WEEK 39 |
A ND what of the little lame prince, whom everybody seemed so easily to have forgotten?
Not everybody. There were a few kind souls, mothers of families, who had heard his sad story, and some servants about the palace, who had been familiar with his sweet ways—these many a time sighed and said, "Poor Prince Dolor!" Or, looking at the Beautiful Mountains, which were visible all over Nomansland, though few people ever visited them, "Well, perhaps his Royal Highness is better where he is than even there."
They did not know—indeed, hardly anybody did know—that beyond the mountains, between them and the sea, lay a tract of country, barren, level, bare, except for short, stunted grass, and here and there a patch of tiny flowers. Not a bush—not a tree—not a resting place for bird or beast was in that dreary plain. In summer the sunshine fell upon it hour after hour with a blinding glare; in winter the winds and rains swept over it unhindered, and the snow came down steadily, noiselessly, covering it from end to end in one great white sheet, which lay for days and weeks unmarked by a single footprint.
Not a pleasant place to live in—and nobody did live there, apparently. The only sign that human creatures had ever been near the spot, was one large round tower which rose up in the centre of the plain, and might be seen all over it—if there had been anybody to see, which there never was. Rose, right up out of the ground, as if it had grown of itself, like a mushroom. But it was not at all mushroom-like; on the contrary, it was very solidly built. In form, it resembled the Irish round towers, which have puzzled people for so long, nobody being able to find out when, or by whom, or for what purpose they were made; seemingly for no use at all, like this tower. It was circular, of very firm brickwork, with neither doors nor windows, until near the top, when you could perceive some slits in the wall, through which one might possibly creep in or look out. Its height was nearly a hundred feet, and it had a battlemented parapet, showing sharp against the sky.
One large round tower which rose up in the centre of the plain.
As the plain was quite desolate—almost like a desert, only without sand, and led to nowhere except the still more desolate sea-coast—nobody ever crossed it. Whatever mystery there was about the tower, it and the sky and the plain kept their secret to themselves.
It was a very great secret indeed—a state secret—which none but so clever a man as the present King of Nomansland would ever have thought of. How he carried it out, undiscovered, I cannot tell. People said, long afterwards, that it was by means of a gang of condemned criminals, who were set to work, and executed immediately after they had done, so that nobody knew anything, or in the least suspected the real fact.
And what was the fact? Why, that this tower, which seemed a mere mass of masonry, utterly forsaken and uninhabited, was not so at all. Within twenty feet of the top, some ingenious architect had planned a perfect little house, divided into four rooms—as by drawing a cross within a circle you will see might easily be done. By making skylights, and a few slits in the walls for windows, and raising a peaked roof which was hidden by the parapet, here was a dwelling complete; eighty feet from the ground, and as inaccessible as a rook's nest on the top of a tree.
A charming place to live in! if you once got up there—and never wanted to come down again.
Inside—though nobody could have looked inside except a bird, and hardly even a bird flew past that lonely tower—inside it was furnished with all the comfort and elegance imaginable; with lots of books and toys, and everything that the heart of a child could desire. For its only inhabitant, except a nurse of course, was a poor solitary child.
One winter night, when all the plain was white with moonlight, there was seen crossing it a great tall black horse, ridden by a man also big and equally black, carrying before him on the saddle a woman and a child. The woman—she had a sad, fierce look, and no wonder, for she was a criminal under sentence of death, but her sentence had been changed to almost as severe a punishment. She was to inhabit the lonely tower with the child, and was allowed to live as long as the child lived—no longer. This in order that she might take the utmost care of him; for those who put him there were equally afraid of his dying and of his living. And yet he was only a little gentle boy, with a sweet sleepy smile—he had been very tired with his long journey—and clinging arms, which held tight to the man's neck, for he was rather frightened, and the face, black as it was, looked kindly at him. And he was very helpless, with his poor, small shriveled legs, which could neither stand nor run away—for the little forlorn boy was Prince Dolor.
He was rather frightened, and the face, black as it was, looked kindly at him.
He had not been dead at all—or buried either. His grand funeral had been a mere pretense: a wax figure having been put in his place, while he himself was spirited away under charge of these two, the condemned woman and the black man. The latter was deaf and dumb, so could neither tell nor repeat anything.
When they reached the foot of the tower, there was light enough to see a huge chain dangling from the parapet, but dangling only halfway. The deaf-mute took from his saddle-wallet a sort of ladder, arranged in pieces like a puzzle, fitted it together, and lifted it up to meet the chain. Then he mounted to the top of the tower, and slung from it a sort of chair, in which the woman and the child placed themselves and were drawn up, never to come down again as long as they lived. Leaving them there, the man descended the ladder, took it to pieces again and packed it in his pack, mounted the horse and disappeared across the plain.
Every month they used to watch for him, appearing like a speck in the distance. He fastened his horse to the foot of the tower and climbed it, as before, laden with provisions and many other things. He always saw the Prince, so as to make sure that the child was alive and well, and then went away until the following month.
While his first childhood lasted, Prince Dolor was happy enough. He had every luxury that even a prince could need, and the one thing wanting—love—never having known, he did not miss. His nurse was very kind to him, though she was a wicked woman. But either she had not been quite so wicked as people said, or she grew better through being shut up continually with a little innocent child, who was dependent upon her for every comfort and pleasure of his life.
It was not an unhappy life. There was nobody to tease or ill-use him, and he was never ill. He played about from room to room—there were four rooms—parlour, kitchen, his nurse's bedroom, and his own; learnt to crawl like a fly, and to jump like a frog, and to run about on all-fours almost as fast as a puppy. In fact, he was very much like a puppy or a kitten, as thoughtless and as merry—scarcely ever cross, though sometimes a little weary. As he grew older, he occasionally liked to be quiet for awhile, and then he would sit at the slits of windows, which were, however, much bigger than they looked from the bottom of the tower,—and watch the sky above and the ground below, with the storms sweeping over and the sunshine coming and going, and the shadows of the clouds running races across the blank plain.
By and by he began to learn lessons—not that his nurse had been ordered to teach him, but she did it partly to amuse herself. She was not a stupid woman, and Prince Dolor was by no means a stupid boy; so they got on very well, and his continual entreaty, "What can I do? what can you find me to do?" was stopped, at least for an hour or two in the day.
It was a dull life, but he had never known any other; anyhow, he remembered no other; and he did not pity himself at all. Not for a long time, till he grew quite a big little boy, and could read quite easily. Then he suddenly took to books, which the deaf-mute brought him from time to time—books which, not being acquainted with the literature of Nomansland, I cannot describe, but no doubt they were very interesting; and they informed him of everything in the outside world, and filled him with an intense longing to see it.
From this time a change came over the boy. He began to look sad and thin, and to shut himself up for hours without speaking. For his nurse hardly spoke, and whatever questions he asked beyond their ordinary daily life she never answered. She had, indeed, been forbidden, on pain of death, to tell him anything about himself, who he was, or what he might have been. He knew he was Prince Dolor, because she always addressed him as "my prince" and "your royal highness," but what a prince was he had not the least idea. He had no idea of anything in the world, except what he found in his books.
He sat one day surrounded by them, having built them up round him like a little castle wall. He had been reading them half the day, but feeling all the while that to read about things which you never can see is like hearing about a beautiful dinner while you are starving. For almost the first time in his life he grew melancholy; his hands fell on his lap; he sat gazing out of the window-slit upon the view outside—the view he had looked at every day of his life, and might look at for endless days more.
Not a very cheerful view—just the plain and the sky—but he liked it. He used to think, if he could only fly out of that window, up to the sky or down to the plain, how nice it would be! Perhaps when he died—his nurse had told him once in anger that he would never leave the tower till he died—he might be able to do this. Not that he understood much what dying meant, but it must be a change, and any change seemed to him a blessing.
"And I wish I had somebody to tell me all about it; about that and many other things; somebody that would be fond of me, like my poor white kitten."
Here the tears came into his eyes, for the boy's one friend, the one interest of his life, had been a little white kitten, which the deaf-mute, kindly smiling, once took out of his pocket and gave him—the only living creature Prince Dolor had ever seen. For four weeks it was his constant plaything and companion, till one moonlight night it took a fancy for wandering, climbed on to the parapet of the tower, dropped over and disappeared. It was not killed, he hoped, for cats have nine lives; indeed, he almost fancied he saw it pick itself up and scamper away, but he never caught sight of it more.
"Yes, I wish I had something better than a kitten—a person, a real live person, who would be fond of me and kind to me. Oh, I want somebody—dreadfully, dreadfully!"
As he spoke, there sounded behind him a slight tap-tap-tap, as of a stick or a cane, and twisting himself round, he saw—what do you think he saw?
Nothing either frightening or ugly, but still exceedingly curious. A little woman, no bigger than he might himself have been, had his legs grown like those of other children; but she was not a child—she was an old woman. Her hair was grey, and her dress was grey, and there was a grey shadow over her wherever she moved. But she had the sweetest smile, the prettiest hands, and when she spoke it was in the softest voice imaginable.
"My dear little boy,"—and dropping her cane, the only bright and rich thing about her, she laid those two tiny hands on his shoulders—"my own little boy, I could not come to you until you had said you wanted me, but now you do want me, here I am."
She laid those two tiny hands on his shoulders, — "My own little boy, I could not come to you until you had said you wanted me."
"And you are very welcome, madam," replied the Prince, trying to speak politely, as princes always did in books; "and I am exceedingly obliged to you. May I ask who you are? Perhaps my mother?" For he knew that little boys usually had a mother, and had occasionally wondered what had become of his own.
"No," said the visitor, with a tender, half-sad smile, putting back the hair from his forehead, and looking right into his eyes—"No, I am not your mother, though she was a dear friend of mine; and you are as like her as ever you can be."
"Will you tell her to come and see me then?"
"She cannot; but I dare say she knows all about you. And she loves you very much—and so do I; and I want to help you all I can, my poor little boy."
"Why do you call me poor?" asked Prince Dolor, in surprise.
The little old woman glanced down on his legs and feet, which he did not know were different from those of other children, and then at his sweet, bright face, which, though he knew not that either, was exceedingly different from many children's faces, which are often so fretful, cross, sullen. Looking at him, instead of sighing, she smiled. "I beg your pardon, my prince," said she.
"Yes, I am a prince, and my name is Dolor; will you tell me yours, madam?"
The little old woman laughed like a chime of silver bells.
"I have not got a name—or rather, I have so many names that I don't know which to choose. However, it was I who gave you yours, and you will belong to me all your days. I am your godmother."
"Hurrah!" cried the little prince; "I am glad I belong to you, for I like you very much. Will you come and play with me?"
So they sat down together and played. By-and-by they began to talk.
"Are you very dull here?" asked the little old woman.
"Not particularly, thank you, godmother. I have plenty to eat and drink, and my lessons to do, and my books to read—lots of books."
"And you want nothing?"
"Nothing. Yes—perhaps——If you please, godmother, could you bring me just one more thing?"
"What sort of thing!"
"A little boy to play with."
The old woman looked very sad. "Just the thing, alas, which I cannot give you. My child, I cannot alter your lot in any way, but I can help you to bear it."
"Thank you. But why do you talk of bearing it? I have nothing to bear."
"My poor little man!" said the old woman in the very tenderest tone of her tender voice. "Kiss me!"
"What is kissing?" asked the wondering child.
His godmother took him in her arms and embraced him many times. By-and-by he kissed her back again—at first awkwardly and shyly, then with all the strength of his warm little heart.
"You are better to cuddle than even my white kitten, I think. Promise me that you will never go away."
"I must; but I will leave a present behind me—something as good as myself to amuse you—something that will take you wherever you want to go, and show you all that you wish to see."
"What is it?"
The Prince's countenance fell. "I don't want a cloak, for I never go out. Sometimes nurse hoists me on to the roof, and carries me round by the parapet; but that is all. I can't walk, you know, as she does."
"The more reason why you should ride; and besides, this
There sounded outside the room door a heavy step and a grumpy voice, and a rattle of plates and dishes.
"It's my nurse, and she is bringing my dinner; but I don't want dinner at all—I only want you. Will her coming drive you away, godmother?"
"Perhaps; but only for a little while. Never mind; all the bolts and bars in the world couldn't keep me out. I'd fly in at the window, or down through the chimney. Only wish for me, and I come."
"Thank you," said Prince Dolor, but almost in a whisper, for he was very uneasy at what might happen next. His nurse and his godmother—what would they say to one another? how would they look at one another?—two such different faces: one, harsh-lined, sullen, cross, and sad; the other, sweet and bright and calm as a summer evening before the dark begins.
When the door was flung open, Prince Dolor shut his eyes, trembling all over: opening them again, he saw he need fear nothing; his lovely old godmother had melted away just like the rainbow out of the sky, as he had watched it many a time. Nobody but his nurse was in the room.
"What a muddle your Royal Highness is sitting in," said she sharply. "Such a heap of untidy books; and what's this rubbish?" knocking a little bundle that lay beside them.
"Oh, nothing, nothing—give it me!" cried the Prince, and, darting after it, he hid it under his pinafore, and then pushed it quickly into his pocket. Rubbish as it was, it was left in the place where she had sat, and might be something belonging to her—his dear, kind godmother, whom already he loved with all his lonely, tender, passionate heart.
It was, though he did not know this, his wonderful travelling-cloak.
Until winter was come we had food in plenty, for one could hardly send a charge of shot toward the river without bringing down swans, ducks, or cranes, while from the savages we got sufficient for our daily wants, meal made from the corn, pumpkins, peas, and beans.
But this did not cause Captain Smith to give over trying to buy from the Indians a store of corn for the winter, and shortly after Captain Kendall's death, he set off with nine white men and two Indian guides in a barge, counting to go as far as the head of the Chickahominy River.
This time twenty-two long, dreary days went by without his return, and we mourned him as dead, believing the savages had murdered him.
The discontented ones were in high glee because of thinking the man who had forced them to do that which they should, had gone out from their world forever, and we two lads were plunged in deepest grief, for in all the great land of Virginia, Captain Smith was our only true friend.
Then arrived that day when he suddenly appeared before us, having come to no harm, and as Master Hunt lifted up his hands in a prayer of thanksgiving because the man who was so sadly needed in Jamestown had returned, I fell on my knees, understanding for the first time in my life how good God could be to us in that wilderness.
I would that I might describe the scene in our house that night, when Master Hunt was come to hear what all knew would be a story of wildest adventure, for it went without saying that my master never would have remained so long absent from Jamestown had it been within his power to return sooner.
We waited to hear the tale until he had refreshed himself after the long journey, and then what Captain Smith told us was like unto this, as I remember it:
After leaving the village, he had sailed up the river until there was no longer water enough to float the barge, when, with two white men and the two Indians, he embarked in a canoe, continuing the voyage for a distance of twelve miles or more. There, in the wilderness, they made ready to spend the night, and with one of the savage guides my master went on shore on an island to shoot some wild fowls for supper. He had traveled a short distance from the boat, when he heard cries of the savages in the distance, and, looking back, saw that one of the men had been taken prisoner, while the other was fighting for his life.
At almost the very minute when he saw this terrible thing, he was suddenly beset by more than two hundred yelling, dancing savages, who were sweeping down upon him as if believing he was in their power beyond any chance. The Indian guide, who appeared to be terribly frightened, although it might have been that he was in the plot to murder my master, would have run away; but that Captain Smith held him fast while he fired one of his pistols to keep the enemy in check.
Understanding that he must do battle for his life, my master first took the precaution to bind the Indian guide to his left arm, by means of his belt, in such fashion that the fellow would serve as a shield against the shower of arrows the savages were sending through the air.
Protected in this manner, Captain Smith fought bravely, as he always does, and had succeeded in killing two of the Indians with his matchlock, when suddenly he sank knee deep into a mire. It seems that he had been retreating toward the canoe, hoping to get on board her where would be some chance for shelter, and was so engaged with the savages in front of him as to give little heed to his steps.
Once he was held prisoner by the mud, the enemy quickly surrounded him, and he could do no better than surrender. Instead of treating him cruelly, as might have been expected, these brown men carried him from village to village, as if exhibiting some strange animal.
When he was first made captive, the Indians found his compass, and were stricken with wonder, because, however the instrument might be turned, the needle always pointed in the same direction. The glass which protected the needle caused even more amazement, and, believing him to be a magician, they took him to Powhatan.
After many days of traveling, the savages were come with their prisoner to Powhatan's village, where Captain Smith was held close prisoner in one of the huts, being fairly well treated and fed in abundance, until the king, who had been out with a hunting party, came home.
Twice while he was thus captive did Captain Smith see the girl Pocahontas, who had visited him in Jamestown; but she gave no especial heed to him, save as a child who was minded to be amused, until on the day when some of the savages gave him to understand that he was to be killed for having come into this land of theirs, and also for having shot to death some of their tribe.
When he was led out of Powhatan's tent of skins, with his feet and hands bound, he had no hope of being able to save his own life, for there was no longer any chance for him to struggle against those who had him in their power.
Spring is the morning of the year,
And summer is the noontide bright;
The autumn is the evening clear
That comes before the winter's night.
And in the evening, everywhere
Along the roadside, up and down,
I see the golden torches flare
Like lighted street lamps in the town.
I think the butterfly and bee,
From distant meadows coming back,
Are quite contented when they see
These lamps along the homeward track.
But those who stay too late get lost;
For when the darkness falls about,
Down every lighted street the Frost
Will go and put the torches out!
WEEK 39 |
HERE was once a kind man whose name was Oliver
He had a gentle heart. He was always ready to help others and to share with them anything that he had. He gave away so much to the poor that he was always poor himself.
One day a poor woman asked Doctor Goldsmith to go and see her husband, who was sick and could not eat.
Goldsmith did so. He found that the family was in great need. The man had not had work for a long time. He was not sick, but in distress; and, as for eating, there was no food in the house.
"Call at my room this evening," said Goldsmith
to the woman, "and I will give you some
In the evening the woman called. Goldsmith gave her a little paper box that was very heavy.
"Here is the
"What are the
"You will find them inside of the box," he answered.
When the woman reached her home, she sat down by her husband's side, and they opened the box. What do you think they found in it?
It was full of pieces of money. And on the top were the
"TO BE TAKEN AS OFTEN AS NECESSITY REQUIRES."
Goldsmith had given them all the ready money that he had.
Don liked yellow flowers. So he went to visit some goldenrod.
Many insects visited the flowers, too. Don watched them come and go.
He saw the big black and yellow bumblebees. He heard the happy humming sound they made with their wings.
The bumblebees had a good time when they visited goldenrod flowers. They found nectar there to drink. The nectar was like sweet water and the bumblebees came for it.
Honey bees came to the goldenrod to drink the sweet nectar, too.
Honey bees change nectar to honey. They make goldenrod honey every fall and keep some for winter. There are no flowers for them to visit in winter. When they are hungry, they eat some of their honey for food. Goldenrod honey is good for bees.
Don liked goldenrod honey, too. His mother gave him some to eat with bread.
His mother told him, "Goldenrod honey is darker than clover honey. Some people like it much better than any other kind."
Play that my knee was a calico mare
Saddled and bridled for Bumpville;
Leap to the back of this steed if you dare,
And gallop away to Bumpville!
I hope you'll be sure to sit fast in your seat,
For this calico mare is prodigiously fleet,
And many adventures you're likely to meet
As you journey along to Bumpville.
This calico mare both gallops and trots
While whisking you off to Bumpville;
She paces, she shies, and she stumbles, in spots,
In the tortuous road to Bumpville;
And sometimes this strangely mercurial steed
Will suddenly stop and refuse to proceed,
Which, all will admit, is vexatious indeed,
When one is en route to Bumpville!
She's scared of the cars when the engine goes "Toot!"
Down by the crossing at Bumpville;
You'd better look out for that treacherous brute
Bearing you off to Bumpville!
With a snort she rears up on her hindermost heels,
And executes jigs and Virginia reels—
Words fail to explain how embarrassed one feels
Dancing so wildly to Bumpville!
It's bumpytybump and it's jiggityjog,
Journeying on to Bumpville;
It's over the hilltop and down through the bog
You ride on your way to Bumpville;
It's rattletybang over boulder and stump,
There are rivers to ford, there are fences to jump,
And the corduroy road it goes bumpytybump,
Mile after mile to Bumpville!
Perhaps you'll observe it's no easy thing
Making the journey to Bumpville,
So I think, on the whole, it were prudent to bring
An end to this ride to Bumpville;
For, though she has uttered no protest or plaint,
The calico mare must be blowing and faint—
What's more to the point, I'm blowed if I ain't!
So play we have got to Bumpville!
WEEK 39 |
P ETER RABBIT sat in a thicket of young trees on the edge of the Green Forest. It was warm and Peter was feeling lazy. He had nothing in particular to do, and as he knew of no cooler place he had squatted there to doze a bit and dream a bit. So far as he knew, Peter was all alone. He hadn't seen anybody when he entered that little thicket, and though he had listened he hadn't heard a sound to indicate that he didn't have that thicket quite to himself. It was very quiet there, and though when he first entered he hadn't the least intention in the world of going to sleep, it wasn't long before he was dozing.
Now Peter is a light sleeper, as all little people who never know when they may have to run for their lives must be. By and by he awoke with a start, and he was very wide awake indeed. Something had wakened him, though just what it was he couldn't say. His long ears stood straight up as he listened with all his might for some little sound which might mean danger. His wobbly little nose wobbled very fast indeed as it tested the air for the scent of a possible enemy. Very alert was Peter as he waited.
For a few minutes he heard nothing and saw nothing. Then, near the outer edge of the thicket, he heard a great rustling of dry leaves. It must have been this that had wakened him. For just an instant Peter was startled, but only for an instant. His long ears told him at once that that noise was made by some one scratching among the leaves, and he knew that no one who did not wear feathers could scratch like that.
"Now who can that be?" thought Peter, and stole forward very softly towards the place from which the sound came. Presently, as he peeped between the stems of the young trees, he saw the brown leaves which carpeted the ground fly this way and that, and in the midst of them was an exceedingly busy person, a little smaller than Welcome Robin, scratching away for dear life. Every now and then he picked up something.
His head, throat, back and breast were black. Beneath he was white. His sides were reddish-brown. His tail was black and white, and the longer feathers of his wings were edged with white. It was Chewink the Towhee, sometimes called Ground Robin.
Peter chuckled, but it was a noiseless chuckle. He kept perfectly still, for it was fun to watch some one who hadn't the least idea that he was being watched. It was quite clear that Chewink was hungry and that under those dry leaves he was finding a good meal. His feet were made for scratching and he certainly knew how to use them. For some time Peter sat there watching. He had just about made up his mind that he would make his presence known and have a bit of morning gossip when, happening to look out beyond the edge of the little thicket, he saw something red. It was something alive, for it was moving very slowly and cautiously towards the place where Chewink was so busy and forgetful of everything but his breakfast. Peter knew that there was only one person with a coat of that color. It was Reddy Fox, and quite plainly Reddy was hoping to catch Chewink.
For a second or two Peter was quite undecided what to do. He couldn't warn Chewink without making his own presence known to Reddy Fox. Of course he could sit perfectly still and let Chewink be caught, but that was such a dreadful thought that Peter didn't consider it for more than a second or two. He suddenly thumped the ground with his feet. It was his danger signal which all his friends know. Then he turned and scampered lipperty-lipperty-lip to a thick bramble-tangle not far behind him.
At the sound of that thump Chewink instantly flew up in a little tree. Then he saw Reddy Fox and began to scold. As for Reddy, he looked over towards the bramble-tangle and snarled. "I'll get you one of these days, Peter Rabbit," said he. "I'll get you one of these days and pay you up for cheating me out of a breakfast." Without so much as a glance at Chewink, Reddy turned and trotted off, trying his best to look dignified and as if he had never entertained such a thought as trying to catch Chewink.
From his perch Chewink watched until he was sure that Reddy Fox had gone away for good. Then he called softly, "Towhee! Towhee! Chewink! Chewink! All is safe now, Peter Rabbit. Come out and talk with me and let me tell you how grateful to you I am for saving my life."
Chewink flew down to the ground and Peter crept out of the bramble-tangle. "It wasn't anything," declared Peter. "I saw Reddy and I knew you didn't, so of course I gave the alarm. You would have done the same thing for me. Do you know, Chewink, I've wondered a great deal about you."
"What have you wondered about me?" asked Chewink.
"I've wondered what family you belong to," replied Peter.
Chewink chuckled. "I belong to a big family," said he. "I belong to the biggest family among the birds. It is the Finch and Sparrow family. There are a lot of us and a good many of us don't look much alike, but still we belong to the same family. I suppose you know that Rosebreast the Grosbeak and Glory the Cardinal are members of my family."
"I didn't know it," replied Peter, "but if you say it is so I suppose it must be so. It is easier to believe than it is to believe that you are related to the Sparrows."
"Nevertheless I am," retorted Chewink.
"What were you scratching for when I first saw you?" asked Peter.
"Oh, worms and bugs that hide under the leaves," replied Chewink carelessly. "You have no idea how many of them hide under dead leaves."
"Do you eat anything else?" asked Peter.
"Berries and wild fruits in season," replied Chewink. "I'm very fond of them. They make a variety in the bill of fare."
"I've noticed that I seldom see you up in the tree tops," remarked Peter.
"I like the ground better," replied Chewink. "I spend more of my time on the ground than anywhere else."
"I suppose that means that you nest on the ground," ventured Peter.
Chewink nodded. "Of course," said he. "As a matter of fact, I've got a nest in this very thicket. Mrs. Towhee is on it right now, and I suspect she's worrying and anxious to know what happened over here when you warned me about Reddy Fox. I think I must go over and set her mind at rest."
Peter was just about to ask if he might go along and see that nest when a new voice broke in.
"What are you fellows talking about?" it demanded, and there flitted just in front of Peter a little bird the size of a Sparrow but lovelier than any Sparrow of Peter's acquaintance. At first glance he seemed to be all blue, and such a lovely bright blue. But as he paused for an instant Peter saw that his wings and tail were mostly black and that the lovely blue was brightest on his head and back. It was Indigo the Bunting.
"We were talking about our family," replied Chewink. "I was telling Peter that we belong to the largest family among the birds."
"But you didn't say anything about Indigo," interrupted Peter. "Do you mean to say that he belongs to the same family?"
"I surely do," replied Indigo. "I'm rather closely related to the Sparrow branch. Don't I look like a Sparrow?"
Peter looked at Indigo closely. "In size and shape you do," he confessed, "but just the same I should never in the world have thought of connecting you with the Sparrows."
"How about me?" asked another voice, and a little brown bird flew up beside Indigo, twitching her tail nervously. She looked very Sparrow-like indeed, so much so, that if Peter had not seen her with her handsome mate, for she was Mrs. Indigo, he certainly would have taken her for a Sparrow.
Only on her wings and tail was there any of the blue which made Indigo's coat so beautiful, and this was only a faint tinge.
"I'll have to confess that so far as you are concerned it isn't hard to think of you as related to the Sparrows," declared Peter. "Don't you sometimes wish you were as handsomely dressed as Indigo?"
Mrs. Indigo shook her head in a most decided way. "Never!" she declared. "I have worries enough raising a family as it is, but if I had a coat like his I wouldn't have a moment of peace. You have no idea how I worry about him sometimes. You ought to be thankful, Peter Rabbit, that you haven't a coat like his. It attracts altogether too much attention."
Peter tried to picture himself in a bright blue coat and laughed right out at the mere thought, and the others joined with him. Then Indigo flew up to the top of a tall tree not far away and began to sing. It was a lively song and Peter enjoyed it thoroughly. Mrs. Indigo took this opportunity to slip away unobserved, and when Peter looked around for Chewink, he too had disappeared. He had gone to tell Mrs. Chewink that he was quite safe and that she had nothing to worry about.
A cock was busily scratching and scraping about to find something to eat for himself and his family, when he happened to turn up a precious jewel that had been lost by its owner.
"Aha!" said the Cock. "No doubt you are very costly and he who lost you would give a great deal to find you. But as for me, I would choose a single grain of barleycorn before all the jewels in the world."
Precious things are without value to those who cannot prize them.
WEEK 39 |
One of the four brothers stepped forward. "I pray that it is not my story you are going to tell," the second brother said to him. "Brother, I know not what your story is," he said. And saying that, he looked towards where the King was watching the fire, and he began:
IS fiery steeds and gleaming chariot the Sun-God, Helios, gave over to the young man Phaethon. The shining doors were rolled open and the steeds stood there, pawing the ground and sniffing the wind that blew towards them; yoked to the steeds was the gleaming chariot.
These were the horses and this was the chariot that, journeying through the heavens, brought light and warmth to men. None but Helios himself had ever driven them before. Now Helios stood there and the light was gone from his face. "O Phaethon, O my son," he cried, "thou art being given what thou hast claimed. But before thou dost take the reins, stay and consider! Thou art half mortal, and only the immortals may drive these fiery steeds and this gleaming chariot through the course of the heavens."
But the young man, Phaethon, sprang into the chariot and took in his hands the reins that were across the necks of the fiery steeds. "Long did I live on earth," he said, "without name and without honour; now I would have the world know that I am indeed the son of bright Helios. Thou didst swear to let me have a token that I, Phaethon, am indeed thy son, and this is the token that I claim—to be let drive thy steeds and thy chariot through the course of the heavens for a single day."
"Renounce thy desire before it is too late, and stay in my shining halls, known to mortals and immortals as my son, the son of Helios who brings light and warmth to the world."
But already the young man had shaken the reins; the fiery steeds sprang forward, and the shining doors of their stable rolled back. Something more his father said to him, but Phaethon did not hear his words. The bright wheels spun round and the chariot of Helios took its course through the sky.
The brightness of their tossing manes made Phaethon exultant; the swiftness of the steeds as they swept along the brightening path through the heavens filled him with delight, and his heart was lifted with pride as he held the reins that guided the course of the horses. "I—I," he cried in his pride, "I, the nameless son of Klymene, my mother, have the horses of Helios under my hands; I drive my father's gleaming chariot through the heavens; I, Phaethon, will be remembered, and all men must speak of me, because for a single day I am bringing them light and warmth."
He thought of the time he had bade farewell to Klymene, his mother; he thought of how he had come into the bright halls of Helios; he thought of how he had heard his father speak of him, praising his beauty, and of how pride had grown in him then and a resolve to have his father grant him a token that would make the world know that he, Phaethon, was indeed the son of Helios. His father had sworn that he would grant him any token that he might ask.
"And what other token might I ask than this?—to have their reins in my hands and these fiery steeds sweeping forward upon the brightening path. O brightness of fire! What was it that my father said about none but an immortal being able to drive the steeds of Helios? I drive them. I am half mortal, but now that I have driven the fiery steeds and the gleaming chariot I feel that I am become immortal! Immortal, immortal, immortal!" he cried, as he went through the brightening heavens, "immortal Phaethon!"
But the immortal horses knew that hands that were not immortal held their reins. They knew that the weakness of one who dies was in the hold that was upon them. They swerved aside from their path in the heavens. They plunged and plunged, going farther off their course. And upon earth men looked up and said, "A portent in the heavens! The steeds of Helios are rushing here and there!"
To Phaethon the horses were but tossing their manes; the bright wheels were but spinning as they should spin. He stood upright in the chariot, holding the reins, and he spoke:
"Are these the hands of one who is half immortal? These hands that hold and guide the horses of Helios! But must men speak always of the horses of Helios? Would that there was a way of making men below wonder at their course today! Wonder, and then know that not Helios but another, one younger and more daring than he, has hands upon the reins today!"
Plunging and plunging, the horses went farther and farther off their course.
Plunging and plunging, the horses went farther and farther off their course.
They went too far from their course in the blue heavens. Earth withered as they came too near. Fire sprang up, fire, and again, fire! The trees on the plains crackled, and dropped branches, and burned. On the mountains the forests took fire. Now there were mountains burning with fires that went up to the sky.
He knew now that the steeds had gone from their course. He tried to guide them back. The fiery steeds turned savage eyes and bared teeth upon him. They tossed their heads; the wheels spun faster and faster, and the chariot rocked as they rushed and plunged along.
Fires went up in the cities of men; in the rivers and lakes the waters dried up; men lay dying upon the earth. The young man Phaethon, knowing his hands too weak to guide them, shouted to the fiery steeds.
Zeus, the ever-watchful, saw Phaethon's course through the heavens, saw the plunging steeds and the fires going up on the earth, and he knew that all life might be destroyed by the horses and chariot coming nearer and nearer to the earth. He gathered the clouds together, making a veil between the chariot coming nearer and nearer to the earth. He gathered the clouds together, making a veil between the chariot and the world of men. And then he flung his lightning on young Phaethon. The lightning of Zeus tore him from the chariot, and the horses, now that they no longer felt his hands upon the reins, staggered back to their course. Feebly now they went on. Feebly they finished their journey, but they won back to the shining stables that had been built for them by Hephaestos beside the gleaming halls of Helios.
Down, down into the seething sea young Phaethon fell. But he was not lost in the sea. The daughters of Hesperus found him and lifted his body out of the depths of the sea. They made a tomb for him on the sea-shore, and they wrote above his tomb, "Young Phaethon fell from his father's chariot, but even so he lost nothing of his glory, for his heart was set upon the doing of great things."
TWO years passed without any alarms, and I was beginning to think that nothing would ever again happen to disturb the quiet of my life.
One night in the rainy season of March I could not sleep. I lay for hours in my hammock and was not able to close my eyes.
I was thinking, thinking, thinking.
I thought of all that had ever happened to me both before and after my shipwreck.
I thought of my first happy years on the island.
I thought of the fear and care that I had lived in ever since I saw the first footprint in the sand.
Then I thought of my great desire to see my native land once more, and to have friends and companions with whom I could talk.
These thoughts brought to mind the savages of whom I had so great a dread, and I began to ask myself a thousand questions about them.
How far off was the coast from which they came?
Why did they come to my island from so great a distance?
What kind of boats did they have?
With such thoughts as these I lay awake until far in the night. My pulse beat fast, my breath came hard, my nerves were unstrung.
At last, worn out by my very restlessness, I fell asleep.
The same thoughts must have followed me into my dreams, but they took a different form.
I dreamed that I was sitting on the seashore with my gun on my lap and my umbrella by my side.
I was thinking, thinking, thinking. I had never been so sad and lonely.
I was thinking of the home I was never to see again, and of the friends who perhaps had forgotten me.
Suddenly, as I lifted my eyes, I thought I saw two canoes coming toward the island. I ran and hid myself in a grove by the shore.
There were eleven savages in the canoes, and they had with them another savage whom they were going to kill and eat.
But I thought in my sleep that this savage suddenly sprang up and ran for his life.
I thought that he came running to the little grove, to hide himself in it.
Seeing him alone, I arose and met him. I smiled kindly, and tried to make him know that I was his friend.
He threw himself on the ground at my feet. He seemed to be asking my help.
I showed him my ladder and made him go up over the wall.
Then I led him into my castle, and he became my servant.
I thought in my sleep, that I cried aloud for joy and said: "Now I shall escape from this place. For this savage will be my pilot. He will guide me to the mainland. He will tell where to go and what to do. He will help me find my own people."
This thought filled my mind with great joy and while I was still rejoicing I awoke.
What a disappointment it was to find that it was only a dream!
For several days I felt very sad. I was almost ready to give up hope.
Then I remembered my dream; and I said to myself: "If I could only get hold of a savage and teach him to love me, things might turn out just that way. He must be one of their prisoners and I must save him from being eaten; for then it will be easy to win his friendship."
This thought so fixed itself in my mind that I could not get rid of it. Waking or sleeping, I seemed to be always planning to get hold of a savage.
At last I set myself about it in earnest. Almost every day I went out with my gun to see if some of these wild men had not again landed on my island.
There once was a restless boy
Who dwelt in a home by the sea,
Where the water danced for joy,
And the wind was glad and free
But he said, "Good mother, oh! let me go;
For the dullest place in the world, I know,
Is this little brown house,
This old brown house,
Under the apple tree.
"I will travel east and west;
The loveliest homes I'll see;
And when I have found the best,
Dear mother, I'll come for thee.
I'll come for thee in a year and a day,
And joyfully then we'll haste away,
From this little brown house,
This old brown house,
Under the apple tree."
So he traveled here and there,
But never content was he,
Though he saw in lands most fair
The costliest homes there be.
He something missed from the sea or sky,
Till he turned again with a wistful sigh
To the little brown house,
The old brown house,
Under the apple tree.
Then the mother saw and smiled,
While her heart grew glad and free.
"Hast thou chosen a home, my child?
Ah, where shall we dwell?" quoth she.
And he said, "Sweet mother, from east to west,
The loveliest home, and the dearest and best,
Is a little brown house,
An old brown house,
Under an apple tree."
WEEK 39 |
"Then from ancient gloom emerged
The rising world of trade."
I T was some time before the rejoicings subsided which had burst over Portugal on the safe return of Vasco da Gama, who had been laden with every possible honour. All eyes now turned to far-off India, even though the way lay through stormy seas, even though it was a well-known fact that Vasco da Gama had lost his brother and more than half his men in the perilous voyage. The pepper, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and mace brought back from Calicut had yielded immense profits at home, and men were eager to go and get more.
So the king fitted out another expedition, and gave the command of it to Pedro Cabral, with whom Bartholomew Diaz, the original discoverer of the Cape, was to sail. Thirteen ships were well supplied and manned. Monks were to sail with the fleet in order to teach Christianity to the native Indians, while 1200 picked soldiers went in case of trouble.
The fleet sailed from Lisbon on March 9, 1500. Cabral guided his ships past the Cape Verde Islands safely, and then for some reason, perhaps driven by stormy weather, he took a westerly course that he knew. On and on he sailed, till a month later he found himself on an unknown coast in an unknown land. It was Brazil, in South America. But he named it Santa Cruz, and took formal possession of it in the name of the King of Portugal. Sending a ship home with the news, and some gorgeous paroquets from the country, he then made his way to India.
Two months after he left Lisbon he reached the Cape. As the ships sailed round the southern point they encountered a terrific storm. The waves rolled mountains high, the wind whistled and shrieked, and four ships foundered. Among them was one commanded by Diaz, the man who had revealed the secret of the Cape kept through so many long ages. For him it was indeed a Cape of Storms. With six ships only, Cabral pushed on to Mozambique, and thence to Calicut. He entered into a commercial treaty with the Indians, but treachery was at work and a number of Portuguese were massacred.
Cabral returned to Lisbon with only three ships out of the thirteen that started, for he lost one on the reefs near Melinda, laden with spices from India.
"Sire, my inclination prompts me to make another voyage," said Vasco da Gama one day after the return of Cabral, whose doubtful fortune had disappointed the king. "Wherefore I entreat your Highness to allow it for your service."
The king was delighted, and Vasco da Gama was soon afloat again with thirteen ships, ten of which were ships of war, for this was to be an expedition of revenge on the King of Calicut for his double dealing with the Portuguese.
"I feel in my heart a great wish to go and make havoc of the King of Calicut, so that I may take vengeance on him, and that your Highness may be much pleased," were among Gama's last words to his Christian sovereign.
It was a sorry way to carry the message of peace to the natives of India.
With banners and standards, and crosses of Christ on every sail, the ships started on March 25, 1502. They had a tremendous storm while rounding the Cape, which separated the fleet, but all save one turned up at Mozambique. It was August before they reached Melinda, where the king received Gama as an old friend, and loaded him with presents. Sailing on to India, the Portuguese commander took a horrible revenge on the Indian traders, whom he wished to impress with the power and the majesty of the great Christian monarch whom he served.
He ordered that some eight hundred merchants, captured in peaceful commerce, should have their hands, ears, and noses cut off, their feet tied together, and be placed in heaps on board ship, covered over with dry mats and leaves. Then the ship was set on fire with her sails set, and so drifted to shore.
No wonder the King of Calicut prepared a fleet to sail against this cruel Portuguese commander. But he was no match for well-equipped ships from the West. More revenge and cruelty followed, until in the end Vasco da Gama terrified the merchants into submission, left a Portuguese colony on the Indian coast, and sailed for home with ten ships laden with wealth from India.
Great were the king's rejoicings when he saw Vasco da Gama again.
"You shall be Admiral of the Indian Seas for ever," he cried.
Some years later Vasco da Gama went out to India again, and there he died, far away in the country he had discovered for Portugal.
He had rendered great services to his king and to the whole world, but the glory of his fame will ever be stained by the remembrance of his cruel oppression of the traders on the western coast.
O NCE upon a time in the heart of a forest lived a woodcutter and his wife. They were very poor indeed. Their little cabin, built of rough-hewn logs, had only one room, which was very scantily and poorly furnished. One day the woodcutter said to his wife,
"How miserable we are! We work all day, and we have barely enough food to keep life in our bodies! Surely there are few who work as hard as we do and have so little!"
The housewife replied, "Yes, indeed, we are very miserable."
"Well, I'm off for another day's work," sighed the husband. "My lot is too hard."
He picked up his ax and made his way to the place in the forest where he was to perform his task. Suddenly, a dear little fairy whose face was wreathed in smiles danced into the path and stood before him.
"I am the wishing fairy," she began. "I heard what you said about your work and your life, and my heart aches for you. Now, because I am a fairy, it is in my power to grant you three wishes. Ask for any three things you desire and your wishes shall be granted." The fairy disappeared in the twinkling of an eye, and the woodcutter was left standing alone in the forest. Was he dreaming? He couldn't believe his own senses! He thought of a thousand wishes all in an instant. He would go home and talk the matter over with his wife. He turned in his path and retraced his steps to the cabin.
"Art thou ill?" demanded his wife, who came to the door.
"Oh, no, indeed, I am not ill; I am very, very happy!" he burst forth. "I met a fairy in the forest. She told me that she was very, very sorry for me, and that she would help me by granting three wishes. Think of it! Any three wishes in the world will be granted by the charming fairy."
"Wonderful!" responded the housewife.
"Oh, how happy the very thought of it makes me! Come, let us sit down and talk the matter over; for I assure you it is not easy to come to a decision. I am indeed, very, very happy."
They drew up their chairs to the little table and sat down.
"I am so hungry," began the woodcutter. "Let us have dinner, and then, while we are eating, we can talk about our wishes and see which three are nearest our hearts' desires."
They began their humble meal immediately, and the husband continued: "Of course one of our wishes must be great riches. What do you say?"
"Oh, yes, indeed," said his wife. "I should love a
beautiful house to live in, also carriages and fine
clothes, and servants
"Oh, for that matter," said the husband, "we could wish for an empire."
"Or rich jewels, such as great numbers of pearls and diamonds! What a wish that would be," said the wife, whose face was all aglow.
"I have it," burst forth the woodman, "let us wish for a fine large family, five sons and five daughters. What say you to that?"
"Oh!" returned his wife, "I think I prefer six sons and four daughters."
So they continued weighing one wish with another until they seemed almost in despair about coming to a decision regarding which three wishes would be the wisest and best. They finally stopped talking and ate their simple food in silence. The woodcutter did not seem to relish his soup and dry bread.
"Oh," he cried out suddenly, "how I wish I had some nice savory sausage for dinner!" No sooner had the words fallen from his lips than a large dish of fine sausages appeared on the table. What a surprise! The two were so astonished that for a few moments they could not speak. Then the wife said impatiently:
"What do you mean by making such a foolish wish? Do you not see that this dish of sausage means that one wish has been granted and that there are but two left? How could you make such a stupid, stupid wish?"
"Well," replied the husband, "to be sure I have been foolish. I really did not think what I was saying. However, we may still wish for great riches and an empire."
"Humph!" grumbled the wife, "we may wish for riches and an empire, but what about a fine large family? You have certainly been foolish in wishing for that horrid sausage. I suppose, however, you prefer sausage to a fine family;" and she burst out into tears of lamentation, crying: "How could you? How could you be so foolish? Oh, dear! Oh, dear! How very foolish and stupid you have been."
Finally her husband lost all patience and cried out: "I'm tired of your grumbling! I wish the sausage were on the end of your nose!"
In an instant the sausage was fastened to the end of the poor woman's nose. How comical she did look! The husband and wife were so astonished that they could not speak. The poor woman again burst into tears.
"Oh!" she cried. "How could you? How could you? First, you wished for sausage, and second, you wished that the sausage were fastened to my poor nose. It is terrible. It is cruel. Two wishes have been granted. There remains but one! Oh, dear, dear!"
The husband, who now saw what a dreadful mistake he had made, said meekly,
"We may still wish for great riches."
"Riches indeed!" snapped his wife. "Here I am with this great sausage fastened to the end of my nose. What good would riches do me? How ridiculous I am. It is all your fault. I was so happy at the thought of great riches, beautiful jewels, and a fine family, and now I am sad and miserable." She continued to weep so pitifully that her husband's heart was touched.
"I wish with all my heart that the sausage were not on your nose," he said. In an instant the sausage disappeared. There the two sat lamenting; but as the three wishes had been granted there is nothing further to be said.
I can't abear a Butcher,
I can't abide his meat,
The ugliest shop of all is his,
The ugliest in the street;
Bakers' are warm, cobblers' dark,
Chemists' burn watery lights;
But oh, the sawdust butcher's shop,
That ugliest of sights!
WEEK 39 |
It was a bright day in August. The whispering rustle of the leaves as they turned their white sides to the soft breath of the southwest wind, the buzzing of the ostentatiously busy bees, the lapping of the river as it gurgled happily along on its everlasting travels, the half-drowsy note of a thrush, and the peevish cry of a catbird seemed only to accentuate the Sabbath hush that was upon all nature.
The day was very warm, but the deep shade of the elms in front of the cabin afforded a delightful retreat, almost as cool as a cellar.
Tom and Liney Fox had walked over to visit Balser and Jim; and Sukey Yates, with her two brothers, had dropped in to stay a moment or two, but finding such good company, had remained for the day.
The children were seated at the top of the slope that descended to the river, and the weather being too warm to play any game more vigorous than "thumbs up," they were occupying the time with drowsy yawns and still more drowsy conversation, the burden of which was borne by Tom.
Balser often said that he didn't mind "talking parties" if he could only keep Tom Fox from telling the story of the time when he went to Cincinnati with his father and saw a live elephant. But that could never be done; and Tom had told it twice upon the afternoon in question, and there is no knowing how often he would have inflicted it upon his small audience, had it not been for an interruption which effectually disposed of "Cincinnati" and the live elephant for that day.
A bustling old hen with her brood of downy chicks was peevishly clucking about, now and then lazily scratching the earth, and calling up her ever-hungry family whenever she was lucky enough to find a delicious worm or racy bug.
The cubs were stretched at full length in the bright blaze of the sun, snoring away like a pair of grampuses, their black silky sides rising and falling with every breath. They looked so pretty and so innocent that you would have supposed a thought of mischief could never have entered their heads. (Mischief! They never thought of anything else. From morning until night, and from night until morning, they studied, planned, and executed deeds of mischief that would have done credit to the most freckle-faced boy in the settlement. Will you tell me why it is that the boy most plentifully supplied with freckles and warts is the most fruitful in schemes of mischief?) A flock of gray geese and snowy ganders were floating on the placid surface of the river, opposite the children, where a projection of the bank had caused the water to back, making a little pool of listless eddies.
"Mischief! They never thought of anything else."
Suddenly from among the noiseless flock of geese came a mighty squawking and a sound of flapping wings, and the flock, half flying, half swimming, came struggling at their utmost speed toward home.
"Look, Balser! Look!" said Liney in a whisper. "A wolf!"
Balser turned in time to see a great, lank, gray wolf emerge from the water, carrying a gander by the neck.
"Balser turned in time to see a great, lank, gray wolf
emerge from the water, carrying a gander by the neck."
The bird could not squawk, but flapped his wings violently, thereby retarding somewhat the speed of Mr. Wolf.
Balser hurried to the house for his gun, and with Tom Fox quickly paddled across the river in pursuit of the wolf. The boys entered the forest at the place the wolf had chosen. White feathers from the gander furnished a distinct spoor, and Balser had no difficulty in keeping on the wolf's track. The boys had been walking rapidly for thirty or forty minutes, when they found that the tracks left by the wolf and the scattered feathers of the gander led toward a thick clump of pawpaw bushes and vines, which grew at the foot of a small rocky hill. Into the thicket the boys cautiously worked their way, and, after careful examination, they found, ingeniously concealed by dense foliage, a small hole or cleft in the rocks at the base of the hill, and they at once knew that the wolf had gone to earth, and that this was his den.
Foxes make for themselves and their families the snuggest, most ingenious home in the ground you can possibly imagine. They seek a place at the base of a hill or bluff, and dig what we would call in our houses a narrow hallway, straight into the hill. They loosen the dirt with their front feet, and throw it back of them; then with their hind feet they keep pushing it farther toward the opening of the hole, until they have cast it all out. When they have removed the loose dirt, they at once scatter it over the ground and carefully cover it with leaves and vines, to avoid attracting unwelcome visitors to their home.
When the hallway is finished, the fox digs upward into the hill, and there he makes his real home. His reason for doing this is to prevent water from flowing through his hall into his living apartment. The latter is often quite a cave in the earth, and furnishes as roomy and cozy a home for Mr. and Mrs. Fox and their children as you could find in the world. It is cool in summer and warm in winter. It is softly carpeted with leaves, grass, and feathers, and the foxes lie there snugly enough when the winter comes on, with its freezing and snowing and blowing.
When the fox gets hungry he slips out of his cozy home, and briskly trots to some well-known chicken roost; or perhaps he finds a covey of quails huddled under a bunch of straw. In either case he carries home with him a dainty dinner, and after he has feasted, he cares not how the wind blows, nor how the river freezes, nor how the snow falls, for he is housed like a king, and is as warm and comfortable and happy as if he owned the earth and lived in a palace.
Wolves also make their dens in the earth, but they usually hunt for a place where the hallway, at least, is already made for them. They seek a hill with a rocky base, and find a cave partially made, the entrance to which is a small opening between the rocks. With this for a commencement, they dig out the interior and make their home, somewhat upon the plan of the fox.
The old wolf which Balser and Tom had chased to earth had found a fine dinner for his youngsters, and while the boys were watching the hole, no doubt the wolf family was having a glorious feast upon the gander.
The boys, of course, were at their rope's end. The dogs were not with them, and, even had they been, they were too large to enter the hole leading to the wolf's den. So the boys seated themselves upon a rock a short distance from the opening, and after a little time adopted the following plan of action.
Balser was to lie upon his breast on the hillside, a few yards above the opening of the wolf den, while Tom was to conceal himself in the dense foliage, close to the mouth of the cave, and they took their positions accordingly. Both were entirely hidden by vines and bushes, and remained silent as the tomb. They had agreed that they should lie entirely motionless until the shadow of a certain tree should fall across Tom's face, which they thought would occur within an hour. Then Tom, who could mimic the calls and cries of many birds and beasts, was to squawk like a goose, and tempt the wolf from his den so that Balser could shoot him.
It was a harder task than you may imagine to lie on the ground amid the bushes and leaves; for it seemed, at least so Tom said, that all the ants and bugs and worms in the woods had met at that particular place, and at that exact time, for the sole purpose of "drilling" up and down, and over and around, his body, and to bite him at every step. He dared not move to frighten away the torments, nor to scratch. He could not even grumble, which to Tom was the sorest trial of all.
The moment the shadow of the tree fell upon his face Tom squawked like a goose, so naturally, that Balser could hardly believe it was Tom, and not a real goose. Soon he uttered another squawk, and almost at the same instant Mr. Wolf came out of his hall door, doubtless thinking to himself that that was his lucky day, for he would have two ganders, one for dinner and one for supper, and plenty of cold goose for breakfast and dinner the next day. But he was mistaken, for it was the unluckiest day of the poor wolf's life. Bang! went Balser's gun, and the wolf, who had simply done his duty as a father, by providing a dinner for his family, paid for his feast with his life.
"Bang! went Balser's gun, and the wolf . . .
paid for his feast with his life."
"We'll drag the body a short distance away from the den," said Balser, "and you lie down again, and this time whine like a wolf. Then the old she-wolf will come out and we'll get her too."
"I wouldn't lie there another hour and let them ants and bugs chaw over me as they did, for all the wolves in the state."
"But just think, Tom," answered Balser, "when the wagons go to Brookville this fall we can get a shilling apiece for the wolfskins! Think of it! A shilling! One for you and one for me. I'll furnish the powder and shot if you'll squawk and whine. Squawks and whines don't cost anything, but powder and lead does. Now that's a good fellow, just lie down and whine a little. She'll come out pretty quick."
Tom still refused, and Balser still insisted. Soon Balser grew angry and called Tom a fool. Tom answered in kind, and in a moment the boys clinched for a fight. They scuffled and fought awhile, and soon stumbled over the dead wolf and fell to the ground. Balser was lucky enough to fall on top, and proceeded to pound Tom at a great rate.
"Now will you whine?" demanded Balser.
"No," answered Tom.
"Then take that, and that, and that. Now will you whine?"
"No," cried Tom, determined not to yield.
So Balser went at it again, but there was no give up to stubborn Tom, even if he was on the under side.
At last Balser wiped the perspiration from his face,
and sitting astride of his stubborn foe,
"Tom, if you'll whine I'll lend you my gun for a whole day."
"And powder and bullets?" asked Tom.
"Well, I guess not," answered Balser. "I'll lick you twenty times first."
"If you'll lend me your gun and give me ten full loads, I'll whine till I fetch every wolf in the woods, if the bugs do eat me up."
"That's a go," said Balser, glad enough to compromise with a boy who didn't know when he was whipped.
Then they got up, and were as good friends as if no trouble had occurred between them.
NC' BILLY POSSUM had a very good reason for not going home, a very good
reason, indeed. Even old
He just ate and ate and ate until he couldn't eat another one.
full stomach is very apt to make a sleepy head.
Unc' Billy climbed to the very last nest in the topmost row, way up in
a dark corner. It hadn't been used for a long time, but it was full of
nice, soft hay.
So here hath been dawning
Another blue day:
Think, wilt thou let it
Slip useless away?
Out of Eternity
This new day is born;
At night, will return.
Behold it aforetime
No eye ever did;
So soon it forever
From all eyes is hid.
Here hath been dawning
Another blue day;
Think, wilt thou let it
Slip useless away?
WEEK 39 |
Among the many martyrs who long ago gave up their lives, rather than deny their Master, we love to remember one little maid—a child-martyr and saint. We do not know a great deal about her, for she lived so very long ago, but what we know makes us love and honour her, and speak her name with reverence.
Faith was the name of this little maiden, and her home was in France, in the pleasant country of Aquitaine. Her parents were rich and noble, and she was brought up carefully, and taught to be courteous and gentle to every one. But she did not need much teaching, for her nature was sweet and pure, and her face was fair, with the beauty that shines from within.
The town in which little Faith lived was called Agen, and lay at the foot of a high rugged hill, which seemed to keep guard over it. It was a quiet little place, and most of the people who dwelt there were Christians, living happily together with the good bishop at their head.
But one day a heavy cloud of dust was seen rolling along the highroad that led over the mountains to the city gates. And messengers came running breathlessly into the town, warning the people that a great company of soldiers was marching towards them. It was thought they had come from Spain, and the news spread like wildfire through the town that Dacian, the cruellest governor of all that country, was riding at their head.
In fear and trembling the people waited. They stood in little knots, talking under their breath of all the evil this man had done; or shutting themselves into their houses, they scarcely dared to look out at the windows. And soon the great company came sweeping in, swords clattering and armour glittering in the sunshine, rough soldiers laughing carelessly as they rode past the frightened faces. And at their head a cruel, evil-looking man who glared from side to side, as if he were a wild beast seeking his prey.
Doubtless it pleased him to see how every one trembled before him, and he smiled scornfully to think how easy a task it would be to teach these Christians to deny their God and drag their faith in the dust.
And soon the reason of his coming was known to all, for he ordered it to be proclaimed in the market-place, that every Christian who refused to sacrifice to the heathen gods should be tortured and put to death. And to make his meaning quite plain, the soldiers spread out all the terrible instruments of torture, so that men might know exactly what lay before them if they refused to deny Christ.
But in the night the terrified Christians stole silently out of the town, and climbing the high hill that overlooked the city, they hid themselves in the great caves among the rocks.
Scarcely any one was left behind: even the good bishop was afraid to stay and face the danger, and it seemed as if Christ would have no one to fight on His side against the evil company.
But when morning came, and the furious Dacian discovered that every one had fled, he sent his soldiers to search and bring any who might remain hidden in the city, that he might wreak his vengeance on them.
And among the few that were left they brought to him the little maid Faith. She was only a little child, but she did not know what fear meant.
"'You cannot hurt me," she said, looking at the cruel, angry faces around her, "because I am not yours, but God's."
And then she signed herself with the sign of the cross, and with bent head prayed:
"Lord Jesus, teach my lips to answer their questions aright, so that I may do Thee no dishonour."
Then Dacian looked in anger at the child standing there with clasped hands and steadfast eyes, and asked her roughly:
"What is thy name?"
"My name is Faith," the little maid replied with gentle courtesy.
"And what God dost thou serve?" asked the cruel governor.
"I am a Christian, and I serve the Lord Christ," replied the child.
"Deny Him, and sacrifice to our gods," thundered the governor, "else shalt thou endure every kind of torture, until there is no life left in thy young body."
But Faith stood with head erect and hands clasped tight together. Not even the ugly instruments of torture could frighten her.
"I serve the Lord Christ," she said, "and you cannot hurt me, because I am His."
Such a little maid she was, standing there among those rough, cruel men, offering her life gladly for the faith of her Master. Such a few years she had spent in this bright world, and so many stretched in front, holding pleasures and promises in store. And now she must give up all, must put aside the little white robe and golden sandals, and take instead the robe of suffering, and go barefoot to meet the pain and torture that awaited her.
And though they scourged her, and made her suffer many cruel torments, they could not bend her will, nor break her faith. Indeed it seemed as if she did not feel the pain and anguish.
And God stooped down, and gathered the little faithful soul into His bosom. And when the people looked, the child was dead.
But in the cave among the mountains that very day the bishop sat, sad and troubled.
He was gazing away across the plain to where the town lay half hidden in the mist, thinking of those faithful few who had chosen to stay behind. And suddenly the mist broke in front, and a vision stood out clear before him. He saw the child Faith being scourged and tortured; he saw the flames leaping around her, and then, as he looked again, lo! her head was encircled with a golden crown set with precious stones, each jewel sparkling with light. And from heaven a white dove came gently flying down, and rested on the child's head, while from its wings a soft dew fell that quenched the flames.
And as the vision faded, the bishop bowed his head in his hands and wept. The thought of what this child had dared to endure for her Master, while he had shrunk from suffering aught for His sake, filled his heart with shame. He could not stay there in safety while any of his people might suffer as she had done.
So that night he returned to the city to help and comfort the few remaining Christians. Before long he too was called upon to suffer death for his Lord, and many others gave themselves up, led by the example of little Faith.
Some say that even the rough soldiers were touched by the child's death, and many became Christians. They began to think that such a religion was worth living for, if it could teach even a child to die so bravely.
And so, though she lived such a short time on earth, she did a very wonderful work for God, and we call her now Saint Faith, thinking often of her as we read these words:
"A little child shall lead them."
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 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 changed their office to Boston. After that, their ships sailed from a wharf in Boston.
Once, in the long ago, the brig Industry had sailed from Boston for a far country, and little Jacob and little Sol had gone on that voyage. Little Jacob and little Sol were very much interested in the things that they saw every day and in the things that were done every day on the ship by the sailors and by the mates and by Captain Solomon. But those things that happened the same sort of way, every day, interested little Jacob more than they did little Sol. Little Sol liked to see them a few times, until he knew just what to expect, and then he liked to be out on the bowsprit, seeing the things that he didn't expect; or he liked to be doing things. And the things that he did were the sort of things that nobody else expected. So the things that little Sol did were an amusement to the sailors and to the mates; and sometimes they were an amusement to Captain Solomon and sometimes they weren't. When they didn't amuse Captain Solomon they didn't usually amuse little Sol, either.
Every captain of a ship keeps a sort of diary, or journal, of the voyage that ship is making. This diary is usually called the ship's log. And every day he writes in it what happened that day; the courses the ship sailed and the number of miles she sailed on each course; the sails that were set and the direction and strength of the wind; and the state of the weather and the exact part of the ocean she was in and the time that she was there.
The exact part of the ocean that the ship is in is usually found by looking at the sun, just at noon, through a little three-cornered thing, called a sextant, that is small enough for the captain or the mate to hold in his hands; and by seeing what time it is, by a sort of clock, when the sun is the very highest. Then the captain goes down into the cabin and does some arithmetic out of a book, using the things that his sextant had told him, and he finds just exactly where the ship was at noon of that day. Then he pricks the position of the ship on a chart, which is a map of the ocean, so that he can see how well she is going on her course.
Sometimes it is cloudy at noon, so that he can't look at the sun then, but it clears up after dark. Then the captain looks through his sextant at the moon, or at some bright star, and finds his position that way. And sometimes it is cloudy for several days together, so that he can't take an observation with his sextant in all that time. Captains don't like it very well when it is cloudy for several days together, for then they have nothing to tell them just where the ship is, but what is called "dead reckoning."
Captain Solomon usually had the speed at which the ship was sailing measured several times every day. When he wanted that done, he called a sailor to "heave the log;" and the sailor came and took up a real log, or board, fastened to the end of a long rope, while one of the mates held an hour glass. But there wasn't sand enough in the glass to run for an hour, but it would run for half a minute. And when the mate gave the word, the sailor dropped the log over the stern of the ship and the mate turned the glass. And the sailor held the reel with the rope on it, so that the rope would run off freely, and he counted, aloud, the knots in the rope as it ran out. For the rope had knots of colored leather in it, and the knots were just far enough apart so that the number of knots that ran out in half a minute would show the number of sea miles that the ship was sailing in an hour. And when the sand in the glass had all run out, the mate gave the word again, and the sailor stopped the rope from running out. So Captain Solomon knew about how many miles the Industry had sailed on each course, and he could put it down in his book.
That wasn't a very good way to tell where the ship was, by adding up all the courses she had sailed and getting her speed on each course, and adding all these to the last place that they knew about, but, when Captain Solomon couldn't get an observation with his sextant, it was the only way there was. That isn't the way they tell, now-a-days, how many miles a ship has sailed, for there is a better way that gives, more exactly than the old-fashioned "log," the number of miles. But they still have to add up all the courses and the miles sailed on each course to find a ship's place, when they can't take an observation. That is what is called "dead reckoning," and it isn't a very good way at its best.
Little Jacob liked to watch Captain Solomon writing up the log for the day. He always wrote it just after dinner. And when he had finished dinner, he would get out the book and clear a place on the table to put it; and then he took a quill pen in his great fist and wrote, very slowly, and with flourishes. And when he had it done he always passed the book over to little Jacob.
Little Jacob liked to watch Captain Solomon
"There, Jacob," he said, with a smile. "That please you?"
"Oh, yes, sir," answered little Jacob. "Thank you, sir." And he began to read.
One day, when they had been out of Boston about three weeks, little Jacob watched Captain Solomon write up the log, and, when he got it, he thought he would turn back to some days that he knew about and read what Captain Solomon had said about them. And so he did.
October 2, 1796. 8 days out. Comes in fresh gales &
Flying clouds. Middle & latter part much the same, with
all proper sail spread.
Imploy'd varnishing Deck and scraping Foreyard. Saw a
Brig and two Ships standing to the N. & W. A school of
porpoises about the ship a good part of the Morning, of
which the Crew harpooned a good number and got them on
deck. I fear they are too many for us to acct. for
before they go Bad.
Course ESE 186 miles. Wind fresh from S. & W.
Lat. 34 20 N.
Long. 53 32 W.
October 5, 1796. 11 days out. Comes in Fresh breezes
and a rough sea fr. S. & E. Spoke Brig Transit of
Workington fr.—S. Salvador for Hamburg. Middle &
latter part moderate with clear skies and beautiful
weather. Ran into some weed and running threw it off
and on all day.
Courses ESE 98 m. Wind strong fr. N. & E., moderating to gentle airs. SSE. 54/152 m.
Lat. 30 22 N.
Long. 47 30 W.
And it seemed to little Jacob that it was a shame to say no more than that about that strange Seaweed Sea and the curious things that were to be found in it. But it was Captain Solomon's log and not little Jacob's. He turned to another day, to see what there was about the flying fish.
October 11, 1796. 17 days out of Boston. Comes in with good fresh Trades and flying clouds. Middle & latter part much the same. Saw a ship standing on our course. Not near enough to speak her. At daylight passed the ship abt. 5 miles to windward. All proper sail spread.
Great numbers of Flying Fish (Sea Swallows)
all about the ship, and the men imploy'd in catching
them. It gave the men much pleasure and a deal of sport
and the Fish very good eating. Course SSE 203 miles.
Wind NE. strong, Trades.
Lat. 18 to 10 N.
Long. 37 32 W.
Chronometer loses too much.
Took Spica and Aquila at 7 p. m.,
Long. 35 30 W.
"They are stars, Jacob, and rather bright ones," said Captain Solomon. "My chronometer—my clock, you know—was losing a good deal, and I looked through my sextant at them to find out where we really were."
"Oh," said little Jacob; but he didn't understand very well, and Captain Solomon saw that he didn't. It wasn't strange that he didn't understand.
Little Jacob sat looking at the log book and he didn't say anything for a long time.
Captain Solomon smiled. "Well, Jacob," he said, at last, "what are you thinking about? I guess you were thinking that you wished that you had the log to write up. Then you could say more about the things that were interesting. Weren't you?"
Little Jacob got very red. "Oh, no, sir," he said. "That is, I—well, you see, the things that are new and interesting to me—well, I s'pose you have seen them so many times that it doesn't seem worth while to you to say much about them."
"That is a part of the reason," answered Captain Solomon. "The other part is that it doesn't seem necessary. Anything that concerns the ship is put down. We don't have time—nor we don't have the wish—to put down anything else."
"Of course," said little Jacob, "it isn't necessary."
"I'll tell you what I'll do, Jacob," said Captain Solomon. "I'll let you write up the log, and then you can write as much as you like about anything that interests you."
Little Jacob got very red again. "Oh!" he cried, getting up in his excitement. "Will you let me do that? Thank you. I thank you very much. But—but how shall I put down all those numbers that show how the ship goes?"
"I'll give you the numbers, as you call them," said Captain Solomon, "and I'll look over the log every day, to see that you put them down right."
"I'll put them down just exactly the way you tell me to," said little Jacob. "And I thank you very much. And I—I write pretty well."
And little Jacob ran to find little Sol and to tell him about how he was going to write the log of the voyage, after that. And he did write it, numbers and all, and it was a very interesting and well written log. For little Jacob could write very well indeed; rather better than Captain Solomon. Captain Solomon knew that when he said that little Jacob could write it.
And that's all.
"I'll tell you how the leaves came down,"
The great tree to his children said:
"You're getting sleepy, Yellow and Brown,
Yes, very sleepy, little Red.
It is quite time to go to bed."
"Ah!" begged each silly, pouting leaf,
"Let us a little longer stay;
Dear Father Tree, behold our grief!
'Tis such a very pleasant day,
We do not want to go away."
So, for just one more merry day
To the great tree the leaflets clung,
Frolicked and danced, and had their way,
Upon the autumn breezes swung,
Whispering all their sports among—
"Perhaps the great tree will forget,
And let us stay until the spring,
If we all beg, and coax, and fret."
But the great tree did no such thing;
He smiled to hear their whispering.
"Come, children, all to bed," he cried;
And ere the leaves could urge their prayer,
He shook his head, and far and wide,
Fluttering and rustling everywhere,
Down sped the leaflets through the air.
I saw them; on the ground they lay,
Golden and red, a huddled swarm,
Waiting till one from far away,
White bedclothes heaped upon her arm,
Should come to wrap them safe and warm.
The great bare tree looked down and smiled.
"Good-night, dear little leaves," he said.
And from below each sleepy child
Replied, "Good-night," and murmured,
"It is so nice to go to bed!"