WEEK 42 |
T HE fourth day it happened that the deaf-mute paid his accustomed visit, after which Prince Dolor's spirits rose. They always did, when he got the new books, which, just to relieve his conscience, the King of Nomansland regularly sent to his nephew; with many new toys also, though the latter were disregarded now.
"Toys, indeed! when I'm a big boy," said the Prince, with disdain, and would scarcely condescend to mount a rocking-horse which had come, somehow or other—I can't be expected to explain things very exactly—packed on the back of the other, the great black horse, which stood and fed contentedly at the bottom of the tower.
Prince Dolor leaned over and looked at it, and thought how grand it must be to get upon its back—this grand live steed—and ride away, like the pictures of knights.
"Suppose I was a knight," he said to himself; "then I should be obliged to ride out and see the world."
But he kept all these thoughts to himself, and just sat still, devouring his new books till he had come to the end of them all. It was a repast not unlike the Barmecide's feast which you read of in the "Arabian Nights," which consisted of very elegant but empty dishes, or that supper of Sancho Panza in "Don Quixote," where, the minute the smoking dishes came on the table, the physician waved his hand and they were all taken away.
Thus almost all the ordinary delights of boy-life had been taken away from, or rather never given to, this poor little Prince.
"I wonder," he would sometimes think—"I wonder what it feels like to be on the back of a horse, galloping away, or holding the reins in a carriage, and tearing across the country, or jumping a ditch, or running a race, such as I read of or see in pictures. What a lot of things there are that I should like to do! But first I should like to go and see the world. I'll try."
Apparently it was his godmother's plan always to let him try, and try hard, before he gained anything. This day the knots that tied up his travelling-cloak were more than usually troublesome, and he was a full half-hour before he got out into the open air, and found himself floating merrily over the top of the tower.
Hitherto, in all his journeys he had never let himself go out of sight of home, for the dreary building, after all, was home—he remembered no other; but now he felt sick of the very look of his tower, with its round smooth walls and level battlements.
"Off we go!" cried he, when the cloak stirred itself with a slight, slow motion, as if waiting his orders. "Anywhere—anywhere, so that I am away from here, and out into the world."
As he spoke, the cloak, as if seized suddenly with a new idea, bounded forward and went skimming through the air, faster than the very fastest railway train.
"Gee-up! gee-up!" cried Prince Dolor in great excitement. "This is as good as riding a race."
And he patted the cloak as if it had been a horse—that is, in the way he supposed horses ought to be patted; and tossed his head back to meet the fresh breeze, and pulled his coat-collar up and his hat down as he felt the wind grow keener and colder, colder than anything he had ever known.
"What does it matter, though?" said he. "I'm a boy, and boys ought not to mind anything."
Still, for all his good-will, by-and-by, he began to shiver exceedingly; also, he had come away without his dinner, and he grew frightfully hungry. And to add to everything, the sunshiny day changed into rain, and being high up, in the very midst of the clouds, he got soaked through and through in a very few minutes.
"Shall I turn back?" meditated he. "Suppose I say
Here he stopped, for already the cloak gave an obedient lurch, as if it were expecting to be sent home immediately.
"No—I can't—I can't go back! I must go forward and see the world. But oh! if I had but the shabbiest old rug to shelter me from the rain, or the driest morsel of bread and cheese, just to keep me from starving! Still, I don't much mind; I'm a prince, and ought to be able to stand anything. Hold on, cloak, we'll make the best of it."
It was a most curious circumstance, but no sooner had he said this than he felt stealing over his knees something warm and soft; in fact, a most beautiful bearskin, which folded itself round him quite naturally, and cuddled him up as closely as if he had been the cub of the kind old mother-bear that once owned it. Then feeling in his pocket, which suddenly stuck out in a marvellous way, he found, not exactly bread and cheese, nor even sandwiches, but a packet of the most delicious food he had ever tasted. It was not meat, nor pudding, but a combination of both, and it served him excellently for both. He ate his dinner with the greatest gusto imaginable, till he grew so thirsty he did not know what to do.
"Couldn't I have just one drop of water, if it didn't trouble you too much, kindest of godmothers?"
For he really thought this want was beyond her power to supply. All the water which supplied Hopeless Tower was pumped up with difficulty from a deep artesian well—there were such things known in Nomansland—which had been made at the foot of it. But around, for miles upon miles, the desolate plain was perfectly dry. And above it, high in the air, how could he expect to find a well, or to get even a drop of water?
He forgot one thing—the rain. While he spoke, it came on in another wild burst, as if the clouds had poured themselves out in a passion of crying, wetting him certainly, but leaving behind, in a large glass vessel which he had never noticed before, enough water to quench the thirst of two or three boys at least. And it was so fresh, so pure—as water from the clouds always is, when it does not catch the soot from city chimneys and other defilements—that he drank it, every drop, with the greatest delight and content.
Also, as soon as it was empty, the rain filled it again, so that he was able to wash his face and hands and refresh himself exceedingly. Then the sun came out and dried him in no time. After that he curled himself up under the bearskin rug, and though he determined to be the most wide-awake boy imaginable, being so exceedingly snug and warm and comfortable, Prince Dolor condescended to shut his eyes just for one minute. The next minute he was sound asleep.
When he awoke, he found himself floating over a country quite unlike anything he had ever seen before.
Yet it was nothing but what most of you children see every day and never notice it—a pretty country landscape, like England, Scotland, France, or any other land you choose to name. It had no particular features—nothing in it grand or lovely—was simply pretty, nothing more; yet to Prince Dolor, who had never gone beyond his lonely tower and level plain, it appeared the most charming sight imaginable.
First, there was a river. It came tumbling down the hillside, frothing and foaming, playing at hide-and-seek among rocks, then bursting out in noisy fun like a child, to bury itself in deep still pools. Afterwards it went steadily on for a while, like a good grown-up person, till it came to another big rock, where it misbehaved itself extremely. It turned into a cataract, and went tumbling over and over, after a fashion that made the Prince—who had never seen water before, except in his bath or his drinking-cup—clap his hands with delight.
"It is so active, so alive! I like things active and alive!" cried he, and watched it shimmering and dancing, whirling and leaping, till, after a few windings and vagaries, it settled into a respectable stream. After that it went along, deep and quiet, but flowing steadily on, till it reached a large lake, into which it slipped and so ended its course.
After a few windings and vagaries, it settled into a respectable stream.
All this the boy saw, either with his own naked eye or through his gold spectacles. He saw also as in a picture, beautiful but silent, many other things, which struck him with wonder, especially a grove of trees.
Only think, to have lived to his age (which he himself did not know, as he did not know his own birthday) and never to have seen trees! As he floated over these oaks, they seemed to him—trunk, branches, and leaves—the most curious sight imaginable.
"If I could only get nearer, so as to touch them," said he, and immediately the obedient cloak ducked down; Prince Dolor made a snatch at the topmost twig of the tallest tree, and caught a bunch of leaves in his hand.
Just a bunch of green leaves—such as we see in myriads; watching them bud, grow, fall, and then kicking them along on the ground as if they were worth nothing. Yet how wonderful they are—every one of them a little different. I don't suppose you could ever find two leaves exactly alike in form, colour, and size—no more than you could find two faces alike, or two characters exactly the same. The plan of this world is infinite similarity and yet infinite variety.
Prince Dolor examined his leaves with the greatest curiosity—and also a little caterpillar that he found walking over one of them. He coaxed it to take an additional walk over his finger, which it did with the greatest dignity and decorum, as if it, Mr. Caterpillar, were the most important individual in existence. It amused him for a long time; and when a sudden gust of wind blew it overboard, leaves and all, he felt quite disconsolate.
"Still there must be many live creatures in the world besides caterpillars. I should like to see a few of them."
The cloak gave a little dip down, as if to say "All right, my Prince," and bore him across the oak forest to a long fertile valley—called in Scotland a strath and in England a weald, but what they call it in the tongue of Nomansland I do not know. It was made up of cornfields, pasturefields, lanes, hedges, brooks, and ponds.
It was made up of cornfields, pasturefields, lanes, hedges, brooks, and ponds.
Also, in it were what the Prince desired to see—a quantity of living creatures, wild and tame. Cows and horses, lambs and sheep, fed in the meadows; pigs and fowls walked about the farmyards; and, in lonelier places, hares scudded, rabbits burrowed, and pheasants and partridges, with many other smaller birds, inhabited the fields and woods.
In it were what the Prince desired to see, a quantity of living creatures.
Through his wonderful spectacles the Prince could see everything; but, as I said, it was a silent picture; he was too high up to catch anything except a faint murmur, which only aroused his anxiety to hear more.
"I have as good as two pairs of eyes," he thought. "I wonder if my godmother would give me a second pair of ears."
Scarcely had he spoken than he found lying on his lap the most curious little parcel, all done up in silvery paper. And it contained—what do you think? Actually a pair of silver ears, which, when he tried them on, fitted so exactly over his own, that he hardly felt them, except for the difference they made in his hearing.
There is something which we listen to daily and never notice. I mean the sounds of the visible world, animate and inanimate. Winds blowing, waters flowing, trees stirring, insects whirring (dear me! I am quite unconsciously writing rhyme), with the various cries of birds and beasts—lowing cattle, bleating sheep, grunting pigs, and cackling hens—all the infinite discords that somehow or other make a beautiful harmony.
We hear this, and are so accustomed to it that we think nothing of it; but Prince Dolor, who had lived all his days in the dead silence of Hopeless Tower, heard it for the first time. And oh! if you had seen his face.
He listened, listened, as if he could never have done listening. And he looked and looked, as if he could not gaze enough. Above all, the motion of the animals delighted him: cows walking, horses galloping, little lambs and calves running races across the meadows, were such a treat for him to watch—he that was always so quiet. But, these creatures having four legs, and he only two, the difference did not strike him painfully.
Still, by-and-by, after the fashion of children—and I fear, of many big people too—he began to want something more than he had, something that would be quite fresh and new.
"Godmother," he said, having now begun to believe that, whether he saw her or not, he could always speak to her with full confidence that she would hear him—"Godmother, all these creatures I like exceedingly; but I should like better to see a creature like myself. Couldn't you show me just one little boy?"
There was a sigh behind him—it might have been only the wind—and
the cloak remained so long balanced motionless in air that he was half
afraid his godmother had forgotten him, or was offended with him for
asking too much. Suddenly, a shrill whistle startled him, even through
his silver ears, and looking downwards, he saw start up from behind a
bush on a common,
Neither a sheep nor a horse nor a cow—nothing upon four legs. This creature had only two; but they were long, straight, and strong. And it had a lithe, active body, and a curly head of black hair set upon its shoulders. It was a boy, a shepherd-boy, about the Prince's own age—but, oh! so different.
Not that he was an ugly boy—though his face was almost as red as his hands, and his shaggy hair matted like the backs of his own sheep. He was rather a nice-looking lad; and seemed so bright and healthy and good-tempered—"jolly" would be the word, only I am not sure if they have such a one in the elegant language of Nomansland—that the little Prince watched him with great admiration.
"Might he come and play with me? I would drop down to the ground to him, or fetch him up to me here. Oh, how nice it would be if I only had a little boy to play with me."
But the cloak, usually so obedient to his wishes, disobeyed him now. There were evidently some things which his godmother either could not or would not give. The cloak hung stationary, high in air, never attempting to descend. The shepherd lad evidently took it for a large bird, and, shading his eyes, looked up at it, making the Prince's heart beat fast.
The shepherd lad evidently took it for a large bird.
However, nothing ensued. The boy turned round, with a long, loud whistle—seemingly his usual and only way of expressing his feelings. He could not make the thing out exactly—it was a rather mysterious affair, but it did not trouble him much—he was not an "examining" boy.
Then, stretching himself, for he had been evidently half asleep, he began flopping his shoulders with his arms to wake and warm himself; while his dog, a rough collie, who had been guarding the sheep meanwhile, began to jump upon him, barking with delight.
"Down, Snap, down! Stop that, or I'll thrash you," the Prince heard him say; though with such a rough, hard voice and queer pronunciation that it was difficult to make the words out. "Hollo! Let's warm ourselves by a race."
They started off together, boy and dog—barking and shouting, till it was doubtful which made the more noise or ran the faster. A regular steeple-chase it was: first across the level common, greatly disturbing the quiet sheep; and then tearing away across country, scrambling through hedges and leaping ditches, and tumbling up and down over ploughed fields. They did not seem to have anything to run for—but as if they did it, both of them, for the mere pleasure of motion.
And what a pleasure that seemed! To the dog of course, but scarcely less so to the boy. How he skimmed along over the ground—his cheeks glowing, and his hair flying, and his legs—oh, what a pair of legs he had!
Prince Dolor watched him with great intentness, and in a state of excitement almost equal to that of the runner himself—for a while. Then the sweet pale face grew a trifle paler, the lips began to quiver, and the eyes to fill.
"How nice it must be to run like that!" he said softly, thinking that never—no, never in this world—would he be able to do the same.
Now he understood what his godmother had meant when she gave him his travelling-cloak, and why he had heard that sigh—he was sure it was hers—when he had asked to see "just one little boy."
"I think I had rather not look at him again," said the poor little Prince, drawing himself back into the centre of his cloak, and resuming his favourite posture, sitting like a Turk, with his arms wrapped round his feeble, useless legs.
"You're no good to me," he said, patting them mournfully. "You never will be any good to me. I wonder why I had you at all; I wonder why I was born at all, since I was not to grow up like other boys. Why not?"
A question so strange, so sad, yet so often occurring in some form or other, in this world—as you will find, my children, when you are older—that even if he had put it to his mother she could only have answered it, as we have to answer many as difficult things, by simply saying, "I don't know." There is much that we do not know and cannot understand—we big folks no more than you little ones. We have to accept it all just as you have to accept anything which your parents may tell you, even though you don't as yet see the reason of it. You may sometime, if you do exactly as they tell you, and are content to wait.
Prince Dolor sat a good while thus, or it appeared to him a good while, so many thoughts came and went through his poor young mind—thoughts of great bitterness, which, little though he was, seemed to make him grow years older in a few minutes.
Then he fancied the cloak began to rock gently to and fro, with a soothing kind of motion, as if he were in somebody's arms: somebody who did not speak, but loved him and comforted him without need of words; not by deceiving him with false encouragement or hope, but by making him see the plain, hard truth in all its hardness, and thus letting him quietly face it, till it grew softened down, and did not seem nearly so dreadful after all.
Through the dreary silence and blankness, for he had placed himself so that he could see nothing but the sky, and had taken off his silver ears, as well as his gold spectacles—what was the use of either when he had no legs to walk or run?—up from below there rose a delicious sound.
You have heard it hundreds of times, my children, and so have I. When I was a child I thought there was nothing so sweet; and I think so still. It was just the song of a skylark, mounting higher and higher from the ground, till it came so close that Prince Dolor could distinguish his quivering wings and tiny body, almost too tiny to contain such a gush of music.
"Oh, you beautiful, beautiful bird!" cried he; "I should dearly like to take you in and cuddle you. That is, if I could—if I dared."
But he hesitated. The little brown creature with its loud heavenly voice almost made him afraid. Nevertheless, it also made him happy; and he watched and listened—so absorbed that he forgot all regret and pain, forgot everything in the world except the little lark.
It soared and soared, and he was just wondering if it would soar out of sight, and what in the world he should do when it was gone, when it suddenly closed its wings, as larks do, when they mean to drop to the ground. But, instead of dropping to the ground, it dropped right into the little boy's breast.
What felicity! If it would only stay! A tiny, soft thing to fondle and kiss, to sing to him all day long, and be his playfellow and companion, tame and tender, while to the rest of the world it was a wild bird of the air. What a pride, what a delight! To have something that nobody else had—something all his own. As the travelling-cloak travelled on, he little heeded where, and the lark still stayed, nestled down in his bosom, hopped from his hand to his shoulder, and kissed him with its dainty beak, as if it loved him, Prince Dolor forgot all his grief, and was entirely happy.
But when he got in sight of Hopeless Tower a painful thought struck him.
"My pretty bird, what am I to do with you? If I take you into my room and shut you up there, you, a wild skylark of the air, what will become of you? I am used to this, but you are not. You will be so miserable, and suppose my nurse should find you—she who can't bear the sound of singing? Besides, I remember her once telling me that the nicest thing she ever ate in her life was lark pie!"
The little boy shivered all over at the thought. And, though the merry lark immediately broke into the loudest carol, as if saying derisively that he defied anybody to eat him—still Prince Dolor was very uneasy. In another minute he had made up his mind.
"No, my bird, nothing so dreadful shall happen to you if I can help it; I would rather do without you altogether. Yes, I'll try. Fly away, my darling, my beautiful! Good-by, my merry, merry bird."
Opening his two caressing hands, in which, as if for protection, he had folded it, he let the lark go. It lingered a minute, perching on the rim of the cloak, and looking at him with eyes of almost human tenderness; then away it flew, far up into the blue sky. It was only a bird.
But some time after, when Prince Dolor had eaten his supper—somewhat drearily, except for the thought that he could not possibly sup off lark pie now—and gone quietly to bed, the old familiar little bed, where he was accustomed to sleep, or lie awake contentedly thinking—suddenly he heard outside the window a little faint carol—faint but cheerful—cheerful even though it was the middle of the night.
The dear little lark! it had not flown away after all. And it was truly the most extraordinary bird, for, unlike ordinary larks, it kept hovering about the tower in the silence and darkness of the night, outside the window or over the roof. Whenever he listened for a moment, he heard it singing still.
He went to sleep as happy as a king.
That he might have something to carry back to England, and not being minded to take on board a load of sand, Captain Nelson asked that the Phoenix be laden with cedar logs and such clapboards as our people had made. Therefore was it that we sent to England the first cargo of value since having come to Virginia.
Among those who had come over in the Phoenix were workmen who understood the making of turpentine, tar and soap ashes. There was also a pipe maker, a gunsmith, and a number of other skilled workmen, so that had the Council advanced the interest of the colony one half as much as my master was doing, all would have gone well with us in Jamestown.
As it was, however, the President of the Council, so Master Hunt has declared many times, and of a verity he would not bear false witness, often countenanced the men in rebellion against my master's orders, until, but for the preacher's example, we might never have put into the earth our first seed.
Because of lack of food, and it seems strange to say so when there were of oysters near at hand more than a thousand men could have eaten, and fish in the rivers without number, Captain Smith set off once more in the pinnace to trade with the Indians, as well as to explore further the bay and the river.
Master Hunt lived in our house, while he was gone, therefore Nathaniel and I were not idle, and though we had each had a dozen pair of hands, we could have kept them properly employed, what with making a garden for our own use, tending the plants, and keeping house.
Just here I am minded to set down that which the girl Pocahontas told us concerning the raising of tobacco, and it is well she spent the time needed to instruct us, for since then I have seen the people in this new world of Virginia getting more money from the tobacco plant, than they could have gained even though Captain Newport's yellow sand had been veritable gold.
You must know that the seed of tobacco is even smaller than grains of powder, and the Indians usually plant it in April. Within a month it springs up, each tiny plant having two or four leaves, and one month later it is transplanted in little hillocks, set about the same distance apart as are our hills of Indian corn.
Two or three times during the season the plants have to be hoed and weeded, while the sickly leaves, which peep out from the body of the stock, must be plucked off.
If the plant grows too fast, which is to say, if it is like to get its full size before harvest time, the tops are cut to make it more backward.
About the middle of September it is reaped, stripped of its leaves, and tied in small bunches; these are hung under a shelter so that the dew may not come to them, until they are cured the same as hay.
Having thus been dried, and there must be no suspicion of moisture about, else they will mold, the whole is packed into hogsheads.
I have lived to see the days go by since the girl Pocahontas showed Nathaniel and me how to cultivate the weed, until the greatest wealth which Virginia can produce comes from this same tobacco, which, Master Hunt says, not only induces filthiness in those who use it, but works grievous injury to the body.
When Captain Newport came back to Virginia, at about the time we were gathering our scanty harvest, his dreams of sudden wealth, through the digging of gold in Virginia, had burst as does a bubble when one pricks it.
He had not been more than four and twenty hours in England before learning that his ship was laden only with valueless sand, and, mayhap, if the London Company had not demanded that he return to Virginia at once, with certain orders concerning us at Jamestown, he might have been too much ashamed to show his face among us again.
My master had come in long since from trading with the Indians, having had fairly good success at times, and again failing utterly to gather food. The king Powhatan was grown so lofty in his bearing, because of the honor some of our foolish people had shown him, that it was well nigh impossible to pay the price he asked, even in trinkets, for so small an amount as a single peck of corn.
However, that which Powhatan did or did not do, concerned me very little when Captain Newport had arrived, for he brought with him such tidings as made my heart rejoice, and caused Master Hunt to say that now indeed would our village of Jamestown grow as it should have grown had our leaders shown themselves of half as much spirit as had my master.
But for the greater things which followed Captain Newport's arrival in September of the year 1608, I would have set it down as of the utmost importance to us in Jamestown, that he brought with him the first two women, other than the girl Pocahontas, who had ever come into our town.
These were Mistress Forest, and her maid, Anne Burras, and if the king himself had so far done us the honor as to come, his arrival would have caused no greater excitement.
The brown Owl sits in the ivy bush,
And she looketh wondrous wise,
With a horny beak beneath her cowl,
And a pair of large round eyes.
She sat all day on the self-same spray,
From sunrise till sunset;
And the dim, gray light it was all too bright
For the Owl to see in yet.
Jenny-Owlet, Jenny-Owlet, said a merry little bird,
They say you're wondrous wise:
But I don't think you see, though you're looking at me
With your large, round, shining eyes.
But night came soon, and the pale white moon
Rolled high up in the skies;
And the great brown Owl flew away in her cowl,
With her round large shining eyes.
WEEK 42 |
N the Far East there was a great king who had no work to
do. Every day, and all day long, he sat on soft
"There is only one fault that I find with your story," he often said: "it is too short."
All the story-tellers in the world were
At last he sent word into every city and town and country
place, offering a prize to any one who should tell him an
endless tale. He
"To the man that will tell me a story which shall last
forever, I will give my fairest
But this was not all. He added a very hard condition. "If any man shall try to tell such a story, and then fail, he shall have his head cut off."
The king's daughter was very pretty, and there were many young men in that country who were willing to do anything to win her. Bnt none of them wanted to lose their heads, and so only a few tried for the prize.
One young man invented a story that lasted three months; but at the end of that time, he could think of nothing more. His fate was a warning to others, and it was a long time before another story-teller was so rash as to try the king's patience.
But one day a
"Great king," he said, "is it true that you offer a prize to the man who can tell a story that has no end?"
"It is true," said the king.
"And shall this man have your fairest daughter for his wife, and shall he be your heir?"
"Yes, if he
"Very well, then," said the
"Tell it," said the king. "I will listen to you."
The story-teller began his tale.
"Once upon a time a certain king seized upon all the corn
in his country, and stored it away in a strong
Day after day, week after week, the man kept on saying, "Then another locust went in and carried away a grain of corn."
A month passed; a year passed. At the end of two years, the
"How much longer will the locusts be going in and carrying away corn?"
"O king!" said the story-teller, "they have as yet cleared
only one cubit; and there are many
"Man, man!" cried the king, "you will drive me mad. I can listen to it no longer. Take my daughter; be my heir; rule my kingdom. But do not let me hear another word about those horrible locusts!"
And so the strange story-teller married the
king's daughter. And he lived happily in the land for many
years. But his
Nan liked blue flowers and she often visited chicory plants.
Once she went to call on chicory in the afternoon. The flowers were not open then.
So she went about eight o'clock one Saturday morning. The flowers were open. They opened about five o'clock and stayed open until ten or twelve o'clock.
Nan told her uncle about visiting the chicory. "Uncle Tom," she said, "I went to see some chicory flowers in the morning. They were open and looked as lovely as blue daisies."
Uncle Tom said, "Different kinds of plants have different habits.
"Some flowers stay open day and night. Some open in the dark and stay open all night. Some open in the morning and close before the middle of the day."
"Once I went to see the chicory in the afternoon," said Nan, "and I was surprised. I could not find any open flowers."
Nan asked if chicory is a weed.
"People call chicory a weed when it grows where they wish to have other plants," her uncle told her.
But in many places people grow chicory in their gardens.
Sometimes people grow chicory in the dark. Sometimes they cover the plants with sand.
Then the leaves are white and tender. They have a bitter taste but they are good to eat.
Some people cook these tender white bitter leaves. Some people like to eat them raw.
Chicory plants have big thick roots. The roots live in the ground all winter.
These roots are often dried and used like coffee.
Some people like a drink that is part coffee and part chicory. But some people do not like to have any chicory in their coffee.
Uncle Tom told Nan how people use chicory leaves and roots.
Then he told her about chicory honey. He said, "Sometimes people grow many, many chicory plants for bees. Honey bees visit the flowers and drink the sweet nectar. Then they change the nectar to honey."
Nan said, "Once I saw some bees drink nectar when I went to visit the chicory.
"I wish I might have some chicory honey to eat with bread and butter."
One day Nan dug up a chicory root and took it to school.
Her teacher said, "You may put it in the school garden, if you like."
Evening red and morning gray
Send the traveler on his way:
Evening gray and morning red
Bring down rain upon his head.
WEEK 42 |
OT far from the Old Orchard grew a thorn-tree which Peter Rabbit
often passed. He never had paid particular attention to it. One
morning he stopped to rest under it. Happening to look up, he saw
a most astonishing thing. Fastened on the sharp thorns of one of
the branches were three big grasshoppers, a big moth, two big
caterpillars, a lizard, a small mouse and a young English
Sparrow. Do you wonder that Peter thought he must be dreaming? He
couldn't imagine how those creatures could have become fastened
on those long sharp thorns. Somehow it gave him an uncomfortable
feeling and he hurried on to the Old Orchard, bubbling over with
desire to tell some one of the strange and dreadful thing he had
seen in the
As he entered the Old Orchard in the far corner he saw Johnny Chuck sitting on his doorstep and hurried over to tell him the strange news. Johnny listened until Peter was through, then told him quite frankly that never had he heard of such a thing, and that he thought Peter must have been dreaming and didn't know it.
"You're wrong, Johnny Chuck. Peter hasn't been dreaming at all," said Skimmer the Swallow, who, you remember, lived in a hole in a tree just above the entrance to Johnny Chuck's house. He had been sitting where he could hear all that Peter had said.
"Well, if you know so much about it, please explain," said Johnny Chuck rather crossly.
"It's simple enough," replied Skimmer. "Peter just happened to find the storehouse of Butcher the Loggerhead Shrike. It isn't a very pleasant sight, I must admit, but one must give Butcher credit for being smart enough to lay up a store of food when it is plentiful."
"And who is Butcher the Shrike?" demanded Peter. "He's a new one to me.
"He's new to this location," replied Skimmer, "and you probably haven't noticed him. I've seen him in the South often. There he is now, on the tiptop of that tree over yonder."
Peter and Johnny looked eagerly. They saw a bird who at first glance appeared not unlike Mocker the Mockingbird. He was dressed wholly in black, gray and white. When he turned his head they noticed a black stripe across the side of his face and that the tip of his bill was hooked. These are enough to make them forget that otherwise he was like Mocker. While they were watching him he flew down into the grass and picked up a grasshopper. Then he flew with a steady, even flight, only a little above the ground, for some distance, suddenly shooting up and returning to the perch where they had first seen him. There he ate the grasshopper and resumed his watch for something else to catch.
BUTCHER THE NORTHERN SHRIKE
His cousin, the Loggerhead Shrike looks much like him.
"He certainly has wonderful eyes," said Skimmer admiringly. "He
must have seen that grasshopper way over there in the grass
before he started after it, for he flew straight there. He
doesn't waste time and energy hunting aimlessly. He sits on a
high perch and watches until he sees something he wants. Many
times I've seen him sitting on top of a telegraph pole. I
understand that Bully the English Sparrow has become terribly
nervous since the arrival of Butcher. He is particularly fond of
English Sparrows. I presume it was one of Bully's children you
saw in the
"But I don't understand yet why he fastens his victims on those long thorns," said Peter.
"For two reasons," replied Skimmer. "When he catches more grasshoppers and other insects than he can eat, he sticks them on those thorns so that later he may be sure of a good meal if it happens there are no more to be caught when he is hungry. Mice, Sparrows, and things too big for him to swallow he sticks on the thorns so that he can pull them to pieces easier. You see his feet and claws are not big and stout enough to hold his victims while he tears them to pieces with his hooked bill. Sometimes, instead of sticking them on thorns, he sticks them on the barbed wire of a fence and sometimes he wedges them into the fork of two branches."
"Does he kill many birds?" asked Peter.
"Not many," replied Skimmer, "and most of those he does kill are English Sparrows. The rest of us have learned to keep out of his way. He feeds mostly on insects, worms and caterpillars, but he is very fond of mice and he catches a good many. He is a good deal like Killy the Sparrow Hawk in this respect. He has a cousin, the Great Northern Shrike, who sometimes comes down in the winter, and is very much like him. Hello! Now what's happened?"
A great commotion had broken out not far away in the Old Orchard. Instantly Skimmer flew over to see what it was all about and Peter followed. He got there just in time to see Chatterer the Red Squirrel dodging around the trunk of a tree, first on one side, then on the other, to avoid the sharp bills of the angry feathered folk who had discovered him trying to rob a nest of its young.
Peter chuckled. "Chatterer is getting just what is due him, I guess," he muttered. "It reminds me of the time I got into a Yellow Jacket's nest. My, but those birds are mad!"
Chatterer continued to dodge from side to side of the tree while the birds darted down at him, all screaming at the top of their voices. Finally Chatterer saw his chance to run for the old stone wall. Only one bird was quick enough to catch up with him and that one was such a tiny fellow that he seemed hardly bigger than a big insect. It was Hummer the Hummingbird. He followed Chatterer clear to the old stone wall. A moment later Peter heard a humming noise just over his head and looked up to see Hummer himself alight on a twig, where he squeaked excitedly for a few minutes, for his voice is nothing but a little squeak.
Often Peter had seen Hummer darting about from flower to flower
and holding himself still in
HUMMER THE RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD
The only member of his family in the East.
Hummer lifted one wing and with his long needle-like bill smoothed the feathers under it. Then he darted out into the air, his wings moving so fast that Peter couldn't see them at all. But if he couldn't see them he could hear them. You see they moved so fast that they made a sound very like the humming of Bumble the Bee. It is because of this that he is called the Hummingbird. A few minutes later he was back again and now he was joined by Mrs. Hummer. She was dressed very much like Hummer but did not have the beautiful ruby throat. She stopped only a minute or two, then darted over to what looked for all the world like a tiny cup of moss. It was their nest.
Just then Jenny Wren came along, and being quite worn out with the work of feeding her seven babies, she was content to rest for a few moments and gossip. Peter told her what he had discovered.
"I know all about that," retorted Jenny. "You don't suppose I
hunt these trees over for food without knowing where my neighbors
are living, do you? I'd have you to understand, Peter, that that
is the daintiest nest in the Old Orchard. It is
made wholly of
plant down and covered on the outside with bits of that gray
"Does he go very far south for the winter?" asked Peter. "He is such a tiny fellow I don't see how he can stand a very long journey."
"Huh!" exclaimed Jenny Wren. "Distance doesn't bother Hummer any. You needn't worry about those wings of his. He goes clear down to South America. He has ever so many relatives down there. You ought to see his babies when they first hatch out. They are no bigger than bees. But they certainly do grow fast. Why, they are flying three weeks from the time they hatch. I'm glad I don't have to pump food down the throats of my youngsters the way Mrs. Hummingbird has to down hers."
Peter looked perplexed. "What do you mean by pumping food down their throats?" he demanded.
"Just what I say," retorted Jenny Wren. "Mrs. Hummer sticks her bill right down their throats and then pumps up the food she has already swallowed. I guess it is a good thing that the babies have short bills."
"Do they?" asked Peter, opening his eyes very wide with surprise.
"Yes," replied Jenny. "When they hatch out they have short bills, but it doesn't take them a great while to grow long."
"How many babies does Mrs. Hummer usually have?" asked Peter.
"Just two," replied Jenny. "Just two. That's all that nest will hold. But goodness gracious, Peter, I can't stop gossiping here any longer. You have no idea what a care seven babies are."
With a jerk of her tail off flew Jenny Wren, and Peter hurried back to tell Johnny Chuck all he had found out about Hummer the Hummingbird.
An Ass and a Fox had become close comrades, and were constantly in each other's company. While the Ass cropped a fresh bit of greens, the Fox would devour a chicken from the neighboring farmyard or a bit of cheese filched from the dairy. One day the pair, unexpectedly met a Lion. The Ass was very much frightened, but the Fox calmed his fears.
"I will talk to him," he said.
So the Fox walked boldly up to the Lion.
"Your highness," he said in an undertone, so the Ass could not hear him, "I've got a fine scheme in nay head. If you promise not to hurt me, I will lead that foolish creature yonder into a pit where he can't get out, and you can feast at your pleasure."
The Lion agreed and the Fox returned to the Ass.
"I made him promise not to hurt us," said the Fox. "But come, I know a good place to hide till he is gone."
So the Fox led the Ass into a deep pit. But when the Lion saw that the Ass was his for the taking, he first of all struck down the traitor Fox.
Traitors may expect treachery.
WEEK 42 |
The King hammered upon it, shaping another shoe for the horse; as he listened to the beat, beat of the hammer, one of the brothers kept thinking of how he could make a poem about the blacksmith if his mind did not have to keep upon the story that soon he would have to tell:
Blacksmith, blacksmith, by the cross!
The great craft is thine!
so the lines of the poem went to the beat, beat of the hammer upon the iron, and he could hardly keep himself from making a poem about the smith.
The walls of the Forge were all blackened with smoke; scraps of iron and broken horseshoes were strewn around where the anvil stood; upon the walls hung great, heavy chains. Where the horse stood was upon a rock that partly made the floor of the Forge in the Forest. The second shoe was put upon it, and the horse stamped with its iron shoes upon the rock.
"I will put special iron in the shoes for the horse's fore-feet," the King said. He brought from without pieces of iron that still had clay upon them, and he set them upon the anvil.
"This is the Element of Earth," he said, "and it claims a story." Then the poem that had been in the mind of one of the brothers went from it. He came over to the anvil, and, laying his hand upon one of the pieces of iron that had lately been taken from the earth, he told:
HE roots of the Cedars of Lebanon grew down into that cavern, and in their tangles a thousand bats huddled together. Every seven years the dog that was Malchus's dog wakened up: raising his head he would see his master and his master's six friends lying, one beside the other, fast asleep.
The dog that was Malchus's dog would smell around, but nothing would come to him except the smell that he had known in burrows—the smell of dry earth. There would be no stir in the air around him; there would be no movement upon the ground; there would be no daylight. The thousand bats, high above him, made no sound and gave no stir. With his head raised, the dog that was Malchus's dog would look at his master, expecting that his voice would come to him. No voice would come, and the dog would turn round, and lie down, and sleep again.
Every seven years for fifty times seven years the dog would wake up; still his master and his master's six friends lay there, their flesh upon them, and the bloom of youth upon their flesh. Then, one day, light streamed into the cavern, for the stones that had been set at its mouth were removed. The dog waked up; seeing the daylight, the dog barked. Malchus, his master, waked up. And then the other six sleepers wakened.
They awakened and they said to one another, "We have slept; even through the hours of our great danger we slept." They saw daylight streaming in and each said, "It is not as we thought it was." Each thought that he had had a dream of the cavern being closed upon them by their persecutors with immovable stones.
For these youths had been persecuted by Decius, Emperor of the Romans, King of the Four Quarters of the Earth, having dominion over seventy-two Kings. The Emperor had been moved to persecute the Christians of the city of Ephesus. He had a proclamation made, saying that all who would not go into the pagan temples and make sacrifice to the pagan idols should be cut to pieces by his soldiers; he himself rode on his horse into the city to see that his command was carried out.
Nearly all who were in the city forsook the Christian faith. But there were seven youths who would not forsake it, nor go into the pagan temples and make sacrifice to the pagan idols. These seven were friends who were devoted to one another, and their names were Malchus, Marcian, Dionysius, John, Serapion, Maximian, and Constantine.
They stole from the city and they went towards the mountain Celion, and the dog that was Malchus's dog followed them. They hid within a cavern. Then one went back to the city to buy food. The shopkeeper who sold him meal made a little rent in the bag so that the meal trickled out, leaving a track where he went. And the Emperor, mounted on his horse, followed this track and came to the cavern where the seven had hidden themselves. He signed to his followers, and they drew heavy stones, and they closed up the entrance of the cavern. "In a while," the Emperor said, "none will be left alive in Ephesus or around it who have the Christian faith." And the Emperor rejoiced as he said this. The seven in the cavern sat together; they saw the daylight being shut out, and they knew from the scornful shouts of those outside that they had been shut in so that they never could leave the cavern. They sat there talking to one another, and weeping and consoling one another. Then they slept. The dog that was Malchus's dog crept close to them, and he, too, slept, but every seven years he awakened.
And after a hundred years, and another hundred, and a third hundred years had passed, a man came to the side of that mountain, and seeking weighty stones for the building of a roadway, he took away the stones that were at the mouth of the cavern. It was then that the daylight streamed in on where they lay. It was then that the dog that was Malchus's dog barked. It was then that they wakened up—Malchus, Marcian, Dionysius, John, Serapion, Maximian, and Constantine. It was then that each said, "It is not as I thought; the mouth of the cavern is not closed upon us."
They were hungry. Malchus told his friends that he would steal into the city, and buy bread and bring it back to them. They let him go, and he went out of the cavern, and down the side of the mountain, and along the road that went to the city of Ephesus. When he came before the gate of the city he nearly fell backward in astonishment. For behold! over the gate of the city was the cross of the Christian faith. He thought that this could be nothing but a trick to bring back to the city the Christians who had fled from it. And in greater fear than ever he went through the gate and into the city.
He had lived in a wide street in that city, but now he went down by-ways and lane-ways so that he might not be met by those who knew him. He came to a baker's shop that was away from the main part of the town, and he went within. He saluted the baker, and the baker returned his salutation in the name of Christ. Malchus was fearful, thinking that the words were said to trap him, but he pretended not to have heard what the baker said. He took the loaves from him, and handed him a silver coin in payment.
When the baker received the coin he looked at Malchus sharply. He then went to the back of the shop and spoke to some who were there. Malchus was about to steal out of the shop when the baker came and laid hands on him, saying, "Nay, you must not go until you have told us where the treasure is that you found." "I found no treasure," Malchus said to him. "Where, then, did you get the ancient coin that you have given me in payment for the loaves? Assuredly you have found a treasure." And when the baker said this to him Malchus gave himself up for lost, for he thought that this talk about treasure was but a pretence to hold him until they examined him on the charge of being a Christian.
The men in the baker's shop laid hold on Malchus, and they put a rope around his neck, and they dragged him into the market-place. They said to those who crowded around, "Here is one who has found a treasure that must be given to the Emperor, and we would have a reward for making him reveal where that treasure now is." And Malchus, in the market-place, looked all round him. He saw no one there whom he knew, and he could see that no one in the crowd knew him. He said to those that were around, "Tell me, I implore you, what city is this that I have come into?" They said, "You are playing the madman, pretending that you do not know that this is the great city of Ephesus."
It was then that Malchus saw coming through the crowd one in the robes of a Christian Bishop. "Who is the youth, and why is he being treated by the Ephesians in this way?" he asked. And Malchus heard those around him say, "He has offered a coin of the reign of an ancient Emperor in payment for loaves of bread, and he dares to say that it is of the money that his parents gave him. Assuredly he has found a treasure, but he will tell none of the Ephesians where the treasure now is."
Malchus saw that the one who came to him was indeed a Bishop, and he was more and more bewildered. The Bishop came and spoke tenderly to him. Then said Malchus, "I implore you to tell me where the Emperor Decius has gone to." The Bishop said, "Decius is not our Emperor's name. There has not been an Emperor of the name of Decius for three hundred years." And then he said, "If, as you say, you have parents and friends living in the city of Ephesus, tell us their names, so that we may bring them to you."
Then Malchus gave the names of his parents, and the names of the friends he knew in Ephesus. No one in the crowd had heard of them. The Bishop then told him that he might go to the place where he thought his parents lived. Malchus went there, the Bishop and the people following him. And when he came to the place where his parents' house had stood, behold! what he saw there was a pool of water with birds dipping their wings in it.
When he saw this he wept. Then to the Bishop and those who were with the Bishop he said, "I do not understand what I look upon. I thought that I was in great danger in coming here, thinking that it was only yesterday that the Christians of Ephesus were being put to the sword. But I see the cross surmounting the churches, and I see the Christian Bishop having authority. And yet it is to me as if I had come into a city of the dead. Let me, I pray you, go back to the cavern where I left my companions."
The Bishop signed to those who were guarding him, and they let Malchus go. He went, and they followed him, towards the mountain Celion. He entered the cavern. He saw his six friends, Marcian, Dionysius, John, Serapion, Maximian, and Constantine, and they welcomed him joyfully. He gave them the bread he had brought, and they ate, and were elated. But when they asked of him what signs he saw of the persecution of Christians in Ephesus, he wept. And then he told them that all they had known in Ephesus had passed away, the good with the evil, and that there was no persecution of Christians there, and that the cross was reared in triumph over the churches and over the gate of the city, and that their parents and all whom they knew were dead and long passed away. His friends listened to him in wonder. And while he was still speaking, the Bishop came into the cavern where they were. "Bless us, Holiness," the seven youths said to him. "Nay, it is you should bless me and bless the people of Ephesus," the Bishop said, "seeing that it was on you that God bestowed the most signal favour—the favour of keeping you in life to witness the triumph of the cross in Ephesus and in the whole of the east of the world." Then the Bishop led them without, and the seven stood on the side of the mountain, and blessed the people who came that way towards them, on the morning of Easter, carrying the cross.
The seven stood on the side of the mountain and blessed the people.
As they stood there, it seemed to the seven of them—to Malchus, Marcian, Dionysius, John, Serapion, Maximian, and Constantine—that every clod within was making melody, such music came to them from the cavern. Again they went within. Then they lay down as before and the dog that was Malchus's dog lay near them. And lying there their souls went from them, and they passed out of this life. Then the flesh fell away from them, and only their bones and the bones of the dog that was Malchus's dog were left in the cavern. And, behold! a rose tree grew up where they had lain, and its branches spread out and grew over the mouth of the cavern, wreathing it in roses. Ever afterwards, in that cavern and around it, there was the scent of roses.
WHEN my man Friday had been with me three days I took him out hunting.
As we were going through some woods, I saw a wild goat lying under a tree with two young kids sitting by her. I caught hold of Friday.
"Stop," I said. "Stand still."
Then I took aim at one of the kids, shot and killed it.
The noise of the gun so frightened the poor savage that he did not know what to do. He shook like a leaf. He thought that I was going to kill him.
He did not see the kid I had shot. He threw himself at my feet. Although I could not understand a word he said, yet I knew that he was begging me to have pity on him.
And indeed I did pity him—he was so frightened.
I took him by the hand and lifted him up. I laughed at him and pointed to the kid that I had killed. When he saw it and understood me, he ran to fetch it.
Going on through the woods, I saw a big bird sitting on a tree. I thought it was a hawk.
"See there, Friday!" I said, as I pointed to it.
Bang! went my gun. The bird fell to the ground. It was not a hawk, but a parrot.
Friday was amazed. He looked at the gun and trembled.
For a long time he would not touch a gun. He would look at it and talk to it. He would say, in his own language: "O wonderful thing! Do not kill me! Do not kill me!"
We found nothing more in the woods that day. Friday carried the kid home, and I took off its skin and dressed it. Then I stewed some of the best pieces and made some good broth.
At dinner I gave some of the broth to my man. He liked it very well, but he could not bear salt in it.
I tried to show him that food was best with a little salt. But he did not think so, and he would never eat meat that was salted.
The next day I set Friday to work. I had him thrash some barley for me and grind the grains into meal as I had always done.
He did his work very well.
Then I let him see me make some bread and bake it. He learned very fast and soon could cook and keep house as well as any one.
Little, by little I taught him how to work on my farm. We fenced another field and sowed more barley. For now there were two mouths to feed instead of one.
Very soon Friday learned to talk quite well. He learned the name of everything he saw. He was very quick, and I took pleasure in teaching him.
I told him all about gunpowder and guns and showed him how to shoot. I gave him a knife, which pleased him not a little. I made him a belt and gave him a hatchet to carry in it.
I told him about the countries on the other side of the great ocean. And I told him something of my own history.
Little by little I explained how my people traded in great ships, and how my own ship had been wrecked on the coast of this island.
Thus, between working and teaching, I forgot all my fears. The days passed by, and every day brought some new delight.
It was the pleasantest year of my life.
I often asked my man Friday to tell me about his own country. He told me all that he knew, and his words made me feel quite sure that the mainland of South America was not far away.
In fact, the low shore that I could see far to the west of my island was part of the coast of that great continent.
Friday told me that white men sometimes went there. He said that they had long, dark beards and were always trying to trade with his people.
I felt quite sure they were Spaniards, and I had a great mind to go over, if I could, and join them. Indeed, my whole mind was set on seeing some of my own people again.
I thought that if I could only get to the mainland, I would find some way to reach England, or at least some place where Englishmen lived.
At last I told Friday that I would give him a boat to go back to his own country. This was part of my plan for getting away from the island.
I took him over to the other side of the island and showed him my canoe.
We cleared it of water and then took a short sail in it. Friday could paddle very well.
"Now, Friday," I said, "shall we paddle across the sea to your own country?"
He looked very dull at my saying this, and I saw that he thought the canoe was too small.
"Well," I said, "I have a bigger boat. I will show it to you
The next morning, therefore, I took him to see the first boat I had made and which I could not get to the water.
He said it was big enough. But it had been lying on the ground for twenty-three years and was rotten.
"We will make a new boat, Friday," I said. "We will make one as big as this. Then you shall go to your old home in it."
He looked very sad.
"Why are you angry with Friday?" he asked. "What has he done?"
I told him that I was not angry, and asked him what he meant.
"Not angry! not angry!" he cried. "Then why do you want to send Friday away to his old home?"
"Why, Friday," I said, "didn't you say that you wished you were there?"
"Yes, yes," said he. "Friday wishes both were there, but not Friday without his master."
"But what would I do there?" I asked. "I could do nothing."
"Oh, yes, master," he answered very quickly "You could do much. You could teach wild mans to be tame, to know God, to live right. You could do much."
"No, Friday," I said. "You shall go without me. Leave me here to live by myself as I did before."
He looked very sad. Then all at once he ran and picked up a hatchet. He brought it and gave it to me.
"What shall I do with this?" I asked.
"You take it. Kill Friday," he said.
"Indeed," I said, "and why shall I do that?"
"Then why do you send Friday away?" he said "Better kill than send away."
The tears stood in his eyes as he spoke. I saw that he loved me and would always stand by me.
So I told him that I would never, never send him away, and that he should always stay with me.
You should have seen his eyes brighten.
A capital ship for an ocean trip,
Was the Walloping Window-Blind.
No gale that blew dismayed her crew,
Nor troubled the captain's mind.
The man at the wheel was taught to feel
Contempt for the wildest blow;
And it often appeared—when the weather had cleared—
He had been in his bunk below.
The boatswain's mate was very sedate,
Yet fond of amusement too;
And he played hopscotch with the starboard watch,
While the captain tickled the crew.
And the gunner we had was apparently mad,
For he sat on the after-rail
And fired salutes with the captain's boots
In the teeth of the booming gale.
The captain sat on the commodore's hat,
And dined in a royal way,
Off toasted pigs and pickles and figs
And gunnery bread each day.
The cook was Dutch and behaved as such,
For the diet he gave the crew,
Was a number of tons of hot cross-buns,
Served up with sugar and glue.
All nautical pride we laid aside,
And we cast our vessel ashore,
On the Gulliby Isles, where the Poo-Poo smiles
And the Rumpletum-Bunders roar.
We sat on the edge of a sandy ledge,
And shot at the whistling bee:
And the cinnamon bats wore waterproof hats,
As they danced by the sounding sea.
On Rug-gub bark, from dawn till dark,
We fed, till we all had grown
Uncommonly shrunk; when a Chinese junk
Came in from the Torriby Zone.
She was stubby and square, but we didn't much care,
So we cheerily put to sea;
And we left the crew of the junk to chew,
The bark of the Rug-gub tree.
WEEK 42 |
"If earth contains a paradise
It is beneath Granada's skies."
W HILE Columbus is preparing for his first voyage to the West, let us take a look at the country he is now serving, and tell again the picturesque story of the fall of Granada.
In the days of the Cid the Moors had occupied a large part of Spain, but since then they had been driven nearer and nearer to the coast, till only the beautiful kingdom of Granada was left to them. It was this stronghold that the King of Spain was besieging when Columbus laid before him his great plan of discovery. And with the fall of Granada the long reign of the Moors in Spain was over.
This beautiful city stood on two lofty hills. One of them was crowned by the famous palace and fortress of the Alhambra, celebrated for its marble colonnades, its domes, and ceilings glowing with colour. While cities in the plains panted with heat, fresh breezes played through the marble halls of the Alhambra. So pure was the air, so beautiful was the earth in this spot, that the Moors used to imagine that their prophet Mohammed dwelt in that part of the heaven that hung over Granada.
Ferdinand and Isabella were Christians, and they could not bear the Moors to hold any part of their Christian country in Spain. One day they sent a Spanish messenger to demand tribute from the King of the Moors.
"Tell your king," cried the fierce Moor bitterly, "that the kings of Granada who used to pay tribute to the King of Spain are dead. Our mint coins nothing now but blades of swords and heads of lances."
The Spanish messenger rode away, noting as he rode the strength of this last stronghold of the Moors.
Ferdinand now sent to demand a complete surrender of the town. He received back a firm answer that the Moors would sooner die than yield up their beautiful city to Christian warriors, and Ferdinand prepared for war.
The din of arms now filled the city. Under Muza, one of the proudest of the Moors, the men of Granada gathered. They would defend their town even with their lives. Ferdinand's plan was to devastate the plains round Granada and so starve the city into surrender. He laid waste the fields of waving corn, he burnt the lovely gardens and orchards which were the pride and joy of the Moors, but still the standard of Mohammed waved defiance to the Christian king from the red towers of the Alhambra.
"How is thy strength departed, O Granada," lamented the Moors; "how is thy beauty withered, O city of groves and fountains. The commerce that once thronged thy streets is at an end; the merchant no longer hastens to thy gates with luxuries of foreign lands."
They prepared for attack from the Spaniards; but in the hour of her despair Granada was no easy city to take, and Ferdinand knew his only hope of success lay in starving out the people.
At last famine began to make itself felt among the Moors. There was no harvest to look to, the orchards and gardens were burnt. Gloomy indeed was their outlook.
"What shall we do?" asked the king hopelessly.
"Surrender," answered the Moors.
"Do not talk of surrender," cried the brave Muza. "Our means are not yet exhausted. We have one source of strength remaining—it is our despair. Let us rouse the mass of the people and arm them. Rather let us fall in the defence of our city than survive to surrender."
But his fiery words fell on the ears of broken-hearted men. Heroic as they were, the despairing Moors turned a deaf ear to them.
"Surrender, surrender," they moaned.
And the king listened to them, and yielded. He sent to Ferdinand to treat for terms. At the end of seventy days the city was to surrender. When the Moors found that the moment had come when they—the conquerors of Spain—must be blotted out for ever as a nation, they gave way to piteous tears.
"Leave this weeping to the women and children," cried Muza. "We are men, we have hearts—not to shed tender tears, but drops of blood. Let us die defending our liberty; let it not be said the nobles of Granada feared to die."
But the careworn Moors were beyond Muza's appeal. It was hopeless to contend longer. He rose angrily as the king signed the agreement, strode gloomily through the marble courts, armed himself, and, mounting his favourite war-horse, rode forth from the gates of Granada. He was never heard of more.
The weary days passed by, until the last day came. The royal treasures were packed on mules, and before dawn a weeping procession of downcast Moors, with their king, passed from the beautiful city they would never see again. The sun was shining above the snowy peaks behind the city, when the King and Queen of Spain rode across the plain to take possession of Granada. The joyful procession met the unhappy Moorish king, who yielded up the keys.
"These keys are the last relics of the Moorish Empire in Spain," he said miserably; and as he journeyed on in gloomy silence, the shouts of the victorious Spaniards fell on his ears. As he reached the hill which commanded the last view of Granada, he stopped. The sun caught the silver cross of the Christians as it sparkled on the watch-tower of the Alhambra.
"God is great," he groaned, bursting into tears, "God is great. When did such misfortunes equal mine?"
So did the Moors leave Spain for ever.
A FLEA, a grasshopper, and a frog once wanted to see which one of them could jump the highest. So they made a festival and invited the whole world and everybody else besides, who would like to come, to see the frolic. When the people assembled to see the contest they all admitted that these three famous jumpers were indeed well worth seeing.
"I will give the princess, my daughter, to the one who can jump the highest," said the king. "The champion in such a trial of skill must be rewarded."
The flea was the first to come forward. His manners were perfect and he bowed to the company on every side, for noble blood flowed in his veins; and, besides, he had been accustomed to associating with human beings, which was much to his advantage.
The grasshopper came next. The green uniform, which he always wore, set off his figure very well. He carried himself with great dignity, for he belonged to a very old Egyptian family, he said, and was highly thought of in the house in which he lived.
In fact when he was brought out of the fields he was put into a card house, three stories high. The colored sides of the cards were turned in and the doors and windows were cut out of the Queen of Hearts. "It was built on purpose for me," he said, "and I sing so well that sixteen crickets who had chirped all their life, and still had no card house to live in, were so angry at hearing me that they grew thinner than they ever had been before."
In this way the flea and the grasshopper went on with their long praises, each thinking himself quite an excellent match for the princess.
The frog said nothing, but his silence only made the people think he knew a great deal, and the house dog who sniffed at him walked away with an air of approval.
The old counselor who had issued three orders for keeping quiet, said at last, that the frog was a prophet, for one could tell from his back whether the coming winter would be severe or mild. Such wisdom could never be gained from the back of the man who writes almanacs.
"I shall say nothing," said the king, "but I have my own opinion; for I see everything."
And now the leaping match began. The flea jumped first. He jumped so high that no one could see what had become of him. So the people said he did not jump at all. How shameful it was of him after all his boasting!
The grasshopper jumped only half as high; but he jumped right into the king's face. This act the king thought extremely rude.
The frog stood still for a long time; some began to think that he did not mean to jump at all.
"Perhaps he's ill," said the house dog; so he went up to sniff at the frog again; when "pop" he made a side jump which landed him right into the lap of the princess, who was sitting on a little golden stool.
"There is nothing in the world higher than my daughter," called out the king. "The frog has made the highest jump that can be made. Only one who has a good mind could have done anything so clever as that." And so the leaping frog won the princess.
"I jumped the highest," said the flea, "in spite of what the king said, but the decision does not matter to me. The princess may have that heavy, stiff-legged, ugly creature if he's to her taste. Dullness and heaviness win in this stupid world. I'm too light and airy." So the flea went into foreign lands.
The grasshopper sat down upon a green bank and thought about the world and its ways. "Yes," he said to himself, "dullness and heaviness do win in this stupid world. People care most about fine looks nowadays." Then he began to sing in the grasshopper way; and from his song we have taken this little story.
In Hans' old Mill his three black cats
Watch the bins for the thieving rats.
Whisker and claw, they crouch in the night,
Their five eyes smouldering green and bright:
Squeaks from the flour sacks, squeaks from where
The cold wind stirs on the empty stair,
Squeaking and scampering, everywhere.
Then down they pounce, now in, now out,
At whisking tail, and sniffing snout;
While lean old Hans he snores away
Till peep of light at break of day;
Then up he climbs to his creaking mill,
Out come his cats all grey with meal—
Jekkel, and Jessup, and one-eyed Jill.
WEEK 42 |
After the boys, bears, and dogs had eaten a hurried meal, they again went for the in quest of nuts; but they took a different course this time, toward the south—that is, in the direction of the house of Mr. Fox—for the purpose of visiting a hazel thicket, which was a mile from home. Soon the hazel patch was reached and about five o'clock the wagon was full of beautiful, brown little nuts, than which there is none sweeter.
When the wagon was loaded the boys hitched up the team, much to the delight of the latter, for by that time the dogs and cubs had come to think it great sport, and the caravan moved homeward.
Soon after leaving the hazel patch, the boys entered a dark strip of woods and undergrowth, through which it was very hard work to draw the wagon. So they attached a long piece of tanned deerskin to the tongue of the wagon, and gave the team a helping hand.
There was but one path through this dark strip of forest over which the wagon could be drawn, and it led through a low piece of ground that was wet and marshy. Upon the soft earth of the path Balser soon noticed the long, broad tracks of a bear, and the dogs at once began to bark and plunge in their harness. The tracks appeared to Balser to be an hour old, so he quieted the dogs, but did not release them from the wagon as he should have done. The boys went forward, regardless of the warning bear tracks, and the dogs and bears, drawing the wagon followed closely at their heels. As they proceeded the bear tracks became fresher, and Balser began to grow somewhat fearful. Jim had become frightened, and had taken a position at the rear of the wagon to give a helping hand by pushing at the load. He said he could push better than he could pull anyway.
After the little party had got well into the darkest part of the forest, the dogs began to show such evident signs of uneasiness that Balser grasped his gun, and held it in readiness, prepared for a fight, should one become necessary.
The ground had been frozen earlier in the day, but it had thawed, and the path was slippery. Balser, who was walking a short distance ahead of the train, as a sort of advance guard, suddenly stopped and held up his hand warningly to Jim; for right ahead of him in the path stood a huge bear, with its head turned backward, looking inquiringly in the direction of the boys. Jim at once stopped the team. The dogs, of course, were dancing with impatience to be released from the harness, and even the dull-witted bears seemed to realize that something was wrong.
"It's running away," said Balser. "It's not safe to shoot at it from behind. I might wound it, and then we should be the ones to run. What shall we do?"
"Let it run," answered Jim, quickly. "I don't like to run with a bear after me, anyway. If you're going to shoot, I'll run now so as to get a good start.
"No, you don't! You stand right where you are, and take care of the team. If you move a foot, I'll lick you," answered Balser, as he moved cautiously ahead in the direction of the retreating bear.
Jim was frozen by fear to the spot upon which he stood, as Balser walked out of sight. In a moment he again heard Balser speak, and then he heard a loud, deep growl.
The dogs barked and plunged; the cubs whined and gave
forth savage little baby-bear growls, half whines, for
they were only learning to grow. Jim began to weep and
to scream. Balser, who had disappeared from sight
around a curve in the path, cried
"Let the dogs loose, for goodness' sake, Jim! It's after me."
The dogs seemed to understand Balser's cry better than Jim did; for they barked and plunged more violently than ever in their harness. Jim seemed dazed, and could not, or at least did not, unharness the dogs. Then it was that the good dog sense of old Prince showed itself. Instead of waiting for help from Jim, who he saw had lost his wits, the good dog began to gnaw at the leather harness which held him and Tige to the wagon, and in a short time the dogs were freed from the wagon, though still tied to each other.
Tige caught inspiration from Prince, and the dogs backed away from each other and pulled with all their strength, until the harness slipped over the head of Prince and left the dogs free. Then Prince plunged rapidly into the thicket to the rescue of his master, followed closely by Tige, dragging the broken harness.
"Help! help!" cried Balser. "Why don't you send the dogs?" And his voice seemed to be going farther and farther away.
"Where are you?" cried Jim, in despair. His terror was so strong upon him that he could not move, and could not have helped Balser, had he been able to go to him. Jim was a little fellow, you must remember.
"Help! help!" cried Balser again, his voice sounding from a still greater distance. "I've wounded it, and it's about to kill me. Help! help!" but the cries came fainter and fainter.
Jim stood his ground and screamed manfully. Soon after Balser had left Jim and the wagon, the bear turned toward its pursuer and presented to Balser its broadside. This gave the boy a good chance for a shot. For a moment, Balser forgot his father's admonition to be deliberate and to act slowly, and his forgetfulness almost cost him his life. Balser shot, and wounded the bear in the neck, but did not kill it. Then it turned, and Balser, fearing to run back upon the path lest he should bring the bear upon Jim, started into the thicket, toward the river, with the bear in hot pursuit. Balser gained rapidly upon the bear at first, but he knew that his advantage could not last, for the bear was sure to catch him soon. What should he do? He hastily went over in his mind the possibilities in the case, and soon determined to put forth his utmost speed to gain as much upon the bear as possible, and then to climb the first tree, of the proper size, to which he should come. With this intent he flung his carbine over his back, by a strap attached to the gun for that purpose, and ran for dear life.
Soon the boy reached a small beech tree, the branches
of which were ten or twelve feet from the ground. Up
this tree he climbed with the agility of a squirrel. He
"I was so badly scared that it seemed as if my hands and feet had claws like a wildcat."
The bear had followed so closely upon his track, that, just as the boy was about to draw himself up among the branches of the tree, the bear rose upon its hind legs and caught the boy's toes between his teeth. Balser screamed with pain, and tried to draw his foot away; but the harder he pulled the harder pulled the bear, and the pain was so great that he thought he could not stand it. While he clung to the limb with one hand, he reached toward the bear with the other, and caught it by the nose. He twisted the bear's nose until the brute let loose of his foot. Then he quickly drew himself into the tree, and seated himself none too soon astride of a limb.
When Balser had fixed himself firmly on the limb he proceeded at once to load his gun. This was no slight matter under the circumstances; for, aside from the fact that his position in the tree was an uneasy one, the branches were in his way when he began to use his ramrod. Balser had hardly poured the powder into the gun, when the bear again rose on its hind legs, and put its front paws upon the body of the tree, with evident intent to climb after the boy who had wounded it and had so insultingly twisted its nose. Bears like to scratch the bark of trees, and seem to take the same pride in placing their marks high upon the tree trunks that a young man does in making a long jump or a good shot. Vanity, in this case, proved to be the bear's undoing, as it has often been with men and boys. When it was reaching upward to make a high scratch, that it thought would be the envy of every bear that would see it, it should have been climbing; for while it was scratching Balser was loading. Not hurriedly, as he had shot, but slowly and deliberately, counting one, two, three with every movement; for when he had shot so hurriedly a few minutes before and had only wounded the bear, he had again learned the great lesson to make haste slowly. The lesson was to be impressed upon Balser's mind more firmly than ever before he was through with the wounded bear; for to the day of his death he never forgot the events which befell him after he came down from the tree. Although Balser was deliberate, he had no time to waste, for soon the bear began climbing the tree, aided by a few small branches upon the lower part of the trunk, which had given help to Balser. Up the bear went, slowly and surely. Its great red tongue hung out at one side of its mouth, and its black, woolly coat was red and gory with blood from the wound that Balser had inflicted upon its huge neck. Its sharp little eyes were fixed upon Balser, and seemed to blaze with fury and rage, and its long bright teeth gleamed as its lips were drawn back in anger when it growled. Still the bear climbed, and still Balser was loading his gun. Would he have it loaded before the bear reached him? Now the powder was all in—a double charge. Now the first patch was in, and Balser was trying a ram it home. The branches of the trees were in his way, and the ramrod would not go into the gun. Inanimate things are often stubborn just when docility is most needed. Ah! At last the ramrod is in, and the first patch goes home, hard and fast upon the powder. On comes the bear, paw over paw, foot over foot, taking its time with painful deliberation and, bearlike, carefully choosing its way; for it thinks full sure the boy cannot escape. Hurriedly Balser reaches into the pouch for a bullet. He finds one and puts it to the muzzle of his gun. Ah! worse luck! The bullet will not go in. It is too large. Balser feels with his finger a little ridge extending around the bullet, left there because he had not held the bullet moulds tightly together when he had cast the bullet. The boy impatiently throws the worthless bullet at the bear and puts his hand into the pouch for another. This time the bullet goes in, and the ramrod drives it home. Still there is the last patch to drive down,—the one which holds the bullet,— and still the bear climbs toward its intended victim. Its growls seem to shake the tree and its eyes look like burning embers. The patches and the bullets Balser kept in the same pouch, so, when the bullet has been driven home, the boy's hand again goes into the pouch for the last patch. He can find nothing but bullets. Down goes his hand to each corner of the pouch in search of a patch; but alas! the patch, like a false friend, is wanting when most needed. On comes the bear. Not a moment is to be lost. A patch must be found; so the boy snatches off his cap of squirrel skin, and with his teeth bites out a piece of the skin which will answer his purpose. Then he dashes the mutilated cap in the bear's face, only a foot or two below him. Quickly is the squirrel-skin patch driven home, but none too quickly, for the bear is at Balser's feet, reaching for him with his great, rough, horny paw, as a cat reaches for a mouse. Balser quickly lifts himself to the limb above him, and hurriedly turning the muzzle of his gun right into the great red mouth, pulls the trigger. Bang! And the bear falls to the ground, where it lies apparently dead. It was only apparently dead, though, as you will presently see. Balser breathed a sigh of relief as the bear fell backward, for he was sure that he had killed it. No bear, thought he, could survive a bullet driven by the heavy charge of powder behind the one which had sped so truly into the bear's mouth. Again Balser failed to make haste slowly. He should have remained in his secure position until he was sure that the bear was really dead; for a badly wounded bear, although at the point of death, is more dangerous than one without a scar. Without looking at the bear Balser called Jim to come to him, and began climbing down the tree, with his carbine slung over his shoulder, and his back to the bear. All this happened in a very short space of time. In fact, the time during which Balser was loading his gun, and while the bear was climbing the tree, was the same time in which the dogs were freeing themselves from the wagon; and Balser's second shot was heard by Jim just as the dogs went bounding off to Balser's relief. When the boy jumped to the ground, lo! the bear was alive again, and was on its feet, more ferocious than ever, and more eager for fight. Like our American soldiers, the bear did not know when it was whipped.
At the time the dogs bounded away from Jim, there came down the path toward him a young girl. Who do you think it was? Liney Fox. She was carrying in her hand a lighted torch, and was swinging it gently from side to side that she might keep it ablaze. This was the fire which Liney had been sent to borrow. She had heard Balser's cry and had heard both the shots that Balser had fired. She ran quickly to Jim, and with some difficulty drew from him an explanation of the situation. Then, as the dogs bounded away, she followed them, feeling sure that their instinct would lead them to Balser. The girl's strength seemed to be increased a thousand fold, and she ran after the dogs in the hope that she might help the boy who had saved her life upon the night when she was lost in the forest. How could she help him? She did not know; but she would at least go to him and do her best.
Just as Balser reached the ground, the bear raised itself upon its hind feet and struck at the boy, but missed him. Then Balser ran to the side of the tree opposite the bear, and bear and boy for a few moments played at a desperate game of hide-and-seek around the tree. It seemed a very long time to Balser. He soon learned that the bear could easily beat him at the game, and in desperation he started to run toward the river, perhaps two hundred yards away. He cried for help as he ran, and at that moment the dogs came up, and Liney followed in frantic, eager haste after them. Balser had thrown away his gun, and was leading the bear in the race perhaps six or eight feet. Close upon the heels of the bear were the dogs, and closer than you would think upon the heels of the dogs came Liney. Her bonnet had fallen back and her hair was flying behind her, and the torch was all ablaze by reason of its rapid movement through the air.
At the point upon the river's bank toward which Balser ran was a little stone cliff, almost perpendicular, the top of which was eight or ten feet from the water. Balser had made up his mind that if he could reach this cliff he would jump into the river, and perhaps save himself in that manner. Just as the boy reached the edge of the cliff Liney unfortunately called out "Balser!"
Her voice stopped him for a moment, and he looked back toward her. In that moment the bear overtook him and felled him to the ground with a stroke of its paw. Balser felt benumbed and was almost senseless. Instantly the bear was standing over him, and the boy was blinded by the stream of blood which flowed into his eyes and over his face from the wound in the bear's great mouth. He felt the bear shake him, as a cat shakes a mouse, and then for a moment the sun seemed to go out, and all was dark. He could see nothing. He heard the dogs bark, as they clung to the bear's ears and neck close to his face, and he heard Liney scream; but it all seemed like a far-away dream. Then he felt something burn his face, and sparks and hot ashes fell upon his skin and blistered him. He could not see what was happening, but the pain of the burns seemed to revive him, and he was conscious that he was relieved from the terrible weight of the bear upon his breast. This is what happened: after Balser had fallen, the dogs had held the bear's attention for a brief moment or two, and had given Liney time to reach the scene of conflict. The bear had caught Balser's leather coat between its jaws, and was shaking him just as Liney came up. It is said that the shake which a cat gives a mouse produces unconsciousness; and so it is true that the shake which the larger animals give to their prey before killing it has a benumbing effect, such as Balser felt. When Liney reached Balser and the bear, she had no weapon but her torch, but with true feminine intuition she did, without stopping to think, the only thing she could do, and for that matter the best thing that any one could have done. She thrust the burning torch into the bear's face and held it there, despite its rage and growls. Then it was that Balser felt the heat and sparks, and then it was that the bear, blinded by the fire, left Balser. The bear was frantic with pain, and began to rub its eyes and face with its paws, just as a man would do under the same circumstances. It staggered about in rage and blindness, making the forest echo with its frightful growls, until it was upon the edge of the little precipice of which I have spoken. Then Liney struck it again with her burning torch, and gave it a push, which, although her strength was slight, sent the bear rolling over the cliff into the river. After that she ran back to Balser, who was still lying upon the ground, covered in blood. She thought he was terribly wounded, so she tore off her muslin petticoat, and wiped the blood from Balser's face and hands. Her joy was great when she learned that it was the bear's blood and not Balser's that she saw. The boy soon rose to his feet, dazed and half blinded.
"Where's the bear?" he asked.
"We pushed him into the river," said Jim, who had come in at the last moment.
"Yes, 'we pushed him in,' " said Balser, in derision. "Liney, did you—"
"Yes," answered Liney. "I don't know how I did it; but after I had put my torch in the bear's face, when he was over you, I—I pushed him into the river." And she cast down her sweet, modest eyes, as if ashamed of what she had done.
"Liney, Liney—" began Balser; but his voice was choked by a great lump of sobs in his throat. "Liney, Liney—" he began again; but his gratitude was so great he could not speak. He tried again, and the tears came in a flood.
"Cry-baby!" said Jim.
"Jim, you're a little fool," said Liney, turning upon the youngster with a blaze of anger in her eyes.
"Jim's right," sobbed Balser. "I—I am a c-c-cry-baby."
"No, no! Balser," said Liney, soothingly, as she took his hand. "I know. I understand without you telling me."
"Yes," sobbed Balser, "I—I—c-c-cry—because—I—thank you so much."
"Don't say that, Balser," answered Liney. "Think of the night in the forest, and think of what you did for me."
"Oh! But I'm a boy."
Balser was badly bruised, but was not wounded, except in the foot where the bear had caught him as he climbed the tree. That wound, however, was slight, and would heal quickly. The cubs had broken away from the loaded wagon, and Jim, Liney, Balser, dogs, and cubs all marched back to Mr. Brent's in a slow and silent procession, leaving the load of nuts upon the path, and the bear dead upon a ripple in the river.
NC' BILLY POSSUM did a lot of thinking. He was a prisoner, just as
much a prisoner as if he were in a cage. Now
If it hadn't been for those two worries,
"Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut,
So for almost a week
At last one day it began to snow. It snowed all day and it snowed all
night. Rough Brother North Wind piled it up in great drifts in front
Rustily creak the crickets.
Jack Frost came down last night.
He slid to the earth on a star beam,
Keen and sparkling and bright.
WEEK 42 |
And David thought also that the priests might help him more in the city than if they should go away with him. He said to Zadok, "Do you go back to the city and watch; and send word to me by your son, Ahimaaz, and Jonathan, the son of Abiathar. I will wait at the crossing place of the river Jordan for news from you."
So Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, carried the holy ark back to its Tabernacle on Mount Zion, and watched closely, that they might send David word of anything that would help his cause. David walked up the steep side of the Mount of Olives, on the east of Jerusalem, with his head covered and his feet bare, as one in mourning, weeping as he walked. And all the people who were with him, and those who saw him, were weeping in their sorrow over David's fall from his high place.
On the top of the hill David found another man waiting to see him. It was Hushai, who was one of David's best friends. He stood there in sorrow, with his garments torn and earth upon his head, ready to go into the wilderness with David. But David said to Hushai, "If you go with us you cannot help me in any way; but if you stay in the city, and pretend to be Absalom's friend, then perhaps you can watch against the advice that the wise man, Ahithophel, gives to Absalom, and prevent Absalom from following it. Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, will help you, and through their sons, Ahimaaz and Jonathan, you can send word to me of all that you hear."
A little past the top of the hill another man was waiting for David. It was Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth. You remember how kindly David had treated Mephibosheth, because he was the son of David's dear friend, Jonathan. (See Story 65.) Ziba had by his side a couple of asses saddled, and on them two hundred loaves of bread, and a hundred clusters of raisins, and a quantity of fruit, and a goat-skin full of wine. David said to Ziba, "For what purpose are all these things here?"
And Ziba said, "The asses are for the king; and here is food for the journey, and wine for those who may grow faint and may need it in the wilderness."
And David asked Ziba, "Where is Mephibosheth, your master?"
"He is in Jerusalem," said Ziba; "for he says that the kingdom may be given back to him, as he is the heir of Saul's house."
David felt very sad as he heard that Mephibosheth had forsaken him, and he said to Ziba, "Whatever has belonged to Mephibosheth shall be yours from this time."
But David did not know that all Ziba's words were false, and that Mephibosheth had not forsaken him. This man was Shimei, and he belonged to the family of King Saul. As David and his party walked along the crest of the hill, Shimei walked over the hill on the other side of a narrow valley, and as he walked he threw stones at David, and cursed him, shouting, "Get out, get out, you man of blood, you wicked man! Now the Lord is bringing upon you all the wrong that you did to Saul, when he was your king. You robbed Saul of his kingdom, and now your own son is robbing you. You are suffering just as you deserve, for you are a bloody man!"
Then Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, who was one of David's men and David's own nephew, said, "Why should this dog be allowed to bark against my lord the king? Let me go across the valley, and I will strike off his head at one blow!"
But David said, "If it is the Lord's will that this man should curse David, then let him curse on. My own son is seeking to take away my life, and is it strange that this man of another tribe should hate me? It may be that the Lord will look upon the wrong done to me, and will do good to me."
So David and his wives, and his servants, and the soldiers who were faithful to him, went on toward the wilderness and the valley of the Jordan. Soon after David had escaped from the city, Absalom came into it with his friends and a host of his followers. As Absalom drew near, Hushai, David's friend, stood by the road, crying, "Long live the king! Long live the king!"
And Absalom said to Hushai, "Is this the way you treat your friend? Why have you not stayed beside your friend David?"
Hushai said to Absalom, "Whom the Lord and his people have chosen, him will I follow, and with him I will stay. As I have served the father, so will I serve the son."
Then Hushai went into the palace among the followers of Absalom. And Absalom said to Ahithophel, "Tell me what to do next?"
Now Ahithophel was a very wise man. He knew what was best for Absalom's success, and he said, "Let me choose out twelve thousand men, and I will pursue David this very night. We will come upon David when he is tired, while only a few people are with him, and before he has time to form any plans or to gather an army, I will kill David, and will harm no one else; and then you can reign as king in peace, and all the people will submit to you when they know that David is no longer living."
Absalom thought that this was wise advice; but he sent for Hushai. He told him what Ahithophel had said, and asked for his advice also. And Hushai said, "The advice that Ahithophel gives is not good for the present time. You know that David and his men are very brave, and just now they are as savage as a bear robbed of her cubs. David is with his men in some safe place, hidden in a cave or among the mountains, and they will watch against those who come out to seek for them, and will rush upon them suddenly from their hiding-place. Then, as soon as the news goes through the land that Absalom's men have been beaten, everybody will turn away from Absalom to David. The better plan would be to wait until you can gather all the men of war in Israel, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south. And then, if David is in a city, there will be men enough to pull the city in pieces, or if he is in the field we will surround him on every side." And Absalom and the rulers who were with him said to each other, "The advice of Hushai is better than the advice of Ahithophel. Let us do as Hushai tells us to do."
So Absalom sat down in his father's palace and began to enjoy himself while they were gathering his army. This was just what Hushai wished, for it would give David time to gather his army also, and he knew that the hearts of the people would soon turn from Absalom back to David.
Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, of Absalom's plans, and they sent word by a young woman to their sons, Ahimaaz and Jonathan, who were watching outside the city, and these young men hastened to tell David, who was waiting beside the river Jordan. Then David and his men found a safe refuge in Mahanaim, in the tribe of Gad, across Jordan; and there his friends from all the land began to come to him.
When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been taken, and that Hushai was preferred in his place, he knew at once that Absalom could not hold the kingdom, and that Absalom's cause was already as good as lost. He went to his home, put all his house and his affairs in order, and hanged himself; for he thought that it was better to die by his own hand than to be put to death as a traitor by King David.
Absalom for a little time had his wish. He sat on the throne, and wore the crown, and lived in the palace at Jerusalem as the king of Israel.
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 far countries and little Jacob and little Sol had gone in her. And she had got to Java and anchored near the place where they got water and they had sent some sailors ashore in boats to fill the water casks. And they had got the water and come back; and the boats and the water casks had been hoisted on board, and they had hoisted the anchor and sailed away, through the straits, for Anger. You might not be able to find that place on a map of Java, but that is what Captain Solomon says in his log-book, so it must be right.
They got to Anger the next morning, and Captain Solomon went ashore in his boat, with sailors to row it; for he wanted to send some letters and he wanted to find out what he would have to pay for sugar and for coffee. He had the letters in a bag. There were three that sailors had written; that doesn't seem many letters for a whole crew of sailors to write after they have been at sea for three months, but sailors aren't much at writing letters, anyway. And there were about half a dozen that Captain Solomon had written, and some from the mates; and there was one that little Sol had scrawled to his mother, and there was the great thick letter that little Jacob had written to his mother. Captain Solomon couldn't take little Sol and little Jacob ashore with him because he thought he would be too busy to look after them. The Industry didn't even anchor, but she sailed back and forth, in front of the town, waiting for Captain Solomon's boat to come back.
At last Captain Solomon had heard all the news and had sent his letters and had found out the price of sugar and of coffee and had learned what ships were at Batavia. Batavia is a city in Java, not far from Anger, and Captain Solomon was going there on his way back. And he had got some fresh vegetables and some turtle and some fresh fowl of a Chinaman, and all his errands were done. So he came back to the ship and got on board and the boat was hoisted up and more sail was set; and the Industry sailed on her way through Sunda strait. Captain Solomon called it Sunday strait. A strait is a rather narrow passage from one sea to another. Sunda strait leads from the Indian Ocean to Java Sea; and, after that, there were some more straits leading to the China Sea.
Late in the afternoon the wind got lighter; and as there was a strong current setting towards the southwest, through the straits, they couldn't sail as fast as the current carried them. So the Industry was carried back to Anger; but she started again very early in the morning, when there was more wind and when the tide was different.
When little Jacob and little Sol came on deck they saw three ships, going the other way. They wondered what they were, and they asked the mate. And the mate smiled and said that two of the ships were Dutch and he supposed that they were going to Batavia. And he thought that the other ship was American and he hoped that it would take the letters they had left at Anger. Little Jacob hoped that it would; but little Sol didn't seem to care. And, all of that day, they watched for more ships, and they saw land, now and then, far off on the horizon. It was very hot, for they were almost at the equator; so that even little Sol was contented to keep still. And, towards night, they saw one of the sailors getting the lead line ready.
The lead is just a big lump of lead, like a sinker that is used on a fishing line, and it is tied to the end of a long line that has the fathoms marked on it in much the same way that the log line has the knots marked; but the marks on the lead line are really six feet apart. And the lead itself has the lower end just a little bit hollowed. The sailor who was getting it ready first made sure that the line was all clear, without any knots or kinks in it. And, when he had seen that the line was all right, he took up the lead and smeared some grease on the bottom of it. The sailor was the old man who had given little Jacob the model of the brig.
Little Jacob was surprised. "What is that?" he asked. "Is it grease?"
The sailor was amused. "It's grease," he said, "sure enough."
"And what is it for?" asked little Jacob again. "I hope you don't mind telling me."
"No, lad," said the sailor. "Be sure I'll tell you. It's to bring up some of the bottom so's the cap'n can tell where we are."
Little Jacob didn't understand. "I don't see," he said, "how Captain Solomon can tell where we are, that way."
The sailor laughed. "Well, no," he said. "I s'pose you don't. Well, it's this way. The bottom of the sea is different in different places. In some parts it's mud and in other parts it's gray sand and in others it's black sand and in others yet it's yellow sand, and so on. In the deep oceans it's different yet, but no lead will reach it. And every good sailor man, such as Cap'n Solomon is, should know the bottom he'll find on the course he sails. And when I heave this lead, it tells him how much water he's got under him and the kind of bottom, for the lead brings up a little of the mud or the sand that sticks to the grease. That's how it is."
Little Jacob thought that he understood. "And will you heave the lead now?" he asked.
"I heave the lead when I'm ordered to," said the old man. "But I'm thinking the cap'n won't want it hove till after dark. There's no lights, hereabouts, you see. Lighthouses," he added, seeing that little Jacob didn't know what he meant.
"Oh," said little Jacob. And he went off to find Captain Solomon and to ask him if he might stay up that night, until they hove the lead. Heaving the lead is called sounding. And Captain Solomon laughed and said that he guessed so.
So little Jacob didn't go to bed so early as he generally did, but he stayed up to see them heave the lead. And, about nine o'clock, Captain Solomon called little Jacob and little Sol and told them that they had better be ready, for he was just going to begin taking soundings. So the two boys went to look for the sailor with the lead line.
They found him standing by the rail just where the ship was widest, and by his side was a lantern, lighted. The mate had another lantern, and the light from those two lanterns was the only light that they could see. And, just as the boys came up, the sailor began to swing the lead to and fro.
He swung it farther and farther, each time, like a pendulum to a clock. And, when it was swinging pretty far, he let the line go, so that the heavy lead went ahead of the ship and fell into the water. As soon as he heard it strike the water, the sailor grabbed for the line quickly, and he caught it, but he let it slip through his hand. And he felt the lead strike the bottom. By the time the lead had struck the bottom, the ship had almost caught up to the place where it had gone into the water, so that the line was straight up and down.
The sailor began to pull it in, feeling, with his fingers, for the wet part. When he had come to that, he held it in the light of the lantern for a moment.
"Ten fathom," he called. Then he pulled the lead up.
The mate took it and looked at the part that had been greased. "Mud," he said; and he wiped it off on his finger and showed it to Captain Solomon.
"All right," said Captain Solomon, when he had looked at the mud. "Better keep the lead going for a while."
So the sailor wiped the bottom of the lead clean, and smeared it with grease again. Little Jacob watched him swing it and heave it and pull it in. He wondered whether it was hard or easy to do what the sailor did; whether he could do it when he grew up. The great lead would be too much for a little boy, he knew. But it looked easy.
"Ten and a half," called the sailor, "and mud. I could tell by the feel of it."
"Yes, mud," said the mate, looking at the bottom of the lead.
The lead was kept going, every half hour or so, all night. And, towards sunrise, they got twenty fathoms, and the lead brought up grains of black sand and grains of yellow sand, and they put away the lead line.
But little Jacob didn't know about that, for he was sound asleep in his bunk.
And that's all.
Winding and grinding
Round goes the mill,
Winding and grinding
Should never stand still.
Ask not if your neighbor
Grind great or small:
Span not your labor,
Grind your wheat all.
Winding and grinding round goes the mill.
Winding and grinding should never stand still.
Winding and grinding
Work through the day,
Grief never minding—
Grind it away!
What though tears dropping
Rush as they fall?
Have no wheel stopping—
Work comforts all.
Winding and grinding round goes the mill.
Winding and grinding should never stand still.