer you my sincere congratulations! The bailiff of the forest, you say?" said the bear, in a puzzled tone. "Madam, it would give me the greatest pleasure to see his honor, your husband."
"Yes," said Madam, "that would be a great privilege, but I must tell you that the bailiff is very fierce. In fact, he is likely to devour anyone who does not please him. But perhaps I can help you out a little. Let me see. You had better procure an ox. And be sure to offer your gift very humbly. The wolf, who is also most anxious to see my husband, is going to bring a lamb for a present."
Away went the bear in search of his gift, which he soon found; then he hurried clumsily along, and in a little while he met the wolf with a lamb.
"Good day to you, my friend," began the wolf. "May I ask where you are going with such a burden?"
"I am going to see the husband of Madam Fox, to whom I shall give this ox. Will you tell me where you are going?" said the bear.
"Why, I am bound for the same place, my friend. Madam Fox told me her husband is terrible. He devours anyone who displeases him, so I am taking a lamb for a present." The wolf's voice trembled a little as he continued, "I do hope he will take kindly to me."
The friends went on their way, and in a short time they came to the house of the cat. The wolf pushed the bear a little ahead and whispered, "Go, my good comrade, knock on the door and say to the husband of Madam Fox that we have brought an ox and a lamb as gifts."
"Oh," shivered the bear, "I dare not! I am so filled with fear. Indeed, indeed, I cannot. You go, good wolf! Do."
"Impossible," returned the wolf, in a quaking voice. "I am trembling all over. I haven't strength enough to walk there much less to rap on the door. Come, let us hide ourselves and bide our time."
So the wolf hid himself under some dry leaves, and the bear jumped into a tree and carefully hid himself among the branches. In a few moments Madam Fox and her husband, who had been walking in the forest, came home.
"How very small the bailiff is," whispered the wolf.
"He is, indeed," gasped the bear, a little scornfully.
The cat now saw the ox and leaped to the step saying, "Oh, a small meal for me."
"A small meal," said the bear, with surprise. "How very, very hungry the bailiff must be! And he is so small, too. Why, a bull is a good meal for four bears. What an immense appetite he must have!"
The wolf was too much frightened to answer. There was a slight rustling sound in the dry leaves and, thinking a mouse was hidden there, the cat gave a bound and fastened his claws in the snout of the wolf. With a gasp of fear the wolf leaped up and ran away as fast as he could go. Now, the cat was very much afraid of a wolf, and so he gave one leap into the tree where the bear lay hidden. "Oh, mercy, mercy!" cried the bear. "The cat is after me. He will devour me. Oh, help, help!" and down the tree scrambled the bear. Off he ran, as fast as he could go, after the wolf. Madam Fox screamed out: "My husband is terrible! He will devour you! He will devour you!"
Away sped the wolf and the bear, and they told their adventure to the other animals of the forest, who took good care to stay far away from the terrible bailiff. Meanwhile the cat and the fox were very happy, and they had plenty to eat for a long time.
Sweep thy faint Strings, Musician,
With thy long lean hand;
Downward the starry tapers burn,
Sinks soft the waning sand;
The old hound whimpers couched in sleep,
The embers smoulder low;
Across the walls the shadows
Come, and go.
Sweep softly thy strings, Musician,
The minutes mount to hours;
Frost on the windless casement weaves
A labyrinth of flowers;
Ghosts linger in the darkening air,
Hearken at the open door;
Music hath called them, dreaming,
Home once more.
WEEK 37 |
"You, Tom! You, Jerry! Come here!" called Balser one morning, while he and Jim were sitting in the shade near the river in front of the house, overseeing the baby.
"You, Tom! You, Jerry!" called Balser a second time with emphasis. The cubs snoozing in the sun a couple of paces away, rolled lazily over two or three times in an effort to get upon their feet, and then trotted to their masters with a comical, waddling gait that always set the boys laughing,—it was such a swagger.
When they had come, Balser said, "Stop right there!" and the cubs being always tired, gladly enough sat upon their haunches, and blinked sleepily into Balser's face, with a greedy expression upon their own, as if to say, "Well, where's the milk?"
"Milk, is it?" asked Balser. "You're always hungry. You're nothing but a pair of gluttons. Eat, eat, from morning until night. Well, this time you'll get nothing. There's no milk for you."
The cubs looked disgusted, so Jim said, and no doubt he was right, for Jim and the cubs were great friends and understood each other thoroughly.
"Now, I've been a good father to you," said Balser. "I've always given you as much milk as you could hold, without bursting, and have tried to bring you up to be good respectable bears, and to do my duty by you. I have whipped you whenever you needed it, although it often hurt me worse than it did you."
The bears grunted, as if to say: "But not in the same place."
"Now what I want," continued Balser, regardless of the interruption, "is, that you tell me what you know, if anything, concerning a big one-eared bear that lives hereabouts. Have you every heard of him?"
Tom gave a grunt, and Jim, who had been studying bear language, said he meant "Yes."
Jerry then put his nose to Tom's ear, and whined something in a low voice.
"What does he say, Jim?" asked Balser.
"He says for Tom not to tell you anything until you promise to give them milk," answered Jim, seriously.
"Jerry, you're the greatest glutton alive, I do believe," said Balser; "but if you'll tell me anything worth knowing about the one-eared bear, I'll give you the biggest pan of milk you ever saw."
Jerry in his glee took two or three fancy steps, awkwardly fell over himself a couple of times, got up, and grunted to Tom to go ahead. Jim was the interpreter, and Tom grunted and whined away, in a mighty effort to earn the milk.
"The one-eared bear," said he, "is my uncle. Used to hear dad and mother talk about him. Dad bit his ear off. That's how he came to have only one. Dad and he fought about mother, and when dad bit uncle's ear off mother went with dad and wouldn't have anything to do with the other fellow. Couldn't abide a one-eared husband, she said."
"That's interesting," answered Balser. "Where does he live?"
Tom pointed his nose toward the northwest, and opened his mouth very wide.
"Up that way in a cave," interpreted Jim, pointing as the cub had indicated.
"How far is it?" asked Balser.
Jerry lay down and rolled over twice.
"Two hours' walk," said Jim.
"How shall I find the place?" asked Balser.
Tom stood upon his hind legs, and scratched the bark of a tree with his fore paws as high as he could reach.
"Of course," said Balser, "by the bear scratches on the trees. I understand."
Jerry grunted "milk" so Jim said, and the whole party, boys, bears, and baby, moved off to the milk-house, where the cubs had a great feast.
After the milk had disappeared, Jerry grew talkative, and grunted away like the satisfied little pig that he was.
Again Jim, with a serious face, acted as interpreter.
"Mighty bad bear," said Jerry. "Soured on the world since mother threw him over. Won't have anything to do with anybody. He's as big and strong as a horse, fierce as a lion, and meaner than an Injun. He's bewitched, too, with an evil spirit, and nobody can ever kill him."
"That's the name he has among white folks," remarked Balser.
"Better be careful when you hunt him, for he's killed more men and boys than you have fingers and toes," said Tom. Then the cubs, being full of milk and drowsy, stretched themselves out in the sun, and no amount of persuasion could induce them to utter another grunt.
The bears had told the truth—that is, if they had told anything; for since it had been learned throughout the settlement that it was a one-eared bear which had pursued Liney, many stories had been told of hair-breadth escapes and thrilling adventures with that same fierce prowler of the woods.
One hunter said that he had shot at him as many as twenty times, at short range, but for all he knew, had never even wounded him.
The one-eared bear could not be caught by any means whatsoever. He had broken many traps, and had stolen bait so frequently from others, that he was considered altogether too knowing for a natural bear; and it was thought that he was inhabited by an evil spirit which gave him supernatural powers.
He certainly was a very shrewd old fellow, and very strong and fierce; and even among those of the settlers who were not superstitious enough to believe that he was inhabited by an evil spirit, he was looked upon as a "rogue" bear; that is, a sullen, morose old fellow, who lived by himself, as old bachelors live. The bachelors, though, being men, should know better and act more wisely.
Notwithstanding all these evil reports concerning the one-eared bear, Balser clung to his resolution to hunt the bear, to kill him if possible, and to give Liney the remaining ear as a keepsake.
Balser's father knew that it was a perilous undertaking, and tried to persuade the boy to hunt some less dangerous game; but he would not listen to any of the warnings, and day by day longed more ardently for the blood of the one-eared bear.
So one morning shortly after the conversation with the cubs, Balser shouldered his gun and set out toward the northwest, accompanied by Limpy Fox and the dogs.
In truth, the expedition had been delayed that Limpy's sore toe might heal. That was one of Liney's jokes.
Limpy had no gun, but he fairly bristled with knives and a hatchet, which for several days he had been grinding and whetting until they were almost as sharp as a razor.
The boys roamed through the forest all day long, but found no trace of the one-eared bear, nor of any other, for that matter. So toward evening they turned their faces homeward, where they arrived soon after sunset, very tired and hungry.
Liney had walked over to Balser's house to learn the fate of the one-eared bear, and fully expected to hear that he had been slaughtered, for she looked upon Balser as a second Saint Hubert, who, as you know, is the patron saint of hunters.
One failure, however, did not shake her faith in Balser, nor did it affect his resolution to kill the one-eared bear.
Next day the boys again went hunting, and again failed to find the bear they sought. They then rested for a few days, and tried again, with still another failure.
After several days of fruitless tramping through the forests, their friends began to laugh at them.
"If he ever catches sight of Tom," said Liney, "he'll certainly die, for Tom's knives and hatchet would frighten any bear to death."
Balser also made sport of Tom's armament, but Tom, a
"You needn't be so smart; it hasn't been long since you had nothing but a hatchet. You think because you've got a gun you're very big and cute. I'll bet the time will come when you'll be glad enough that I have a hatchet."
Tom was a truer prophet than he thought, for the day soon came when the hatchet proved itself true steel.
The boys had started out before sun-up one morning, and were deep into the forest when daylight was fairly abroad. Tige and Prince were with them, and were trotting lazily along at the boys' heels, for the day was very warm, and there was no breeze in the forest. They had been walking for several hours, and had almost lost hope, when suddenly a deep growl seemed to come from the ground almost at their feet. The boys sprang back in a hurry, for right in their path stood an enormous bear, where a moment before there had been nothing.
"Lordy! it's the one-eared bear," cried Tom, and the hairs on his head fairly stood on end.
My! what a monster of fierceness the bear was. His head, throat, and paws, were covered with blood, evidently from some animal that he had been eating, and his great red mount, sharp white teeth, and cropped ear gave him a most ferocious and terrifying appearance.
Balser's first impulse, now that he had found the long-sought one-eared bear, I am sorry to say, was to retreat. That was Tom's first impulse also, and, notwithstanding his knives and hatchet, he acted upon it quicker than a circus clown can turn a somersault.
Balser also started to run, but thought better of it, and turned to give battle to the bear, fully determined to act slowly and deliberately, and to make no mistake about his aim.
He knew that a false aim would end his own days, and would add one more victim to the already long list of the one-eared bear.
The dogs barked furiously at the bear, and did not give
Balser an opportunity to shoot. The bear and dogs were
gradually moving farther away from Balser, and almost
before he knew it the three had disappeared in the
thicket. Balser was loath to follow until Tom should
return, so he called in an
Soon Tom cautiously came back, peering fearfully about him, hatchet in hand, ready to do great execution upon the bear—he afterward said.
"You're a pretty hunter, you are. You'd better go home and get an ax. The bear has got away just because I had to wait for you," said Balser, only too glad to have some one to blame for the bear's escape.
The boys still heard the dogs barking, and hurried on after them as rapidly as the tangle of undergrowth would permit. Now and then they caught a glimpse of the bear, only to lose it again as he ran down a ravine or through a dense thicket. The dogs, however, kept in close pursuit, and loudly called to their master to notify him of their master to notify him of their whereabouts.
LD Mrs. Possum counted her babies to be sure that they all were
tucked snug and warm in their bed in the old hollow tree in the Green
Forest. "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight." They were
Sure that her babies were warm and comfortable, old
"Ah don' see what can be keepin' mah ol' man! Ah'm plumb worried to death," muttered old Mrs. Possum.
Right that very minute she heard a noise outside that made her hurry to the door and thrust her head out once more. It was Sammy Jay, shrieking:
"Thief! Thief! Thief!" at the top of his lungs.
"He's a thief himself and just a
"Good mo'ning, Brer Jay," said she.
"Hello!" exclaimed Sammy Jay, not at all politely. "Where's Uncle Billy Possum?"
"He done go out fo' a walk," replied old Mrs. Possum. "Ah reckons yo'all just got up, or yo' would have met up with him somewhere."
Sammy's temper flared up right away. "I've been up ever since
"Keep your temper, Brer Jay!
Keep your temper, do, Oh pray!"
said old Mrs. Possum, grinning in the most aggravating way as she
turned back to her babies. She had found out what she wanted to
know—Sammy Jay had seen
Nae shoon to hide her tiny taes,
Nae stockings on her feet;
Her supple ankles white as snow,
Or early blossoms sweet.
Her simple dress of sprinkled pink
Her double, dimpled chin;
Her pucker'd lip and bonny mou',
With nae ane tooth between.
Her een sae like her mither's een,
Twa gentle, liquid things;
Her face is like an angel's face—
We're glad she has nae wings.
WEEK 37 |
II Samuel viii: 1, to ix: 13.
S soon as the kings of the nations around Israel saw that a strong man was ruling over the tribes, they began to make war upon David, for they feared to see Israel gaining in power. So it came to pass that David had many wars. The Moabites, who lived on the east of the Dead Sea, went to war with David, but David conquered them, and made Moab submit to Israel. Far in the north, the Syrians came against David; but he won great victories over them, and took Damascus, their chief city, and held it as a part of his kingdom. In the south, he made war upon the Edomites, and brought them under his rule.
For a number of years David was constantly at war, but at last he was at peace, the ruler of all the lands from the great river Euphrates on the north, down to the wilderness on the south, where the Israelites had wandered; and from the great desert on the east to the Great Sea on the west. All these lands were under the rule of King David, except the people of Tyre and Sidon, who lived beside the Great Sea on the north of Israel. These people, the Tyrians, never made war on Israel, and their king, Hiram, was one of David's best friends. The men of Tyre cut down cedar-trees on Mount Lebanon for David, and brought them to Jerusalem, and built for David the palace which became his home.
When David's wars were over, and he was at rest, he thought of the promise that he had made to his friend Jonathan, the brave son of Saul (see Story 59), that he would care for his children. David asked of his nobles and the men at his court, "Are there any of Saul's family living, to whom I can show kindness for the sake of Jonathan?"
They told David of Saul's servant, Ziba, who had the charge of Saul's farm in the country; and David sent for him. Ziba had become a rich man from his care of the lands that had belonged to Saul.
David said to Ziba, "Are there any of Saul's family living, to whom I can show some of the kindness which God has shown toward me?"
And Ziba said, "Saul's son Jonathan left a little boy, named Mephibosheth, who is now grown to be a man. He is living at Lo-debar, on the east of Jordan."
This child of Jonathan was in the arms of his nurse when the news came of the battle at Mount Gilboa, where Jonathan was slain. The nurse fled with him, to hide from the Philistines, and in running fell; and the child's feet were so injured that ever after he was lame.
Perhaps he was kept hidden in the distant place on the east of Jordan, from fear lest David, now that he was king, might try to kill all those who were of Saul's family; for such deeds were common in those times, when one king took the power away from another king's children.
David sent for Mephibosheth, Jonathan's son; and he was brought into David's presence, and fell down on his face before the king, for he was in great fear. And David said to him, "Mephibosheth, you need have no fear. I will be kind to you, because I loved Jonathan, your father, and he loved me. You shall have all the lands that ever belonged to Saul and his family; and you shall always sit at my table in the royal palace."
Mephibosheth, Jonathan's son, before David.
Then the king called Ziba, who had been the servant of Saul, and said to him, "All the lands and houses that once belonged to Saul I have given to Mephibosheth. You shall care for them, and bring the harvests and the fruits of the fields to him. But Mephibosheth shall live here with me, and shall sit down at the king's table among the princes of the kingdom."
So Mephibosheth, the lame son of Jonathan, was taken into David's palace, and sat at the king's table, among the highest in the land. And Ziba, with his fifteen sons and his twenty servants, waited on him, and stood at his command.
This kindness of David to Mephibosheth might have brought trouble to David; for Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, and the grandson of Saul, might have been the king if David had not won the crown. By giving to Saul's grandson a place at his table, and showing him honor, David might have helped him to take the kingdom away from himself, if Mephibosheth had been a stronger man, with a purpose to win the throne of Israel. But David was generous, and Mephibosheth was grateful, and was contented with his place in the palace.
NCE upon a time there was a wide river that ran into the ocean, and beside it was a little city. And in that city was a wharf where great ships came from far countries. And a narrow road led down a very steep hill to that wharf, and anybody that wanted to go to the wharf had to go down the steep hill on the narrow road, for there wasn't any other way. And because ships had come there for a great many years and all the sailors and all the captains and all the men who had business with the ships had to go on that narrow road, the flagstones that made the sidewalk were much worn. That was a great many years ago.
The river and the ocean are there yet, as they always have been and always will be; and the city is there, but it is a different kind of a city from what it used to be. And the wharf is slowly falling down, for it is not used now; and the narrow road down the steep hill is all grown up with weeds and grass.
The wharf was Captain Jonathan's and Captain Jacob's and they owned the ships that sailed from it; and, after their ships had been sailing from that wharf in the little city for a good many years, they made up their minds that they ought to move their office to Boston. And so they did. And, after that, their ships sailed from a wharf in Boston and Captain Jonathan and Captain Jacob had their office on India street. Then the change began in that little city and that wharf.
Once, in the long ago, the brig Industry had sailed from Boston for a far country, and little Jacob had gone on that voyage. Little Jacob was Captain Jacob's son and Lois's, and the grandson of Captain Jonathan, and when he went on that voyage he was almost thirteen years old. And little Sol went, too. He was Captain Solomon's son, and he was only a few months younger than little Jacob. Captain Solomon had taken him in the hope that the voyage would discourage him from going to sea. But, as it turned out, it didn't discourage him at all, but he liked going to sea, so that afterwards he ran away and went to sea, and became the captain of that very ship, as you shall hear.
The Industry had been out a little more than a week, and she had run into a storm. The storm didn't do any harm except to blow her out of her course, and then she ran out of it. And the next morning little Jacob came out on deck and he looked for little Sol. The first place that he looked in was out on the bowsprit; for little Sol liked to be out there, where he could see all about him and could see the ship making the wave at her bow and feel as if he wasn't on the ship, at all, but free as air. It was a perfectly safe place to be in, for there were nettings on each side to keep him from falling, and he didn't go out beyond the nettings onto the part that was just a round spar sticking out.
When little Jacob got to the bow of the ship, he looked out on the bowsprit, and there was little Sol; but he wasn't lying on his back as he was most apt to be, nor he wasn't lying down with one hand propping up his head, which was the way he liked to lie to watch the wave that the ship made. He was lying stretched out on his stomach, with both hands propping up his chin, and he was looking straight out ahead, so that he didn't see little Jacob. And the Industry was pitching a good deal, for the storm had made great waves, like mountains, and the waves that were left were still great. The ship made a sort of growling noise as she went down into a wave, and a sort of hissing noise as she came up out of it, and little Jacob was—well, not afraid, exactly, but he didn't just like to go out there where little Sol was, with the ship making all those queer noises. You see, it was little Jacob's first storm at sea. It was little Sol's first storm, too; but then, boys are different.
So little Jacob called. "Sol!" he said.
Little Sol turned his head quickly. "Hello, Jake," said he. "Come on out. There's lots to see out here to-day."
"Are—are there things to see that I couldn't see from here?" asked little Jacob. "Of course there are," answered little Sol, scornfully.
"You can't see anything from there—anything much."
"The ship pitches a good deal," remarked little Jacob. "Don't you think so?"
"Oh, some," said little Sol, "but it's safe enough after you get here. You could crawl out. I walked out. See here, I'll walk in, to where you are, on my hands."
And little Sol scrambled up and walked in on his hands, with his feet in the air. He let his feet down carelessly. "There!" he said. "You see."
"Well," said little Jacob. "I can't walk on my hands, because I don't know how. You show me, Sol, will you?—when it's calm. And I'll walk out on my feet."
Little Jacob was rather white, but he didn't hesitate, and he walked out on the bowsprit to the place where he generally sat. It was rather hard work keeping his balance, but he did it. And little Sol came after, and said he would show him how to walk on his hands, some day when it was calm enough. For little Sol didn't think little Jacob was afraid, and the two boys liked each other very much.
"There!" said little Sol, when they were settled, "you look out ahead, and see if you see anything."
So little Jacob looked and looked for a long time, but he didn't know what he was looking for, and that makes a great difference about seeing a thing.
"I don't see anything," said he. "What is it, Sol—a ship!"
"No, oh no," answered little Sol. "It's on the water—on the surface. We've almost got to one of 'em."
So little Jacob looked again, and he saw what looked, at first, like a calm streak on the water. There seemed to be little sticks sticking up out of the calm streak. Then he saw that it looked like a narrow island, except that it went up and down with the waves. Sometimes he saw one part of it, and then he saw another part. And the island was all covered with water, and the water near it was calm, and it was a yellowish brown, like seaweed. In a minute or two the Industry was ploughing through it, and he could see that it was a great mass of floating seaweed that gave way, before the ship, like water, and the little sticks that he had seen, sticking up, were the stems. A little way ahead there was another of the floating islands; and another and another, until the surface of the sea seemed covered with them. They were really fifteen or twenty fathoms apart; but, from a distance, it didn't look as if they were.
"Why, Sol," said little Jacob, in surprise, "it doesn't stop the ship at all. I should think it would. What is it?"
"Well," answered little Sol. "I asked one of the men, and he laughed and said it was nothing but seaweed—that the ship would make nothing of it. I was afraid we were running aground. And the man said that the rows—it gets in windrows, like hay that's being raked up—he said that the windrows were broken up a good deal by the storm; that he's often seen 'em stretching as far as the eye could see, and a good deal thicker than these are."
Little Jacob laughed. "What are you laughing at?" asked little Sol, looking up.
"As far as the eye could see," said little Jacob.
"Well," said little Sol, "that's just what he said, anyway."
"I'm going to ask your father about it," said little Jacob. "He'll know all about it. He always knows." And he got up, carefully, and made his way inboard; then he ran aft, to look for Captain Solomon.
He found Captain Solomon on the quarter deck, leaning against the part of the cabin that stuck up through the deck. He was half sitting on it and looking out at the rows of seaweed that they passed. So little Jacob asked him.
"Yes, Jacob," answered Captain Solomon, "it's just seaweed, nothing but seaweed. We're just on the edge of the Sargasso Sea, and that means nothing but Seaweed Sea. The weed gets in long rows, just as you see it now, only the rows are apt to be longer and not so broken up. It's the wind that does it, and the ocean currents. It's my belief that the wind is the cause of the currents, too. I've seen acres of this weed packed so tight together that it looked as if we were sailing on my south meadow just at haying time. I don't see that south meadow at haying time very often, now, but I shall see it, please God, pretty soon."
"Well," said little Jacob, "I should think that it would get all tangled up so that it would stop the ship."
"My south meadow?" asked Captain Solomon. He was thinking of haying, and he had forgotten the Seaweed Sea.
Little Jacob laughed. "No, sir," he answered. "The seaweed. Why doesn't it get all tangled like ropes, so that it stops the ship?"
"The plants aren't long enough," said Captain Solomon. "Come, we'll get some of it for you."
"Oh!" cried little Jacob. "Will you? Thank you, sir."
And Captain Solomon told two of the sailors to come and to bring a big bucket. The bucket had a long rope fastened across, and the end was long enough to reach from the water up to the deck of the Industry . They use buckets like that to dip up the salt water; and, when the ship is going the sailors have to be very careful and very quick or they will lose the bucket, it pulls so hard.
So one sailor dipped the bucket just as they were passing over one of the rows of seaweed; and the other sailor took hold of the rope, too, as soon as he had dipped the bucket, and they pulled it up and set it on deck. Captain Solomon stooped and took up a plant. There were two plants in the bucket. Little Sol had come when he saw the sailors with the bucket.
And Captain Solomon showed the boys that a plant was about the size of a cabbage, and that it had a great many little balloons that grew on it about as big as a pea, and these balloons were filled with air to make the plant float. Some of them were almost as big as a nut, and little Sol and little Jacob had fun trying to make them pop.
Then little Sol found a tiny fish in the bucket that was just the color of the weed; and little Jacob saw another, and then he saw a crab drop from the weed that Captain Solomon was holding, and the crab was just the color of the weed, too. And they amused themselves for a long time with hunting for the queer fishes and crabs and shrimps, and something that was like a mussel, but it wasn't just like one, either. And they found a place in the weed where were some little balls. And they opened the balls, and little Sol said he'd bet that they were where some animal laid its eggs. But little Jacob didn't say anything, for he didn't pretend to know anything about it. But Captain Solomon got tired of holding that weed, so he dropped it back into the bucket and went away. And, at last, when little Jacob and little Sol got tired of hunting for things in the weed, the sailors threw it over into the ocean again.
And that's all.
"Lady Moon, Lady Moon, where are you roving?"
"Over the sea."
"Lady Moon, Lady Moon, whom are you loving?"
"All that love me."
"Are you not tired with rolling and never
Resting to sleep?
Why look so pale and so sad, as forever
Wishing to weep?"
"Ask me not this, little child, if you love me;
You are too bold.
I must obey my dear Father above me,
And do as I'm told."
'Lady Moon, Lady Moon, where are you roving?"
"Over the sea."
"Lady Moon, Lady Moon, whom are you loving?"
"All that love me."