Text of Plan #981
  WEEK 22  

  Monday  


The Secret Garden  by Frances Hodgson Burnett

When the Sun Went Down

W HEN his head was out of sight Colin turned to Mary.

"Go and meet him," he said; and Mary flew across the grass to the door under the ivy.

Dickon was watching him with sharp eyes. There were scarlet spots on his cheeks and he looked amazing, but he showed no signs of falling.

"I can stand," he said, and his head was still held up and he said it quite grandly.

"I told thee tha' could as soon as tha' stopped bein' afraid," answered Dickon. "An' tha's stopped."

"Yes, I've stopped," said Colin.

Then suddenly he remembered something Mary had said.

"Are you making Magic?" he asked sharply.

Dickon's curly mouth spread in a cheerful grin.

"Tha's doin' Magic thysel'," he said. "It's same Magic as made these 'ere work out o' th' earth," and he touched with his thick boot a clump of crocuses in the grass.

Colin looked down at them.

"Aye," he said slowly, "there couldna' be bigger Magic then that there—there couldna' be."

He drew himself up straighter than ever.

"I'm going to walk to that tree," he said, pointing to one a few feet away from him. "I'm going to be standing when Weatherstaff comes here. I can rest against the tree if I like. When I want to sit down I will sit down, but not before. Bring a rug from the chair."

He walked to the tree and though Dickon held his arm he was wonderfully steady. When he stood against the tree trunk it was not too plain that he supported himself against it, and he still held himself so straight that he looked tall.

When Ben Weatherstaff came through the door in the wall he saw him standing there and he heard Mary muttering something under her breath.

"What art sayin'?" he asked rather testily because he did not want his attention distracted from the long thin straight boy figure and proud face.

But she did not tell him. What she was saying was this:

"You can do it! You can do it! I told you you could! You can do it! You can do it! You can!"

She was saying it to Colin because she wanted to make Magic and keep him on his feet looking like that. She could not bear that he should give in before Ben Weatherstaff. He did not give in. She was uplifted by a sudden feeling that he looked quite beautiful in spite of his thinness. He fixed his eyes on Ben Weatherstaff in his funny imperious way.

"Look at me!" he commanded. "Look at me all over! Am I a hunchback? Have I got crooked legs?"

Ben Weatherstaff had not quite got over his emotion, but he had recovered a little and answered almost in his usual way.

"Not tha'," he said. "Nowt o' th' sort. What's tha' been doin' with thysel'—hidin' out o' sight an' lettin' folk think tha' was cripple an' half-witted?"

"Half-witted!" said Colin angrily. "Who thought that?"

"Lots o' fools," said Ben. "Th' world's full o' jackasses brayin' an' they never bray nowt but lies. What did tha' shut thysel' up for?"

"Every one thought I was going to die," said Colin shortly. "I'm not!"

And he said it with such decision Ben Weatherstaff looked him over, up and down, down and up.

"Tha' die!" he said with dry exultation. "Nowt o' th' sort! Tha's got too much pluck in thee. When I seed thee put tha' legs on th' ground in such a hurry I knowed tha' was all right. Sit thee down on th' rug a bit young Mester an' give me thy orders."

There was a queer mixture of crabbed tenderness and shrewd understanding in his manner. Mary had poured out speech as rapidly as she could as they had come down the Long Walk. The chief thing to be remembered, she had told him, was that Colin was getting well—getting well. The garden was doing it. No one must let him remember about having humps and dying.

The Rajah condescended to seat himself on a rug under the tree.

"What work do you do in the gardens, Weatherstaff?" he inquired.

"Anythin' I'm told to do," answered old Ben. "I'm kep' on by favor—because she liked me."

"She?" said Colin.

"Tha' mother," answered Ben Weatherstaff.

"My mother?" said Colin, and he looked about him quietly. "This was her garden, wasn't it?"

"Aye, it was that!" and Ben Weatherstaff looked about him too. "She were main fond of it."

"It is my garden now, I am fond of it. I shall come here every day," announced Colin. "But it is to be a secret. My orders are that no one is to know that we come here. Dickon and my cousin have worked and made it come alive. I shall send for you sometimes to help—but you must come when no one can see you."

Ben Weatherstaff's face twisted itself in a dry old smile.

"I've come here before when no one saw me," he said.

"What!" exclaimed Colin. "When?"

"Th' last time I was here," rubbing his chin and looking round, "was about two year' ago."

"But no one has been in it for ten years!" cried Colin. "There was no door!"

"I'm no one," said old Ben dryly. "An' I didn't come through th' door. I come over th' wall. Th' rheumatics held me back th' last two year'."

"Tha' come an' did a bit o' prunin'!" cried Dickon. "I couldn't make out how it had been done."

"She was so fond of it—she was!" said Ben Weatherstaff slowly. "An' she was such a pretty young thing. She says to me once, 'Ben,' says she laughin', 'if ever I'm ill or if I go away you must take care of my roses.' When she did go away th' orders was no one was ever to come nigh. But I come," with grumpy obstinacy. "Over th' wall I come—until th' rheumatics stopped me—an' I did a bit o' work once a year. She'd gave her order first."

"It wouldn't have been as wick as it is if tha' hadn't done it," said Dickon. "I did wonder."

"I'm glad you did it, Weatherstaff," said Colin. "You'll know how to keep the secret."

"Aye, I'll know, sir," answered Ben. "An' it'll be easier for a man wi' rheumatics to come in at th' door."

On the grass near the tree Mary had dropped her trowel. Colin stretched out his hand and took it up. An odd expression came into his face and he began to scratch at the earth. His thin hand was weak enough but presently as they watched him—Mary with quite breathless interest—he drove the end of the trowel into the soil and turned some over.

"You can do it! You can do it!" said Mary to herself. "I tell you, you can!"

Dickon's round eyes were full of eager curiousness but he said not a word. Ben Weatherstaff looked on with interested face.

Colin persevered. After he had turned a few trowelfuls of soil he spoke exultantly to Dickon in his best Yorkshire.

"Tha' said as tha'd have me walkin' about here same as other folk—an' tha' said tha'd have me diggin'. I thowt tha' was just leein' to please me. This is only th' first day an' I've walked—an' here I am diggin'."

Ben Weatherstaff's mouth fell open again when he heard him, but he ended by chuckling.

"Eh!" he said, "that sounds as if tha'd got wits enow. Tha'rt a Yorkshire lad for sure. An' tha'rt diggin', too. How'd tha' like to plant a bit o' somethin'? I can get thee a rose in a pot."

"Go and get it!" said Colin, digging excitedly. "Quick! Quick!"

It was done quickly enough indeed. Ben Weatherstaff went his way forgetting rheumatics. Dickon took his spade and dug the hole deeper and wider than a new digger with thin white hands could make it. Mary slipped out to run and bring back a watering-can. When Dickon had deepened the hole Colin went on turning the soft earth over and over. He looked up at the sky, flushed and glowing with the strangely new exercise, slight as it was.

"I want to do it before the sun goes quite—quite down," he said.

Mary thought that perhaps the sun held back a few minutes just on purpose. Ben Weatherstaff brought the rose in its pot from the greenhouse. He hobbled over the grass as fast as he could. He had begun to be excited, too. He knelt down by the hole and broke the pot from the mould.

"Here, lad," he said, handing the plant to Colin. "Set it in the earth thysel' same as th' king does when he goes to a new place."

The thin white hands shook a little and Colin's flush grew deeper as he set the rose in the mould and held it while old Ben made firm the earth. It was filled in and pressed down and made steady. Mary was leaning forward on her hands and knees. Soot had flown down and marched forward to see what was being done. Nut and Shell chattered about it from a cherry-tree.

"It's planted!" said Colin at last. "And the sun is only slipping over the edge. Help me up, Dickon. I want to be standing when it goes. That's part of the Magic."

And Dickon helped him, and the Magic—or whatever it was—so gave him strength that when the sun did slip over the edge and end the strange lovely afternoon for them there he actually stood on his two feet—laughing.

 



Fifty Famous People  by James Baldwin

The Lad Who Rode Sidesaddle

W HEN Daniel Webster was a child he lived in the country, far from any city. He was not strong enough to work on the farm like his brothers; but he loved books and study.

He was very young when he was first sent to school. The schoolhouse was two or three miles from home, but he did not mind the long walk through the woods and over the hills.

He soon learned all that his teacher could teach; for he was bright and quick, and had a good memory.

His father hoped that Daniel would grow up to be a wise and famous man. "But," said he, "no man can rightly succeed without an education."

So it was decided that the boy should go to some school where he might be prepared for college.

One evening his father said to him, "Daniel, you must be up early in the morning. You are going to Exeter with me."

"To Exeter, father!" said Daniel.

"Yes, to Exeter. I am going to put you in the academy there."

The academy at Exeter was a famous school for preparing boys for college. It is still a famous school. But Daniel's father did not say anything about college.

There were no railroads at that time, and Exeter was nearly fifty miles away. Daniel and his father would ride there on horseback.

Early in the morning two horses were brought to the door. One was Mr. Webster's horse; the other was an old gray nag with a lady's sidesaddle on its back.

"Who is going to ride that nag?" asked Daniel.

"Young Dan Webster," answered his father.

"But I don't want a sidesaddle. I'm not a lady."

"I understand," said Mr. Webster. "But our neighbor, Johnson, is sending the nag to Exeter for the use of a lady who is to ride back with me. He does me a favor by allowing you to ride on the animal, and I do him a favor by taking care of it."

"But won't it look rather funny for me to ride to Exeter on a sidesaddle?"

"Well, if a lady can ride on it, perhaps Dan Webster can do as much."

And so they set out on their journey to Exeter. Mr. Webster rode in front, and Daniel, on the old gray nag, followed behind. The roads were muddy, and they went slowly. It took them two days to reach Exeter.

The people whom they met gazed at them and wondered who they could be. They scarcely noticed the sidesaddle; they noticed only the boy's dark eyes and his strong, noble face.

His clothes were of homemade stuff; his shoes were coarse and heavy; he had no gloves on his hands; he was awkward and bashful.

Yet there was something in his manner and voice that caused everybody to admire him.


Daniel Webster lived to become a famous orator and a great statesman. He was honored at home and abroad.

 



Oliver Wendell Holmes

The Chambered Nautilus

This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,

Sailed the unshadowed main,—

The venturous bark that flings

On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings

In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,

And coral reefs lie bare,

Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.


Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;

Wrecked is the ship of pearl!

And every chambered cell,

Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,

As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,

Before thee lies revealed,—

Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!


Year after year beheld the silent toil

That spread his lustrous coil;

Still, as the spiral grew,

He left the past year's dwelling for the new,

Stole with soft step its shining archway through,

Built up its idle door,

Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.


Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,

Child of the wandering sea,

Cast from her lap, forlorn!

From thy dead lips a clearer note is born

Than ever Triton blew from wreathed horn!

While on mine ear it rings,

Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:—


Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,

As the swift seasons roll!

Leave thy low-vaulted past!

Let each new temple, nobler than the last,

Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,

Till thou at length art free,

Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!


 


  WEEK 22  

  Tuesday  


Our Island Story  by H. E. Marshall

Harold

W HEN Edward the Confessor died, the people chose Harold Godwin to be their king, although he was not the real heir to the throne. The real heir was Edgar Ætheling, Edward's grand-nephew and grandson of Edmund Ironside, that king who had such a short and troubled reign and who fought so bravely against Canute the Dane.

But Edgar Ætheling was only a little boy. It seemed to the people as if he was not even an English boy, because he had lived all his life in a far-off country called Hungary, to which Canute had banished his father, and had come to England only a few months before Edward, his grand-uncle, had died. He did not understand the English language nor English ways, so nearly all the people looked upon him as a stranger. They were very tired of the strangers and foreigners with whom Edward had filled his court, and so they said, "Let us have a real Englishman to rule over us, and one who is brave and wise."

They knew Harold was brave, for he had already led them many times in battle. They knew that he was wise, because Edward, during the last years of his life, had been very ill and weak, and had allowed Harold to rule for him. And above all they knew Harold bitterly hated Edward's friends, the Norman nobles, and they were sure he would drive them out of the country. But they did not know what was perhaps Harold's chief reason for hating the Normans. They did not know that he had promised the crown of England to the most powerful of them all, William, Duke of Normandy.

So it came about that the day after Edward the Confessor was buried, the people crowded again to the grand new church at Westminster. This time they came to see the new king crowned. The church was filled with the nobles and the great people of the land. Outside the common folk and those who could not get inside waited, impatient to know what was happening.

It was in the beginning of January, and the weather was bitterly cold, but the people did not seem to mind that, so eager were they to see their new king as he passed. Although the wind blew keenly from the north, the sky was blue, and the winter sun shone brightly on the gay colours of their holiday clothes, making the gold ornaments of the women, and the helmets and shields of the soldiers, glitter and sparkle.

The day before, the streets had been full of grave and mourning crowds, sorrowing for the death of their king. This day there was no mourning, everything seemed joyful and glad, and hope shone in the faces of all. Only here and there in the crowd could be seen a few scowling Normans, but they soon slunk away, afraid of the fierce looks and angry words with which the Saxons greeted them.

Within the church all was solemn and quiet. After earnest prayer to God, the Archbishop of York, holding the crown in his hand, turned to the people. Harold knelt humbly at the steps of the high altar, while a breathless hush filled the great church from end to end. Then in the silence the voice of the old archbishop rang out clear and sharp, "Do you choose Harold, Earl of Wessex, son of Godwin, to be your king?"

Like the thunder of the waves as they break upon the beach came the answer, "We do, we do."

The words sounded again and again through the aisles of the great church, echoing and re-echoing from the vaulted roof, till it seemed as if all England had answered. Outside the church the people took up the cry, "Harold, son of Godwin, Harold, son of Godwin, Harold the Englishman for our king."

In the silence which followed, Harold placed his hands between those of the archbishop, and promised to fear God, to rule wisely, and to keep the laws of the land.

Then the archbishop, speaking solemn words, anointed him with holy oil, placed the crown of England upon his head, and the sceptre in his hand.

Harold rose from his knees, no longer Earl of Wessex, but King of England. As he turned to the people he looked so brave, handsome, and kingly, that a cry of love and gratitude rose from them, and once again the arches of the great church rang with shouts. One after another the lords and mighty men of England passed before their king. They knelt to him, promising to be true to him, to fight for and obey him, just as he had promised them that he would try to rule well and be a good king.

At last the solemn ceremony was over. Harold passed down the long aisles, followed by the archbishop and bishops in their splendid robes, and the lords and knights in their shining armour. Out of the dim church into the open air they went; out into the sunshine where the people were waiting for their king. When Harold appeared, wearing the crown and royal robes and carrying the sceptre in his hand, they shouted and cheered again and again for joy. "Harold for ever; Harold the King!" they cried.

So Harold was crowned, and all England was glad and at peace.

But the peace and the gladness did not last long. As soon as Harold was crowned, the few Normans who still remained in England fled to Normandy. They went to Rouen, the town in Normandy where Duke William lived.

Nowadays, if one wants to speak to a king, or great prince, it is not always easy, for soldiers and servants guard the doors. But in those days it was much more easy, so one of these Normans who fled from England went to find Duke William, for he knew he had great news to tell. William was out hunting when this messenger from England arrived. He was so eager to tell the news that he could not wait until the duke returned, but followed him into the park. He searched about for some time, and at last saw William riding towards him surrounded by all his lords and ladies, his falcon on his wrist, and his bow in his hand. The duke looked so splendid and powerful that the messenger was almost afraid to tell the news he brought. "My lord," he said, dropping on his knees, "Edward, King of England, is dead."

Duke William's bright eyes shone with joy.

"Ah!" he exclaimed.

"And Harold, son of Godwin, is crowned king in his stead," went on the man.

Then Duke William's eyes flashed fire, his bow dropped from his hand, his face grew red and dark with anger.

"The Saxon dog, the oath-breaker," he thundered, in a voice which made those who heard him tremble. Then he was silent, and those around him were silent too, trembling in fear before the awful wrath of their lord.

For many minutes William sat in dumb rage, clasping and unclasping the rich cloak which fell from his shoulders. Then, still without uttering a word, he turned and rode back to his palace. He seemed neither to see nor hear anything, but throwing himself on a couch, he buried his face in his cloak, and gave himself up to angry thoughts.

His courtiers stood round whispering and frightened. At last one, more bold than the others, went up to him, and laying his hand upon the duke's shoulder, "Rouse yourself, my lord," he said, "you have a message to send to Harold Godwinson, before the common folk hear how he has insulted you."

"Ay, that have I," said William fiercely. Then he called for the man who had brought the news.

He came in fear and trembling, but William only looked darkly at him. "Go," he said after a pause, "go back to England. Tell Harold Godwinson (he would not call him King Harold) that I, William of Normandy, demand the crown and throne of England. Tell him if he will not give it peaceably, that I will come and take it by force."

So the messenger returned to England, and came to Harold as he was sitting in state surrounded by his lords and nobles. Harold listened quietly to the message. Then in a clear and calm voice he replied, "Go tell your master that the crown and throne of England are not mine to give and take at will. Tell him that the people of England have given them to me in trust, and that while I live, I will keep and guard them as best I can. Let William of Normandy beware!"

When the messenger returned to Rouen with this message, William's anger was terrible. At first he could neither speak nor think for rage, but soon he recovered himself and called all his lords together. He asked them to go with him over the sea, to help him to fight Harold and make himself King of England.

But his lords and nobles refused. "It is a very dangerous thing to do," they said. "These English are a great and brave people. They will kill us all. We will not go."

Although William was lord over these men, he could not force them to go across the sea with him. He could only ask them to go. He was very angry with them for refusing, so he broke up the council and sent all the nobles away. Then he made each one come to him alone, and tried to persuade them, one by one, to go with him over the sea to England.

But it was of no use, one after another they refused. "It is all very well for you," they said, "if you win you will have the crown of England; but as for us, those of us who are not killed will return poorer than before. We will not go."

Then Duke William said, "If you will only come with me I will give you fair lands, strong castles, and great stores of money. England is a rich country, and when I have conquered the people, I will take their lands and money away from them and give them to you."

Then all the nobles answered, "We will go."

After that they went to their own homes to gather their soldiers together, and to prepare armour and weapons for battle. But William was not content with the soldiers which his own Norman nobles had promised. He sent messengers into all parts of France, with the promise of land and money as reward, to every one who would come to fight for him.

Very many came. From far and near they flocked to the court of William, glad at the thought of possessing the green fields and broad forest lands of England.

But William had not ships enough to carry so large a company over the sea, so he bought ships, and made people build them for him, paying sometimes with money, sometimes with promises of English land.

Never was such a wonderful army and so great a fleet gathered together in so short a time.

But William was a great leader. He was fierce, strong, and determined. He had set his heart on being King of England, and King of England he meant to be. So night and day he planned and worked, persuading and forcing people in one way or another to help him.

 



Holiday Meadow  by Edith M. Patch

The Adventures of a Meadow Caterpillar

C TENUCHA had her first adventure while she was young. She was, indeed, so very young that she was still living inside an eggshell when things began to happen.

The eggshell which was her first home was shaped like a ball, except that one side was flat. The flat side was fastened to a blade of grass. The egg was so small that it would have taken more than twenty like it, resting side by side, to make a row an inch long. There were nearly two hundred such eggs in rows on grass blades near the egg in which she lived. Inside of each of these was a brother or sister of Ctenucha's.

After she had lived for ten days in the egg, it changed color. It had been yellow at first, as yellow as honey. On the eleventh day the egg looked gray. The shell itself was not gray. It was really as white as a pearl. It looked gray because something inside had turned dark and was pressing against the shell. The dark thing was Ctenucha's head.

The next day the dark head showed even more plainly through the thin shell. It was about this time that little Ctenucha began to move her jaws in a hungry way. It is not unpleasant to be hungry if there is good food to eat, and the tiny caterpillar liked eggshell. She scraped and scraped against the shell for hours until at last she made a hole in it. There was no reason then why she could not have crept through the hole, except that she was so hungry for eggshell that she ate her way out instead. After a time she was no longer inside the shell but most of the shell was inside of her.

That was Ctenucha's first adventure, eating her way into a world of sunshine. You need not be surprised to learn that a creature who began life so strangely should do other queer things from time to time. That is, they seem odd to us, though all Ctenucha really did was to live a natural caterpillar life. If you wish to see for yourself how she acted, you need only find an egg like hers and watch from the time the baby insect eats its eggshell until its last adventure.

Ctenucha had sixteen feet. Three pairs of them were on jointed legs near her head. These she did not use much in walking. She held them somewhat like hands at each side of her food when she was eating. She crept with the other five pairs, soft clinging feet with which she could hold firmly to the thin edge of grass.

She did not need to learn to creep, and it was well for her that she could travel at once; for, soon after she had finished her breakfast of eggshell, she was ready for dinner. Perhaps it was the smell of growing grass that made her hungry, for as soon as she came to a tender leaf she began to nibble it. From the moment she first tasted grass she seemed contented with that sort of food; and, as long as she was a caterpillar, she sought no other kind. Her journeys to the market took her no farther than from one grass plant to another; and some days she ate so steadily that it would be hard to tell when her breakfast ended and her supper began.

After eating busily for several days, she stopped to rest. She was forced to stop because she had grown so fast that her skin could not hold any more body. When she was in that sort of fix she pulled herself out of her skin, but that took time.

She rested quietly until the tight skin ripped back of her head. Then she crept out of it, leaving the skin—old skull and all—lying on the grass. She did not need it any longer because a new coat of skin had grown to take its place. Now she could again eat grass until this new coat should in its turn become too tight and need to be discarded.

That is the way Ctenucha passed the days until fall—eating, growing, resting, molting. Every time she molted she had a different-looking skin. She changed her coat for a bigger and prettier one each time. Her first little coat had been pale yellow with tiny black dots from each of which grew a few dark hairs. Each new coat had more hairs than the one before. The garment she was wearing when cold weather came had a row of black hairs down the middle of the back and a stripe of yellow hairs on each side.

Ctenucha's home was in Holiday Meadow where, during the cold winter, the grass stops growing and the ground is covered deeply with snow.

Some animals in the north must live all winter without eating. Bats and bears and woodchucks and skunks and frogs and earthworms and many insects can do this. All these animals that live without eating during the winter manage in much the same way. Each seeks a comfortable place and goes to sleep. That is what Ctenucha did. She slept while the weather was cold.

Her winter adventure was a nap. But her sleep was not so sound as that of some of the other dozing animals. When the weather was warm enough, as perhaps during a January thaw, she wakened and went for a walk. Dick and Anne, who were tramping across the fields on their snowshoes one mild day, saw a black-and-yellow creature hurrying over the snow and they called it a "winter caterpillar" and wondered where it was going.

After fasting all winter, Ctenucha was very hungry in the spring. As soon as the grass began to grow she ate greedily. The coat in which she had slept was no longer pretty. The yellow hairs had faded until they were the color of old straw, and the black tufts had become dingy. She could not change this garment for a better one until she was plump enough to molt; but by the middle of April she had eaten so many tender grass blades that she could not swallow another mouthful. It was time for her spring molting to take place at last.

She then crept to a bit of stubble and spun a thin mat of silk upon a dry stem. She tangled the hooks of her ten creeping feet among the threads of the mat and rested quietly with her head down. After a while she pulled her head out of her old skull and she then looked as if she had a swollen neck. The new head inside the old skin pressed so hard that at last the skin tore at the "collar" and Ctenucha's head popped through the hole. She pulled her six jointed legs and her ten creeping feet out of their old stockings and crept forth like a new creature. She left her old coat lying on her molting-mat on the stubble and went in search of fresh grass. She was very hungry again.

The winter coat she had just molted had, as you may remember, a row of black tufts down the middle of the back. There were more than one thousand caterpillars of the same kind in the meadow where she lived; and every one of them wore a winter coat like hers, with black tufts in a row down the back. All these thousand and more caterpillars molted their winter coats in the spring, after they had eaten grass for some time. Some of the new spring coats had black tufts on the back and some of them had white tufts. Of course the caterpillars could not choose which color of tufts they would have. Each one had the kind that grew, just as you have dark hair or light hair without choosing.


[Illustration]

Patterns in the coats worn by Ctenucha caterpillars.

Ctenucha's spring coat had a row of white tufts bordered on each side by a soft yellow stripe. Her ten creeping feet were red—not bright red but a soft dark shade. Her head was the same pretty color as her feet, except her face which was black. If, some spring day, you chance to meet a creature like her, with a black and red skin and a yellow and white coat, you will doubtless be glad to see so good-looking a caterpillar.

Fine as the new spring coat was it did not last long; for one day Ctenucha pulled the hair out of it and then she was as queer as a hen, without any feathers.

The day she pulled out her hair was the time of one of her greatest adventures—the day she made her cocoon. I like to remember that day because she wove a basket-like cocoon without making one mistake; although she had never made a cocoon before and there was no one to show her how to do it.

After Ctenucha had taken the last bite of grass she was ever to swallow, she sought a piece of bent stubble and crept to the under side of it. Clinging to the dry stem, back down, she began to spin. Perhaps you know that a caterpillar has silk glands in its body where liquid silk is made. When a caterpillar is ready to spin, the silk drools out of an opening through the lower lip and, when it touches the air, it is stiffened into thread.

Ctenucha had spun silk before. She had made a mat of silk in which to tangle the hooks of her creeping feet while she molted. The molting-mat held her old skin steady while she pulled herself out of it. But to make silk enough to cover her whole body was quite a different task.

First she spun a strip of silk about as long as her body upon the lower edge of the stubble. She clung to this with her creeping feet while she made the rest of her cocoon. When she was spinning she used her jointed feet somewhat like little hands to guide the thread and to help shape the cocoon. She wove the edges down at each side and each end until they nearly met at the middle and then she joined the edges.

Some caterpillars weave their cocoons entirely of silk, but Ctenucha did not. She used hair also, making a kind of haircloth cocoon; and the hair that she used she pulled out of her coat. First she would add some silk to the edge of the cocoon, and then she would reach her head back and grasp a mouthful of hair close to her skin and pull it out. It came out quickly as if it were loose. I do not think the jerk hurt her. She would tuck the mouthful of hair endwise into the silk she had just spun. Then she would spin more silk in which to tuck the next mouthful of hair which she pulled out.


[Illustration]

Haircloth cocoons woven by Ctenucha caterpillars, with a pupa, which is the stage between a caterpillar and a moth.

She worked without wasting any time or any motions. When she was spinning the left side of the cocoon, she reached to her left side and pulled hair from that part of her coat. By pulling hair that was nearest the place she was spinning, she saved time and strength. She did not weave in a nervous quick way. She wove slowly and steadily and she did not stop to rest until the cocoon was quite completed.

By the time Ctenucha's cocoon was finished, her body was stripped of its hair. She had just enough hair for the cloth of her cocoon. Do you not think that it is wonderful that she could weave that perfect little basket-like cocoon the first time she tried? No one to show her how! Not stopping until it was finished! Measuring out her hair so that there was enough for the cocoon and none to spare!

It seems fitting that she should have a marvelous cocoon, for remarkable events occurred inside it. In fact, two of her best adventures took place in her cocoon.

When her weaving was over, Ctenucha lay quivering with the changes that were taking place in her body. After a day or so of waiting, her caterpillar skin ripped down the middle of the back far enough so that she could squirm out of it. She looked queer while she was doing this, for she was not a caterpillar any longer. She was, instead, a soft wriggling object with six legs (much longer than any she had had before), four wing-pads that flopped a very little, a long straight quivering tongue, and two feelers. Legs, wing-pads, tongue, and feelers all moved feebly for a minute or two and then they became glued fast to her body by the fluid that had helped loosen the old caterpillar skin. When the air inside the cocoon touched this fluid it hardened it into a sort of glue.

Ctenucha was a caterpillar no longer. She had changed into a pupa. When she first became a pupa, she was bright red with a row of cream-colored spots down her back, but she soon turned dark brown all over and was so shiny that she looked as if she were covered with varnish. At the tail-end of the pupa there were some tiny hooks that caught into the silk of the cocoon.

First she had been an egg, and then a caterpillar, and then a pupa. What next would she be? Next she would be a moth; but not until she had lain waiting, as a pupa, for sixteen days. During that time her little body underwent its last great change.

Then the shiny brown skin cracked open and she came out of it. The hooks on the end of the pupa-case held it steady while she pulled herself free. She pushed her way through one end of the cocoon and waited for her wings to expand and grow strong.

Ctenucha was at last a moth, a full-grown insect with wings; and the adventures that lay ahead of her were quite different from those of her caterpillar days.


[Illustration]

Full‑Grown Ctenuchas

I cannot tell you whether she had a better time after she came out of the cocoon than she did before she wove herself inside of it. I can only say that she had acted as if she were a contented caterpillar while she was nibbling her first breakfast of eggshell, while she was munching her many dinners of grass, and while she was weaving her wonderful cocoon. After she became a moth, she still acted as if it gave her pleasure to be alive and in motion.

Most kinds of moths fly only at night, but Ctenucha flew during the sunlight hours. She visited clover, the spreading dogbane, meadow sweet, viburnum, and other flowers. She carried her long tongue coiled tight like a watch-spring while she was flying; but when she reached a flower, she straightened her tongue and put the tip of it into the tube of the blossom and sipped the sweet nectar she found there.


[Illustration]

Ctenucha visited the flowers for nectar.

She drank dew, too, feeling along the grass blades with the tip of her tongue and sipping the dewdrops as she did nectar. Sometimes she went to bushes and trees where there were colonies of aphids and drank the sweet liquid, called honeydew, that aphids drop from their bodies.

It was not easy to see her colors when she was flying, but while she was feeding at a flower it was possible to look closely. Her fore wings were queerly colored. Sometimes they looked rusty black or brown and sometimes bronze or purple or green. Like "changeable silk" their colors were different when they were turned in different ways toward the light. Her hind wings were bluish black or blackish blue. All four of her wings were narrowly edged with white. Her body was glistening peacock blue with a dash of bright orange just behind her head. Her head was orange-colored, too, except the middle of her face which was blue, and her feelers and mouth parts which were black.

However pleasant she may have found the flowers, she did not spend all her time among them. She had another adventure of much importance. There were her eggs, nearly two hundred of them, that needed to be glued to grass blades. Even the sweet taste of nectar or honeydew did not tempt her to neglect her eggs. She put them in rows, close together, sometimes more than twenty on a single leaf of grass.


[Illustration]

Ctenucha's Eggs. Those on the right, greatly enlarged.

Like the one in which she herself had started life, they were yellow as honey and round except for one flat side. And they were tiny, but not too tiny to hold the promise of many adventures; for inside of each egg was a speck of life that could grow to be a caterpillar, then a pupa, and then a moth.


* * * * *

All the time that I have been telling you about the adventures of Ctenucha, I have been wishing that you might have an adventure of your own. I have been wishing that you might see an egg like one of Ctenucha's hatch; or notice such a caterpillar at molting time; or watch one weave a cocoon; or find a moth whose body is glistening blue trimmed with bright orange, and whose wings have queer changing colors. Perhaps my wish for your adventure may come true. Wishes often do.

 



William Blake

The Piper

Piping down the valleys wild,

Piping songs of pleasant glee,

On a cloud I saw a child,

And he, laughing, said to me:


"Pipe a song about a lamb!"

So I piped with merry cheer.

"Piper, pipe that song again."

So I piped: he wept to hear.


"Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;

Sing thy songs of happy cheer!"

So I sung the same again,

While he wept with joy to hear.


"Piper, sit thee down and write

In a book, that all may read."

So he vanished from my sight;

And I plucked a hollow reed,


And I made a rural pen,

And I stained the water clear,

And I wrote my happy songs

Every child may joy to hear.

 


  WEEK 22  

  Wednesday  


The Burgess Animal Book for Children  by Thornton Burgess

An Independent Family

J UST as Old Mother Nature asked who they should learn about next, Happy Jack Squirrel spied some one coming down the Lone Little Path. "See who's coming!" cried Happy Jack.

Everybody turned to look down the Lone Little Path. There, ambling along in the most matter-of-fact and unconcerned way imaginable, came a certain small person who was dressed wholly in black and white.


[Illustration]

The common Skunk is of considerable economic value as well as a valuable fur‑bearer.

"Hello, Jimmy Skunk," cried Chatterer the Red Squirrel. "What are you doing over here in the Green Forest?" Jimmy Skunk looked up and grinned. It was a slow, good-natured grin. "Hello, everybody," said he. "I thought I would just amble over here and see your school. I suppose all you fellows are getting so wise that pretty soon you will think you know all there is to know. Have any of you seen any fat Beetles around here?"

Just then Jimmy noticed Old Mother Nature and hastened to bow his head in a funny way. "Please excuse me, Mother Nature," he said, "I thought school was over. I don't want to interrupt."

Old Mother Nature smiled. The fact is, Old Mother Nature is rather fond of Jimmy Skunk. "You aren't interrupting," said she. "The fact is, we had just ended the lesson about Flitter the Bat and his relatives, and were trying to decide who to study about next. I think you came along at just the right time. You belong to a large and rather important order, one that all these little folks here ought to know about. How many cousins have you, Jimmy?"

Jimmy Skunk looked a little surprised at the question. He scratched his head thoughtfully. "Let me see," said he, "I have several close cousins in the Skunk branch of the family, but I presume you want to know who my cousins are outside of the Skunk branch. They are Shadow the Weasel, Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter. These are the only ones I can think of now."

"How about Digger the Badger?" asked Old Mother Nature.

A look of surprise swept over Jimmy Skunk's face. "Digger the Badger!" he exclaimed. "Digger the Badger is no cousin of mine!"

"Tut, tut, tut!" chided Old Mother Nature. "Tut, tut, tut, Jimmy Skunk! It is high time you came to school. Digger the Badger is just as much a cousin of yours as is Shadow the Weasel. You are members of the same order and it is a rather large order. It is called the Car-niv-o-ra, which means 'flesh-eating.' You are a member of the Marten or Weasel family, and that family is called the 'Mus-tel-i-dae.' Digger the Badger is also a member of that family. That means that you two are cousins. You and Digger and Glutton the Wolverine belong to the stout-bodied branch of the family. Billy Mink, Little Joe Otter, Shadow the Weasel, Pekan the Fisher and Spite the Marten belong to its slim-bodied branch. But all are members of the same family despite the difference in looks, and thus, of course, are cousins. Seeing that you are here, Jimmy, I think we will find out just how much these little folks know about you.

"Peter Rabbit, tell us what you know about Jimmy Skunk."

"I know one thing about him," declared Peter, "and that's that he is the most independent fellow in the world. He isn't afraid of anybody. I saw Buster Bear actually step out of his way the other day."

Jimmy Skunk grinned. "Buster always treats me very politely," said Jimmy.

"I have noticed that everybody does, even Farmer Brown's boy," spoke up Happy Jack Squirrel.

"It is easy enough to be independent when everybody is afraid of you," sputtered Chatterer the Red Squirrel.

"Just why is everybody afraid of Jimmy Skunk?" asked Old Mother Nature.

"They are afraid of that little scent gun he carries," spoke up Peter Rabbit. "I wish I had one just like it."

Old Mother Nature shook her head. "It wouldn't do, Peter, to trust you with a gun like Jimmy Skunk's," said she. "You are altogether too heedless and careless. If you had a scent gun like Jimmy's, I am afraid there would be trouble in the Green Forest and on the Green Meadow all the time. I suspect that you would drive everybody else away. Jimmy is never heedless or careless. He never uses that little scent gun unless he is in real danger or thinks he is. Usually he is pretty sure that he is before he uses it. I'll venture to say that not one of you has seen Jimmy use that little scent gun."

Peter looked at Jumper the Hare. Jumper looked at Chatterer. Chatterer looked at Happy Jack. Happy Jack looked at Danny Meadow Mouse. Danny looked at Striped Chipmunk. Striped looked at Johnny Chuck. Johnny looked at Whitefoot the Wood Mouse. Then all looked at Old Mother Nature and shook their heads. "I thought as much," said she. "Jimmy is wonderfully well armed, but for defense only. He never makes the mistake of misusing that little scent gun. But everybody knows he has it, so nobody interferes with him. Now, Peter, what more do you know about Jimmy?"

"He's lazy," replied Peter.

"I'm not lazy," retorted Jimmy Skunk. "I'm no more lazy than you are. You call me lazy just because I don't hurry. I don't have to hurry, and I never can see any good in hurrying when one doesn't have to."

"That will do," interposed Old Mother Nature. "Go on, Peter, with what you know about Jimmy." "He is good-natured," said Peter, and grinned at Jimmy.

Jimmy grinned back. "Thank you, Peter," said he.

"He is one of the best-natured people I know," continued Peter. "I guess it is a lucky thing for the rest of us that he is. I have noticed that fat people are usually good-natured, and Jimmy is nearly always fat. In fact, I don't think I have seen him what you would call really thin excepting very early in the spring. He eats Beetles and grubs and Grasshoppers and Crickets and insects of all sorts. I am told that he steals eggs when he can find them."

"Yes, and he catches members of my family when he can," spoke up Danny Meadow Mouse. "I never feel safe with Jimmy Skunk very near."

Jimmy didn't look at all put out. "I might as well confess that tender Mouse is rather to my liking," said he, "and I might add that I also enjoy a Frog now and then, or a Lizard or a fish."

"Also you might mention that young birds don't come amiss when you can get them," spoke up Chatterer the Red Squirrel maliciously.

Jimmy looked up at Chatterer. "That's a case of the pot calling the kettle black," said he and Chatterer made a face at him. But Chatterer said nothing more, for he knew that all the others knew that what Jimmy said was true: Chatterer had robbed many a nest of young birds.

"Is that all you know about Jimmy?" asked Old Mother Nature of Peter.

"I guess it is," replied Peter, "excepting that he lives in a hole in the ground, and I seldom see him out in winter. I rather think he sleeps all winter, the same as Johnny Chuck does."

"You've got another think coming, Peter," said Jimmy. "I sleep a lot during the winter, but I don't go into winter quarters until well after snow comes, and I don't sleep the way Johnny Chuck does. Sometimes I go out in winter and hunt around a little."

"Do you dig your house?" asked Old Mother Nature.

Jimmy shook his head. "Not when I can help myself," said he, "It is too much work. If I have to I do, but I would much rather use one of Johnny Chuck's old houses. His houses suit me first rate."

"I want you all to look at Jimmy very closely," said Old Mother Nature. "You will notice that he is about the size of Black Pussy, the Cat from Farmer Brown's, and that his coat is black with broad white stripes. But not all Skunks are marked alike. I dare say that no two of Jimmy's children would be exactly alike. I suspect that one or more might be all black, with perhaps a little bit of white on the tail. Notice that Jimmy's front feet have long, sharp claws. He uses these to dig out grubs and insects in the ground, and for pulling over sticks and stones in his search for beetles. Also notice that he places his feet on the ground very much as does Buster Bear. That big, bushy tail of his is for the purpose of warning folks. Jimmy never shoots that little scent gun without first giving warning. When that tail of his begins to go up in the air, wise people watch out.

"A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that Jimmy Skunk and his family do a great deal of harm. The truth is, they do a great deal of good to man. Once in a while they will make the mistake of stealing Chickens or eggs, but it is only once in a while. They make up for all they take in this way by the pests they destroy. Jimmy and Mrs. Skunk have a large family each year, usually from six to ten. Mrs. Skunk usually is living by herself when the babies are born, but when they are big enough to walk their father rejoins the family, and you may see them almost any pleasant evening starting out together to hunt for Grasshoppers, Beetles and other things. Often the whole family remains together the whole winter, not breaking up until spring. Jimmy is one of the neatest of all my little people and takes the best of care of his handsome coat. He isn't afraid of water and can swim if it is necessary. He does most of his hunting at night, sleeping during the day. He is one of the few little wild people who haven't been driven away by man, and often makes his home close to man's home.

"Jimmy has own cousins in nearly all parts of this great country. Way down in the Southwest is one called the Hog-nosed Skunk, one of the largest of the family. He gets his name because of the shape of his nose and the fact that he roots in the ground the same as a hog. He is also called the Badger Skunk because of the big claws on his front feet and the fact that he is a great digger. His fur is not so fine as that of Jimmy Skunk, but is rather coarse and harsh. He is even more of an insect eater than is Jimmy.

"The smallest of Jimmy's own cousins is the Little Spotted Skunk. He is only about half as big as Jimmy, and his coat, instead of being striped with white like Jimmy's, is covered with irregular white lines and spots, making it appear very handsome. He lives in the southern half of the country and in habits is much like Jimmy, but he is much livelier. Occasionally he climbs low trees. Like Jimmy he eats almost anything he can find. And it goes without saying that, like Jimmy, he carries a little scent gun. By the way, Jimmy, what do you do when you are angry? Show us."


[Illustration]

A small cousin of Jimmy Skunk. Note the curious pattern of his markings.

Jimmy began to growl, a queer-sounding little growl, and at the same time to stamp the ground with his front feet. Old Mother Nature laughed. "When you see Jimmy do that," said she, "it is best to pretend you don't see him and keep out of his way."

"Hasn't Jimmy any enemies at all?" asked Peter Rabbit.

"That depends on how hungry some folks get," replied Old Mother Nature. "Hooty the Owl doesn't seem to mind Jimmy's little scent gun, but this is the only one I can think of who doesn't. Some of the bigger animals might take him if they were starving, but even then I think they would think twice. Who knows where Digger the Badger is living?"

"I do," replied Peter Rabbit. "He is living out on the Green Meadows over near the Old Pasture."

"All right, Peter," replied Old Mother Nature, "suppose you run over and pay him a visit and to-morrow morning you can tell us about it."

 



A First Book in American History  by Edward Eggleston

The Victory at Yorktown and Washington as President

In large histories you will read of the many battles of the Revolution, and of the sad sufferings of Washington's soldiers, who were sometimes obliged to march barefoot, leaving tracks of blood on the frozen ground. Sometimes a soldier had to sit be the fire all night for want of a blanket to cover himself with. There were not many people in this country then, and they were mostly farmers, with but little money. They were fighting against England, which was the riches and strongest nation of that time. But after a while France sent men and ships to help the United States to finish the war.

The Revolutionary War lasted about seven years in all. A great victory which Washington gained when the war had lasted more than six years really finished the struggle.

General Cornwallis, the same whom Washington had fooled when he slipped out of Trenton, had won several victories over American troops in the Southern States. But he could not subdue the people, who were always ready to rise up again when he thought he had conquered them. Cornwallis marched northward from Carolina into Virginia, where he did a great deal of damage. Washington was in the North watching New York, which was occupied by English troops. He thought if he could capture for fine army which Cornwallis commanded in Virginia he might end the war. So, making every sign that he was going to attack New York, in order that soldiers might not be sent from New York to Cornwallis, he marched at the head of the American and French armies toward the South. On the way, he visited his home at Mount Vernon for the first time in six years.

Soon Cornwallis and his army were shut up in Yorktown, as Washington had once been shut up by Cornwallis in Trenton. But Cornwallis was not allowed to escape, as Washington did. Troops were sent all around him like a net, to keep him from getting away, while the French ships in Chesapeake Bay kept him from getting any help by way of the sea. The fighting about Yorktown was very severe, and the most splendid courage was shown by both the American and the French soldiers in charging the redoubts. The English fought with the greatest stubbornness on their side.


[Illustration]

During the assaults Washington stood where he could see the bravery of the troops. One of his aids told him that it was a dangerous place for him to be in.

"If you think so you are at liberty to step back," said Washington.

Presently a musket ball struck a cannon near him and rolled at his feet. General Knox grasped Washington's arm, and said, "My dear general, we can not spare you yet."

"It is a spent ball. No harm is done," answered Washington.

Finding he could no longer resist, Cornwallis surrendered, and the war was virtually closed by the taking of Yorktown. The people of England had never liked this oppressive war, and the next year the English government felt obliged to acknowledge the independence of the United States.

Washington did not seek to make himself a king or a ruler over the country he had set free. When his work was over he gladly gave up command of the army, and went back to become, as he said, "a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac." While all the world was praising him, he went to work again taking care of his lands and crops at Mount Vernon, with the intention of never leaving his home for public life again.

But the people soon found that their government was not strong enough. Each State was almost a little country by itself, and the nation Washington and others had fought so hard to set free seemed about to fall into thirteen pieces. So a convention was called, to meet in Philadelphia in 1787, five years after the close of the Revolution. This convention, of which Washington was the president, made a new Constitution, which should bind all the States together into one country, under the rule of a President and Congress.

When the new Constitution had been adopted it became necessary to choose a President. Everybody wanted Washington to leave his fields and be the first President. He was elected by almost all of the votes cast.

At that time the capital of the country was New York. There were no railroads or telegraphs, so a messenger had to be sent from New York to Mount Vernon to tell General Washington that he had been chosen the first President of the United States. As the general traveled to New York the people turned out everywhere to do him honor. They rode by his carriage, and they welcomed him with public dinners in the towns. When he got to Trenton, out of which he had marched to escape from Cornwallis and fight the battle of Princeton, he found the bridge over which he had marched that night beautifully decorated. A triumphal arch had been erected by the women of Trenton, and, as the President passed beneath it, girls dressed in white sang a song of victory, and strewed flowers before him.

When he reached Elizabethtown Point there was in waiting for him a handsome large barge. In this he was rowed by thirteen master pilots dressed in white, and six other barges kept him company. The whole city of New York welcomed him with every possible honor. On the 30th of April, 1789, he took the oath of office, in the presence of a great throng of people.

Washington was again elected President in 1792. He refused to be elected a third time, and, after publishing a farewell address to the country, he left the presidency in 1797. He died at Mount Vernon in 1799.


[Illustration]

Mount Vernon in Washington's Time

 



Lydia Maria Child

Who Stole the Bird's Nest?

"To-whit! to-whit! to-whee!

Will you listen to me?

Who stole four eggs I laid,

And the nice nest I made?"


"Not I," said the cow, "Moo-oo!

Such a thing I'd never do.

I gave you a wisp of hay,

But didn't take your nest away.

Not I," said the cow, "Moo-oo!

Such a thing I'd never do."


"To-whit! to-whit! to-whee!

Will you listen to me?

Who stole four eggs I laid,

And the nice nest I made?"


"Bob-o'-link! Bob-o'-link!

Now what do you think?

Who stole a nest away

From the plum tree, to-day?"


"Not I," said the dog, "Bow-wow!

I wouldn't be so mean, anyhow!

I gave hairs the nest to make,

But the nest I did not take.

Not I," said the dog, "Bow-wow!

I'm not so mean, anyhow."


"To-whit! to-whit! to-whee!

Will you listen to me?

Who stole four eggs I laid,

And the nice nest I made?"


"Bob-o'-link! Bob-o'-link!

Now what do you think?

Who stole a nest away

From the plum tree, to-day?"


"Coo-coo! Coo-coo! Coo-coo!

Let me speak a word, too!

Who stole that pretty nest

From little yellow-breast?"


"Not I," said the sheep, "Oh, no!

I wouldn't treat a poor bird so.

I gave wool the nest to line,

But the nest was none of mine.

Baa! Baa!" said the sheep, "Oh, no,

I wouldn't treat a poor bird so."


"To-whit! to-whit! to-whee!

Will you listen to me?

Who stole four eggs I laid,

And the nice nest I made?"


"Bob-o'-link! Bob-o'-link!

Now what do you think?

Who stole a nest away

From the plum tree, to-day?"


"Coo-coo! Coo-coo! Coo-coo!

Let me speak a word, too!

Who stole that pretty nest

From little yellow-breast?"


"Caw! Caw!" cried the crow;

"I too should like to know

What thief took away

A bird's nest, to-day?"


"Cluck! Cluck!" said the hen;

"Don't ask me again,

Why, I haven't a chick

Would do such a trick.


We all gave her a feather,

And she wove them together.

I'd scorn to intrude

On her and her brood.

Cluck! Cluck!" said the hen,

"Don't ask me again."


"Chirr-a-whirr! Chirr-a-whirr!

We'll make a great stir!

And find out his name,

And all cry 'For shame!' "


"I would not rob a bird,"

Said little Mary Green;

"I think I never heard

Of anything so mean."


"It is very cruel, too,"

Said little Alice Neal;

"I wonder if he knew

How sad the bird would feel?"


A little boy hung down his head,

And went and hid behind the bed,

For he  stole that pretty nest

From poor little yellow-breast

And he felt so full of shame,

He didn't like to tell his name.

 


  WEEK 22  

  Thursday  


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

How Beowulf Returned to His Own Land

Proudly the Goths marched along with Beowulf in their midst, until they reached Hart Hall. And there, still carrying the hideous head of Grendel, they entered in and greeted Hrothgar.

Great was the astonishment of the king and his nobles at the sight of Beowulf. Never again had they thought to see the daring warrior. So now they welcomed him with much rejoicing, and their rejoicing was mingled with wonder and awe as they gazed upon the awful head. The queen, too, who sat beside the king, turned from it with a shudder.

Then when the noise of joyful greeting was stilled a little, Beowulf spoke.

"Behold, O king!" he said, "we bring thee these offerings in token of victory. From the conflict under the water have I hardly escaped with my life. Had not the All-wise shielded me, I had nevermore seen the sun and the joyful light of day. For although Hrunting be a mighty and good sword, in this fight it availed me nothing. So I cast it from me and fought with mine hands only.

"But the Water Witch was strong and evil, and I had but little hope of life, when it chanced that I saw on the walls there of that grim cave an old and powerful sword.

"Quickly then I drew that weapon and therewith slew I the dreadful foe. After that I espied the body of Grendel which lay there and cut off his head, which now I bring to thee. But even as I had done that, lo! a marvel happened, and the blade did melt even as ice under the summer sun. Such was the venom of that Ogre's blood, that the hilt only of the sword have I borne away with me.

"But now, I promise thee, henceforth mayest thou and thy company of warriors sleep safe in Hart Hall. No longer will the Demon folk trouble it."

Then Beowulf gave the golden hilt to the king, and he, taking it, gazed on it in wonder. It was exceeding ancient and of marvellous workmanship, a very treasure. Upon the gold of it in curious letters was written for whom that sword had been first wrought. The writing told, too, how it had been made in days long past, when giants stalked the earth in pride.

In the Hall there was silence as Hrothgar gazed upon the relic. Then in the silence he spoke.

"Thy glory is exalted through wide ways, O friend Beowulf," he said. "Over every nation thy fame doth spread. Yet thou bearest it modestly, true warrior-like. Again I renew my plighted love to thee, and to thine own people mayest thou long be a joy.

"I for half a hundred years had ruled my folk, and under all the wide heaven there was no foe who stood against me. Within my borders there was peace and joy. Then lo, after joy came sadness, and Grendel became my foe, my invader. But thanks be to the Eternal Lord I am yet in life to see that fearful head besprent with gore.

"And now, O Great-in-war, go thou to thy seat, enjoy the feast, and when it shall be morning, thou and I shall deal together in many treasures."

Then at these words Beowulf was glad at heart, and went straightway to his seat as the king commanded. And once again the Dane folk and the Goths feasted together in merry mood.

At length the day grew dim and darkness fell upon the land. All the courtiers then rose, and the grey-bearded king sought his couch. Beowulf, too, rejoiced greatly at the thought of rest, for he was weary with his long contest. So the king's servants, with every honour and reverence, guided him to the room prepared for him.

Silence and peace descended upon the Hall and palace. Hour after hour the night passed, and no demon foe disturbed the sleep of Goth or Dane.

And when the morning sun shone again the Goths arose, eager to see their own land once more.

Beowulf then called one of his thanes and bade him bear the famous sword, Hrunting, back again to Hunferth. Great thanks he gave for it, nor spoke he word of blame against the good blade. "Nay, 'twas a good war friend," said the high-souled warrior.

Then, impatient to depart, with arms all ready, the Goths came to bid King Hrothgar farewell.

"Now to thee we sea-farers would bid farewell," said Beowulf, "for we would seek again our own king, Hygelac. Here have we been kindly served. Thou hast entreated us well. If I can now do aught more of warlike works on thy behalf, O Hrothgar, I am straightway ready. If from far over the sea I hear that to thy dwelling foes come again, I will bring thousands of warriors to thine aid.

"For well I know that Hygelac, King of the Goths, young though he be, will help me to fight for thee, and will not refuse his thanes."

With gracious words the old king thanked the young warrior. Rich presents, too, he gave to him, of gold and gems, and splendidly wrought armour. Then he bade him seek his own people, but come again right speedily.

As Hrothgar said farewell he put his arms round Beowulf's neck and kissed him. Then as he watched the hero march away across the fields of summer green, his eyes filled with tears. It was to the king as if he parted from a beloved son.

Proudly and gladly the Goths marched on until they came to the shore where the warden watched who had met them at their first landing. Now as he saw them come he rode towards them with words of welcome. For already the tale of Beowulf's great deeds had been told to him.

And thus at length the Goths reached their ship where it lay by the shore awaiting their coming. Into it was piled all the treasure with which Hrothgar had loaded the heroes. The horses were led on board, the glittering shields were hung along the sides, the sails were spread.

Then from out his treasure hoard Beowulf chose a splendid sword and gave it to the thane who had watched by the ship, and kept it safe. And he, greatly rejoicing, departed to his fellows, and was by them ever after held in honour by reason of the sword that Beowulf had given to him.

Now at length all was ready. The last man leaped on board, the sails shook themselves to the wind, and out upon the waves floated the foam-necked vessel.

Bounding over the sea went the Goths, listening to the song of the wind and the waves, until they came to the shore of their beloved land.

The ship touched the shore. Right joyously the warriors sprang to earth, greeting their kinsmen who welcomed them from the far land.

Beowulf then bade his servants bring the great load of treasure, while he and his comrades set out along the sandy shore to Hygelac's palace.

Quickly before them ran messengers bearing to the king the joyous news that Beowulf, his loved comrade, had returned alive and unhurt. Unwounded from the game of war he had returned, and was even now marching towards the palace.

Gladly the king greeted the hero; joyful words he spake. Then he made Beowulf to sit beside him while Hygd, his fair queen, bare the mead-cup through the hall.

Hygelac was eager to hear all that had befallen his friend. "Tell it unto me," he cried, "how befell it with thee on the way, dear Beowulf? How hath it fared with thee since thou didst on a sudden resolve to seek conflict afar? Sorrow and care have possessed my mind. I have grieved for thee, my friend, lest evil should come to thee. Therefore this day I thank the All-wise that I see thee safe and whole."

"It is no secret, my Lord Hygelac," answered Beowulf, "how I met and overcame the Ogre. None of Grendel's kinsmen who may yet dwell upon earth have any cause to boast of that twilight meeting."

And then from the beginning of the adventure to the end of it Beowulf told. Sitting beside the king he told of all that had befallen him and his comrades since first they set sail from Gothland. He told of the friendly greeting of the king, of the fight with Grendel, and with Grendel's mother, the foul Water Witch. And at last he told of all the rewards and thanks that had been heaped upon him.

To all the tale Hygelac listened with wonder and delight, for he joyed to hear of the great deeds of his loved comrade.

When Beowulf had finished telling the tale, he bade his servants bring in the treasure. Then turning to the king he spoke again.

"To thee, O warrior-king," he said, "I gladly give these riches. For all my joy in life cometh from thee. Save thee, O Hygelac, few kinsmen have I."

Then to the king he gave a splendid suit of armour, helmet and sword, four steeds all with their rich harness, and much treasure beside.

To Hygd, the queen, Beowulf gave the collar which Wealtheow had bestowed upon him. Also he gave to her three black steeds saddled and harnessed with gold and silver work.

And the king, on his part, gave Beowulf a sword of honour, a palace, and much land. Thus was the mighty warrior brought to great honour.

Then for many years Beowulf lived happy and beloved. For although he was strong and mighty in battle, he was gentle and courteous in peace. His was no savage soul delighting in slaughter; he held himself ever in battle but as a good soldier should.

Indeed Beowulf was so gentle in peace that in his youth the great warriors of the Goths had thought little of him. But now that he had proved that though in peace his words were smooth, in battle his arm was strong, all men honoured him.

And thus it befell that when Hygelac died in battle, and afterward his son also, the broad realm of Gothland was given unto Beowulf to rule. And there for fifty years he reigned a well-loved king, and all the land had peace.

 



The Aesop for Children  by Milo Winter

The Wolf and the Goat

A hungry Wolf spied a Goat browsing at the top of a steep cliff where he could not possibly get at her.

"That is a very dangerous place for you," he called out, pretending to be very anxious about the Goat's safety. "What if you should fall! Please listen to me and come down! Here you can get all you want of the finest, tenderest grass in the country."

The Goat looked over the edge of the cliff.


[Illustration]

"How very, very anxious you are about me," she said, "and how generous you are with your grass! But I know you! It's your own appetite you are thinking of, not mine!"

An invitation prompted by selfishness is not to be accepted.

 



John Keats

Sweet Peas

Here are sweet peas, on tiptoe for a flight:

With wings of gentle flush o'er delicate white,

And taper fingers catching at all things,

To bind them all about with tiny rings.

Linger awhile upon some bending planks

That lean against a streamlet's rushy banks,

And watch intently Nature's gentle doings,

They will be found softer than ringdove's cooings.

How silent comes the water round that bend!

Not the minutest whisper does it send

To the o'erhanging sallows: blades of grass

Slowly across the chequer'd shadows pass.

 


  WEEK 22  

  Friday  


The Awakening of Europe  by M. B. Synge

England

"This happy breed of men, this little world,

This precious stone set in the silver sea."

—Shakspere.

U P to this time Spain had been the strongest and mightiest nation in Europe. Not only did she rule a great part of Italy, Sicily, the Netherlands, nearly all North America, all South America, but Portugal had fallen to her, with rich possessions in South Africa and India.

She commanded the land, because she commanded the sea. Her galleys were in every port and harbour of the known world, trading with all the rich countries under her sway.

It has been truly said, "Whosoever commands the sea, commands the trade: whosoever commands the trade of the world, commands the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself."

This, then, was quite true of Spain in the sixteenth century. She was the first empire in the world of whom it could be said that the sun never set on her dominions. This sunny Spain, washed by the waters of the great Atlantic on one side and the blue Mediterranean on the other, was yet looking round for new worlds to conquer when as yet the other nations of Europe had scarce ventured beyond their own fishing-grounds. The largest merchant ship of either England or Holland was not fit to brave the storms of the Atlantic. But the sea-loving spirit of the old Vikings was in these northern countries. It had slept through the long ages of over five hundred years, but now it was to burst forth again with its old vigour and its old strength. England and Holland were side by side to regain the mastery of wind and wave, until Spain lay crushed and powerless before their superior seamanship.

How did it all come about? What was this race of English who manned the ships that carried the flag of their country round the world, who fought the Spaniard on his own ground, who destroyed his "invincible" fleet, known to history as the Spanish Armada?

How did this little island, "set in a silver sea," manage to destroy the great power of Spain, and finally possess themselves of an empire on which the sun never sets?

The answer lies in the romantic life-story of the old sea-captain Drake, and the encouragement given to sailors by the English queen under whom he sailed, the "Good Queen Bess" of the sixteenth century.

But before beginning this old story it will be well to see what had been happening in England while Spain was so busy trying to crush out the Protestants in the Netherlands. What part had this England played in the great Awakening of mankind, and in the Reformation that had spread over Europe?

England has been called the "sea-cradle of the Reformation," because it was by reason of the Reformation that the King of England, Henry VIII., was induced to strengthen his coasts and build his navy to protect Protestant England against Roman Catholic Spain. Like the Netherlands, England had taken a strong Protestant line; when the choice had to be made, Henry VIII. had cast off the supreme power of the Pope but retained the title of "Defender of the Faith," a title which to this day is borne by sovereigns of England.

There was danger in the air. The whole country was divided into two sides. France became Roman Catholic and sided with Spain. England must prepare for possible invasion.

Now, when Henry VIII. came to the throne England had no fleet at all. A few merchant hulks traded with Lisbon and Antwerp, a fishing fleet sailed to Iceland for cod. It is true that Cabot had sailed across the Atlantic, but his enterprise had not been followed up, and Spain ruled the waters as before.

But Henry VIII. was not blind to the needs of the nation. If war broke out, the merchant and fishing ships must help to defend the coast. He repaired all the important dockyards and built fortresses, ruins of which may still be seen from Berwick to the Land's End. He built new ships capable of carrying guns. The Great Harry was the wonder of the day; she carried 700 men and was 1000 tons burden. But when Henry died the fleet perished. His daughter Mary was a stern Roman Catholic, and, married to Philip of Spain, there was no further danger of war with that great empire. The new queen was too busy warring against Protestantism to look to the seas; her father's fine ships rotted in the harbours. She left the seas to privateers—that is, to any men who were rich enough to buy, fit out, and command ships for themselves.

And this privateering ruled the day till the death of Mary in 1558, when her sister Elizabeth came to the throne. Elizabeth was an English woman; she loved the spirit of adventure and enterprise that took her sailor subjects on the high seas. She encouraged privateering, for the risk was small and the hope of profit was great. So she became the restorer of England's naval glory, the "Queen of the Northern Seas."

 



Gods and Heroes  by Robert Edward Francillon

The Kingdom

"H ADES," the name of the kingdom of Pluto and Proserpine, means "invisible," because it is unseen by living eyes. It is surrounded by the river Styx by which the gods swore their sacred oath, and which flows round and round it in nine circles before springing up into the living world. Even when the Styx rises out of the ground in the land of Arcadia, it still remains a cold black river, whose waters are poisonous to drink; but if anybody was bold enough to bathe in them, and lucky enough to come out alive, no weapon afterwards would have power to wound him. Some people say that Thetis (the goddess who saved Jupiter from the great plot) dipped her child Achilles into the Styx as soon as he was born, head foremost, holding him by the left heel between her finger and thumb. But she forgot that her thumb and finger prevented the water from touching the skin just where she held him. And so, when he grew up, though no weapon could hurt him anywhere else, yet, when he was hit by an arrow in the left heel, he died of the wound.

When anybody died, his body was buried or burned by his friends, and his soul left him and went down to Hades, till it reached the banks of the Styx. Here it waited for Charon's ferry-boat, about which you read in the story of Psyche. If its friends had buried its body properly, they had given it a small silver coin to pay the ferryman, who took the money and at once rowed it across the river. But if the soul had no money to pay for its passage, it had to wait for a hundred years, shivering and cold. Arrived on the other side, the soul was taken before the three judges of Hades—Minos, Æăcus, and Rhădamanthus. All three had been kings on earth, so famous for wisdom and justice that, when they died, Pluto made them the judges of the dead. These decided what was to be done with the soul. If it had been virtuous during its life upon earth, it was allowed to enter Elysium, or the region of happiness; if it had been wicked, it was condemned to the horrible prison of Tartărus, there to be punished by torture.

Elysium, which is also called "the Elysian fields," or "the Islands of the Blest," was a very delightful place, like the most beautiful country in the finest weather, never too hot or too cold, and full of sweet scents and sounds. There the souls of the happy enjoyed forever, without ever getting tired, whatever had given them the most pleasure upon earth—hunting, or war, or learning, or music, or whatever it might be: only all their pleasures became innocent and noble, and even if they fought, it was all in friendship and without harm. Nothing was quite real there: it was more like a beautiful and happy dream, lasting forever. Some of the very best and greatest human souls were taken up into Olympus and made "Demi-gods," that is to say "Half-gods"; but of course this was a very rare honor. The dream of Elysium was thought to be reward enough for the souls which, in their lives, had done more good than evil.

Tartarus, the place of torment, was a very different place, as I need not say. It was farther below the earth than the earth is below the sky, and was surrounded by three brazen walls, and by Phlegethon, the river of Fire. The only entrance was through a high tower, with gates which not even the gods could open, and guarded by the three-headed dog Cerberus, which never slept; and the air was three times darker than the darkest midnight, lighted only by the terrible flames of Phlegethon. The jailers were Nĕmĕsis and the Furies. Nemesis is the great stern power who never allows the guilty to escape from their just punishment, nor the good to lose their just reward. If people are happier or more fortunate than they deserve to be, she always, either in this life or in Hades, gives them enough misery at last, until they are just as happy or unhappy as they deserve to be, and neither less nor more; and if they seem less happy or less fortunate than they deserve, she makes it up to them in the end. She is often so strangely slow in coming, that she has been called lame. But she always comes at last: if she is slow, she is sure.

There was once a king of the island of Samos, named Pŏlycrătes, who was famous for his marvelous good fortune. Nothing ever went wrong with him; he did not seem able to fail in anything, even if he tried; he knew neither misfortune nor sorrow. Though only the prince of a little island, he became, by one stroke of good luck after another, the most powerful monarch of his time, so that the kings of the greatest nations came to his court to do him homage and admire his glory. Among these was Amāsis, King of Egypt, who was frightened at the sight of such prosperity, and thought, "This is surely more than any mortal deserves—Nemesis must surely be near at hand!" So he advised Polycrates to bring some misfortune upon himself, to keep Nemesis away. At first Polycrates laughed at such counsel; but, to remove the friendly fears of Amasis, he threw into the sea a ring with a magnificent seal, which he prized the most of all his jewels, and the loss of which made him really unhappy—so you may guess how little unhappiness he had ever known before. A few days afterwards, however, while at dinner with Amasis, he happened to cut open a large fish; and behold, inside the fish he found the ring, which thus came back to him from the bottom of the sea. Instantly Amasis rose from the table and hurried back to Egypt, exclaiming, "I dare not have anything more to do with so fortunate a man—Nemesis must be at the door!" And he was right; and when she came, she came indeed! From the hour when the ring was found in the fish, all the prosperity of Polycrates departed from him; he sank lower and lower; until at last he was treacherously captured by the governor of one of his own cities, and put to a shameful death by torture. You will often hear people speak of "the Ring of Polycrates." When they do, they mean (or ought to mean) that a life of mixed joy and sorrow, such as most of us have, is what most of us deserve; and that this is the happiest as well as the best for us in the long-run. It is not good for us to know nothing of sorrow or pain. And if we ever feel that we suffer unjustly—well, Nemesis, the slow but the sure, will make it up to us in the end.

However, I must go back to Tartarus, in spite of its unpleasantness. I was speaking of the Furies, who served under Nemesis as its jailers. These were three creatures like women, with hissing and writhing snakes instead of hair, holding a torch in one hand, and a whip made of live scorpions in the other. These whips were the whips of Conscience, with which they scourged and stung the souls both of the dead and the living. They were the chief servants of Nemesis, because the stings of Conscience are the most terrible of all her punishments. The Furies were the most dreadful creatures in or out of Hades. People had such awe and horror of them that they dared not even name them. The real name of the Furies was the "Erinnyes," which means the desperate madness of those whom the gods or fates have cursed. But people who wanted to speak of them always called them the "Eumenĭdes"—that is to say, "the Gracious Ladies"—just as timid people in England used to say "the Good Folk" instead of "the Fairies," for fear of making them angry by naming their real name.

The tortures of Tartarus were of all sorts and kinds. Among the evil souls which suffered there, the most famous were the three wicked kings, Ixīon, Sĭsyphus, and Tantălus. Ixion was tied by his arms and legs to the spokes of a wheel, which whirled round and round at full speed without ever giving him one moment's rest. Sisyphus had to carry up to the top of a high and steep hill a huge stone, which, as soon as he got it up, instantly rolled to the bottom again, so that his labor had no end. The torment of Tantalus was perhaps the worst of all. Maddened with hunger and thirst, he was chained to a rock in such a manner that he could not seize one of the delicious fruits that hung close to his eyes, or one of the cups of cool and fragrant drink which unseen hands put to his lips, and then, just as he was about to taste, snatched away again. Being "tantalized" means being treated like Tantalus. Then there were the Danaides, or the forty-nine daughters of King Dănănus, who had all murdered their husbands, and were condemned to fill sieves with water, which of course ran out through the holes as soon as they poured it in. There had been fifty Danaides; but the fiftieth had taken no part in her sisters' crime. There was also the wicked giant Tityus, who was so huge that his body covered nine acres of ground, and whose punishment was, to be perpetually devoured by vultures.

Souls not good enough for Elysium, but not bad enough for Tartarus, were treated in another way. Some were sent to wander about the world as Lemures, or homeless ghosts; others were given to drink of the waters of the Lethe, the river of Forgetfulness, which threw them into a dreamless sleep forever.

 

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


  WEEK 22  

  Saturday  


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

Jack the Giant-Killer

[Illustration]

W HEN good King Arthur reigned, there lived near the Land's End of England, in the county of Cornwall, a farmer who had one only son called Jack. He was brisk and of ready, lively wit, so that nobody or nothing could worst him.

In those days the Mount of Cornwall was kept by a huge giant named Cormoran. He was eighteen feet in height and about three yards round the waist, of a fierce and grim countenance, the terror of all the neighbouring towns and villages. He lived in a cave in the midst of the Mount, and whenever he wanted food he would wade over to the mainland, where he would furnish himself with whatever came in his way. Everybody at his approach ran out of their houses, while he seized on their cattle, making nothing of carrying half-a-dozen oxen on his back at a time; and as for their sheep and hogs, he would tie them round his waist like a bunch of tallow-dips. He had done this for many years, so that all Cornwall was in despair.


[Illustration]

One day Jack happened to be at the town-hall when the magistrates were sitting in council about the giant. He asked: "What reward will be given to the man who kills Cormoran?"  "The giant's treasure," they said, "will be the reward." Quoth Jack: "Then let me undertake it."

So he got a horn, shovel, and pickaxe, and went over to the Mount in the beginning of a dark winter's evening, when he fell to work, and before morning had dug a pit twenty-two feet deep, and nearly as broad, covering it over with long sticks and straw. Then he strewed a little mould over it, so that it appeared like plain ground. Jack then placed himself on the opposite side of the pit, farthest from the giant's lodging, and, just at the break of day, he put the horn to his mouth, and blew, Tantivy, Tantivy. This noise roused the giant, who rushed from his cave, crying: "You incorrigible villain, are you come here to disturb my rest? You shall pay dearly for this. Satisfaction I will have, and this it shall be, I will take you whole and broil you for breakfast." He had no sooner uttered this, than he tumbled into the pit, and made the very foundations of the Mount to shake. "Oh, Giant," quoth Jack, "where are you now? Oh, faith, you are gotten now into Lob's Pound, where I will surely plague you for your threatening words; what do you think now of broiling me for your breakfast? Will no other diet serve you but poor Jack?" Then having tantalised the giant for a while, he gave him a most weighty knock with his pickaxe on the very crown of his head, and killed him on the spot.

Jack then filled up the pit with earth, and went to search the cave, which he found contained much treasure. When the magistrates heard of this they made a declaration he should henceforth be termed

JACK THE GIANT-KILLER

and presented him with a sword and a belt, on which were written these words embroidered in letters of gold:

"Here's the right valiant Cornish man,

Who slew the giant Cormoran."

The news of Jack's victory soon spread over all the West of England, so that another giant, named Blunderbore, hearing of it, vowed to be revenged on Jack, if ever he should light on him. This giant was the lord of an enchanted castle situated in the midst of a lonesome wood. Now Jack, about four months afterwards, walking near this wood in his journey to Wales, being weary, seated himself near a pleasant fountain and fell fast asleep. While he was sleeping the giant, coming there for water, discovered him, and knew him to be the far-famed Jack the Giant-Killer by the lines written on the belt. Without ado, he took Jack on his shoulders and carried him towards his castle. Now, as they passed through a thicket, the rustling of the boughs awakened Jack, who was strangely surprised to find himself in the clutches of the giant. His terror was only begun, for, on entering the castle, he saw the ground strewed with human bones, and the giant told him his own would ere long be among them.


[Illustration]

After this the giant locked poor Jack in an immense chamber, leaving him there while he went to fetch another giant, his brother, living in the same wood, who might share in the meal on Jack.

After waiting some time Jack, on going to the window, beheld afar off the two giants coming towards the castle. "Now," quoth Jack to himself, "my death or my deliverance is at hand." Now, there were strong cords in a corner of the room in which Jack was, and two of these he took, and made a strong noose at the end; and while the giants were unlocking the iron gate of the castle he threw the ropes over each of their heads. Then he drew the other ends across a beam, and pulled with all his might, so that he throttled them. Then, when he saw they were black in the face, he slid down the rope, and drawing his sword, slew them both. Then, taking the giant's keys, and unlocking the rooms, he found three fair ladies tied by the hair of their heads, almost starved to death. "Sweet ladies," quoth Jack, "I have destroyed this monster and his brutish brother, and obtained your liberties." This said he presented them with the keys, and so proceeded on his journey to Wales.

Jack made the best of his way by travelling as fast as he could, but lost his road, and was benighted, and could find no habitation until, coming into a narrow valley, he found a large house, and in order to get shelter took courage to knock at the gate. But what was his surprise when there came forth a monstrous giant with two heads; yet he did not appear so fiery as the others were, for he was a Welsh giant, and what he did was by private and secret malice under the false show of friendship. Jack, having told his condition to the giant, was shown into a bedroom, where, in the dead of night, he heard his host in another apartment muttering these words:

"Though here you lodge with me this night,

You shall not see the morning light:

My club shall dash your brains outright!"

"Say'st thou so," quoth Jack; "that is like one of your Welsh tricks, yet I hope to be cunning enough for you." Then, getting out of bed, he laid a billet in the bed in his stead, and hid himself in a corner of the room. At the dead time of the night in came the Welsh giant, who struck several heavy blows on the bed with his club, thinking he had broken every bone in Jack's skin. The next morning Jack, laughing in his sleeve, gave him hearty thanks for his night's lodging. "How have you rested?" quoth the giant; "did you not feel anything in the night?"  "No," quoth Jack, "nothing but a rat, which gave me two or three slaps with her tail." With that, greatly wondering, the giant led Jack to breakfast, bringing him a bowl containing four gallons of hasty pudding. Being loth to let the giant think it too much for him, Jack put a large leather bag under his loose coat, in such a way that he could convey the pudding into it without its being perceived. Then, telling the giant he would show him a trick, taking a knife, Jack ripped open the bag, and out came all the hasty pudding. Whereupon, saying, "Odds splutters her nails, hur can do that trick hurself," the monster took the knife, and ripping open his belly, fell down dead.

Now, it happened in these days that King Arthur's only son asked his father to give him a large sum of money, in order that he might go and seek his fortune in the principality of Wales, where lived a beautiful lady possessed with seven evil spirits. The king did his best to persuade his son from it, but in vain; so at last gave way and the prince set out with two horses, one loaded with money, the other for himself to ride upon. Now, after several days' travel, he came to a market-town in Wales, where he beheld a vast crowd of people gathered together. The prince asked the reason of it, and was told that they had arrested a corpse for several large sums of money which the deceased owed when he died. The prince replied that it was a pity creditors should be so cruel, and said: "Go bury the dead, and let his creditors come to my lodging, and there their debts shall be paid." They came, in such great numbers that before night he had only twopence left for himself.

Now Jack the Giant-Killer, coming that way, was so taken with the generosity of the prince that he desired to be his servant. This being agreed upon, the next morning they set forward on their journey together, when, as they were riding out of the town, an old woman called after the prince, saying, "He has owed me twopence these seven years; pray pay me as well as the rest." Putting his hand into his pocket, the prince gave the woman all he had left, so that after their day's food, which cost what small store Jack had by him, they were without a penny between them.

When the sun got low, the king's son said: "Jack, since we have no money, where can we lodge this night?"

But Jack replied: "Master, we'll do well enough, for I have an uncle lives within two miles of this place; he is a huge and monstrous giant with three heads; he'll fight five hundred men in armour, and make them to fly before him."


[Illustration]

"Alas!" quoth the prince, "what shall we do there? He'll certainly chop us up at a mouthful. Nay, we are scarce enough to fill one of his hollow teeth!"

"It is no matter for that," quoth Jack; "I myself will go before and prepare the way for you; therefore stop here and wait till I return." Jack then rode away at full speed, and coming to the gate of the castle, he knocked so loud that he made the neighbouring hills resound. The giant roared out at this like thunder: "Who's there?"

Jack answered: "None but your poor cousin Jack."

Quoth he: "What news with my poor cousin Jack?"

He replied: "Dear uncle, heavy news, God wot!"

"Prithee," quoth the giant, "what heavy news can come to me? I am a giant with three heads, and besides thou knowest I can fight five hundred men in armour, and make them fly like chaff before the wind."

"Oh, but," quoth Jack, "here's the king's son a-coming with a thousand men in armour to kill you and destroy all that you have!"

"Oh, cousin Jack," said the giant, "this is heavy news indeed! I will immediately run and hide myself, and thou shalt lock, bolt, and bar me in, and keep the keys until the prince is gone." Having secured the giant, Jack fetched his master, when they made themselves heartily merry whilst the poor giant lay trembling in a vault under the ground.

Early in the morning Jack furnished his master with a fresh supply of gold and silver, and then sent him three miles forward on his journey, at which time the prince was pretty well out of the smell of the giant. Jack then returned, and let the giant out of the vault, who asked what he should give him for keeping the castle from destruction. "Why," quoth Jack, "I want nothing but the old coat and cap, together with the old rusty sword and slippers which are at your bed's head." Quoth the giant: "You know not what you ask; they are the most precious things I have. The coat will keep you invisible, the cap will tell you all you want to know, the sword cuts asunder whatever you strike, and the shoes are of extraordinary swiftness. But you have been very serviceable to me, therefore take them with all my heart." Jack thanked his uncle, and then went off with them. He soon overtook his master and they quickly arrived at the house of the lady the prince sought, who, finding the prince to be a suitor, prepared a splendid banquet for him. After the repast was concluded, she told him she had a task for him. She wiped his mouth with a handkerchief, saying: "You must show me that handkerchief to-morrow morning, or else you will lose your head." With that she put it in her bosom. The prince went to bed in great sorrow, but Jack's cap of knowledge informed him how it was to be obtained. In the middle of the night she called upon her familiar spirit to carry her to Lucifer. But Jack put on his coat of darkness and his shoes of swiftness, and was there as soon as she was. When she entered the place of the demon, she gave the handkerchief to him, and he laid it upon a shelf, whence Jack took it and brought it to his master, who showed it to the lady next day, and so saved his life. On that day, she gave the prince a kiss and told him he must show her the lips to-morrow morning that she kissed last night, or lose his head.

"Ah!" he replied, "if you kiss none but mine, I will."

"That is neither here nor there," said she; "if you do not, death's your portion!"

At midnight she went as before, and was angry with the demon for letting the handkerchief go. "But now," quoth she, "I will be too hard for the king's son, for I will kiss thee, and he is to show me thy lips." Which she did, and Jack, when she was not standing by, cut off Lucifer's head and brought it under his invisible coat to his master, who the next morning pulled it out by the horns before the lady. This broke the enchantment and the evil spirit left her, and she appeared in all her beauty. They were married the next morning, and soon after went to the Court of King Arthur, where Jack for his many exploits, was made one of the Knights of the Round Table.

Jack soon went searching for giants again, but he had not ridden far, when he saw a cave, near the entrance of which he beheld a giant sitting upon a block of timber, with a knotted iron club by his side. His goggle eyes were like flames of fire, his countenance grim and ugly, and his cheeks like a couple of large flitches of bacon, while the bristles of his beard resembled rods of iron wire, and the locks that hung down upon his brawny shoulders were like curled snakes or hissing adders. Jack alighted from his horse, and, putting on the coat of darkness, went up close to the giant, and said softly: "Oh! are you there? It will not be long before I take you fast by the beard." The giant all this while could not see him, on account of his invisible coat, so that Jack, coming up close to the monster, struck a blow with his sword at his head, but, missing his aim, he cut off the nose instead. At this, the giant roared like claps of thunder, and began to lay about him with his iron club like one stark mad. But Jack, running behind, drove his sword up to the hilt in the giant's head so that it fell down dead. This done, Jack cut off the giant's head, and sent it, with his brother's also, to King Arthur, by a waggoner he hired for that purpose.

Jack now resolved to enter the giant's cave in search of his treasure, and, passing along through a great many windings and turnings, he came at length to a large room paved with freestone, at the upper end of which was a boiling caldron, and on the right hand a large table, at which the giant used to dine. Then he came to a window, barred with iron, through which he looked and beheld a vast number of miserable captives, who, seeing him, cried out: "Alas! Young man, art thou come to be one amongst us in this miserable den?"

"Ay," quoth Jack, "but pray tell me what is the meaning of your captivity?"

"We are kept here," said one, "till such time as the giants have a wish to feast, and then the fattest among us is slaughtered! And many are the times they have dined upon murdered men!"

"Say you so," quoth Jack, and straightway unlocked the gate and let them free, who all rejoiced like condemned men at sight of a pardon. Then searching the giant's coffer, he shared the gold and silver equally amongst them and took them to a neigbouring castle, where they all feasted and made merry over their deliverance.

But in the midst of all this mirth a messenger brought news that one Thunderdell, a giant, having heard of the death of his kinsmen, had come from the northern dales to be revenged on Jack, and was within a mile of the castle, the country people flying before him like chaff.


[Illustration]

But Jack was not a bit daunted, and said: "Let him come! I have a tool to pick his teeth; and you, ladies and gentlemen, walk out into the garden, and you shall witness this giant Thunderdell's death and destruction."

The castle was situated in the midst of a small island surrounded by a moat thirty feet deep and twenty feet wide, over which lay a drawbridge. So Jack employed men to cut through this bridge on both sides, nearly to the middle; and then, dressing himself in his invisible coat, he marched against the giant with his sword of sharpness. Although the giant could not see Jack, he smelt his approach, and cried out in these words:

"Fee, fi, fo, fum!

I smell the blood of an Englishman!

Be he alive or be he dead,

I'll grind his bones to make me bread!"

"Say'st thou so," said Jack; "then thou art a monstrous miller indeed."

The giant cried out again: "Art thou that villain who killed my kinsmen? Then I will tear thee with my teeth, suck thy blood, and grind thy bones to powder."

"You'll have to catch me first," quoth Jack, and throwing off his invisible coat, so that the giant might see him, and putting on his shoes of swiftness, he ran from the giant, who followed like a walking castle, so that the very foundations of the earth seemed to shake at every step. Jack led him a long dance, in order that the gentlemen and ladies might see; and at last to end the matter, ran lightly over the drawbridge, the giant, in full speed, pursuing him with his club. Then, coming to the middle of the bridge, the giant's great weight broke it down, and he tumbled headlong into the water, where he rolled and wallowed like a whale. Jack, standing by the moat, laughed at him all the while; but though the giant foamed to hear him scoff, and plunged from place to place in the moat, yet he could not get out to be revenged. Jack at length got a cart rope and cast it over the two heads of the giant and drew him ashore by a team of horses, and then cut off both his heads with his sword of sharpness, and sent them to King Arthur.

After some time spent in mirth and pastime, Jack, taking leave of the knights and ladies, set out for new adventures. Through many woods he passed and came at length to the foot of a high mountain. Here, late at night, he found a lonesome house, and knocked at the door, which was opened by an aged man with a head as white as snow. "Father," said Jack, "can you lodge a benighted traveller that has lost his way?"  "Yes," said the old man; "you are right welcome to my poor cottage." Whereupon Jack entered, and down they sat together, and the old man began to speak as follows: "Son, I see by your belt you are the great conqueror of giants, and behold, my son, on the top of the mountain is an enchanted castle; this is kept by a giant named Galligantua, and he, by the help of an old conjurer, betrays many knights and ladies into his castle, where by magic art they are transformed into sundry shapes and forms. But above all, I grieve for a duke's daughter, whom they fetched from her father's garden, carrying her through the air in a burning chariot drawn by fiery dragons, when they secured her within the castle, and transformed her into a white hind. And though many knights have tried to break the enchantment, and work her deliverance, yet no one could accomplish it, on account of two dreadful griffins which are placed at the castle gate and which destroy everyone who comes near. But you, my son, may pass by them undiscovered, where on the gates of the castle you will find engraven in large letters how the spell may be broken." Jack gave the old man his hand, and promised that in the morning he would venture his life to free the lady.

In the morning Jack arose and put on his invisible coat and magic cap and shoes, and prepared himself for the fray. Now, when he had reached the top of the mountain he soon discovered the two fiery griffins, but passed them without fear, because of his invisible coat. When he had got beyond them, he found upon the gates of the castle a golden trumpet hung by a silver chain, under which these lines were engraved:


"Whoever shall this trumpet blow,

Shall soon the giant overthrow,

And break the black enchantment straight;

So all shall be in happy state."

Jack had no sooner read this but he blew the trumpet, at which the castle trembled to its vast foundations, and the giant and conjurer were in horrid confusion, biting their thumbs and tearing their hair, knowing their wicked reign was at an end. Then the giant stooping to take up his club, Jack at one blow cut off his head; whereupon the conjurer, mounting up into the air, was carried away in a whirlwind. Then the enchantment was broken, and all the lords and ladies who had so long been transformed into birds and beasts returned to their proper shapes, and the castle vanished away in a cloud of smoke. This being done, the head of Galligantua was likewise, in the usual manner, conveyed to the Court of King Arthur, where, the very next day, Jack followed, with the knights and ladies who had been delivered. Whereupon, as a reward for his good services, the king prevailed upon the duke to bestow his daughter in marriage on honest Jack. So married they were, and the whole kingdom was filled with joy at the wedding. Furthermore, the king bestowed on Jack a noble castle, with a very beautiful estate thereto belonging, where he and his lady lived in great joy and happiness all the rest of their days.

 



Seaside and Wayside, Book One  by Julia McNair Wright

Shell-Fish

H AVE you not all heard the song, "Rock-a-by, Baby, in the Tree-top"? What babies live in tree-tops? You will say, "Bird, wasp, bee, and spider babies swing in the trees."

Do you know that there are small cradles that rock all day long on the waves?

Up and down, in the sun, on the water, rock the cradles of many shell-fish.

What are shell-fish?

They are soft sea-animals that live in hard shells.

But you must know that these are not true fish. A true fish is an animal that lives in the water, and has a back-bone. The backbone of a fish is very much like your backbone.

All fish can swim. Most of them have fins and scales. Very many of them have long, slim, smooth bodies, that will glide easily through the water.

All of you can see fish, in the ponds, lakes, or brooks near your home. You often have them to eat on your table.

If you live in the city, you can go to the place where fish are sold and look at them. In some other book I may tell you a little about the true fishes.

In this book I shall now tell you a very little about what are called "shell-fish."

This is not a very good name for them, but we will use it, because you will hear it from many people, and will often see it used in books.

The right name for these shell-fish is a hard word, which means "soft body" or "soft thing." That suits them very well, for they are all soft bodies; they have no bones.

There are also in the water soft-bodied things that have no shells to cover them. In the next book we shall tell you of some of them.

The soft things that live in shells are mostly round or wedge shape. Their shells serve them for houses to live in, for ships to sail in, for coats to cover them, for bones to keep their soft bodies in shape.


[Illustration]

The shells of these soft things are of many forms. Some are all in one piece, like a twist or curl. Some have two parts, like the covers of a book. These two parts are held by a hinge. And some shells are made in many pieces or scales.


[Illustration]

There are three kinds, or orders, of shellfish. One kind has a head on its foot. Another has a head much like that of the snail. Still another kind has no head. Well! That is  a queer thing, to have no head!


[Illustration]

Let us learn first about the shell-fish with a head and a foot.

There are many kinds of shell-fish of this order. They differ in size, color, shape, and way of life. But if we learn about one, we shall have an idea of them all.

You know that the hermit crab steals a shell to live in. It is often a long shell, like a curl. That is the sort of shell that shellfish with heads live in. It is a shell all in one piece.

These shells are very hard and thick. Why is that? The fish in them is soft. It has no bones.

If these soft things had no hard shells, they could not live. The waves would kill them. The crabs, fish, and other animals in the sea, would eat them at once.

Let us see how a shell-fish is made. Have you a shell to look at? If not you can look at these shells in the picture. The conch, or winkle, is the largest shell-fish you will be likely to find. His body is soft but tough. It runs to a point.

That back part takes fast hold of the post in the shell, so that Mr. Conch will not drop out. On one side of his body he has a hook like a thumb. That is to pull him back into his shell when he wishes to hide.

The front end of the conch is wide and thick. Here we find his mouth. Near his mouth he has two feelers, such as insects have, to touch things. Where the feelers join his head he has two eyes.

His foot is flat, and is as big as all the rest of his body. It is just the size of the open part of his shell. Why is that?

The shoe on his foot is hard, like horn. When he draws back into his shell, that shoe is his door. It fits close. It shuts him in safe in his shell.

 



Anonymous

The Green Grass Growing All Around

There was a tree stood in the ground,

The prettiest tree you ever did see;

The tree in the wood, and the wood in the ground,

And the green grass growing all around.


And on this tree there was a limb,

The prettiest limb you ever did see;

The limb on the tree, and the tree in the wood,

The tree in the wood, and the wood in the ground,

And the green grass growing all around.


And on this limb there was a bough,

The prettiest bough you ever did see;

The bough on the limb, and the limb on the tree,

The limb on the tree, and the tree in the wood,

The tree in the wood, and the wood in the ground,

And the green grass growing all around.


Now on this bough there was a nest,

The prettiest nest you ever did see;

The nest on the bough, and the bough on the limb,

The limb on the tree, and the tree in the wood,

The tree in the wood, and the wood in the ground,

And the green grass growing all around.


And in the nest there were some eggs,

The prettiest eggs you ever did see;

Eggs in the nest, and the nest on the bough,

The bough on the limb, and the limb on the tree,

The limb on the tree, and the tree in the wood,

The tree in the wood, and the wood in the ground,

And the green grass growing all around,

And the green grass growing all around.

 


  WEEK 22  

  Sunday  


Hurlbut's Story of the Bible  by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut

Jehu, the Furious Driver of His Chariot

II Kings viii: 7 to 15; ix: 1, to x: 36.

Part 1 of 2


dropcap image OU remember that when the Lord came to the prophet Elijah at Mount Horeb in the wilderness (see Story 78), the Lord gave to Elijah a command to anoint or call Hazael to be king of Syria, and Jehu to be king of Israel. But to prepare the way for these changes of rule a long time was needed, and Elijah was taken home to heaven before these men were called to be kings.

The time to call these men had now come, and Elisha undertook the work that had been left to him by Elijah. He went to Damascus, the chief city of Syria: and Ben-hadad, the king of Syria, heard that the great prophet of Israel had come, for the fame of Elisha's deeds had made his name known through all those lands.

At that time King Ben-hadad was ill; and he sent one of his chief princes, whose name was Hazael, to ask Elisha whether he would be well again. Hazael came to meet Elisha with a rich present, which loaded forty camels, and he spoke to Elisha with great respect, saying, "Your son, Ben-hadad, king of Syria, has sent me to you to ask, 'Shall I become well again from this sickness?' "

And Elisha said to Hazael, "You may tell Ben-hadad that he will get well; nevertheless, the Lord has shown me that he will surely die."

Then Elisha looked steadily upon Hazael's face, until Hazael felt ashamed, and Elisha wept as he looked upon him. Hazael said to him, "Why does my lord weep?" "I weep, said Elisha, "because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel. You will take their castles, and set them on fire; you will kill their young men, and you will destroy their children."

Hazael was surprised at this, and said, "I am nothing but a dog; and how can I do such great things?"

And Elisha answered him, "The Lord has shown me that you shall be king over Syria."

Then Hazael went to King Ben-hadad, and said to him, "the man of God told me that you will surely be well from your sickness."

And on the next day Hazael took the cover from the bed, and dipped it in water, and pressed it tightly over Ben-hadad's face, so that he died; and Hazael reigned in his place as king of Syria. As soon as Hazael became king, he made war upon the Israelites; and a battle was fought at Ramoth-gilead, the same place where King Ahab had been slain more than ten years before. In this battle Jehoram, the king of Israel, was wounded; and he was taken to Jezreel, beside the great plain of Esdraelon, there to recover from his wounds. Ahaziah, who was at that time king of Judah, and who was a nephew of Jehoram, went to Jezreel to visit him while he was ill from his wounds.

By this time Elisha, the prophet, had returned from his visit to Syria. He knew that the time had now come to finish the work in Israel left to him by Elijah; and he called one of the sons of the prophets to him, and said, "Rise up, and go to the camp at Ramoth-gilead; and take with you this little bottle of oil. And when you reach Ramoth-gilead, find one of the captains of the army, Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi; and lead him into a room alone, and pour the oil on his head, and say, 'Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed you as king over Israel.' When you have done this, come back to me at once without waiting."

Then the young man, who was a prophet like Elisha, took the bottle of oil in his hand and went to Ramoth-gilead. In the camp of Israel he found the captains of the army sitting together. He came suddenly among them, and said, "O captain, I have an errand to you."

And Jehu, one of the captains, said to him, "To which one of us is your errand?"

He said to Jehu, "My errand is to you alone, O captain."

Then Jehu went with the young prophet into the house; and he poured the oil on his head, and said, "Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, 'I have anointed you as king over my people Israel. And you shall destroy the family of Ahab, because they destroyed the prophets of the Lord. And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin. And the wild dogs shall eat Jezebel in the city of Jezreel, and there shall be no one to bury her.' "

And after he had said this, the prophet opened the door, and went away as suddenly as he had come. Jehu came back to the other captains, and sat down again. One of the captains said to him, "Is all well? Why did this wild fellow call you out?"

Jehu said to them, "You know the man, and you know what he said to me."

"No, no," they all said, "we do not know. Tell us what he said."

Then Jehu told them what the prophet had said, and that he had anointed him as king. This pleased all the captains. At once they took off their outer garments, and spread them as a carpet on the stairs of the house, and at the head of the stairs they placed Jehu; and they blew the trumpets and called out to the army, "Jehu is the king!"

 



The Wind in the Willows  by Kenneth Grahame

The Wild Wood

Part 1 of 2

T HE MOLE had long wanted to make the acquaintance of the Badger. He seemed, by all accounts, to be such an important personage and, though rarely visible, to make his unseen influence felt by everybody about the place. But whenever the Mole mentioned his wish to the Water Rat he always found himself put off. "It's all right," the Rat would say. "Badger'll turn up some day or other—he's always turning up—and then I'll introduce you. The best of fellows! But you must not only take him as  you find him, but when  you find him."

"Couldn't you ask him here—dinner or something?" said the Mole.

"He wouldn't come," replied the Rat simply. "Badger hates Society, and invitations, and dinner, and all that sort of thing."

"Well, then, supposing we go and call on him?"  suggested the Mole.

"O, I'm sure he wouldn't like that at all,"  said the Rat, quite alarmed. "He's so very shy, he'd be sure to be offended. I've never even ventured to call on him at his own home myself, though I know him so well. Besides, we can't. It's quite out of the question, because he lives in the very middle of the Wild Wood."

"Well, supposing he does," said the Mole. "You told me the Wild Wood was all right, you know."

"O, I know, I know, so it is," replied the Rat evasively. "But I think we won't go there just now. Not just  yet. It's a long way, and he wouldn't be at home at this time of year anyhow, and he'll be coming along some day, if you'll wait quietly."

The Mole had to be content with this. But the Badger never came along, and every day brought its amusements, and it was not till summer was long over, and cold and frost and miry ways kept them much indoors, and the swollen river raced past outside their windows with a speed that mocked at boating of any sort or kind, that he found his thoughts dwelling again with much persistence on the solitary grey Badger, who lived his own life by himself, in his hole in the middle of the Wild Wood.

In the winter time the Rat slept a great deal, retiring early and rising late. During his short day he sometimes scribbled poetry or did other small domestic jobs about the house; and, of course, there were always animals dropping in for a chat, and consequently there was a good deal of story-telling and comparing notes on the past summer and all its doings.

Such a rich chapter it had been, when one came to look back on it all! With illustrations so numerous and so very highly coloured! The pageant of the river bank had marched steadily along, unfolding itself in scene-pictures that succeeded each other in stately procession. Purple loosestrife arrived early, shaking luxuriant tangled locks along the edge of the mirror whence its own face laughed back at it. Willow-herb, tender and wistful, like a pink sunset cloud, was not slow to follow. Comfrey, the purple hand-in-hand with the white, crept forth to take its place in the line; and at last one morning the diffident and delaying dog-rose stepped delicately on the stage, and one knew, as if string-music had announced it in stately chords that strayed into a gavotte, that June at last was here. One member of the company was still awaited; the shepherd-boy for the nymphs to woo, the knight for whom the ladies waited at the window, the prince that was to kiss the sleeping summer back to life and love. But when meadow-sweet, debonair and odorous in amber jerkin, moved graciously to his place in the group, then the play was ready to begin.

And what a play it had been! Drowsy animals, snug in their holes while wind and rain were battering at their doors, recalled still keen mornings, an hour before sunrise, when the white mist, as yet undispersed, clung closely along the surface of the water; then the shock of the early plunge, the scamper along the bank, and the radiant transformation of earth, air, and water, when suddenly the sun was with them again, and grey was gold and colour was born and sprang out of the earth once more. They recalled the languorous siesta of hot mid-day, deep in green undergrowth, the sun striking through in tiny golden shafts and spots; the boating and bathing of the afternoon, the rambles along dusty lanes and through yellow cornfields; and the long, cool evening at last, when so many threads were gathered up, so many friendships rounded, and so many adventures planned for the morrow. There was plenty to talk about on those short winter days when the animals found themselves round the fire; still, the Mole had a good deal of spare time on his hands, and so one afternoon, when the Rat in his arm-chair before the blaze was alternately dozing and trying over rhymes that wouldn't fit, he formed the resolution to go out by himself and explore the Wild Wood, and perhaps strike up an acquaintance with Mr. Badger.

It was a cold, still afternoon with a hard, steely sky overhead, when he slipped out of the warm parlour into the open air. The country lay bare and entirely leafless around him, and he thought that he had never seen so far and so intimately into the insides of things as on that winter day when Nature was deep in her annual slumber and seemed to have kicked the clothes off. Copses, dells, quarries, and all hidden places, which had been mysterious mines for exploration in leafy summer, now exposed themselves and their secrets pathetically, and seemed to ask him to overlook their shabby poverty for a while, till they could riot in rich masquerade as before, and trick and entice him with the old deceptions. It was pitiful in a way, and yet cheering—even exhilarating. He was glad that he liked the country undecorated, hard, and stripped of its finery. He had got down to the bare bones of it, and they were fine and strong and simple. He did not want the warm clover and the play of seeding grasses; the screens of quickset, the billowy drapery of beech and elm seemed best away; and with great cheerfulness of spirit he pushed on towards the Wild Wood, which lay before him low and threatening, like a black reef in some still southern sea.

There was nothing to alarm him at first entry. Twigs crackled under his feet, logs tripped him, funguses on stumps resembled caricatures, and startled him for the moment by their likeness to something familiar and far away; but that was all fun, and exciting. It led him on, and he penetrated to where the light was less, and trees crouched nearer and nearer, and holes made ugly mouths at him on either side.

Everything was very still now. The dusk advanced on him steadily, rapidly, gathering in behind and before; and the light seemed to be draining away like flood-water.

Then the faces began.

It was over his shoulder, and indistinctly, that he first thought he saw a face, a little evil, wedge-shaped face, looking out at him from a hole. When he turned and confronted it, the thing had vanished.

He quickened his pace, telling himself cheerfully not to begin imagining things or there would be simply no end to it. He passed another hole, and another, and another; and then—yes!—no!—yes! certainly a little narrow face, with hard eyes, had flashed up for an instant from a hole, and was gone. He hesitated—braced himself up for an effort and strode on. Then suddenly, and as if it had been so all the time, every hole, far and near, and there were hundreds of them, seemed to possess its face, coming and going rapidly, all fixing on him glances of malice and hatred: all hard-eyed and evil and sharp.

If he could only get away from the holes in the banks, he thought, there would be no more faces. He swung off the path and plunged into the untrodden places of the wood.

Then the whistling began.

Very faint and shrill it was, and far behind him, when first he heard it; but somehow it made him hurry forward. Then, still very faint and shrill, it sounded far ahead of him, and made him hesitate and want to go back. As he halted in indecision it broke out on either side, and seemed to be caught up and passed on throughout the whole length of the wood to its farthest limit. They were up and alert and ready, evidently, whoever they were! And he—he was alone, and unarmed, and far from any help; and the night was closing in.

Then the pattering began.

He thought it was only falling leaves at first, so slight and delicate was the sound of it. Then as it grew it took a regular rhythm, and he knew it for nothing else but the pat-pat-pat of little feet still a very long way off. Was it in front or behind? It seemed to be first one, and then the other, then both. It grew and it multiplied, till from every quarter as he listened anxiously, leaning this way and that, it seemed to be closing in on him. As he stood still to hearken, a rabbit came running hard towards him through the trees. He waited, expecting it to slacken pace, or to swerve from him into a different course. Instead, the animal almost brushed him as it dashed past, his face set and hard, his eyes staring. "Get out of this, you fool, get out!" the Mole heard him mutter as he swung round a stump and disappeared down a friendly burrow.

The pattering increased till it sounded like sudden hail on the dry leaf-carpet spread around him. The whole wood seemed running now, running hard, hunting, chasing, closing in round something or—somebody? In panic, he began to run too, aimlessly, he knew not whither. He ran up against things, he fell over things and into things, he darted under things and dodged round things. At last he took refuge in the deep dark hollow of an old beech tree, which offered shelter, concealment—perhaps even safety, but who could tell? Anyhow, he was too tired to run any further, and could only snuggle down into the dry leaves which had drifted into the hollow and hope he was safe for a time. And as he lay there panting and trembling, and listened to the whistlings and the patterings outside, he knew it at last, in all its fullness, that dread thing which other little dwellers in field and hedgerow had encountered here, and known as their darkest moment—that thing which the Rat had vainly tried to shield him from—the Terror of the Wild Wood!


[Illustration]

In panic, he began to run.

 



Samuel Francis Smith

America

My country, 'tis of thee,

Sweet land of liberty,

Of thee I sing;

Land where my fathers died,

Land of the Pilgrims' pride,

From every mountain-side

Let freedom ring.


My native country, thee,

Land of the noble free,

Thy name I love;

I love thy rocks and rills,

Thy woods and templed hills,

My heart with rapture thrills

Like that above.


Let music swell the breeze,

And ring from all the trees,

Sweet freedom's song;

Let mortal tongues awake,

Let all that breathe partake,

Let rocks their silence break—

The sound prolong.


Our fathers' God, to Thee,

Author of liberty,

To Thee we sing,

Long may our land be bright

With freedom's holy light;

Protect us by Thy might,

Great God, our King.