Text of Plan #970
  WEEK 46  

  Monday  


The Little Lame Prince  by Dinah Maria Mulock

A People To Serve

D ID Prince Dolor become a great king? Was he, though little more than a boy, "the father of his people," as all kings ought to be? Did his reign last long—long and happy? and what were the principal events of it, as chronicled in the history of Nomansland?

Why, if I were to answer all these questions, I should have to write another book. And I'm tired, children, tired—as grown-up people sometimes are; though not always with play. (Besides, I have a small person belonging to me, who, though she likes extremely to listen to the word-of-mouth story of this book, grumbles much at the writing of it, and has run about the house clapping her hands with joy when mamma told her that it was nearly finished. But that is neither here nor there.)

I have related, as well as I could, the history of Prince Dolor, but with the history of Nomansland I am as yet unacquainted. If anybody knows it, perhaps he or she will kindly write it all down in another book. But mine is done.

However, of this I am sure, that Prince Dolor made an excellent king. Nobody ever does anything less well, not even the commonest duty of common daily life, for having such a godmother as the little old woman clothed in grey, whose name is—well, I leave you to guess. Nor, I think, is anybody less good, less capable of both work and enjoyment in after life, for having been a little unhappy in his youth, as the Prince had been.

I cannot take upon myself to say that he was always happy now—who is?—or that he had no cares; just show me the person who is quite free from them! But whenever people worried and bothered him—as they did sometimes, with state etiquette, state squabbles, and the like, setting up themselves and pulling down their neighbours—he would take refuge in that upper room which looked out on the Beautiful Mountains, and, laying his head on his godmother's shoulder, become calmed and at rest.

Also, she helped him out of any difficulty which now and then occurred—for there never was such a wise old woman. When the people of Nomansland raised the alarm—as sometimes they did—for what people can exist without a little fault-finding?—and began to cry out, "Unhappy is the nation whose king is a child," she would say to him gently, "You are a child. Accept the fact. Be humble—be teachable. Lean upon the wisdom of others till you have gained your own."

He did so. He learned how to take advice before attempting to give it, to obey before he could righteously command. He assembled round him all the good and wise of his kingdom—laid all its affairs before them, and was guided by their opinions until he had maturely formed his own.

This he did, sooner than anybody would have imagined, who did not know of his godmother and his travelling-cloak—two secret blessings, which, though many guessed at, nobody quite understood. Nor did they understand why he loved so the little upper room, except that it had been his mother's room, from the window of which, as people remembered now, she had used to sit for hours watching the Beautiful Mountains.

Out of that window he used to fly—not very often; as he grew older, the labours of state prevented the frequent use of his travelling-cloak; still he did use it sometimes. Only now it was less for his own pleasure and amusement than to see something, or investigate something, for the good of the country. But he prized his godmother's gift as dearly as ever. It was a comfort to him in all his vexations; an enhancement of all his joys. It made him almost forget his lameness—which was never cured.

However, the cruel things which had been once foreboded of him did not happen. His misfortune was not such a heavy one, after all. It proved to be of much less inconvenience, even to himself, than had been feared. A council of eminent surgeons and mechanicians invented for him a wonderful pair of crutches, with the help of which, though he never walked easily or gracefully, he did manage to walk, so as to be quite independent. And such was the love his people bore him that they never heard the sound of his crutch on the marble palace-floors without a leap of the heart, for they knew that good was coming to them whenever he approached.

Thus, though he never walked in processions, never reviewed his troops mounted on a magnificent charger, nor did any of the things which make a show monarch so much appreciated, he was able for all the duties and a great many of the pleasures of his rank. When he held his levées, not standing, but seated on a throne ingeniously contrived to hide his infirmity, the people thronged to greet him; when he drove out through the city streets, shouts followed him wherever he went—every countenance brightened as he passed, and his own, perhaps, was the brightest of all.


[Illustration]

When he drove out through the city streets, shouts followed him wherever he went.

First, because, accepting his affliction as inevitable, he took it patiently; second, because, being a brave man, he bore it bravely; trying to forget himself, and live out of himself, and in and for other people. Therefore other people grew to love him so well, that I think hundreds of his subjects might have been found who were almost ready to die for their poor lame king.

He never gave them a queen. When they implored him to choose one, he replied that his country was his bride, and he desired no other. But, perhaps, the real reason was that he shrank from any change; and that no wife in all the world would have been found so perfect, so lovable, so tender to him in all his weaknesses as his beautiful old godmother.

His four-and-twenty other godfathers and godmothers, or as many of them as were still alive, crowded round him as soon as he ascended the throne. He was very civil to them all, but adopted none of the names they had given him, keeping to the one by which he had been always known, though it had now almost lost its meaning; for King Dolor was one of the happiest and cheerfullest men alive.

He did a good many things, however, unlike most men and most kings, which a little astonished his subjects. First, he pardoned the condemned woman who had been his nurse, and ordained that from henceforth there should be no such thing as the punishment of death in Nomansland. All capital criminals were to be sent to perpetual imprisonment in Hopeless Tower and the plain round about it, where they could do no harm to anybody, and might in time do a little good, as the woman had done.

Another surprise he shortly afterwards gave the nation. He recalled his uncle's family, who had fled away in terror to another country, and restored them to all their honours in their own. By-and-by he chose the eldest son of his eldest cousin (who had been dead a year), and had him educated in the royal palace, as the heir to the throne. This little prince was a quiet, unobtrusive boy, so that everybody wondered at the King's choosing him when there were so many more; but as he grew into a fine young fellow, good and brave, they agreed that the King judged more wisely than they.

"Not a lame prince, either," his Majesty observed one day, watching him affectionately; for he was the best runner, the highest leaper, the keenest and most active sportsman in the country. "One cannot make oneself, but one can sometimes help a little in the making of somebody else. It is well."

This was said, not to any of his great lords and ladies, but to a good old woman—his first homely nurse—whom he had sought for far and wide, and at last found, in her cottage among the Beautiful Mountains. He sent for her to visit him once a year, and treated her with great honour until she died. He was equally kind, though somewhat less tender, to his other nurse, who, after receiving her pardon, returned to her native town and grew into a great lady, and I hope a good one. But as she was so grand a personage now, any little faults she had did not show.


[Illustration]

But as she was so grand a personage now, any little faults she had did not show.

Thus King Dolor's reign passed year after year, long and prosperous. Whether he were happy—"as happy as a king"—is a question no human being can decide. But I think he was, because he had the power of making everybody about him happy, and did it too; also because he was his godmother's godson, and could shut himself up with her whenever he liked, in that quiet little room, in view of the Beautiful Mountains, which nobody else ever saw or cared to see. They were too far off, and the city lay so low. But there they were, all the time. No change ever came to them; and I think, at any day throughout his long reign, the King would sooner have lost his crown than have lost sight of the Beautiful Mountains.

In course of time, when the little prince, his cousin, was grown into a tall young man, capable of all the duties of a man, his Majesty did one of the most extraordinary acts ever known in a sovereign beloved by his people and prosperous in his reign. He announced that he wished to invest his heir with the royal purple—at any rate, for a time—while he himself went away on a distant journey, whither he had long desired to go.

Everybody marvelled, but nobody opposed him. Who could oppose the good King, who was not a young king now? And besides, the nation had a great admiration for the young Regent—and, possibly, a lurking pleasure in change.

So there was a fixed day when all the people whom it would hold assembled in the great square of the capital, to see the young Prince installed solemnly in his new duties, and undertaking his new vows. He was a very fine young fellow; tall and straight as a poplar tree, with a frank handsome face—a great deal handsomer than the King, some people said, but others thought differently. However, as his Majesty sat on his throne, with his grey hair falling from underneath his crown, and a few wrinkles showing in spite of his smile, there was something about his countenance which made his people, even while they shouted, regard him with a tenderness mixed with awe.

He lifted up his thin, slender hand, and there came a silence over the vast crowd immediately. Then he spoke, in his own accustomed way, using no grand words, but saying what he had to say in the simplest fashion, though with a clearness that struck their ears like the first song of a bird in the dusk of the morning.

"My people, I am tired: I want to rest. I have had a long reign, and done much work—at least, as much as I was able to do. Many might have done it better than I—but none with a better will. Now I leave it to others; I am tired, very tired. Let me go home."

There arose a murmur—of content or discontent none could well tell; then it died down again, and the assembly listened silently once more.

"I am not anxious about you—my people—my children," continued the king. "You are prosperous and at peace. I leave you in good hands. The Prince Regent will be a fitter king for you than I."

"No, no, no!" rose the universal shout—and those who had sometimes found fault with him shouted louder than anybody. But he seemed as if he heard them not.

"Yes, yes," said he, as soon as the tumult had a little subsided: and his voice sounded firm and clear; and some very old people, who boasted of having seen him as a child, declared that his face took a sudden change, and grew as young and sweet as that of the little Prince Dolor. "Yes, I must go. It is time for me to go. Remember me sometimes, my people, for I have loved you well. And I am going a long way, and I do not think I shall come back any more."

He drew a little bundle out of his breast pocket—a bundle that nobody had ever seen before. It was small and shabby-looking, and tied up with many knots, which untied themselves in an instant. With a joyful countenance, he muttered over it a few half-intelligible words. Then, so suddenly that even those nearest to his Majesty could not tell how it came about, the King was away—away—floating right up in the air—upon something, they knew not what, except that it appeared to be as safe and pleasant as the wings of a bird.

And after him sprang a bird—a dear little lark, rising from whence no one could say, since larks do not usually build their nests in the pavement of city squares. But there it was, a real lark, singing far over their heads, louder and clearer and more joyful as it vanished further into the blue sky.

Shading their eyes, and straining their ears, the astonished people stood, until the whole vision disappeared like a speck in the clouds—the rosy clouds that overhung the Beautiful Mountains.

Then they guessed that they should see their beloved king no more. Well-beloved as he was, he had always been somewhat of a mystery to them, and such he remained. But they went home, and, accepting their new monarch, obeyed him faithfully for his cousin's sake.

King Dolor was never again beheld or heard of in his country. But the good he had done there lasted for years and years; he was long missed and deeply mourned—at least, so far as anybody could mourn one who was gone on such a happy journey.

Whither he went, or who went with him, it is impossible to say. But I myself believe that his godmother took him, on his travelling-cloak, to the Beautiful Mountains. What he did there, or where he is now, who can tell? I cannot. But one thing I am quite sure of, that, wherever he is, he is perfectly happy.

And so, when I think of him, am I.

 



Richard of Jamestown  by James Otis

The Unhealthful Location

I have often spoken of the unwillingness of some of our people to labor; but Captain Smith, who is not overly eager to find excuses for those who are indolent, has said that there was much reason why many of our men hugged their cabins, counting it a most arduous task to go even so far up the river as were the oyster-beds.

He believes, and Master Hunt is of the same opinion, that this town of ours has been built on that portion of the shore where the people are most liable to sickness. The land is low lying, almost on a level with the river; the country roundabout is made up of swamps and bogs, and the air which comes to us at night is filled with a fever, which causes those upon whom it fastens, first to shake as if they were beset with bitterest cold, and then again to burn as if likely to be reduced to ashes. Some call it the ague, and others, the shakes; but whatsoever it may be, there is nothing more distressing, or better calculated to hinder a man from taking so much of exercise as is necessary for his well-being.

 



Richard of Jamestown  by James Otis

Gathering Oysters

That Nathaniel and I may gather oysters without too great labor of walking and carrying heavy burdens, Captain Smith has bought from the savages a small boat made of the bark of birch trees, stretched over a framework of splints, and sewn together with the entrails of deer. On the seams, and wherever the water might find entrance, it is well gummed with pitch taken from the pine tree, and withal the lightest craft that can well be made.

Either Nathaniel or I can take this vessel, which the savages call a canoe, on our shoulders, carrying it without difficulty, and when the two of us are inside, resting upon our knees, for we may not sit in it as in a ship's boat, we can send it along with paddles at a rate so rapid as to cause one to think it moved by magic.


[Illustration]

With this canoe Nathaniel and I may go to the oyster-beds, and in half an hour put on board as large a cargo of shellfish as she will carry, in addition to our own weight, coming back in a short time with as much food as would serve a dozen men for two days.

If these oysters could be kept fresh for any length of time, then would we have a most valuable store near at hand; but, like other fish, a few hours in the sun serves to spoil them.

 



Richard of Jamestown  by James Otis

Preparing Sturgeon for Food

Of the fish called the sturgeon, we have more than can be consumed by all our company; but one cannot endure the flavor day after day, and therefore is it that we use it for food only when we cannot get any other.

Master Hunt has shown Nathaniel and me how we may prepare it in such a manner as to change the flavor. It must first be dried in the sun until so hard that it can be pounded to the fineness of meal. This is then mixed with caviare, by which I mean the eggs, or roe, of the sturgeon, with sorrel leaves, and with other wholesome herbs. The whole is made into small balls, or cakes, which are fried over the fire with a plentiful amount of fat.

Such a dish serves us for either bread or meat, or for both on a pinch, therefore if we lads are careful not to waste our time, Captain Smith may never come without finding in the larder something that can be eaten.

 



Marian Douglas

A Good Thanksgiving

Said Old Gentleman Gay, "On a Thanksgiving Day,

If you want a good time, then give something away."

So he sent a fat turkey to Shoemaker Price,

And the shoemaker said, "What a big bird! how nice!

And since a good dinner's before me, I ought

To give poor Widow Lee the small chicken I bought."

"This fine chicken, oh, see!" said the pleased Widow Lee,

"And the kindness that sent it, how precious to me!

I would like to make some one as happy as I—

I'll give Washerwoman Biddy my big pumpkin pie."


"And oh, sure," Biddy said, " 'tis the queen of all pies

Just to look at its yellow face gladdens my eyes.

Now it's my turn, I think; and a sweet ginger cake

For the motherless Finigan children I'll bake."


"A sweet cake, all our own! 'Tis too good to be true!"

Said the Finigan children, Rose, Denny, and Hugh;

"It smells sweet of spice, and we'll carry a slice

To poor little Lame Jake—who has nothing that's nice."


"Oh, I thank you, and thank you!" said little Lame Jake;

"Oh, what beautiful, beautiful, beautiful cake!

And oh, such a big slice! I will save all the crumbs,

And will give 'em to each little sparrow that comes!"

And the sparrows they twittered as if they would say,

Like Old Gentleman Gay, "On a Thanksgiving Day,

If you want a good time, then give something away."

 


  WEEK 46  

  Tuesday  


Fifty Famous Stories Retold  by James Baldwin

Whittington and His Cat

 



Outdoor Visits  by Edith M. Patch

Good-by Robins

§ 3. "Good-by Robins"

"Would you like to visit a robin roost?" asked Uncle Tom.

"I should, thank you," said Nan. "What is a robin roost?"

"I will take you and Don to one next Saturday," said Uncle Tom.

When Saturday came, Don and Nan went to the farm with their uncle. They had a pleasant ride in the country on the way to the farm.

After supper, Uncle Tom said, "Now we will go to the woods."

So they went to the woods where the trees were thick. They stood under a big tree and were quiet.

There were robins in the trees. They were sitting on the branches.

There were robins behind them. There were robins in front of them. There were robins over their heads.


[Illustration]

And, on all sides of them, there were robins in the air flying to the trees.

Don asked his uncle about them.

Uncle Tom said, "Robins often come to trees at night. They like to roost on the branches. They like to roost near other robins.

"When they can find a good place, many robins go there to rest at night. Such a place is called a robin roost.

"At first only the father robins come to the roost in summer. The young robins come when they are old enough. The mother robins come, too, when their eggs are all hatched and their babies are all grown.

"Now it is fall and most of the robins near here come to this roost, every night.

"They will go South before long. The next time you come to the farm there may be no robins here."

"Good-by, robins!" said Don. "I hope you will have a pleasant winter in the South."

"Good-by, robins!" said Nan. "Come back again next spring!"

 



Robert Louis Stevenson

Foreign Children

Little Indian, Sioux or Crow,

Little frosty Eskimo,

Little Turk or Japanee,

Oh! don't you wish that you were me?


You have seen the scarlet trees

And the lions over seas;

You have eaten ostrich eggs,

And turned the turtles off their legs.


Such a life is very fine,

But it's not so nice as mine:

You must often, as you trod,

Have wearied not  to be abroad.


You have curious things to eat,

I am fed on proper meat;

You must dwell beyond the foam,

But I am safe and live at home.


Little Indian, Sioux or Crow,

Little frosty Eskimo,

Little Turk or Japanee,

Oh! don't you wish that you were me?

 


  WEEK 46  

  Wednesday  


The Burgess Bird Book for Children  by Thornton Burgess

Peter Discovers Two Old Friends

R OUGH Brother North Wind and Jack Frost were not far behind Honker the Goose. In a night Peter Rabbit's world was transformed. It had become a new world, a world of pure white. The last laggard among Peter's feathered friends who spend the winter in the far-away South had hurried away. Still Peter was not lonely. Tommy Tit's cheery voice greeted Peter the very first thing that morning after the storm. Tommy seemed to be in just as good spirits as ever he had been in summer.

Now Peter rather likes the snow. He likes to run about in it, and so he followed Tommy Tit up to the Old Orchard. He felt sure that he would find company there besides Tommy Tit, and he was not disappointed. Downy and Hairy the Woodpeckers were getting their breakfast from a piece of suet Farmer Brown's boy had thoughtfully fastened in one of the apple-trees for them. Sammy Jay was there also, and his blue coat never had looked better than it did against the pure white of the snow.

These were the only ones Peter really had expected to find in the Old Orchard, and so you can guess how pleased he was as he hopped over the old stone wall to hear the voice of one whom he had almost forgotten. It was the voice of Yank-Yank the Nuthatch, and while it was far from being sweet there was in it something of good cheer and contentment. At once Peter hurried in the direction from which it came.

On the trunk of an apple-tree he caught sight of a gray and black and white bird about the size of Downy the Woodpecker. The top of his head and upper part of his back were shining black. The rest of his back was bluish-gray. The sides of his head and his breast were white. The outer feathers of his tail were black with white patches near their tips.

But Peter didn't need to see how Yank-Yank was dressed in order to recognize him. Peter would have known him if he had been so far away that the colors of his coat did not show at all. You see, Yank-Yank was doing a most surprising thing, something no other bird can do. He was walking head first down the trunk of that tree, picking tiny eggs of insects from the bark and seemingly quite as much at home and quite as unconcerned in that queer position as if he were right side up.

As Peter approached, Yank-Yank lifted his head and called a greeting which sounded very much like the repetition of his own name. Then he turned around and began to climb the tree as easily as he had come down it.

"Welcome home, Yank-Yank!" cried Peter, hurrying up quite out of breath.

Yank-Yank turned around so that he was once more head down, and his eyes twinkled as he looked down at Peter. "You're mistaken Peter," said he. "This isn't home. I've simply come down here for the winter. You know home is where you raise your children, and my home is in the Great Woods farther north. There is too much ice and snow up there, so I have come down here to spend the winter."

"Well anyway, it's a kind of home; it's your winter home," protested Peter, "and I certainly am glad to see you back. The Old Orchard wouldn't be quite the same without you. Did you have a pleasant summer? And if you please, Yank-Yank, tell me where you built your home and what it was like."

"Yes, Mr. Curiosity, I had a very pleasant summer," replied Yank-Yank. "Mrs. Yank-Yank and I raised a family of six and that is doing a lot better than some folks I know, if I do say it. As to our nest, it was made of leaves and feathers and it was in a hole in a certain old stump that not a soul knows of but Mrs. Yank-Yank and myself. Now is there anything else you want to know?"

"Yes," retorted Peter promptly. "I want to know how it is that you can walk head first down the trunk of a tree without losing your balance and tumbling off."

Yank-Yank chuckled happily. "I discovered a long time ago, Peter," said he, "that the people who get on best in this world are those who make the most of what they have and waste no time wishing they could have what other people have. I suppose you have noticed that all the Woodpecker family have stiff tail feathers and use them to brace themselves when they are climbing a tree. They have become so dependent on them that they don't dare move about on the trunk of a tree without using them. If they want to come down a tree they have to back down.

"Now Old Mother Nature didn't give me stiff tail feathers, but she gave me a very good pair of feet with three toes in front and one behind and when I was a very little fellow I learned to make the most of those feet. Each toe has a sharp claw. When I go up a tree the three front claws on each foot hook into the bark. When I come down a tree I simply twist one foot around so that I can use the claws of this foot to keep me from falling. It is just as easy for me to go down a tree as it is to go up, and I can go right around the trunk just as easily and comfortably." Suiting action to the word, Yank-Yank ran around the trunk of the apple-tree just above Peter's head. When he reappeared Peter had another question ready.

"Do you live altogether on grubs and worms and insects and their eggs?" he asked.

"I should say not!" exclaimed Yank-Yank. "I like acorns and beechnuts and certain kinds of seeds."

"I don't see how such a little fellow as you can eat such hard things as acorns and beechnuts," protested Peter a little doubtfully.

Yank-Yank laughed right out. "Sometime when I see you over in the Green Forest I'll show you," said he. "When I find a fat beechnut I take it to a little crack in a tree that will just hold it; then with this stout bill of mine I crack the shell. It really is quite easy when you know how. Cracking a nut open that way is sometimes called hatching, and that is how I come by the name of Nuthatch. Hello! There's Seep-Seep. I haven't seen him since we were together up North. His home was not far from mine."

As Yank-Yank spoke, a little brown bird alighted at the very foot of the next tree. He was just a trifle bigger than Jenny Wren but not at all like Jenny, for while Jenny's tail usually is cocked up in the sauciest way, Seep-Seep's tail is never cocked up at all. In fact, it bends down, for Seep-Seep uses his tail just as the members of the Woodpecker family use theirs. He was dressed in grayish-brown above and grayish-white beneath. Across each wing was a little band of buffy-white, and his bill was curved just a little.


[Illustration]

SEEP-SEEP THE BROWN CREEPER

When in winter you see a little brown‑backed bird going round and round up a tree trunk it is the Brown Creeper.

Seep-Seep didn't stop an instant but started up the trunk of that tree, going round and round it as he climbed, and picking out things to eat from under the bark. His way of climbing that tree was very like creeping, and Peter thought to himself that Seep-Seep was well named the Brown Creeper. He knew it was quite useless to try to get Seep-Seep to talk. He knew that Seep-Seep wouldn't waste any time that way.

Round and round up the trunk of the tree he went, and when he reached the top at once flew down to the bottom of the next tree and without a pause started up that. He wasted no time exploring the branches, but stuck to the trunk. Once in a while he would cry in a thin little voice, "Seep! Seep!" but never paused to rest or look around. If he had felt that on him alone depended the job of getting all the insect eggs and grubs on those trees he could not have been more industrious.

"Does he build his nest in a hole in a tree?" asked Peter of Yank-Yank.

Yank-Yank shook his head. "No," he replied. "He hunts for a tree or stub with a piece of loose bark hanging to it. In behind this he tucks his nest made of twigs, strips of bark and moss. He's a funny little fellow and I don't know of any one in all the great world who more strictly attends to his own business than does Seep-Seep the Brown Creeper. By the way, Peter, have you seen anything of Dotty the Tree Sparrow?"

"Not yet," replied Peter, "but I think he must be here. I'm glad you reminded me of him. I'll go look for him."

 



The Aesop for Children  by Milo Winter

The Wolf and the Sheep

A Wolf had been hurt in a fight with a Bear. He was unable to move and could not satisfy his hunger and thirst. A Sheep passed by near his hiding place, and the Wolf called to him,

"Please fetch me a drink of water," he begged; "that might give me strength enough so I can get me some solid food."

"Solid food!" said the Sheep. "That means me, I suppose. If I should bring you a drink, it would only serve to wash me down your throat. Don't talk to me about a drink!"

A knave's hypocrisy is easily seen through.

 

 
  WEEK 46  

  Thursday  


The Forge in the Forest  by Padraic Colum

The Horse

dropcap image HE King who had turned blacksmith now made ready to put the fourth shoe on the horse's hoof—the shoe that he had shaped out of the hilt of his own sword. He seared the hoof with the burning iron, and he said to the four brothers, "I know this horse that you have brought to me—by many tokens I know this horse."

He put his hands into the long, thick mane of the horse, and standing in that way he spoke to the brothers: "Wild this horse has been, but before you tamed it there was one who had been mounted on it. I have been on this horse's back, and have gone dangerous ways thereon."

He motioned to the four brothers to seat themselves, and when they had done so, he said, "Although I am of royal blood I have been a merchant, and, some years ago, I went with a band of merchants through lands that are east of this. And one day, as we went on, we saw a castle with banners upon it, and the banners looked so inviting that we went to the castle. When we entered the courtyard we were received by women who welcomed us with smiles and sweetly spoken words.

"There were none but women in the place, and there was a Queen over the women. They entertained us most pleasantly, making a feast for us. The Queen herself entertained me, and the rest of the women entertained the others of my band, and we walked through the gardens of the castle, and we laughed, and never before in our lives had I or the men who were with me been so gay.

"But as I walked in the garden, with my friends and their companions, I saw something that brought memories into my mind—memories of something that I had once heard. I saw an iron house standing there with the red light of the sunset upon it. And then I remembered that one had come to my father's house in the days when I was a child, and had told us about the Amazons, about the women who, without men, rule a wide country. They had a castle, the man who told that story said, and they draw men into that castle, and after they have entertained them they put them into an iron house, making prisoners of them; these prisoners they send into distant countries, exchanging them for the women of their bands who have been taken captives in the wars which they, the Amazons, are constantly waging.

"None of my friends knew of this, the story that had come back into my memory. I was not able to speak to them and tell them of it, for the women kept us one from the other. I looked around and I saw the women guards about the castle, each with a bow in her hand and arrows ready to shoot at us. And I saw some of the women struggling with a young horse that had just been taken from a herd of wild horses; they had forced a bit into its mouth, and they were striving to make it obey the rein. I went towards where the horse was; before they knew what I was about to do I sprang upon its back, and seized the rein and urged it away. And I had got far away before the guards shot their arrows at me."

He lifted up the hoof of the horse and fitted the iron to its hoof, and made ready to drive the nails in. "This is the horse," he said, "that I rode on away from the castle of the Amazons. All night I rode on, and all next day. My way was across a plain, and I knew not in what direction I should go. In the day-time I came back on the very tracks I had made in my flight in the night. At sunset I came before the castle of the Amazons. And a band of them, mounted upon horses, came down upon me. Their charge threw me off the horse. They took me and brought me before the Queen. As I went I looked towards the iron house; again I saw it in the sunset, and it seemed to me that I heard the groans of my companions coming from within it.

"The Queen did not have me shot to death with arrows, either because she did not want to have me die before her face, or because the Amazons would have my punishment made very great. She had me bound to the back of the horse that I had tried to escape on, and they loosed the horse once more.

"I have reason to know this horse and the way it gallops up hill and down hill, and across the plains, and through the forests. The horse with myself bound upon it dashed on—it might be that it was seeking the herd it had been taken from. All night I journeyed on, my face turned to the stars; there were aches in every joint of my body. Then day came, and the sun blistered me. Hunger and thirst and dizziness came to me as the horse went on. I would awaken as it stopped to graze, and I would faint again when it would race away. Great horse-flies came and stung me. The last of my journey that I remember was through a forest. A branch crashed across my head, and after that I remembered nothing more.

He drove the nails in, fastening the last shoe on the horse's hoof. "The horse brought me good fortune," he said, giving the rein into the hand of the eldest brother. "Go your ways with it, and may it bring you good fortune also. It brought me into the country that I now rule over. Men found me and they loosed me off the horse, letting it go free. The men who found me treated me with honour. Their King had died, and they treated me as one miraculously sent to them to be their King. I was near to death on account of my suffering, but they ministered to me, and I became sound again. Only this remains upon me as a token of my flight from the castle of the Amazons." He lifted up his arm and he showed a mark upon it; it showed where the leathern thong that had bound him to the horse had cut into his flesh. "May the horse bring you as good fortune as it has brought to me," he said.

They thanked the Royal Blacksmith who had shod the horse for them, and praying that it might bring them good fortune the four brothers left the Forge in the Forest.


[Illustration]

Blacksmith, blacksmith, by the cross,

The great craft is thine!

You can make the black iron flower

On your anvil.


You'll not woo the flowers to stay,

Daisy, rose;

You will have them edged with gold,

Ruddy, glowing—

Then you'll toss the flowers away.


Who waits on your ringing blows?

'Tis the delver.

And the spade for him is shaped—

Spade to make the ridges rise

Where the grass was.


Who waits on your trusty blows?

'Tis the soldier.

Edged and fine you make a sword

He may trust to.


Who waits on your manly blows?

'Tis the woodman.

Weighty, keen, you shape the broad axe

That the forest falls before.


Who waits on your hearty blows?

'Tis the ploughman.

And you make for him the coulter

That the land breaks.


Who waits on your ready blows?

'Tis the horseman.

And you make him shoes of iron,

And the bridle for the mastery

Of the steed.


Blacksmith, blacksmith by the cross,

The great craft is thine!

Spade and sword and coulter, too,

Axe and bridle and horseshoe—

All that gives to man the mastery

On your anvil is

Shaped by you!


[Illustration]

 



Robinson Crusoe Written Anew for Children  by James Baldwin

I Have an Anxious Day

WHILE we were talking we had slowly withdrawn among the trees where we were sheltered from sight.

The captain promised me that if we should succeed in getting control of the ship, he would do anything that I wished. He would carry me to England or to any other part of the world. He would live and die with me.

"Well, then," said I, "if you will all obey my commands, we will see what can be done."

I gave each one of them a musket, with powder and shot. I told them to kill as few of the ruffians as they could, and to make prisoners of them all if possible.

Just then we heard some of them awake. In a moment three men came out of the grove and started down to the shore.

"Are these the ringleaders?" I asked.

"No," answered the captain.

"Well, then, let them go," I said; "but if the rest escape, it will be your fault."

With a musket in his hand and a pistol in his belt, the captain started forward. I was close at his side, while Friday and the other two men went a little ahead of us.

The mate in his eagerness chanced to step on some dry sticks which broke with a sharp noise beneath his feet. One of the seamen, hearing this, looked out and saw us.

He gave the alarm. The sleeping wretches awoke and sprang to their feet. But it was too late. Our guns were already upon them.


[Illustration]

I need not tell you of the fight. It was sharp and short.

At its close the two ruffians who had caused all this trouble were lying dead upon the ground. The three other men, who were but slightly hurt, were our prisoners. As for my little army of five, not one was so much as scratched.

While the captain and I were binding the prisoners, Friday and the mate ran to the boat and brought away the oars and the sails.

Soon the three men who had gone down the shore came hurrying back to see what was the matter.

When they saw how matters stood, they at once gave themselves up and were bound with the rest. So our victory was complete.

We now retired to the castle.

The prisoners were led into the back part of the cave that I had first dug, and were left there with Friday as their guard.

With the captain, the mate, and the passenger, I went into my best room, where we all refreshed ourselves with such food as I had at hand.

We had now time to talk over the past and make plans for the future.

I told the captain my whole history just as I have told it to you. He, in his turn, related to me the story of his voyage from England to the West Indies, and how his crew, wishing to become pirates, had seized upon the ship and made him their prisoner.

"There are still twenty-six men on board," he said. "They are no doubt wondering what has become of their fellows. After a while some of them will be likely to come on shore to find out what is the matter."

"Let them come," I said. "We will be ready for them."

We therefore went down to the shore where the boat was still lying.

We found in it some rum, a few biscuits, a horn of powder, and five or six pounds of sugar. This last was very welcome to me, for I had not tasted sugar for several years.

All these things we carried on shore. Then we knocked a big hole in the bottom of the boat.

To tell the truth, I had but little hope that we would ever recover the ship. But I thought that after she had sailed away we might repair the boat. Then we could no doubt make our way to the Spanish settlements on the mainland.

About an hour before sunset, we heard a gun fired from the ship.

"It is as I told you," said the captain.

We saw a signal waving from the mast. Then several other shots were fired.

At last, when there was no answer either to the signals or to the guns there was a great stir on board, and the other boat was launched.

I watched them with my spyglass.

As the boat neared the shore, we saw that there were ten men in her and that they were all armed with muskets.

The sun shone in their faces and we had a good sight of them as they came.

The captain knew them all. He said that there were three very honest fellows among them who had gone into this business against their will. All the rest, however, were bad men who were ready to do any wicked deed.

We now set free two of our prisoners, for they seemed to be trustworthy men and glad that matters had turned in the captain's favor.

"Can we trust them, Captain?" I asked.

"I will stand good for them," said the captain.

I gave them each a gun. We had now seven armed men to meet the ten who were coming to the shore.

But we kept ourselves hidden and waited to see what they would do.

As soon as they reached the shore they ran to see the other boat. What was their surprise to find her stripped of everything and a hole in her bottom.

They shouted, but no one answered.

They fired off their muskets, making the woods ring with their echoes. But still there was no answer.

Then they launched their boat again, and all started to the ship.

But on the way they changed their minds. It would never do, they thought, to leave their friends on the island without so much as hunting for them.

They therefore rowed back to the shore. Three men were left with the boat as guards, and the rest started out into the country to seek their lost companions.

We should have been glad if they had come our way, so that we might have fired on them; but this they failed to do.

Night was fast coming on, and they did not dare to go far from the shore.

By and by they came back to the boat again.

We feared that they had given up the search and would now return to the ship.

The sun was setting, and darkness would soon cover both land and sea.

 



Samuel Francis Smith

America

My country, 'tis of thee,

Sweet land of liberty,

Of thee I sing;

Land where my fathers died,

Land of the Pilgrims' pride,

From every mountain-side

Let freedom ring.


My native country, thee,

Land of the noble free,

Thy name I love;

I love thy rocks and rills,

Thy woods and templed hills,

My heart with rapture thrills

Like that above.


Let music swell the breeze,

And ring from all the trees,

Sweet freedom's song;

Let mortal tongues awake,

Let all that breathe partake,

Let rocks their silence break—

The sound prolong.


Our fathers' God, to Thee,

Author of liberty,

To Thee we sing,

Long may our land be bright

With freedom's holy light;

Protect us by Thy might,

Great God, our King.

 


  WEEK 46  

  Friday  


The Discovery of New Worlds  by M. B. Synge

A Great Mistake

"The lamp burns low, and through the casement bars

Grey morning glimmers feebly."

—Browning.

"T HE great Columbus of the heavens,"—so they called Copernicus, the man who about this time discovered as much about the heavens as Columbus had discovered about the earth. For he found that for all these hundreds of years the whole world had been labouring under a wrong idea about the relation of the earth to the sun,—that the wise and clever men of the past had made a great mistake.

Let us see how this man, Copernicus, discovered the truth.

He was born in distant Poland in the year 1473, just about the time when Prince Henry was busy sending out his Portuguese ships into the Sea of Darkness to find the Cape of Good Hope. When he died—an old man of seventy—Vasco da Gama had found the route to India by the Cape, Columbus had discovered America, Balboa had seen the Pacific Ocean, Magellan had sailed round the world, Cortes had conquered Mexico, and Pizarro had conquered Peru. Men were stretching out their hands for a new earth. This man was to show them a new heaven.

As a boy, Copernicus showed great taste for mathematics and astronomy; and such was his ability that he was sent to Rome to lecture on the stars to the students there. But he soon returned to his home in Poland, for he wished to learn more of the sun, moon, and stars, and to have plenty of time for quiet study. The old astronomers told him that the earth was fixed and motionless, while the sun, moon, and stars moved right round her once every twenty-four hours. In this way they accounted for the changes of night and day, darkness and light.

But this theory did not satisfy Copernicus at all. He was convinced that the old astronomers were wrong. And yet it seemed almost easier to believe that he himself was wrong than that all the clever men who had lived before him had made such a mistake. He worked on and on, pondering, observing, making instruments to try and learn more about the heavenly bodies. At last one day there flashed into his mind this idea. Was it possible that the earth was not fixed and motionless after all? Could it be that the earth moved round the sun, and the sun did not move round the earth?

There was an old Greek philosopher who had lived twenty centuries before, and he had hinted that this was the case. Eagerly Copernicus turned to the old Greek writings. With breathless interest he read again of this suggestion that the earth was not fixed, but moving. Feverishly he worked out his observations on this new theory. It is impossible to imagine the amazement and wonder that filled his mind at the discovery of what is to us to-day a well-known fact. We know now that day and night are caused by the earth revolving on its own axis, turning first one side to the sun and then the other; that the earth, apparently so still and motionless beneath our feet, is really moving round and round at a pace that no train can touch for speed.

As this fact burst on the mind of Copernicus, he was awestruck.

He did not make known his discovery at once: he went on working as before, until he became more and more certain that he was right.

When at last he proclaimed his discovery, he was simply laughed at.

As Columbus had been ridiculed for suggesting that the world was round as he stood before the King and Queen of Spain, so Copernicus was scoffed at for his suggestion that the earth moved round the sun.

"He is suffering from delusions of too childish a character," cried his friends.

"Think how absurd a jest,—

That neither heavens nor stars do turn at all,

Nor dance about this great round Earthy Ball,

But the Earth itself, this massy globe of ours,

Turns round but once every twice twelve hours."

So scoffed the poets at the man who had toiled for thirty-six long years at his theory before he gave it to the world.

Fortunately some believed in him, and persuaded him to write a book about it. While he sat day after day writing his book, he suffered many things from ignorant folk, who looked with horror on this man who affirmed that the earth was moving. When at last it was finished Copernicus was an old man, worn out with work, anxiety, and pain. One of his faithful disciples took the precious manuscript to a printing-press at Nuremberg.

But when it became known that the book was actually being printed, all the ignorance and jealousy of his countrymen burst forth. Men tried to get at the press to destroy the book. The printers worked with a loaded pistol ready at their side, while two faithful friends guarded the manuscript day and night.


[Illustration]

Copernicus.

The excitement of the author was intense: it utterly broke him down. He became very ill, and it was feared that he would never see his book in print. It was the 23rd of May 1543. Copernicus was sinking rapidly. Silence reigned in the sick-room, where he lay dying. His book had not come.

Suddenly the flicker of a smile lit up the old man's face. The sound of a horse's hoofs was coming nearer and ever nearer. Another minute and the printed book containing his life's work was gently laid in his almost nerveless hands. His wasted fingers grasped the volume for which he had longed and waited. He had not lived his life in vain. Sinking back with a deep sigh of satisfaction, he murmured faintly the pathetic words, only caught by those near him: "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace."

 



The Golden Windows  by Laura E. Richards

The Pig Brother

dropcap image HERE was once a child who was untidy. He left his books on the floor, and his muddy shoes on the table; he put his fingers in the jam-pots, and spilled ink on his best pinafore; there was really no end to his untidiness.

One day the Tidy Angel came into his nursery.

"This will never do!" said the Angel. "This is really shocking. You must go out and stay with your brother while I set things to rights here."

"I have no brother!" said the child.

"Yes, you have!" said the Angel. "You may not know him, but he will know you. Go out in the garden and watch for him, and he will soon come."

"I don't know what you mean!" said the child; but he went out into the garden and waited.

Presently a squirrel came along, whisking his tail.

"Are you my brother?" asked the child.

The squirrel looked him over carefully.

"Well, I should hope not!" he said. "My fur is neat and smooth, my nest is handsomely made, and in perfect order, and my young ones are properly brought up. Why do you insult me by asking such a question?"

He whisked off, and the child waited.

Presently a wren came hopping by.

"Are you my brother?" asked the child.

"No indeed!" said the wren. "What impertinence! You will find no tidier person than I in the whole garden. Not a feather is out of place, and my eggs are the wonder of all for smoothness and beauty. Brother, indeed!" He hopped off, ruffling his feathers, and the child waited.

By and by a large Tommy Cat came along.

"Are you my brother?" asked the child.

"Go and look at yourself in the glass," said the Tommy Cat haughtily, "and you will have your answer. I have been washing myself in the sun all the morning, while it is clear that no water has come near you for a long time. There are no such creatures as you in my family, I am humbly thankful to say."

He walked on, waving his tail, and the child waited.

Presently a pig came trotting along.

The child did not wish to ask the pig if he were his brother, but the pig did not wait to be asked.

"Hallo, brother!" he grunted.

"I am not your brother!" said the child.

"Oh, yes, you are!" said the pig. "I confess I am not proud of you, but there is no mistaking the members of our family. Come along, and have a good roll in the barnyard! There is some lovely black mud there."

"I don't like to roll in mud!" said the child.

"Tell that to the hens!" said the pig brother. "Look at your hands, and your shoes, and your pinafore! Come along, I say! You may have some of the pig-wash for supper, if there is more than I want."

"I don't want pig-wash!" said the child; and he began to cry.

Just then the Tidy Angel came out.

"I have set everything to rights," she said, "and so it must stay. Now, will you go with the Pig Brother, or will you come back with me, and be a tidy child?"

"With you, with you!" cried the child; and he clung to the Angel's dress.

The Pig Brother grunted.

"Small loss!" he said. "There will be all the more wash for me!" and he trotted on.

 



Walter de la Mare

November

There is wind where the rose was,

Cold rain where sweet grass was,

And clouds like sheep

Stream o'er the steep

Grey skies where the lark was.


Nought warm where your hand was,

Nought gold where your hair was,

But phantom, forlorn,

Beneath the thorn,

Your ghost where your face was.


Cold wind where your voice was,

Tears, tears where my heart was,

And ever with me,

Child, ever with me,

Silence where hope was.

 


  WEEK 46  

  Saturday  


The Bears of Blue River  by Charles Major

On the Stroke of Nine

Late one afternoon—it was the day before Christmas—Balser and Jim were seated upon the extra backlog in the fireplace, ciphering. Mrs. Brent was sitting in front of the fire in a rude home-made rocking-chair, busily knitting, while she rocked the baby's cradle with her foot and softly sang the refrain of "Annie Laurie" for a lullaby. Snow had began to fall at noon, and as the sun sank westward the north wind came in fitful gusts at first, and then in stronger blasts, till near the hour of four, when Boreas burst forth in the biting breath of the storm. How he howled and screamed down the chimney at his enemy, the fire! And how the fire crackled and splattered and laughed in the face of his wrath, and burned all the brighter because of his raging! Don't tell me that a fire can't talk! A fire upon a happy hearth is the sweetest conversationalist on earth, and Boreas might blow his lungs out ere he could stop the words of cheer and health and love and happiness which the fire spoke to Jim and Balser and their mother in the gloaming of that cold and stormy day.

"Put on more wood," said the mother, in a whisper, wishing not to awaken the baby. "Your father will soon be home from Brookville, and we must make the house good and warm for him. I hope he will come early. It would be dreadful for him to be caught far away from home in such a storm as we shall have to-night."

Mr. Brent had gone to Brookville several days before with wheat and pelts for market, and was expected home that evening. Balser had wanted to go with his father, but the manly little fellow had given up his wish and had remained at home that he might take care of his mother, Jim, and the baby.

Balser quietly placed a few large hickory sticks upon the fire, and then whispered to Jim:—

"Let's go out and feed the stock and fix them for the night."

So the boys went to the barnyard and fed the horses and cows, and drove the sheep into the shed, and carried fodder from the huge stack and placed it against the north sides of the barn and shed to keep the wind from blowing through the cracks and to exclude the snow. When the stock was comfortable, cozy, and warm, the boys milked the cows, and brought to the house four bucketfuls of steaming milk, which they strained and left in the kitchen, rather than in the milk-house, that it might not freeze over night.

Darkness came on rapidly, and Mrs. Brent grew more and more anxious for her husband's return. Fearing that he might be late, she postponed supper until Jim's ever ready appetite began to cry aloud for satisfaction, and Balser intimated that he, too might be induced to eat. So their mother leisurely went to work to get supper while the baby was left sleeping before the cheery, talkative fire in the front room.

A fat wild turkey roasted to a delicious brown upon the spit, eggs fried in the sweetest of lard, milk warm from the cows, corn-cakes floating in maple syrup and yellow butter, sweet potatoes roasted in hot ashes, and a great slice of mince pie furnished a supper that makes one hungry but to think about it. The boys, however, were hungry without thinking, and it would have done your heart good to see that supper disappear.

As they sat at supper they would pause in their eating and listen attentively to every noise made by the creaking of the trees or the falling of a broken twig, hoping that it was the step of the father. But the supper was finished all too soon, and the storm continued to increase in its fury; the snow fell thicker and the cold grew fiercer, still Mr. Brent did not come.

Mrs. Brent said nothing, but as the hours flew by her anxious heart imparted its trouble to Balser, and he began to fear for his father's safety. The little clock upon the rude shelf above the fireplace hoarsely and slowly drawled out the hour of seven, then eight, and then nine. That was very late for the Brent family to be out of bed, and nothing short of the anxiety they felt could have kept them awake. Jim, of course, had long since fallen asleep, and he lay upon a soft bearskin in front of the fire wholly unconscious of storms or troubles of any sort. Mrs. Brent sat watching and waiting while Jim and the baby slept, and to her anxious heart it seemed that the seconds lengthened into minutes, and the minutes into hours, by reason of her loneliness. While she rocked beside the baby's cradle, Balser was sitting in his favourite place upon the backlog next to the fire. He had been reading, or trying to read, "The Pilgrim's Progress," but visions of his father and of the team lost in the trackless forest, facing death by freezing, to say nothing of wolves that prowled the woods in packs of hundreds upon such a night as that, continually came between his eyes and the page, and blurred the words until they held no meaning. Gradually drowsiness stole over him, too, and just as the slow-going clock began deliberately to strike the hour of nine his head fell back into a little corner made by projecting logs in the wall of the fireplace, and, like Jim, he forgot his troubles as he slept.

Balser did not know how long he had been sleeping when the neighing of a horse was heard. Mrs. Brent hastened to the door, but when she opened it, instead of her husband she found one of the horses, an intelligent, raw-boned animal named Buck, standing near the house. Balser had heard her call, and he quickly ran out of doors and went to the horse. The harness was broken, and dragging upon the ground behind the horse were small portions of the wreck of the wagon. Poor Buck's flank was red with blood, and his legs showed all too plainly the marks of deadly conflict with a savage, hungry foe. The wreck of the wagon, the broken harness, and the wounds upon the horse told eloquently, as if spoken in words, the story of the night. Wolves had attacked Balser's father, and Buck had come home to give the alarm.


[Illustration]

Balser ran quickly to the fire pile upon the hill and kindled it for the purpose of calling help from the neighbours. Then he went back to the house and took down his gun. He tied a bundle of torches over his shoulder, lighted one, and started out in the blinding, freezing storm to help his father, if possible.

He followed the tracks of the horse, which with the aid of his torch were easily discernible in the deep snow, and soon he was far into the forest, intent upon his mission of rescue.

After the boy had travelled for an hour he heard the howling of wolves, and hastened in the direction whence the sound came, feeling in his heart that he would find his father surrounded by a ferocious pack. He hurried forward as rapidly as he could run, and his worst fears were realized.

Soon he reached the top of a hill overlooking a narrow ravine which lay to the eastward. The moon had risen and the snow had ceased to fall. The wind was blowing a fiercer gale than ever, and had broken rifts in the black bank of snowcloud, so that gleams of the moon now and then enabled Balser's vision to penetrate the darkness. Upon looking down into the ravine he beheld his father standing in the wagon, holding in his hand a singletree which he used as a weapon of defence. The wolves jumped upon the wagon in twos and threes, and when beaten off by Mr. Brent would crowd around the wheels and howl to get their courage up, and renew the attack.


[Illustration]

Mr. Brent saw the boy starting down the hill toward the wagon and motioned to him to go back. Balser quickly perceived that it would be worse than madness to go to his father. The wolves would at once turn their attack upon him, and his father would be compelled to abandon his advantageous position in the wagon and go to his relief, in which case both father and son would be lost. Should Balser fire into the pack of wolves from where he stood, he would bring upon himself and his father the same disaster. He felt his helplessness grievously, but his quick wit came to his assistance. He looked about him for a tree which he could climb, and soon found one. At first he hesitated to make use of the tree, for it was dead and apparently rotten; but there was none other at hand, so he hastily climbed up and seated himself firmly upon a limb which seemed strong enough to sustain his weight.

Balser was now safe from the wolves, and at a distance of not more than twenty yards from his father. There he waited until the clouds for a moment permitted the full light of the moon to rest upon the scene, and then he took deliberate aim and fired into the pack of howling wolves. A sharp yelp answered his shot, and then a black, seething mass of growling, fighting, snapping beasts fell upon the carcass of the wolf that Balser's shot had killed, and almost instantly they devoured their unfortunate companion.

Balser felt that if he could kill enough wolves to satisfy the hunger of the living ones they would abandon their attack upon his father, for wolves, like cowardly men, are brave only in desperation. They will attack neither man nor animal except when driven to do so by hunger.

After Balser had killed the wolf, clouds obscured the moon before he could make another shot. He feared to fire in the dark lest he might kill his father, so he waited impatiently for the light which did not come.

Meanwhile, the dead wolf having been devoured, the pack again turned upon Mr. Brent, and Balser could hear his father's voice and the clanking of the iron upon the singletree as he struck at the wolves to ward them off.

It seemed to Balser that the moon had gone under the clouds never to appear again. Mr. Brent continually called loudly to the wolves, for the human voice is an awesome sound even to the fiercest animals. To Balser the tone of his father's voice, mingled with the howling of wolves, was a note of desperation that almost drove him frantic. The wind increased in fury every moment, and Balser felt the cold piercing to the marrow of his bones. He had waited it seemed to him hours for the light of the moon again to shine, but the clouds appeared to grow deeper and the darkness more dense.

While Balser was vainly endeavouring to watch the conflict at the wagon, he heard a noise at the root of the tree in which he had taken refuge, and, looking down, he discovered a black monster standing quietly beneath him. It was a bear that had been attracted to the scene of battle by the noise. Balser at once thought, "Could I kill this huge bear, his great carcass certainly would satisfy the hunger of the wolves that surround my father." Accordingly he lowered the point of his gun, and, taking as good aim as the darkness would permit, he fired upon the bear. The bear gave forth a frightful growl of rage and pain, and as it did so its companion, a beast of enormous size, came running up, apparently for the purpose of rendering assistance.

Balser hastily reloaded his gun and prepared to shoot the other bear. This he soon did, and while the wolves howled about his father the two wounded bears at the foot of the tree made night hideous with their ravings.

Such a frightful bedlam of noises had never before been heard.

Balser was again loading his gun, hoping to finish the bears, when he saw two lighted torches approaching along the path over which he had just come, and as they came into view imagine his consternation when he recognized the forms of Liney Fox and her brother Tom. Tom carried his father's gun, for Mr. Fox had gone to Brookville, and Liney, in addition to her torch, carried Tom's hatchet. Liney and Tom were approaching rapidly, and Balser called out to them to stop. They did not hear him, or did not heed him, but continued to go forward to their death. The bears at the foot of the tree were wounded, and would be more dangerous than even the pack of wolves howling at the wagon.


[Illustration]

"Imagine his consternation when he recognized the forms of Liney Fox and her brother Tom."

"Go back! Go back!" cried Balser desperately, "or you'll be killed. Two wounded bears are at the root of the tree I'm in, and a hundred wolves are howling in the hollow just below me. Run for your lives! Run! You'll be torn in pieces if you come here."

The boy and girl did not stop, but continued to walk rapidly toward the spot from which they had heard Balser call. The clouds had drifted away from the moon, and now that the light was of little use to Balser—for he was intent upon saving Liney and Tom—there was plenty of it.

The sound of his voice and the growling of the bears had attracted the attention of the wolves. They were wavering in their attack upon Mr. Brent, and evidently had half a notion to fall upon the bears that Balser had wounded. Meantime Liney and Tom continued to approach, and their torches, which under ordinary circumstances would have frightened the animals away, attracted the attention of the bears and the wolves, and drew the beasts upon them. They were now within a few yards of certain death, and again Balser in agony cried out: "Go back, Liney. Go back! Run for your lives!" In his eagerness he rose to his feet, and took a step or two out upon the rotten limb on which he had been seated. As he called to Liney and Tom, and motioned to them frantically to go back, the limb upon which he was standing broke, and he fell a distance of ten or twelve feet to the ground, and lay half stunned between the two wounded bears. Just a Balser fell, Liney and Tom came up to the rotten tree, and at the same time the pack of wolves abandoned their attack upon Mr. Brent and rushed like a herd of howling demons upon the three helpless children.


[Illustration]

"He fell a distance of ten or twelve feet . . . and lay half stunned."

One of the bears immediately seized Balser, and the other one struck Liney to the ground. By the light of the torches Mr. Brent saw all that had happened, and when the wolves abandoned their attack upon him he hurried forward to rescue Balser, Liney, and Tom, although in so doing he was going to meet his death. In a few seconds Mr. Brent was in the midst of the terrible fight, and a dozen wolves sprang upon him. Tom's gun was useless, so he snatched the hatchet from Liney, who was lying prostrate under one of the bears, and tried to rescue her from its jaws. Had he done so, however, it would have been only to save her for the wolves. But his attempt to rescue Liney was quickly brought to an end. The wolves sprang upon Tom, and soon he, too, was upon the ground. The resinous torches which had fallen from the hands of Tom and Liney continued to burn, and cast a lurid light upon the terrible scene.

Consciousness soon returned to Balser. And he saw with horror the fate that was in store for his father, his friends, and himself. Despair took possession of his soul, and he knew that the lamp of life would soon be black in all of them forever. While his father and Tom lay upon the ground at the mercy of the wolves, and while Liney was lying within arm's reach of him in the jaws of the wounded bear, and he utterly helpless to save the girl of whom he was so fond, Balser's mother shook him by the shoulder and said, "Balser, your father is coming." Balser sprang to his feet, looked dazed for a moment, and then ran, half weeping, half laughing, into his father's arms . . . just as the sleepy little clock had finished striking nine.

 



The Adventures of Unc' Billy Possum  by Thornton Burgess

Where Unc' Billy Possum Was

W HERE was Unc' Billy Possum? That is what Farmer Brown's boy wanted to know. That is what Bowser the Hound wanted to know. Where was Unc' Billy Possum? He was in another hollow tree all the time and laughing till his sides ached as he peeped out and saw how hard Farmer Brown's boy worked.

"Ah done fool him that time," said Unc' Billy, as he watched Farmer Brown's boy wading off home through the snow, with Bowser the Hound at his heels.

"You certainly did, Unc' Billy! How did you do it?" asked a voice right over Unc' Billy's head.

Unc' Billy looked up in surprise. There was Tommy Tit the Chickadee. Unc' Billy grinned.

"Ah just naturally expected Ah was gwine to have visitors, and so Ah prepared a little surprise. Yes, Sah, Ah done prepare a little surprise. Yo' see, mah tracks in the snow was powerful plain. Yes, Sah, they sho'ly was! When Ah had climbed up that tree and looked down and saw all those tracks what Ah done made, Ah began to get powerful anxious. Yes, Sah, Ah done get so anxious Ah just couldn't get any rest in mah mind. Ah knew Farmer Brown's boy was gwine to find those tracks, and when he did, he was gwine to follow 'em right smart quick. Sho' enough, just before sundown, here he comes. He followed mah tracks right up to the foot of the tree whar Ah was hiding in the hollow, and Ah heard him say:

"So this is whar yo' live, is it, Mistah Possum? Ah reckon Bowser and Ah'll make yo' a call to-morrow."

"When I heard him say that, Ah felt right bad. Yes, Sah, Ah sho'ly did feel right smart bad. Ah studied and Ah studied how Ah was gwine to fool Farmer Brown's boy and Bowser the Hound. If Ah climbed down and went somewhere else, Ah would have to leave tracks, and that boy done bound to find me just the same. Ah done wish Ah had wings like yo' and Brer Buzzard.

"So po' ol' Unc' Billy sat studying and studying and getting mo' and mo' troubled in his mind. By and by Ah noticed that a branch from that holler tree rubbed against a branch of another tree, and a branch of that tree rubbed against a branch of another tree, and if Ah made a right smart jump from that Ah could get into this tree, which had a holler just made fo' me. Ah didn't waste no mo' time studying. No, Sah, Ah just moved right away, and here Ah am."

"And you didn't leave any tracks, and you didn't have any wings," said Tommy Tit the Chickadee.

"No," said Unc' Billy, "but Ah done find that yo' can most always find a way out, if yo' look hard enough. Just now, Ah am looking right smart hard fo' a way to get home, but Ah reckon mah eyesight am failing; Ah don' see any yet."

"Dee, dee, dee!" laughed Tommy Tit merrily. "Be patient, Unc' Billy, and perhaps you will."

 



Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Snow-Flakes

Out of the bosom of the Air,

Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,

Over the woodlands brown and bare,

Over the harvest-fields forsaken,

Silent, and soft, and slow

Descends the snow.


Even as our cloudy fancies take

Suddenly shape in some divine expression,

Even as the troubled heart doth make

In the white countenance confession,

The troubled sky reveals

The grief it feels.


This is the poem of the air,

Slowly in silent syllables recorded;

This is the secret of despair,

Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,

Now whispered and revealed

To wood and field.

 


  WEEK 46  

  Sunday  


In God's Garden  by Amy Steedman

Saint Cecilia

It was in the days when cruel men killed and tortured those who loved our Blessed Lord that in the city of Rome, a little maid was born. Her father and mother were amongst the richest and noblest of the Roman people, and their little daughter, whom they called Cecilia, had everything she could possibly want. She lived in a splendid palace, with everything most beautiful around her, and she had a garden to play in, where the loveliest flowers grew. Her little white dress was embroidered with the finest gold, and her face was as fair as the flowers she loved.

But it was not only the outside that was beautiful, for the little maiden's heart was fairer than the fairest flowers, and whiter than her spotless robe.

There were not many people who loved our Lord in those dark days. Any one who was known to be a Christian was made to suffer terrible tortures, and was even put to death.

But though Cecilia's father and mother knew this they still taught their little daughter to be a servant of Christ and to love Him above all things. For they knew that the love of Christ was better than life, and worth all the suffering that might come.

And as Cecilia grew into a stately maiden every one wondered at the grace and beauty that shone out of her face. And every one loved her because she loved every one. She was always ready and willing to help others, and she specially cared to be kind to the poor. In the folds of her gold embroidered dress she always carried a little book which she loved to read. It was the book of the Gospels, and the more she read and heard of Christ, the more she longed to grow like Him. She could not bear to think that she wore fine dresses, while He had been so poor and suffered so much. And so, underneath her soft, white robe she wore a harsh, coarse garment made of hair. And when it hurt and rubbed her sorely, the pain only made her glad, because she wore it for Christ's sake.

Some say the meaning of her name Cecilia is "Heaven's Lily." And that name certainly suited this little Roman maiden. For as God plants the lilies in the dark earth, and presently they grow up and lift their pure white cups to heaven, so Cecilia seemed to lift her heart above the sins and sorrows of the world, where God had planted her, and to turn her face ever heavenwards.

And the poor people whom she helped and cheered with her kind sympathy loved to look at her, for the peace of paradise shone in her eyes, and it seemed to bring heaven nearer to the poor souls.

As soon as Cecilia was old enough, it was arranged that she should marry a young Roman noble called Valerian, and this made her very unhappy. She had so hoped to belong only to Christ, and this Valerian was a pagan who knew nothing of the Lord whom she served. But she knew that her guardian angel would watch over her and keep her from all harm, and so she obeyed her father's and mother's wishes, and was married to the young Roman noble.

When Valerian had taken Cecilia home and all the guests had gone, and they were left alone together, she told him that, though she was married, she belonged first of all to Christ, and that her guardian angel, who never left her, would guard and protect her from all danger.

"Wilt thou not show me this angel, so that I may know that what thou sayest is true?" asked Valerian.

"Thou canst not see the heavenly messenger until thou hast learnt to know my Lord," answered Cecilia.

And as Valerian eagerly asked how he should learn to know this Christ, Cecilia told him to go along the great Appian Way, outside the walls of Rome, until he should meet some poor people who lived in the Campagna. And to them he should say:

"Cecilia bids you show me the way that I may find the old man, Urban the Good."

So Valerian started off and went the way Cecilia directed. And the people guided him as she had promised, until they came to a curious opening in the ground, down which they told him he must go if he wished to find Pope Urban.

This opening was the entrance to a strange underground place called the Catacombs.

There were miles and miles of dark passages cut out of the rock, with here and there a little dark room, and curious shelves hollowed out of the walls. It was here that many poor Christians lived, hiding themselves from those who would have put them to death. And the little shelves were where they buried the bodies of poor Christians who had died for Christ.

It was here that the old Pope, Urban the Good, lived, and he welcomed Valerian most gladly, knowing why he had come. He began at once to teach him all that he should know—how God was our Father, and Jesus Christ His Son, our Saviour. And as Valerian listened to the strange, wonderful words, the love of God shone into his heart, so that when the old man asked:

"Believest thou this?"

He answered with all his heart:

"All this I steadfastly believe."

Then Urban baptized Valerian, and by that sign the young Roman knew that he was indeed a Christian, a servant of Christ.

All the world looked different to Valerian as he walked back along the Appian Way to Rome. The flat, low fields of the Campagna, fading away into the ridges of the purple Apennines, seemed almost like the fields of paradise, and the song of the birds was like the voice of angels. He scarcely thought of the dangers and difficulties that were before him, or if he did it was only to feel glad that he might have anything to bear for his new Master.

And when he reached home, and went back to the room where he had left Cecilia, he found her there waiting for him, with a glad welcome in her eyes. And as they knelt together they heard a rustle of wings, and looking up they saw an angel bending over them, with a crown of lilies and roses in each hand. These he placed upon their heads, and to Valerian he said:

"Thou hast done well in allowing Cecilia to serve her Master, therefore ask what thou wilt and thy request shall be granted."

Then Valerian asked that his brother, whom he dearly loved, might also learn to know Christ.


[Illustration]

And just then the door opened, and the brother whom Valerian loved so much came in. He, of course, only saw Valerian and Cecilia, and could not see the angel, or even the wreaths of heavenly roses. But he looked round in astonishment and said:

"I see no flowers here, and yet the fragrance of roses and lilies is so sweet and strange, that it makes my very heart glad."

Then Valerian answered:

"We have two crowns here, which thou canst not see, because thou knowest not the Lord who sent them to us. But if thou wilt listen, and learn to know Him, then shalt thou see the heavenly flowers, whose fragrance has filled thy heart."

So Valerian and Cecilia told their brother what it meant to be a Christian. And after the good Urban had taught him also, he was baptized and became God's knight. Then he, too, saw the heavenly crowns and the face of the angel who guarded Heaven's Lily.

For a while the home of Valerian and Cecilia was like a paradise on earth. There was nothing but happiness there. Cecilia loved music above everything. Her voice was like a bird's, and she sang her hymns of praise and played so exquisitely, that it is said that even the angels came down to listen.

But before long it began to be known that Valerian and his brother helped the poor Christians, and the wicked governor of the city ordered them both to be seized and brought before him. He told them that there were but two ways before them: either they must deny that they were Christians, or they must be put to death.

But God's knights did not fear death, and they went out to meet it as if they were on their way to a great victory. And when the soldiers wondered, and asked them if it was not sad that they should lose their lives while they were still so young, they answered that what looked like loss on earth was gain in heaven—that they were but laying down their bodies as one puts off one's clothes to sleep at night. For the immortal soul could never die, but would live for ever.

So they knelt down, and the cruel blows were struck. But, looking up, the soldiers saw a great pathway of light shining down from heaven. And the souls of Valerian and his brother were led up by angel hands to the throne of God, there to receive the crowns of everlasting glory which they had won on earth.

And so Cecilia was left alone. But she did not spend her time grieving. Gathering the people and soldiers around her, she taught them about the Lord of Heaven, for whose sake Valerian and his brother had so gladly suffered death. And it was not long before she also trod the shining pathway up to heaven and met the ones she loved.

For the governor was not satisfied with the death of Valerian and his brother, but ordered Cecilia to be brought before him.

"What sort of a woman art thou, and what is thy name?" he asked.

"I am a Roman lady," she answered with grave dignity, "and among men I am known by the name of Cecilia. But"—and her voice rang out proudly as she looked fearlessly into those angry eyes—"my noblest name is Christian."

Then the enraged governor ordered that she should be taken to her house, and put to death in her bath. But the boiling water could not hurt her, and she was as cool as if she had bathed in a fresh spring.


[Illustration]

This made the governor more furious than ever, and he ordered that her head should be cut off.

But even after she had received three strokes from the sword she did not die, but lived for three days. And these days she spent in quietly putting her house in order and dividing her money among the poor, ever singing in her sweet voice the praises of God.

And so at the end of three days God's angel came and led Cecilia home, and all that was left of her on earth was her fair body, lying like a tired child asleep, with hands clasped, gently resting now that her work on earth was done.

And in Rome to-day there is a splendid church built over the place where Cecilia's house stood. Some day if you go there, you will see her little room and the bath in which the boiling water could not hurt her. You will see, too, a beautiful marble figure lying under the altar, and you will know exactly how Cecilia looked when she left her tired body lying there, and went up the shining path to God.

 



The Sandman: His Sea Stories  by Willliam J. Hopkins

The Lighthouse Story

O 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 sidewalks 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 the brig Industry  was coming back from far countries to that wharf in Boston, and little Jacob and little Sol were on her. And, when she was nearly in sight of the end of Cape Cod, a great storm came up, and the wind blew like Sam Hill. It blew harder than it had blown at any time while the Industry  was sailing over the wide ocean to the far countries and back again. So, at last, Captain Solomon had to turn her around and run for it. But he ran as slow as he could, for he wanted to get to Boston; and he growled and grumbled all the time because he had to go the way he didn't want to.

Little Jacob had been feeling rather excited and very glad because he was so nearly home again. But, when the Industry  turned around and sailed away from Boston, he didn't feel glad any more, but he felt rather mournful. And he was just a little bit frightened at the great wind and at the great waves; for Captain Solomon hadn't turned around until he was obliged to, and that was the last minute that it was safe to keep on. It was getting dark, and Captain Solomon thought it would be a pity to run the risk of getting wrecked on the Cape when the brig had gone all the way to Manila and back safely. So little Jacob crept into his bunk and held on tight, because the ship was pitching and rolling so much, and he tried to go to sleep. At last he went to sleep; but he had horrid dreams.


[Illustration]

At last he went to sleep.

Captain Solomon was on deck all that night, and he had on his oilskins and he was sopping wet outside the oilskins, but inside them he was dry as a bone; for oilskins keep the water out beautifully. And the spray was flying high above the rail and, once in a while, the top of a wave would come aboard in solid green water. But Captain Solomon didn't mind the water. He was only very angry at having to sail away from Boston.

The storm kept on for nearly three days and little Jacob was pretty miserable but little Sol enjoyed it. Little Sol wasn't so anxious to get home as little Jacob was. And, at last, one morning when little Jacob woke he didn't feel the ship pitching as she had been, and he was surprised to find that he was a little bit excited once more. And he went on deck as soon as he could, and he found that the wind was still blowing pretty hard but not so hard as it had been blowing, and the ship was headed for Boston again. And all the sailors looked cheerful. And Captain Solomon was the most cheerful of all, although he needed some sleep.

"Well, Jacob," he said, "we're headed for home again. I guess you're glad."

"Yes, sir," said little Jacob, smiling, "I am glad. When shall we get there?"

"If this breeze holds," said Captain Solomon, "we'll get in before dark tonight. But I'm afraid it won't hold."

"Oh," cried little Jacob, "I hope  it will."

"So do I, Jacob," said Captain Solomon. "We'll see."

But the wind got less and less. They passed Provincetown, on Cape Cod, a little while after Captain Solomon and little Jacob and little Sol had finished their dinner, and Jacob felt hopeful. But the Industry  kept going slower as the wind died down, and Jacob's heart kept going down and down. But he watched, to see if he could see Boston. And, at last, it was almost dark and he hadn't sighted Boston, and his heart was almost down in his boots. He thought that he saw some land away off on the western horizon, but he couldn't be sure whether he did or not, for it was only twilight and the western horizon was all dim and misty. And, suddenly, a little friendly star shone out, just where he was looking.

"Oh," he cried, "what is that star? It just came."

Captain Solomon was standing near him, and he smiled at little Jacob's question.

"That star, Jacob," he said, "is Boston light. We can't get in to-night, but we'll go a little nearer and we'll stand back and forth until daylight. Then we'll go in. But we sha'n't be there to breakfast."

Little Jacob gave a long, shivering sigh. "Well," he said, "I suppose you can't go in to-night. That light is a long way off, isn't it?"

"Yes," said Captain Solomon, "it's a long way off. And, besides, the wind is dying out."

Little Jacob didn't say anything for some time.

"The light-keeper must have to stay up all night," he said, then, "to see that his light doesn't go out."

"Yes, Jacob," answered Captain Solomon, "he stays up all night, taking care of you and me. Or he looks out for his end of it. There are two or three of them—the light-keepers. And, in the daytime, he sees that his lamps are filled and his wicks trimmed and his brasses bright and his glasses polished. When night comes he lights his lamp, and he looks at it every little while to make sure that it is burning all right. If it wasn't, there might be a wreck."

Little Jacob stood and watched the light for a long time without saying anything. Captain Solomon stood and watched it, too.


[Illustration]

"That is a very friendly light," said little Jacob, at last, drawing a long breath and smiling at the light. Captain Solomon couldn't see the smile, because it was dark; but he heard it in little Jacob's voice.

"It is, Jacob," said Captain Solomon, "a very friendly light."

"I guess it's my bed-time," said little Jacob. "Good-night, captain."

"Good-night, Jacob," said Captain Solomon. "By the time you're up, in the morning, we'll be almost in."

And little Jacob laughed happily and went down to bed.

And that's all.

 



Phoebe Cary

They Didn't Think

Once a trap was baited

With a piece of cheese;

It tickled so a little mouse

It almost made him sneeze;

An old rat said, "There's danger,

Be careful where you go!"

"Nonsense!" said the other,

"I don't think you know!"

So he walked in boldly—

Nobody in sight—

First he took a nibble,

Then he took a bite;

Close the trap together

Snapped as quick as wink,

Catching mousey fast there,

'Cause he didn't think.


Once a little turkey,

Fond of her own way,

Wouldn't ask the old ones

Where to go or stay;

She said, "I'm not a baby,

Here I am half-grown;

Surely I am big enough

To run about alone!"

Off she went, but somebody

Hiding saw her pass;

Soon like snow her feathers

Covered all the grass.

So she made a supper

For a sly young mink,

'Cause she was so headstrong

That she wouldn't think.


Once there was a robin,

Lived outside the door,

Who wanted to go inside

And hop upon the floor.

"No, no," said the mother,

"You must stay with me;

Little birds are safest

Sitting in a tree."

"I don't care," said Robin,

And gave his tail a fling,

"I don't think the old folks

Know quite everything."

Down he flew, and Kitty seized him,

Before he'd time to blink;

"Oh," he cried, "I'm sorry,

But I didn't think."


Now, my little children,

You who read this song,

Don't you see what trouble

Comes of thinking wrong?

And can't you take a warning

From their dreadful fate

Who began their thinking

When it was too late?

Don't think there's always safety

When no danger shows;

Don't suppose you know more

Than anybody knows;

But when you're warned of ruin,

Pause upon the brink,

And don't go under headlong,

'Cause you didn't think.