Text of Plan #981
  WEEK 17  


The Secret Garden  by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Tantrum

S HE had got up very early in the morning and had worked hard in the garden and she was tired and sleepy, so as soon as Martha had brought her supper and she had eaten it, she was glad to go to bed. As she laid her head on the pillow she murmured to herself:

"I'll go out before breakfast and work with Dickon and then afterward—I believe—I'll go to see him."

She thought it was the middle of the night when she was wakened by such dreadful sounds that she jumped out of bed in an instant. What was it—what was it? The next minute she felt quite sure she knew. Doors were opened and shut and there were hurrying feet in the corridors and some one was crying and screaming at the same time, screaming and crying in a horrible way.

"It's Colin," she said. "He's having one of those tantrums the nurse called hysterics. How awful it sounds."

As she listened to the sobbing screams she did not wonder that people were so frightened that they gave him his own way in everything rather than hear them. She put her hands over her ears and felt sick and shivering.

"I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do," she kept saying. "I can't bear it."

Once she wondered if he would stop if she dared go to him and then she remembered how he had driven her out of the room and thought that perhaps the sight of her might make him worse. Even when she pressed her hands more tightly over her ears she could not keep the awful sounds out. She hated them so and was so terrified by them that suddenly they began to make her angry and she felt as if she should like to fly into a tantrum herself and frighten him as he was frightening her. She was not used to any one's tempers but her own. She took her hands from her ears and sprang up and stamped her foot.

"He ought to be stopped! Somebody ought to make him stop! Somebody ought to beat him!" she cried out.

Just then she heard feet almost running down the corridor and her door opened and the nurse came in. She was not laughing now by any means. She even looked rather pale.

"He's worked himself into hysterics," she said in a great hurry. "He'll do himself harm. No one can do anything with him. You come and try, like a good child. He likes you."

"He turned me out of the room this morning," said Mary, stamping her foot with excitement.

The stamp rather pleased the nurse. The truth was that she had been afraid she might find Mary crying and hiding her head under the bed-clothes.

"That's right," she said. "You're in the right humor. You go and scold him. Give him something new to think of. Do go, child, as quick as ever you can."

It was not until afterward that Mary realized that the thing had been funny as well as dreadful—that it was funny that all the grown-up people were so frightened that they came to a little girl just because they guessed she was almost as bad as Colin himself.

She flew along the corridor and the nearer she got to the screams the higher her temper mounted. She felt quite wicked by the time she reached the door. She slapped it open with her hand and ran across the room to the four-posted bed.

"You stop!" she almost shouted. "You stop! I hate you! Everybody hates you! I wish everybody would run out of the house and let you scream yourself to death! You will  scream yourself to death in a minute, and I wish you would!"

A nice sympathetic child could neither have thought nor said such things, but it just happened that the shock of hearing them was the best possible thing for this hysterical boy whom no one had ever dared to restrain or contradict.

He had been lying on his face beating his pillow with his hands and he actually almost jumped around, he turned so quickly at the sound of the furious little voice. His face looked dreadful, white and red and swollen, and he was gasping and choking; but savage little Mary did not care an atom.

"If you scream another scream," she said, "I'll scream too—and I can scream louder than you can and I'll frighten you, I'll frighten you!"

He actually had stopped screaming because she had startled him so. The scream which had been coming almost choked him. The tears were streaming down his face and he shook all over.

"I can't stop!" he gasped and sobbed. "I can't—I can't!"

"You can!" shouted Mary. "Half that ails you is hysterics and temper—just hysterics—hysterics—hysterics!" and she stamped each time she said it.

"I felt the lump—I felt it," choked out Colin. "I knew I should. I shall have a hunch on my back and then I shall die," and he began to writhe again and turned on his face and sobbed and wailed but he didn't scream.

"You didn't feel a lump!" contradicted Mary fiercely. "If you did it was only a hysterical lump. Hysterics makes lumps. There's nothing the matter with your horrid back—nothing but hysterics! Turn over and let me look at it!"

She liked the word "hysterics" and felt somehow as if it had an effect on him. He was probably like herself and had never heard it before.

"Nurse," she commanded, "come here and show me his back this minute!"

The nurse, Mrs. Medlock and Martha had been standing huddled together near the door staring at her, their mouths half open. All three had gasped with fright more than once. The nurse came forward as if she were half afraid. Colin was heaving with great breathless sobs.

"Perhaps he—he won't let me," she hesitated in a low voice.

Colin heard her, however, and he gasped out between two sobs:

"Sh—show her! She—she'll see then!"

It was a poor thin back to look at when it was bared. Every rib could be counted and every joint of the spine, though Mistress Mary did not count them as she bent over and examined them with a solemn savage little face. She looked so sour and old-fashioned that the nurse turned her head aside to hide the twitching of her mouth. There was just a minute's silence, for even Colin tried to hold his breath while Mary looked up and down his spine, and down and up, as intently as if she had been the great doctor from London.

"There's not a single lump there!" she said at last. "There's not a lump as big as a pin—except backbone lumps, and you can only feel them because you're thin. I've got backbone lumps myself, and they used to stick out as much as yours do, until I began to get fatter, and I am not fat enough yet to hide them. There's not a lump as big as a pin! If you ever say there is again, I shall laugh!"

No one but Colin himself knew what effect those crossly spoken childish words had on him. If he had ever had any one to talk to about his secret terrors—if he had ever dared to let himself ask questions—if he had had childish companions and had not lain on his back in the huge closed house, breathing an atmosphere heavy with the fears of people who were most of them ignorant and tired of him, he would have found out that most of his fright and illness was created by himself. But he had lain and thought of himself and his aches and weariness for hours and days and months and years. And now that an angry unsympathetic little girl insisted obstinately that he was not as ill as he thought he was he actually felt as if she might be speaking the truth.

"I didn't know," ventured the nurse, "that he thought he had a lump on his spine. His back is weak because he won't try to sit up. I could have told him there was no lump there."

Colin gulped and turned his face a little to look at her.

"C-could you?" he said pathetically.

"Yes, sir."

"There!" said Mary, and she gulped too.

Colin turned on his face again and but for his long-drawn broken breaths, which were the dying down of his storm of sobbing, he lay still for a minute, though great tears streamed down his face and wet the pillow. Actually the tears meant that a curious great relief had come to him. Presently he turned and looked at the nurse again and strangely enough he was not like a Rajah at all as he spoke to her.

"Do you think—I could—live to grow up?" he said.

The nurse was neither clever nor soft-hearted but she could repeat some of the London doctor's words.

"You probably will if you will do what you are told to do and not give way to your temper, and stay out a great deal in the fresh air."

Colin's tantrum had passed and he was weak and worn out with crying and this perhaps made him feel gentle. He put out his hand a little toward Mary, and I am glad to say that, her own tantrum having passed, she was softened too and met him half-way with her hand, so that it was a sort of making up.

"I'll—I'll go out with you, Mary," he said. "I shan't hate fresh air if we can find—" He remembered just in time to stop himself from saying "if we can find the secret garden" and he ended, "I shall like to go out with you if Dickon will come and push my chair. I do so want to see Dickon and the fox and the crow."

The nurse remade the tumbled bed and shook and straightened the pillows. Then she made Colin a cup of beef tea and gave a cup to Mary, who really was very glad to get it after her excitement. Mrs. Medlock and Martha gladly slipped away, and after everything was neat and calm and in order the nurse looked as if she would very gladly slip away also. She was a healthy young woman who resented being robbed of her sleep and she yawned quite openly as she looked at Mary, who had pushed her big footstool close to the four-posted bed and was holding Colin's hand.

"You must go back and get your sleep out," she said. "He'll drop off after a while—if he's not too upset. Then I'll lie down myself in the next room."

"Would you like me to sing you that song I learned from my Ayah?" Mary whispered to Colin.

His hand pulled hers gently and he turned his tired eyes on her appealingly.

"Oh, yes!" he answered. "It's such a soft song. I shall go to sleep in a minute."

"I will put him to sleep," Mary said to the yawning nurse. "You can go if you like."

"Well," said the nurse, with an attempt at reluctance. "If he doesn't go to sleep in half an hour you must call me."

"Very well," answered Mary.

The nurse was out of the room in a minute and as soon as she was gone Colin pulled Mary's hand again.

"I almost told," he said; "but I stopped myself in time. I won't talk and I'll go to sleep, but you said you had a whole lot of nice things to tell me. Have you—do you think you have found out anything at all about the way into the secret garden?"

Mary looked at his poor little tired face and swollen eyes and her heart relented.

"Ye-es," she answered, "I think I have. And if you will go to sleep I will tell you to-morrow."

His hand quite trembled.

"Oh, Mary!" he said. "Oh, Mary! If I could get into it I think I should live to grow up! Do you suppose that instead of singing the Ayah song—you could just tell me softly as you did that first day what you imagine it looks like inside? I am sure it will make me go to sleep."

"Yes," answered Mary. "Shut your eyes."

He closed his eyes and lay quite still and she held his hand and began to speak very slowly and in a very low voice.

"I think it has been left alone so long—that it has grown all into a lovely tangle. I think the roses have climbed and climbed and climbed until they hang from the branches and walls and creep over the ground—almost like a strange gray mist. Some of them have died but many—are alive and when the summer comes there will be curtains and fountains of roses. I think the ground is full of daffodils and snowdrops and lilies and iris working their way out of the dark. Now the spring has begun—perhaps—perhaps—"

The soft drone of her voice was making him stiller and stiller and she saw it and went on.

"Perhaps they are coming up through the grass—perhaps there are clusters of purple crocuses and gold ones—even now. Perhaps the leaves are beginning to break out and uncurl—and perhaps—the gray is changing and a green gauze veil is creeping—and creeping over—everything. And the birds are coming to look at it—because it is—so safe and still. And perhaps—perhaps—perhaps—" very softly and slowly indeed, "the robin has found a mate—and is building a nest."

And Colin was asleep.


Fifty Famous People  by James Baldwin

The Shepherd-Boy Painter

O NE day a traveler was walking through a part of Italy where a great many sheep were pasturing. Near the top of a hill he saw a little shepherd boy who was lying on the ground while a flock of sheep and lambs were grazing around him.

As he came nearer he saw that the boy held a charred stick in his hand, with which he was drawing something on a flat rock. The lad was so much interested in his work that he did not see the stranger.


The stranger bent over him and looked at the picture he had made on the rock. It was the picture of a sheep, and it was drawn so well that the stranger was filled with astonishment.

"What is your name, my boy?" he said.

The lad was startled. He jumped to his feet and looked up at the kind gentleman.

"My name is Giotto," he answered.

"What is your father's name?"


"And whose sheep are these?"

"They belong to the rich man who lives in the big white house there among the trees. My father works in the field, and I take care of the sheep."

"How would you like to live with me, Giotto? I would teach you how to draw pictures of sheep and horses, and even of men," said the stranger.

The boy's face beamed with delight. "I should like to learn to do that—oh, ever so much!" he answered. "But I must do as father says."

"Let us go and ask him," said the stranger.

The stranger's name was Cimabue. He was the most famous painter of the time. His pictures were known and admired in every city of Italy.

Bondone was surprised when Cimabue offered to take his little boy to Florence and teach him to be a great painter.

"I know that the lad can draw pictures wonderfully well," he said. "He does not like to do anything else. Perhaps he will do well with you. Yes, you may take him."

In the city of Florence little Giotto saw some of the finest pictures in the world. He learned so fast that he could soon paint as well as Cimabue himself.

One day Cimabue was painting the picture of a man's face. Night came on before he had finished it. "I will leave it till morning," he said; "then the light will be better."

In the morning, when he looked at the picture, he saw a fly on the man's nose. He tried to brush it off, but it remained there. It was only a painted fly.

"Who has done this?" he cried. He was angry, and yet he was pleased.

Little Giotto came out from a corner, trembling and ashamed. "I did it, master," he said. "It was a good place for a fly, and I never thought of spoiling your picture."

He expected to be punished. But Cimabue only praised him for his great skill. "There are few men who can draw so good a picture of a fly," he said.

This happened six hundred years ago, in the city of Florence in Italy. The shepherd boy became a very famous painter and the friend of many famous men.


Celia Thaxter


I wonder what spendthrift chose to spill

Such bright gold under my window-sill!

Is it fairy gold? Does it glitter still?

Bless me! it is but a daffodil!

And look at the crocus keeping tryst

With the daffodil by the sunshine kissed.

Like beautiful bubbles of amethyst

They seem, blown out of the earth's snow-mist.

And snowdrops' delicate fairy bells

With a pale green tint like the ocean swells;

And the hyacinths wearing their perfumed spells!

The ground is a rainbow of asphodels!

Who said that March was a scold and a shrew?

Who said she had nothing on earth to do

But tempest of fairies and rags to brew?

Why, look at the wealth she has lavished on you!

O March that blusters and March that blows,

What color under your footsteps glows!

Beauty you summon from winter snows,

And you are the pathway that leads to the rose.


  WEEK 17  


Our Island Story  by H. E. Marshall

More about Alfred the Great

S OON, Alfred was joined in his hiding-place in Somerset by his wife and children and a few of his nobles. They chose a hill which rose above the surrounding marshes for their camp, and there Alfred and his nobles worked like common men, building a strong fort. Because of this, the place was called Athelney, which means the Isle of Nobles.

While Alfred worked on the Isle of Nobles, he sent messengers secretly among his people, telling them where he was. Soon a small but faithful band gathered round him. Then, one day, some of Alfred's friends suddenly attacked the Danes, won a victory, and seized the great Danish banner called the Raven.

The Danes were very sad at the loss of this banner, for they believed it to be a magic one. They said that when they were going to win a battle the Raven would spread its wings as if to fly, but when they were going to lose, the Raven drooped its wings in sorrow. Now that their precious banner had been taken, they were always afraid of losing.

This victory cheered the English very much, and when the people heard of it, more and more of them gathered round their king.

Alfred now began to feel that the time for striking a blow had come. But first he wanted to find out exactly how many Danes there were and what plans they had. So he dressed himself like a minstrel or singer, and taking his harp, he went to the Danish camp. There he began to play upon his harp and to sing the songs he had learned when he was a boy.

The Danes were a fierce, wild people, yet they loved music and poetry. They were delighted with Alfred's songs, and he was allowed to wander through the camp wherever he liked.

Alfred stayed in the Danish camp for several days, singing his songs and playing sweet music, and all the time watching and listening. He found out how many Danes there were, and where the camp was strong and where it was weak. He listened to the king as he talked to his captains and, when he had found out everything he could, he slipped quietly away and went back to the Isle of Nobles.

The Danes were sorry when they found that the gentle minstrel had gone. And little did they think that it was the great and brave King Alfred who had been singing and playing to them.

Alfred now knew that his army was strong enough to fight the Danes. So he left his fort on the Isle of Nobles and boldly marched against them. A battle was fought in which the Danes were defeated, and from that time onwards Alfred was victorious. The dark days were over. The power of the Danes was crushed. Their king, Guthorm, submitted to Alfred, and even became a Christian. When he was baptized, Alfred stood as godfather to him, and changed his name from Guthorm to the English name of Æthelstan.

Then Alfred made a peace with the Danes, called the peace of Wedmore. And although the Danes did not leave England, they did not fight any more, and they left Wessex and kept within the land which was given to them in the north. Afterwards, this part was called the Danelagh or Daneland.

And now it was, in the time of peace, that Alfred began to do great things for his people, the things by which he earned his name of Alfred the Great. He collected the laws and wrote them out so that people could understand them. He did away with the laws which he thought were bad, and made others. One law he made was, that a man who had done wrong could not be punished unless twelve men agreed that he really had been wicked, and ought to be punished. This was called trial by jury, and means trial by those who have promised to do justly. Our word jury comes from a Latin word which means to promise or swear.

It was a very good law, for sometimes if a man hated another man he would say he had done something wicked in order to have him punished. But when twelve men had to agree about it, it was not easy to have an innocent person unjustly punished.

Alfred was much loved. He made good laws, and the people kept them. They kept them so well, that it is said that golden chains and bracelets might be hung upon the hedges and no one would touch them.

King Alfred was fond of reading and learning, and he tried to make his people fond of learning too. In those days the monasteries were the chief places to which people went to learn. But the Danes had destroyed nearly all the monasteries, so Alfred began to build them again, and he also founded schools. Then, as nearly all the books which were worth reading were written in Latin, he translated into English several of the best he had read. He did this because he saw how much more difficult it was for people to learn to read when they had to do so in a foreign language.


Alfred found much pleasure in reading.

Alfred built more great ships, and sent people into far countries to bring back news of them to England. He encouraged the English to make all kinds of things, in order to trade with these far-off countries. In fact, during all his life Alfred was thinking only of his people and of what was best for them.

You will wonder how he found time to do all these things, and indeed it is wonderful, especially in those days when there were no clocks to strike the hours and remind people how time was flying.

Yet Alfred divided the day into three parts: eight hours for work, eight hours for study, and eight hours for rest. He invented a kind of clock for himself. He had great candles made which were marked off into parts, each part burning for an hour. A man watched the candle and, when the flame burned down to the mark, he went to the King, and said, "O king, another hour has fled."

Alfred was good, and wise and kind. There never was a better king in England. He had to fight many battles, and war is terrible and cruel, but he did not fight for love of conquering, as other kings did. He fought only to save his country and his people. We never hear of him doing one unjust or unkind act. He was truthful and fearless in everything. It is no wonder, then, that we call him Alfred the Great, Alfred the Truthteller, England's Darling.


Holiday Meadow  by Edith M. Patch

Whistling Wejack

Part 1 of 2

O NE of his names was Wejack. One was Woodchuck. One was Ground-hog. One was Marmot. He had other names, too; though four seem enough, especially as he, himself, did not know any of the names people gave him. When he talked he did not speak in words. He spoke in whistles. That is why Anne and Dick called him "Whistling Wejack." He lived in Holiday Meadow.


Whistling Wejack

Holiday Meadow is a long field that reaches from the margin of Holiday Stream to the foot of Holiday Hill.

Whistling Wejack lived at the end of the meadow nearest the hill. His home was a long underground tunnel and it had two doorways. One of these opened into a garden full of clover in the meadow. The other was hidden by rocks.

Dick and Anne and little dog Sandy knew where Wejack's garden hole was; but the hole between the rocks was so placed that no person or dog could get to it.

Sandy's chief interest in Wejack was the fun of sniffing down the opening of the tunnel and trying excitedly to dig the woodchuck out. Wejack did not seem much worried by the dog's activities. His tunnel was long and his private doorway among the rocks at the other end was as well guarded as a strong castle. In fact Wejack sometimes lay quietly on top of the rocks, sunning himself, while he watched Sandy pawing frantically at the hole far away in the clover garden.

Dick and Anne, however, did not care to disturb Wejack's home. They wished to become acquainted with him. So, usually, when they went to call on the woodchuck, they put Sandy in the shed and shut the door.

One day the cousins saw Wejack on top of his favorite rock at the foot of the hill. When they came rather near he slipped out of sight so quickly that they were not sure which way he went.

Now that they knew where he liked to sun himself they often came to visit him. Wejack would see them coming and would lie motionless. Unless they came too near he did not go away to hide. He hid in plain sight—just by keeping still. At such times he seemed like a part of the brown and gray shadows on the rock, and sometimes Dick and Anne used to look right at him without seeing him at all.


He seemed like a part of the rock.

When they told Uncle David how hard it was to see the woodchuck, he explained that many wild creatures have a way of hiding by keeping motionless. "That method of escaping notice is called 'freezing'," he said, "because the animal stays as still as if it were frozen and could not move."


Wejack played the "Freezing Game."

So Dick and Anne learned to "freeze" by watching how the woodchuck did the trick; and they found that birds and squirrels and rabbits and porcupines and other little wild creatures came quite near them when they stayed "frozen" long enough. In that way they saw a great deal more of the animals than they could if they had been walking up the hill and talking.

The easiest way for them to play their "Freezing Game" was to sit down comfortably on the ground with their backs against a rock or a big tree trunk. Then, as long as they kept their hands and feet and heads still and did not fidget or whisper, they were all right. At such times the woodchuck used to come and go among the rocks or run down to feed in the clover as if there were no one near him.

But as soon as they became tired of keeping so quiet and wriggled a little, then Wejack would look at them at once. Next he would stand still and whistle at them. Perhaps he was trying to scare them away but they were never frightened by his music. His whistling sound was clear and rather sweet and they liked it.

The woodchuck had another habit the children liked. When he stood on his hind legs he always dropped his front paws. Dick and Anne giggled the first time they saw him do this. "He looks too silly for words!" said Dick. "Just like a person who is trying hard to be graceful with his hands," remarked Anne, as she mimicked him.

Of course Wejack was not really trying to be graceful. His little paws dropped naturally in a pretty way.

After the grass grew tall in the meadow, Dick and Anne used sometimes to hide where they could see Wejack's front doorway in the clover garden. Beside this was a large mound of dirt that Wejack had piled there when he was digging his tunnel.

Sometimes they crept through the grass so slowly and quietly that Wejack did not know they were there. At least sometimes he did not know until the crow told him.

Of course Corbie, the crow, did not say, "Look out, Wejack, two children are creeping through the grass toward your hole." All Corbie did was to call, "Caw! Caw! Caw!" and the chances are that he was not thinking about Wejack at all.

As a matter of fact it was Corbie's job to watch the meadow and warn the other crows when people went abroad. So when he saw the cousins from Holiday Farm he said, "Caw!" three times and flew to a tall pine on the hill while he looked to see where they were going.

A crow's signal may be intended only for the other crows. But almost all the wild creatures of meadow and hillside and woodland recognize the warning. When a crow caws three times in a certain tone he means what a person would mean if he yelled, "Danger! Look out!"

Wejack, of course, could not see very far through the tall meadow grass. At such times he depended a great deal on Corbie's signals. Whenever he heard the warning voice of the sentinel crow he would stand erect on his hind legs in sudden alarm, gazing and sniffing first this way and then that, as if sure that danger must be near.


Wejack sniffed the air for danger.

It was while Dick and Anne were sitting, one day, close enough to the mound to see Wejack as he stood so before his open doorway, that they saw, too, the woodchuck's wonderful vanishing trick. The children were keeping as quiet as they could, but it was rather hard for them to stay "frozen" long where they had nothing to lean against; and after a while they moved a little,—enough so that Wejack glanced at them. They breathed only short breaths and were so quiet that the woodchuck did not seem frightened. He did not dash quickly into his hole headfirst as he would have done if he were being chased.

Indeed, he did not seem to be moving at all. He sank backward bit by bit so slowly that even while they watched, Dick and Anne could hardly see a motion; only where there had been a woodchuck, erect with drooping paws, there was at last only a hole in the ground.

The children crept, very carefully, to the mound. For a moment near the top of the black hole they saw Wejack's bright eyes gleaming at them. Then even the eyes were gone!


Sara Teasdale


I went out on an April morning

All alone, for my heart was high,

I was a child of the shining meadow,

I was a sister of the sky.

There in the windy flood of morning

Longing lifted its weight from me,

Lost as a sob in the midst of cheering,

Swept as a sea-bird out to sea.


  WEEK 17  


The Burgess Animal Book for Children  by Thornton Burgess

Three Little Redcoats and Some Others

W ITH Whitefoot the Wood Mouse, Danny Meadow Mouse and Nimbleheels the Jumping Mouse attending school, the Mouse family was well represented, but when school opened the morning after Nimbleheels had made his sudden and startling appearance, there was still another present. It was Piney the Pine Mouse. Whitefoot, who knew him, had hunted him up and brought him along.

"I thought you wouldn't mind if Piney came," explained Whitefoot.

"I'm glad he has come," replied Old Mother Nature. "It is much better to see a thing than merely to be told about it, and now you have a chance to see for yourselves the differences between two cousins very closely related, Danny Meadow Mouse and Piney the Pine Mouse. What difference do you see, Happy Jack Squirrel?"

"Piney is a little smaller than Danny, though he is much the same shape," was the prompt reply.

"True," said Old Mother Nature. "Now, Striped Chipmunk, what difference do you see?"

"The fur of Piney's coat is shorter, finer and has more of a shine. Then, too, it is more of a reddish-brown than Danny's," replied Striped Chipmunk.

"And what do you say, Peter Rabbit?" asked Old Mother Nature.

"Piney has a shorter tail," declared Peter, and everybody laughed.

"Trust you to look at his tail first," said Old Mother Nature. "These are the chief differences as far as looks are concerned. Their habits differ in about the same degree. As you all know, Danny cuts little paths through the grass. Piney doesn't do this, but makes little tunnels just under the surface of the ground very much as Miner the Mole does. He isn't fond of the open Green Meadows or of damp places as Danny is, but likes best the edge of the Green Forest and brushy places. He is very much at home in a poorly kept orchard where the weeds are allowed to grow and in young orchards he does a great deal of damage by cutting off the roots of young trees and stripping off the bark as high up as he can reach. Tell us, Piney, how and where you make your home."

Piney hesitated a little, for he was bashful. "I make my home under ground," he ventured finally. "I dig a nice little bedroom with several entrances from my tunnels, and in it I make a fine nest of soft grass. Close by I dig one or more rooms in which to store my food, and these usually are bigger than my bedroom. When I get one filled with food I close it up by filling the entrance with earth."

"What do you put in your storerooms?" asked Peter Rabbit.

"Short pieces of grass and pieces of roots of different kinds," replied Piney. "I am very fond of tender roots and the bark of trees and bushes."

"And he dearly loves to get in a garden where he can tunnel along a row of potatoes or other root crops," added Old Mother Nature. "Because of these habits he does a great deal of damage and is much disliked by man. Striped Chipmunk mentioned his reddish-brown coat. There is another cousin with a coat so red that he is called the Red-backed Mouse. He is about the size of Danny Meadow Mouse but has larger ears and a longer tail.

"This little fellow is a lover of the Green Forest, and he is quite as active by day as by night. He is pretty, especially when he sits up to eat, holding his food in his paws as does Happy Jack Squirrel. He makes his home in a burrow, the entrance to which is under an old stump, a rock or the root of a tree. His nest is of soft grass or moss. Sometimes he makes it in a hollow log or stump instead of digging a bedroom under ground. He is thrifty and lays up a supply of food in underground rooms, hollow logs and similar places. He eats seeds, small fruits, roots and various plants. Because of his preference for the Green Forest and the fact that he lives as a rule far from the homes of men, he does little real damage.

"There is still another little Redcoat in the family, and he is especially interesting because while he is related to Danny Meadow Mouse he lives almost wholly in trees. He is called the Rufous Tree Mouse. Rufous means reddish-brown, and he gets that name because of the color of his coat. He lives in the great forests of the Far West, where the trees are so big and tall that the biggest tree you have ever seen would look small beside them. And it is in those great trees that the Rufous Tree Mouse lives.

"Just why he took to living in trees no one knows, for he belongs to that branch of the family known as Ground Mice. But live in them he does, and he is quite as much at home in them as any Squirrel."

Chatterer the Red Squirrel was interested right away. "Does he build a nest in a tree like a Squirrel?" he asked.

"He certainly does," replied Old Mother Nature, "and often it is a most remarkable nest. In some sections he places it only in big trees, sometimes a hundred feet from the ground. In other sections it is placed in small trees and only a few feet above the ground. The high nests often are old deserted nests of Squirrels enlarged and built over. Some of them are very large indeed and have been used year after year. Each year they have been added to.

"One of these big nests will have several bedrooms and little passages running all through it. It appears that Mrs. Rufous usually has one of these big nests to herself, Rufous having a small nest of his own out on one of the branches. The big nest is close up against the trunk of the tree where several branches meet."

"Does Rufous travel from one tree to another, or does he live in just one tree?" asked Happy Jack Squirrel.

"Wherever branches of one tree touch those of another, and you know in a thick forest this is frequently the case, he travels about freely if he wants to. But those trees are so big that I suspect he spends most of his time in the one in which his home is," replied Old Mother Nature. "However, if an enemy appears in his home tree, he makes his escape by jumping from one tree to another, just as you would do."

"What I want to know is where he gets his food if he spends all his time up in the trees," spoke up Danny Meadow Mouse.

Old Mother Nature smiled. "Where should he get it but up where he lives?" she asked. "Rufous never has to worry about food. It is all around him. You see, so far as known, he lives wholly on the thick parts of the needles, which you know are the leaves, of fir and spruce trees, and on the bark of tender twigs. So you see he is more of a tree dweller than any of the Squirrel family. While Rufous has the general shape of Danny and his relatives, he has quite a long tail. Now I guess this will do for the nearest relatives of Danny Meadow Mouse."

"He certainly has a lot of them," remarked Whitefoot the Wood Mouse. Then he added a little wistfully, "Of course, in a way they are all cousins of mine, but I wish I had some a little more closely related."

"You have," replied Old Mother Nature, and Whitefoot pricked up his big ears. "One of them is Bigear the Rock Mouse, who lives out in the mountains of the Far West. He is as fond of the rocks as Rufous is of the trees. Sometimes he lives in brush heaps and in brushy country, but he prefers rocks, and that is why he is known as the Rock Mouse.

"He is a pretty little fellow, if anything a trifle bigger than you, Whitefoot, and he is dressed much like you with a yellowish-brown coat and white waistcoat. He has just such a long tail covered with hair its whole length. But you should see his ears. He has the largest ears of any member of the whole family. That is why he is called Bigear. He likes best to be out at night, but often comes out on dull days. He eats seeds and small nuts and is especially fond of juniper seeds. He always lays up a supply of food for winter. Often he is found very high up on the mountains.

"Another of your cousins, Whitefoot, lives along the seashore of the East down in the Sunny South. He is called the Beach Mouse. In general appearance he is much like you, having the same shape, long tail and big ears, but he is a little smaller and his coat varies. When he lives back from the shore, in fields where the soil is dark, his upper coat is dark grayish-brown, but when he lives on the white sands of the seashore it is very light. His home is in short burrows in the ground.

"Now don't you little people think you have learned enough about the Mouse family?"

"You haven't told us about Nibbler the House Mouse yet. And you said you would," protested Peter Rabbit.

"And when we were learning about Longfoot the Kangaroo Rat you said he was most closely related to the Pocket Mice. What about them?" said Johnny Chuck.

Old Mother Nature laughed. "I see," said she, "that you want to know all there is to know. Be on hand to-morrow morning. I guess we can finish up with the Mouse family then and with them the order of Rodents to which all of you belong."


A First Book in American History  by Edward Eggleston

Franklin, the Printer

When Ben Franklin left his brother he tried in vain to get a place in one of the other printing offices in Boston. But James Franklin had sent word to the other printers not to take Benjamin into their employ. There was no other town nearer than New York large enough to support a printing office. Franklin, who was now but seventeen years old, sold some of his books, and secretly got aboard a sloop ready to sail to New York. In New York he could find no work, but was recommended to try in Philadelphia.

The modes of travel in that time were very rough. The easiest way of getting from Boston to New York was by sailing vessels. To get to Philadelphia, Franklin had first to take a sailboat to Amboy, in New Jersey. On the way a squall of wind tore the sails and drove the boat to anchor near the Long Island shore, where our runaway boy lay all night in the little hold of the boat, with the waves beating over the deck and the water leaking down on him. When at last he landed at Amboy, he had been thirty hours without anything to eat or any water to drink.

Having but little money in his pocket, he had to walk from Amboy to Burlington; and when, soaked with rain, he stopped at an inn, he cut such a figure that the people came near arresting him for a runaway bond servant, of whom there were many at that time. He thought he might better have stayed at home.

This tired and mud-bespattered young fellow got a chance to go from Burlington to Philadelphia in a rowboat by taking his turn at the oars. There were no street lamps in the town of Philadelphia, and the men in the boat passed the town without knowing it. Like forlorn tramps, they landed and made a fire of some fence rails.

When they got back to Philadelphia in the morning, Franklin—who was to become in time the most famous man in that town—walked up the street in his working clothes, which were badly soiled by his rough journey. His spare stockings and shirt were stuffed into his pockets.

He bought three large rolls at a baker's shop. One of these he carried under each arm; the other he munched as he walked.


Franklin's Entry into Philadelphia

As he passed along the street a girl named Deborah Read stood in the door of her father's house, and laughed at the funny sight of a young fellow with bulging pockets and a roll under each arm. Years afterwards this same Deborah was married to Franklin.

Franklin got a place to work with a printer named Keimer. He was now only a poor printer-boy, in leather breeches such as workingmen wore at that time. But, though he looked poor, he was already different from most of the boys in Philadelphia. He was a lover of good books. The boy who has learned to read the best books will be an educated man, with or without schools. The great difference between people is shown in the way they spend their leisure time. Franklin, when not studying, spent his evenings with a few young men who were also fond of books. Here is the sort of young man that will come to something.

I suppose people began to notice and talk about this studious young workman. One day Keimer, the printer for whom Franklin was at work, saw, coming toward his office, Sir William Keith, the governor of the province of Pennsylvania, and another gentleman, both finely dressed after the fashion of the time, in powdered periwigs and silver knee buckles, much as you see in the picture on the next page. Keimer was delighted to have such visitors, and he ran down to meet the great men. But imagine his disappointment when the governor asked to see Franklin, and led away the young printer in leather breeches to talk with him in the tavern.

The governor wanted Franklin to set up a printing office of his own, because both Keimer and the other master printer in Philadelphia were poor workmen. But Franklin had no money, and it took a great deal to buy a printing press and types in that day. Franklin told the governor that he did not believe his father would help him to buy an outfit. But the governor wrote a letter himself to Franklin's father, asking him to start Benjamin in business.


Franklin and the Governor

So Franklin went back to Boston in a better plight than that in which he had left. He had on a brand new suit of clothes, he carried a watch, and he had some silver in his pockets. His father and mother were glad to see him once more, but his father told him he was too young to start in business for himself.

Franklin returned to Philadelphia, Governor Keith, who was one of those fine gentlemen that make many promising speeches, now offered to start Franklin himself. He wanted him to go to London to buy the printing press.

He promised to give the young man letters to people in London, and one that would get him the money to buy the press.

But, somehow, every time that Franklin called on the governor for the letters he was told to call again. At last Franklin went on shipboard, thinking the governor had sent the letters in the ship's letter bag. Before the ship got to England the bag was opened, and no letters for Franklin were found. A gentleman now told Franklin that Keith made a great many such promises, but he never kept them. Fine clothes do not make a fine gentleman.

So Franklin was left in London without money or friends. But he got work as a printer, and learned some things about the business that he could not learn in America. The English printers drank a great deal of beer. They laughed at Franklin because he did not drink beer, and they called him the "Water American." But he wasn't a fellow to be afraid of ridicule. They told him that water would make him weak, but they were surprised to find him able to lift more than any of them. He was also the strongest and most expert swimmer of all. In London he kept up his reading. He paid a man who kept a secondhand bookstore for permission to read his books.

Franklin came back to Philadelphia as clerk for a merchant; but the merchant soon died, and Franklin went to work again for his old master, Keimer. He was very useful, for he could make ink and cast type when they were needed, and he also engraved some designs on type metal. Keimer once fell out with Franklin, and discharged him; but he begged him to come back when there was some paper money to be printed, with Keimer could not print without Franklin's help in making the engravings.


Thomas Miller

The Spring Walk

We had a pleasant walk to-day

Over the meadows and far away,

Across the bridge by the water-mill,

By the woodside and up the hill;

And if you listen to what I say,

I'll tell you what we saw to-day.

Amid a hedge, where the first leaves

Were peeping from their sheathes so sly,

We saw four eggs within a nest,

And they were blue as a summer sky.

An elder branch dipped in the brook;

We wondered why it moved, and found

A silken-haired smooth water-rat

Nibbling, and swimming round and round.

Where daisies open'd to the sun,

In a broad meadow, green and white,

The lambs were racing eagerly—

We never saw a prettier sight.

We saw upon the shady banks

Long rows of golden flowers shine,

And first mistook for buttercups

The star-shaped yellow celandine.

Anemones and primroses,

And the blue violets of spring,

We found, while listening by a hedge

To hear a merry plowman sing.

And from the earth the plow turned up

There came a sweet, refreshing smell,

Such as the lily of the vale

Sends forth from many a woodland dell.

And leaning from the old stone bridge,

Below, we saw our shadows lie;

And through the gloomy arches watched

The swift and fearless swallows fly.

We heard the speckle-breasted lark

As it sang somewhere out of sight,

And tried to find it, but the sky

Was filled with clouds of dazzling light.

We saw young rabbits near the woods

And heard the pheasant's wings go "whir";

And then we saw a squirrel leap

From an old oak tree to a fir.

We came back by the village fields,

A pleasant walk it was across 'em,

For all behind the houses lay

The orchards red and white with blossom.

Were I to tell you all we saw,

I'm sure that it would take me hours;

For the whole landscape was alive

With bees, and birds, and buds, and flowers.


  WEEK 17  


Stories of Beowulf Told to the Children  by H. E. Marshall

How Beowulf the Goth Came to Daneland

And now it came to pass that, across the sea in far Gothland, the songs of Grendel and his wrath were sung, until to Beowulf the Goth the tale of woe was carried. And Beowulf, when he heard of Grendel's deeds, cried that he would go across the waves to Hrothgar, the brave king, since he had need of men to help him.

Now Beowulf was very strong in war, mighty among men. Of all the nobles of the Goths there was none so great as he. Much beloved, too, was he of Hygelac, King of the Goths, for they were kinsmen and good comrades. And because of the love they bore him, many prayed him to bide peacefully at home, but others, knowing his prowess, bade him go forth.

Beowulf was eager for the contest, so taking with him fifteen warriors and good comrades, he stepped into a ship and bade the captain set sail for Daneland.

Then like a bird wind-driven upon the waves, the foam-necked ship sped forth. For two days the warriors fared on over the blue sea, until they came again to Daneland and anchored beneath the steep mountains of that far shore.


The warriors fared on over the blue sea

There, lightly springing to shore, the warriors gave thanks to the sea-god that the voyage had been so short and easy for them.

But upon the heights above them stood the warden of the shore. His duty it was to guard the sea-cliffs and mark well that no foe landed unaware. Now as the warriors sprang to shore, he saw the sun gleam upon sword and shield and coat of mail.

"What manner of men be these?" he asked himself. And mounting upon his horse he rode towards them.

Waving his huge spear aloft, he cried, as he rode onward, "What men be ye who come thus clad in mail-coats, thus armed with sword and spear? Whence cometh this proud vessel over the waves? Long have I kept watch and ward upon this shore that no foe might come unaware to Daneland, yet never have I seen shield-bearing men come openly as ye. And never have I seen more noble warrior than he who seems your leader. Nay, such splendour of armour, such beauty and grace have I not seen. But, strangers, travellers from the sea, I must know whence ye come ere ye go further. Ye may not pass else, lest ye be spies and enemies to Daneland. It were well that ye told me speedily."

Then Beowulf answered him, "We are folk of the Goths, thanes of King Hygelac. In friendly guise we come to seek thy lord, King Hrothgar, the mighty chieftain. We have a goodly message to the famed lord of the Danes. There is no cause to be secret. Thou knowest if it be true or no, but we indeed have heard that among ye Danes there is a great and wily foe, a loather of valour, who prowleth terribly in dark nights, making great slaughter and causing much woe. Therefore have I come, for perchance I may be of succour to the noble King Hrothgar in his need."

Fearless and bold, facing the band of warlike men, the warden sat upon his horse, and when Beowulf had ceased speaking, he answered him.

"Ye come as friends, O bearers of weapons, O wearers of war garments. Follow me then, and I will lead you on. I will also give commandment to my men that they guard your ship where it lies by the shore until ye come again."

So following the warden they marched forward. Eager they were for battle, eager to see the far-famed Hart Hall. And as they marched, their gold-decked helmets, their steel mail-coats, their jewelled sword-hilts, flashed in the sunlight, and the clank and clash of weapons and armour filled the air.

On and on they pressed quickly, until the warden drew rein. "There," he said, pointing onward, "there lies the great Hart Hall. No longer have ye need of me. The way ye cannot miss. As for me, I will back to the sea to keep watch against a coming foe."

Then wheeling his horse he galloped swiftly away, while the Goths marched onward until they reached the Hart Hall. There, weary of the long way that they had come, they laid down their shields, and leaning their spears against the walls, sat upon the bench before the great door.

And as they sat there resting, there came to them a proud warrior. "Whence come ye with these great shields," he asked, "whence with these grey shirts of mail, these jewelled helmets and mighty spears? I am Hrothgar's messenger and servant, I who ask. Never saw I prouder strangers, never more seemly men. I ween it is not from some foe ye flee in fear and trouble. Rather in pride and daring it would seem ye come to visit Hrothgar."

Then answered Beowulf. "My name is Beowulf, and we are Hygelac's thanes. To thy lord, the mighty Hrothgar, we will tell our errand if he will deign that we do greet him."

The warrior bowed low, for well he saw that Beowulf was a mighty prince.

"I will ask my lord the King," he said, "if so be thou mayest come to him. And to thee right quickly will I bear his answer."

So saying he departed, and came to Hrothgar where he sat amongst his earls. The king was now old and grey-haired, and sat amid his wise men bowed with grief, for there was none among them mighty enough to free his land from the Ogre.

"My lord," the warrior said, and knelt before the king, "from far beyond the sea strange knights are come. They pray that they may speak with thee. These sons of battle name their leader Beowulf. Refuse them not, O king, but give them kindly answer. For by the splendour of their arms I deem them worthy of much honour. The prince who sendeth such warriors hither must be great indeed."

"Beowulf!" cried Hrothgar. "I knew him when he was yet a lad. His father and his mother have I known. Truly he hath sought a friend. And I have heard of him that he is much renowned in war, and that he hath the strength of thirty men in the grip of his hand. I pray Heaven he hath been sent to free us from the horror of Grendel. Haste thee, bid him enter, bid them all to come. I would see the whole friendly band together. Say to them that they are right welcome to the land of Danes."

The warrior bowed low. Then once more going to the door of the Hall, he stood before Beowulf and his knights.

"My lord," he said, "the king biddeth me to say to thee that he knoweth already of thy rank and fame. He saith to you brave-hearted men from over the sea that ye are all welcome to him. Now may ye go in to speak with him, wearing your war trappings and with your helmets upon your heads. But leave your shields, your spears, and deadly swords without here, until the talk be done."

Then Beowulf and his warriors rose. Some went with him to the Hall, others stayed without to guard the shields and weapons.

Guided by the Danish warrior the knights marched right through the great Hart Hall, until they stood before the Gift-seat where sat the aged king.

"Hail to thee, Hrothgar," cried Beowulf. "I am Hygelac's friend and kinsman. Many fair deeds have I done though yet I be young. And to me in far Gothland the tales of Grendel's grim warfare were told. Sea-faring men told that the great Hall so fair and well-built doth stand forsaken and empty as soon as the shades of evening fall, because of the prowlings of that fell giant.

"Then as we heard such tales did my friends urge me to come to thee because they knew my might. They had themselves seen how I laid low my foes. Five monsters I bound, thus humbling a giant brood. Sea-monsters I slew in the waves at night-time. Many a wrong have I avenged, fiercely grinding the oppressors.

"And now will I fight against Grendel. Alone against the Ogre will I wage war. Therefore one boon I crave of thee, noble prince. Refuse it not, for thereto am I come from very far. I pray thee that I alone, having with me only mine own earls and comrades, may cleanse Hart Hall.

"It hath been told to me that Grendel recketh not of weapons, for his hide is as of steel armour. Therefore will I bear neither sword nor shield. But I will grapple with the fiend with mine hands alone, and foe to foe we will fight for victory. And, unto whomsoever it seemeth good to the Lord of Life, unto him shall the victory be given.

"If Grendel win, then will he fearlessly devour the people of the Goths my dear comrades, my noble earls, even as aforetime he hath devoured thy warriors. Then wilt thou not need to cover me with a mound, for the lone moor will be my burial-place. Where ye track the footsteps of the Ogre stained with gore, there will he with greed devour my thanes and me.

"But if I die, then send back to Hygelac my coat of mail, for in all the world there is no other like to it. This is all I ask."

Beowulf was silent, and Hrothgar the aged king answered him.

"O friend Beowulf," he said, "thou hast sought us out to help us. Yet to me it is pain and sorrow to tell to any man what shame, what sudden mischiefs, Grendel in his wrath hath done to me. See! my palace-troop, my war-band hath grown small. Grendel hath done this. In his prowlings he hath carried off my men so that my warriors are few.

"Full oft when the wine was red in the cup my knights did swear that they would await the coming of Grendel, to meet him with sword-thrust. So when night fell they abode in the Hall. But in the morning, when day dawned, my fair house was red with blood. And I needs must mourn the death of yet more gallant knights, must have fewer thanes to own my rule.

"But sit now to the feast and eat with gladness, sure that victory will come to thee."

So the Goths sat them down in the great Hart Hall and feasted with the Dane folk. The mead cup was carried round, the minstrel sang of deeds of love and battle, and there was great joy and laughter in all the Hall.


The Aesop for Children  by Milo Winter

The Bear and the Bees

A Bear roaming the woods in search of berries happened on a fallen tree in which a swarm of Bees had stored their honey. The Bear began to nose around the log very carefully to find out if the Bees were at home. Just then one of the swarm came home from the clover field with a load of sweets. Guessing what the Bear was after, the Bee flew at him, stung him sharply and then disappeared into the hollow log.

The Bear lost his temper in an instant, and sprang upon the log tooth and claw, to destroy the nest. But this only brought out the whole swarm. The poor Bear had to take to his heels, and he was able to save himself only by diving into a pool of water.

It is wiser to bear a single injury in silence than to provoke a thousand by flying into a rage.



Lucy Larcom

The Violet

Dear little violet,

Don't be afraid!

Lift your blue eyes

From the rock's mossy shade.

All the birds call for you,

Out of the sky;

May is here waiting,

And here, too, am I.

Why do you shiver so,

Violet, sweet?

Soft is the meadow grass,

Under my feet.

Wrapped in your hood of green,

Violet, why

Peep from your earth door,

So silent and shy?


  WEEK 17  


The Awakening of Europe  by M. B. Synge

The Storm Bursts

"Like one fierce cloud over a waste of waves

Hung Tyranny."


T HE answer from Philip had come, but a more terrible one was to follow. The news soon spread through the already heart-broken Netherlands, that the Duke of Alva was on his way with a splendid Spanish army, to suppress in the country the struggle for religious liberty. All knew what this meant. Alva's name was known and feared throughout Europe. Like his royal master, he would have no mercy, no pity on the Netherlands. He had come to conquer, not to make peace.

"I have tamed men of iron in my day," he had said with contempt; "shall I not easily crush these men of butter?"

The whole country shuddered at the arrival of this man, as they prepared, almost hopelessly, to defend their religious liberty to the end. Alva's first act was to get rid of the Counts Egmont and Horn, who, though rigid Roman Catholics, had openly showed their disgust at the cruelty and injustice of the Inquisition. Professing great friendship for them, he invited them both to his house in Brussels one evening to talk over the plans—so he said—of a great castle he meant to build in Antwerp. The counts went, though they had been warned of treachery. A large plan of the proposed castle lay on the table, and the counts discussed it warmly with Alva. Suddenly Alva, feigning illness, left the room. Not long after, the party broke up. The Count Horn had left, and Egmont was leaving, when he was requested to stay behind a moment. Then a Spanish soldier ordered him to give up his sword; others rushed in, and he was hurried to a dark room with barred windows and hung with black. Meanwhile the Count Horn had been arrested outside, and both were sent to a dungeon in the Castle of Ghent.

Having accomplished this, Alva next appointed a council of men to help him in carrying out the king's commands. This council is known to history by the terrible name of the "Blood-Council," and so thoroughly did it perform its deadly work that in three months 1800 human beings had suffered death at its hands. Men, women, children were beheaded or burnt. There were stakes and scaffolds in every village, every hour tolled the church bells for one who had suffered in their midst. It seemed as if the spirit of the nation was broken, as if the suffering people could endure no more.

Having been confined in the Castle of Ghent for nearly a year, the Counts Egmont and Horn were now brought up for trial before the Blood-Council. They were found guilty and condemned to die by the sword on the following day, their heads to hang on high in some public place decreed by Alva. He knew the death of the counts would have a great effect on the people of the Netherlands.

It was a summer morning in the June of 1568. Three thousand Spanish troops were drawn up in battle array round the scaffold, which had been set up in the large square at Brussels. Then Count Egmont was led forth. He wore a robe of red damask, over which was thrown a short black mantle worked in gold, while on his head he wore a black silk hat with plumes.

"Hear my cry, O God, and give ear unto my prayer," he cried as he walked to his death.

He was beheaded together with his friend and countryman, Count Horn. As Alva had foretold, their deaths made a deep impression on the public mind. If tears fell from the eyes of the Netherlanders, they also fell from those of the Spanish soldiers, who had respected the counts as brave and valiant generals. It is said, too, that tears were even seen on the iron cheek of Alva, who was gazing at the ghastly scene from a window opposite. But from that hour the people hated Alva with a more bitter hatred than before. The death of such nobles of high birth filled the land with horror and anguish. They determined never to rest till they had overthrown the power of Spain.

Alva was now Governor-General of the Netherlands, and Margaret had left the country for ever.


Gods and Heroes  by Robert Edward Francillon

Love and the Soul; or, The Story of Cupid and Psyche

Part 1 of 2

T HE fact was, that Jupiter himself had fallen in love with the beautiful new goddess. But she would have nothing to say to him: and so, just out of anger and revenge, he ordered her to marry Vulcan, because he was ugly, deformed, and always black with working at his forges.

Altogether it was an unlucky day when Venus came into the sky. Her beauty turned the heads of the gods, and filled the goddesses with envy and jealousy. But all that mattered nothing to her, for she had a magic zone, or girdle, called "Cestus" in Latin: and whenever she put it on she became so irresistibly charming that everybody forgave her everything. Not only the gods, but men also, became her lovers, her own favorite among them all being Mars, the god of War—a cruel and savage god, very unlike the rest, delighting in battle and slaughter. Then, on earth, she tried her best to make a very handsome young prince named Adōnis fall in love with her. But he—strange to say—cared nothing for her. The only thing he cared for in the world was hunting: he scorned everything else, Venus included. Still, in spite of his scorn for her, she mourned for him miserably when he was killed by a wild boar. She changed him into the flower called Anemone, so that she might still find him upon earth: though some people say her grief was such that Death took pity on her, and allowed him to come to life again for six months at a time every year. This might mean that Adōnis is only another name for the beauty of the earth, which comes to life for the six months of spring and summer, and dies for the six months of autumn and winter. For most of these stories have some sort of meaning.

Venus had a child, named Cupid, which means love. You must often have seen pictures and statues of him—a very beautiful boy, with wings, carrying a bow and arrows. They were magic arrows. For if any man was pricked by one of their points, he fell in love with the first woman he saw: or a woman, in like manner, with the first man. And as Cupid was exceedingly mischievous, and fond of aiming his arrows at people for his own amusement, the wrong women were always falling in love with the wrong men, and the wrong men with the wrong women: and so a great deal of fresh trouble came into the world, as if there had not been enough before, without the mischievous tricks of Cupid. Sometimes he went about blindfolded, shooting his arrows about at random: and then, of course, the confusion was worse than ever. It has been said that the bandage over his eyes means that love is blind to faults. But he does not always wear the bandage: and when he does, I believe it is only when he does not choose to see.

Now in a certain city there lived a king and queen, who had three beautiful daughters. The name of the youngest was Psyche, and she was the most beautiful of all. So beautiful and so charming was she that the people worshiped her as a goddess, instead of Venus. This made Venus very angry indeed, that a mortal girl should receive the honor and worship due to the goddess of Beauty. So, in her jealous wrath, she said to Cupid:—

"Do you see that girl yonder? I order you, as your mother, to make her fall in love with the very meanest of mankind—one so degraded that he cannot find his equal in wretchedness throughout the whole wide world."

Psyche's elder sisters were both married to kings; but she herself was so marvelously beautiful that no mere mortal dared to ask for her in marriage. This distressed the king, her father, greatly: for it was thought dishonorable for a princess not to marry. So he consulted the oracle of Apollo—an "oracle" being a place where a god's voice answered questions. And the voice answered him thus:—

"On a cliff the maiden place:

Deck her as you deck the dead

None that is of mortal race

Shall so fair a maiden wed.

But a being dread and dire,

Feared by earth, by heaven abhorred,

Breathing venom, sword, and fire—

He shall be the lady's lord."

This answer made the king more unhappy than ever at the thought of having to give his favorite daughter to be devoured by some terrible monster. However, the oracle had to be obeyed, and the whole city gave itself up to mourning for many days. Then at last a funeral procession set out to conduct the poor princess to her doom. Her father and mother were distracted with grief, and Psyche alone showed cheerfulness and courage, doing all she could to comfort them, and to make them resigned to the will of heaven.

When the procession reached the highest peak of a neighboring mountain, it returned to the city, and Psyche was left there all alone. There her courage left her, and she threw herself upon the rock all trembling and weeping. But suddenly, in the midst of her distress, she was gently lifted up by the wind, and as gently let down upon the soft turf of a secret valley in the very heart of the hill.

It was a very delightful place, and Psyche fell pleasantly asleep. When she woke she saw a grove, with a fountain of water as clear as crystal, and near the fountain was a splendid palace, built of gold, cedar, and ivory, and paved with precious stones. Psyche approached it timidly, and presently found courage to enter. The beauty of the chambers lured her on and on, until at last she was fairly bewildered with admiration. All the wealth and beauty of the world seemed collected in this wonderful palace, and all without a lock or a chain to guard them.

Suddenly, in the midst of her wonder, she heard a musical voice, saying:—

"Lady, wonder not nor fear;

All is thine thou findest here.

On yon couch let slumber bless thee,

hands unseen shall bathe and dress thee,

Bring thee meat and pour thee wine—

Thine are we, and all is thine."

She looked round, but saw nobody. However, she saw the couch, and, being very tired with wandering about the palace and seeing so many wonders, lay down upon it and soon fell asleep. When quite rested, she rose and took a bath, being waited upon by invisible hands. Then she saw dishes of all sorts of dainties, and cups of wine, carried apparently without hands to a table, at which, being by this time exceedingly hungry, she sat down and made a delicious meal, attended by voices for servants. When she had finished eating, another voice sang to an invisible harp, and this performance was followed by a full chorus of such music as is only heard in heaven. And so at last the darkness of night came on.

Then she heard a voice, different from all the rest, whisper close in her ear:—

"I am your husband, Psyche, of whom the oracle foretold. This my palace, with all its delight, is yours, and I shall make you very happy. But you must obey me in two things. You must never see your father or your mother or your sisters again, and you must never seek to see me at all. If you promise this, I swear to you that no harm shall befall your kindred, and that you shall be happy forever."

The whisper was strangely sweet and gentle for a terrible monster's. Indeed, it was so loving and so tender that she forgot even to tremble. It went to her heart, and she could only whisper back:—

"I promise you."

Thenceforth Psyche lived in the palace, every day bringing her fresh surprises and pleasures, the voices keeping her company, and delighting her with their marvelous music. And as soon as it became too dark for her to see him, the lord of the palace, her husband, came to her and stayed with her till nearly daybreak, until at last she forgot everything except how good he was to her, and how much she had learned to love him. It did not even trouble her that she had never seen him, for she thought of nothing but pleasing him and obeying his commands.

But one day Psyche's sisters, having heard of her fate, and having come all the way from their husbands' kingdoms to learn all about it, climbed together to the top of the mountain-peak to see if they could find any traces of her. Finding none, they wept and beat their breasts till the rocks resounded with their cries. Nay, their lamentations reached the palace itself; and Psyche, who loved her sisters, ran, forgetful of her promise, to the foot of the mountain, whence she saw them above mourning for her in an agony of woe.

The sight of their grief was too much for Psyche: it seemed so cruel that her sisters should mourn for her as dead while all the while she was alive and happy. Surely the husband who loved her so much did not mean the promise to prevent her from putting their hearts at ease. So she gave a command, and forthwith the invisible hands lifted her sisters, and carried them down safely into the secret valley.

Imagine their surprise! But imagine it still more when their lost sister, after embracing them, led them into her palace, showed them her treasures, entertained them with invisible concerts, and feasted them sumptuously.

"And the lord, your husband," asked the eldest sister at last, "what manner of man may he be? And does he use you well and make you happy?"

The sudden question took Psyche aback. It seemed so strange to have to answer that she had never seen the face of her husband—that she no more knew what he was like than they. So, to avert their curiosity, she said:—

"He is an excellent husband and makes me very happy indeed—a handsome young man, who has not yet grown a beard: he spends his days in hunting among the mountains, or no doubt you would have seen him. . . . But it is time for us to part, my sisters, or it will be dark before you get home."

So, loading them with jewels and golden ornaments, she embraced them, and, calling the invisible hands, had them conveyed safely back to the top of the mountain.

Whether the sisters had been honest in their mourning for Psyche I cannot tell: though I think they made more noise about it than people make who really and truly grieve. Anyhow, they were now filled with envy of Psyche's wealth and happiness.

"To think of my being married to a bald, miserly old man," said the eldest sister on their way home, "while that minx has a handsome young husband who squanders untold wealth upon her! And how proud she has grown! Why, she spoke to us as if we were her slaves."

"And to think," said the second sister, "of my being married to a gouty cripple! You may take things patiently, sister, and put up with her airs: but not I. I propose that we hit on some plan to take down her pride."

So they hid the presents that Psyche had given them, redoubled their cries and groans, told their father and mother that Psyche had certainly been devoured, and returned to their own kingdoms for a while. But only for a while. Having arranged a plan, they returned to the top of the mountain: and in such a hurry were they to revisit Psyche that they leapt into the valley and would have come down with broken necks had not a passing breeze, who recognized them as Psyche's sisters, caught them and made their fall easy. Psyche could not help being glad to see them again, for she loved them very dearly, and, in spite of her happiness, hungered for news from home.

After she had entertained them as before:—

"By the way," asked the eldest sister, "the lord, your husband—what manner of man is he? You told us; but I have forgotten."

And so had poor Psyche forgotten what she had told them. So she said, this time:—

"He is a middle-aged man, with a big beard, and a few gray hairs sprinkled here and there. He is a merchant, and travels into distant countries, or no doubt he would have been here to give you welcome."

"Oh, you poor innocent!" said the sister. "As if he could be young and middle-aged, bearded and beardless, a merchant and a hunter! It's plain you've never seen that husband of yours, and no wonder he wouldn't let you. For we  have—we, who spend our lives in watching over your interests," she went on, squeezing out a hypocritical tear. "Your husband is an enormous dragon, with many folds and coils, a neck swollen with poison, and huge gaping jaws. Think of the oracle, you poor, dear, deluded girl. He is only feeding you up with delicacies in order to eat you. Well—if you like the prospect, we  have done our  duty. And when you are eaten up, you won't be able to say we  didn't tell you so."

Psyche was aghast with dismay. She trusted her sisters: there was the oracle: and it was certainly mysterious that her husband had never allowed her to look upon him.

"Oh! what shall  I do?" she cried.

"Do? Why, there's only one thing to do. We have thought it all out for you. Here is a lamp. Light it and hide it under a piece of tapestry. When the monster sleeps, uncover the lamp, and throw the light full upon him. Then take this knife, which has been well sharpened, and sever his head from his body. Thus the world will be freed from a curse, and you will be saved."

Thereupon they left her. And how shall Psyche's feelings be described? Was it possible she was the wife of a horrible dragon? Promise or no promise, that she must know. So she hid the lighted lamp, as directed. The night came and her husband with it. When he had fallen into a deep sleep, Psyche, with naked feet, crept noiselessly across the floor, drew off the tapestry, and flooded the room with light, and she saw—

A dragon? No—Cupid himself, asleep in all his beauty, with folded wings, and his bow and arrows by his side.

She hung over him in love and wonder. Alas! a drop of oil from the lamp fell upon him, and scalded his shoulder. He woke, cast a look of reproach and sorrow upon poor faithless Psyche, seized his bow and arrows, spread his wings, and flew. She, overwhelmed with penitence for her disobedience and distrust, and desperate at the thought of losing him, clung with both hands to one of his feet, and was thus carried through the window and far away through the night till her strength failed her and she fell fainting to the ground.

When she came to her senses, she found herself on the bank of a river, and, in her despair, threw herself into the stream. But the river took pity on her, and carried her into a bed of reeds, to whom the god Pan was giving a music-lesson. Pan told her how foolish she was to think she could mend matters by killing herself, and advised patience, which was none the worse counsel for being easy to preach and difficult to follow. However, he was very kind, so she thanked him, and wandered out into the world, hoping that she might meet Cupid some day, and beg him to forgive her.


----- Poem by Rachel Field -----

  WEEK 17  


Fairy Tales Too Good To Miss—Beside the Sea  by Lisa M. Ripperton


O NCE upon a time there was a man whose name was Gudbrand. He had a farm which lay far, far away upon a hillside, and so they called him Gudbrand-on-the-Hillside.

Now, you must know this man and his good wife lived so happily together, and understood one another so well, that all the husband did the wife thought so well done there was nothing like it in the world, and she was always pleased at whatever he turned his hand to. The farm was their own land, and they had a hundred dollars lying at the bottom of their chest and two cows tethered up in a stall in their farmyard.

So one day his wife said to Gudbrand, "Do you know, dear, I think we ought to take one of our cows into town and sell it; that's what I think; for then we shall have some money in hand, and such well-to-do people as we ought to have ready money as other folks have. As for the hundred dollars in the chest yonder, we can't make a hole in our savings, and I'm sure I don't know what we want with more than one cow.

"Besides, we shall gain a little in another way, for then I shall get off with only looking after one cow, instead of having, as now, to feed and litter and water two."

Well, Gudbrand thought his wife talked right good sense, so he set off at once with the cow on the way to town to sell her; but when he got to the town, there was no one who would buy his cow.

"Well, well, never mind," said Gudbrand, "at the worst, I can only go back home with my cow. I've both stable and tether for her, and the road is no farther out than in." And with that he began to toddle home with his cow.

But when he had gone a bit of the way, a man met him who had a horse to sell. Gudbrand thought 'twas better to have a horse than a cow, so he traded with the man. A little farther on he met a man walking along and driving a fat pig before him, and he thought it better to have a fat pig than a horse, so he traded with the man. After that he went a little farther, and a man met him with a goat, so he thought it better to have a goat than a pig, and he traded with the man who owned the goat. Then he went on a good bit till he met a man who had a sheep, and he traded with him too, for he thought it always better to have a sheep than a goat. After a while he met a man with a goose, and he traded away the sheep for the goose; and when he had walked a long, long time, he met a man with a cock, and he traded with him, for he thought in this wise, " 'Tis surely better to have a cock than a goose."

Then he went on till the day was far spent, and he began to get very hungry, so he sold the cock for a shilling, and bought food with the money, for, thought Gudbrand-on-the-Hillside, " 'Tis always better to save one's life than to have a cock."

After that he went on homeward till he reached his nearest neighbor's house, where he turned in.

"Well," said the owner of the house, "how did things go with you in town?"

"Rather so-so," said Gudbrand, "I can't praise my luck, nor do I blame it either," and with that he told the whole story from first to last.

"Ah!" said his friend, "you'll get nicely hauled over the coals, when you go home to your wife. Heaven help you, I wouldn't stand in your shoes for anything."

"Well," said Gudbrand-on-the-Hillside, "I think things might have gone much worse with me; but now, whether I have done wrong or not, I have so kind a good wife she never has a word to say against anything that I do."

"Oh!" answered his neighbor, "I hear what you say, but I don't believe it for all that."

"And so you doubt it?" asked Gudbrand-on-the-Hillside.

"Yes," said the friend, "I have a hundred crowns, at the bottom of my chest at home, I will give you if you can prove what you say."

So Gudbrand stayed there till evening, when it began to get dark, and then they went together to his house, and the neighbor was to stand outside the door and listen, while the man went in to his wife.

"Good evening!" said Gudbrand-on-the-Hillside.

"Good evening!" said the good wife. "Oh! is that you? Now, I am happy."

Then the wife asked how things had gone with him in town.

"Oh, only so-so," answered Gudbrand; "not much to brag of. When I got to town there was no one who would buy the cow, so you must know I traded it away for a horse."

"For a horse," said his wife; "well that is good of you; thanks with all my heart. We are so well to do that we may drive to church, just as well as other people, and if we choose to keep a horse we have a right to get one, I should think." So, turning to her child she said, "Run out, deary, and put up the horse."

"Ah!" said Gudbrand, "but you see I have not the horse after all, for when I got a bit farther on the road, I traded it for a pig."

"Think of that, now!" said the wife. "You did just as I should have done myself; a thousand thanks! Now I can have a bit of bacon in the house to set before people when they come to see me, that I can. What do we want with a horse? People would only say we had got so proud that we couldn't walk to church. Go out, child, and put up the pig in the sty."

"But I have not the pig either," said Gudbrand, "for when I got a little farther on, I traded it for a goat."

"Dear me!" cried the wife, "how well you manage everything! Now I think it over, what should I do with a pig? People would only point at us and say 'Yonder they eat up all they have.' No, now I have a goat, and I shall have milk and cheese, and keep the goat too. Run out, child, and put up the goat."

"Nay, but I haven't the goat either," said Gudbrand, "for a little farther on I traded it away and got a fine sheep instead!"

"You don't say so!" cried his wife, "why, you do everything to please me, just as if I had been with you. What do we want with a goat? If I had it I should lose half my time in climbing up the hills to get it down. No, if I have a sheep, I shall have both wool and clothing, and fresh meat in the house. Run out, child, and put up the sheep."

"But I haven't the sheep any more than the rest," said Gudbrand, "for when I got a bit farther, I traded it away for a goose."

"Thank you, thank you, with all my heart," cried his wife, "what should I do with a sheep? I have no spinning wheel or carding comb, nor should I care to worry myself with cutting, and shaping, and sewing clothes. We can buy clothes now as we have always done; and now I shall have roast goose, which I have longed for so often; and, besides, down with which to stuff my little pillow. Run out, child, and put up the goose."

"Well!" said Gudbrand, "I haven't the goose either; for when I had gone a bit farther I traded it for a cock."

"Dear me!" cried his wife, "how you think of everything! just as I should have done myself. A cock! think of that! Why it's as good as an eight day clock, for every day the cock crows at four o'clock, and we shall be able to stir our stiff legs in good time. What should we do with a goose? I don't know how to cook it; and as for my pillow, I can stuff it with cotton grass. Run out, child, and put up the cock."

"But after all, I haven't the cock either," said Gudbrand, "for when I had gone a bit farther, I became as hungry as a hunter, so I was forced to sell the cock for a shilling, for fear I should starve."

"Now, God be praised that you did so!" cried his wife, "whatever you do, you do it always just after my own heart. What should we do with the cock? We are our own masters, I should think, and can lie abed in the morning as long as we like. Heaven be thanked that I have you safe back again; you who do everything so well, that I want neither cock nor goose; neither pigs nor kine."

Then Gudbrand opened the door and said,—

"Well, what do you say now? Have I won the hundred crowns?" and his neighbor was forced to admit that he had.


Seaside and Wayside, Book One  by Julia McNair Wright

The Spider at Home

T HE spider is busy all the time. It is not cross like a wasp. The bite of a spider does not do a man or a child much harm. A spider does not bite unless it is hurt, or when it kills its food. It bites to kill flies, bees, ants, and such things, to eat.

Spiders make webs, nets, and snares. They can spin, weave, dig, and hunt. Some can build rafts, and others make mud houses.

Their webs are to live or lie in. They are also to catch insects. The nests are for baby spiders.

The snares are to catch food. The silk of the web is very fine, but it is strong. It will hold up a big, fat spider. It will hold fast a wasp or a bee.


The Spider's Swing

Do you see the spider on his thread? It is his swing. He can swing as the boy does in his rope swing.


The Child's Swing

Do you see the spider lie at rest in his web?


The Spider at Rest in His Web

Do you see the child rest in a web made of string?


The Child Rests in a  Web Made of String

How does the spider make his web?

First he finds a good place. He presses the end of the tube he spins with, and makes a drop of glue fast to a wall, or leaf, or stem. Then he drops away; and as he goes, the glue spins out in many fine streams, which unite into one, and stiffen to silk-like thread. If he does not find a good place to make his web fast, he can climb back!

How can he climb back? He runs up his line as fast as he came down. If you scare him, he drops down on his line like a flash. It will not break.

If you break it, he gets away quickly. Then he runs off to find a new place to which to make a line fast.

The long lines in the web are called rays. The spider spins the rays first. The rays are spread out like the spokes of a wheel.

The spider guides the lines with his feet as he spins. He pulls each one to see if it is firm. Then he spins a thread, round and round, from ray to ray, until the web is done.

Webs are of many shapes. You often see the round web spread on the grass on warm mornings. People call them "Ladies' Mantles."


Percy Bysshe Shelley

From The Cloud

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,

From the seas and the streams;

I bear light shades for the leaves when laid

In their noonday dreams.

From my wings are shaken the dews that waken

The sweet buds every one,

When rocked to rest on their mother's breast,

And she dances about the sun—

I wield the flail of the lashing hail,

And whiten the green plains under,

And then again I dissolve it in rain,

And laugh as I pass in thunder.


  WEEK 17  


Hurlbut's Story of the Bible  by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut

The Pot of Oil and the Pot of Poison

II Kings iv: 1 to 7; iv: 38 to 44; vi: 1 to 7.

dropcap image N many places in the land of Israel there were living families of people who listened to the teaching of the prophets, and worshipped the Lord. They were among the seven thousand in Israel who never bowed their knees to the images of Baal, as we read in Story 78. Elisha went through the land meeting these people, and teaching them, and leading them in their worship. They were called the "sons of the prophets," and among them were some to whom God spoke, men who themselves became prophets of the Lord.

The wife of one of these men, the sons of the prophets, came one day to Elisha, and said, "O man of God, my husband is dead; and you know that he served the Lord while he lived. He was owing some money when he died; and now the man to whom he owed it has come, and he says that he will take my two sons to be his slaves, unless I pay the debt."

For in those lands, when a man owed a debt, he could be sold, or his children, that the debt might be paid. Elisha said to the woman, "What shall I do to help you? What have you in the house?"

"I have nothing in the house," answered the woman, "except a pot of oil."

Then Elisha said to her, "Go to your neighbors and borrow of them empty jars, and vessels, and bowls; borrow a great many. Then go into the room, and shut the door upon yourself and your sons; and pour out the oil into the vessels, and as each vessel is filled set it aside."

The woman went out, and borrowed of all her neighbors vessels that would hold oil, until she had a great many. Then she went into the house, and shut the door, and told her sons to bring the vessels to her one by one; and she poured out oil, filling vessel after vessel until all were full. At last they said to her, "There is not another vessel that can hold oil."

And then the oil stopped running. If she had borrowed more vessels there would have been more oil. She came and told Elisha, the man of God; and he said, "Go and sell the oil; pay the debt, and keep the rest of the money for yourself and your sons to live upon."

At another time Elisha came to Gilgal among the mountains, near Bethel, and with him were some of these men, the sons of the prophets. It was a time when food was scarce, and they sought in the field for vegetables and green things to be eaten. One man by mistake brought a number of wild gourds, which were poisonous, and threw them into the pot to be cooked with the rest of the food.

While they were eating they felt suddenly that they had been poisoned, and they cried out, "O man of God, there is death in the pot! The food is poisoned!"

Then Elisha took some meal, and threw it into the pot with the poisoned food. And he said, "Now take the food out of the pot, and let the people eat of it."

They did so; and there was no longer any poison in the food.

At one time a man came bringing to the prophet a present of loaves of barley-bread, and some ears of new corn in the husks. There were with Elisha that day a hundred men of the sons of the prophets, and Elisha said to his servant, "Give this to the people for their dinner."

The servant said, "What, should I give this for a meal to a hundred men?"

And Elisha said, "Yes, set it before them, and let them eat. For thus saith the Lord, 'They shall eat, and shall have enough, and shall leave some of it.' "

So he gave them the food; and every man took as much as he wished, and some was left over, according to the word of the Lord.

Once a company of these sons of the prophets went down from the mountains to a place near the river Jordan, and began to build a house; and Elisha was with them. As one of the men was cutting down a tree the head fell off from his axe, and dropped into the water. In those times iron and steel were very scarce and costly. The man said, "O my master, what shall I do? For this was a borrowed axe!"

Then Elisha asked to be shown just where the axe-head had fallen into the water. He cut off a stick of wood, and threw it into the water at the place. At once the iron axe-head rose to the surface of the water, and floated, as if it were wood. The prophet said, "Reach out and take it," and the man took the iron, fitted it to the handle, and went on with his work.

By these works of power all the people came to know that Elisha was a true prophet of the Lord, and spoke as with the voice of the Lord to Israel.


The Wind in the Willows  by Kenneth Grahame

The River Bank

Part 1 of 3

T HE Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said "Bother!" and "O blow!" and also "Hang spring-cleaning!" and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat. Something up above was calling him imperiously, and he made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to the gravelled carriage-drive owned by animals whose residences are nearer to the sun and air. So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, "Up we go! Up we go!" till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.

"This is fine!" he said to himself. "This is better than whitewashing!" The sunshine struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his heated brow, and after the seclusion of the cellarage he had lived in so long the carol of happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost like a shout. Jumping off all his four legs at once, in the joy of living and the delight of spring without its cleaning, he pursued his way across the meadow till he reached the hedge on the further side.

"Hold up!" said an elderly rabbit at the gap. "Sixpence for the privilege of passing by the private road!" He was bowled over in an instant by the impatient and contemptuous Mole, who trotted along the side of the hedge chaffing the other rabbits as they peeped hurriedly from their holes to see what the row was about. "Onion-sauce! Onion-sauce!" he remarked jeeringly, and was gone before they could think of a thoroughly satisfactory reply. Then they all started grumbling at each other. "How stupid  you are! Why didn't you tell him—"  "Well, why didn't yousay—"  "You might have reminded him—" and so on, in the usual way; but, of course, it was then much too late, as is always the case.

It all seemed too good to be true. Hither and thither through the meadows he rambled busily, along the hedgerows, across the copses, finding everywhere birds building, flowers budding, leaves thrusting—everything happy, and progressive, and occupied. And instead of having an uneasy conscience pricking him and whispering "whitewash!" he somehow could only feel how jolly it was to be the only idle dog among all these busy citizens. After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.

He thought his happiness was complete when, as he meandered aimlessly along, suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river. Never in his life had he seen a river before—this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver—glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spellbound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.

As he sat on the grass and looked across the river, a dark hole in the bank opposite, just above the water's edge, caught his eye, and dreamily he fell to considering what a nice snug dwelling-place it would make for an animal with few wants and fond of a bijou riverside residence, above flood level and remote from noise and dust. As he gazed, something bright and small seemed to twinkle down in the heart of it, vanished, then twinkled once more like a tiny star. But it could hardly be a star in such an unlikely situation; and it was too glittering and small for a glow-worm. Then, as he looked, it winked at him, and so declared itself to be an eye; and a small face began gradually to grow up round it, like a frame round a picture.

A brown little face, with whiskers.

A grave round face, with the same twinkle in its eye that had first attracted his notice.

Small neat ears and thick silky hair.

It was the Water Rat!


It was the Water Rat.

Then the two animals stood and regarded each other cautiously.

"Hullo, Mole!" said the Water Rat.

"Hullo, Rat!" said the Mole.

"Would you like to come over?" enquired the Rat presently.

"Oh, it's all very well to talk,"  said the Mole, rather pettishly, he being new to a river and riverside life and its ways.

The Rat said nothing, but stooped and unfastened a rope and hauled on it; then lightly stepped into a little boat which the Mole had not observed. It was painted blue outside and white within, and was just the size for two animals; and the Mole's whole heart went out to it at once, even though he did not yet fully understand its uses.

The Rat sculled smartly across and made fast. Then he held up his forepaw as the Mole stepped gingerly down. "Lean on that!" he said. "Now then, step lively!" and the Mole to his surprise and rapture found himself actually seated in the stern of a real boat.

"This has been a wonderful day!" said he, as the Rat shoved off and took to the sculls again. "Do you know, I've never been in a boat before in all my life."


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?