WEEK 32 |
Q UICKLY the winter passed, and still more quickly the bright glad summer, and now another winter was drawing to its close. Heidi was still as light-hearted and happy as the birds, and looked forward with more delight each day to the coming spring, when the warm south wind would roar through the fir trees and blow away the snow, and the warm sun would entice the blue and yellow flowers to show their heads, and the long days out on the mountain would come again, which seemed to Heidi the greatest joy that the earth could give. Heidi was now in her eighth year; she had learnt all kinds of useful things from her grandfather; she knew how to look after the goats as well as any one, and Little Swan and Bear would follow her like two faithful dogs, and give a loud bleat of pleasure when they heard her voice. Twice during the course of this last winter Peter had brought up a message from the schoolmaster at Dörfli, who sent word to Alm-Uncle that he ought to send Heidi to school, as she was over the usual age, and ought indeed to have gone the winter before. Uncle had sent word back each time that the schoolmaster would find him at home if he had anything he wished to say to him, but that he did not intend to send Heidi to school, and Peter had faithfully delivered his message.
When the March sun had melted the snow on the mountain-side and the snowdrops were peeping out all over the valley, and the fir trees had shaken off their burden of snow and were again merrily waving their branches in the air, Heidi ran backwards and forwards with delight first to the goat-shed then to the fir trees, and then to the hut-door, in order to let her grandfather know how much larger a piece of green there was under the trees, and then would run off to look again, for she could hardly wait till everything was green and the full beautiful summer had clothed the mountain with grass and flowers. As Heidi was thus running about one sunny March morning, and had just jumped over the water-trough for the tenth time at least, she nearly fell backwards into it with fright, for there in front of her, looking gravely at her, stood an old gentleman dressed in black. When he saw how startled she was, he said in a kind voice, "Don't be afraid of me, for I am very fond of children. Shake hands! You must be the Heidi I have heard of; where is your grandfather?"
"He is sitting by the table, making round wooden spoons," Heidi informed him, as she opened the door.
He was the old village pastor from Dörfli who had been a neighbor of Uncle's when he lived down there, and had known him well. He stepped inside the hut, and going up to the old man, who was bending over his work, said, "Good-morning, neighbor."
The grandfather looked up in surprise, and then rising said, "Good-morning" in return. He pushed his chair towards the visitor as he continued, "If you do not mind a wooden seat there is one for you."
The pastor sat down. "It is a long time since I have seen you, neighbor," he said.
"Or I you," was the answer.
"I have come to-day to talk over something with you," continued the pastor. "I think you know already what it is that has brought me here," and as he spoke he looked towards the child who was standing at the door, gazing with interest and surprise at the stranger.
"Heidi, go off to the goats," said her grandfather. "You take them a little salt and stay with them till I come."
Heidi vanished on the spot.
"The child ought to have been at school a year ago, and most certainly this last winter," said the pastor. "The schoolmaster sent you word about it, but you gave him no answer. What are you thinking of doing with the child, neighbor?"
"I am thinking of not sending her to school," was the answer.
The visitor, surprised, looked across at the old man, who was sitting on his bench with his arms crossed and a determined expression about his whole person.
"How are you going to let her grow up then?" he asked.
"I am going to let her grow up and be happy among the goats and birds; with them she is safe, and will learn nothing evil."
"But the child is not a goat or a bird, she is a human being. If she learns no evil from these comrades of hers, she will at the same time learn nothing; but she ought not to grow up in ignorance, and it is time she began her lessons. I have come now that you may have leisure to think over it, and to arrange about it during the summer. This is the last winter that she must be allowed to run wild; next winter she must come regularly to school every day."
"She will do no such thing," said the old man with calm determination.
"Do you mean that by no persuasion can you be brought to see reason, and that you intend to stick obstinately to your decision?" said the pastor, growing somewhat angry. "You have been about the world, and must have seen and learnt much, and I should have given you credit for more sense, neighbor."
"Indeed," replied the old man, and there was a tone in his voice that betrayed a growing irritation on his part too, "and does the worthy pastor really mean that he would wish me next winter to send a young child like that some miles down the mountain on ice-cold mornings through storm and snow, and let her return at night when the wind is raging, when even one like ourselves would run a risk of being blown down by it and buried in the snow? And perhaps he may not have forgotten the child's mother, Adelaide? She was a sleep-walker, and had fits. Might not the child be attacked in the same way if obliged to over-exert herself? And some one thinks they can come and force me to send her? I will go before all the courts of justice in the country, and then we shall see who will force me to do it!"
"You are quite right, neighbor," said the pastor in a friendly tone of voice. "I see it would have been impossible to send the child to school from here. But I perceive that the child is dear to you; for her sake do what you ought to have done long ago: come down into Dörfli and live again among your fellowmen. What sort of a life is this you lead, alone, and with bitter thoughts towards God and man! If anything were to happen to you up here who would there be to help you? I cannot think but what you must be half-frozen to death in this hut in the winter, and I do not know how the child lives through it!"
"The child has young blood in her veins and a good roof over her head, and let me further tell the pastor, that I know where wood is to be found, and when is the proper time to fetch it; the pastor can go and look inside my wood-shed; the fire is never out in my hut the whole winter through. As to going to live below that is far from my thoughts; the people despise me and I them; it is therefore best for all of us that we live apart."
"No, no, it is not best for you; I know what it is you lack," said the pastor in an earnest voice. "As to the people down there looking on you with dislike, it is not as bad as you think. Believe me, neighbor; seek to make your peace with God, pray for forgiveness where you need it, and then come and see how differently people will look upon you, and how happy you may yet be."
The pastor had risen and stood holding out his hand to the old man as he added with renewed earnestness, "I will wager, neighbor, that next winter you will be down among us again, and we shall be good neighbors as of old. I should be very grieved if any pressure had to be put upon you; give me your hand and promise me that you will come and live with us again and become reconciled to God and man."
Alm-Uncle gave the pastor his hand and answered him calmly and firmly, "You mean well by me I know, but as to that which you wish me to do, I say now what I shall continue to say, that I will not send the child to school nor come and live among you."
"Then God help you!" said the pastor, and he turned sadly away and left the hut and went down the mountain.
Alm-Uncle was out of humor. When Heidi said as usual that afternoon, "Can we go down to grandmother now?" he answered, "Not to-day." He did not speak again the whole of that day, and the following morning when Heidi again asked the same question, he replied, "We will see." But before the dinner bowls had been cleared away another visitor arrived, and this time it was Cousin Dete. She had a fine feathered hat on her head, and a long trailing skirt to her dress which swept the floor, and on the floor of a goatherd's hut there are all sorts of things that do not belong to a dress.
The grandfather looked her up and down without uttering a word.
But Dete was prepared with an exceedingly amiable speech and
began at once to praise the looks of the child. She was looking
so well she should hardly have known her again, and it was
evident that she had been happy and well-cared-for with her
grandfather; but she had never lost sight of the idea of taking
the child back again, for she well understood that the little
one must be much in his way, but she had not been able to do it
at first. Day and night, however, she had thought over the means
of placing the child somewhere, and that was why she had come to-day,
for she had just heard of something that would be a lucky
chance for Heidi beyond her most ambitious hopes. Some immensely
wealthy relatives of the people she was serving, who had the
most splendid house almost in Frankfurt, had an only daughter,
young and an invalid,
who was always obliged to go about in a
wheeled chair; she was therefore very much alone and had no one
to share her lessons, and so the little girl felt dull. Her
father had spoken to Dete's mistress about finding a companion
for her, and her mistress was anxious to help in the matter, as
she felt so sympathetic about it. The lady-housekeeper had
described the sort of child they wanted, simple-minded and
unspoilt, and not like most of the children that one saw now-a-days.
Dete had thought at once of Heidi and had gone off without
delay to see the lady-housekeeper, and after Dete had given her a
description of Heidi, she had immediately agreed to take her. And
no one could tell what good fortune there might not be in store
for Heidi, for if she was once with these people and they took a
fancy to her, and anything happened to their own daughter—one
could never tell, the child was so weakly—and they did not feel
they could live without a child, why then the most unheard-of
"Have you nearly finished what you had to say?" broke in Alm-Uncle, who had allowed her to talk on uninterruptedly so far.
"Ugh!" exclaimed Dete, throwing up her head in disgust, "one would think I had been talking to you about the most ordinary matter; why there is not one person in all Prättigau who would not thank God if I were to bring them such a piece of news as I am bringing you."
"You may take your news to anybody you like, I will have nothing to do with it."
But now Dete leaped up from her seat like a rocket and cried, "If that is all you have to say about it, why then I will give you a bit of my mind. The child is now eight years old and knows nothing, and you will not let her learn. You will not send her to church or school, as I was told down in Dörfli, and she is my own sister's child. I am responsible for what happens to her, and when there is such a good opening for a child, as this which offers for Heidi, only a person who cares for nobody and never wishes good to any one would think of not jumping at it. But I am not going to give in, and that I tell you; I have everybody in Dörfli on my side; there is not one person there who will not take my part against you; and I advise you to think well before bringing it into court, if that is your intention; there are certain things which might be brought up against you which you would not care to hear, for when one has to do with law-courts there is a great deal raked up that had been forgotten."
"Be silent!" thundered the Uncle, and his eyes flashed with anger. "Go and be done with you! and never let me see you again with your hat and feather, and such words on your tongue as you come with today!" And with that he strode out of the hut.
"You have made grandfather angry," said Heidi, and her dark eyes had anything but a friendly expression in them as she looked at Dete.
"He will soon be all right again; come now," said Dete hurriedly, "and show me where your clothes are."
"I am not coming," said Heidi.
"Nonsense," continued Dete; then altering her tone to one half-coaxing, half-cross, "Come, come, you do not understand any better than your grandfather; you will have all sorts of good things that you never dreamed of." Then she went to the cupboard and taking out Heidi's things rolled them up in a bundle. "Come along now, there's your hat; it is very shabby but will do for the present; put it on and let us make haste off."
"I am not coming," repeated Heidi.
"Don't be so stupid and obstinate, like a goat; I suppose it's from the goats you have learnt to be so. Listen to me: you saw your grandfather was angry and heard what he said, that he did not wish to see us ever again; he wants you now to go away with me and you must not make him angrier still. You can't think how nice it is at Frankfurt, and what a lot of things you will see, and if you do not like it you can come back again; your grandfather will be in a good temper again by that time."
"Can I return at once and be back home again here this evening?" asked Heidi.
"What are you talking about, come along now! I tell you that you can come back here when you like. To-day we shall go as far as Mayenfeld, and early to-morrow we shall start in the train, and that will bring you home again in no time when you wish it, for it goes as fast as the wind."
Dete had now got the bundle under her arm and the child by the hand, and so they went down the mountain together.
As it was still too early in the year to take his goats out, Peter continued to go to school at Dörfli, but now and again he stole a holiday, for he could see no use in learning to read, while to wander about a bit and look for stout sticks which might be wanted some day he thought a far better employment. As Dete and Heidi neared the grandmother's hut they met Peter coming round the corner; he had evidently been well rewarded that day for his labors, for he was carrying an immense bundle of long thick hazel sticks on his shoulders. He stood still and stared at the two approaching figures; as they came up to him, he exclaimed, "Where are you going, Heidi?"
"I am only just going over to Frankfurt for a little visit with Dete," she replied; "but I must first run in to grandmother, she will be expecting me."
"No, no, you must not stop to talk; it is already too late," said Dete, holding Heidi, who was struggling to get away, fast by the hand. "You can go in when you come back, you must come along now," and she pulled the child on with her, fearing that if she let her go in Heidi might take it into her head again that she did not wish to come, and that the grandmother might stand by her. Peter ran into the hut and banged against the table with his bundle of sticks with such violence that everything in the room shook, and his grandmother leaped up with a cry of alarm from her spinning-wheel. Peter had felt that he must give vent to his feelings somehow.
"What is the matter? What is the matter?" cried the frightened old woman, while his mother, who had also started up from her seat at the shock, said in her usual patient manner, "What is it, Peter? why do you behave so roughly?"
"Because she is taking Heidi away," explained Peter.
"Who? who? where to, Peter, where to?" asked the grandmother, growing still more agitated; but even as she spoke she guessed what had happened, for Brigitta had told her shortly before that she had seen Dete going up to Alm-Uncle. The old woman rose hastily and with trembling hands opened the window and called out beseechingly, "Dete, Dete, do not take the child away from us! do not take her away!"
The two who were hastening down the mountain heard her voice, and Dete evidently caught the words, for she grasped Heidi's hand more firmly. Heidi struggled to get free, crying, "Grandmother is calling, I must go to her."
But Dete had no intention of letting the child go, and quieted her as best she could; they must make haste now, she said, or they would be too late and not able to go on the next day to Frankfurt, and there the child would see how delightful it was, and Dete was sure would not wish to go back when she was once there. But if Heidi wanted to return home she could do so at once, and then she could take something she liked back to grandmother. This was a new idea to Heidi, and it pleased her so much that Dete had no longer any difficulty in getting her along.
After a few minutes' silence, Heidi asked, "What could I take back to her?"
"We must think of something nice," answered Dete; "a soft roll of white bread; she would enjoy that, for now she is old she can hardly eat the hard, black bread."
"No, she always gives it back to Peter, telling him it is too hard, for I have seen her do it myself," affirmed Heidi. "Do let us make haste, for then perhaps we can get back soon from Frankfurt, and I shall be able to give her the white bread to-day." And Heidi started off running so fast that Dete with the bundle under her arm could scarcely keep up with her. But she was glad, nevertheless, to get along so quickly, for they were nearing Dörfli, where her friends would probably talk and question in a way that might put other ideas into Heidi's head. So she went on straight ahead through the village, holding Heidi tightly by the hand, so that they might all see that it was on the child's account she was hurrying along at such a rate. To all their questions and remarks she made answer as she passed, "I can't stop now, as you see, I must make haste with the child as we have yet some way to go."
"Are you taking her away?" "Is she running away from Alm-Uncle?" "It's a wonder she is still alive!" "But what rosy cheeks she has!" Such were the words which rang out on all sides, and Dete was thankful that she had not to stop and give any distinct answers to them, while Heidi hurried eagerly forward without saying a word.
From that day forward Alm-Uncle looked fiercer and more forbidding than ever when he came down and passed through Dörfli. He spoke to no one, and looked such an ogre as he came along with his pack of cheeses on his back, his immense stick in his hand, and his thick, frowning eyebrows, that the women would call to their little ones, "Take care! get out of Alm-Uncle's way or he may hurt you!"
The old man took no notice of anybody as he strode through the village on his way to the valley below, where he sold his cheeses and bought what bread and meat he wanted for himself. After he had passed the villagers all crowded together looking after him, and each had something to say about him; how much wilder he looked than usual, how now he would not even respond to anybody's greeting, while they all agreed that it was a great mercy the child had got away from him, and had they not all noticed how the child had hurried along as if afraid that her grandfather might be following to take her back? Only the blind grandmother would have nothing to say against him, and told those who came to her to bring her work, or take away what she had spun, how kind and thoughtful he had been with the child, how good to her and her daughter, and how many afternoons he had spent mending the house which, but for his help, would certainly by this time have fallen down over their heads. And all this was repeated down in Dörfli; but most of the people who heard it said that grandmother was too old to understand, and very likely had not heard rightly what was said; as she was blind she was probably also deaf.
Alm-Uncle went no more now to the grandmother's house, and it was well that he had made it so safe, for it was not touched again for a long time. The days were sad again now for the old blind woman, and not one passed but what she would murmur complainingly, "Alas! all our happiness and pleasure have gone with the child, and now the days are so long and dreary! Pray God, I see Heidi again once more before I die!"
T HERE was a great famine in Rome. The summer had been very dry and the corn crop had failed. There was no bread in the city. The people were starving.
One day, to the great joy of all, some ships arrived from another country. These ships were loaded with corn. Here was food enough for all.
The rulers of the city met to decide what should be done with the corn.
"Divide it among the poor people who need it so badly," said some. "Let it be a free gift to them from the city."
But one of the rulers was not willing to do this. His name was Coriolanus, and he was very rich.
"These people are poor because they have been too lazy to work," he said. "They do not deserve any gifts from the city. Let those who wish any corn bring money and buy it."
When the people heard about this speech of the rich man, Coriolanus, they were very angry.
"He is no true Roman," said some.
"He is selfish and unjust," said others.
"He is an enemy to the poor. Kill him! kill him!" cried the mob. They did not kill him, but they drove him out of the city and bade him never return.
Coriolanus made his way to the city of Antium, which was not far from Rome. The people of Antium were enemies of the Romans and had often been at war with them. So they welcomed Coriolanus very kindly and made him the general of their army.
Coriolanus began at once to make ready for war against Rome. He persuaded other towns near Antium to send their soldiers to help him.
Soon, at the head of a very great army, he marched toward the city which had once been his home. The rude soldiers of Antium overran all the country around Rome. They burned the villages and farmhouses. They filled the land with terror.
Coriolanus pitched his camp quite near to the city. His army was the greatest that the Romans had ever seen. They knew that they were helpless before so strong an enemy.
"Surrender your city to me," said Coriolanus. "Agree to obey the laws that I shall make for you. Do this, or I will burn Rome and destroy all its people."
The Romans answered, "We must have time to think of this matter. Give us a few days to learn what sort of laws you will make for us, and then we will say whether we can submit to them or not."
"I will give you thirty days to consider the matter," said Coriolanus.
Then he told them what laws he would require them to obey. These laws were so severe that all said, "It will be better to die at once."
At the end of the thirty days, four of the city's rulers went out to beg him to show mercy to the people of Rome. These rulers were old men, with wise faces and long white beards. They went out bareheaded and very humble.
Coriolanus would not listen to them. He drove them back with threats, and told them that they should expect no mercy from him; but he agreed to give them three more days to consider the matter.
The next day, all the priests and learned men went out to beg for mercy. These were dressed in their long flowing robes, and all knelt humbly before him. But he drove them back with scornful words.
On the last day, the great army which Coriolanus had led from Antium was drawn up in battle array. It was ready to march upon the city and destroy it.
All Rome was in terror. There seemed to be no way to escape the anger of this furious man.
Then the rulers, in their despair, said, "Let us go up to the house where Coriolanus used to live when he was one of us. His mother and his wife are still there. They are noble women, and they love Rome. Let us ask them to go out and beg our enemy to have mercy upon us. His heart will be hard indeed if he can refuse his mother and his wife."
The two noble women were willing to do all that they could to save their city. So, leading his little children by the hand, they went out to meet Coriolanus. Behind them followed a long procession of the women of Rome.
Coriolanus was in his tent. When he saw his mother and his wife and his children, he was filled with joy. But when they made known their errand, his face darkened, and he shook his head.
For a long time his mother pleaded with him. For a long time his wife begged him to be merciful. His little children clung to his knees and spoke loving words to him.
At last, he could hold out no longer. "O mother," he said, "you have saved your country, but have lost your son!" Then he commanded his army to march back to the city of Antium.
Rome was saved; but Coriolanus could never return to his home, his mother, his wife and children. He was lost to them.
The sea! the sea! the open sea!
The blue, the fresh, the ever free!
Without a mark, without a bound,
It runneth the earth's wide regions round;
It plays with the clouds; it mocks the skies;
Or like a cradled creature lies.
I'm on the sea! I'm on the sea!
I am where I would ever be;
With the blue above, and the blue below,
And silence wheresoe'er I go;
If a storm should come and awake the deep,
What matter? I shall ride and sleep.
I love, oh! how I love to ride
On the fierce, foaming, bursting tide,
When every mad wave drowns the moon,
Or whistles aloft his tempest tune,
And tells how goeth the world below,
And why the sou'west blasts do blow.
I never was on the dull, tame shore,
But I loved the great sea more and more,
And backwards flew to her billowy breast,
Like a bird that seeketh its mother's nest;
And a mother she was, and is to me;
For I was born on the open sea!
The waves were white, and red the morn,
In the noisy hour when I was born;
And the whale it whistled, the porpoise rolled,
And the dolphins bared their backs of gold;
And never was heard such an outcry wild
As welcomed to life the ocean child!
I've lived since then, in calm and strife,
Full fifty summers, a sailor's life,
With wealth to spend and a power to range,
But never have sought nor sighed for change;
And death, whenever he comes to me,
Shall come on the wild, unbounded sea!
WEEK 32 |
W HEN Henry heard of what had happened to Thomas à Becket, he was very sorry; but strangely enough he had no power to punish the four knights; their sin was a sin against the Church, and they could only be tried by a bishop's court. The bishop's court punished them by sending them on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. So Thomas à Becket, in quarrelling with the King, had protected his own murderers. But perhaps their punishment was very real, for they were forsaken and shunned by all their friends. No one would speak to them, nor eat with them, and at last they died in misery and loneliness.
All England was filled with horror at the dreadful deed. The people had loved Thomas when he was alive, now that he was dead they called him a saint. From far and near they came as pilgrims to his grave, over which a splendid shrine, glittering with gold and gems, was placed.
Nearly four years later the King himself came as a pilgrim to show his sorrow and repentance. He rode on horseback to Canterbury but, as soon as he came within sight of the cathedral, he got off his horse and walked barefoot, wearing only a shirt, and carrying a lighted candle in his hand, until he reached the shrine.
For a whole day and night, having nothing to eat or drink, he knelt in prayer before the grave. For a still greater punishment, he made the monks beat his bare back with knotted cords.
All this show of sorrow could not bring back the great archbishop, who had been murdered in consequence of a few words spoken in anger. But it pleased the Pope, who was very angry because Thomas à Becket had been killed. He blamed Henry, and would scarcely believe that he had not told the four knights to do the wicked deed. In those days the Pope was very powerful indeed. Even kings stood in awe of him, and Henry was glad to make peace with him by any means in his power.
Until now, in this book, we have spoken only of England, although England is but one of the countries which form the United Kingdom. Each of these countries has a history of its own, but it would be too difficult to tell all the stories in one book, so I shall tell only the story of each country after it has been joined to England.
There are four countries in the United Kingdom,—England,
Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Of these, England and
Ireland were the first to be joined together. This happened
in the reign of
England, you remember, had at one time been divided into seven kingdoms, and in the same way Ireland was still divided into four, and the kings of these four divisions were always fighting with each other.
Now, one of these kings, who was called Dermot, came to
Henry and asked for help against another of the Irish kings.
Henry promised help if King Dermot would acknowledge him as
Henry first sent some Norman knights over to Ireland, and then went himself. There was a good deal of fighting, but in the end Ireland was added to England, and ever since, the kings of England have been lords of Ireland too, although many years passed before they could be said really to rule there.
Henry's great reign closed in sorrow. His sons did not love him, and they rebelled and fought against him. They were encouraged in this by their mother, who was not a good woman.
Two of Henry's sons died before him, both of them while fighting with their father. Two others called Richard and John were kings of England after him.
John was Henry's favourite son. He was the only one who had not rebelled against him. But when the King lay very ill the nobles came to tell him that John, too, had rebelled. This last sorrow broke Henry's heart. Crying out, "Ah, John, John, now I care no more for myself, nor for the world," he turned his face to the wall, and died.
Henry was a very rich king, for, besides being King of England and lord of Ireland, he was ruler over more than half of France. Later you will hear how one of his sons lost all these French possessions.
P ICTA, the painted turtle, had made her nest, a dugout in the fine hot sand, on the shore of a lake with a name that makes a person smile to hear it. But to Picta a name did not matter. Lake Meddybemps, name or no name, had satisfied her for many years, and the sandy shore was what she needed for a nest. There the heat of the summer days could warm her buried eggs until at last her brood of babies, hatched by the sun, could creep their first journey to the lake.
Only one who knows how to tell the age of turtles could guess how many such nests Picta had dug on the shore of Meddybemps; and no one knows how many eggs she had laid in her life or how many of her son and daughter turtles had paddled out to hunt for polliwogs and other game. But this is certain: Picta will never meet the babies that hatched in the nest she dug on the shore of Lake Meddybemps that particular summer, for just after she had laid the last egg and covered the hole, who should come dancing along the shore but Eleanor!
Now Eleanor is one of those people who cannot see a shy wild creature without wishing to become acquainted with it, and to meet Picta was a joy indeed. How Picta herself felt about the matter could be guessed from the way she struck out with her strong legs, struggling to push aside the hand that held her captive. Failing in this, she opened her mouth and hissed.
That hiss may have meant that Picta was afraid or angry; but it sounded so gentle, so almost like a sigh, that Eleanor smiled. "Don't hiss at me, poor, frightened Picta," she said, "for I will treat you so well that you will be quite comfortable and happy."
It did not seem that it would take much to satisfy Picta. Eleanor had heard of a pet turtle of one kind that ate bananas from the hand of his captor and drank water from a soup plate; and she did not know enough about the different sorts of turtles to understand that she could not make a painted turtle happy the same way.
So it happened that Picta was taken away from her sandy shore and given a ride in a rowboat. After trying many times, and always in vain, to climb the sides, she hid under the seat in the darkest corner. Later she was placed in a tub of water where she spent the night swimming, swimming, swimming, but getting nowhere at all. The next day she rode in a train and spent the minutes walking, walking, walking in a large tin can, but without finding any path that led out of her dark prison.
The journey over, new events awaited her. When she was hungry, she was offered a good ripe banana, but she tried to get away from it. When she was thirsty, she was offered water in a soup plate, but she would have none of it. She just thumped, thumped, thumped around the edge of the room, poking her head against the wall as if hunting for a hole through which she could go.
Next she was put into a pretty white pan. When there was water enough, she swam around and around and around, but could never swim out of it.
Eleanor tried to make Picta happy in a deep white pan.
When there was not much water in it, she stood on her hind feet and reached over the edge with her front feet and head and tried to pull herself out of it. But struggle and kick and stretch and push as best she could, she never reached far enough up to tumble over the edge and escape.
Picta reached over the edge of the pan with her front feet and tried to pull herself out of it.
One after another she was given the best comforts that Eleanor could find, but nothing really suited her. Even a giant box with four inches of fine sand in the bottom and a big pan of water sunk in one corner—even a turtle palace of that sort failed to make her happy. Some kinds of turtles might be pleased with things easy to provide, like a banana and a soup plate of water; but Picta was a painted turtle who for forty years, more or less, had been used to other things than those Eleanor could offer her.
Indeed, day after day passed by until six weeks had come and gone, and Picta was no nearer contentment than at first. She did not at all enjoy being a pet turtle.
There was only one thing she seemed to like, and that was hunting in the water for food when she was hungry. At first she would not eat when any one was near, but after a while she became used to company at mealtimes. She did not eat anything when she was out of the water; but if bits of fish or meat, either raw or cooked, were tossed into her pan, down would go her head and she would follow her funny little nose until she came very near one of the pieces. Then, no matter how still the food lay, Picta would be very careful to grab it into her mouth quickly and with a firm hold, as if it were trying to swim away from her.
If mealtime was the only comfort Picta had in all those weeks, it was natural that the only pleasure Eleanor found in her pet was in feeding it. It was fun to see the turtle push her head out of the water, looking and listening to be sure all was safe and quiet, and then poke it down to catch bits of food in the bottom of the water. If a piece was too big to swallow at a gulp, Picta had the most comical way of carving her meat. She would hold it firmly in her mouth and push it first with one front foot and then the other, one on each side, until it was torn smaller and smaller, becoming at last the right size to swallow easily. After one morsel had been eaten, Picta would put her head down and, like a dog following a scent, move slowly until she came to another bit. Then she would grab that in a hurry, and so with every fragment that she found, as if she expected her food to try to swim away.
When Eleanor held food in her hand under water, Picta would take it from her fingers in the same quick way; but the turtle would never reach up out of the water for her food.
Often Picta grabbed something in her mouth that she did not like. Then she would force it out quickly and push her front feet against the sides of her mouth as if she were trying to be rid of the taste. Then she would blow until little bubbles came up to the top of the water. That seemed to be her way of spitting out what she did not like. After such a time she seemed to sniff more carefully to avoid taking another bit of any bad-tasting stuff.
But a turtle is not a greedy creature, so the delight of eating could not keep Picta happy much of the time. For the most part, her brain seemed to hold one big idea, and that was freedom. She scraped around in the sand in her box hour after hour. She bumped her shell on the edge of her pan every time she crawled in and out. She went whackity thump and thumpity whack against the brick that made an island in her pan. In one way and another she knocked about in her efforts to escape, until she had battered and bruised her firm yellow under shell in four places. That was a pity, for it was a pretty under shell and until she had been taken prisoner there had not been a spot on its clear color. It began to look as if the shell that had lasted her forty years, more or less, would not stand the wear of forty weeks in her prison home.
By the first of September it was hard to know whether to be sorrier for Picta or for Eleanor. For Eleanor had promised to make her pet happy and she did not know how she could keep her promise. It is often easier to catch a wild creature than it is to put it into a place where it can be comfortable. Eleanor, by this time, was certain that nothing less than a big aquarium would do at all for a captive painted turtle, and this she could not provide. So she knew that she must set Picta free, but the question was, how and where?
She thought of sending Picta back to Meddybemps by express and asking the artist who spends his summers there drawing pictures about "when a feller needs a friend," to take the turtle back to her own place by the lake; for surely, if ever a turtle needed a friend, Picta did. But Eleanor did not know the artist well enough to ask such a favor. In fact she had not even met him when she visited at Meddybemps, so she thought she must take care of her own turtle.
She could not spare money enough to travel again to Meddybemps, but she looked at every other lake she saw when she was in country places, and at last she found one that she thought would satisfy a painted turtle in every way.
It was a little lake, so little that it was called a pond. At one side there were three sorts of flat circular leaves floating in the water. Some were those of the white water lily; some were those of the yellow pond lily, and some were those of a plant called the floating heart because of the shape of its leaves.
In the pond was a plant called floating heart because of the shape of its leaves.
Slender stems of pipewort plants with wee round heads grew both in the water and on the shore. But most of the pond was clear and without leaves, so clear that gravelly bottom could be seen far from the shore, and the reflections of the trees on the sloping banks were very beautiful.
Little spotted bronzy frogs were lazing about in the sun on the rocks far back from the water. Bigger green frogs were roosting on lily pads in the pond. Large, strong dragon-flies went overhead and back again, or settled to rest with all four wings spread wide apart. Slender blue and black damsel-flies were there, too, going low, very near the water, or resting on the pipewort with their wings folded close together.
Eleanor loved the pond because of the white water lily that grew there.
Eleanor loved the pond because of all these things, but it was none of them that made her decide to bring Picta there; not frogs spotted or green, or dragon-flies or damsel-flies, or reflections in the water, or lily leaves or floating heart or pipewort. But while she was walking along one end of the pond, she saw a sunken log with just a bit of it up out of the water; and on that little wooden island a painted turtle was sunning itself. It was a little creature with a shell about four inches long, and not a full-sized one like Picta, whose shell measured six inches; but it was large enough to settle matters for Eleanor, for she thought that where one painted turtle lived in comfort another could.
So that was how it happened that Picta was given another train ride, this time only three hours long. She spent the night in a hotel, floating in a bowl of water, and breakfasted on bits of fried fish that she ate hungrily from Eleanor's hand.
Now was the day when Picta was taken to her little lake. When Eleanor reached the shore with her pet, she looked at Picta carefully so that she should never forget that a painted turtle has a smooth, nearly black upper shell, a clear yellow under shell, and gay splashes of red and yellow on its sides.
Eleanor put Picta down on the sandy shore some distance from the water and watched. The turtle stretched her head so far that the yellow on her head and the red on her neck showed, and she seemed to be looking and listening and smelling all at once. Then, very, very slowly, she walked to the water. Without haste, she slipped in and swam slowly about. Her restlessness was gone. She seemed in no hurry to go anywhere else. It began to seem as if Eleanor had kept her promise at last and that she had made her pet happy.
What happened next was a surprise to Eleanor; and as I do not understand the reason for it, I can only tell you just what took place and let you think what you like about it. The turtle had started off in a leisurely way toward the middle of the pond, putting her head up now and then to look about, when Eleanor called, "Good-by, little Picta," for she thought that was the last she should see of her pet. Picta just then turned and came back into the shallow water near the edge where Eleanor stood talking.
Picta swam back into the shallow water near the edge of the pond where Eleanor stood.
Why did she come? Eleanor did not know nor do I. Did she just happen to come back when Eleanor called to her, or can it be that in her weeks of captivity Picta had learned to know Eleanor's voice and to think it was mealtime when Eleanor spoke? Did she come back to be fed? Be that as it may, the turtle made a dive and poked about near Eleanor as if hunting for food. Twice after that she started toward the middle of the pond and twice returned near the shore where Eleanor stood talking to her. Then away she paddled with a slow stroke, and when next she put up her head she was so far away that Eleanor could not see the head itself but only the ripples that circled around it in the water.
At last Picta, the painted turtle, was free and happy.
Eleanor walked along the shore till she came to the sunken log where she had seen the four-inch turtle sunning itself the day she had first visited the pond. There, on the same little wooden island, rested a turtle. It was not the four-inch one she had seen before. This one was only half as long. A moment later another just the same size as the one on the log swam near.
While Eleanor was laughing with delight about the pretty twin turtles, another and bigger turtle paddled slowly around the end of the log very near the shore, and put her head up and looked about. It was Picta!
Do you wish to know how Eleanor could be sure it was her pet? Well, Picta had a chipped shell, a three-cornered nick in the edge of her shell where she tucks her right hind foot. So Eleanor knew it was Picta come back again, and it pleased her to think that perhaps the turtle had come because of her voice. However that may be, Picta was hungry and began hunting for her food, and the tiny turtle on the log craned its neck to watch Picta while she hunted.
There Eleanor left them, and because her visit had been so pleasant she was glad that the place was named "Holiday Pond."
But to Picta a name does not matter. The little pond, name or no name, is suited to her needs. She has made no attempt to go out or away. She is content. And when another summer comes, the fine sand on the shore will lie warm in the sun and it may be hatching turtle eggs in a dugout nest.
I love to rise in a summer morn,
When the birds sing on every tree;
The distant huntsman winds his horn,
And the skylark sings with me:
O, what sweet company!
But to go to school in a summer morn,
O! it drives all joy away—
Under a cruel eye outworn,
The little ones spend the day
In sighing and dismay.
Ah! then at times I drooping sit,
And spend many an anxious hour;
Nor in my book can I take delight,
Nor sit in learning's bower,
Worn through with the dreary shower.
How can the bird that is born for joy
Sit in a cage and sing?
How can a child, when fears annoy,
But droop his tender wing,
And forget his youthful spring!
O! father and mother if buds are nipped,
And blossoms blown away,
And if the tender plants are stripped
Of their joy in the springing day,
By sorrow and care's dismay—
How shall the summer arise in joy,
Or the summer fruits appear?
Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy,
Or bless the mellowing year,
When the blasts of winter appear?
WEEK 32 |
"H AS Buster Bear a tail?" asked Old Mother Nature, and her eyes twinkled.
"No," declared Whitefoot the Wood Mouse promptly.
"Yes," contradicted Chatterer the Red Squirrel.
"What do you say, Prickly Porky?" Old Mother Nature asked.
"I don't think he has any; if he has, I've never seen it," said Prickly Porky.
"That's because you've got poor eyes," spoke up Jumper the Hare. "He certainly has a tail. It isn't much of a one, but it is a tail. I know because I've seen it many times."
"Woof, woof," said a deep, rumbly, grumbly voice. "What's going on here? Who is it hasn't any tail?"
At the sound of that deep, rumbly, grumbly voice it looked for a few minutes as if school would be broken up for that day. There was the same mad scrambling to get away that there had been the morning Reddy Fox unexpectedly appeared. However, there was this difference: When Reddy appeared, most of the little people sought safe hiding places, but now they merely ran to safe distances, and there turned to stare with awe and great respect at the owner of that deep, rumbly, grumbly voice. It was great, big Buster Bear himself.
Buster stood up on his hind legs, like a man, and his small eyes, for they are small for his size, twinkled with fun as he looked around that awe filled circle. "Don't let me interrupt," said he. "I heard about this school and I thought I would just pay a friendly visit. There is nothing for you to fear. I have just had my breakfast and I couldn't eat another mouthful to save me, not even such a tender morsel as Whitefoot the Wood Mouse."
Whitefoot hurriedly ran a little farther away, and Buster Bear
chuckled. Then he looked over at Old Mother Nature. "Won't you
tell them that I'm the
Old Mother Nature smiled. "That depends on the condition of your stomach," said she. "If it is as full as you say it is, and I know you wouldn't tell me an untruth, not even timid Whitefoot has anything to fear from you." Then she told all the little people to put aside their fears and return.
Buster, seeing that some of the more timid were still fearful, backed off a short distance and sat down on his haunches. "What was that about a tail I overheard as I came up?" he asked.
"It was a little discussion as to whether or not you have a tail," replied Old Mother Nature. "Some say you have, and some say you haven't. Whitefoot thinks you haven't."
Once more Buster Bear chuckled way down deep in his throat. "Whitefoot never in his life looked at me long enough to know whether I've got a tail or not," said he. "I never yet have seen him until now, when he wasn't running away as fast as his legs could take him. So with me always behind him, how could he tell whether or not I have a tail?"
"Well, have you?" demanded Peter Rabbit bluntly.
"What do you think?" asked Buster.
"I think you have," said Peter. "But if you have you are sitting down on it and I can't tell. It can't be much of a one, anyhow."
Again Buster chuckled. "Quite right, Peter; quite right," said he. "I've got a tail, but hardly enough of a one to really call it a tail."
As Buster sat there, every one had a splendid chance to see just how he looked. His coat was all black; in fact he was black all over, with the exception of his nose, which was brown. His fur was long and rather shaggy. His ears were round. His paws were big and armed with strong, wicked looking claws.
"You all see what a black coat Buster has," said Old Mother Nature.
"Now I'm going to tell you something which may surprise you. Just
as there are
"What's that?" grunted Buster, with the funniest look of surprise on his face.
"It's a fact, Buster," said Old Mother Nature. "A great many of your family live out in the mountains of the Far West, and there quite often there will be one who is all brown. People used to think that these brown Bears were a different kind of Bear, and called them Cinnamon Bears. It was a long, long time before it was found out that those brown Bears are really black Bears. Sometimes one of the twin babies will be all black and the other all brown. Sometimes one of Buster's family will have a white spot on his breast. Buster's branch of the family is found in nearly all of the wooded parts of the entire country. In the Sunny South they live in the swamps and do not grow as big as in the North. Buster, there is a soft spot on the ground; I want you to walk across it so that these little folks can see your footprints."
Good-naturedly Buster dropped on all fours and walked across the soft spot. Right away every one understood why Old Mother Nature had asked Buster to do this. The prints of his hind feet were very like the prints of Farmer Brown's boy when barefooted, only of course very much larger. You see, they showed the print of the heel as well as the rest of the foot.
"You see," said Old Mother Nature, "Buster puts his whole foot on the ground, while all members of the Dog and Cat families walk wholly on their toes. Animals that put the whole foot down are called plantigrade. How big do you think Buster was when he was born?"
"Of course I'm only guessing," said Chatterer the Red Squirrel, "but he is such a big fellow that I think he must have been a bouncing big baby."
Old Mother Nature smiled. "I don't wonder you think so," said she. "The fact is, however, Buster was a very tiny and very helpless little chap. He was just about the size of one of Prickly Porky's babies. He was no bigger than a Rat. He was born in the middle of winter and he didn't get his eyes open for forty days. It was two months before he poked his head outside the den in which he was born, to find out what the Great World was like. At that time he wasn't much bigger than Peter Rabbit, and he and his twin sister were as lively a pair of youngsters and as full of mischief as any Bears the Green Forest has ever seen. You might tell us, Buster, what you live on."
Buster's eyes snapped. "I live on anything I can eat, and I can eat most everything. I suppose a lot of people think I live almost wholly on the little people who are my neighbors, but that is a mistake. I do catch Mice when I am lucky enough to find them where I can dig them out, and they certainly are good eating."
At this Whitefoot the Wood Mouse and Danny Meadow Mouse hastily scurried farther away, and Buster's eyes twinkled with mischief. "Of course I don't mind a Rabbit either, if I am lucky enough to catch one," said he, and Peter Rabbit quickly backed off a few steps. "In fact I like meat of any kind," continued Buster. "But the greater part of my food isn't meat at all. In the spring I dig up roots of different kinds, and eat tender grass shoots and some bark and twigs from young trees. When the insects appear they help out wonderfully. I am very fond of Ants. I pull over all the old logs and tear to pieces all the old stumps I can find, and lick up the Ants and their eggs that I am almost sure to find there. Almost any kind of insect tastes good to me if there are enough of them. I love to find and dig open the nests of Wasps that make their homes in the ground, and of course I suppose you all know that there is nothing in the world I like better than honey. If I can find a Bee nest I am utterly happy. For the sake of the honey, I am perfectly willing to stand all the stinging the Bees can give me. I like fish and I love to hunt Frogs. When the berry season begins, I just feast. In the fall I get fat on beechnuts and acorns. The fact is, there isn't much I don't like."
"I've been told you sleep all winter," said Johnny Chuck.
"That depends on the winter," replied Buster Bear. "I don't go to sleep until I have to. I don't have to as long as I can find enough to eat. If the winter begins early, with bad weather, I make a comfortable bed of leaves in a cave or under a big pile of fallen trees or even in a hollow log, if I can find one big enough. Then I go to sleep for the rest of the winter. But if the winter is mild and open and there is a chance of finding anything to eat, I sleep only in the really bad weather."
"Do you try to get fat before going to sleep, the way I do?" asked Johnny Chuck.
Buster grinned. "Yes, Johnny, I try," said he, "and usually I succeed. You see, I need to be fat in order to keep warm and also to have something to live on in the spring, just the same as you do."
"I've been told that you can climb, but as I don't live in the Green Forest I have never seen you climb. I should think it would be slow work for such a big fellow as you to climb a tree," said Johnny Chuck.
Buster looked up at Happy Jack Squirrel and winked. Then he walked over to the tree in which Happy Jack was sitting, stood up and suddenly began to scramble up the tree. There was nothing slow about the way Buster Bear went up that tree. Happy Jack squealed with sudden fright and started for the top of that tree as only Happy Jack can climb. Then he made a flying jump to the next tree. Halfway up Buster stopped. Then he began to come down. He came down tail first. When he was within ten feet of the ground he simply let go and dropped.
"I did that just to show you how I get out of a tree when I am really in a hurry," explained Buster. "I don't climb trees much now unless it is for honey, but when I was a little fellow I used to love to climb trees."
This is the most familiar of our American Bears. He is not always black, sometimes being light brown or cinnamon.
Suddenly Buster sat up very straight and pointed his nose up in the wind. An anxious look crept into his face. He cocked his ears as if listening with all his might. That is just what he was doing. Presently he dropped down to all fours. "Excuse me," said he, "I think I had better be going. Farmer Brown is coming down the Lone Little Path."
Buster turned and disappeared at a speed that was simply astonishing
in such a clumsy-looking fellow. Old Mother Nature laughed.
"Buster's eyes are not very good," said she, "but there is nothing
the matter with his nose or with his ears. If Buster says that
Farmer Brown is coming down the Lone Little Path, there is no doubt
that he is, although he may be some distance away yet. Buster has
been smart enough to learn that he has every reason to fear man,
and he promptly takes himself out of the way at the first hint that
man is near. It is a funny thing, but most men are as afraid of
Buster as Buster is of them, and they haven't the least need of
being afraid at all. Where man is concerned there isn't one of
you little people more timid than Buster Bear. The faintest smell
of man will make him run. If he should be wounded or cornered, he
Mrs. Bear would fight to protect her babies, but these
are the only conditions under which a
In 1832, when there was an Indian war in Illinois, known as the Blackhawk War, Lincoln volunteered to fight against the chief Blackhawk and his Indians. Lincoln was chosen captain of the company. But he did not happen to be in any battle during the war. He used to say, jokingly, that he "fought, bled, and came away."
When "Captain" Lincoln got home from the Blackhawk War, he bought a country store in New Salem, when he lived. He had a worthless young man for a partner, and Lincoln himself was a better student than merchant. Many bad debts were made, and, after a while, as Lincoln expressed it, the store "winked out." This failure left him in debt. For six years afterwards he lived very savingly, until he had paid every cent of his debts. After he ceased to keep store he was postmaster. In a country post office he could borrow and read his neighbor's papers before they were called for. He used to carry letters about in the crown of his hat, and distribute the mail in that way.
Next he became a surveyor. He studied surveying alone, as he did other things. His strict honesty and his charming good-nature, as well as his bright speeches, amusing stories, and witty sayings, made him a favorite among the people. In 1834 he was elected to the Illinois Legislature. In a suit of homespun he walked a hundred miles to attend the Legislature. When the session was over he came home and went to surveying again. Whenever he had a little money he applied himself to studying law. When his money gave out he took up his compass and went back to surveying.
In 1837 he went to Springfield, and began life as a lawyer. The lawyers of that day rode from county to county to attend the courts. Lincoln "rode the circuit," as it was called, with the others, and he was soon a successful lawyer. He would not take a case which would put him on the unjust side of a quarrel. Nor would he take pay from people whom he knew to be poor, so he did not become a rich man.
Lincoln was always remarkable for his kindness of heart. While riding along the road one day he saw a pig fast in a mudhole. As he had on a new suit of clothes he did not like to touch the muddy pig, and so he rode on, leaving piggy to get out if he could. But he could not get the pig out of his thoughts, so, when he had gone two miles, he turned his horse back and helped the floundering pig out of his distress. He said he did this to "take a pain out of his own mind."
Once a poor widow, who had been kind to him many years before, asked him to defend her son, who was on trial for murder. It was proved in court by a witness that in a drunken row this widow's son had struck the blow that killed the man. Everybody thought the young man would be hanged. When questioned by Lincoln, the witness said that he had seen the murder by moonlight. Then Lincoln took a little almanac out of his pocket, and showed the court that at the time the man was killed the moon had not risen. The young man was declared "not guilty," but Lincoln would not take any pay from the mother.
In 1846 Abraham Lincoln was elected a member of Congress. This was during the war with Mexico. In that day the Southern States allowed negroes to be held as slaves. The Northern States had abolished slavery, so that part of the States were called free States and part slave States. There came up, about this time, a great debate as to whether slavery should be allowed in the new Territories. Lincoln strongly opposed the holding of slaves in the Territories, and he soon became known as a speaker on that side of the question. His fame reached to the East, and Abraham Lincoln, who had come up from the poverty of a half-faced camp, was invited to address a large meeting in the great hall of Cooper Institute, in New York. You see, the boy who had tried to think everything out clearly, and to put every subject into just the right words, had got such a knack of saying things well, that multitudes of educated people were delighted to listen to his clear and witty speeches.
When, in 1860, the antislavery men came to nominate a President, many of the Western people wanted Lincoln, whom they had come to call "Old Abe," and "Honest Old Abe." When the convention that was to nominate a President met, the friends of Lincoln carried in two of the fence rails he had split when he was a young man, and thousands of people cheered them. Lincoln was nominated, and, as the other party split into two parts, he was elected.
This election was followed by the great civil war. The war made President Lincoln's place a very trying one, for people blamed him for all defeats and failures. But during all the four years of war he was patient and kindly, and by his honesty and wisdom he won the affections of the people and the soldiers. People thought of him at first as only a man who had happened to get elected President. But during these long years he showed himself a great man, and when the war was ended he was respected over all the world.
When the terrible war was over and the soldiers were coming home, Lincoln was shot by an assassin as he sat in the theater, on the 14th of April, 1865. His death was lamented not only over all this country, but throughout Europe, for his goodness of heart made him as much loved as his greatness of mind made him admired.
I've watched you now a full half hour,
Self-poised upon that yellow flower;
And, little butterfly, indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless!—not frozen seas
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!
This plot of orchard ground is ours;
My trees they are, my sister's flowers;
Here rest your wings when they are weary;
Here lodge as in a sanctuary!
Come often to us, fear no wrong;
Sit near us, on the bough!
We'll talk of sunshine and of song;
And summer days when we were young;
Sweet childish days, that were as long
As twenty days are now.
WEEK 32 |
O VER the plain fled the heathen, and Roland could no more pursue them. His good horse lay dead beside him, and he, all weary and worn, bent to aid his dear friend Turpin. Quickly he unlaced his helmet, drew off his shirt of mail, now all stained and rent with many a sword-cut, and tearing his silken vest in stripes, he gently bound his wounds. Then tenderly lifting him in his arms he laid him on a grassy bank.
Kneeling beside the dying Archbishop, Roland whispered softly, "Father, our comrades, whom we loved, are all slain, but we should not leave them thus. Give me leave to go, and I will seek them and bring them here, that thou mayest bless them once more."
"Go, friend," said Turpin, "but return right soon. Thanks be to God, the field is ours. We have won it, thou and I alone."
So all alone Roland went across the dreadful field. One by one he found the Peers of France. One by one he tenderly raised them in his arms, and brought them to the Archbishop, laying them at his feet.
As Turpin gazed upon them lying there so still and quiet, tears started to his eyes and trickled down his pale worn cheeks. "My lords," he cried, raising his hand in blessing, "may the Lord of all glory receive your souls! In the flower-starred meadows of Paradise may ye live for ever!" And there on the battle-field he absolved them from all their sins, and signed them with the sign of the Cross.
'May the Lord of all glory receive your souls.'
Once again Roland returned to search the plain for his friend Oliver. At last, under a pine tree, by a wild-rose bush, he found his body. Very tenderly he lifted him, and faint and spent, staggering now beneath his burden, he carried him, and laid him with the other Peers, beside the Archbishop, so that he too might receive a last blessing.
"Fair Oliver, my comrade," said Roland, kneeling beside him, "to break a lance and shatter in pieces a shield, to counsel loyally and well, to punish traitors and cowards, never was there better knight on earth." Then, fainting, Roland fell forward on the ground.
When Turpin saw Roland swoon, he stretched out his hand and took his ivory horn from his neck. Through Roncesvalles there flowed a stream, and the Archbishop thought that if he could but reach it, he would bring from it some water to revive Roland.
With great difficulty he rose, and with trembling footsteps, staggering as he went, he dragged himself a little way. But his strength was gone. Soon he stumbled and fell upon his knees, unable to rise again. Turning his eyes to heaven he clasped his hands together, "May God take me to His paradise," he cried, and so fell forward dead. Thus died the Archbishop in the service of his Emperor. He who both by word and weapon had never ceased to war against the heathen was now silent and still for ever.
When Roland came to himself he saw Turpin kneel upon the ground a little way off and then fall forward dead. Again Roland rose, and going to the Archbishop crossed his beautiful white hands upon his breast. "Ah! Father," he said, "knight of noble lineage, I leave thee in the hands of the Most Glorious. Never man served Him more willingly. Nay, never since the Holy Apostles hath such a prophet been. To win man and to guard our faith thou wert ever ready. May the gates of Paradise be wide for thee."
Then lifting his hands to heaven, Roland called aloud, "Ride! oh Karl of France, ride quickly as thou mayest. In Roncesvalles there is great sorrow for thee. But the King Marsil too hath sorrow and loss, and for one of us there lie here forty of the heathen."
Then faint and weary Roland sank upon the grass. In one hand he clasped his ivory horn which he had taken again from the fingers of the dead Archbishop, in the other he held his sword Durindal. As he sat there still and quiet, a Saracen who had lain among the dead, pretending to be dead also, suddenly rose. Stealthily he crept towards Roland. Nearer and nearer he came, until when he was quite close, he stretched out his hand and seized Durindal. "Vanquished, he is vanquished, the nephew of Charlemagne is vanquished!" he shouted. "Behold his sword, which I will carry with me into Arabia!"
Stealthily he crept towards Roland
But even as the Saracen seized Durindal, Roland opened his eyes. "Thou art none of our company, I ween," he cried, and raising his ivory horn he brought it crashing down upon the head of the Saracen. Helmet and skull-bone cracked beneath the blow, and the heathen fell dead at Roland's feet.
"Coward," he cried, "who made thee so bold that thou didst dare to lay hand upon Roland? Whoever hears of it will deem thee a madman." Then looking sadly at his horn, he said, "For thee have I broken the mouthpiece of my horn, and the gold and gems about the rim are scattered on the ground."
And now, fearing that some one might again steal his sword when he was no longer able to resist, Roland gathered all his strength together. Taking Durindal in his hand he went to where a bare brown rock rose out of the plain. With mighty blows he dashed the blade against the rock again and again. But it would not break. The steel grated and screeched upon the stone, but no scratch or dint was seen upon the blade, no notch upon the edge. "Oh, Holy Mary, Mother of Heaven, come to my aid!" cried Roland. "Oh my good Durindal, what misfortune! When I am parted from thee I shall no longer be able to take care of thee. We together have gained many battles; we together have conquered many realms, which now own Charlemagne as King. As long as I live, thou shalt never be taken from me, and when I am dead thou shalt never belong to one who shall flee before the foe, thou, who hast so long been borne by a valiant warrior."
Again Roland struck upon the rock. Again the steel grated and screeched, but the sword would not break. When the knight saw that he could not break the blade he became very sad. "Oh my good Durindal," he cried, "thou who hast shone and flamed in the sunshine many a time and oft to my joy, now givest thou me pain and sorrow lest I leave thee in the hands of the heathen?"
A third time Roland struck upon the rock and beat the blade with all his might. But still it would not break. Neither notch nor scratch was to be seen upon the shining steel. Then softly and tenderly he made moan, "Oh, fair and holy, my Durindal, it is not meet that the heathen should possess thee. Thou shouldst ever be served by Christian hand, for within thy hilt is many a holy relic. Please Heaven thou shalt never fall into the hands of a coward." Thus spoke he to his sword, caressing it as some loved child.
Then, seeing that by no means could he break his sword, Roland threw himself upon the grass with his face to the foe, so that when Charlemagne and all his host arrived they might know that he had died a conqueror. Beneath him, so that he guarded them with his body, he laid his sword and horn.
Clasping his hands, he raised them to heaven. "Oh God," he cried, "I have sinned. Pardon me for all the wrong that I have done both in great things and in small. Pardon me for all that I have done from the hour of my birth until now when I am laid low."
So with hands clasped in prayer, the great warrior met his end. Through the quiet evening air was heard the rustle of angels' wings. And St. Raphael, St. Michael of Peril, and the angel Gabriel swept down upon the dreadful battle-field, and taking the soul of Roland, bore it to Paradise.
There was once a Countryman who possessed the most wonderful Goose you can imagine, for every day when he visited the nest, the Goose had laid a beautiful, glittering, golden egg.
The Goose and the Golden Egg
The Countryman took the eggs to market and soon began to get rich. But it was not long before he grew impatient with the Goose because she gave him only a single golden egg a day. He was not getting rich fast enough.
Then one day, after he had finished counting his money, the idea came to him that he could get all the golden eggs at once by killing the Goose and cutting it open. But when the deed was done, not a single golden egg did he find, and his precious Goose was dead.
Those who have plenty want more and so lose all they have.
By the shores of Gitchee Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.
There the wrinkled old Nokomis
Nursed the little Hiawatha,
Rocked him in his linden cradle,
Bedded soft in moss and rushes,
Safely bound with reindeer sinews;
Stilled his fretful wail by saying,
"Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!"
Lulled him into slumber, singing,
"Ewa-yea! my little owlet!
Who is this that lights the wigwam?
With his great eyes lights the wigwam?
Ewa-yea! my little owlet!"
Many things Nokomis taught him
Of the stars that shine in heaven;
Showed him Ishkoodah, the comet,
Ishkoodah, with fiery tresses;
Showed the Death-Dance of the spirits,
Warriors with their plumes and war-clubs,
Flaring far away to northward
In the frosty nights of winter;
Showed the broad, white road in heaven,
Pathway of the ghosts, the shadows,
Running straight across the heavens,
Crowded with the ghosts, the shadows.
At the door, on summer evenings,
Sat the little Hiawatha;
Heard the whispering of the pine-trees,
Heard the lapping of the water,
Sounds of music, words of wonder;
"Minne-wawa!" said the pine-trees,
"Mudway-aushka!" said the water;
Saw the fire-fly, Wah-wah-taysee,
Flitting through the dusk of evening,
With the twinkle of its candle
Lighting up the brakes and bushes,
And he sang the song of children.
Sang the song Nokomis taught him:
"Wah-wah-taysee, little fire-fly,
Little, flitting, white-fire insect,
Little, dancing, white-fire creature,
Light me with your little candle,
Ere upon my bed I lay me,
Ere in sleep I close my eyelids!"
Saw the moon rise from the water
Rippling, rounding from the water,
Saw the flecks and shadows on it,
Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?"
And the good Nokomis answered:
"Once a warrior, very angry,
Seized his grandmother, and threw her
Up into the sky at midnight;
Right against the moon he threw her;
'Tis her body that you see there."
Saw the rainbow in the heaven,
In the eastern sky, the rainbow,
Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?"
And the good Nokomis answered:
" 'Tis the heaven of flowers you see there;
All the wild-flowers of the forest,
All the lilies of the prairie,
When on earth they fade and perish,
Blossom in that heaven above us."
When he heard the owls at midnight,
Hooting, laughing in the forest,
"What is that?" he cried, in terror;
"What is that," he said, "Nokomis?"
And the good Nokomis answered:
"That is but the owl and owlet,
Talking in their native language,
Talking, scolding at each other."
Then the little Hiawatha
Learned of every bird its language,
Learned their names and all their secrets,
How they built their nests in summer,
Where they hid themselves in winter,
Talked with them whene'er he met them,
Called them "Hiawatha's Chickens."
Of all beasts he learned the language,
Learned their names and all their secrets,
How the beavers built their lodges,
Where the squirrels hid their acorns,
How the reindeer ran so swiftly,
Why the rabbit was so timid,
Talked with them whene'er he met them,
Called them "Hiawatha's Brothers."
WEEK 32 |
"Thou who didst the stars and sunbeams know,
Self-schooled, self-scanned, self-honoured, self-secure,
Didst tread on earth unguessed at."
F all the great men who added to the glory of Elizabeth's England, William Shakspere was the greatest, though
neither the queen nor her people realised how great. Of the man himself the world knows nothing; with his work
the Old and New Worlds ring even
Now we know that he was one of the great "world-voices," "far-seeing as the sun," "the upper light of the world,"—one of the greatest men that the world has ever seen.
He had little enough book-learning, "small Latin and less Greek"; but he knew mankind, he understood human nature, as rare a gift then as it is now. And by this great gift he could make the people of Elizabeth's days laugh and cry at will. Men cared about human life: he showed them human life, showed them men and women as they really are, with all their smiles and all their sorrows, all their actions and all their thoughts. From
"The whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school."
The lonely exile crying to his king—
"Your will be done: this must my comfort be,
The sun that warms you here shall shine on me."
He tells his hearers of warriors and generals, of kings and statesmen,
"Of old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago."
There is a whole play about Julius Cæsar and another about Coriolanus. Like Spenser, too, this poet can take us into the fairy world. His fairy queen is called Titania, and the kingdom of the fairies is away in the Indies, where the fairy Puck and his comrades circle the earth. These fairies have all the secrets of nature: they dance in the moonbeams, and they sleep in the flowers, fanned by the wings of painted butterflies. Shakspere's fun breaks out in the endless blunderings of the "Comedy of Errors" as well as in the "Merry Wives of Windsor," which he wrote for Queen Elizabeth herself. Though only a country-born lad, he caught up the spirit of the times, and wrote such tragedy and comedy as had not been written since the days of olden Greece.
Let us take one of his stories and tell it shortly.
There was a rich Jew called Shylock living at Venice. There was also a man named Antonio, "one in whom the ancient Roman honour more appeared than any that drew breath in Italy." There was also a man called Bassanio, a friend of Antonio's, who wanted to marry a wealthy lady at Venice called Portia. Would Antonio lend him some money so that he could marry? Now, Antonio was expecting some ships back from the East laden with merchandise. So the two friends went to Shylock, the rich Jew, and asked him to advance some money which should be repaid on the arrival of the ships. Shylock offered a large sum of money, making only one condition, half in jest, half in earnest, that if the money were not paid on the appointed day, Shylock should exact a pound of Antonio's flesh, to be cut where it pleased him. Antonio signed the bond, thinking it was only "merry sport," and took the money. So Bassanio married Portia. But that very same day they heard the sad news that Antonio's ships had been lost at sea, and that he could never now repay Shylock. He had therefore been cast into prison.
At once Bassanio and Portia set out in all haste for Venice, to save, if possible, the friend who was suffering for them. Portia knew how Bassanio loved his friend, how he would sacrifice "his life itself, his wife, and all the world" for him, and she now made a plan. She wrote to her cousin, who was going to judge Antonio at the trial, and begged to be allowed to plead instead. She dressed up in his robes of law and entered the court. Looking round, she saw the merciless Shylock, she saw Bassanio standing by Antonio in an agony of distress. Nobody recognised her, and the trial began. Her famous plea for mercy is one of Shakspere's finest passages, that mercy which "droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath." But Shylock would have no mercy.
Antonio's bosom was bared for the knife, and the scales were ready to weigh the pound of flesh, when Portia cried,—
"Tarry a little; there is something else.
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
The words expressly are, a pound of flesh."
Now Shylock could not possibly take a pound of flesh without shedding blood, so by her clever action Portia saved the life of Antonio, her husband's friend. Shylock escaped, Antonio's ships came in after all, and the play ends happily with the joy of Portia and Bassanio.
Shakspere went on writing long after the death of Elizabeth. His plays grew very serious and thoughtful as life went on. In 1610 he returned from the noisy London theatres to the peace of Stratford-on-Avon, where a few years later he passed to
"The undiscover'd country from whose bourne
No traveller returns."
Perseus and Andromeda had two sons, Alcæus, King of Thebes, and Electryon, King of Argos and Mycēnæ. Alcæus had a son named Amphitryon and Electryon had a daughter named Alcmēna. These two cousins—Amphitryon and Alcmena—married; and Jupiter resolved that they should have a son who should be the greatest and most famous of men.
But Juno was in one of her jealous moods; and she was especially jealous that such favor should be shown to Alcmena. Having considered how she should spoil his plan, she came to Jupiter in seeming good-humor, and said:—
"I have a question to ask you. Of two first cousins, which shall rule the other, and which shall serve—the elder or the younger?"
"Why, of course, the elder must rule the younger," answered Jupiter.
"You swear that—by the Styx?" asked Juno.
"By the Styx," Jupiter answered, wondering what she could mean by what seemed so trifling a question, and then thinking no more of the matter. But Juno knew what she meant very well. Alcmena had a brother, Sthĕnĕlus, who had married the Princess Nicippe of Phrygia. And Juno said to herself, "They also may have a son as well as Alcmena. Then the two boys would be first cousins; and Jupiter has sworn that the first-born shall rule the other. So if Nicippe has a son first, Alcmena's son will have to serve him and obey him: and then, O Jupiter, there will be a greater man than Alcmena's son; for he who rules must be greater than he who obeys."
Now it is Juno herself who settles when children shall come into the world. It was easy, therefore, for her to manage so that Nicippe's son should be born two whole months before Alcmena's. Jupiter was enraged when, too late, he found what a trick had been played upon him; but he had sworn by the Styx—the oath which could not be broken. Thus it became the will of heaven that the son of Alcmena should be the servant of the son of Nicippe.
The son of Nicippe was named Eurystheus: the son of Alcmena was named Hercŭles.
About the childhood of Eurystheus there was nothing remarkable. But when Hercules and his twin-brother, Iphĭcles, were only eight months old, the whole palace of Amphitryon was alarmed by the screams of Iphicles, which brought Alcmena and the whole household running into the room where the two children had been left alone. They saw a strange sight indeed. Poor Iphicles was found half dead with fright in a corner; and no wonder, for Hercules was being attacked by two huge serpents which were trying to crush him to death in their coils. But so far from being frightened, Hercules had got one of his baby hands round the neck of each serpent right and left; and so he quietly throttled them till they lay dead upon the floor. And this at only eight months old!
His strength grew with him till it became a marvel like that of Samson among the children of Israel, and in bulk and stature also he towered over all other men. Like many who are large and strong, he was grave and somewhat silent, using, when he spoke, but few words, not easily moved either to action or to anger, but, when once roused, then roused indeed. One seems to think of him as of some great lion. As for training, he had the best that could be given him. Castor taught him how to use the sword; Pollux how to use his fists; Eurytus, the finest archer in the world, taught him to shoot; Autŏlycus, to ride and drive. Nor were accomplishments forgotten; for Linus, the brother and pupil of Orpheus, taught him to play the lyre, and Eumolpus to sing. Finally, he was sent to finish his education under Chiron, the Centaur, who had taught Jason, and indeed nearly all the heroes of that age.
At eighteen he was already famous for his strength, his accomplishments, and his promise of a great career. But he was far from perfect in other ways. One finds nothing of the knightliness of his great-grandfather Perseus or of Theseus, in this strong young giant full of pride and passion, feeling himself already greater than the best of his fellow-creatures, and looking upon the world as if it were made for him alone. He would allow of no opposition to his least desire; he did not desire glory so much as power. Good-tempered as he mostly was, it was not safe to provoke him, as Linus, his music-master, found, who had his own lyre broken upon his head for presuming to correct his pupil a little too sharply.
Hercules now began to think of adventures worthy of his strength, and presently, as if to give him one, a lion came forth from the forests of Mount Cithæron, and ravaged the lands of Thespius, a neighboring king. To hunt and kill it unaided was child's-play to Hercules. And other services he did to the country, of small account in his own eyes but great in those of others; so that Creon, who was then King of Thebes, gave him his daughter in marriage, and made him his viceroy.
But Nicippe's son, Eurystheus, now king of Argos and Mycenæ, remembered that he had a right to his younger cousin's services by the oath of Jupiter. So Eurystheus sent a message to Hercules, commanding him to come forthwith to Mycenæ, and become the king's servant there.
Hercules, as may well be supposed, haughtily refused to obey this insolent order. Why should he, the ruler of Thebes, already the most famous man in all Greece, as well as the strongest, make a sort of slave of himself to a kinsman whom he scorned? For Eurystheus was just a commonplace person, with even less than common courage, who only wanted to feed his own vanity by having in his service such a man as Hercules to do whatever he bade. "Hercules may be master of Greece; but I am master of Hercules," was the sort of boast that ran in his mind.
I have said it was not strange that Hercules flatly refused to go to Mycenæ at his cousin's bidding. But it was more than strange that, from this moment, he began to fall into so strange a state of mind that any one would think he was being haunted by the Furies, until he, the pride of Thebes and the hope of Greece, became a dangerous madman, whom none dared approach for fear of being slain. And all the time his strength still increased; so that it seemed as if he had come into the world to be a terror and a curse to mankind.
Many dreadful things he did in his madness. And when at length the frenzy passed from him, he was left in a more dreadful condition still. He was in an agony of remorse for all the violence he had done, and believed himself to be accursed and an outcast from his fellow-men. Melancholy and despairing, he fled from Thebes, and wandered out alone among the forests and the mountains. And thus he lived like a savage, hiding himself away from the sight of men.
The time came when he thought he could bear life no longer. He felt as if he were hunted by demons, and with the scourges of Hades. In his last despair he wandered to Delphi, in whose temple Apollo's oracle, or living voice, was heard; and implored the gods to tell him what he should do.
And the voice of Apollo answered him and said:—
"O Hercules! those things were not sins which you did in your madness. Your madness is not sin, but the punishment for your real sin—the sin of pride, and self-love, and defiance of the will of Heaven. In rebelling against Eurystheus, you have rebelled against the gods, who decreed even before your birth that he should rule and you should serve. Is it not so, always? are not oftentimes the good made subject to the wicked, the wise to the foolish, the strong and valiant to the weak and craven? This is the oracle—the gods give each man his own different place and work: to you they have appointed service—therefore Obey. Seek not to know why this should be, nor question the justice of the gods. Know your duty, and do it with your might; and so you will be great enough; for no man can do more than serve the gods with such strength as they have given him."
For long Hercules stood before the altar, doing battle with his pride. Then, at last, he took the road to Mycenæ. And as he went, each step became quicker, his heart grew lighter, the shadow left his soul, and his peace of mind returned.
WEEK 32 |
T HERE were once upon a time an old peasant and his wife, and they had three sons. Two of them were clever young men who could borrow money without being cheated, but the third was the Fool of the World. He was as simple as a child, simpler than some children, and he never did any one a harm in his life.
Well, it always happens like that. The father and mother thought a lot of the two smart young men; but the Fool of the World was lucky if he got enough to eat, because they always forgot him unless they happened to be looking at him, and sometimes even then.
But however it was with his father and mother, this is a story that shows that God loves simple folk, and turns things to their advantage in the end.
For it happened that the Tzar of that country sent out messengers along the highroads and the rivers, even to huts in the forest like ours, to say that he would give his daughter, the Princess, in marriage to any one who could bring him a flying ship—ay, a ship with wings, that should sail this way and that through the blue sky, like a ship sailing on the sea.
"This is a chance for us," said the two clever brothers; and that same day they set off together, to see if one of them could not build the flying ship and marry the Tzar's daughter, and so be a great man indeed.
And their father blessed them, and gave them finer clothes than ever he wore himself. And their mother made them up hampers of food for the road, soft white rolls, and several kinds of cooked meats, and bottles of corn brandy. She went with them as far as the highroad, and waved her hand to them till they were out of sight. And so the two clever brothers set merrily off on their adventure, to see what could be done with their cleverness. And what happened to them I do not know, for they were never heard of again.
The Fool of the World saw them set off, with their fine parcels of food, and their fine clothes, and their bottles of corn brandy.
"I'd like to go too," says he, "and eat good meat, with soft white rolls, and drink corn brandy, and marry the Tzar's daughter."
"Stupid fellow," says his mother, "what's the good of your going? Why, if you were to stir from the house you would walk into the arms of a bear; and if not that, then the wolves would eat you before you had finished staring at them."
But the Fool of the World would not be held back by words.
"I am going," says he. "I am going. I am going. I am going."
He went on saying this over and over again, till the old woman his mother saw there was nothing to be done, and was glad to get him out of the house so as to be quit of the sound of his voice. So she put some food in a bag for him to eat by the way. She put in the bag some crusts of dry black bread and a flask of water. She did not even bother to go as far as the footpath to see him on his way. She saw the last of him at the door of the hut, and he had not taken two steps before she had gone back into the hut to see to more important business.
No matter. The Fool of the World set off with his bag over his shoulder, singing as he went, for he was off to seek his fortune and marry the Tzar's daughter. He was sorry his mother had not given him any corn brandy; but he sang merrily for all that. He would have liked white rolls instead of the dry black crusts; but, after all, the main thing on a journey is to have something to eat. So he trudged merrily along the road, and sang because the trees were green and there was a blue sky overhead.
He had not gone very far when he met an ancient old man with a bent back, and a long beard, and eyes hidden under his bushy eyebrows.
"Good-day, young fellow," says the ancient old man.
"Good-day, grandfather," says the Fool of the World.
"And where are you off to?" says the ancient old man.
"What!" says the Fool; "haven't you heard? The Tzar is going to give his daughter to any one who can bring him a flying ship."
"And you can really make a flying ship?" says the ancient old man.
"No, I do not know how."
"Then what are you going to do?"
"God knows," says the Fool of the World.
"Well," says the ancient, "if things are like that, sit you down here. We will rest together and have a bite of food. Bring out what you have in your bag."
"I am ashamed to offer you what I have here. It is good enough for me, but it is not the sort of meal to which one can ask guests."
"Never mind that. Out with it. Let us eat what God has given."
The Fool of the World opened his bag, and could hardly believe his eyes. Instead of black crusts he saw fresh white rolls and cooked meats. He handed them out to the ancient, who said, "You see how God loves simple folk. Although your own mother does not love you, you have not been done out of your share of the good things. Let's have a sip at the corn brandy. . . . "
The Fool of the World opened his flask, and instead of water there
came out corn brandy, and that of the best. So the Fool and the
ancient made merry, eating and drinking; and when they had done, and
sung a song or two together, the ancient says to the
"Listen to me. Off with you into the forest. Go up to the first big tree you see. Make the sacred sign of the cross three times before it. Strike it a blow with your little hatchet. Fall backwards on the ground, and lie there, full length on your back, until somebody wakes you up. Then you will find the ship made, all ready to fly. Sit you down in it, and fly off whither you want to go. But be sure on the way to give a lift to everyone you meet."
The Fool of the World thanked the ancient old man, said good-bye to him, and went off to the forest. He walked up to a tree, the first big tree he saw, made the sign of the cross three times before it, swung his hatchet round his head, struck a mighty blow on the trunk of the tree, instantly fell backwards flat on the ground, closed his eyes, and went to sleep.
A little time went by, and it seemed to the Fool as he slept that somebody was jogging his elbow. He woke up and opened his eyes. His hatchet, worn out, lay beside him. The big tree was gone, and in its place there stood a little ship, ready and finished.
The Fool did not stop to think. He jumped into the ship, seized the tiller, and sat down. Instantly the ship leapt up into the air, and sailed away over the tops of the trees.
The little ship answered the tiller as readily as if she were sailing in water, and the Fool steered for the highroad, and sailed along above it, for he was afraid of losing his way if he tried to steer a course across the open country.
He flew on and on, and looked down, and saw a man lying in the road below him with his ear on the damp ground.
"Good-day to you, uncle," cried the Fool.
"Good-day to you, Sky-fellow," cried the man.
"What are you doing down there?" says the Fool.
"I am listening to all that is being done in the world."
"Take your place in the ship with me."
The man was willing enough, and sat down in the ship with the Fool, and they flew on together singing songs.
They flew on and on, and looked down, and there was a man on one leg, with the other tied up to his head.
"Good-day, uncle," says the Fool, bringing the ship to the ground. "Why are you hopping along on one foot?"
"If I were to untie the other I should move too fast. I should be stepping across the world in a single stride."
"Sit down with us," says the Fool.
The man sat down with them in the ship, and they flew on together singing songs.
They flew on and on, and looked down, and there was a man with a gun, and he was taking aim, but what he was aiming at they could not see.
"Good health to you, uncle," says the Fool. "But what are you shooting at? There isn't a bird to be seen."
"What!" says the man. "If there were a bird that you could see, I should not shoot at it. A bird or a beast a thousand versts away, that's the sort of mark for me."
"Take your seat with us," says the Fool.
The man sat down with them in the ship, and they flew on together. Louder and louder rose their songs.
They flew on and on, and looked down, and there was a man carrying a sack full of bread on his back.
"Good health to you, uncle," says the Fool, sailing down. "And where are you off to?"
"I am going to get bread for my dinner."
"But you've got a full sack on your back."
"That—that little scrap! Why, that's not enough for a single mouthful."
"Take your seat with us," says the Fool.
The Eater sat down with them in the ship, and they flew on together, singing louder than ever.
They flew on and on, and looked down, and there was a man walking round and round a lake.
"Good health to you, uncle," says the Fool. "What are you looking for?"
"I want a drink, and I can't find any water."
"But there's a whole lake in front of your eyes. Why can't you take a drink from that?"
"That little drop!" says the man. "Why, there's not enough water there to wet the back of my throat if I were to drink it at one gulp."
"Take your seat with us," says the Fool.
The Drinker sat down with them, and again they flew on, singing in chorus.
They flew on and on, and looked down, and there was a man walking towards the forest, with a fagot of wood on his shoulders.
"Good-day to you, uncle," says the Fool. "Why are you taking wood to the forest?"
"This isn't simple wood," says the man.
"What is it, then?" says the Fool.
"If it is scattered about, a whole army of soldiers leaps up out of the ground."
"There's a place for you with us," says the Fool.
The man sat down with them, and the ship rose up into the air, and flew on, carrying its singing crew.
They flew on and on, and looked down, and there was a man carrying a sack of straw.
"Good health to you, uncle," says the Fool; "and where are you taking your straw?"
"To the village."
"Why, are they short of straw in your village?"
"No; but this is such straw that if you scatter it abroad in the very hottest of the summer, instantly the weather turns cold, and there is snow and frost."
"There's a place here for you too," says the Fool.
"Very kind of you," says the man, and steps in and sits down, and away they all sail together, singing like to burst their lungs.
They did not meet any one else, and presently came flying up to the palace of the Tzar. They flew down and cast anchor in the courtyard.
Just then the Tzar was eating his dinner. He heard their loud singing, and looked out of the window and saw the ship come sailing down into his courtyard. He sent his servant out to ask who was the great prince who had brought him the flying ship, and had come sailing down with such a merry noise of singing.
The servant came up to the ship, and saw the Fool of the World and his companions sitting there cracking jokes. He saw they were all moujiks, simple peasants, sitting in the ship; so he did not stop to ask questions, but came back quietly and told the Tzar that there were no gentlemen in the ship at all, but only a lot of dirty peasants.
Now the Tzar was not at all pleased with the idea of giving his only daughter in marriage to a simple peasant, and he began to think how he could get out of his bargain. Thinks he to himself, "I'll set them such tasks that they will not be able to perform, and they'll be glad to get off with their lives, and I shall get the ship for nothing."
So he told his servant to go to the Fool and tell him that before the Tzar had finished his dinner the Fool was to bring him some of the magical water of life.
Now, while the Tzar was giving this order to his servant, the Listener, the first of the Fool's companions, was listening, and heard the words of the Tzar and repeated them to the Fool.
"What am I to do now?" says the Fool, stopping short in his jokes. "In a year, in a whole century, I never could find that water. And he wants it before he has finished his dinner."
"Don't you worry about that," says the Swift-goer, "I'll deal with that for you."
The servant came and announced the Tzar's command.
"Tell him he shall have it," says the Fool.
His companion, the Swift-goer, untied his foot from beside his head, put it to the ground, wriggled it a little to get the stiffness out of it, ran off, and was out of sight almost before he had stepped from the ship. Quicker than I can tell it you in words he had come to the water of life, and put some of it in a bottle.
"I shall have plenty of time to get back," thinks he, and down he sits under a windmill and goes off to sleep.
The royal dinner was coming to an end, and there wasn't a sign of him. There were no songs and no jokes in the flying ship. Everybody was watching for the Swift-goer, and thinking he would not be in time.
The Listener jumped out and laid his right ear to the damp ground, listened a moment, and said, "What a fellow! He has gone to sleep under the windmill. I can hear him snoring. And there is a fly buzzing with its wings, perched on the windmill close above his head."
"This is my affair," says the Far-shooter, and he picked up his gun from between his knees, aimed at the fly on the windmill, and woke the Swift-goer with the thud of the bullet on the wood of the mill close by his head. The Swift-goer leapt up and ran, and in less than a second had brought the magic water of life and given it to the Fool. The Fool gave it to the servant, who took it to the Tzar. The Tzar had not yet left the table, so that his command had been fulfilled as exactly as ever could be.
"What fellows these peasants are," thought the Tzar. "There is nothing
for it but to set them another task." So the Tzar said to his servant,
"Go to the captain of the flying ship and give him this message: 'If
you are such a cunning fellow, you must have a good appetite. Let you
and your companions eat at a single meal twelve oxen roasted whole,
and as much bread as can be baked in forty
The Listener heard the message, and told the Fool what was coming. The Fool was terrified, and said, "I can't get through even a single loaf at a sitting."
"Don't worry about that," said the Eater. "It won't be more than a mouthful for me, and I shall be glad to have a little snack in place of my dinner."
The servant came, and announced the Tzar's command.
"Good," says the Fool. "Send the food along, and we'll know what to do with it."
So they brought twelve oxen roasted whole, and as much bread as could be baked in forty ovens, and the companions had scarcely sat down to the meal before the Eater had finished the lot.
"Why," said the Eater, "what a little! They might have given us a decent meal while they were about it."
The Tzar told his servant to tell the Fool that he and his companions were to drink forty barrels of wine, with forty bucketfuls in every barrel.
The Listener told the Fool what message was coming.
"Why," says the Fool, "I never in my life drank more than one bucket at a time."
"Don't worry," says the Drinker. "You forget that I am thirsty. It'll be nothing of a drink for me."
They brought the forty barrels of wine, and tapped them, and the Drinker tossed them down one after another, one gulp for each barrel. "Little enough," says he, "Why, I am thirsty still."
"Very good," says the Tzar to his servant, when he heard that they had eaten all the food and drunk all the wine. "Tell the fellow to get ready for the wedding, and let him go and bathe himself in the bath-house. But let the bath-house be made so hot that the man will stifle and frizzle as soon as he sets foot inside. It is an iron bath-house. Let it be made red hot."
The Listener heard all this and told the Fool, who stopped short with his mouth open in the middle of a joke.
"Don't you worry," says the moujik with the straw.
Well, they made the bath-house red hot, and called the Fool, and the Fool went along to the bath-house to wash himself, and with him went the moujik with the straw.
They shut them both into the bath-house, and thought that that was the end of them. But the moujik scattered his straw before them as they went in, and it became so cold in there that the Fool of the World had scarcely time to wash himself before the water in the cauldrons froze to solid ice. They lay down on the very stove itself, and spent the night there, shivering.
In the morning the servants opened the bath-house, and there were the Fool of the World and the moujik, alive and well, lying on the stove and singing songs.
They told the Tzar, and the Tzar raged with anger. "There is no
getting rid of this fellow," says he. "But go and tell him that I send
him this message: 'If you are to marry my daughter, you must show that
you are able to defend her. Let me see that you have at least a
The Listener told the Fool of the World, and the Fool began to lament. "This time," says he, "I am done indeed. You, my brothers, have saved me from misfortune more than once, but this time, alas, there is nothing to be done."
"Oh, what a fellow you are!" says the peasant with the fagot of wood. "I suppose you've forgotten about me. Remember that I am the man for this little affair, and don't you worry about it at all."
The Tzar's servant came along and gave his message.
"Very good," says the Fool; "but tell the Tzar that if after this he puts me off again, I'll make war on his country, and take the Princess by force."
And then, as the servant went back with the message, the whole crew on the flying ship set to their singing again, and sang and laughed and made jokes as if they had not a care in the world.
During the night, while the others slept, the peasant with the fagot of wood went hither and thither, scattering his sticks. Instantly where they fell there appeared a gigantic army. Nobody could count the number of soldiers in it—cavalry, foot soldiers, yes, and guns, and all the guns new and bright, and the men in the finest uniforms that ever were seen.
In the morning, as the Tzar woke and looked from the windows of the palace, he found himself surrounded by troops upon troops of soldiers, and generals in cocked hats bowing in the courtyard and taking orders from the Fool of the World, who sat there joking with his companions in the flying ship. Now it was the Tzar's turn to be afraid. As quickly as he could he sent his servants to the Fool with presents of rich jewels and fine clothes, invited him to come to the palace, and begged him to marry the Princess.
The Fool of the World put on the fine clothes, and stood there as handsome a young man as a princess could wish for a husband. He presented himself before the Tzar, fell in love with the Princess and she with him, married her the same day, received with her a rich dowry, and became so clever that all the court repeated everything he said. The Tzar and the Tzaritza liked him very much, and as for the Princess, she loved him to distraction.
W E have taken a look at the ants and have seen how the hill is made. Let us now see how the ants live in their hill-home.
When we go to visit them, we shall find ants running all about the hill and in the halls. These are the work ants. Some seem to stand on the hill to watch lest any danger may come near.
When the drone ants and the queens are young, the work ants let them go out and fly. When they go out, the drones do not often come back. They get lost or die.
The young queens come back, except those who go off to make new hills. But when the young queen settles down in life, to her work of laying eggs, the workers do not let her leave the hill any more.
How do they keep her in? If she has not taken off her pretty wings, they take them off and throw them away! If she tries to walk off, a worker picks her up in its jaws and carries her back.
The ants are kind to their queen. They feed her and pet her, and she becomes very lazy. She does not even care to lay her eggs in a nice clean place.
The idle queen drops her eggs anywhere. The kind worker ants pick them up, and take them to a soft bedroom.
When there are too many young queens in one hill, they do not have a war, as the bees do. The workers settle the trouble, by taking off the wings of some of the young queens, and turning them into work ants. This is done before the queens begin to lay eggs.
New-born ants and queens, who do not go out into the sunshine, are of a light color. The other ants are dark.
In cold, wet weather the ants stay at home. If a rain comes up when they are out, they hurry back. Early in the day, and late in the afternoon, they all seem to be very busy. In the hot hours of the day they stay in the hill and rest.
In very hot lands the ants stir about all winter. Such ants lay up stores of food. You shall hear of them by and by. In cooler lands, during winter, the ants are asleep, or, as we say, are torpid.
The young swarms usually go out in autumn. I have seen very large swarms in the spring.
Ants like sugar and honey best of all food. They get honey from flowers, and in other ways of which I will soon tell you. Some like seeds which have a sweet taste. For this reason they eat some kinds of grass-seeds, oats, apple-seeds, and such things.
Ants take their food by licking it. Their little rough tongues wear away bits of the seed; they also suck up the oil and juice. They seem to press the food with their jaws.
It has been found out that they know how to moisten their food and make it soft. If you give them dry sugar or cake, they turn it into a kind of paste or honey. Then it is easier to suck or drink it up.
If you put a nest of ants with plenty of earth into a large glass jar, and put some food near by for the ants to eat, they may settle down in the jar, to make a home. If you cover the outside of the jar with thick, dark paper, the ants may build close to the glass. Then, when you take off the paper, you will be able to see the halls and storerooms.
You might put such a jar in a safe place out of doors. Then you would be able to study the ants, as they roam around near by, or do their work inside the jar.
A lake and a fairy boat
To sail in the moonlight clear,—
And merrily we would float
From the dragons that watch us here!
Thy gown should be snow-white silk,
And strings of orient pearls,
Like gossamers dipp'd in milk,
Should twine with thy raven curls!
Red rubies should deck thy hands,
And diamonds should be thy dow'r—
But fairies have broke their wands,
And wishing has lost its pow'r!
WEEK 32 |
HEN the good King Josiah fell in battle the people of the land made his son Jehoahaz king. At that time all the kingdoms around Judah were in confusion. The great empire of Assyria had been the ruler of nearly all that part of the world; but now it had been broken up, Nineveh, its chief city, had been destroyed, and Egypt, Babylonia, and other lands were at war, each striving to take the place of Assyria as the ruler of the nations.
Pharaoh-nechoh, the king of Egypt, whose warriors had slain King Josiah, became for a time the master of the lands between Egypt and the Euphrates river. He felt that he could not trust the young King Jehoahaz, and he took his crown from him, and carried him a captive down to Egypt, so that Jehoahaz, the seventeenth king, reigned only three months. The prophet Jeremiah, who arose during Josiah's reign, spoke thus of the young king who so soon was taken away a prisoner, "Weep not for the dead King Josiah, nor sorrow over him, but weep for him that goeth away, the King Jehoahaz, for he shall return no more, nor shall he again see his own land. In the place where they have led him captive, there shall he die, and he shall look upon this land no more."
The man whom Pharaoh-nechoh set up as king over Judah in place of Jehoahaz was his brother Jehoiakim, another son of Josiah. But he was not like his father, for he lived most wickedly, and led his people back to the idols which Josiah had tried to destroy. Jeremiah, the prophet, spoke to him the words of the Lord, and warned him that the evil way in which he was going would surely end in ruin to the king and the people. This made King Jehoiakim very angry. He tried to kill the prophet, and to save his life Jeremiah was hidden by his friends.
Jeremiah could no longer go out among the people nor stand in the Temple to speak the word of the Lord. So he wrote upon a roll God's message, and gave it to his friend Baruch to read before the people. While Baruch was reading it some officers of the king came and took the roll away, and brought it to the king. King Jehoiakim was sitting in his palace, with the princes around him, and a fire was burning before him, for it was the winter time. The officer began to read the roll before the king and the princes, but when he had read a few pages the king took up a knife and began cutting the leaves and throwing them into the fire. Even the princes were shocked at this, for they knew that the writing on the roll was God's word to the king and the people. They begged the king not to destroy the roll, but he would not heed them. He went on cutting up the roll and throwing it in the fire until it was all burned.
The king told his officers to take Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch, who read his words; and he would have killed them if he had found them. But they were hidden, and he could not find them, for the Lord kept them in safety.
Jehoiakim reigned a few years as the servant of the king of Egypt. But soon the Egyptians lost all the lands that they had gained outside of their own country; and the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar, rose to power over the nations, and took the place of empire that had been held by the Assyrians. Nebuchadnezzar was the son of the king of Babylon, and at first was the general of his army. He came against Judah and Jerusalem, but Jehoiakim did not dare to fight with him. He promised to serve Nebuchadnezzar, and on that condition was allowed to remain king; but no sooner had the Babylonian army gone away than he broke his promise, and rose against Babylon, and tried to make himself free.
But in this King Jehoiakim did not succeed. Instead, he lost his kingdom and his life, for either by the Babylonians or by his own people he was slain, and his dead body, like that of a beast, was thrown outside the gate of the city. He had reigned in wickedness eleven years, and he died in disgrace.
T HE Willow-Wren was twittering his thin little song, hidden himself in the dark selvedge of the river bank. Though it was past ten o'clock at night, the sky still clung to and retained some lingering skirts of light from the departed day; and the sullen heats of the torrid afternoon broke up and rolled away at the dispersing touch of the cool fingers of the short midsummer night. Mole lay stretched on the bank, still panting from the stress of the fierce day that had been cloudless from dawn to late sunset, and waited for his friend to return. He had been on the river with some companions, leaving the Water Rat free to keep an engagement of long standing with Otter; and he had come back to find the house dark and deserted, and no sign of Rat, who was doubtless keeping it up late with his old comrade. It was still too hot to think of staying indoors, so he lay on some cool dock-leaves, and thought over the past day and its doings, and how very good they all had been.
The Rat's light footfall was presently heard approaching over the parched grass. "O, the blessed coolness!" he said, and sat down, gazing thoughtfully into the river, silent and preoccupied.
"You stayed to supper, of course?" said the Mole presently.
"Simply had to," said the Rat. "They wouldn't hear of my going before. You know how kind they always are. And they made things as jolly for me as ever they could, right up to the moment I left. But I felt a brute all the time, as it was clear to me they were very unhappy, though they tried to hide it. Mole, I'm afraid they're in trouble. Little Portly is missing again; and you know what a lot his father thinks of him, though he never says much about it."
"What, that child?" said the Mole lightly. "Well, suppose he is; why worry about it? He's always straying off and getting lost, and turning up again; he's so adventurous. But no harm ever happens to him. Everybody hereabouts knows him and likes him, just as they do old Otter, and you may be sure some animal or other will come across him and bring him back again all right. Why, we've found him ourselves, miles from home, and quite self-possessed and cheerful!"
"Yes; but this time it's more serious," said the Rat gravely. "He's been missing for some days now, and the Otters have hunted everywhere, high and low, without finding the slightest trace. And they've asked every animal, too, for miles around, and no one knows anything about him. Otter's evidently more anxious than he'll admit. I got out of him that young Portly hasn't learnt to swim very well yet, and I can see he's thinking of the weir. There's a lot of water coming down still, considering the time of the year, and the place always had a fascination for the child. And then there are—well, traps and things—you know. Otter's not the fellow to be nervous about any son of his before it's time. And now he is nervous. When I left, he came out with me—said he wanted some air, and talked about stretching his legs. But I could see it wasn't that, so I drew him out and pumped him, and got it all from him at last. He was going to spend the night watching by the ford. You know the place where the old ford used to be, in by-gone days before they built the bridge?"
"I know it well," said the Mole. "But why should Otter choose to watch there?"
"Well, it seems that it was there he gave Portly his first swimming-lesson," continued the Rat. "From that shallow, gravelly spit near the bank. And it was there he used to teach him fishing, and there young Portly caught his first fish, of which he was so very proud. The child loved the spot, and Otter thinks that if he came wandering back from wherever he is—if he is anywhere by this time, poor little chap—he might make for the ford he was so fond of; or if he came across it he'd remember it well, and stop there and play, perhaps. So Otter goes there every night and watches—on the chance, you know, just on the chance!"
They were silent for a time, both thinking of the same thing—the lonely, heart-sore animal, crouched by the ford, watching and waiting, the long night through—on the chance.
"Well, well," said the Rat presently, "I suppose we ought to be thinking about turning in." But he never offered to move.
"Rat," said the Mole, "I simply can't go and turn in, and go to sleep, and do nothing, even though there doesn't seem to be anything to be done. We'll get the boat out, and paddle up stream. The moon will be up in an hour or so, and then we will search as well as we can—anyhow, it will be better than going to bed and doing nothing."
"Just what I was thinking myself," said the Rat. "It's not the sort of night for bed anyhow; and daybreak is not so very far off, and then we may pick up some news of him from early risers as we go along."
They got the boat out, and the Rat took the sculls, paddling with caution. Out in midstream, there was a clear, narrow track that faintly reflected the sky; but wherever shadows fell on the water from bank, bush, or tree, they were as solid to all appearance as the banks themselves, and the Mole had to steer with judgment accordingly. Dark and deserted as it was, the night was full of small noises, song and chatter and rustling, telling of the busy little population who were up and about, plying their trades and vocations through the night till sunshine should fall on them at last and send them off to their well-earned repose. The water's own noises, too, were more apparent than by day, its gurglings and "cloops" more unexpected and near at hand; and constantly they started at what seemed a sudden clear call from an actual articulate voice.
The line of the horizon was clear and hard against the sky, and in one particular quarter it showed black against a silvery climbing phosphorescence that grew and grew. At last, over the rim of the waiting earth the moon lifted with slow majesty till it swung clear of the horizon and rode off, free of moorings; and once more they began to see surfaces—meadows wide-spread, and quiet gardens, and the river itself from bank to bank, all softly disclosed, all washed clean of mystery and terror, all radiant again as by day, but with a difference that was tremendous. Their old haunts greeted them again in other raiment, as if they had slipped away and put on this pure new apparel and come quietly back, smiling as they shyly waited to see if they would be recognised again under it.
Fastening their boat to a willow, the friends landed in this silent, silver kingdom, and patiently explored the hedges, the hollow trees, the runnels and their little culverts, the ditches and dry water-ways. Embarking again and crossing over, they worked their way up the stream in this manner, while the moon, serene and detached in a cloudless sky, did what she could, though so far off, to help them in their quest; till her hour came and she sank earthwards reluctantly, and left them, and mystery once more held field and river.
Then a change began slowly to declare itself. The horizon became clearer, field and tree came more into sight, and somehow with a different look; the mystery began to drop away from them. A bird piped suddenly, and was still; and a light breeze sprang up and set the reeds and bulrushes rustling. Rat, who was in the stern of the boat, while Mole sculled, sat up suddenly and listened with a passionate intentness. Mole, who with gentle strokes was just keeping the boat moving while he scanned the banks with care, looked at him with curiosity.
"It's gone!" sighed the Rat, sinking back in his seat again. "So beautiful and strange and new. Since it was to end so soon, I almost wish I had never heard it. For it has roused a longing in me that is pain, and nothing seems worth while but just to hear that sound once more and go on listening to it for ever. No! There it is again!" he cried, alert once more. Entranced, he was silent for a long space, spellbound.
"Now it passes on and I begin to lose it," he said presently. "O Mole! the beauty of it! The merry bubble and joy, the thin, clear, happy call of the distant piping! Such music I never dreamed of, and the call in it is stronger even than the music is sweet! Row on, Mole, row! For the music and the call must be for us."
The Mole, greatly wondering, obeyed. "I hear nothing myself," he said, "but the wind playing in the reeds and rushes and osiers."
The Rat never answered, if indeed he heard. Rapt, transported, trembling, he was possessed in all his senses by this new divine thing that caught up his helpless soul and swung and dandled it, a powerless but happy infant in a strong sustaining grasp.
In silence Mole rowed steadily, and soon they came to a point where the river divided, a long backwater branching off to one side. With a slight movement of his head Rat, who had long dropped the rudder-lines, directed the rower to take the backwater. The creeping tide of light gained and gained, and now they could see the colour of the flowers that gemmed the water's edge.
"Clearer and nearer still," cried the Rat joyously. "Now you must surely hear it! Ah—at last—I see you do!"
Breathless and transfixed, the Mole stopped rowing as the liquid run of that glad piping broke on him like a wave, caught him up, and possessed him utterly. He saw the tears on his comrade's cheeks, and bowed his head and understood. For a space they hung there, brushed by the purple loosestrife that fringed the bank; then the clear imperious summons that marched hand-in-hand with the intoxicating melody imposed its will on Mole, and mechanically he bent to his oars again. And the light grew steadily stronger, but no birds sang as they were wont to do at the approach of dawn; and but for the heavenly music all was marvellously still.
On either side of them, as they glided onwards, the rich meadow-grass seemed that morning of a freshness and a greenness unsurpassable. Never had they noticed the roses so vivid, the willow-herb so riotous, the meadow-sweet so odorous and pervading. Then the murmur of the approaching weir began to hold the air, and they felt a consciousness that they were nearing the end, whatever it might be, that surely awaited their expedition.
A wide half-circle of foam and glinting lights and shining shoulders of green water, the great weir closed the backwater from bank to bank, troubled all the quiet surface with twirling eddies and floating foam-streaks, and deadened all other sounds with its solemn and soothing rumble. In midmost of the stream, embraced in the weir's shimmering arm-spread, a small island lay anchored, fringed close with willow and silver birch and alder. Reserved, shy, but full of significance, it hid whatever it might hold behind a veil, keeping it till the hour should come, and, with the hour, those who were called and chosen.
Slowly, but with no doubt or hesitation whatever, and in something of a solemn expectancy, the two animals passed through the broken tumultuous water and moored their boat at the flowery margin of the island. In silence they landed, and pushed through the blossom and scented herbage and undergrowth that led up to the level ground, till they stood on a little lawn of a marvellous green, set round with Nature's own orchard-trees—crab-apple, wild cherry, and sloe.
"This is the place of my song-dream, the place the music played to me," whispered the Rat, as if in a trance. "Here, in this holy place, here if anywhere, surely we shall find Him!"
Then suddenly the Mole felt a great Awe fall upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to water, bowed his head, and rooted his feet to the ground. It was no panic terror—indeed he felt wonderfully at peace and happy—but it was an awe that smote and held him and, without seeing, he knew it could only mean that some august Presence was very, very near. With difficulty he turned to look for his friend and saw him at his side, cowed, stricken, and trembling violently. And still there was utter silence in the populous bird-haunted branches around them; and still the light grew and grew.
I never quite saw fairy-folk
A-dancing in the glade,
Where, just beyond the hollow oak,
Their broad green rings are laid;
But, while behind that oak I hid,
One day I very nearly did!
I never quite saw mermaids rise
Above the twilight sea,
When sands, left wet, 'neath sunset skies,
Are blushing rosily:
But—all alone, those rocks amid—
One day I very nearly did!
I never quite saw Goblin Grim,
Who haunts our lumber room
And pops his head above the rim
Of that oak chest's deep gloom:
But once—when mother raised the lid—
I very, very nearly did!