WEEK 29 |
A S soon as Dete had disappeared the old man went back to his bench, and there he remained seated, staring on the ground without uttering a sound, while thick curls of smoke floated upward from his pipe. Heidi, meanwhile, was enjoying herself in her new surroundings; she looked about till she found a shed, built against the hut, where the goats were kept; she peeped in, and saw it was empty. She continued her search and presently came to the fir trees behind the hut. A strong breeze was blowing through them, and there was a rushing and roaring in their topmost branches, Heidi stood still and listened. The sound growing fainter, she went on again, to the farther corner of the hut, and so round to where her grandfather was sitting. Seeing that he was in exactly the same position as when she left him, she went and placed herself in front of the old man, and putting her hands behind her back, stood and gazed at him. Her grandfather looked up, and as she continued standing there without moving, "What is it you want?" he asked.
"I want to see what you have inside the house," said Heidi.
"I want to see what you have inside the house," said Heidi.
"Come then!" and the grandfather rose and went before her towards the hut.
"Bring your bundle of clothes in with you," he bid her as she was following.
"I shan't want them any more," was her prompt answer.
The old man turned and looked searchingly at the child, whose dark eyes were sparkling in delighted anticipation of what she was going to see inside. "She is certainly not wanting in intelligence," he murmured to himself. "And why shall you not want them any more?" he asked aloud.
"Because I want to go about like the goats with their thin light legs."
"Well, you can do so if you like," said her grandfather, "but bring the things in, we must put them in the cupboard."
Heidi did as she was told. The old man now opened the door and Heidi stepped inside after him; she found herself in a good-sized room, which covered the whole ground floor of the hut. A table and a chair were the only furniture; in one corner stood the grandfather's bed, in another was the hearth with a large kettle hanging above it; and on the further side was a large door in the wall—this was the cupboard. The grandfather opened it; inside were his clothes, some hanging up, others, a couple of shirts, and some socks and handkerchiefs, lying on a shelf; on a second shelf were some plates and cups and glasses, and on a higher one still, a round loaf, smoked meat, and cheese, for everything that Alm-Uncle needed for his food and clothing was kept in this cupboard. Heidi, as soon as it was opened, ran quickly forward and thrust in her bundle of clothes, as far back behind her grandfather's things as possible, so that they might not easily be found again. She then looked carefully round the room, and asked, "Where am I to sleep, grandfather?"
"Wherever you like," he answered.
Heidi was delighted, and began at once to examine all the nooks and corners to find out where it would be pleasantest to sleep. In the corner near her grandfather's bed she saw a short ladder against the wall; up she climbed and found herself in the hayloft. There lay a large heap of fresh, sweet-smelling hay, while through a round window in the wall she could see right down the valley.
"I shall sleep up here, grandfather," she called down to him, "It's lovely, up here. Come up and see how lovely it is!"
"Oh, I know all about it," he called up in answer.
"I am getting the bed ready now," she called down again, as she went busily to and fro at her work, "but I shall want you to bring me up a sheet; you can't have a bed without a sheet, you want it to lie upon."
"All right," said the grandfather, and presently he went to the cupboard, and after rummaging about inside for a few minutes he drew out a long, coarse piece of stuff, which was all he had to do duty for a sheet. He carried it up to the loft, where he found Heidi had already made quite a nice bed. She had put an extra heap of hay at one end for a pillow, and had so arranged it that, when in bed, she would be able to see comfortably out through the round window.
"That is capital," said her grandfather; "now we must put on the sheet, but wait a moment first," and he went and fetched another large bundle of hay to make the bed thicker, so that the child should not feel the hard floor under her—"there, now bring it here." Heidi had got hold of the sheet, but it was almost too heavy for her to carry; this was a good thing, however, as the close thick stuff would prevent the sharp stalks of the hay running through and pricking her. The two together now spread the sheet over the bed, and where it was too long or too broad, Heidi quickly tucked it in under the hay. It looked now as tidy and comfortable a bed as you could wish for, and Heidi stood gazing thoughtfully at her handiwork.
"We have forgotten something now, grandfather," she said after a short silence.
"What's that?" he asked.
"A coverlid; when you get into bed, you have to creep in between the sheets and the coverlid."
"Oh, that's the way, is it? But suppose I have not got a coverlid?" said the old man.
"Well, never mind, grandfather," said Heidi in a consoling tone of voice, "I can take some more hay to put over me," and she was turning quickly to fetch another armful from the heap, when her grandfather stopped her. "Wait a moment," he said, and he climbed down the ladder again and went towards his bed. He returned to the loft with a large, thick sack, made of flax, which he threw down, exclaiming, "There, that is better than hay, is it not?"
Heidi began tugging away at the sack with all her little might, in her efforts to get it smooth and straight, but her small hands were not fitted for so heavy a job. Her grandfather came to her assistance, and when they had got it tidily spread over the bed, it all looked so nice and warm and comfortable that Heidi stood gazing at it in delight. "That is a splendid coverlid," she said, "and the bed looks lovely altogether! I wish it was night, so that I might get inside it at once."
"I think we might have something to eat first," said the grandfather, "what do you think?"
Heidi in the excitement of bed-making had forgotten everything else; but now when she began to think about food she felt terribly hungry, for she had had nothing to eat since the piece of bread and little cup of thin coffee that had been her breakfast early that morning before starting on her long, hot journey. So she answered without hesitation, "Yes, I think so too."
"Let us go down then, as we both think alike," said the old man, and he followed the child down the ladder. Then he went up to the hearth, pushed the big kettle aside, and drew forward the little one that was hanging on the chain, and seating himself on the round-topped, three-legged stool before the fire, blew it up into a clear bright flame. The kettle soon began to boil, and meanwhile the old man held a large piece of cheese on a long iron fork over the fire, turning it round and round till it was toasted a nice golden yellow color on each side. Heidi watched all that was going on with eager curiosity. Suddenly some new idea seemed to come into her head, for she turned and ran to the cupboard, and then began going busily backwards and forwards. Presently the grandfather got up and came to the table with a jug and the cheese, and there he saw it already tidily laid with the round loaf and two plates and two knives each in its right place; for Heidi had taken exact note that morning of all that there was in the cupboard, and she knew which things would be wanted for their meal.
"Ah, that's right," said the grandfather, "I am glad to see that you have some ideas of your own," and as he spoke he laid the toasted cheese on a layer of bread, "but there is still something missing."
Heidi looked at the jug that was steaming away invitingly, and ran quickly back to the cupboard. At first she could only see a small bowl left on the shelf, but she was not long in perplexity, for a moment later she caught sight of two glasses further back, and without an instant's loss of time she returned with these and the bowl and put them down on the table.
"Good, I see you know how to set about things; but what will you do for a seat?" The grandfather himself was sitting on the only chair in the room. Heidi flew to the hearth, and dragging the three-legged stool up to the table, sat herself down upon it.
"Well, you have managed to find a seat for yourself, I see, only rather a low one I am afraid," said the grandfather, "but you would not be tall enough to reach the table even if you sat in my chair; the first thing now, however, is to have something to eat, so come along."
With that he stood up, filled the bowl with milk, and placing it on the chair, pushed it in front of Heidi on her little three-legged stool, so that she now had a table to herself. Then he brought her a large slice of bread and a piece of the golden cheese, and told her to eat. After which he went and sat down on the corner of the table and began his own meal. Heidi lifted the bowl with both hands and drank without pause till it was empty, for the thirst of all her long hot journey had returned upon her. Then she drew a deep breath—in the eagerness of her thirst she had not stopped to breathe—and put down the bowl.
"Was the milk nice?" asked her grandfather.
"I never drank any so good before," answered Heidi.
"Then you must have some more," and the old man filled her bowl again to the brim and set it before the child, who was now hungrily beginning her bread, having first spread it with the cheese, which after being toasted was soft as butter; the two together tasted deliciously, and the child looked the picture of content as she sat eating, and at intervals taking further draughts of milk. The meal being over, the grandfather went outside to put the goat-shed in order, and Heidi watched with interest while he first swept it out, and then put fresh straw for the goats to sleep upon. Then he went to the little well-shed, and there he cut some long round sticks, and a small round board; in this he bored some holes and stuck the sticks into them, and there, as if made by magic, was a three-legged stool just like her grandfather's, only higher. Heidi stood and looked at it, speechless with astonishment.
"What do you think that is?" asked her grandfather.
"It's my stool, I know, because it is such a high one; and it was made all of a minute," said the child, still lost in wonder and admiration.
"She understands what she sees, her eyes are in the right place," remarked the grandfather to himself, as he continued his way round the hut, knocking in a nail here and there, or making fast some part of the door, and so with hammer and nails and pieces of wood going from spot to spot, mending or clearing away wherever work of the kind was needed. Heidi followed him step by step, her eyes attentively taking in all that he did, and everything that she saw was a fresh source of pleasure to her.
And so the time passed happily on till evening. Then the wind began to roar louder than ever through the old fir trees; Heidi listened with delight to the sound, and it filled her heart so full of gladness that she skipped and danced round the old trees, as if some unheard-of joy had come to her. The grandfather stood and watched her from the shed.
Suddenly a shrill whistle was heard. Heidi paused in her dancing, and the grandfather came out. Down from the heights above the goats came springing one after another, with Peter in their midst. Heidi sprang forward with a cry of joy and rushed among the flock, greeting first one and then another of her old friends of the morning. As they neared the hut the goats stood still, and then two of their number, two beautiful slender animals, one white and one brown, ran forward to where the grandfather was standing and began licking his hands, for he was holding a little salt which he always had ready for his goats on their return home. Peter disappeared with the remainder of his flock. Heidi tenderly stroked the two goats in turn, running first to one side of them and then the other, and jumping about in her glee at the pretty little animals. "Are they ours, grandfather? Are they both ours? Are you going to put them in the shed? Will they always stay with us?"
Heidi's questions came tumbling out one after the other, so that her grandfather had only time to answer each of them with "Yes, yes." When the goats had finished licking up the salt her grandfather told her to go and fetch her bowl and the bread.
Heidi obeyed and was soon back again. The grandfather milked the white goat and filled her basin, and then breaking off a piece of bread, "Now eat your supper," he said, "and then go up to bed. Cousin Dete left another little bundle for you with a nightgown and other small things in it, which you will find at the bottom of the cupboard if you want them. I must go and shut up the goats, so be off and sleep well."
"Good-night, grandfather! good-night. What are their names, grandfather, what are their names?" she called out as she ran after his retreating figure and the goats.
"The white one is named Little Swan, and the brown one Little Bear," he answered.
"Good-night, Little Swan, good-night, Little Bear!" she called again at the top of her voice, for they were already inside the shed. Then she sat down on the seat and began to eat and drink, but the wind was so strong that it almost blew her away; so she made haste and finished her supper and then went indoors and climbed up to her bed, where she was soon lying as sweetly and soundly asleep as any young princess on her couch of silk.
Not long after, and while it was still twilight, the grandfather also went to bed, for he was up every morning at sunrise, and the sun came climbing up over the mountains at a very early hour during these summer months. The wind grew so tempestuous during the night, and blew in such gusts against the walls, that the hut trembled and the old beams groaned and creaked. It came howling and wailing down the chimney like voices of those in pain, and it raged with such fury among the old fir trees that here and there a branch was snapped and fell. In the middle of the night the old man got up. "The child will be frightened," he murmured half aloud. He mounted the ladder and went and stood by the child's bed.
Outside the moon was struggling with the dark, fast-driving clouds, which at one moment left it clear and shining, and the next swept over it, and all again was dark. Just now the moonlight was falling through the round window straight on to Heidi's bed. She lay under the heavy coverlid, her cheeks rosy with sleep, her head peacefully resting on her little round arm, and with a happy expression on her baby face as if dreaming of something pleasant. The old man stood looking down on the sleeping child until the moon again disappeared behind the clouds and he could see no more, then he went back to bed.
A LEXANDER, the king of Macedon, wished to become the master of the whole world. He led his armies through many countries. He plundered cities, he burned towns, he destroyed thousands of lives.
At last, far in the East, he came to a land of which he had never heard. The people there knew nothing about war and conquest. Although they were rich, they lived simply and were at peace with all the world.
The shah, or ruler of these people, went out to meet Alexander and welcome him to their country. He led the great king to his palace and begged that he would dine with him.
When they were seated at the table the servants of the shah stood by to serve the meal. They brought in what seemed to be fruits, nuts, cakes, and other delicacies; but when Alexander would eat he found that everything was made of gold.
"What!" said he, "do you eat gold in this country?"
"We ourselves eat only common food," answered the shah. "But we have heard that it was the desire for gold which caused you to leave your own country; and so, we wish to satisfy your appetite."
"It was not for gold that I came here," said Alexander. "I came to learn the customs of your people."
"Very well, then," said the shah, "stay with me a little while and observe what you can."
While the shah and the king were talking, two countrymen came in. "My lord," said one, "we have had a disagreement, and wish you to settle the matter."
"Tell me about it," said the shah.
"Well, it is this way," answered the man: "I bought a piece of ground from this neighbor of mine, and paid him a fair price for it. Yesterday, when I was digging in it, I found a box full of gold and jewels. This treasure does not belong to me, for I bought only the ground; but when I offered it to my neighbor he refused it."
The second man then spoke up and said, "It is true that I sold him the ground, but I did not reserve anything he might find in it. The treasure is not mine, and therefore I am unwilling to take it."
The shah sat silent for a while, as if in thought. Then he said to the first man, "Have you a son?"
"Yes, a young man of promise," was the answer.
The shah turned to the second man: "Have you a daughter?"
"I have," answered the man, "—a beautiful girl."
"Well, then, this is my judgment. Let the son marry the daughter, if both agree, and give them the treasure as a wedding portion."
Alexander listened with great interest. "You have judged wisely and rightly," said he to the shah, "but in my own country we should have done differently."
"What would you have done?"
"Well, we should have thrown both men into prison, and the treasure would have been given to the king."
"And is that what you call justice?" asked the shah.
"We call it policy," said Alexander.
"Then let me ask you a question," said the shah. "Does the sun shine in your country?"
"Does the rain fall there?"
"Is it possible! But are there any gentle, harmless animals in your fields?"
"A great many."
"Then," said the shah, "it must be that the sun shines and the rain falls for the sake of these poor beasts; for men so unjust do not deserve such blessings."
Margaret has a milking-pail,
And she rises early;
Thomas has a threshing-flail,
And he's up betimes.
Sometimes crossing through the grass
Where the dew lies pearly,
They say "Good-morrow" as they pass
By the leafy limes.
WEEK 29 |
H ENRY I. died in 1135 A.D., and the barons, instead of keeping their promise to him and making his daughter queen, chose his nephew Stephen to be their king. Stephen was the son of Adela, William the Conqueror's daughter.
The barons chose Stephen for several reasons. They were so proud that they hated the thought of being ruled by a woman, and that woman, too, not even a Norman. For you remember Matilda's mother was a great-granddaughter of Edmund Ironside, and as she had been born in England and lived a great part of her life there she was far more English than Norman.
Matilda's husband was Geoffrey, Count of Anjou. He was also called Geoffrey Plantagenet, because when he went into battle he used to wear a sprig of yellow broom in his helmet, so that his friends might know him when his face was covered with his visor. The Latin name for broom is planta genista, and gradually it came to be pronounced Plantagenet.
Although Geoffrey was French he was not a Norman, and the Normans looked upon him as quite as much a stranger as an Englishman, and they did not wish to be ruled by him, as would happen if his wife Matilda were made queen. Besides this, the barons knew that Stephen was kind and gentle, and they thought he would be a king who would allow them to do just what they liked.
And so he did. Stephen was too gentle to rule the wild barons. Some one stern and harsh was needed to keep them in check, and Stephen was neither. He allowed the barons to build strong castles all over the country. These castles had dark and fearful dungeons, which were used as prisons. There such deeds of cruelty were done by the barons that the people said the castles were filled, not with men, but with evil spirits. "God has forgotten England," they said. "Christ sleeps and His holy ones."
Not even at the time of the conquest had there been such misery in England. Then there had been one stern ruler who had forced every one to bend to his will. Now each baron set himself up as a king and tyrant. His castle was his kingdom, where he tortured and killed according to his own wicked will. Stephen was a courteous knight and gentleman, but during the nineteen years of his reign there was only lawlessness and sorrow in England.
When the barons made Stephen King of England, Matilda and her husband Geoffrey fled to Normandy. But there, too, the barons rebelled against them and chose Stephen for their duke.
Then David, the King of Scotland, gathered an army and came to fight for his niece Matilda.
Ever since the days of the Romans, the Scots and English had been enemies, and the Scots were still almost as wild and fierce as they had been then. They marched through England as far as Yorkshire, doing dreadful deeds of cruelty as they went.
At a place called Northallerton a great battle was fought. It was called the Battle of the Standard because the sacred banners of four saints were hung upon a pole, which was fixed to a cart, and round this the English gathered their forces.
The Scots were fiercely brave, but they wore no armour, and,
although they rushed to battle with splendid courage, they
could not break through the line of
Later on Matilda came back from France, and, until the death of Stephen, England was filled with civil war. Civil war means war within a country itself—the people of that country, instead of fighting against a foreign nation, fighting among themselves. This is the most terrible kind of war, for often friends and brothers fight on different sides, killing and wounding each other. In this civil war those who wished Matilda to be queen fought against those who wished Stephen to remain king.
For a time Matilda's army was successful, but she was so proud and haughty that she soon made enemies even of those who had at first fought for her. Then came a time when she was shut up in Oxford, while the army of Stephen lay around. The King's soldiers kept so strict a watch that no food could be taken into the town, and no person could escape from it. This is called a siege. The people in Oxford began to starve, for they had eaten up all the food they had, and Stephen's soldiers took good care that no more was allowed to be taken into the town. It was the middle of winter. The river Thames was frozen over. Snow lay everywhere around. The cold was terrible, and the people had no wood for fires.
At last Matilda could bear it no longer. She made up her
mind to run away. One night four figures dressed in white
crept silently through the streets of Oxford. They reached
the gate. In silence it was opened, for
those guarding it
knew who the
Although Matilda fled, the war still went on until at length her son Henry landed in England, determined to fight for the crown. But Stephen was weary of war, and all the land longed for rest. So listening to the advice of a wise priest, Stephen and Henry made peace.
Their first meeting was on the banks of the Thames where it runs still as a little stream. They stood one on one bank, and one on the other—Stephen a broken, ruined man, worn and aged with wars and troubles, Henry young, handsome, and hopeful. And there they made a treaty called the Peace of Wallingford. By this treaty it was agreed, that Stephen should keep the crown while he lived; that he should acknowledge Henry as his adopted son; that Henry should reign after the death of Stephen; and that the dreadful castles which Stephen had allowed the wicked barons to build and which they used as dark and horrible prisons, should be destroyed.
So the land had rest. Soon afterward Stephen died, and in
The next night Mother Lotor climbed to a branch below the hollow and called her young ones. Three of them went to her and liked the excitement of feeling the breeze against their fur and looking out in all directions into the night. Later the other two came out, and before many nights went by they would go down and up. They liked to play outside, and went into the hollow only to sleep during the day.
Perhaps Father Lotor knew what was happening at the home tree, for one evening about that time he went to the pond and called to his family. When Mother Lotor heard his quavering voice, she led the five little Lotors to the pond. There stood Father Lotor, and near him was the picnic dinner he had brought them.
It was a hen. The old raccoon had found it on a low branch of a tree near the henyard at Holiday Farm. The other hens always went into the henhouse to spend the night on the perches there, but this hen had the habit of staying outside and sleeping on a branch. The raccoon was strong and skillful, and he twisted her neck as quickly as a man could have done if he had wanted it for a chicken soup.
Father Lotor pulled out the feathers too, about as well as a man could have done that. Next he washed the hen in the pond. He squeezed it with his hands and he pounded it with his feet. Mother Lotor washed it too, just as he had done. Then she tore off some shreds of the meat and gave them to the five little Lotors. They liked their picnic dinner as well as you like chicken sandwiches. They did something to their morsels that you would not do with sandwiches. They washed them at the edge of the pond before they ate them.
That was the first time that the little Lotors ever went to a picnic with their father and mother. But it was not the last time. Indeed, every night now the family of seven hunted together or near enough to call to one another.
The fourth night out was an unhappy one for Cubby Lotor. The evening started very pleasantly with a blueberry picnic on the hill where all the Lotors went together. It was the first time Cubby had tasted berries, and he ate the sweet ripe fruit busily until he found a rather large insect that jumped by means of long hind legs. Then he wandered off on a grasshopper hunt.
After a time he went down to Holiday Stream and played along the bank until he came to an old log that made a bridge across the brook. Cubby did not really need a bridge. He liked to wade in the water and could already swim very well. But all raccoons like old logs, so it was natural for Cubby to creep along this one. There, in the air, just over the middle of the log, dangled a bit of bright tin that glistened in the moonlight. All raccoons like to play with little shiny things, so naturally Cubby reached out one hand to tap the bit of tin. Just then the hard jaws of a cruel trap snapped and caught three of Cubby's fingers in a grip of pain. He was frightened and hurt, and he cried pitifully as he tried to pull himself free.
His wail of terror reached his mother's ear and she ran—oh, how she ran! She felt his poor hand quivering in the trap, and she did very quickly the only thing she could to save him. Her sharp teeth made three swift cuts and Cubby was free, all but the ends of the three fingers which the trap still held.
The next day the farmer from Holiday Farm happened to pass near the log by the stream. He saw the trap and a frown came in his face. When he noticed what was in the trap his frown grew deeper. He took the trap to the pond and threw it into the deepest water. Then he made a sign—NO STEEL TRAPS ALLOWED HERE—and nailed it to a tree near the log.
"I had two pet coons once," he told the boys who were spending the summer at Holiday Farm, "and I liked them. No hunter is going to trap these animals on my place if I can help it. I keep a watchdog that will scare them out of the cornfield. I built a henhouse they cannot enter. If the coons will keep out of my cornfield and the henhouse, they are welcome on the rest of the farm."
Cubby Lotor's accident did not prevent him from going to the next family picnic, though his paw was still sore. That was the night the Lotors started for the seashore.
The sea was only a few miles from Holiday Farm, but it took them a week or more to reach it. There were so many interesting things on the way that they did not hurry. As they followed the crooked stream, they had plenty of water in which to wash their food.
Early every morning they hunted for places where they might nap during the day. The weather was warm and they did not try to sleep together. Each found a crow's nest or a hollow in a tree or some such bed, or slept curled up in a crotch between two branches.
Every night they had a different sort of picnic. Once they found a bee-tree where wild bees had stored honey. They were very happy, for they liked honey. Cubby and his brothers and sisters had never tasted anything so sweet in their lives. Luckily for them, raccoon fur is so thick that bees cannot reach through it with their stings.
The corn picnic was one of the best ones. Father Lotor found the cornfield first, and he called. When the others heard his quavering signal, it did not take them long to join him. The juicy corn tasted so good that they could hardly wait to finish one ear before they began to husk another. They would have spoiled many ears in a short time if a dog had not heard them and chased them away from the cornfield.
One night they came to a large summer camp where some of the garbage pails were not covered. They helped themselves to pieces of sandwiches, cake and blueberry pie and cookies, and took them to the stream and washed them before eating them. The edge of the stream was muddy at that place, and the bits of cake and pie were rather queer by the time they had been squeezed and kneaded in the water. But the raccoons did not mind. They all seemed to wish to wash their food. Whatever happened to it while it was being washed pleased them well enough.
After they reached the seashore, they hunted clams when the tide was low. This was such fun that the Lotors dug and ate a great many.
They spent the autumn weeks wandering along the coast and up and down the neighboring streams. All this time their greatest pleasure was in hunting food and eating it. This was fortunate for them, for before cold weather comes raccoons should be fat—very fat indeed.
A raccoon should eat enough to grow very fat before winter comes.
If they had lived in the South they could have found some food in the winter, but these raccoons were northerners and their hunting grounds would be covered with snow for many weeks.
They came to a little cave one night in November. Some boys who had played there the summer before had left a wooden box in one corner. The Lotors crept into the box. They did not bother to gather dry leaves for bedding. The bare boards were good enough. Their fur was so soft and thick they needed neither mattress nor blankets. It snowed the next day and the weather grew colder and colder. The Lotors did not even know it was cold. They were asleep.
During the winter there were times when the weather was not very cold. At such times the Lotors wakened and walked at night. They left their flat-footed tracks in the snow. But they found little to eat and they were drowsy, so they went back to their box and slept again.
I heard an Angel Singing
When the day was springing:
"Mercy, pity, and peace,
Are the world's release."
So he sang all day
Over the new-mown hay,
Till the sun went down,
And the haycocks looked brown.
WEEK 29 |
J UMPER the Hare arrived at school a little late and quite out of breath from hurrying. His big soft eyes were shining with excitement. "You look as though you had had an adventure, Jumper," said Old Mother Nature.
"I have," replied Jumper. "It is a wonder I am here at all; I came
so near furnishing Yowler the
"Tell us all about it," demanded Old Mother Nature.
"Seeing Black Pussy over here yesterday, and knowing that to-day's
lesson was to be about Yowler, I couldn't get cats out of my mind
all day yesterday," began Jumper. "Black Pussy doesn't worry me,
but I must confess that if there is any one I fear, it is Yowler
"Of course, seeing those footprints made me more nervous than ever, and every time I saw a leaf move I jumped inside. My heart felt as if it were up in my throat most of the time. I had a feeling that Yowler wasn't far away. I hate that Cat! I hate the way he hunts! He goes sneaking about, without making a sound, or else he lies in wait, ready to spring without warning on the first one who happens along. A fellow never knows where to watch out for Yowler.
"I spent nearly all night sitting under a little hemlock tree with branches very close to the ground. I sat there because I didn't dare do anything else. As long as I stayed there I felt reasonably safe, because Yowler would have to find me, and to do that he would have to cross an open place where I could see him. I knew that if I went roaming about I might walk right into his clutches.
"It was lucky I had sense enough to stay there. You know the moon was very bright last night. It made that open place in front of where I was hiding almost as light as day. Once I closed my eyes for just a minute. When I opened them, there was Yowler sneaking across that open place. Where he had come from, I don't know. He hadn't made a sound. Not a leaf rustled under his big feet. Right in the middle of that open place, where the moonlight was brightest, he stopped to listen, and I simply held my breath."
"Tell us how he looked," prompted Old Mother Nature.
"He looked just like what he is—a big Cat with a short tail," replied Jumper. "Just to look at him any one would know he was own cousin to Black Pussy. He had a round head, rather long legs, and was about twice as big as Black Pussy. His feet looked big, even for him. On the tips of his ears were a few long black hairs. His coat was yellowish to reddish-brown, with dark spots on it. His chin and throat were white, and underneath he was white spotted with black. There were spots all down his legs. He didn't have enough of a tail to call it a tail. It was whitish on the under side and had black stripes on the upper side, and all the time he kept twitching it just the way Black Pussy twitches her tail when she is out hunting. All of a sudden he opened his mouth and gave such a yell that it is a wonder I didn't jump out of my skin. It frightened me so that I couldn't have moved if I had wanted to, which was a lucky thing for me. The instant he yelled he cocked his head on one side and listened. That yell must have wakened somebody and caused them to move, for Yowler turned suddenly and crept swiftly and without a sound out of sight. A minute later I heard a jump, and then I heard a fluttering. I think he caught one of the Grouse family."
"Yelling that way is one of Yowler's tricks," explained Old Mother Nature. "He does it for the same reason Hooty the Owl hoots. He hopes that it will startle some sleeper so that they will move. If they do, his keen ears are sure to hear it. Was that all of your adventure, Jumper?"
"No," replied Jumper. "I remained right where I was for the rest
of the night. Just as daylight was beginning to steal through the
Green Forest, I decided that it was safe to leave my hiding place
and come over here.
The Bay Lynx or common Wild Cat.
"That was a splendid account of Yowler and his way of hunting," said Old Mother Nature. "He does most of his hunting in just that way, sneaking about on the chance of surprising a Rabbit, Bird or Mouse, or else patiently watching and waiting beside a hole in which he knows some one has taken refuge. He hunts in the Green Forest exactly as Black Pussy, Farmer Brown's Cat, hunts Mice in the barn or Birds in the Old Orchard. In the spring Yowler destroys many eggs and young birds, not only those found in nests on the ground, but also those in nests in trees, for he is a splendid climber.
"Yowler is found in nearly all of the swampy,
brushy and wooded
parts of the whole country, excepting in the great forests of the
Far North, where his cousin Tufty the Lynx lives. Yowler is
himself a Lynx, the
"In the great forests of the Far North lives Yowler's cousin, Tufty
the Canada Lynx, also called Loup Cervier and Lucivee. He is nearly
a third larger than Yowler. From the tip of each ear long tufts of
black hair stand up. On each side of his face is a ruff of long
hair. His tail is
even shorter than Yowler's, and the tip of it is
always wholly black. His general color is gray, mottled with brown.
His face ruff is white with black border. Yowler's feet are large,
but Tufty's are immense for his size. This is because Tufty lives
where the snow lies deep for many months, and these big, broad feet
enable him to travel about on the snow without breaking through. He
can travel with ease where
This is the Canada Lynx, also called Lucivee.
"There is no fiercer looking animal in all the Green Forest than
Tufty the Lynx, but despite this he is, like most Cats, cowardly.
Only when cornered will he fight. He is possessed of a
curiosity, and often he will stealthily follow a hunter or trapper
for miles. The fur of his coat is very long and handsome, and he
is hunted and trapped for this. As he lives for the most part far
from the homes of men, he does less damage to man than does his
cousin, Yowler the
"The darker and deeper the Green Forest, the better Tufty likes
it. He makes his den under great tangles of fallen trees or
similar places. Mr. and
"Yowler and Tufty are the only members of the Cat family now found
in the eastern part of the country. Formerly, their big cousin,
Puma the Panther, lived in the East, but he has been so hunted by
man that now he is found only in the mountains of the
Before the railroad and the telegraph were invented it took weeks for news to go from one part of this country to another. The mails were carried by a lad on horseback, or by a stagecoach drawn by horses. The railroad was invented in England and introduced into this country about 1830. The locomotive carried news much more quickly than horses' feet could travel. But now we know to-day what happened yesterday on the other side of the world, and we wonder how people ever got on without the electric telegraph.
Samuel Finley Breeze Morse, who invented the electric telegraph, or that form of it that came into general use, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1791. When he was four years old he was sent to school to an old lady, who was lame and not able to leave her chair. She managed her scholars with a very long rattan stick. This was her telegraph, we might say, but the children did not always like the messages she sent upon it. Morse showed his talent as an artist by scratching a picture of the old lady on a piece of furniture, but he did not like the message she sent him on her rattan telegraph.
When Samuel Morse went to Yale College he took great interest in the experiments in electricity which he saw there. But the chief question with him at this time was how to get a living. He had a talent for making pictures, and he took to painting miniatures of people for five dollars apiece; he also made profiles at a dollar apiece. As there were no photographs then, people who wanted small pictures of themselves had to have them painted. This was usually done on ivory.
We have seen that Fulton, the maker of steamboats, was a painter. Morse became a painter, and went to England to study, where he attracted attention by his good work. After four years in Europe he came to America again, as poor as ever. His clothes were threadbare, and his shoes were ragged at the toes. "My stockings," he said, "want to see my mother." He brought with him a large picture, which everybody admired, but nobody bought it.
He was already thinking about inventions. He and his brother invented a pump, which his brother jokingly named "Morse's Patent Metallic, Double-headed, Ocean-drinker and Deluge-spouter Valve Pump Box." But the pump, for all this, was not a success, and Morse traveled from town to town painting portraits for a living.
Morse went to Europe again, and in 1832 he sailed for America once more. He was now about forty-one years old. One evening, in the cabin of the ship, the talk turned on electricity. A Dr. Jackson, who was one of the passengers, told of an interesting experiment which he had seen in Paris. Electricity had been sent instantaneously through a great length of wire arranged in circles around a large room.
"Then," said Morse, "I don't see why messages can not be sent a long distance instantaneously by means of electricity."
When the conversation was over the rest forgot all about it. But Morse began to plan a telegraph, making drawings of the machine in his sketch-book. But he was much too poor to go on with his invention. His brothers gave him the use of a room for a studio, and here he lived, and made experiments on a rude telegraph. He did his own cooking, and he used to go out at night to buy food, for fear that his friends should discover how little he had to eat.
In 1835 Morse became a professor. He now took a Professor Gale into partnership in the telegraph. But neither of them had money enough to perfect the invention. While they were one day exhibiting their rude machine to some gentlemen, a student named Alfred Vail happened to come into the room. Young Vail was the son of Judge Vail, a wealthy mill owner. He had worked for some years in his father's shops, and was a far better mechanic than Professor Morse or Professor Gale.
Vail's quick eye soon comprehended the new invention, which was being tested with seventeen hundred feet of wire stretched back and forth across the room.
"Do you intend to try the telegraph on a large scale?" Vail asked.
"I do, if I can get the money to carry out my plans," Professor Morse replied.
Vail then proposed to get money for Morse if the professor would make him a partner. This was agreed to, and the young man hurried to his room, locked the door, threw himself on his bed, and gave himself up to imagining the future of the telegraph. He took up his atlas and traced out the great lines which the telegraph would take. It is probable that Professor Morse would have failed if it had not been for the help of this young man.
After getting some further explanations from Morse, Alfred Vail hurried home and talked to his father about it until the judge decided to furnish the two thousand dollars that would be needed to make a perfect telegraph. This was to be taken to Congress, to persuade that body to supply money to build the first line.
Besides furnishing money for the machine, the Vails got Morse to paint some portraits for them, and thus supplied him with money to meet his most pressing wants. Alfred now had a room fitted up in one of his father's workshops at Speedwell, in New Jersey. He kept the place carefully locked, lest the secret of the invention should be discovered by others.
A boy named William Baxter, fifteen years old, was taken from the shop to help Alfred Vail. For many months Alfred and Baxter worked together, sometimes day and night. There was no such thing as telegraph wire in a day when there were no telegraphs. But the ladies of that time wore a kind of high bonnet, which was called a "sky-scraper," and a sort of wire was used to strengthen and stiffen the fronts of such bonnets, which proved to be the best to be had for the purpose of the new telegraph makers. Vail bought all the bonnet wire in the market.
Vail made many improvements in Morse's machine. He also made the instrument write, not with the zigzag marks used by Professor Morse, but in dots and dashes for letters, as you will see in the alphabet given on this page. Morse was busy getting his patent, and Professor Gale was engaged in making the batteries.
The Telegraph Alphabet
Buzz! buzz! buzz!
This is the song of the bee.
His legs are of yellow;
A jolly good fellow,
And yet a great worker is he.
In days that are sunny
He's getting his honey;
In days that are cloudy
He's making his wax:
On pinks and on lilies,
And gay daffodillies,
And columbine blossoms,
He levies a tax!
Buzz! buzz! buzz!
The sweet smelling clover,
He, humming, hangs over;
The scent of the roses
Makes fragrant his wings;
He never gets lazy;
From thistle and daisy,
And weeds of the meadow,
Some treasure he brings.
Buzz! buzz! buzz!
From morning's first light
Till the coming of night,
He's singing and toiling
The summer day through.
Oh! we may get weary,
And think work is dreary;
'Tis harder by far
To have nothing to do.
WEEK 29 |
M EANWHILE King Marsil was gathering all his host. From far and near came the heathen knights, all impatient to fight, each one eager to have the honour of slaying Roland with his own hand, each swearing that none of the twelve Peers should ever again see France.
Among them was a great champion called Chernuble. He was huge and ugly, and his strength was such that he could lift with ease a burden which four mules could scarcely carry. His face was inky black, his lips thick and hideous, and his coarse long hair reached the ground. It was said that in the land from whence he came, the sun never shone, the rain never fell, and the very stones were black as coal. He too, swearing that the Franks should die and that France should perish, joined the heathen host.
Very splendid were the Saracens as they moved along in the gleaming sunshine. Gold and silver shone upon their armour, pennons of white and purple floated over them, and from a thousand trumpets sounded their battle song.
To the ears of the Frankish knights the sound was borne as they rode through the valley of Roncesvalles.
"Sir Comrade," said Oliver, "it seemeth me there is battle at hand with the Saracen foe."
"Please Heaven it may be so," said Roland. "Our duty is to hold this post for our Emperor. Let us strike mighty blows that nothing be said or sung of us in scorn. Let us fight these heathen for our country and our faith."
As Oliver heard the sounds of battle come nearer, he climbed to the top of a hill, so that he could see far over the country. There before him he saw the Saracens marching in pride. Their helmets, inlaid with gold, gleamed in the sun. Gaily painted shields, hauberks of shining steel, spears and pennons waved and shone, rank upon rank in countless numbers.
Quickly Oliver came down from the hill, and went back to the Frankish army. "I have seen the heathen," he said to Roland. "Never on earth hath such a host been gathered. They march upon us many hundred thousand strong, with shield and spear and sword. Such battle as awaiteth us have we never fought before."
"Let him be accursed who fleeth!" cried the Franks. "There be few among us who fear death."
"It is Ganelon the felon, who hath betrayed us," said Oliver, "let him be accursed."
"Hush thee, Oliver," said Roland; "he is my step-sire. Let us hear no evil of him."
"The heathen are in fearful force," said Oliver, "and our Franks are but few. Friend Roland, sound upon thy horn. Then will Charlemagne hear and return with all his host to help us."
For round Roland's neck there hung a magic horn of carved ivory. If he blew upon this in case of need, the sound of it would be carried over hill and dale far, far onward. If he sounded it now, Charlemagne would very surely hear, and return from his homeward march.
But Roland would not listen to Oliver. "Nay," he said, "I should indeed be mad to sound upon my horn. If I call for help, I, Roland, I should lose my fame in all fair France. Nay, I will not sound, but I shall strike such blows with my good sword Durindal that the blade shall be red to the gold of the hilt. Our Franks, too, shall strike such blows that the heathen shall rue the day. I tell thee, they be all dead men."
"Oh Roland, friend, wind thy horn," pleaded Oliver. "To the ear of Charlemagne shall the sound be borne, and he and all his knights will return to help us."
"Now Heaven forbid that my kin should ever be pointed at in scorn because of me," said Roland, "or that fair France should fall to such dishonour. No! I will not sound upon my horn, but I shall strike such blows with my sword Durindal that the blade shall be dyed red in the blood of the heathen."
In vain Oliver implored. "I see no dishonour shouldst thou wind thy horn," he said, "for I have beheld the Saracen host. The valleys and the hills and all the plains are covered with them. They are many and great, and we are but a little company."
"So much the better," cried Roland, "my desire to fight them grows the greater. All the angels of Heaven forbid that France, through me, should lose one jot of fame. Death is better than dishonour. Let us strike such blows as our Emperor loveth to see."
Roland was rash as Oliver was wise, but both were knights of wondrous courage, and now Oliver pleaded no more. "Look," he cried, "look where the heathen come! Thou hast scorned, Roland, to sound thy horn, and our noble men will this day do their last deeds of bravery."
"Hush!" cried Roland, "shame to him who weareth a coward's heart."
And now Archbishop Turpin spurred his horse to a little hill in front of the army. "My lords and barons," he cried, turning to them, "Charlemagne hath left us here to guard the homeward march of his army. He is our King, and we are bound to die for him, if so need be. But now, before ye fight, confess your sins, and pray God to forgive them. If ye die, ye die as martyrs. In God's great paradise your places await you."
Then the Franks leapt from their horses and kneeled upon the ground while the Archbishop blessed them, and absolved them from all their sins. "For penance I command that ye strike the heathen full sore," he said.
Then springing from their knees the Franks leapt again into their saddles, ready now to fight and die.
"Friend," said Roland, turning to Oliver, "thou wert right. It is Ganelon who is the traitor. But the Emperor will avenge us upon him. As for Marsil, he deemeth that he hath bought us, and that Ganelon hath sold us unto him. But he will find that it is with our swords that we will pay him."
And now the battle began. "Montjoie!" shouted the Franks. It was the Emperor's own battle cry. It means "My joy," and came from the name of his famous sword Joyeuse or joyous. This sword was the most wonderful ever seen. Thirty times a day the shimmering light with which it glowed changed. In the gold of the hilt was encased the head of the spear with which the side of Christ had been pierced. And because of this great honour the Emperor called his sword Joyeuse, and from that the Franks took their battle cry "Montjoie." Now shouting it, and plunging spurs into their horses' sides, they dashed upon the foe. Never before had been seen such pride of chivalry, such splendour of knightly grace.
With boasting words, King Marsil's nephew came riding in front of the battle. "Ho, felon Franks!" he cried, "ye are met at last. Betrayed and sold are ye by your king. This day hath France lost her fair fame, and from Charlemagne is his right hand torn."
Roland heard him. With spur in side and slackened rein, he dashed upon the heathen, mad with rage. Through shield and hauberk pierced his spear, and the Saracen fell dead ere his scoffing words were done. "Thou dastard!" cried Roland, "no traitor is Charlemagne, but a right noble king and cavalier."
King Marsil's brother, sick at heart to see his nephew fall, rode out with mocking words upon his lips. "This day is the honour of France lost," he sneered.
But Oliver struck his golden spurs into his steed's side! "Caitiff, thy taunts are little worth," he cried, and, pierced through shield and buckler, the heathen fell.
Bishop Turpin, too, wielded well both sword and lance. "Thou lying coward, be silent evermore!" he cried, as a scoffing heathen king fell beneath his blows. "Charlemagne our lord is true and good, and no Frank shall flee this day."
"Montjoie! Montjoie!" sounded high above the clang of battle, as heathen after heathen was laid low. Limbs were lopped, armour flew in splinters. Many a heathen knight was cloven through from brow to saddle bow. The plain was strewn with the dying and the dead.
In Roland's hand his lance was shivered to the haft. Throwing the splintered wood away, he drew his famous Durindal. The naked blade shone in the sun and fell upon the helmet of Chernuble, Marsil's mighty champion. The sparkling gems with which it shone were scattered on the grass. Through cheek and chine, through flesh and bone, drove the shining steel, and Chernuble fell upon the ground, a black and hideous heap. "Lie there, caitiff!" cried Roland, "thy Mahomet cannot save thee. Not unto such as thou is the victory."
Chernuble, Marsil's mighty champion
On through the press rode Roland. Durindal flashed and fell and flashed again, and many a heathen bit the dust. Oliver, too, did marvellous deeds. His spear, as Roland's, was shivered into atoms. But scarcely knowing what he did, he fought still with the broken shaft, and with it brought many a heathen to his death.
"Comrade, what dost thou?" said Roland. "Is it now the time to fight with staves? Where is thy sword called Hauteclere with its crystal pommel and golden guard?"
"I lacked time in which to draw it," replied Oliver, "there was such need to strike blows fast and hard."
But now he drew his shining Hauteclere from its scabbard, and with it he dealt such blows that Roland cried, "My brother art thou, Oliver, from henceforth. Ah! such blows our Emperor would dearly love to see."
Furious and more furious waxed the fight. On all sides might be heard the cry of "Montjoie! Montjoie!" and many a blow did Frank and heathen give and take. But although thousands of Saracens lay dead, the Franks too had lost many of their bravest knights. Shield and spear, banner and pennon, broken, bloodstained and trampled, strewed the field.
Fiercer, wilder still, the battle grew. Roland, Oliver, Archbishop Turpin and all the twelve Peers of France fought in the thickest of the press. Many of the heathen fled, but even in flight they were cut down.
Meanwhile over France burst a fearful storm. Thunder rolled, lightning flashed, the very earth shook and trembled. There was not a town in all the land but the walls of it were cracked and riven. The sky grew black at mid-day, rain and hail in torrents swept the land. "It is the end of the world," the people whispered in trembling fear.
Alas, they knew not! It was the earth's great mourning for the death of Roland, which was nigh.
The battle waxed horrible. The Saracens fled, and the Franks pursued till of that great heathen host but one was left. Of the Saracen army which had set out in such splendour, four hundred thousand strong, one heathen king alone remained. And he, King Margaris, sorely wounded, his spear broken, his shield pierced and battered, fled with the direful news to King Marsil.
The Franks had won the day, and now mournfully over the plain they moved, seeking their dead and dying comrades. Weary men and worn were they, sad at the death of many brother knights, yet glad at the might and victory of France.
Some Cranes saw a farmer plowing a large field. When the work of plowing was done, they patiently watched him sow the seed. It was their feast, they thought.
So, as soon as the Farmer had finished planting and had gone home, down they flew to the field, and began to eat as fast as they could.
The Farmer, of course, knew the Cranes and their ways. He had had experience with such birds before. He soon returned to the field with a sling. But he did not bring any stones with him. He expected to scare the Cranes just by swinging the sling in the air, and shouting loudly at them.
At first the Cranes flew away in great terror. But they soon began to see that none of them ever got hurt. They did not even hear the noise of stones whizzing through the air, and as for words, they would kill nobody. At last they paid no attention whatever to the Farmer.
The Farmer saw that he would have to take other measures. He wanted to save at least some of his grain. So he loaded his sling with stones and killed several of the Cranes. This had the effect the Farmer wanted, for from that day the Cranes visited his field no more.
Bluff and threatening words are of little value with rascals.
Bluff is no proof that hard fists are lacking.
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh! I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
WEEK 29 |
"Fall into the hands of God, not into the hands of Spain."
T HOUGH Sir Richard Grenville had not succeeded with the first colony in Virginia, yet he was a very able sailor, and Raleigh now sent him on an important expedition, to lie in wait for Spanish ships returning laden from the West Indies.
Midway between Spain and the West Indies, in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean, is a little group of islands called the Azores. Thither sailed the English fleet, consisting of six battleships only, to obey orders. The ships were lying at anchor under one of the islands, called Flores, one summer day, when a Spanish fleet of fifty sail bore down upon them. It was certain death to fight so large a number, and there was no choice but to sail away as fast as possible and escape. The English ships were soon ready, all save one, the Revenge. She was under the command of Sir Richard Grenville.
"I have ninety sick men ashore," he said; "I cannot and will not leave them to fall into the hands of Spain."
With his own hands he helped to carry the sick men on board as fast as possible, so that he might sail away with the rest. But it took time, and the little Revenge had not sailed far when the Spanish fleet bore down. By this time the rest of the English fleet had gone and the Revenge was alone.
"We will fight our way through the Spanish fleet or we will die," cried Sir Richard; his men caught the brave enthusiasm, and steered their ship on into almost certain death.
The Spanish ships came on, sometimes five at a time, and the Spaniards boarded the little English ship, and fought her sailors hand to hand, but each time they were driven back disabled.
All through the long August night the fight continued. But each great Spanish galleon was defeated in turn, until by dawn fifteen had attacked her in vain. Some had been sunk at her side, and others were ashamed to attempt further fighting.
"And the night went down, and the sun smiled out,
far over the summer sea."
"Fight on! fight on!" cried Sir Richard, though badly wounded himself and his vessel all but a wreck. "Fight on, men of Devon! fight on!"
"But as the day increased, so our men decreased," said Raleigh when he told the story afterwards.
At last forty men out of the hundred were slain, the masts of the Revenge were broken, the powder spent, and the decks strewn with wounded and dying. The Spanish ships lay round in a broken ring, watching to see what would happen next. They knew she could fight no more. Still Grenville would not surrender.
"No," he cried. "Rather will we sink the ship, that nothing of glory or victory may remain to the Spaniards. Let us fall into the hands of God, not into the hands of Spain."
The gunner was a resolute man, he was ready to do his master's bidding, but it was too much to ask of all. They had wives and children waiting for them at home.
Sir Richard now lay dying, and his seamen yielded to the Spaniards. They carried Sir Richard Grenville to the largest of the Spanish ships. If unequal to the English in fighting, the Spaniards were at least their equal in courtesy. They bore Sir Richard to the flagship and laid him by the mast, while admiral and men alike praised his valour and resolution. A few hours later, when the end was fast approaching, Sir Richard cried: "Here die I, Richard Grenville, with a joyful and quiet mind, for that I have ended my life as a true soldier ought to do, that hath fought for his country, Queen, religion, and honour."
All England was soon ringing with this story. Sir Richard Grenville was dead—he had lost the fight, lost his men, lost his ship, lost his very life; but he had gained such glory for England, for England's ships, for England's seamen, as the world had never seen before. It is said that the action of this one little English ship struck a deeper terror into the hearts of the Spaniards than even the destruction of the Armada herself.
"Hardly," says a modern historian, "if the most glorious actions, which are set like jewels, in the history of mankind, are weighed one against the other in the balance, hardly will those 300 Spartans, who in the summer morning sat 'combing their long hair for death' in the passes of Thermopylæ, have earned a more lofty estimate for themselves than this one crew of modern Englishmen."
M INOS, the chief judge of the Court of the Dead in Hades, had been during his life the King of Crete—that large island where Jupiter had been hidden from Saturn. Before the reign of Minos the Cretans had been a number of rude and savage tribes, brigands by land and pirates by sea. He, however, made a single nation of them, civilized them, suppressed brigandage and piracy, built cities, formed a regular army and navy, and gave his people a code of wise and just laws which never had to be changed.
When he, for his justice and his knowledge of law, was made chief judge in Hades, he was succeeded in his kingdom of Crete by his son, Minos the Second. He also was a great and powerful king. He conquered many of the neighboring islands, adding them to his dominions, and made war upon the Athenians, whom he defeated utterly. One of his sons having been killed in that war, he took a cruel revenge upon the vanquished enemy. He laid a tribute upon the city of Athens; and the tribute was that the Athenians should send him every year seven boys and seven girls to be devoured by a monster called the Minotaur—a creature half man and half bull.
When this savage monster first appeared, Minos had been sorely puzzled what to do with such a scourge. Nobody could kill it; and unless it was regularly supplied with a full meal of boys and girls, its fury became uncontrollable. It was partly to keep the Minotaur quiet that he had exacted that particular tribute from his enemies. But neither were the Cretan children safe while the Minotaur was at large.
One day, however, there came to the Court of Minos a stranger who gave his name as Dædălus, an Athenian, and announced himself as having fled from his native city to escape a charge of murder. He was accompanied by a young man, his son, whom he called Icărus; and he asked for whatever employment the king might choose to give him.
"What can you do?" asked Minos.
"Three things," said Dædalus. "I can split the hardest rocks; I can make ships go without oars; and out of wood and metal I can make living men."
"Prove your words," said Minos; "and if you do these things I shall take both you and your son into my service, and pay you well."
Dædalus bowed, and obtained leave to set up a forge, where he and Icarus were soon heard working all night and all day. If the listeners could have looked in, they would have been surprised. He was making nothing more wonderful than pieces of iron, sharp at one end and thick at the other. When he had made enough, he summoned the king and his Court to see him split the biggest and hardest rock they could find on the sea-shore.
They fixed upon a granite cliff. Dædalus put the sharp end of one of his pieces of iron into one of the smallest cracks in the face of the cliff, and hammered upon the blunt end till he had driven it home. Then between this and the stone he drove in another piece of iron; and between those two a third; and so on, and so on, while the rock began to gape, and then to split, until the upper portion parted itself from the lower, and thundered down into the sea.
The secret was simple enough. Dædalus had simply invented the wedge, which can do much greater things than that when it is skillfully used. But the Cretans were amazed to see, as they thought, one man knocking over a cliff with a common hammer.
Then Dædalus set up a workshop by the shore, with some long sheds, and a supply of hemp and timber. Here also he worked day and night; and at last called Minos and his Court to see a ship go without oars.
The ship had a tall pole rising from the middle of the deck. Dædalus and Icarus went on board, and were seen pulling at some long ropes; and presently the ship seemed to spread out wings like a bird, and to skim over the water as fast as the wind without the help of an oar.
Dædalus had invented sails. But the Cretans were more amazed than before, never having thought of such a simple thing for themselves.
Dædalus then went back to his forge; and what he did there nobody could guess, for scarce a sound was heard. After many days, however, he went to the king's palace, he and Icarus carrying a long and heavy chest between them. The chest being opened before Minos, Dædalus took out from it a number of images, exquisitely wrought in wood, bronze, ivory, silver, and gold—men and women; fauns, nymphs, animals; creatures of all sorts and kinds.
When Minos had looked at them and admired them, Dædalus touched them one after another; and then, with a whirring noise, the images seemed to live. The nymphs and satyrs joined hands, and danced in a ring round a bronze Pan who piped to them; a number of wooden young men boxed and wrestled: in short—
In short, Dædalus had invented clock-work. But the Cretans were more amazed than ever, and stood staring, half delighted, half frightened, till he put up the figures in their box again.
"You are the man for me!" exclaimed Minos. "I said I would take you into my own service; and I will. You shall make a cage for the Minotaur!"
This was certainly not the reward which Dædalus had looked for. However, he said nothing, but again shut himself up, this time with writing materials, compasses, and rules. After a long time he got a body of workmen together, and built a Labyrinth—a mass of passages and windings so contrived that nobody who was outside could find the way in, and nobody who was once inside could find the way out again. Nobody, that is to say, unless he had the clue, which was of course to be kept secret. The clue which Dædalus invented—and a very good sort it was—was a long silken thread, with one end fastened to the center of the Labyrinth, carried along all the windings to the entrance. Anybody wishing to get in would have to know this, and in which of the many entrances (for there were hundreds of false ones) he must look for the hidden end of the thread. Then all he would have to do would be to wind up the thread into a ball, following it as he wound, until he reached the middle of the maze. And of course there was another clue to lead him out again in the same way. The middle of the Labyrinth was a hall with many columns, and an opening in the roof to let in light and air. This Labyrinth having been finished, Dædalus enticed the Minotaur into the central hall, locked him up there, and gave Minos the key.
So the Cretan children were safe, and the monster had to be content with his fourteen young Athenians every year.
Dædalus kept on doing work after work for Minos, inventing one thing after another, until the queen, who was a wicked woman, persuaded Dædalus to help her in some piece of wickedness which was discovered by the king. Whatever the affair was, it was kept secret to prevent a Court scandal. The king's anger fell upon Dædalus and Icarus, both of whom he imprisoned in their own Labyrinth—not, I suppose, in the same chamber with the Minotaur.
Indeed I am sure not; because if they had been in the same chamber, Dædalus could have got out by means of the clue. But there was no clue to the chamber where he was imprisoned, and he had built the Labyrinth so cleverly that he himself was lost in its mazes.
Poor Icarus was in despair. But Dædalus only sat down on the base of a column and thought things over in his usual silent and quiet way. After thinking for some days, until they were nearly starved, he set Icarus wondering by doing as follows, in order:—
First, with one of his wedges, he chipped off pieces of stone from the columns.
Secondly, he, in the same way, broke the fragments into pieces of nearly the same size, rounding them roughly.
Thirdly, from a strip of his coat he made a sling.
Fourthly, he watched the opening in the roof, and whenever a bird passed overhead he discharged a stone, and generally brought it down.
Fifthly, when he had got a sufficient number of birds, he plucked out and sorted their wing-feathers.
Sixthly, he collected all the wax-candles in the chamber, and melted them in a fire which he obtained by some secret invention of his own.
Seventhly—but what he did seventhly Icarus could not see.
At last, however, his mysterious work, whatever it was, seemed done. There lay before him two pairs of wings, beautifully made of wax and feathers.
"I have long thought," said Dædalus, "how to invent a method of flying. I am glad of this imprisonment, which had obliged me to fix my whole mind upon it without interruption."
"You have found out how to fly—and with wings like those!" exclaimed Icarus in amaze.
"With these very wings. Why not? Science always looks simple. What can look more simple than a wedge, a sail, a clock-spring? Fasten those wings on your shoulders with the wax, just as you see me fasten these on mine. There. Now open them; do you not feel as if you could reach the clouds? Spread them—mount—fly!"
So saying, he soared up through the opening in the roof, Icarus following him, and steered westward, higher and higher through the air. It was morning when they started; by noon they were over the sea out of sight of land.
"Take care!" cried Dædalus. "Don't fly too high!"
But Icarus, reveling in all the delights of a sea-gull—nay, of an eagle—soared higher and higher towards the noontide sun. In vain Dædalus called upon him to come lower. He only laughed at his father for being timid and cautious, and soared higher and higher still towards the blazing sky.
Suddenly he felt his wings weakening—the wax was melting in the heat of the sun. He tried to spread them, so as to let himself down safely. They hung soft and limp, and down he came headlong into the sea.
"It's quite clear that one must think of something stronger than wax," thought Dædalus, as he saw Icarus sink and drown. "Well—I've lost my son, but I've gained a wrinkle." Taking care to fly as low as he could, he himself reached the island of Sicily, where he set up another forge, found another king to keep him going, and invented so many wonderful things that to this very day nobody knows what they were.
As for his flying machine, nobody else has come so near to one as even wax and feathers.
WEEK 29 |
THERE was once an old woodsman and his wife who had an only son named Mikko. As the mother lay dying the young man wept bitterly.
"When you are gone, my dear mother," he said, "there will be no one left to think of me."
The poor woman comforted him as best she could and said to him:
"You will still have your father."
Shortly after the woman's death, the old man, too, was taken ill.
"Now, indeed, I shall be left desolate and alone," Mikko thought, as he sat beside his father's bedside and saw him grow weaker and weaker.
"My boy," the old man said just before he died, "I have nothing to leave you but the three snares with which these many years I have caught wild animals. Those snares now belong to you. When I am dead, go into the woods and if you find a wild creature caught in any of them, free it gently and bring it home alive."
After his father's death, Mikko remembered the snares and went out to the woods to see them. The first was empty and also the second, but in the third he found a little red Fox. He carefully lifted the spring that had shut down on one of the Fox's feet and then carried the little creature home in his arms. He shared his supper with it and when he lay down to sleep the Fox curled up at his feet. They lived together some time until they became close friends.
"Mikko," said the Fox one day, "why are you so sad?"
"Because I'm lonely."
"Pooh!" said the Fox. "That's no way for a young man to talk! You ought to get married! Then you wouldn't feel lonely!"
"Married!" Mikko repeated. "How can I get married? I can't marry a poor girl because I'm too poor myself and a rich girl wouldn't marry me."
"Nonsense!" said the Fox. "You're a fine well set up young man and you're kind and gentle. What more could a princess ask?"
Mikko laughed to think of a princess wanting him for a husband.
"I mean what I say!" the Fox insisted. "Take our own Princess now. What would you think of marrying her?"
Mikko laughed louder than before.
"I have heard," he said, "that she is the most beautiful princess in the world! Any man would be happy to marry her!"
"Very well," the Fox said, "if you feel that way about her then I'll arrange the wedding for you."
With that the little Fox actually did trot off to the royal castle and gain audience with the King.
"My master sends you greetings," the Fox said, "and he begs you to loan him your bushel measure."
"My bushel measure!" the King repeated in surprise. "Who is your master and why does he want my bushel measure?"
"Ssh!" the Fox whispered as though he didn't want the courtiers to hear what he was saying. Then slipping up quite close to the King he murmured in his ear:
"Surely you have heard of Mikko, haven't you?—Mighty Mikko as he's called."
The King had never heard of any Mikko who was known as Mighty Mikko but, thinking that perhaps he should have heard of him, he shook his head and murmured:
"H'm! Mikko! Mighty Mikko! Oh, to be sure! Yes, yes, of course!"
"My master is about to start off on a journey and he needs a bushel measure for a very particular reason."
"I understand! I understand!" the King said, although he didn't understand at all, and he gave orders that the bushel measure which they used in the storeroom of the castle be brought in and given to the Fox.
The Fox carried off the measure and hid it in the woods. Then he scurried about to all sorts of little out of the way nooks and crannies where people had hidden their savings and he dug up a gold piece here and a silver piece there until he had a handful. Then he went back to the woods and stuck the various coins in the cracks of the measure. The next day he returned to the King.
"My master, Mighty Mikko," he said, "sends you thanks, O King, for the use of your bushel measure."
The King held out his hand and when the Fox gave him the measure he peeped inside to see if by chance it contained any trace of what had recently been measured. His eye of course at once caught the glint of the gold and silver coins lodged in the cracks.
"Ah!" he said, thinking Mikko must be a very mighty lord indeed to be so careless of his wealth; "I should like to meet your master. Won't you and he come and visit me?"
This was what the Fox wanted the King to say but he pretended to hesitate.
"I thank your Majesty for the kind invitation," he said, "but I fear my master can't accept it just now. He wants to get married soon and we are about to start off on a long journey to inspect a number of foreign princesses."
This made the King all the more anxious to have Mikko visit him at once for he thought that if Mikko should see his daughter before he saw those foreign princesses he might fall in love with her and marry her.
So he said to the Fox:
"My dear fellow, you must prevail on your master to make me a visit before he starts out on his travels! You will, won't you?"
The Fox looked this way and that as if he were too embarrassed to speak.
"Your Majesty," he said at last, "I pray you pardon my frankness. The truth is you are not rich enough to entertain my master and your castle isn't big enough to house the immense retinue that always attends him."
The King, who by this time was frantic to see Mikko, lost his head completely.
"My dear Fox," he said, "I'll give you anything in the world if you prevail upon your master to visit me at once! Couldn't you suggest to him to travel with a modest retinue this time?"
The Fox shook his head.
"No. His rule is either to travel with a great retinue or to go on foot disguised as a poor woodsman attended only by me."
"Couldn't you prevail on him to come to me disguised as a poor woodsman?" the King begged. "Once he was here, I could place gorgeous clothes at his disposal."
But still the Fox shook his head.
"I fear Your Majesty's wardrobe doesn't contain the kind of clothes my master is accustomed to."
"I assure you I've got some very good clothes," the King said. "Come along this minute and we'll go through them and I'm sure you'll find some that your master would wear."
So they went to a room which was like a big wardrobe with hundreds and hundreds of hooks upon which were hung hundreds of coats and breeches and embroidered shirts. The King ordered his attendants to bring the costumes down one by one and place them before the Fox.
They began with the plainer clothes. "Good enough for most people," the Fox said, "but not for my master."
Then they took down garments of a finer grade.
"I'm afraid you're going to all this trouble for nothing," the Fox said. "Frankly now, don't you realize that my master couldn't possibly put on any of these things!"
The King, who had hoped to keep for his own use his most gorgeous clothes of all, now ordered these to be shown.
The Fox looked at them sideways, sniffed them critically, and at last said:
"Well, perhaps my master would consent to wear these for a few days. They are not what he is accustomed to wear but I will say this for him: he is not proud."
The King was overjoyed.
"Very well, my dear Fox, I'll have the guest chambers put in readiness for your master's visit and I'll have all these, my finest clothes, laid out for him. You won't disappoint me, will you?"
"I'll do my best," the Fox promised.
With that he bade the King a civil good day and ran home to Mikko.
The next day as the Princess was peeping out of an upper window of the castle, she saw a young woodsman approaching accompanied by a Fox. He was a fine stalwart youth and the Princess, who knew from the presence of the Fox that he must be Mikko, gave a long sigh and confided to her serving maid:
"I think I could fall in love with that young man if he really were only a woodsman!"
Later when she saw him arrayed in her father's finest clothes—which looked so well on Mikko that no one even recognized them as the King's—she lost her heart completely and when Mikko was presented to her she blushed and trembled just as any ordinary girl might before a handsome young man.
All the Court was equally delighted with Mikko. The ladies went into ecstasies over his modest manners, his fine figure, and the gorgeousness of his clothes, and the old graybeard Councilors, nodding their heads in approval, said to each other:
"Nothing of the coxcomb about this young fellow! In spite of his great wealth see how politely he listens to us when we talk!"
The next day the Fox went privately to the King, and said:
"My master is a man of few words and quick judgment. He bids me tell you that your daughter, the Princess, pleases him mightily and that, with your approval, he will make his addresses to her at once."
The King was greatly agitated and began:
But the Fox interrupted him to say:
"Think the matter over carefully and give me your decision to-morrow."
So the King consulted with the Princess and with his Councilors and in a short time the marriage was arranged and the wedding ceremony actually performed!
"Didn't I tell you?" the Fox said, when he and Mikko were alone after the wedding.
"Yes," Mikko acknowledged, "you did promise that I should marry the Princess. But, tell me, now that I am married what am I to do? I can't live on here forever with my wife."
"Put your mind at rest," the Fox said. "I've thought of
everything. Just do as I tell you and you'll have
nothing to regret. To-night say to the King: 'It is now
only fitting that you should visit me and see for
yourself the sort of castle over which your daughter is
hereafter to be
When Mikko said this to the King, the King was overjoyed for now that the marriage had actually taken place he was wondering whether he hadn't perhaps been a little hasty. Mikko's words reassured him and he eagerly accepted the invitation.
On the morrow the Fox said to Mikko:
"Now I'll run on ahead and get things ready for you."
"But where are you going?" Mikko said, frightened at the thought of being deserted by his little friend.
The Fox drew Mikko aside and whispered softly:
"A few days' march from here there is a very gorgeous castle belonging to a wicked old dragon who is known as the Worm. I think the Worm's castle would just about suit you."
"I'm sure it would," Mikko agreed. "But how are we to get it away from the Worm?"
"Trust me," the Fox said. "All you need do is this: lead the King and his courtiers along the main highway until by noon to-morrow you reach a crossroads. Turn there to the left and go straight on until you see the tower of the Worm's castle. If you meet any men by the wayside, shepherds or the like, ask them whose men they are and show no surprise at their answer. So now, dear master, farewell until we meet again at your beautiful castle."
The little Fox trotted off at a smart pace and Mikko and the Princess and the King attended by the whole Court followed in more leisurely fashion.
The little Fox, when he had left the main highway at the crossroads, soon met ten woodsmen with axes over their shoulders. They were all dressed in blue smocks of the same cut.
"Good day," the Fox said politely. "Whose men are you?"
"Our master is known as the Worm," the woodsmen told him.
"My poor, poor lads!" the Fox said, shaking his head sadly.
"What's the matter?" the woodsmen asked.
For a few moments the Fox pretended to be too overcome with emotion to speak. Then he said:
"My poor lads, don't you know that the King is coming with a great force to destroy the Worm and all his people?"
The woodsmen were simple fellows and this news threw them into great consternation.
"Is there no way for us to escape?" they asked. The Fox put his paw to his head and thought. "Well," he said at last, "there is one way you might escape and that is by telling every one who asks you that you are the Mighty Mikko's men. But if you value your lives never again say that your master is the Worm."
"We are Mighty Mikko's men!" the woodsmen at once began repeating over and over. "We are Mighty Mikko's men!"
A little farther on the road the Fox met twenty grooms, dressed in the same blue smocks, who were tending a hundred beautiful horses. The Fox talked to the twenty grooms as he had talked to the woodsmen and before he left them they, too, were shouting:
"We are Mighty Mikko's men!"
Next the Fox came to a huge flock of a thousand sheep tended by thirty shepherds all dressed in the Worm's blue smocks. He stopped and talked to them until he had them roaring out:
"We are Mighty Mikko's men!"
Then the Fox trotted on until he reached the castle of the Worm. He found the Worm himself inside lolling lazily about. He was a huge dragon and had been a great warrior in his day. In fact his castle and his lands and his servants and his possessions had all been won in battle. But now for many years no one had cared to fight him and he had grown fat and lazy.
"Good day," the Fox said, pretending to be very breathless and frightened. "You're the Worm, aren't you?"
"Yes," the dragon said, boastfully, "I am the great Worm!"
The Fox pretended to grow more agitated.
"My poor fellow, I am sorry for you! But of course none of us can expect to live forever. Well, I must hurry along. I thought I would just stop and say good-by."
Made uneasy by the Fox's words, the Worm cried out:
"Wait just a minute! What's the matter?"
The Fox was already at the door but at the Worm's entreaty he paused and said over his shoulder:
"Why, my poor fellow, you surely know, don't you, that the King with a great force is coming to destroy you and all your people!"
"What!" the Worm gasped, turning a sickly green with fright. He knew he was fat and helpless and could never again fight as in the years gone by.
"Don't go just yet!" he begged the Fox. "When is the King coming?"
"He's on the highway now! That's why I must be going! Good-by!"
"My dear Fox, stay just a moment and I'll reward you richly! Help me to hide so that the King won't find me! What about the shed where the linen is stored? I could crawl under the linen and then if you locked the door from the outside the King could never find me."
"Very well," the Fox agreed, "but we must hurry!"
So they ran outside to the shed where the linen was kept and the Worm hid himself under the linen. The Fox locked the door, then set fire to the shed, and soon there was nothing left of that wicked old dragon, the Worm, but a handful of ashes.
The Fox now called together the dragon's household and talked them over to Mikko as he had the woodsmen and the grooms and the shepherds.
Meanwhile the King and his party were slowly covering the ground over which the Fox had sped so quickly. When they came to the ten woodsmen in blue smocks, the King said:
"I wonder whose woodsmen those are."
One of his attendants asked the woodsmen and the ten of them shouted out at the top of their voices:
"We are Mighty Mikko's men!"
Mikko said nothing and the King and all the Court were impressed anew with his modesty.
A little farther on they met the twenty grooms with their hundred prancing horses. When the grooms were questioned, they answered with a shout:
"We are Mighty Mikko's men!"
"The Fox certainly spoke the truth," the King thought to himself, "when he told me of Mikko's riches!"
A little later the thirty shepherds when they were questioned made answer in a chorus that was deafening to hear:
"We are Mighty Mikko's men!"
The sight of the thousand sheep that belonged to his son-in-law made the King feel poor and humble in comparison and the courtiers whispered among themselves:
"For all his simple manner, Mighty Mikko must be a richer, more powerful lord than the King himself! In fact it is only a very great lord indeed who could be so simple!"
At last they reached the castle which from the blue smocked soldiers that guarded the gateway they knew to be Mikko's. The Fox came out to welcome the King's party and behind him in two rows all the household servants. These, at a signal from the Fox, cried out in one voice:
"We are Mighty Mikko's men!"
Then Mikko in the same simple manner that he would have used in his father's mean little hut in the woods bade the King and his followers welcome and they all entered the castle where they found a great feast already prepared and waiting.
The King stayed on for several days and the more he saw of Mikko the better pleased he was that he had him for a son-in-law.
When he was leaving he said to Mikko:
"Your castle is so much grander than mine that I hesitate ever asking you back for a visit."
But Mikko reassured the King by saying earnestly:
"My dear father-in-law, when first I entered your castle I thought it was the most beautiful castle in the world!"
The King was flattered and the courtiers whispered among themselves:
"How affable of him to say that when he knows very well how much grander his own castle is!"
When the King and his followers were safely gone, the little red Fox came to Mikko and said:
"Now, my master, you have no reason to feel sad and lonely. You are lord of the most beautiful castle in the world and you have for wife a sweet and lovely Princess. You have no longer any need of me, so I am going to bid you farewell."
Mikko thanked the little Fox for all he had done and the little Fox trotted off to the woods.
So you see that Mikko's poor old father, although he had no wealth to leave his son, was really the cause of all Mikko's good fortune, for it was he who told Mikko in the first place to carry home alive anything he might find caught in the snares.
Y OU have been told that an insect is a living creature with a body made in rings, and divided into three parts. Most insects have six legs, four wings, and two feelers.
There is a great Order of insects which we shall call the hook-wing family.
The wasp, the bee, the saw-fly, and ant belong to this family. They are the chief of all the insects. They can do many strange and curious things.
You will know insects of this great family by their wings. The front wings are larger than the back ones. They fold back over them when at rest.
In flight the upper wings hook fast to the lower.
If you look carefully at some kinds of insects, you will soon think I have told you what is not quite true. Why will you think that? You will say to me, "The fly has two wings, and not four." "The ant has no wings at all."
Ah, but wait until you study about ants and flies, and see what you will think then.
The mouth of all the hook-wing insects has two jaws for cutting or for carrying things. The mouth is nearly as wide as the head.
Above the mouth are two knobs. These knobs are two big eyes, one on each side of the head. Between the two big eyes they have some little ones, on the top of the head.
You see insects are as well supplied with eyes as crabs are with legs.
The back part of the body of many insects is made fast to the middle part by a small joint, or thread. That is because these insects need to bend, or even double up, in some of their work.
The Hook-wing Order is divided into two great kinds.
The insects of one kind carry a little saw. The others carry a sword. The sword is a sting. The saw is to cut up leaves and wood to make nice soft nests or houses for the eggs. The sword is to fight with, or to kill things for food. Among the saw-carriers is the fine, long fly, called a saw-fly. Bees, ants, wasps, and others carry the sting.
Get one of these insects, and you will see all the parts of which I have told you. Let us first take an ant to look at.
The head of an ant seems very large for its body, and the eyes seem very large for the head. They look as if they would be heavy for the little ant to carry.
On the under part of the body which is next the head are set the six legs. These legs and the feet have joints.
On the upper side of this same second part of the body are set the wings. There are four wings, two large and two small ones. The upper pair are larger than the lower ones.
The third or back part of an ant's body is made of six rings. On the tip or pointed end of this hind part is the sting.
Now I hear you cry out, "O, my ant has no wings!" Well, let me tell you a secret. The wings of your ant have been cut off, or unhooked, as you shall hear by and by.
There are many families of ants. Each has its own name and its own ways. All ants are very wise in their actions. I shall tell you many strange things about them. Ants have always been called "the wise insects." Would you not like to learn about their homes, their children, and their way of life?
Before you study the ants in any book, I wish you would go out into your garden or into the fields. Find an ant-hill, and sit or lie by it for an hour or so. Take some sugar or bits of cake to feed the ants. Find out for yourselves all that you can about them. Facts that you learn in this way will be worth very much to you. Be careful and do not disturb the hill or alarm the ants.
If I were little as a bee,
I'd let him fly away with
If he were willing.
I'd sit right on his back, and I
Would say "Get up," and off we'd fly;
It would be thrilling!
I'd steer him up above the trees,
And race with every little breeze,
And beat them quickly.
I'd dip, and toss, and rise, and fall
Where vines, and flowers, near the wall,
Grow tall and thickly.
I'd chase the thoughtless butterfly
As he drank dew; then hurry by
As lightning passes.
And, when I thought it right and best,
I'd give my bumblebee a rest
On rocking grasses.
WEEK 29 |
II Chronicles xxv: 1, to xxviii: 27;
MAZIAH was the ninth of the kings of Judah, if the years of Athaliah's rule be counted as a separate reign. Amaziah worshipped the Lord, but he did not serve the Lord with a perfect heart. He gathered an army of three hundred thousand men, to make war on Edom, and bring its people again under the rule of Judah. He hired also an army from Israel to help him in this war; but a prophet said to him, "O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you against Edom, for the Lord is not with the people of Israel. But go with your own men, and be strong and brave; and the Lord will help you."
"But how will I get back the money that I have paid to the army of Israel?" said Amaziah to the prophet.
"Fear not," said the prophet; "the Lord is able to give you much more than you have lost."
Then Amaziah obeyed the Lord, and sent back the men of Israel to their own land, and went against the Edomites with the men of Judah. The Lord gave him a great victory in the land of Edom; Amaziah was cruel to the people whom he conquered, and killed very many of them in his anger. And when he came back from Edom, he brought with him the idol-gods of that land, and although they could not save their own people, Amaziah set them up for his own gods, and burned incense to them and bowed down before them. And when a prophet of the Lord came to him, and warned him that God was angry with him, and would surely punish him for this wickedness, Amaziah said to the prophet, "Who has asked you to give advice to the king? Keep still, or you will be put to death!" And the Prophet answered him, "I know that it is God's will that you shall be destroyed, because you will not listen to the word of the Lord."
Amaziah's punishment was not long delayed, for soon after this, he made war upon Joash, the king of Israel, whose kingdom was far greater and stronger than his own. We read the story of Joash in Story 90. The two armies met at Beth-shemesh, northwest of Jerusalem. Amaziah was beaten in a great battle, many of his men were slain, and Amaziah himself was taken prisoner by Joash, the king of Israel. Joash took the city of Jerusalem, and broke down the wall, and carried away all the treasures in the palace and in the Temple of the Lord. After this Amaziah lived fifteen years, but he never gained the power that he had lost. His nobles made a plan to kill him, and Amaziah fled away from the city to escape them. But they caught him, and slew him, and brought his body back to Jerusalem to be buried in the tombs of the kings. His reign began well, but it ended ill, because he failed to obey the word of the Lord.
The high-priest offers sacrifice in the temple.
After Amaziah came his son Uzziah, who was also called Azariah. He was the tenth king of Judah. Uzziah was only sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he was king for fifty-two years. He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord during most of his reign. Uzziah found the kingdom weak and he made it strong, for the Lord helped him. He won back for Judah the land of the Philistines, the land of the Ammonites on the east of Jordan, and of the Arabians on the south. He built cities and made strong walls around them, with towers full of weapons for defence against enemies. He loved the fields, and planted trees and vineyards, and raised crops of wheat and barley.
But when Uzziah was strong and rich his heart became proud, and he no longer tried to do God's will. He sought to have the power of the high-priest as well as that of the king, and he went into the Holy Place in the Temple to offer incense upon the golden altar, which was allowed to the priests only. The high-priest Azariah followed Uzziah into the Holy Place with the other priests, and said to him:
"It is not for you to offer incense, O King Uzziah, nor to come into the Holy Place. This belongs to the priests alone. Go out of the Holy Place, for you have disobeyed the Lord's command; and it will not bring you honor, but trouble."
Uzziah was standing before the golden altar with a censer of incense in his hand. Instantly the white scales of leprosy rose upon his forehead. The priests saw in that moment that God had smitten Uzziah with leprosy; indeed, he felt it himself, and turned to leave the Holy Place. But they would not wait for him to go out; they drove him out, for the leper's presence made the house unholy. And from that day until he died, Uzziah was a leper. He could no longer sit as king, but his son Jotham took his place; nor was he allowed to live in the palace, but he stayed in a house alone. And when he died they would not give him a place among the tombs of the kings; but they buried him in a field outside. Jotham, the eleventh king, ruled after his father's death sixteen years. He served the Lord, but he did not stop his people from worshipping idols. He was warned by his father's fate, and was content to be a king, without trying at the same time to be a priest and to offer incense in the temple. God was with Jotham, and gave his kingdom some success.
Uzziah is smitten with leprosy.
The next king, the twelfth, was Ahaz, who was the wickedest of all the kings of Judah. He left the service of God, and worshipped the images of Baal. Worse than any other king, he even offered some of his own children as burnt-offerings to the false gods. In his reign the house of the Lord was shut up, and its treasures were taken away, and it was left to fall into ruin. For his sins and the sins of his people, God brought great suffering upon the land. The king of Israel, Pekah, came against Ahaz, and killed more than a hundred thousand of the men of Judah, among them the king's own son. The Israelites also took away many more,—men, women, and children,—as captives. But a prophet of the Lord in Israel, whose name was Oded, came out to meet the rulers, and said to them:
"The Lord God was angry with Judah, and gave its people into your hand. But do you now intend to keep your brothers of Judah as slaves? Have not you also sinned against the Lord? Now listen to the word of the Lord, and set your brothers free and send them home."
Then the rulers of Israel gave clothing to such of the captives as were in need, and set food before them; and they sent them home to their own land, even giving to those that were weak among them asses to ride upon. They brought them to Jericho, in the valley of the Jordan, and gave them to their own people.
When the Edomites came against Judah, King Ahaz sent to the Assyrians, a great people far away, to come and help him. The Assyrians came, but they did not help him, for they made themselves the rulers of Judah, and robbed Ahaz of all that he had, and laid heavy burdens upon the land. At last Ahaz died, leaving his people worshippers of idols and under the power of the king of Assyria.
In the days of these three kings, Uzziah, Jotham and Ahaz, God raised up a great prophet in Judah, whose name was Isaiah. The prophecies that he spoke in the name of the Lord are given in the book of Isaiah. In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah was a young man. One day, while he was worshipping in the temple, a wonderful vision rose suddenly before his sight. He saw the form of the Lord God upon a throne, with the angels around him. He saw also strange creatures called seraphim, standing before the throne of the Lord. Each of these had six wings. With two wings he covered his face before the glory of the Lord, with two wings he covered his feet, and with two he flew through the air to do God's will. And these seraphim called out to one another, "Holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"
And the young Isaiah felt the walls and the floor of the Temple shaking at these voices; and he saw a cloud of smoke covering the house. Isaiah was filled with fear. He cried out saying:
"Woe has come to me! for I am a man of sinful lips, and I live among a people of sinful lips: and now my eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts!"
Then one of the seraphim took into his hand the tongs that were used in the sacrifices. He flew to the altar, and with the tongs took up a burning coal. Then he flew to the place where Isaiah was standing, and pressed the fiery coal to Isaiah's lips: and he said, "This coal from God's altar has touched your lips, and now your sin is taken away, and you are made clean."
Then Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord saying: "Whom shall I send to this people? Who will bear the message of the Lord to them?"
And Isaiah said, "Here am I, Lord; send me!"
And the Lord said to Isaiah, "You shall be my prophet, and shall go to this people, and shall give to them my words. But they will not listen to you, nor understand you. Your words will do them no good, but will seem to make their hearts hard, and their ears heavy, and their eyes shut. For they will not hear with their ears, nor see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor will they turn to me and be saved."
And Isaiah said, "How long must this be, O Lord?"
And the Lord said:
"Until the cities are left waste without people, and the houses without men to live in them; and the land shall become utterly desolate; and the people shall be taken far away into another land. But out of all this there shall be a few people, a tenth part, to come back, and to rise like a new tree from the roots where the old tree has been cut down. This tenth part shall be the seed of a new people in the times to come."
By this Isaiah knew that, though his words might seem to do no good, yet he was to go on preaching, for long afterward a new Judah should arise out of the ruins of the old kingdom, and should serve the Lord.
Isaiah lived for many years, and spoke the word of the Lord to his people until he was a very old man. He preached while four kings, perhaps also a fifth, were ruling. Some of these kings were friendly, and listened to his words: but others were not willing to obey the prophet and do the will of God; and the kingdom of Judah gradually fell away from the worship of the Lord, and followed the people of the Ten Tribes in the worship of idols.
Rat made for the cellar-door, and presently reappeared, somewhat dusty, with a bottle of beer in each paw and another under each arm, "Self-indulgent beggar you seem to be, Mole," he observed. "Deny yourself nothing. This is really the jolliest little place I ever was in. Now, wherever did you pick up those prints? Make the place look so home-like, they do. No wonder you're so fond of it, Mole. Tell us all about it, and how you came to make it what it is."
Then, while the Rat busied himself fetching plates, and knives and forks, and mustard which he mixed in an egg-cup, the Mole, his bosom still heaving with the stress of his recent emotion, related—somewhat shyly at first, but with more freedom as he warmed to his subject—how this was planned, and how that was thought out, and how this was got through a windfall from an aunt, and that was a wonderful find and a bargain, and this other thing was bought out of laborious savings and a certain amount of "going without." His spirits finally quite restored, he must needs go and caress his possessions, and take a lamp and show off their points to his visitor and expatiate on them, quite forgetful of the supper they both so much needed; Rat, who was desperately hungry but strove to conceal it, nodding seriously, examining with a puckered brow, and saying, "wonderful," and "most remarkable," at intervals, when the chance for an observation was given him.
At last the Rat succeeded in decoying him to the table, and had just got
seriously to work with the sardine-opener when sounds were heard from the
fore-court without—sounds like the scuffling of small feet in the gravel and a
confused murmur of tiny voices, while broken
sentences reached them—"Now, all in
a line—hold the lantern up a bit, Tommy—clear
your throats first—no coughing
after I say one, two, three.—Where's
young Bill?—Here, come on, do, we're all
"What's up?" inquired the Rat, pausing in his labours.
"I think it must be the field-mice," replied the Mole, with a touch of pride in his manner. "They go round carol-singing regularly at this time of the year. They're quite an institution in these parts. And they never pass me over—they come to Mole End last of all; and I used to give them hot drinks, and supper too sometimes, when I could afford it. It will be like old times to hear them again."
"Let's have a look at them!" cried the Rat, jumping up and running to the door.
It was a pretty sight, and a seasonable one, that met their eyes when they flung the door open. In the fore-court, lit by the dim rays of a horn lantern, some eight or ten little field-mice stood in a semicircle, red worsted comforters round their throats, their fore-paws thrust deep into their pockets, their feet jigging for warmth. With bright beady eyes they glanced shyly at each other, sniggering a little, sniffing and applying coat-sleeves a good deal. As the door opened, one of the elder ones that carried the lantern was just saying, "Now then, one, two, three!" and forthwith their shrill little voices uprose on the air, singing one of the old-time carols that their forefathers composed in fields that were fallow and held by frost, or when snow-bound in chimney corners, and handed down to be sung in the miry street to lamp-lit windows at Yule-time.
Villagers all, this frosty tide,
Let your doors swing open wide,
Though wind may follow, and snow beside,
Yet draw us in by your fire to bide;
Joy shall be yours in the morning!
Here we stand in the cold and the sleet,
Blowing fingers and stamping feet,
Come from far away you to
You by the fire and we in the
Bidding you joy in the morning!
For ere one half of the night was gone,
Sudden a star has led us on,
Raining bliss and
Bliss to-morrow and more anon,
Joy for every morning!
Goodman Joseph toiled through the
Saw the star o'er a stable low;
Mary she might not further
Welcome thatch, and litter below!
Joy was hers in the morning!
And then they heard the angels tell
"Who were the first to cry Nowell?
Animals all, as it befell,
In the stable where they did dwell!
Joy shall be theirs in the morning!"
The voices ceased, the singers, bashful but smiling, exchanged sidelong glances, and silence succeeded—but for a moment only. Then, from up above and far away, down the tunnel they had so lately travelled was borne to their ears in a faint musical hum the sound of distant bells ringing a joyful and clangorous peal.
"Very well sung, boys!" cried the Rat heartily. "And now come along in, all of you, and warm yourselves by the fire, and have something hot!"
"Yes, come along, field-mice," cried the Mole eagerly. "This is quite like old times! Shut the door after you. Pull up that settle to the fire. Now, you just wait a minute, while we—O, Ratty!" he cried in despair, plumping down on a seat, with tears impending. "Whatever are we doing? We've nothing to give them!"
"You leave all that to me," said the masterful Rat. "Here, you with the lantern! Come over this way. I want to talk to you. Now, tell me, are there any shops open at this hour of the night?"
"Why, certainly, sir," replied the field-mouse respectfully. "At this time of the year our shops keep open to all sorts of hours."
"Then look here!" said the Rat. "You go
off at once, you and your lantern, and
Here much muttered conversation ensued, and the Mole only heard bits of it, such as—"Fresh, mind!—no, a pound of that will do—see you get Buggins's, for I won't have any other—no, only the best—if you can't get it there, try somewhere else—yes, of course, home-made, no tinned stuff—well then, do the best you can!" Finally, there was a chink of coin passing from paw to paw, the field-mouse was provided with an ample basket for his purchases, and off he hurried, he and his lantern.
The rest of the field-mice, perched in a row on the settle, their small legs swinging, gave themselves up to enjoyment of the fire, and toasted their chilblains till they tingled; while the Mole, failing to draw them into easy conversation, plunged into family history and made each of them recite the names of his numerous brothers, who were too young, it appeared, to be allowed to go out a-carolling this year, but looked forward very shortly to winning the parental consent.
The Rat, meanwhile, was busy examining the label on one of the beer-bottles. "I perceive this to be Old Burton," he remarked approvingly. "Sensible Mole! The very thing! Now we shall be able to mull some ale! Get the things ready, Mole, while I draw the corks."
It did not take long to prepare the brew and thrust the tin heater well into the red heart of the fire; and soon every field-mouse was sipping and coughing and choking (for a little mulled ale goes a long way) and wiping his eyes and laughing and forgetting he had ever been cold in all his life.
"They act plays too, these fellows," the Mole explained to the Rat. "Make them up all by themselves, and act them afterwards. And very well they do it, too! They gave us a capital one last year, about a field-mouse who was captured at sea by a Barbary corsair, and made to row in a galley; and when he escaped and got home again, his lady-love had gone into a convent. Here, you! You were in it, I remember. Get up and recite a bit."
The field-mouse addressed got up on his legs, giggled shyly, looked round the room, and remained absolutely tongue-tied. His comrades cheered him on, Mole coaxed and encouraged him, and the Rat went so far as to take him by the shoulders and shake him; but nothing could overcome his stage-fright. They were all busily engaged on him like watermen applying the Royal Humane Society's regulations to a case of long submersion, when the latch clicked, the door opened, and the field-mouse with the lantern reappeared, staggering under the weight of his basket.
There was no more talk of play-acting once the very real and solid contents of the basket had been tumbled out on the table. Under the generalship of Rat, everybody was set to do something or to fetch something. In a very few minutes supper was ready, and Mole, as he took the head of the table in a sort of a dream, saw a lately barren board set thick with savoury comforts; saw his little friends' faces brighten and beam as they fell to without delay; and then let himself loose—for he was famished indeed—on the provender so magically provided, thinking what a happy home-coming this had turned out, after all. As they ate, they talked of old times, and the field-mice gave him the local gossip up to date, and answered as well as they could the hundred questions he had to ask them. The Rat said little or nothing, only taking care that each guest had what he wanted, and plenty of it, and that Mole had no trouble or anxiety about anything.
They clattered off at last, very grateful and showering wishes of the season, with their jacket pockets stuffed with remembrances for the small brothers and sisters at home. When the door had closed on the last of them and the chink of the lanterns had died away, Mole and Rat kicked the fire up, drew their chairs in, brewed themselves a last nightcap of mulled ale, and discussed the events of the long day. At last the Rat, with a tremendous yawn, said, "Mole, old chap, I'm ready to drop. Sleepy is simply not the word. That your own bunk over on that side? Very well, then, I'll take this. What a ripping little house this is! Everything so handy!"
He clambered into his bunk and rolled himself well up in the blankets, and slumber gathered him forthwith, as a swathe of barley is folded into the arms of the reaping machine.
The weary Mole also was glad to turn in without delay, and soon had his head on his pillow, in great joy and contentment. But ere he closed his eyes he let them wander round his old room, mellow in the glow of the firelight that played or rested on familiar and friendly things which had long been unconsciously a part of him, and now smilingly received him back, without rancour. He was now in just the frame of mind that the tactful Rat had quietly worked to bring about in him. He saw clearly how plain and simple—how narrow, even—it all was; but clearly, too, how much it all meant to him, and the special value of some such anchorage in one's existence. He did not at all want to abandon the new life and its splendid spaces, to turn his back on sun and air and all they offered him and creep home and stay there; the upper world was all too strong, it called to him still, even down there, and he knew he must return to the larger stage. But it was good to think he had this to come back to; this place which was all his own, these things which were so glad to see him again and could always be counted upon for the same simple welcome.
Simple Simon met a pieman
Going to the fair;
Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
"Let me taste your ware."
Says the pieman to Simple Simon,
"Show me first your penny";
Says Simple Simon to the pieman,
"Indeed, I have not any."
Simple Simon went a-fishing
For to catch a whale;
All the water he had got
Was in his mother's pail.
He went to catch a dicky-bird,
And thought he could not fail,
Because he'd got a little salt
To put upon its tail.
Simple Simon went to look
If plums grew on a thistle;
He pricked his fingers very much,
Which made poor Simon whistle.