WEEK 30 |
H EIDI was awakened early the next morning by a loud whistle; the sun was shining through the round window and falling in golden rays on her bed and on the large heap of hay, and as she opened her eyes everything in the loft seemed gleaming with gold. She looked around her in astonishment and could not imagine for a while where she was. But her grandfather's deep voice was now heard outside, and then Heidi began to recall all that had happened: how she had come away from her former home and was now on the mountain with her grandfather instead of with old Ursula. The latter was nearly stone deaf and always felt cold, so that she sat all day either by the hearth in the kitchen or by the sitting-room stove, and Heidi had been obliged to stay close to her, for the old woman was so deaf that she could not tell where the child was if out of her sight. And Heidi, shut up within the four walls, had often longed to be out of doors. So she felt very happy this morning as she woke up in her new home and remembered all the many new things that she had seen the day before and which she would see again that day, and above all she thought with delight of the two dear goats. Heidi jumped quickly out of bed and a very few minutes sufficed her to put on the clothes which she had taken off the night before, for there were not many of them. Then she climbed down the ladder and ran outside the hut. There stood Peter already with his flock of goats, and the grandfather was just bringing his two out of the shed to join the others. Heidi ran forward to wish good-morning to him and the goats.
"Do you want to go with them on to the mountain?" asked her grandfather. Nothing could have pleased Heidi better, and she jumped for joy in answer.
"But you must first wash and make yourself tidy. The sun that shines so brightly overhead will else laugh at you for being dirty; see, I have put everything ready for you," and her grandfather pointed as he spoke to a large tub full of water, which stood in the sun before the door. Heidi ran to it and began splashing and rubbing, till she quite glistened with cleanliness. The grandfather meanwhile went inside the hut, calling to Peter to follow him and bring in his wallet. Peter obeyed with astonishment, and laid down the little bag which held his meagre dinner.
"Open it," said the old man, and inside it he put a large piece of bread and an equally large piece of cheese, which made Peter open his eyes, for each was twice the size of the two portions which he had for his own dinner.
"There, now there is only the little bowl to add," continued the grandfather, "for the child cannot drink her milk as you do from the goat; she is not accustomed to that. You must milk two bowlfuls for her when she has her dinner, for she is going with you and will remain with you till you return this evening; but take care she does not fall over any of the rocks, do you hear?"
Heidi now came running in. "Will the sun laugh at me now, grandfather?" she asked anxiously. Her grandfather had left a coarse towel hanging up for her near the tub, and with this she had so thoroughly scrubbed her face, arms, and neck, for fear of the sun, that as she stood there she was as red all over as a lobster. He gave a little laugh.
"No, there is nothing for him to laugh at now," he assured her. "But I tell you what—when you come home this evening, you will have to get right into the tub, like a fish, for if you run about like the goats you will get your feet dirty. Now you can be off."
She started joyfully for the mountain. During the night the wind had blown away all the clouds; the dark blue sky was spreading overhead, and in its midst was the bright sun shining down on the green slopes of the mountain, where the flowers opened their little blue and yellow cups, and looked up to him smiling. Heidi went running hither and thither and shouting with delight, for here were whole patches of delicate red primroses, and there the blue gleam of the lovely gentian, while above them all laughed and nodded the tender-leaved golden cistus. Enchanted with all this waving field of brightly colored flowers, Heidi forgot even Peter and the goats. She ran on in front and then off to the side, tempted first one way and then the other, as she caught sight of some bright spot of glowing red or yellow. And all the while she was plucking whole handfuls of the flowers which she put into her little apron, for she wanted to take them all home and stick them in the hay, so that she might make her bedroom look just like the meadows outside. Peter had therefore to be on the alert, and his round eyes, which did not move very quickly, had more work than they could well manage, for the goats were as lively as Heidi; they ran in all directions, and Peter had to follow whistling and calling and swinging his stick to get all the runaways together again.
"Where have you got to now, Heidi?" he called out somewhat crossly.
"Here," called back a voice from somewhere. Peter could see no one, for Heidi was seated on the ground at the foot of a small hill thickly overgrown with sweet smelling prunella; the whole air seemed filled with its fragrance, and Heidi thought she had never smelt anything so delicious. She sat surrounded by the flowers, drawing in deep breaths of the scented air.
"Come along here!" called Peter again. "You are not to fall over the rocks, your grandfather gave orders that you were not to do so."
"Where are the rocks?" asked Heidi, answering him back. But she did not move from her seat, for the scent of the flowers seemed sweeter to her with every breath of wind that wafted it towards her.
"Up above, right up above. We have a long way to go yet, so come along! And on the topmost peak of all the old bird of prey sits and croaks."
That did it. Heidi immediately sprang to her feet and ran up to Peter with her apron full of flowers.
"You have got enough now," said the boy as they began climbing up again together. "You will stay here forever if you go on picking, and if you gather all the flowers now there will be none for to-morrow."
This last argument seemed a convincing one to Heidi, and moreover her apron was already so full that there was hardly room for another flower, and it would never do to leave nothing to pick for another day. So she now kept with Peter, and the goats also became more orderly in their behavior, for they were beginning to smell the plants they loved that grew on the higher slopes and clambered up now without pause in their anxiety to reach them. The spot where Peter generally halted for his goats to pasture and where he took up his quarters for the day lay at the foot of the high rocks, which were covered for some distance up by bushes and fir trees, beyond which rose their bare and rugged summits. On one side of the mountain the rock was split into deep clefts, and the grandfather had reason to warn Peter of danger. Having climbed as far as the halting-place, Peter unslung his wallet and put it carefully in a little hollow of the ground, for he knew what the wind was like up there and did not want to see his precious belongings sent rolling down the mountain by a sudden gust. Then be threw himself at full length on the warm ground, for he was tired after all his exertions.
Heidi meanwhile had unfastened her apron and rolling it carefully round the flowers laid it beside Peter's wallet inside the hollow; she then sat down beside his outstretched figure and looked about her. The valley lay far below bathed in the morning sun. In front of her rose a broad snowfield, high against the dark blue sky, while to the left was a huge pile of rocks on either side of which a bare lofty peak, that seemed to pierce the blue, looked frowningly down upon her. The child sat without moving, her eyes taking in the whole scene, and all around was a great stillness, only broken by soft, light puffs of wind that swayed the light bells of the blue flowers, and the shining gold heads of the cistus, and set them nodding merrily on their slender stems. Peter had fallen asleep after his fatigue and the goats were climbing about among the bushes overhead. Heidi had never felt so happy in her life before. She drank in the golden sunlight, the fresh air, the sweet smell of the flowers, and wished for nothing better than to remain there forever. So the time went on, while to Heidi, who had so often looked up from the valley at the mountains above, these seemed now to have faces, and to be looking down at her like old friends. Suddenly she heard a loud harsh cry overhead and lifting her eyes she saw a bird, larger than any she had ever seen before, with great, spreading wings, wheeling round and round in wide circles, and uttering a piercing, croaking kind of sound above her.
"Peter, Peter, wake up!" called out Heidi. "See, the great bird is there—look, look!"
Peter got up on hearing her call, and together they sat and watched the bird, which rose higher and higher in the blue air till it disappeared behind the gray mountain-tops.
"Where has it gone to?" asked Heidi, who had followed the bird's movements with intense interest.
"Home to its nest," said Peter.
"Is his home right up there? Oh, how nice to be up so high! why does he make that noise?"
"Because he can't help it," explained Peter.
"Let us climb up there and see where his nest is," proposed Heidi.
"Oh! oh! oh!" exclaimed Peter, his disapproval of Heidi's suggestion becoming more marked with each ejaculation, "why even the goats cannot climb as high as that, besides, didn't Uncle say that you were not to fall over the rocks?"
Peter now began suddenly whistling and calling in such a loud manner that Heidi could not think what was happening; but the goats evidently understood his voice, for one after the other they came springing down the rocks until they were all assembled on the green plateau, some continuing to nibble at the juicy stems, others skipping about here and there or pushing at each other with their horns for pastime.
Heidi jumped up and ran in and out among them, for it was new to her to see the goats playing together like this and her delight was beyond words as she joined in their frolics; she made personal acquaintance with them all in turn, for they were like separate individuals to her, each single goat having a particular way of behavior of its own. Meanwhile Peter had taken the wallet out of the hollow and placed the pieces of bread and cheese on the ground in the shape of a square, the larger two on Heidi's side and the smaller on his own, for he knew exactly which were hers and which his. Then he took the little bowl and milked some delicious fresh milk into it from the white goat, and afterwards set the bowl in the middle of the square. Now he called Heidi to come, but she wanted more calling than the goats, for the child was so excited and amused at the capers and lively games of her new playfellows that she saw and heard nothing else. But Peter knew how to make himself heard, for he shouted till the very rocks above echoed his voice, and at last Heidi appeared, and when she saw the inviting repast spread out upon the ground she went skipping round it for joy.
"Leave off jumping about, it is time for dinner," said Peter; "sit down now and begin."
Heidi sat down. "Is the milk for me?" she asked, giving another look of delight at the beautifully arranged square with the bowl as a chief ornament in the centre.
"Yes," replied Peter, "and the two large pieces of bread and cheese are yours also, and when you have drunk up that milk, you are to have another bowlful from the white goat, and then it will be my turn."
"And which do you get your milk from?" inquired Heidi.
"From my own goat, the piebald one. But go on now with your dinner," said Peter, again reminding her it was time to eat. Heidi now took up the bowl and drank her milk, and as soon as she had put it down empty Peter rose and filled it again for her. Then she broke off a piece of her bread and held out the remainder, which was still larger than Peter's own piece, together with the whole big slice of cheese to her companion, saying, "You can have that, I have plenty."
"You can have that, I have plenty."
Peter looked at Heidi, unable to speak for astonishment, for never in all his life could he have said and done like that with anything he had. He hesitated a moment, for he could not believe that Heidi was in earnest; but the latter kept on holding out the bread and cheese, and as Peter still did not take it, she laid it down on his knees. He saw then that she really meant it; he seized the food, nodded his thanks and acceptance of her present, and then made a more splendid meal than he had known ever since he was a goatherd. Heidi the while still continued to watch the goats. "Tell me all their names," she said.
Peter knew these by heart, for having very little else to carry in his head he had no difficulty in remembering them. So he began, telling Heidi the name of each goat in turn as he pointed it out to her. Heidi listened with great attention, and it was not long before she could herself distinguish the goats from one another and could call each by name, for every goat had its own peculiarities which could not easily be mistaken; only one had to watch them closely, and this Heidi did. There was the great Turk with his big horns, who was always wanting to butt the others, so that most of them ran away when they saw him coming and would have nothing to do with their rough companion. Only Greenfinch, the slender, nimble little goat, was brave enough to face him, and would make a rush at him, three or four times in succession, with such agility and dexterity, that the great Turk often stood still quite astounded, not venturing to attack her again, for Greenfinch was fronting him, prepared for more warlike action, and her horns were sharp. Then there was little White Snowflake, who bleated in such a plaintive and beseeching manner that Heidi already had several times run to it and taken its head in her hands to comfort it. Just at this moment the pleading young cry was heard again, and Heidi jumped up running and, putting her arms round the little creature's neck, asked in a sympathetic voice, "What is it, little Snowflake? Why do you call like that as if in trouble?" The goat pressed closer to Heidi in a confiding way and left off bleating. Peter called out from where he was sitting—for he had not yet got to the end of his bread and cheese, "She cries like that because the old goat is not with her; she was sold at Mayenfeld the day before yesterday, and so will not come up the mountain any more."
"Who is the old goat?" called Heidi back.
"Why, her mother, of course," was the answer.
"Where is the grandmother?" called Heidi again.
"She has none."
"And the grandfather?"
"She has none."
"Oh, you poor little Snowflake!" exclaimed Heidi, clasping the animal gently to her, "but do not cry like that any more; see now, I shall come up here with you every day, so that you will not be alone any more, and if you want anything you have only to come to me."
The young animal rubbed its head contentedly against Heidi's shoulder, and no longer gave such plaintive bleats. Peter now having finished his meal joined Heidi and the goats, Heidi having by this time found out a great many things about these. She had decided that by far the handsomest and best-behaved of the goats were undoubtedly the two belonging to her grandfather; they carried themselves with a certain air of distinction and generally went their own way, and as to the great Turk, they treated him with indifference and contempt.
The goats were now beginning to climb the rocks again, each seeking for the plants it liked in its own fashion, some jumping over everything they met till they found what they wanted, others going more carefully and cropping all the nice leaves by the way, the Turk still now and then giving the others a poke with his horns. Little Swan and Little Bear clambered lightly up and never failed to find the best bushes, and then they would stand gracefully poised on their pretty legs, delicately nibbling at the leaves. Heidi stood with her hands behind her back, carefully noting all they did.
"Peter," she said to the boy who had again thrown himself down on the ground, "the prettiest of all the goats are Little Swan and Little Bear."
"Yes, I know they are," was the answer. "Alm-Uncle brushes them down and washes them and gives them salt, and he has the nicest shed for them."
All of a sudden Peter leaped to his feet and ran hastily after the goats. Heidi followed him as fast as she could, for she was too eager to know what had happened to stay behind. Peter dashed through the middle of the flock towards that side of the mountain where the rocks fell perpendicularly to a great depth below, and where any thoughtless goat, if it went too near, might fall over and break all its legs. He had caught sight of the inquisitive Greenfinch taking leaps in that direction, and he was only just in time, for the animal had already sprung to the edge of the abyss. All Peter could do was to throw himself down and seize one of her hind legs. Greenfinch, thus taken by surprise, began bleating furiously, angry at being held so fast and prevented from continuing her voyage of discovery. She struggled to get loose, and endeavored so obstinately to leap forward that Peter shouted to Heidi to come and help him, for he could not get up and was afraid of pulling out the goat's leg altogether.
Heidi had already run up and she saw at once the danger both Peter and the animal were in. She quickly gathered a bunch of sweet-smelling leaves, and then, holding them under Greenfinch's nose, said coaxingly, "Come, come, Greenfinch, you must not be naughty! Look, you might fall down there and break your leg, and that would give you dreadful pain!"
The young animal turned quickly, and began contentedly eating the leaves out of Heidi's hand. Meanwhile Peter got on to his feet again and took hold of Greenfinch by the band round her neck from which her bell was hung, and Heidi taking hold of her in the same way on the other side, they led the wanderer back to the rest of the flock that had remained peacefully feeding. Peter, now he had his goat in safety, lifted his stick in order to give her a good beating as punishment, and Greenfinch seeing what was coming shrank back in fear. But Heidi cried out, "No, no, Peter, you must not strike her; see how frightened she is!"
"She deserves it," growled Peter, and again lifted his stick. Then Heidi flung herself against him and cried indignantly, "You have no right to touch her, it will hurt her, let her alone!"
Peter looked with surprise at the commanding little figure, whose dark eyes were flashing, and reluctantly he let his stick drop. "Well I will let her off if you will give me some more of your cheese to-morrow," he said, for he was determined to have something to make up to him for his fright.
"You shall have it all, to-morrow and every day, I do not want it," replied Heidi, giving ready consent to his demand. "And I will give you bread as well, a large piece like you had to-day; but then you must promise never to beat Greenfinch, or Snowflake, or any of the goats."
"All right," said Peter, "I don't care," which meant that he would agree to the bargain. He now let go of Greenfinch, who joyfully sprang to join her companions.
And thus imperceptibly the day had crept on to its close, and now the sun was on the point of sinking out of sight behind the high mountains. Heidi was again sitting on the ground, silently gazing at the blue bell-shaped flowers, as they glistened in the evening sun, for a golden light lay on the grass and flowers, and the rocks above were beginning to shine and glow. All at once she sprang to her feet, "Peter! Peter! everything is on fire! All the rocks are burning, and the great snow mountain and the sky! O look, look! the high rock up there is red with flame! O the beautiful, fiery snow! Stand up, Peter! See, the fire has reached the great bird's nest! look at the rocks! look at the fir trees! Everything, everything is on fire!"
"It is always like that," said Peter composedly, continuing to peel his stick; "but it is not really fire."
"What is it then?" cried Heidi, as she ran backwards and forwards to look first one side and then the other, for she felt she could not have enough of such a beautiful sight. "What is it, Peter, what is it?" she repeated.
"It gets like that of itself," explained Peter.
"Look, look!" cried Heidi in fresh excitement, "now they have turned all rose color! Look at that one covered with snow, and that with the high, pointed rocks! What do you call them?"
"Mountains have not any names," he answered.
"O how beautiful, look at the crimson snow! And up there on the rocks there are ever so many roses! Oh! now they are turning gray! Oh! oh! now all the color has died away! it's all gone, Peter." And Heidi sat down on the ground looking as full of distress as if everything had really come to an end.
"It will come again to-morrow," said Peter. "Get up, we must go home now." He whistled to his goats and together they all started on their homeward way.
"Is it like that every day, shall we see it every day when we bring the goats up here?" asked Heidi, as she clambered down the mountain at Peter's side; she waited eagerly for his answer, hoping that he would tell her it was so.
"It is like that most days," he replied.
"But will it be like that to-morrow for certain?" Heidi persisted.
"Yes, yes, to-morrow for certain," Peter assured her in answer.
Heidi now felt quite happy again, and her little brain was so full of new impressions and new thoughts that she did not speak any more until they had reached the hut. The grandfather was sitting under the fir trees, where he had also put up a seat, waiting as usual for his goats which returned down the mountain on this side.
Heidi ran up to him followed by the white and brown goats, for they knew their own master and stall. Peter called out after her, "Come with me again to-morrow! Good-night!" For he was anxious for more than one reason that Heidi should go with him the next day.
Heidi ran back quickly and gave Peter her hand, promising to go with him, and then making her way through the goats she once more clasped Snowflake round the neck, saying in a gentle soothing voice, "Sleep well, Snowflake, and remember that I shall be with you again to-morrow, so you must not bleat so sadly any more." Snowflake gave her a friendly and grateful look, and then went leaping joyfully after the other goats.
Heidi returned to the fir trees. "O grandfather," she cried, even before she had come up to him, "it was so beautiful. The fire, and the roses on the rocks, and the blue and yellow flowers, and look what I have brought you!" And opening the apron that held her flowers she shook them all out at her grandfather's feet. But the poor flowers, how changed they were! Heidi hardly knew them again. They looked like dry bits of hay—not a single little flower cup stood open. "O grandfather, what is the matter with them?" exclaimed Heidi in shocked surprise, "they were not like that this morning, why do they look so now?"
"They like to stand out there in the sun and not to be shut up in an apron," said her grandfather.
"Then I will never gather any more. But, grandfather, why did the great bird go on croaking so?" she continued in an eager tone of inquiry.
"Go along now and get into your bath while I go and get some milk; when we are together at supper I will tell you all about it."
Heidi obeyed, and when later she was sitting on her high stool before her milk bowl with her grandfather beside her, she repeated her question, "Why does the great bird go on croaking and screaming down at us, grandfather?"
"He is mocking at the people who live down below in the villages, because they all go huddling and gossiping together, and encourage one another in evil talking and deeds. He calls out, 'If you would separate and each go your own way and come up here and live on a height as I do, it would be better for you!' " There was almost a wildness in the old man's voice as he spoke, so that Heidi seemed to hear the croaking of the bird again even more distinctly.
"Why haven't the mountains any names?" Heidi went on.
"They have names," answered her grandfather, "and if you can describe one of them to me that I know I will tell you what it is called."
Heidi then described to him the rocky mountain with the two high peaks so exactly that the grandfather was delighted. "Just so, I know it," and he told her its name. "Did you see any other?"
Then Heidi told him of the mountain with the great snowfield, and how it had been on fire, and had turned rosy-red and then all of a sudden had grown quite pale again and all the color had disappeared.
"I know that one too," he said, giving her its name. "So you enjoyed being out with the goats?"
Then Heidi went on to give him an account of the whole day, and of how delightful it had all been, and particularly described the fire that had burst out everywhere in the evening. And then nothing would do but her grandfather must tell how it came, for Peter knew nothing about it.
The grandfather explained to her that it was the sun that did it. "When he says good-night to the mountains he throws his most beautiful colors over them, so that they may not forget him before he comes again the next day."
Heidi was delighted with this explanation, and could hardly bear to wait for another day to come that she might once more climb up with the goats and see how the sun bid good-night to the mountains. But she had to go to bed first, and all night she slept soundly on her bed of hay, dreaming of nothing but of shining mountains with red roses all over them, among which happy little Snowflake went leaping in and out.
T HERE was once a famous Greek general whose name was Aristomenes. He was brave and wise; and his countrymen loved him.
Once, however, in a great battle with the Spartans, his army was beaten and he was taken prisoner.
In those days, people had not learned to be kind to their enemies. In war, they were savage and cruel; for war always makes men so.
The Spartans hated Aristomenes. He had given them a great deal of trouble, and they wished to destroy him.
On a mountain near their city, there was a narrow chasm or hole in the rocks. It was very deep, and there was no way to climb out of it.
The Spartans said to one another, "Let us throw this fellow into the rocky chasm. Then we may be sure that he will never trouble us again."
So a party of soldiers led him up into the mountain and placed him on the edge of the yawning hole in the rocks. "See the place to which we send all our enemies," they said. And they threw him in.
No one knows how he escaped being dashed to pieces. Some of the Greeks said that an eagle caught him in her beak and carried him unharmed to the bottom. But that is not likely.
I think that he must have fallen upon some bushes and vines that grew in some parts of the chasm. At any rate he was not hurt much.
He groped around in the dim light, but could not find any way of escape. The rocky walls surrounded him on every side. There was no place where he could set his foot to climb out.
For three days he lay in his strange prison. He grew weak from hunger and thirst. He expected to die from starvation.
Suddenly he was startled by a noise close by him. Something was moving among the rocks at the bottom of the chasm. He watched quietly, and soon saw a large fox coming towards him.
He lay quite still till the animal was very near. Then he sprang up quickly and seized it by the tail.
The frightened fox scampered away as fast as it could; and Aristomenes followed, clinging to its tail. It ran into a narrow cleft which he had not seen before, and then through a long, dark passage which was barely large enough for a man's body.
Aristomenes held on. At last he saw a ray of light far ahead of him. It was the sunlight streaming in at the entrance to the passage. But soon the way became too narrow for his body to pass through. What should he do?
He let go of the fox, and it ran out. Then with great labor he began to widen the passageway. Here the rocks were smaller, and he soon loosened them enough to allow him to squeeze through. In a short time he was free and in the open air.
Some days after this the Spartans heard strange news: "Aristomenes is again at the head of the Greek army."
They could not believe it.
A wet sheet and a flowing sea,
A wind that follows fast,
And fills the white and rustling sail,
And bends the gallant mast;
And bends the gallant mast, my boys,
While, like the eagle free,
Away the good ship flies, and leaves
Old England on the lee.
"O for a soft and gentle wind!"
I heard a fair one cry;
But give to me the snoring breeze,
And white waves heaving high;
And white waves heaving high, my boys,
The good ship tight and free —
The world of waters is our home,
And merry men are we.
There's tempest in yon hornèd moon,
And lightning in yon cloud;
But hark the music, mariners—
The wind is piping loud;
The wind is piping loud, my boys,
The lightning flashes free—
While the hollow oak our palace is,
Our heritage the sea.
WEEK 30 |
H ENRY II., as you know, got his name Plantagenet from his father, Geoffrey of Anjou, who used to wear a piece of planta genista in his helmet. He was the first of several kings ruling England who were all Plantagenets.
The misrule and confusion of the reign of Stephen had been so great, that Henry had to work very hard to bring his kingdom into order again. He not only worked hard himself, but he made other people work too. It is said of him that he never sat down, but was on his feet all day long.
The first thing Henry did was to send away all the foreign soldiers who had come to England to help Stephen and Matilda in their wars. Next he made the barons pull down their castles in which they used to do such dreadful deeds of cruelty. He told them they must live in ordinary houses and not in fortresses which could be turned into fearful prisons and places of torture.
The barons were very angry; but like his grandfather, Henry
These are only a few of the things which he did, for the
Thomas à Becket's father was called Gilbert, and his mother Rohesia. Gilbert was a London merchant, and when he was young he had made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, as was common in those days.
At that time Jerusalem was in the hands of people called Saracens. They were pagans and hated the Christians and they treated very badly those who came to visit the sepulchre of Christ.
While Gilbert was on his pilgrimage, a rich Saracen seized and put him in prison, saying he should not come out until he had paid a great sum of money.
This Saracen had a beautiful daughter. Rohesia, for that was her name, had seen the handsome young Englishman before her father put him in prison, and she felt sorry for him. She used to come to the little window of his cell to speak to him, and to bring him things to eat and drink.
Night after night she came, and they whispered to each other through the bars of the little prison window. There was no one to hear, and only the stars and the moon to keep watch. All day long Gilbert used to wait impatiently until night came, when Rohesia would creep quietly to the window, and he would hear her whisper, "Gilbert, Gilbert," and she would slip her little hand through the bars and touch his.
Rohesia could speak no English, but Gilbert could speak her language, and he taught her to say his name. She learned to say London too, and knew that that was where he lived.
Gilbert and Rohesia grew to love each other very much, and all the day seemed long and dreary until night came and they could whisper to each other through the prison bars. But one night Rohesia came breathless and pale. "Gilbert," she whispered, "Gilbert, my father is asleep, and I have stolen the keys. I will unlock the door. You are free."
Gilbert hardly believed the good news until he heard the key turn in the lock. Then the door swung open and he knew that he was indeed free. He took Rohesia in his arms and kissed her, promising that he would never forget her. "As soon as I get back to England, I shall send for you," he said. "You must come to me, and we shall be married and never part any more."
Then Gilbert went away and Rohesia was left all alone. She felt very sad after he had gone, but she comforted herself always by remembering that he was going to send for her, and that then they should be together and happy ever after.
Gilbert arrived safely in England, but he forgot all about
the beautiful Saracen maiden and his promise to her. He had
so many things to do when he got back to London that the
time for him went very quickly. But for Rohesia the time
passed slowly, slowly. Day after day went by. In the morning
At last she could bear the waiting no longer, so she set out to try to find Gilbert. She knew only two words of English, but she was not afraid. She travelled all through the land until she reached the seashore. There she said, "London, London," to every one whom she met until at last she found a ship that was going there. She had not much money, but she gave the captain some of her jewels, and he was kind to her and landed her safely in London.
London in those days was much smaller than it is now, but Rohesia had never seen so many houses and people before, and she was bewildered and frightened. Every one turned to stare at the lovely lady dressed in such strange and beautiful clothes, who kept calling "Gilbert, Gilbert," as she passed from street to street.
Gilbert was sitting in his house when suddenly he heard his name. He knew the voice, yet he could hardly believe his ears. Could it indeed be Rohesia? In a flash he remembered everything; the dark little prison; the lovely Saracen girl; his love for, his promise to her. He ran to the door and opened it quickly. The next minute Rohesia was sobbing in his arms. Her long journey was ended. She had found Gilbert.
As Gilbert held Rohesia in his arms, he found all his old love for her had come back. So they were married and were happy. They had a little son whom they called Thomas. He grew up to be that Thomas à Becket, who was King Henry's great chancellor and friend.
I must tell you that some people say that this story of Gilbert and Rohesia is only a fairy tale. Perhaps it is.
A PAIR of damsel-flies steered through the air toward some plants, called pipewort, that were growing in the shallow water at the edge of a quiet pool. They were flying low and they came rather gently and slowly, and not with the swift rush of their larger and stronger cousins, the dragon-flies, that were darting by in the air above them.
Mr. Damsel held Mrs. Damsel by a clasp at the tip of his tail that fitted, like a tiny bracelet, into a groove in her shoulders. That is a queer way of flying, but it is not the only odd thing these two little creatures did. In fact, there was not time, during the next half-hour, to stop wondering about one strange action before they were doing something else even more astonishing.
A pair of damsel-flies came through the air.
The color of Mrs. Damsel was soft grayish blue and black. Altogether she was only about an inch and a quarter in length, so there was not room for any part of her to be really large. Her head was much wider than it was long, and it reached from one round eye at the left side to another round eye at the right side. It was fastened to her thorax in such a narrow place that it looked as if it would drop off if she twisted it. But she never did lose her head, so the fastening must have been stronger than it seemed to be. She could eat and see with her head.
Her thorax was the second part of her body, and she used it in walking and climbing and flying. There were six jointed legs beneath and four thin, gauzy wings above.
The third part of her body was her abdomen. This was very slender, and much of the time she held it straight, though it was jointed and could be moved and bent. She could breathe with her abdomen, for, as perhaps you know, insects do not breathe through holes in their heads. She could do something else with this third part of her body too, as you shall see.
Mr. Damsel was somewhat the same size and shape as Mrs. Damsel but his color was brighter. Near his head and at his tail end he was glistening blue, as shiny as if he had been touched with some beautiful enamel paint.
They alighted on a pipewort stem. Mr. Damsel loosed the wee clasping bracelet at the tip of his tail and rested quietly on the little round blossom on the end of the stem. His four clear wings were folded close together along his slender body, and not held wide apart like the wings of a resting dragon-fly. His body stuck straight out in the air in a stiff position.
Mrs. Damsel turned and crept headfirst down the stem very quickly. Just as she reached the water she paused a moment and moved her wings. I am not sure what she did with them, but they looked as if they were wrapped about her body in such a way that they made a little gauzy bag filled with air. Then she crept down the stem until she reached the bottom of the pond.
She did not seem at all afraid to leave the warm, sunny air and climb headlong into the cool water below. She went eagerly, as if she had a most important errand. And so she had, for Mrs. Damsel went into the pond to lay her eggs. Some kinds of damsel-flies push their eggs into stems and leaves of plants just under the surface of the water. Others have different interesting ways of putting their eggs into good places where they can hatch. But no kind has a better way than the blue damsel-flies of this story; these have the habit of always climbing down to the bottom of a pond before they find a suitable place for their eggs.
Mrs. Damsel went to the bottom of the pond to lay her eggs.
As soon as she reached the base of the pipewort stem, Mrs. Damsel walked slowly among the bits of soft, brown leafy rubbish at the bottom of the pond, and made her way carefully through tangles of little water plants. She poked the tip of her abdomen here and there, and left her eggs in places that were good nests for them. While she was busy in this way, she went nearly twenty inches from the pipewort stem down which she had climbed.
Now and then she thrust the slender third part of her body between her wings, which glistened in the water as if they held a bubble of air. I think she was breathing when she did this. There had been a time when Mrs. Damsel had lived day and night in the water for nearly a year. That was when she was young. At the tail end of her body she then had three flap-like gills with which she breathed. When she grew old enough to have wings and live in the air, she lost her gills, so she could not breathe that way any more.
Mrs. Damsel stayed under water a long time for a creature without gills. After she had been down for about a quarter of an hour, Mr. Damsel, who had been waiting on the plant overhead, flew away. But he did not go high into the air. He flew back and forth, a few inches above the surface of the water. As he flew he seemed to be watching for something. Now and again he alighted, and while he rested he still seemed to be watching.
While Mr. Damsel waited he watched the surface of the water.
He was not looking for food. Tiny midges and other insects he liked to eat flew near and he did not touch them. He was waiting for something that was more important than dinner, and he did not stop watching long enough even to snatch a mouthful.
Twenty minutes went by and Mrs. Damsel was still at the bottom of the pond laying eggs, and Mr. Damsel was still watching the surface of the water for something that had not come. Twenty-five minutes passed and Mrs. Damsel was still poking her abdomen among the stems of water plants as if she would never stop; and Mr. Damsel was flying back and forth just a few inches above the water with level flight—no higher, no lower, no faster, no slower.
Then suddenly something disturbed Mrs. Damsel. Perhaps the painted turtle that lived in the pond thrust her head too near. Mrs. Damsel did not walk twenty inches back to her pipewort stem to climb out of the water. She did not even wait to climb up the nearest stem of all. What she did was merely to let go of everything she was touching at the bottom of the pond and rise straight to the top—as straight as a bubble. While she was coming up through the water—her wings looked silvery, as if they still held a little air.
The instant Mrs. Damsel's head was above the water, Mr. Damsel saw her. He flew swiftly to her, and with a motion so quick that no one could see just how he did it, he clasped the little bracelet at the tip of his tail into the groove in her shoulders. Then, with hardly a pause, he continued his flight, pulling Mrs. Damsel out of the water as he went. As soon as her wings reached the air she shook them and spread them, and they seemed as fresh and straight and dry as if she had not been in the water at all.
As for the eggs at the bottom of the pond among the plants, neither Mr. nor Mrs. Damsel ever went back to see what became of them. Perhaps, if you live near a pond, you may like to go and see if they hatched. You can know a young damsel-fly, you may remember, by the three little flap-like gills on its tail.
A very young boy from Holiday Farm liked to watch the damsel‑flies.
Tiger! tiger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb, make thee?
Tiger! tiger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
WEEK 30 |
"P UMA the Panther," began Old Mother Nature, "is the largest member of the Cat family in this country, with the exception of one which is found only in the extreme Southwest. Puma is also called Mountain Lion, Cougar and Painter. You all know how Black Pussy looks. If Black Pussy could grow to be over eight feet long and be given a yellowish-brown coat, whitish underneath, she would look very much like Puma the Panther. Unlike Yowler the Bob Cat and Tufty the Lynx, Puma has a long tail—just such a round tail as Black Pussy has. Being so large, Puma is of great strength, and he has all the grace and quickness in movement of a true Cat. As I told you yesterday, there was a time when Puma lived in the East. In fact, he was once in nearly all parts of this great country where there were forests. But as the country became settled by man, Puma was driven out, and now his home is chiefly in the great mountains of the Far West.
This is the Mountain Lion or Cougar,
next to the largest of the Cat family in America.
"Being so big, he must have much food. Instead of depending for his living on small animals and birds, Puma hunts the large animals. He is so big and so strong that he can kill Lightfoot the Deer without trouble, and there is no one Lightfoot dreads more than Puma. He is especially fond of Horse flesh, and in certain sections where herds of Horses are pastured, he has killed so many young Horses that he has won the undying hate of man.
"Big as he is, he is a coward and will run from a barking Dog.
When desperate with hunger, he has been known to attack man, but
such occasions have been very, very rare. The fact is, he fears
man and will slink sway at his approach. Like the true Cat that
he is, he is wonderfully
"Men hunt him with Dogs, for as I have already told you he will run from a barking Dog. Usually he doesn't run far before taking to a tree. The hunters follow and shoot him there. Were it not that he can be hunted in this way with Dogs, he would have little to fear from man, for he is so keen of sight and hearing and can move so swiftly and silently, that it is rarely man can surprise him. Sometimes he will follow a man just as Tufty the Lynx does, but usually for the same reason—curiosity. Despite the fact that he is a sneak and coward, he is so big and fierce-looking that he is feared by most men. Only those who really know him do not fear him.
"There is one other member of the Cat family in all this great land
larger than Puma, and this is Jaguar, also called
The largest and handsomest of the cats of America.
"In this same part of the great Southwest lives a smaller cousin
named Ocelot, often called
"A neighbor of his in that same country is the queerest looking
member of the Cat family. He is called the Jaguarundi Cat or
Eyra. Sometimes he is dressed in dull gray and sometimes in rusty
red. His body is shaped more like that of
Morse now had but three pupils. One of his pupils, when his quarter's tuition was due, had not yet received his money from home, so that he could not pay the professor immediately. One day, when Morse came in, he said:
"Well, Strother, my boy, how are we off for money?"
"Professor, I'm sorry to say I have been disappointed, but I expect the money next week."
"Next week!" exclaimed Morse; "I shall be dead by next week."
"Yes, dead of starvation."
"Would ten dollars be of any service?" asked Strother, in alarm.
"Ten dollars would save my life; that is all it would do," answered the professor, who had not eaten a mouthful for twenty-four hours. The money was paid.
Judge Vail grew discouraged about the telegraph. The old gentleman refused to look at the machine. Alfred Vail saw that if the work were not finished soon his father would put a stop to it. He and young Baxter stayed close in their room, with Morse, working as fast as they could, and avoiding Judge Vail, lest he should say the words that would end their project. Baxter would watch the windows, and, when he saw Judge Vail go to dinner, he would tell Morse and Alfred Vail, and they would all go to dinner at the house of Alfred's brother-in-law, making sure to get safe back before the judge should appear again.
At last the invention was in working order, and Alfred Vail said to Baxter:
"William, go up to the house and ask father to come down and see the telegraph machine work."
The boy ran eagerly, in his shop clothes and without any coat, and Judge Vail followed him back to the little room. Mr. Vail wrote on a slip of paper, "A patient waiter is no loser." He handed this to Alfred, saying:
"If you can send that so that Professor Morse can read it at the other end of the wire, I shall be convinced."
Instrument for Sending Telegrams
Alfred clicked it off, and Morse read it at his end. The old gentleman was overjoyed.
But there was a great deal of trouble after this in getting the matter started. It was thought necessary to have the government build the first line, because business men were slow to try new things in that day. The President, and other public men, showed much curiosity about the new machine, but Congress was slow to give money to construct a line.
In 1842 a bill was passed in the House of Representatives appropriating thirty thousand dollars to construct a telegraph on Morse's plan from Washington to Baltimore. It had yet to pass the Senate before it could become a law. When the last hours of the session had arrived, a senator told Morse that his bill could not be passed, there were so many other bills to be voted on before it. Morse went to his hotel, and found that, after paying his bill and buying his ticket to New York, he had thirty-seven cents left.
But the next morning, while he was eating his breakfast before leaving Washington, Miss Ellsworth, the daughter of the commissioner of patents, brought Morse word that his bill had passed the night before. For her kindness the inventor promised her that she should send the first message over a telegraph line.
Morse tried to lay his wires underground in pipes, but it was found that naked wires laid in this way let the electricity escape into the ground. What was to be done? There were now but seven thousand dollars left of the thirty thousand. To change their plan would be to confess that those who were building the telegraph had made a mistake, and this would make people more suspicious than ever. The machine for digging the ditch in which the wires were to be laid was run against a stone and broken on purpose to make an excuse for changing the plan.
A year had been wasted, when it was decided to put the wires on poles. At last, in 1844, the wires were strung, and Miss Ellsworth sent the first message, which was, "What hath God wrought!" The first news that went over the wire was that James K. Polk had been nominated for President.
But at first people would not believe that messages had come over the wire. They waited for the mails to bring the same news before they could believe it. One man asked how large a bundle could be sent over the wires. A joking fellow hung a pair of dirty boots on the wire, and gave it out that they had got muddy from traveling so fast. A woman who saw a telegraph pole planted in front of her door said she supposed she could not punish her children any more without everybody knowing it. She thought the wire would carry news of its own accord. At first few messages were sent. The operators worked for nothing, and slept under their tables. But after a while people began to use the wires, which were gradually extended over the country. Another kind of electric telegraph had been tried in England, but Morse's plan was found the best.
Before Morse put up his first line he had tried a telegraph through the water. To keep the electricity from escaping, he wound the wire with thread soaked in pitch and surrounded it with rubber. He laid this wire from Castle Garden, at the lower end of New York city, across to Governor's Island, in the harbor. He was able to telegraph through it, but before he could exhibit it the anchor of a vessel drew up the wire, and the sailors carried off part of it.
About 1850, Cyrus W. Field, of New York, got the notion that a telegraph could be laid across the Atlantic Ocean. After much thought to raise the money needed, and two attempts to lay a telegraph cable across the ocean, the first cable was laid successfully in 1858. The Queen of England sent a message to the President of the United States, and President Buchanan sent a reply. Many great meetings were held to rejoice over this union of the Old World with the New. But the first Atlantic telegraph cable worked feebly for three weeks, and then ceased to work altogether.
Mr. Field now found it hard work to get people to put money into a new cable. Seven years after the first one was laid, the Great Eastern, the largest ship afloat, laid twelve hundred miles of telegraph cable in the Atlantic Ocean, when the cable suddenly broke. The next year, in 1866, the end of this cable was found and brought up from the bottom of the sea. It was spliced to a new one, which was laid successfully.
The Great Eastern
Morse lived to old age, no longer pinched for money, and honored in Europe and America for his great invention. He died in 1872, when nearly eighty-one years old.
The latest wonder in telegraphing is the telephone, which is a machine by which the actual words spoken are carried upon a wire and heard at the other end of the line. The invention was made about the same time, in somewhat different forms, by several different men.
Do you ask what the birds say? The sparrow, the dove,
The linnet and the thrush say, "I love and I love!"
In winter they're silent—the wind is so strong;
What it says I don't know; but it sings a loud song.
But green leaves and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
And singing and loving—all come back together.
But the lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
The green fields below him, the blue sky above,
That he sings, and he sings; and forever sings he—
"I love my Love, and my Love loves me!"
WEEK 30 |
A LONE, King Margaris fled, weary and wounded, until he reached King Marsil, and fell panting at his feet.
"Ride! ride! Sire," he cried, "thy army is shattered, thy knights to the last man lie dead upon the field; but thou wilt find the Franks in evil plight. Full half of them also lie dead. The rest are sore wounded and weary. Their armour is broken, their swords and spears are shattered. They have naught wherewith to defend themselves. To avenge the death of thy knights were now easy. Ride! oh, ride!"
In terrible wrath and sorrow King Marsil gathered a new army. In twenty columns through the valleys they came marching. The sun shone upon the gems and goldwork of their helmets, upon lances and pennons, upon buckler and embroidered surcoat. Seven thousand trumpets sounded to the charge, and the wind carried the clamour afar.
"Oliver, my comrade," said Roland, when he heard it, "Oliver, my brother, the traitor Ganelon hath sworn our death. Here his treachery is plainly to be seen. But the Emperor will bring upon him a terrible vengeance. As for us, we must fight again a battle fierce and keen. I will strike with my trusty Durindal and thou with thy Hauteclere bright. We have already carried them with honour in many battles. With them we have won many a victory. No man may say scorn of us."
And so once again the Franks made ready for battle.
But King Marsil was a wily foe. "Hearken, my barons all," he cried, "Roland is a prince of wondrous strength. Two battles are not enough to vanquish him. He shall have three. Half of ye shall go forward now, and half remain with me until the Franks are utterly exhausted. Then shall ye attack them. Then shall we see the day when the might of Charlemagne shall fall and France shall perish in shame."
So King Marsil stayed upon the hill-side while half of his knights marched upon the Franks with battle-cry and trumpet-call.
"Oh Heaven, what cometh now!" cried the Franks as they heard the sound. "Woe, woe, that ever we saw Ganelon the felon."
Then spoke the brave Archbishop to them. "Now it is certain that we shall die. But it is better to die sword in hand than in slothful ease. Now is the day when ye shall receive great honour. Now is the day that ye shall win your crown of flowers. The gates of paradise are glorious, but therein no coward shall enter."
"We will not fail to enter," cried the Franks. "It is true that we are but few, but we are bold and staunch," and striking their golden spurs into their chargers' flanks, they rode to meet the foe.
Once more the noise and dust of battle rose. Once more the plain was strewn with dead, and the green grass was crimson-dyed, and scattered wide were jewels and gold, splintered weapons, and shattered armour.
Fearful was the slaughter, mighty the deeds of valour done, until at last the heathen broke and fled amain. After them in hot pursuit rode the Franks. Their bright swords flashed and fell again and again, and all the way was marked with dead.
At length the heathen cries of despair reached even to where King Marsil stayed upon the hill-side. "Marsil, oh our King! ride, ride, we have need of thee!" they cried.
Even to the King's feet the Franks pursued the fleeing foe, slaying them before his face.
Then Marsil, mounting upon his horse, led his last knights against the fearful foe.
The Franks were nigh exhausted, but still three hundred swords flashed in the sunlight, three hundred hearts still beat with hope and courage.
As Roland watched Oliver ever in the thickest of the fight, dealing blow upon blow unceasingly, his heart swelled anew with love for him. "Oh, my comrade leal and true," he cried, "alas! this day shall end our love. Alas! this day we shall part on earth for ever."
Oliver heard him and through the press of fighting he urged his horse to Roland's side. "Friend," he said, "keep near to me. So it please God we shall at least die together."
On went the fight, fiercer and fiercer yet, till but sixty weary Franks were left. Then, sadly gazing upon the stricken field, Roland turned to Oliver. "Behold! our bravest lie dead," he cried. "Well may France weep, for she is shorn of all her most valiant knights. Oh my Emperor, my friend, alas, why wert thou not here? Oliver, my brother, how shall we speed him now our mournful news?"
"I know not," said Oliver sadly, "rather come death now than any craven deed."
"I will sound upon my horn," said Roland, all his pride broken and gone. "I will sound upon my horn. Charlemagne will hear it and the Franks will return to our aid."
"Shame would that be," cried Oliver. "Our kin would blush for us and be dishonoured all their days. When I prayed of thee thou wouldst not sound thy horn, and now it is not I who will consent to it. Sound upon thy horn! No! there is no courage, no wisdom in that now. Had the Emperor been here we had been saved. But now it is too late, for all is lost. Nay," he cried in rising wrath, "if ever I see again my fair sister Aude, I swear to thee thou shalt never hold her in thine arms. Never shall she be bride of thine." For Roland loved Oliver's beautiful sister Aude and was loved by her, and when Roland would return to France she had promised to be his bride.
"Ah, Oliver, why dost thou speak to me with so much anger and hate," cried Roland sadly.
"Because it is thy fault that so many Franks lie dead this day," answered Oliver. "It is thy folly that hath slain them. Hadst thou done as I prayed thee our master Charlemagne had been here. This battle had been fought and won. Marsil had been taken and slain. Thy madness it is, Roland, that hath wrought our fate. Henceforward we can serve Charlemagne never more. And now here endeth our loyal friendship. Oh, bitter the parting this night shall see."
With terrible grief in his heart, stricken dumb with misery and pain, Roland gazed upon his friend. But Archbishop Turpin had heard the strife between the two, and setting spurs to his horse he rode swiftly towards them. "Sir Roland, and you, Sir Oliver," he cried, "I pray you strive not thus. See! we all must die, and thy horn, Roland, can avail nothing now. Great Karl is too far and would return too late. Yet it were well to sound it. For the Emperor when he hears it will come to avenge our fall, and the heathen will not return joyously to their homes. When the Franks come, they will alight from their horses, they will find our bodies, and will bury them with mourning and with tears, so we shall rest in hallowed graves, and the beasts of the field shall not tear our bones asunder."
"It is well said," cried Roland.
Then to his lips he laid his horn, and taking a deep breath he blew mightily upon it. With all the strength left in his weary body he blew.
With all the strength left in his weary body he blew
Full, and clear and high the horn sounded. From mountain peak to mountain peak the note was echoed, till to the camp of Charlemagne, full thirty leagues away, it came.
Then as he heard it, sweet and faint, borne upon the summer wind, the Emperor drew rein, and bent his ear to listen, "Our men give battle; it is the horn of Roland," he cried.
"Nay," laughed Ganelon scornfully, "nay, Sire, had any man but thou said it I had deemed he lied."
So slowly and sad at heart, with many a backward glance, the Emperor rode on.
Again Roland put his horn to his mouth. He was weary now and faint. Blood was upon his pale lips, the blue veins in his temples stood out like cords. Very mournfully he blew upon his horn, but the sound of it was carried far, very far, although it was so feeble and so low.
Again to the soft, sweet note Charlemagne bent his ear. Duke Naimes, too, and all the Frankish knights, paused at the sound. "It is the horn of Roland," cried the Emperor, "and very surely had there been no battle, he had not sounded it."
"There is no battle," said Ganelon in fretful tones. "Thou art grown old and fearful. Thou talkest as a frightened child. Well thou knowest the pride of Roland, this strong, bold, great and boastful Roland, that God hath suffered so long upon His earth. For one hare Roland would sound his horn all day long. Doubtless now he laughs among his Peers. And beside, who would dare to attack Roland? Who so bold? Of a truth there is none. Ride on, Sire, ride on. Why halt? Our fair land is still very far in front."
So again, yet more unwillingly, the Emperor rode on.
Crimson stained were the lips of Roland. His cheeks were sunken and white, yet once again he raised his horn. Faintly now, in sadness and in anguish, once again he blew. The soft, sweet notes took on a tone so pitiful, they wrung the very heart of Charlemagne, where, full thirty leagues afar, he onward rode.
"That horn is very long of breath," he sighed, looking backward anxiously.
"It is Roland," cried Duke Naimes. "It is Roland who suffers yonder. On my soul, I swear, there is battle. Some one hath betrayed him. If I mistake not, it is he who now deceives thee. Arm, Sire, arm! Sound the trumpets of war. Long enough hast thou hearkened to the plaint of Roland."
Quickly the Emperor gave command. Quickly the army turned about, and came marching backward. The evening sunshine fell upon their pennons of crimson, gold and blue, it gleamed upon helmet and corslet, upon lance and shield. Fiercely rode the knights. "Oh, if we but reach Roland before he die," they cried, "oh, what blows we will strike for him."
Alas! alas! they are late, too late!
The evening darkened, night came, yet on they rode. Through all the night they rode, and when at length the rising sun gleamed like flame upon helmet, and hauberk and flowing pennon, they still pressed onward.
Foremost the Emperor rode, sunk in sad thought, his fingers twisted in his long white beard which flowed over his cuirass, his eyes filled with tears. Behind him galloped his knights, strong men though they were, every one of them with a sob in his throat, a prayer in his heart, for Roland, Roland the brave and fearless.
One knight only had anger in his heart. That knight was Ganelon. And he by order of the Emperor had been given over to the keeping of the kitchen knaves. Calling the chief among them, "Guard me well this felon," said Charlemagne, "guard him as a traitor, who hath sold all mine house to death."
Then the chief scullion and a hundred of his fellows surrounded Ganelon. They plucked him by the hair and buffeted him, each man giving him four sounding blows. Around his neck they then fastened a heavy chain, and leading him as one might lead a dancing bear, they set him upon a common baggage-horse. Thus they kept him until the time should come that Charlemagne would ask again for the felon knight.
A rich old farmer, who felt that he had not many more days to live, called his sons to his bedside.
"My sons," he said, "heed what I have to say to you. Do not on any account part with the estate that has belonged to our family for so many generations. Somewhere on it is hidden a rich treasure. I do not know the exact spot, but it is there, and you will surely find it. Spare no energy and leave no spot unturned in your search."
The father died, and no sooner was he in his grave than the sons set to work digging with all their might, turning up every foot of ground with their spades, and going over the whole farm two or three times.
No hidden gold did they find; but at harvest time when they had settled their accounts and had pocketed a rich profit far greater than that of any of their neighbors, they understood that the treasure their father had told them about was the wealth of a bountiful crop, and that in their industry had they found the treasure.
Industry is itself a treasure.
High on a bright and sunny bed
A scarlet poppy grew;
And up it thrust its staring head,
And thrust it full in view.
Yet no attention did it win
By all these efforts made,
And less unwelcome had it been
In some retired shade.
For though within its scarlet breast
No sweet perfume was found,
It seemed to think itself the best
Of all the flowers around.
From this I may a hint obtain,
And take great care indeed,
Lest I appear as pert and vain
As is this gaudy weed.
WEEK 30 |
"God has made nobler heroes, but He never made a
finer gentleman than Walter Raleigh."
—R. L. Stevenson.
R ALEIGH had failed with his Virginian colony, but he still had dreams of an English colony elsewhere. The wealth that filled Spain from Mexico and Peru had filled England with envy. To gain a like rich kingdom for his queen, to extend her power and enrich her treasury,—this was Raleigh's dream. With these thoughts in his mind he turned his eyes to Guiana, a tract of country in South America of which dazzling tales had reached his ears.
Since the early days of Spanish discovery, natives had talked of a city of untold wealth—El Dorado they called it. It was richer than Peru, they said, and gold was so plentiful that the king was covered with turpentine and rolled in gold-dust till he shone with the glory of gold. Expedition after expedition had left Spain for this land of wealth, but all had failed to penetrate the country. No one had yet discovered the fabulous city of El Dorado, though all would journey thither if they could.
It was early in the year 1595 that Sir Walter Raleigh left England with five ships for this much desired land of Guiana. Forty-six days later he reached the island of Trinidad—the Port of Spain, as it was called—where he was kindly received by the Spaniards. The early summer found the explorers at the mouth of the river Orinoco, by which they intended to row into the interior of the country. Fortunately for them, they fell in with a canoe of Indians. Raleigh in his eight-oared boat gave chase and soon made friends with them, taking on board the faithful pilot Ferdinando to guide them up the fast-flowing river into the unknown.
"But for this," said Raleigh afterwards, "I think we had never found the way either to Guiana or back to the ships."
Up the Orinoco mile after mile they rowed, but they seemed to get no nearer to El Dorado. Twice they were nearly wrecked, and they were beginning to despair, when suddenly the scenery changed as if by magic. The high banks gave way to low-lying plains, soft green grass grew close to the water's edge, and deer came down to feed. Still the strong current continued. Each man had borne his full share of rowing, but the effort of pulling everlastingly against such violence was telling on the staunchest among them. They were now some 400 miles from their ships, when, to add to their troubles, a sudden and furious rising of the river took place.
"Whosoever," says Raleigh, "had seen or proved the fury of that river after it began to rise, would perchance have turned his back somewhat sooner than we did, if all the mountains had been gold or precious stones."
Having discovered a good deal about the country from natives, Raleigh turned for home. Wind and stream were with them now, bearing them down with almost alarming rapidity. One day they covered 100 miles. Raleigh had not found El Dorado, but he returned home enormously impressed with the new country.
"Guiana is a country that hath yet her maidenhood," he told the queen. "The face of the earth hath not been torn, the graves have not been opened for gold. It hath never been entered by any army of strength, never conquered by any Christian prince. Men shall find here more rich and beautiful cities, more temples adorned with gold, than either Cortes found in Mexico or Pizarro in Peru, and the shining glory of this conquest will eclipse all those of the Spanish nation."
But this enthusiasm failed to inspire others in England. The queen was growing old, and it was to be many a long year before Raleigh's work was to tell.
Twenty-two years passed by and Raleigh never forgot the glories of Guiana. Elizabeth was dead, and her successor, James, had thrown Raleigh into the Tower of London, where he wrote the beginning of his 'History of the World' and dreamed his hopeless dreams of colonisation.
At last he persuaded James to let him go once more to Guiana, where he suggested he could find a gold mine to enrich the English Treasury. The rest of the story is sad enough. Storms, desertion, disease, and death followed him from the very first, and ere the expedition had reached the mouth of the Orinoco Raleigh himself was stricken down and unable to go farther. He sent on his young son, Walter—the "little Wat" of happier days gone by—with a party of men to find the mine, but fighting took place. The wrath of the Spaniards had been roused, young Raleigh was killed, and the Englishmen never reached the gold mine. Sadly Raleigh sailed home to England in his little ship the Destiny. For rousing the Spaniards, with whom England was now at peace, he was seized and condemned to die.
With the same courtly grace which he had borne through life he bade farewell to the friends who stood round. With the "dignity of a philosopher, the courage of a soldier, the faith of a Christian," he met his death.
"We have not such another head to be cut off," said one who stood by.
Raleigh had failed at the end and died a broken-hearted adventurer; but his love and faith in the future of England, as the mother of distant empires and the mistress of the seas, have won for him an undying name amid the annals of the world.
Æ THRA, a daughter of the King of Trœzēnē, was the wife of a foreign prince, and the mother of an only child, a boy, whom they named Thēseus. While Theseus was still an infant, his father said one day to Æthra—
"I am obliged to set off on a long and distant journey, through countries infested by wild beasts and robbers. If I should never return, take care of our child, bring him up like a king's son, and send him to the city of Athens as soon as he grows strong enough to lift that stone."
Æthra promised, and her husband left Trœzene never to return.
Having given up all hope of seeing her husband again, Æthra devoted herself to obeying his last commands. She gave Theseus the education of a prince; and every day, from the time he left her arms, she made him try to lift the stone. The child grew up to be the handsomest, strongest, and bravest youth in all the land, so that he had not a rival of his own age in all manly sports and feats of arms. But he could no more move the stone than he could fly.
At last, however, the moment came when the stone gave way a little. The next day he raised it a trifle further, and so on until he lifted it bodily from the ground, and rolled it away. Underneath it he found a splendid sword, with a curiously carved hilt, unlike any he had ever seen.
The time had therefore come for him to set out for Athens, according to his father's commands. His mother implored him to go by sea, and not by those perilous paths by which her husband had never returned. But Theseus was only tempted by the dangers; and so, taking the sword with him, he set out for Athens overland.
After a long journey through a wild and difficult country, he reached a village, where he sought for supper and a night's lodging. But the place seemed deserted, and it was only after a long search that he discovered an old shepherd, of whom he asked where a traveler might find food and shelter.
"Alas!" answered the shepherd, "there is not a scrap of food left in the place, not a house left unplundered. For Sciron has been here."
"And who is Sciron?" asked Theseus.
"Ah, you must be a stranger indeed! Sciron is the chief of all the robbers. Do you see yonder castle among the mountains? That is where he lives, and thence he issues forth, when he wants food for his gluttony, to plunder and lay waste all the country round. And he is as cruel and savage as he is greedy. Not content with carrying off our cattle and our stores of corn and wine, he seizes men and women, and makes them wait upon him while he feasts; and when the feast is over, he amuses himself by throwing them from a high rock into the sea."
"Thank you," said Theseus. "Then I will sup with Sciron." And off he started for the robber's castle, leaving the amazed shepherd to think him a madman.
It was a long climb to the castle, which stood on the peak of a high cliff looking down into the sea. Theseus knocked upon the gate with the hilt of his sword, and, when it was opened by a ferocious-looking brigand, announced himself as a stranger who requested hospitality.
"You've come to the right place for that!" said the brigand, grimly. "Come with me."
Theseus followed him into the hall, where broth was being brewed in caldrons, and a fat ox was being roasted whole. The robbers were all about—some preparing the feast, some already carousing, some quarreling over their plunder, some sprawling about the floor. In the midst of all the steam and din sat the chief, a huge and cruel-looking brute, whom Theseus did not need to be told was Sciron.
"So you want hospitality, do you?" asked Sciron. "Very well, as you're a traveler, and don't know the ways of the castle, you shall be let off easily. Of course you'll have to be thrown from the cliff after supper—that's the rule. But instead of being tortured, you shall only wash my feet for me and wait on me at table. You look as if you understood washing and how things ought to be served. Now, then, get some hot water and begin," he said, thrusting out a pair of feet which looked as if they had not been touched by water for years.
A grinning robber brought a bowl of hot water. Theseus took it and threw it in the face of Sciron. "That wants washing, too," said he.
Sciron rushed at him; but Theseus received him at the point of his sword, and the two fought furiously, while the robbers looked on, enjoying the game. Sciron was twice the size and weight of Theseus; but Theseus was the best swordsman in all Greece, and presently had him down.
"There," said he, pricking Sciron's throat with his sword, "you have had a lesson in manners. You shall wash my feet and wait on me before you go over the cliff after your victims. For I am not going away to leave a brigand like you alive behind me."
Sciron, like all such bullies, was a coward at heart, and his own men had no longer any respect for him now that he had been worsted by a stripling. Amid the laughter of the robbers, he had to wash the feet of Theseus, and to serve him humbly with meat and drink, and was finally punished for his many cruel murders by bring thrown into the sea.
Having received the thanks of the country for ridding it of such a scourge, Theseus traveled on till he came to another village, where he thought he would rest a little.
No sooner had he entered the place, however, than he was surrounded by a number of armed men, who gave him to understand that he was their prisoner.
"Is this the way you treat travelers in your country?" asked he.
"Assuredly," answered the captain of the troop. "You are in the country of King Cercyon, and the law is that no traveler may leave it until he has wrestled with the king."
"I ask for nothing better," said Theseus. "What happens to the traveler if he conquers Cercyon?"
"Then he may pass on."
"But if Cercyon conquers him?"
"Then he is tortured till he dies."
"It is strange," said Theseus, "that I never heard of such a law, or even a King Cercyon."
"Not at all strange," said the captain. "I don't see how you could have heard it, seeing that no traveler has ever lived to tell the tale. Cercyon has conquered and killed them all, as he will conquer and kill you."
And when he saw Cercyon Theseus could well believe it. The king was of immense height, with broad shoulders, and muscles that stood out like globes of iron. He smiled savagely when he saw Theseus, and stripped without a word. Theseus stripped also, and the two were soon clasping each other like a pair of fierce bears, or rather like a bear and a man.
It was a tremendous struggle, with all the brute strength on the side of Cercyon. But Theseus knew a hundred turns and twists of which the savage chieftain knew nothing; and at last, to the amazement of all who witnessed the struggle, Cercyon fell dead upon the ground with a broken spine. Thenceforth every traveler might pass through that country safely and without fear.
Theseus traveled on until he found himself benighted in a wild country, through which he wandered about until he reached a castle, where he craved a night's shelter. Here he was kindly received, and told that the lord of the castle and of the country round was one Procrustes, who never turned a traveler from his door; nay, even now there were two guests with him. And so it proved. Procrustes entertained Theseus and the other two travelers at supper pleasantly and generously, and when it was time to retire for the night, himself conducted them into a chamber, where a bed, with nothing remarkable about it, stood ready in a corner.
"That is the guest-bed," said Procrustes; "and I hope it will fit you."
"Fit us?" asked Theseus, puzzled.
"Yes; it is the law of the country that if the bed does not fit the traveler, the traveler must be made to fit the bed. Do you try the bed first," he said to one of the guests, the tallest of the three.
The traveler lay down, but found the bed rather short, and had to draw up his knees a little. "Be good enough to lie straight," said Procrustes. He did so, his feet appearing beyond the bottom. Instantly Procrustes, with a sharp hatchet, chopped them off, one after another. "You'll fit nicely now," said he. "It's your turn next," he said to the second traveler.
This one thought himself safe; for, being short, his toes did not reach the bed's end by a full two inches. Procrustes gave a signal and immediately two strong attendants seized the unfortunate man, one by the shoulders and the other by the legs, and proceeded to pull him out to the proper length, despite his yells of pain.
"Stretch him on the rack," said Procrustes. "Now," he said to Theseus, "it is your turn in the game, and I hope, for your sake, you will give less trouble than the rest of them."
Theseus had been taken aback at first by these extraordinary proceedings; but he now perceived that he had fallen upon another of those brigand chiefs who infested the country, and who resembled ogres rather than mere cruel and blood-thirsty savages.
So he drew his sword and closed with Procrustes; nor did he cease fighting till he had fitted the robber to his own bed by making him a whole head shorter. The robbers in the place, cowed by the death of their chief, submitted to Theseus, who went round the castle, and set at liberty hundreds of maimed victims of the slain monster's cruelty.
Having received such thanks as they could give him, he journeyed on and on until at last he reached Athens. What he was to do there he did not know; but there was no need for him to ask. Somehow the fame of his deeds had flown before him,—how he had rid the country of Sciron and Cercyon and Procrustes, and other wild beasts and brigands, and he was received as befitted his valor.
Now the King of Athens at that time was Ægeus; and the queen was no other than the great and dreadful sorceress Medea, who had come to Athens after the murder of her children, and had married the king. Ægeus took a fancy to Theseus from the young stranger's first appearance in Athens, gave him a high place at Court, and treated him as if he had been his own son. But with Medea it was different. She had a son of her own, and she was filled with jealousy lest Ægeus should make Theseus the heir to his throne. Moreover, she envied and hated him for his courage and his fame, in which he so far surpassed her own son Medus; and she feared him too, for she failed to bring him under her spells. So she plotted to destroy him in such a way that his death should never be brought home to her, just as she had made the daughters of Pelias the seeming murderesses of their own father.
She therefore pretended a great admiration for Theseus, and got the king to hold a great festival in his honor. It was arranged that Ægeus, during the feast, should send him a golden cup filled with wine, in which Medea secretly steeped one of her deadliest poisons.
All went as she had planned. Ægeus sent the poisoned goblet by one of the cup-bearers to Theseus, who stood up to drink the health of the king and queen. But—
"Hold!" suddenly cried Ægeus, starting; "what sword is that at your side?"
Theseus put down the cup to answer:—
"It is the sword with which I fought my way to Athens. I wear it to-day as my sword of honor."
"But how comes it at your side?"
Then Theseus told the story of how it had been left by his unknown father under a stone at Trœzene, and how his mother's name was Æthra. Scarcely had he finished when Ægeus, leaving his throne, fell upon his neck, exclaiming:—
"I was that father! You are my first-born son, and the heir to my crown!"
The Athenians, who already looked upon Theseus as their national hero, greeted their prince and future king with shouts of joy; and when the first excitement was over, Medea was seen no more. Enraged at the failure of her plot, and fearing discovery and vengeance, she vanished from Athens: some said they had seen her borne by dragons through the air. And this is the last of her.
Freed from her evil influence, the old love of Ægeus for Æthra revived, and he could not make enough of his and Æthra's son. But Theseus did not become idle, and became in all ways the champion and protector of his father's people. It was he who caught alive the famous wild bull of Marathon, which had ravaged the country for years, and sacrificed it to Minerva. He never spared himself, and he never failed.
WEEK 30 |
O NCE on a time there was a man, so surly and cross, he never thought his wife did anything right in the house. So one evening, in hay-making time, he came home, scolding and swearing and showing his teeth and making a dust.
"Dear love, don't be so angry; there's a good man," said his goody; "to-morrow let's change our work. I'll go out with the mowers and mow, and you shall mind the house at home."
Yes, the husband thought that would do very well. He was quite willing, he said.
So, early next morning, his goody took a scythe over her neck, and went out into the hay-field with the mowers and began to mow; but the man was to mind the house, and do the work at home.
First of all he wanted to churn the butter; but when he had churned a while, he got thirsty, and went down to the cellar to tap a barrel of ale. So, just when he had knocked in the bung, and was putting the tap into the cask, he heard overhead the pig come into the kitchen. Then off he ran up the cellar steps, with the tap in his hand, as fast as he could, to look after the pig, lest it should upset the churn; but when he got up, and saw the pig had already knocked the churn over, and stood there, routing and grunting amongst the cream which was running all over the floor, he got so wild with rage that he quite forgot the ale-barrel, and ran at the pig, as hard as he could. He caught it, too, just as it ran out of doors, and gave it such a kick that piggy lay for dead on the spot. Then all at once he remembered he had the tap in his hand; but when he got down to the cellar, every drop of ale had run out of the cask.
Then he went into the dairy and found enough cream left to fill the churn again, and so he began to churn, for butter they must have at dinner. When he had churned a bit, he remembered that their milking cow was still shut up in the byre, and hadn't had a bit to eat or a drop to drink all the morning, though the sun was high. Then all at once he thought 'twas too far to take her down to the meadow, so he'd just get her up on the house-top—for the house, you must know, was thatched with sods, and a fine crop of grass was growing there. Now their house lay close up against a steep down, and he thought if he laid a plank across to the thatch at the back he'd easily get the cow up.
But still he couldn't leave the churn, for there was his little babe crawling about on the floor, and "if I leave it," he thought, "the child is safe to upset it." So he took the churn on his back, and went out with it; but then he thought, he'd better first water the cow before he turned her out on the thatch; so he took up a bucket to draw water out of the well; but, as he stooped down at the well's brink, all the cream ran out of the churn over his shoulders, and so down into the well.
Now it was near dinner-time, and he hadn't even got the butter yet; so he thought he'd best boil the porridge, and filled the pot with water, and hung it over the fire. When he had done that, he thought the cow might perhaps fall off the thatch and break her legs or her neck. So he got up on the house to tie her up. One end of the rope he made fast to the cow's neck, and the other he slipped down the chimney and tied round his own thigh; and he had to make haste, for the water now began to boil in the pot, and he had still to grind the oatmeal.
So he began to grind away; but while he was hard at it, down fell the cow off the house top after all, and as she fell, she dragged the man up the chimney by the rope. There he stuck fast; and as for the cow, she hung, half-way down the wall, swinging between heaven and earth, for she could neither get down nor up.
And now the goody had waited seven lengths and seven breadths for her husband to come and call them home to dinner; but never a call they had. At last she thought she'd waited long enough, and went home. But when she got there and saw the cow hanging in such an ugly place, she ran up and cut the rope in two with her scythe. But as she did this, down came her husband out of the chimney; and so when his old dame came inside the kitchen, there she found him standing on his head in the porridge-pot.
I N ant-hills we find drone ants, queen ants, and worker ants. The drone ants have no sting and do no work. Their bodies are longer and more slim than those of queens. The drone ants have wings.
The queen ants also have wings. They have stings, and their bodies are round and dark.
The workers are smaller than queens and drones. They are also darker, and have no wings and no stings. Workers are of two sizes, large and small. They are the builders, nurses, soldiers, and servants of the others.
A House in a Hill
In an ant-hill there may be many queens at one time. Often the ant-queens work. They are both mothers and queens. They will also act as soldiers. The queen ant is not like the queen bee, who will allow no other queen to live near her. I think mother ant a better term than queen ant.
The word "queen" may make you think that this ant rules the rest. That is not so. Ants have no leader and no ruler. Each ant seems to act as it pleases.
The chief work of the queen ant is to lay eggs. In a short time, out of each egg comes a lively, hungry, little baby ant. It is called a larva. A larva is like a small white worm.
This little being needs to be washed, fed, kept warm and dry, and taken into the air and sun. It must be cared for, very much as the baby in your home is cared for.
The workers, who act as nurses, are very kind to the young larvæ. (When we mean only one we say larva; when we mean more than one we say larvæ.) How do they wash these little things? They lick them all over, as the cat licks the kitten. They use such care that they keep them nearly as white as snow.
The nurses feed the baby ants four or five times each day. The nurses prepare the food in their crops, to make it soft and fit for the little ants.
The nurses stroke and smooth the larva baby. It seems as if they patted and petted it. When the weather is cold, they keep the larvæ in-doors. When it is warm and dry, they hurry to carry them up to the top of the hill. They place them there to bask in the sun. If any rain comes, or the hill is broken, the nurses run to carry the babies to a safe place.
When the larva is full grown, it spins around itself a little fine net, which wraps it all up. When people see these white bundles in the ant-hills, they call them "ant-eggs." They are not eggs. They are pupa-cases. In them the baby ants are getting ready to come out, with legs and wings, as full-grown ants.
The pupa-cases are of several sizes. The largest ones are for queens and drones. The next size holds large workers; the smallest cases hold the smallest workers.
There are often in the hills very wee ants called dwarf ants. When you study more about ants in other books, you can learn about the dwarfs.
After the ants have been in the little cases some time, they are ready to come out. The nurse ants help them to get free.
Many hundreds come out of the cases. They crowd the old home so full that they can scarcely find room to move about.
Then they see the light shine in at the little gates on the top of the hill. They feel the warmth of the sun. They crawl out.
They push upon each other. The hill is not wide and high enough for so many uncles and cousins and sisters and brothers. They act like great crowds in the streets at a big parade, each one struggles for his own place.
Young ants, like young people, wish to set up for themselves in new homes. They spread their fine wings. Off they fly! Since there is not room in the old hill they will build a new one.
They swarm as the bees do. As they rise high from the earth, they drift off on the wind. Very many of them tire out and die, or are blown into the water, and are drowned. A few live and settle on places fit for a new ant-hill.
It is the mother or queen ant who chooses the new home. When she has found the right place, what do you think she does? She takes off her wings, as she does not care to fly any more.
The ant does not tear off her wings. She unhooks them, and lets them fall away, and does not seem to miss them.
What do we plant when we plant the tree?
We plant the ship, which will cross the sea.
We plant the mast to carry the sails;
We plant the planks to withstand the
The keel, the keelson, and beam, and knee;
We plant the ship when we plant the tree.
What do we plant when we plant the tree?
We plant the houses for you and me.
We plant the rafters, the shingles, the floors,
We plant the studding, the lath, the doors,
The beams and siding, all parts that be;
We plant the house when we plant the tree.
What do we plant when we plant the tree?
A thousand things that we daily see;
We plant the spire that
We plant the staff for our country's flag,
We plant the shade, from the hot sun free;
We plant all these when we plant the tree.
WEEK 30 |
II Kings xviii: 1, to xx: 21;
II Chronicles xxix: 1, to xxxii: 33;
Isaiah xxxvi: 1, to xxxviii: 22.
AFTER Ahaz, the wickedest of the kings of Judah, came Hezekiah, who was the best of the kings. He listened to the words of the prophet Isaiah, and obeyed the commands of the Lord. In the first month of his reign, when he was a young man, he called together the priests and the Levites, who had the charge of the house of the Lord, and he said to them:
"My sons, give yourselves once more to the service of the Lord, and be holy, as God commands you. Now open the doors of the house of the Lord, which have been shut for these many years; and take out of the house all the idols that have been placed in it; and make the place clean, and pure from all evil things. Because the people have turned away from the Lord, he has been angry with us, and has left us to our enemies; now let us go back to the Lord, and promise again to serve him. God has chosen you, my sons, to lead in his worship; do not neglect the work that the Lord has given you to do."
Then the Temple was opened as of old; the idols were taken away; the altar was made holy to the Lord, and the daily offering was laid upon it; the lamps were lighted in the holy place; the priest stood before the golden altar offering incense; the Levites in their robes sang the psalms of David, while the silver trumpets made music; and the people came up to worship in the Temple as they had not come in many years. (For an account of the services of worship see Story 28.)
You remember that the great Feast of the Passover kept in mind how the children of Israel had come out of Egypt. (See Story 23.) For a long time the people had ceased to keep this feast, both in Judah and in Israel. King Hezekiah sent commands through all Judah for the people to come up to Jerusalem, and to worship the Lord in this feast. He also sent men through the land of Israel, the Ten Tribes, to ask the men of Israel also to come up with their brothers of Judah to Jerusalem, and to keep the feast. At that time Hoshea, the last king of Israel, was on the throne, the land was overrun by the Assyrians, and the kingdom was very weak, and nearing its end. (See Story 87.) Most of the people in Israel were worshippers of idols, and had forgotten God's law. They laughed at Hezekiah's messengers, and would not come to the feast. But in many places in Israel there were some who had listened to the prophets of the Lord, and these came up to worship with the men of Judah. For each family they roasted a lamb, and with it ate the unleavened bread made without yeast, and they praised the Lord who had led their fathers out of Egypt to their own land.
After the feast, when the people had given themselves once more to the service of God, King Hezekiah began to destroy the idols that were everywhere in Judah. He sent men to break down the images, to tear in pieces the altars to the false gods, and to cut down the trees under which the altars stood. You remember that Moses made a serpent of brass in the wilderness. (See Story 32.) This image had been brought to Jerusalem, and was still kept there in the days of Hezekiah. The people were worshipping it as an idol; and were burning incense before it. Hezekiah said, "It is nothing but a piece of brass," and he commanded that it should be broken up. Everywhere he called upon his people to turn from the idols, to destroy them, and to worship the Lord God.
When Hezekiah became king, the kingdoms of Israel, and Syria, and Judah, with all the lands near them, were under the power of the great kingdom of the Assyrians. Each land had its own king, but he ruled under the king of Assyria; and every year a heavy tax was laid upon the people, to be paid to the Assyrians. After a few years, Hezekiah thought that he was strong enough to set his kingdom free from the Assyrian rule. He refused to pay the tax any longer, and gathered an army, and built the walls of Jerusalem higher, and made ready for a war with the Assyrians. But Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, came into the land of Judah with a great army, and took all the cities in the west of Judah, and threatened to take Jerusalem also. Then Hezekiah saw that he had made a mistake. He was not able to fight the Assyrians, the most powerful of all the nations in that part of the world. He sent word to the king of Assyria, saying:
"I will no more resist your rule; forgive me for the past, and I will pay whatever you ask."
Then the king of Assyria laid upon Hezekiah and his people a tax heavier than before. To obtain the money, Hezekiah took all the gold and silver in the temple, all that was in his own palace, and all that he could find among the people, and sent it to the Assyrians. But even then the king of Assyria was not satisfied. He sent his princes to Jerusalem with this message:
"We are going to destroy this city, and to take you away into another land, a land far away; as we have taken the people of Israel away, and as we have carried captive other peoples. The gods of other nations have not been able to save those who trusted in them against us, and your God will not be able to save you. Now give yourselves up to the great king of Assyria, and go to the land where he will send you."
When King Hezekiah heard this, he was filled with fear. He took the letter into the house of the Lord, and spread it out before the altar, and called upon the Lord to help him and to save his people. Then he sent his princes to the prophet Isaiah, to ask him to give them some word from the Lord. And Isaiah said:
"Thus saith the Lord, 'The king of Assyria shall not
come to this city, nor shall he shoot an arrow against
it. But he shall
go back to his own land by the same way that he came.
And I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own
land. For I will defend this city, and will save it for
my own sake and for my servant David's
Just at that time, Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, heard that a great army was marching against him from another land. He turned away from the land of Judah, and went to meet these new enemies. And the Lord sent upon the army of the Assyrians a sudden and terrible plague, so that in one night nearly two hundred thousand of them died in their camp. Then King Sennacherib hastened back to his own land, and never again came into the land of Judah; nor did he again send an army there. And years after this, while he was worshipping his idol-god in his temple at Nineveh, his chief city, two of his sons came upon him, and slew him with the sword. They escaped into a distant land, and Esar-haddon, another of his sons, became king over the lands ruled by the Assyrians. Thus did God save his city and his people from their enemies, because they looked to him for help. At the time while the Assyrians were in the land, and the kingdom was in great danger, King Hezekiah was suddenly stricken with a deadly disease. It was a tumor or a cancer, which no physician could cure; and the prophet Isaiah said to him:
"Thus saith the Lord, 'Set your house in order, and
prepare to leave your kingdom, for you shall die, and
But King Hezekiah felt that in a time of such trouble to the land he could not be spared, especially as at that time he had no son who could take charge of the kingdom. Then Hezekiah upon his bed prayed to the Lord that he might live; and he said:
"O Lord, I beseech thee, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which was good in thy sight. Let me live and not die, O Lord!"
Pool of Hezekiah at Jerusalem.
The Lord heard Hezekiah's prayer, and before Isaiah had
reached the middle of the city, on his way home, the
Lord said to him, "Turn again, and say to Hezekiah the
prince of my people, 'Thus saith the Lord, I have heard
your prayer, I have seen your tears; I will heal you;
and in three days you shall go up to the house of the
Lord. I will add to your life fifteen years, and I will
save this city from the king of
Then Isaiah the prophet came again to Hezekiah, and spoke to him the word of the Lord; and he said, also, "Lay on the tumor a plaster made of figs, and he shall be cured."
When Hezekiah heard the words of Isaiah, he said, "What sign will the Lord give, to show that he will cure me, and that I shall again go up to the house of the Lord?"
And Isaiah said, "The Lord will give you a sign, and you shall choose it yourself. Shall the shadow on the dial go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees?" Near the palace was standing a sun-dial, by which the time of the day was shown, for there were no clocks in those years. And Hezekiah said, "It is easy for the shadow to go forward ten degrees. Let it go back ten degrees."
Then Isaiah the prophet called upon the Lord, and the Lord heard him; and caused the shadow to go backward on the sun-dial ten degrees. And within three days Hezekiah was well, and went to worship in the house of the Lord. After this Hezekiah lived fifteen years in honor. When he died all the land mourned for him as the best of the kings.
The shadow on the dial goes back.
I T was a bright morning in the early part of summer; the river had resumed its wonted banks and its accustomed pace, and a hot sun seemed to be pulling everything green and bushy and spiky up out of the earth towards him, as if by strings. The Mole and the Water Rat had been up since dawn, very busy on matters connected with boats and the opening of the boating season; painting and varnishing, mending paddles, repairing cushions, hunting for missing boat-hooks, and so on; and were finishing breakfast in their little parlour and eagerly discussing their plans for the day, when a heavy knock sounded at the door.
"Bother!" said the Rat, all over egg. "See who it is, Mole, like a good chap, since you've finished."
The Mole went to attend the summons, and the Rat heard him utter a cry of surprise. Then he flung the parlour door open, and announced with much importance, "Mr. Badger!"
This was a wonderful thing, indeed, that the Badger should pay a formal call on them, or indeed on anybody. He generally had to be caught, if you wanted him badly, as he slipped quietly along a hedgerow of an early morning or a late evening, or else hunted up in his own house in the middle of the Wood, which was a serious undertaking.
The Badger strode heavily into the room, and stood looking at the two animals with an expression full of seriousness. The Rat let his egg-spoon fall on the table-cloth, and sat open-mouthed.
"The hour has come!" said the Badger at last with great solemnity.
"What hour?" asked the Rat uneasily, glancing at the clock on the mantelpiece.
"Whose hour, you should rather say," replied the Badger. "Why, Toad's hour! The hour of Toad! I said I would take him in hand as soon as the winter was well over, and I'm going to take him in hand to-day!"
"Toad's hour, of course!" cried the Mole delightedly. "Hooray! I remember now! We'll teach him to be a sensible Toad!"
"This very morning," continued the Badger, taking an arm-chair, "as I learnt last night from a trustworthy source, another new and exceptionally powerful motor-car will arrive at Toad Hall on approval or return. At this very moment, perhaps, Toad is busy arraying himself in those singularly hideous habiliments so dear to him, which transform him from a (comparatively) good-looking Toad into an Object which throws any decent-minded animal that comes across it into a violent fit. We must be up and doing, ere it is too late. You two animals will accompany me instantly to Toad Hall, and the work of rescue shall be accomplished."
"Right you are!" cried the Rat, starting up. "We'll rescue the poor unhappy animal! We'll convert him! He'll be the most converted Toad that ever was before we've done with him!"
They set off up the road on their mission of mercy, Badger leading the way. Animals when in company walk in a proper and sensible manner, in single file, instead of sprawling all across the road and being of no use or support to each other in case of sudden trouble or danger.
They reached the carriage-drive of Toad Hall to find, as the Badger had anticipated, a shiny new motor-car, of great size, painted a bright red (Toad's favourite colour), standing in front of the house. As they neared the door it was flung open, and Mr. Toad, arrayed in goggles, cap, gaiters, and enormous overcoat, came swaggering down the steps, drawing on his gauntleted gloves.
"Hullo! come on, you fellows!" he cried cheerfully on catching sight of them.
"You're just in time to come with me for a jolly—to come for a jolly—for
His hearty accents faltered and fell away as he noticed the stern unbending look on the countenances of his silent friends, and his invitation remained unfinished.
The Badger strode up the steps. "Take him inside," he said sternly to his companions. Then, as Toad was hustled through the door, struggling and protesting, he turned to the chauffeur in charge of the new motor-car.
"I'm afraid you won't be wanted to-day," he said. "Mr. Toad has changed his mind. He will not require the car. Please understand that this is final. You needn't wait." Then he followed the others inside and shut the door.
"Now then!" he said to the Toad, when the four of them stood together in the Hall, "first of all, take those ridiculous things off!"
"Shan't!" replied Toad, with great spirit. "What is the meaning of this gross outrage? I demand an instant explanation."
"Take them off him, then, you two," ordered the Badger briefly.
They had to lay Toad out on the floor, kicking and calling all sorts of names, before they could get to work properly. Then the Rat sat on him, and the Mole got his motor-clothes off him bit by bit, and they stood him up on his legs again. A good deal of his blustering spirit seemed to have evaporated with the removal of his fine panoply. Now that he was merely Toad, and no longer the Terror of the Highway, he giggled feebly and looked from one to the other appealingly, seeming quite to understand the situation.
"You knew it must come to this, sooner or later, Toad," the Badger explained severely. You've disregarded all the warnings we've given you, you've gone on squandering the money your father left you, and you're getting us animals a bad name in the district by your furious driving and your smashes and your rows with the police. Independence is all very well, but we animals never allow our friends to make fools of themselves beyond a certain limit; and that limit you've reached. Now, you're a good fellow in many respects, and I don't want to be too hard on you. I'll make one more effort to bring you to reason. You will come with me into the smoking-room, and there you will hear some facts about yourself; and we'll see whether you come out of that room the same Toad that you went in."
He took Toad firmly by the arm, led him into the smoking-room, and closed the door behind them.
"That's no good!" said the Rat contemptuously. "Talking to Toad'll never cure him. He'll say anything."
They made themselves comfortable in armchairs and waited patiently. Through the closed door they could just hear the long continuous drone of the Badger's voice, rising and falling in waves of oratory; and presently they noticed that the sermon began to be punctuated at intervals by long-drawn sobs, evidently proceeding from the bosom of Toad, who was a soft-hearted and affectionate fellow, very easily converted—for the time being—to any point of view.
After some three-quarters of an hour the door opened, and the Badger reappeared, solemnly leading by the paw a very limp and dejected Toad. His skin hung baggily about him, his legs wobbled, and his cheeks were furrowed by the tears so plentifully called forth by the Badger's moving discourse.
"Sit down there, Toad," said the Badger kindly, pointing to a chair. "My friends," he went on, "I am pleased to inform you that Toad has at last seen the error of his ways. He is truly sorry for his misguided conduct in the past, and he has undertaken to give up motor-cars entirely and for ever. I have his solemn promise to that effect."
"That is very good news," said the Mole gravely.
"Very good news indeed," observed the Rat dubiously,
He was looking very hard at Toad as he said this, and could not help thinking he perceived something vaguely resembling a twinkle in that animal's still sorrowful eye.
"There's only one thing more to be done," continued the gratified Badger. "Toad, I want you solemnly to repeat, before your friends here, what you fully admitted to me in the smoking-room just now. First, you are sorry for what you've done, and you see the folly of it all?"
There was a long, long pause. Toad looked desperately this way and that, while the other animals waited in grave silence. At last he spoke.
"No!" he said, a little sullenly, but stoutly; "I'm not sorry. And it wasn't folly at all! It was simply glorious!"
"What?" cried the Badger, greatly scandalised. "You backsliding animal, didn't
you tell me just now, in
"Oh, yes, yes, in there," said Toad impatiently. "I'd have said anything in there. You're so eloquent, dear Badger, and so moving, and so convincing, and put all your points so frightfully well—you can do what you like with me in there, and you know it. But I've been searching my mind since, and going over things in it, and I find that I'm not a bit sorry or repentant really, so it's no earthly good saying I am; now, is it?"
"Then you don't promise," said the Badger, "never to touch a motor-car again?"
"Certainly not!" replied Toad emphatically. "On the contrary, I faithfully promise that the very first motor-car I see, poop-poop! off I go in it!"
"Told you so, didn't I?" observed the Rat to the Mole.
"Very well, then," said the Badger firmly, rising to his feet. "Since you won't yield to persuasion, we'll try what force can do. I feared it would come to this all along. You've often asked us three to come and stay with you, Toad, in this handsome house of yours; well, now we're going to. When we've converted you to a proper point of view we may quit, but not before. Take him upstairs, you two, and lock him up in his bedroom, while we arrange matters between ourselves."
"It's for your own good, Toady, you know," said the Rat kindly, as Toad, kicking and struggling, was hauled up the stairs by his two faithful friends. "Think what fun we shall all have together, just as we used to, when you've quite got over this—this painful attack of yours!"
"We'll take great care of everything for you till you're well, Toad," said the Mole; "and we'll see your money isn't wasted, as it has been."
"No more of those regrettable incidents with the police, Toad," said the Rat, as they thrust him into his bedroom.
"And no more weeks in hospital, being ordered about by female nurses, Toad," added the Mole, turning the key on him.
They descended the stair, Toad shouting abuse at them through the keyhole; and the three friends then met in conference on the situation.
"It's going to be a tedious business," said the Badger, sighing. "I've never seen Toad so determined. However, we will see it out. He must never be left an instant unguarded. We shall have to take it in turns to be with him, till the poison has worked itself out of his system."
They arranged watches accordingly. Each animal took it in turns to sleep in Toad's room at night, and they divided the day up between them. At first Toad was undoubtedly very trying to his careful guardians. When his violent paroxysms possessed him he would arrange bedroom chairs in rude resemblance of a motor-car and would crouch on the foremost of them, bent forward and staring fixedly ahead, making uncouth and ghastly noises, till the climax was reached, when, turning a complete somersault, he would lie prostrate amidst the ruins of the chairs, apparently completely satisfied for the moment. As time passed, however, these painful seizures grew gradually less frequent, and his friends strove to divert his mind into fresh channels. But his interest in other matters did not seem to revive, and he grew apparently languid and depressed.
The night will never stay,
The night will still go by,
Though with a million stars
You pin it to the sky;
Though you bind it with the blowing wind
And buckle it with the moon,
The night will slip away
Like sorrow or a tune.