WEEK 33 |
I N her home at Frankfurt, Clara, the little daughter of Herr Sesemann, was lying on the invalid couch on which she spent her whole day, being wheeled in it from room to room. Just now she was in what was known as the study, where, to judge by the various things standing and lying about, which added to the cosy appearance of the room, the family was fond of sitting. A handsome bookcase with glass doors explained why it was called the study, and here evidently the little girl was accustomed to have her lessons.
Clara's little face was thin and pale, and at this moment her two soft blue eyes were fixed on the clock, which seemed to her to go very slowly this day, and with a slight accent of impatience, which was very rare with her, she asked, "Isn't it time yet, Fraülein Rottenmeier?"
This lady was sitting very upright at a small work-table, busy with her embroidery. She had on a mysterious-looking loose garment, a large collar or shoulder-cape that gave a certain solemnity to her appearance, which was enhanced by a very lofty dome-shaped head dress. For many years past, since the mistress of the house had died, the housekeeping and the superintendence of the servants had been entrusted by Herr Sesemann to Fraülein Rottenmeier. He himself was often away from home, and he left her in sole charge, with the condition only that his little daughter should have a voice in all matters, and that nothing should be done against her wish.
As Clara was putting her impatient question for the second time, Dete and Heidi arrived at the front door, and the former inquired of the coachman, who had just got down from his box, if it was too late to see Fraülein Rottenmeier.
"That's not my business," grumbled the coachman; "ring the bell in the hall for Sebastian."
Dete did so, and Sebastian came downstairs; he looked astonished when he saw her, opening his eyes till they were nearly as big as the large round buttons on his coat.
"Is it too late for me to see Fraülein Rottenmeier?" Dete asked again.
"That's not my business," answered the man; "ring that other bell for the maid Tinette," and without troubling himself any farther Sebastian disappeared.
Dete rang again. This time Tinette appeared with a spotless white cap perched on the top of her head and a mocking expression of face.
"What is it?" she called from the top of the stairs. Dete repeated her question. Tinette disappeared, but soon came back and called down again to Dete, "Come up, she is expecting you."
Dete and Heidi went upstairs and into the study, Tinette following. Dete remained standing politely near the door, still holding Heidi tightly by the hand, for she did not know what the child might take it into her head to do amid these new surroundings.
Fraülein Rottenmeier rose slowly and went up to the little new companion for the daughter of the house, to see what she was like. She did not seem very pleased with her appearance. Heidi was dressed in her plain little woollen frock, and her hat was an old straw one bent out of shape. The child looked innocently out from beneath it, gazing with unconcealed astonishment at the lady's towering head dress.
"What is your name?" asked Fraülein Rottenmeier, after scrutinizingly examining the child for some minutes, while Heidi in return kept her eyes steadily fixed upon the lady.
"Heidi," she answered in a clear, ringing voice.
"What? what? that's no Christian name for a child; you were not christened that. What name did they give you when you were baptized?" continued Fraülein Rottenmeier.
"I do not remember," replied Heidi.
"What a way to answer!" said the lady, shaking her head. "Dete, is the child a simpleton or only saucy?"
"If the lady will allow me, I will speak for the child, for she is very unaccustomed to strangers," said Dete, who had given Heidi a silent poke for making such an unsuitable answer. "She is certainly not stupid nor yet saucy, she does not know what it means even; she speaks exactly as she thinks. To-day she is for the first time in a gentleman's house and she does not know good manners; but she is docile and very willing to learn, if the lady will kindly make excuses for her. She was christened Adelaide, after her mother, my sister, who is now dead."
"Well, that's a name that one can pronounce," remarked Fraülein Rottenmeier. "But I must tell you, Dete, that I am astonished to see so young a child. I told you that I wanted a companion of the same age as the young lady of the house, one who could share her lessons, and all her other occupations. Fraülein Clara is now over twelve; what age is this child?"
"If the lady will allow me," began Dete again, in her usual fluent manner, "I myself had lost count of her exact age; she is certainly a little younger, but not much; I cannot say precisely, but I think she is ten, or thereabouts."
"Grandfather told me I was eight," put in Heidi. Dete gave her another poke, but as the child had not the least idea why she did so she was not at all confused.
"What—only eight!" cried Fraülein Rottenmeier angrily. "Four years too young! Of what use is such a child! And what have you learnt? What books did you have to learn from?"
"None," said Heidi.
"How? what? How then did you learn to read?" continued the lady.
"I have never learnt to read, or Peter either," Heidi informed her.
"Mercy upon us! you do not know how to read! Is it really so?" exclaimed Fraülein Rottenmeier, greatly horrified. "Is it possible—not able to read? What have you learnt then?"
"Nothing," said Heidi with unflinching truthfulness.
"Young woman," said the lady to Dete, after having paused for a minute or two to recover from her shock, "this is not at all the sort of companion you led me to suppose; how could you think of bringing me a child like this?"
But Dete was not to be put down so easily, and answered warmly, "If the lady will allow me, the child is exactly what I thought she required; the lady described what she wished for, a child unlike all other children, and I could find no other to suit, for the greater number I know are not peculiar, but one very much the same as the other, and I thought this child seemed as if made for the place. But I must go now, for my mistress will be waiting for me; if the lady will permit I will come again soon and see how she is getting on." And with a bow Dete quickly left the room and ran downstairs. Fraülein Rottenmeier stood for a moment taken aback and then ran after Dete. If the child was to stop she had many things yet to say and ask about her, and there the child was, and what was more, Dete, as she plainly saw, meant to leave her there.
Heidi remained by the door where she had been standing since she first came in. Clara had looked on during the interview without speaking; now she beckoned to Heidi and said, "Come here!"
Heidi went up to her.
"Would you rather be called Heidi or Adelaide?" asked Clara.
"I am never called anything but Heidi," was the child's prompt answer.
"I am never called anything but Heidi."
"Then I shall always call you by that name," said Clara, "it suits you. I have never heard it before, but neither have I ever seen a child like you before. Have you always had that short curly hair?"
"Yes, I think so," said Heidi.
"Are you pleased to come to Frankfurt?" went on Clara.
"No, but I shall go home to-morrow and take grandmother a white loaf," explained Heidi.
"Well, you are a funny child!" exclaimed Clara. "You were expressly sent for to come here and to remain with me and share my lessons; there will be some fun about them now as you cannot read, something new to do, for often they are dreadfully dull, and I think the morning will never pass away. You know my tutor comes every morning at about ten o'clock, and then we go on with lessons till two, and it does seem such a long time. Sometimes he takes up the book and holds it close up to his face, as if he was very short-sighted, but I know it's only because he wants so dreadfully to gape, and Fraülein Rottenmeier takes her large handkerchief out also now and then and covers her face with it, as if she was moved by what we had been reading, but that is only because she is longing to gape too. And I myself often want to gape, but I am obliged to stop myself, for if Fraülein Rottenmeier sees me gaping she runs off at once and fetches the cod-liver oil and says I must have a dose, as I am getting weak again, and the cod-liver oil is horrible, so I do my best not to gape. But now it will be much more amusing, for I shall be able to lie and listen while you learn to read."
Heidi shook her head doubtfully when she heard of learning to read.
"Oh, nonsense, Heidi, of course you must learn to read, everybody must, and my tutor is very kind, and never cross, and he will explain everything to you. But mind, when he explains anything to you, you won't be able to understand; but don't ask any questions, or else he will go on explaining and you will understand less than ever. Later when you have learnt more and know about things yourself, then you will begin to understand what he meant."
Fraülein Rottenmeier now came back into the room; she had not been able to overtake Dete, and was evidently very much put out; for she had wanted to go into more details concerning the child, and to convince Dete how misleading she had been, and how unfit Heidi was as a companion for Clara; she really did not know what to be about, or how to undo the mischief, and it made her all the more angry that she herself was responsible for it, having consented to Heidi being fetched. She ran backwards and forwards in a state of agitation between the study and the dining-room, and then began scolding Sebastian, who was standing looking at the table he had just finished laying to see that nothing was missing.
"You can finish your thoughts to-morrow morning; make haste, or we shall get no dinner to-day at all."
Then hurrying out she called Tinette, but in such an ill-tempered voice that the maid came tripping forward with even more mincing steps than usual, but she looked so pert that even Fraülein Rottenmeier did not venture to scold her, which only made her suppressed anger the greater.
"See that the room is prepared for the little girl who has just arrived," said the lady, with a violent effort at self-control. "Everything is ready; it only wants dusting."
"It's worth my troubling about," said Tinette mockingly as she turned away.
Meanwhile Sebastian had flung open the folding doors leading into the dining-room with rather more noise than he need, for he was feeling furious, although he did not dare answer back when Fraülein Rottenmeier spoke to him; he then went up to Clara's chair to wheel her into the next room. As he was arranging the handle at the back preparatory to doing so, Heidi went near and stood staring at him. Seeing her eyes fixed upon him, he suddenly growled out, "Well, what is there in me to stare at like that?" which he would certainly not have done if he had been aware that Fraülein Rottenmeier was just then entering the room. "You look so like Peter," answered Heidi. The lady-housekeeper clasped her hands in horror. "Is it possible!" she stammered half-aloud, "she is now addressing the servant as if he were a friend! I never could have imagined such a child!"
Sebastian wheeled the couch into the dining-room and helped Clara on to her chair. Fraülein Rottenmeier took the seat beside her and made a sign to Heidi to take the one opposite. They were the only three at table, and as they sat far apart there was plenty of room for Sebastian to hand his dishes. Beside Heidi's plate lay a nice white roll, and her eyes lighted up with pleasure as she saw it. The resemblance which Heidi had noticed had evidently awakened in her a feeling of confidence towards Sebastian, for she sat as still as a mouse and without moving until he came up to her side and handed her the dish of fish; then she looked at the roll and asked, "Can I have it?" Sebastian nodded, throwing a side glance at Fraülein Rottenmeier to see what effect this request would have upon her. Heidi immediately seized the roll and put it in her pocket. Sebastian's face became convulsed, he was overcome with inward laughter but knew his place too well to laugh aloud. Mute and motionless he still remained standing beside Heidi; it was not his duty to speak, nor to move away until she had helped herself. Heidi looked wonderingly at him for a minute or two, and then said, "Am I to eat some of that too?" Sebastian nodded again. "Give me some then," she said, looking calmly at her plate. At this Sebastian's command of his countenance became doubtful, and the dish began to tremble suspiciously in his hands.
"You can put the dish on the table and come back presently," said Fraülein Rottenmeier with a severe expression of face. Sebastian disappeared on the spot. "As for you, Adelaide, I see I shall have to teach you the first rules of behavior," continued the lady-housekeeper with a sigh. "I will begin by explaining to you how you are to conduct yourself at table," and she went on to give Heidi minute instructions as to all she was to do. "And now," she continued, "I must make you particularly understand that you are not to speak to Sebastian at table, or at any other time, unless you have an order to give him, or a necessary question to put to him; and then you are not to address him as if he was some one belonging to you. Never let me hear you speak to him in that way again! It is the same with Tinette, and for myself you are to address me as you hear others doing. Clara must herself decide what you are to call her."
"Why, Clara, of course," put the latter. Then followed a long list of rules as to general behavior, getting up and going to bed, going in and out of the room, shutting the doors, keeping everything tidy, during the course of which Heidi's eyes gradually closed, for she had been up before five o'clock that morning and had had a long journey. She leant back in her chair and fell fast asleep. Fraülein Rottenmeier having at last come to the end of her sermonizing said, "Now remember what I have said, Adelaide! Have you understood it all?"
"Heidi has been asleep for ever so long," said Clara, her face rippling all over with amusement, for she had not had such an entertaining dinner for a long time.
"It is really insupportable what one has to go through with this child," exclaimed Fraülein Rottenmeier, in great indignation, and she rang the bell so violently that Tinette and Sebastian both came running in and nearly tumbling over one another; but no noise was sufficient to wake Heidi, and it was with difficulty they could rouse her sufficiently to get her along to her bedroom, to reach which she had to pass first through the study, then through Clara's bedroom, then through Fraülein Rottenmeier's sitting-room, till she came to the corner room that had been set apart for her.
I N the city of Corinth there once lived a wonderful musician whose name was Arion. No other person could play on the lyre or sing so sweetly as he; and the songs which he composed were famous in many lands.
The king of Corinth was his friend. The people of Corinth never grew tired of praising his sweet music.
One summer he went over the sea to Italy; for his name was well known there, and many people wished to hear him sing.
He visited several cities, and in each place he was well paid for his music.
At last, having become quite rich, he decided to go home. There was a ship just ready to sail for Corinth, and the captain agreed to take him as a passenger.
The sea was rough. The ship was driven far out of her course. Many days passed before they came in sight of land.
The sailors were rude and unruly. The captain himself had been a robber.
When they heard that Arion had a large sum of money with him they began to make plans to get it.
"The easiest way," said the captain, "is to throw him overboard. Then there will be no one to tell tales."
Arion overheard them plotting.
"You may take everything that I have," he said, "if you will only spare my life."
But they had made up their minds to get rid of him. They feared to spare him lest he should report the matter to the king.
"Your life we will not spare," they said; "but we will give you the choice of two things. You must either jump overboard into the sea or be slain with your own sword. Which shall it be?"
"I shall jump overboard," said Arion, "but I pray that you will first grant me a favor."
"What is it?" asked the captain.
"Allow me to sing to you my latest and best song. I promise that as soon as it is finished I will leap into the sea."
The sailors agreed; for they were anxious to hear the musician whose songs were famous all over the world.
Arion dressed himself in his finest clothing. He took his stand on the forward deck, while the robber sailors stood in a half circle before him, anxious to listen to his song.
He touched his lyre and began to play the accompaniment. Then he sang a wonderful song, so sweet, so lively, so touching, that many of the sailors were moved to tears.
And now they would have spared him; but he was true to his promise,—as soon as the song was finished, he threw himself headlong into the sea.
The sailors divided his money among themselves; and the ship sailed on.
In a short time they reached Corinth in safety, and the king sent an officer to bring the captain and his men to the palace.
"Are you lately from Italy?" he asked.
"We are," they answered.
"What news can you give me concerning my friend Arion, the sweetest of all musicians?"
"He was well and happy when we left Italy," they answered. "He has a mind to spend the rest of his life in that country."
Hardly had they spoken these words when the door opened and Arion himself stood before them. He was dressed just as they had seen him when he jumped into the sea. They were so astonished that they fell upon their knees before the king and confessed their crime.
Now, how was Arion saved from drowning when he leaped overboard?
Old story-tellers say that he alighted on the back of a large fish, called a dolphin, which had been charmed by his music and was swimming near the ship. The dolphin carried him with great speed to the nearest shore. Then, full of joy, the musician hastened to Corinth, not stopping even to change his dress.
He told his wonderful story to the king; but the king would not believe him.
"Wait," said he, "till the ship arrives, and then we shall know the truth."
Three hours later, the ship came into port, as you have already learned.
Other people think that the dolphin which saved Arion was not a fish, but a ship named the Dolphin. They say that Arion, being a good swimmer, kept himself afloat until this ship happened to pass by and rescued him from the waves.
You may believe the story that you like best. The name of Arion is still remembered as that of a most wonderful musician.
Up, up, ye dames, ye lassies gay
To the meadows trip away.
'Tis you must tend the flock this morn
And scare the small birds from the corn
Not a soul at home may stay:
For the shepherds must go
With lance and bow
To hunt the wolf in the woods to-day.
Leave the hearth and leave the house
To the cricket and the mouse;
Find grandma out a sunny seat
With babe and lambkin at her feet.
Not a soul at home may stay:
For the shepherds must go
With lance and bow
To hunt the wolf in the woods to-day.
WEEK 33 |
This King Richard, I understand,
E'er he went out of England,
Let make an axe for the nonce,
There with to cleave the Saracen's bones,
The head in soothe was wrought full weel,
Thereon was twenty pounds of steel.
HE country where Christ was born, lived, and died is called
Palestine. The capital of that country is Jerusalem. From
Many listened to the story and were glad, but the country where he lived fell into the hands of the Saracens and Turks who neither believed in nor loved Christ. When people, for the love of Christ, went the long, long, journey to Palestine, in order to see for themselves the Holy Sepulchre, these Saracens and Turks ill-treated them, and insulted their religion.
At last a monk, called Peter the Hermit, went through Europe, preaching and calling upon all Christians to fight for the city of their Lord. If they truly loved Christ, he said, they would deliver His grave from the hands of the Saracens. At his call Christian people rose, eager to show their love, and journeyed to Palestine; but the way was long and difficult, and few reached the capital.
The people, however, were not disheartened, and the following year a great army set out which did reach Jerusalem, and after much fighting the Holy Sepulchre was taken from the Turks.
Later on the Turks took it back again, and so, for nearly two hundred years, with times of peace between, Christians and Turks were at war.
These wars were called crusades, which means, wars of the cross. The word comes from the Latin word crux. They were called crusades because the people who fought in them were fighting for the place where Christ died upon the cross. As a badge or sign, they wore a cross upon their armour or clothes.
Many kings and princes joined these wars. King
Richard had not been a good son. He had helped to make his father's last days unhappy, but when his father was dead he was sorry for what he had done, and he punished the people who had helped him to rebel, instead of rewarding them as they had expected. Richard was very brave as his name, Cœur de Lion, which means Lion-hearted, shows. He was a great soldier, he loved to fight, he loved to have adventures. So instead of staying at home and looking after his kingdom as he ought to have done, he went far away to Palestine to fight.
Richard went away to Palestine.
And his people were proud of their king and glad to have him go, for they knew that he would make the name of England famous wherever he went, although Richard himself was really hardly English. He had indeed been born in England, but he had lived nearly all his life in France, and he did not know nor care much about the English people.
Richard Cœur de Lion came to England to be crowned. He sold everything he could in order to get money for the crusade (for wars always cost a great deal of money), and then he sailed away.
But first he chose two bishops to rule the country while he was gone. One was a very old man, and the other, William Longchamps, was a Norman. He could hardly speak a word of English and he treated the people so badly that they hated him and soon rebelled.
Now Richard's younger brother, John, wanted to be King of England, so he encouraged the people to rebel. Then he began to rule, but the unhappy people soon found that John was no kinder than William Longchamps. Indeed he was rather worse, for John wanted the kingdom for himself, and Longchamps, although proud and haughty and cruel to the people, was at least true to his king.
John and his Norman friends oppressed the people, and the
hatred between English and Norman, to which
One of the most famous of these outlaws was Robin Hood. He lived in Sherwood, a forest which at that time covered a great part of the centre of England. He was the head of a large band and so powerful was he that he was called the King of Sherwood. And indeed his followers loved and obeyed him as they would have done a king.
Robbers as a rule are not men to be admired, but these were wild times, very different from ours, and Robin had been forced to become a robber through the wickedness of the rulers of the land. Among his own band he kept such good order, that in Sherwood women and children could wander safely, where it was dangerous for haughty knights and wicked priests to go. Robin's rules were strict, and those who would not obey them were driven out of the band of Merrie Men, as his followers were called.
But, look ye, do no husbandman harm,
That tilleth with his plough,
No more ye shall the good yeoman
That walketh by green wood shaw;
Nor no knight, nor no squire,
That will be good fellow.
These bishops and archbishops
Ye shall them beat and bind;
The high sheriff of Nottingham
Hold him in your mind.
The sheriff of Nottingham was Robin's greatest enemy. Many times he tried to catch Robin but he never succeeded.
In those days bows and arrows were used in battle instead of guns, as gunpowder had not been invented. Bows and arrows were also used for hunting wild animals. The English archers were the most famous in the world, and Robin Hood was the most famous archer in England. He could split a willow wand, and hit a mark which another man could hardly see.
Robin and his men lived in caves in the forest, shooting the King's deer for food and getting money by robbing the rich knights and priests who travelled through the Green Wood. But they never hurt nor robbed the poor people, indeed Robin used to help many of them. The common people loved him, although the rich, and great barons and nobles hated him.
Far away in Palestine news of the wicked things which John was doing reached Richard, and he felt that it was time that he should go home again. He had not succeeded in what he had set out to do. He had not won Jerusalem from the Turks. But he made a truce with their great leader, Saladin. A truce means that the people who have been fighting do not make peace for good and all, but that they promise not to fight against each other for some arranged time. Saladin and Richard made a truce for three years, during which time Saladin promised that no harm should be done to the pilgrims who came to the Holy Sepulchre.
Richard set sail for home, but his heart was in the Holy Land. Tears filled his eyes as its shores grew dim in the distance. Stretching out his hand, as if in prayer, "Blessed land," he cried, "farewell. To God's keeping I commend thee. May He give me life that I may return to deliver thee from the hand of the unbeliever."
As Richard sailed homeward, storms arose and his ship was wrecked upon the shore of Austria. Nearly everyone was drowned, but the King and a few of his knights escaped.
While in Palestine, Richard had quarrelled with the Duke of Austria, and he knew that it would not be safe to travel openly in this land. So the King and his knights disguised themselves as merchants, hoping in that way to pass safely on their journey.
But they had many adventures, and more than once were nearly discovered. At last Richard was left with only one knight and one little page. When they arrived at the large town near which the Duke of Austria lived, Richard and the knight lay hidden, while the page went into the town to buy food. They had been travelling for several days without daring to enter a house, and all the food they had was finished, and they were both weary and hungry.
Richard, like many brave and reckless people, was neither thoughtful nor careful. He gave the page a large sum of money and allowed him to go into the town carrying the King's gloves in his belt.
In those days only very rich people wore gloves, and Richard's were beautifully embroidered with silk and gold, such as only kings and princes wore. The page had often before bought food for his master, and he went fearlessly into the market-place to get what was needed. But when he handed the merchant a large piece of gold in payment, the man looked sharply at him.
"Who is your master?" he asked.
"My master is a rich merchant called Hugh," replied the boy. "He is returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land."
"Merchant, indeed," said another man. "Look at his gloves."
A third plucked them from his belt. "Merchant indeed," he too cried. "These are king's gloves. Who is your master, boy?"
"I have told you," replied the page steadily, "he is a merchant called Hugh."
But the townspeople would not believe that. They beat and tortured the poor lad. Still he would not tell.
Then they dragged him before the duke with whom Richard had quarrelled in Palestine. He was more strong and cruel than the others, and at last forced the page to confess that his master was Richard Cœur de Lion, the King of England.
Then Leopold, Duke of Austria, was very glad. He hated Richard with a great hatred. He sent soldiers to the King's hiding-place, seized him, and put him in prison.
Duke Leopold kept Richard prisoner for some time, and then he sold him to the Emperor of Germany for a large sum of money. The Emperor of Germany also hated Richard, so he, in his turn, put him into prison.
Then the Emperor wrote to the King of France telling him that the King of England was safely imprisoned in one of his strong castles. And King Philip of France was glad, for he, too, hated Richard, and had been helping Prince John stir up the English people to rebellion. When Prince John heard about it, he was glad too. So a great many people rejoiced that Richard Cœur de Lion was in prison.
T HERE were some plants with gorgeous red blossoms growing at the edge of the brook that flowed out of Holiday Pond. They were too beautiful to disturb. Their straight stems, tipped with deep, rich red, were much lovelier beside the stream where the water reflected their color than they could have been if broken and placed in vases.
The people who lived at Holiday Farm never gathered these blossoms. They always left the cardinal flowers for the humming birds.
While the humming birds were waiting for these plants to blossom, they visited elsewhere. First, each spring, they found the rock columbines, the flowers of which, like groups of red horns lined with gold, held nectar that was good to sip. Before the columbines went to seed, the apple trees blossomed. For a few days the humming birds tasted the food served in dishes of pink and white apple petals.
Many insects came to the same banquet. Some of the smallest of these were doubtless eaten by the humming birds, for nectar was not the only food these birds enjoyed. They needed something besides sweet liquids to give them strength to fly far and fast, to build their nests, and to rear their young. They needed meat as well as drink, and they came to flowers for both nectar and tiny insects.
Bumblebees were often busy in the apple blossoms, and their big, fuzzy bodies seemed to be in the way of the humming birds, so the birds chased them off the tree. It was rather a funny sight to see the tiniest of birds darting after the largest of bees. They followed the black and yellow velvet-coated insects for ten or twelve feet, and then turned and flew swiftly to the fragrant blossoms as if in haste to enjoy the feast while there were no clumsy bumblebees about.
It was not until July that the cardinal flowers were ready. Meanwhile the humming birds spent eight or ten weeks visiting blossoms of various colors and many forms. They liked red best of all, however; and their slender bills were exactly the right shape to poke into flowers that held nectar in long tubes.
Neither in color nor in form were there blossoms more tempting than the cardinal flowers. So one July day, when these plants opened the earliest of their red buds, a humming bird came down to the water's edge.
The lowest buds of the Cardinal Flower are the first to open.
At the time a boy and a girl were sitting on the bank near by. They were comradely cousins who were spending the summer at Holiday Farm; and they had been watching the young sandpipers wandering along the brook.
Suddenly something moved past them very near their heads. They heard several quick squeaks, fine squeaks, high-pitched and thin. At the same time there was a sound of tiny whirring wings. Then they saw a humming bird hovering before a cardinal flower. His back was glistening green. Underneath he was white and gray. The feathers of his throat were wonderful reds, seeming to change in the sunshine from ruby to scarlet or flaming orange. They gleamed like crimson jewels in the light.
The children on the bank looked at the ruby-throated humming bird among the cardinal flowers and at the colors reflected in the water below, and they thought that nothing else in the world could be so lovely.
After taking a sip from each open flower, the humming bird flew to a slender twig on a neighboring tree. There he rested for about ten minutes, preening his feathers and looking about. Then he made the rounds of the cardinal flowers again; and after taking a second rest on the same slender twig as before, he darted away to other flowery hunting grounds.
Each of the tall cardinal-flower plants had from ten to twenty red buds. These covered several inches of the upper part of the stem. The lowest buds were the first to open. Then those above blossomed. Last of all to flower were those at the very tip.
The most important parts of one of these flowers were the pistil and the stamens. The lower part of the pistil was a sort of seed pod, and attached to this was a slender part with a sticky tip, called a stigma. The stamens were joined in such a way as to make a tube, and some dusty pollen grew on their tips. As the pistil grew longer, it pressed against the stamens and pushed the pollen out before its stigma became sticky enough to catch any of the pollen.
Now, unless some of the pollen grains fell on the sticky part of the pistil and from there found their way to the seeds, the seeds could never grow into plants. It takes pollen to make really live seeds. So if each cardinal flower lost its pollen before the pistil was ready for it, how could it ever have any seeds?
Indeed, there was only one way. Since each cardinal flower lost its own pollen, it must have pollen from another cardinal flower or else its seeds would perish.
Perhaps by now you have guessed what the humming birds did when they thrust their bills into the tube-shaped cardinal flowers for food? They brushed against loose pollen in newly opened blossoms, and carried it to the older blossoms with sticky stigmas. In this way they saved the lives of the seeds.
The humming birds, of course, did not know anything about the cardinal-flower seeds. But the feathers at the base of their bills grew in just the right place to catch the dusty pollen in one flower and to hit against the ready stigma in another.
The cousins from Holiday Farm came often to the border of the stream and the pond where the cardinal flowers grew, and if they waited quietly they were sure to see a humming bird. Often it would be a father humming bird with a ruby throat. Sometimes it would be a mother humming bird with a grayish white throat and a white tip on her tail. And before the topmost buds on the stalks opened, the young birds came down with whirring wings and squeaky voices.
Usually, though not always, only one bird came at a time. He had a thorough way of going into every open flower on a stalk and then choosing another stalk near by. He seldom skipped a flower unless something disturbed him. If he saw another humming bird coming too near, he would chase it away with a squeak of displeasure. He liked to be quite alone at mealtime.
Before the latest of the cardinal flowers lost their bright petals, the humming birds went on their long journey to Central America. There they found enough nectar in red, tube-shaped flowers and enough small, delicate insects to satisfy them until the next spring when the columbine was ready for them again in the north.
The cardinal flowers had their seeds to ripen before it was time for frost. The plants that were farthest away from the brook scattered their seeds in the mud, where they had a very good chance to grow. The plants that were in the stream began to drop their seeds into the water. Such seeds floated away. Some of them were washed ashore, where they sprouted and found root hold. But some of them drifted over Six-foot Falls and floated off to sea.
The cousins from Holiday Farm saw what was happening. They did not like to lose the seeds. They wished the humming birds to have a good garden another year. So they waded into the brook and picked all the seeds that had not floated away. These they planted in wet ground near the pond.
At last cold weather came. The tall stalks that had borne dark green, willow-shaped leaves and red flowers, were frozen. They became stiff and dry. Wind and snow broke the stems, which were no longer of use.
Near the roots of the old plants, however, were some shorter stems underground that did not become dry. They waited until the winter snows had melted. They waited until the high spring water had flowed over them and away. They waited until the summer sun was warm. Then they grew straight and tall, putting forth their long leaves, which were shaped much like those of willow trees.
When it was July again, their tips were gorgeous with blossoms. Near them were the younger plants that had been seeds the year before.
Before the earliest of the blossoms had been ready many hours, the humming birds visited them. It seemed as if the pollen-carriers had been waiting for the red buds to open.
Thy summer's play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.
Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?
For I dance,
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.
If thought is life
And strength and breath,
And the want
Of thought is death;
Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.
WEEK 33 |
USTER BEAR had been right about the coming of Farmer Brown. It
was only a few minutes after Buster's disappearance that Farmer
Brown's footsteps were heard coming down the Lone Little Path,
and of course that ended school for that morning. But the next
morning all were on hand again at
"Way out in the mountains of the Far West, where Whistler the
"He is larger than Buster and possessed of tremendous strength. Instead of a black coat, he has a coat which varies from yellowish-brown to almost black. The tips of the hairs usually are lighter, giving him a frosted appearance, and this is what has given him his name. His claws are longer and more curved than those of Buster; in fact those claws are so big that they look very terrible. Because they are so long, Silvertip cannot climb trees. But if they prevent him climbing trees they are the finest kind of tools for digging out Marmots and ground Squirrels. Even when Whistler the Marmot makes his home down in among the rocks, he is not safe. Silvertip's strength is so great that he can pull over and roll aside great rocks.
Famous for his strength and fierceness he has been hunted until now he must be protected to preserve the species.
"He is a great traveler and covers a wide range of country in his
search for food. Sometimes he visits the Cattle ranges and kills
Cattle. So great is his strength that he can kill a Cow with ease.
Clumsy looking as he is, he is a very fast runner, and only a fast
Horse can outrun him. Like Buster, he lives on anything he can
find that is eatable. He has been so hunted by man that he has
become very cunning, and in all the great mountains where he lives
there is no one with quicker wits. At certain seasons of the year
great numbers of a fish called Salmon come up the rivers in that
country, and then Silvertip lives high. He watches beside a pool
until a Salmon swims within
reach; then, with a swift movement of
one paw, he scoops the fish on to the bank. Or he finds a place
where the water is so shallow that the fish have difficulty in
getting across, and there he seizes them as they struggle up the
river. In winter he sleeps just as Buster does, usually in a
"Mrs. Silvertip is a splendid mother. Usually the cubs, of which as a rule there are two, remain with her until they are a year old. Both Buster Bear and Silvertip have a queer habit of standing up against a tree and biting it as high up as they can reach. The next Bear who comes along that way sees the mark and makes his own on the same tree. Silvertip knows every inch of that part of the country in which he lives and always picks out the best way of getting from one place to another. He is one of the finest animals in this country, and it is a matter for sadness that his splendid race will soon come to an end unless man makes laws to protect him from the hunters. In very many places where he used to be found he lives no longer.
"Silvertip is not so good-natured as Buster, but all he asks is to be left alone. Of course when he turns Cattle killer he is getting into the worst possible kind of mischief and man cannot be blamed for hunting him. But it is only now and then that one of Silvertip's family turns Cattle killer. The others do no harm.
"I told you yesterday that Buster Bear has one cousin beside whom he would look small. This is Bigfoot the Alaska or Great Brown Bear, who lives in the extreme northwest part of the continent. Even Silvertip would look small beside him. He is a giant, the largest flesh-eating animal in all the great world. His coat is dark brown. When he stands up on his hind legs, he is almost half again as tall as a tall man. He stands very high at the shoulders and his head is very large. Like the other members of the Bear family, he eats all sorts of things. He hunts for Mice and other small animals, digs up roots, stuffs himself with berries, and at times grazes on a kind of wild grass, just as Cattle might do. He is a great fish eater, for fish are very plentiful in the streams in the country where he lives. Big as he is, he has learned to fear man just as Silvertip has. Occasionally when surprised he has been known to attack man and kill him, but as a rule he will run at the first hint of man's approach.
Not only is he the largest of all Bears but he is the largest flesh eating mammal in the world.
"The last of the Bear cousins is
He is monarch of the Far North in the region of perpetual ice and snow.
"More than any other member of the Bear family,
"Up there there are great fields of floating ice, and Snow King
swims from one to another in search of Seals, for they often
climb out on these ice fields, just as they do on shore.
"Snow King's babies are born in a house of snow. Early in the
"Snow King is fearless and has not yet learned to dread man, as
have his cousins. He will not hesitate to attack man and is
terrible to meet at close quarters. Because he lives in that far,
cold country, he is not hunted as much as other bears are. Besides
the Seals and fish, he sometimes catches an Arctic Hare. In the
summer great numbers of Ducks and other sea birds nest in that
far northern country, and their eggs and young add to
"Now this is all about the Bears, and also it is all about the order of flesh eaters, or Carnivora. I think that next we will see what we can find out about a certain little friend of yours, who, though he eats flesh, is not a member of the flesh-eating order at all, but belongs to an order of which he is the only member in this country. I will leave you to guess who it is."
Soon after Abraham Lincoln became President there broke out the civil war, which caused the death of many hundreds of thousands of brave men, and brought sorrow to nearly every home in the United States. Perhaps none of those who study this book will ever see so sad a time. But it was also a brave time, when men gave their lives for the cause they believed to be right. Women, in those days, suffered in patience the loss of their husbands and sons, and very many of them went to nurse the wounded, or toiled at home to gather supplies of nourishing food for sick solders in hospitals.
The war came about in this way: There had been almost from the foundation of the Government a rivalry between the Northern and Southern States. Long and angry debates took place about slavery, about the rights of the States and the government of the Territories. These had produced much bitter feeling. When a President opposed to slavery was elected, some of the Southern States asserted that they had a right to withdraw from the Union. This the Northern states denied, declaring that the Union could not be divided; but before Lincoln was inaugurated, seven States had declared themselves out of the Union. They formed a new government, which they called "the Confederate States of America," and elected Jefferson Davis President.
President Lincoln refused to acknowledge that the Confederate States were a government. He refused to allow that United States fort in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, to be surrendered to the Confederates, and he sent ships with provisions for the small garrison of this fort. The Southern troops about Charleston refused to let these provisions be landed, and at length opened fire on the fort. This began the war. Four other States now joined the Confederacy, making eleven in all.
It was a time of awful excitement in every part of the country. All winter long angry passions had been rising both in the North and in the South. When the first gun was fired at Sumter, in April, 1861, there was such a storm for fierce excitement as may never be seen again in America. In the North, a hundred thousand men were enlisted in three days. The excitement in the South was just as great, and a large portion of the Southern people rushed to arms. In those stormy times the drums were beating all day long in the streets; flags waved in every direction, and trains were thronged with armed men bidding farewell to friends and hastening forward to barrel and death. Men and women wept in the streets as they cheered "the boys" who were hurrying away to the war. For a while people hardly took time to sleep.
We can not tell the story of the war in this book; you will study it in larger histories. The armies on both sides became very large, and during the war there were some of the greatest conflicts ever seen in the world. The first great battle was fought at Shiloh, in Tennessee. Others took place at Murfreesboro [mur´-freze-bur´-ro], Chickamauga [chick-a-maw´-gah], and Nashville, in Tennessee; at Antietam [an-tee´-tam], in Maryland; and at Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania. Very many battles, great and small, were fought in Virginia, between Washington and Richmond.
On the side of the Union the three most famous generals were U. S. Grant, W. T. Sherman, and Philip H. Sheridan. The three greatest generals on the Confederate side were Robert E. Lee, Joseph E. Johnston, and Thomas J. Jackson, commonly called "Stonewall Jackson."
Ulysses S. Grant
Robert E. Lee
Both sides showed the greatest courage. The generals on both sides were very skillful. Victory was now with one party and now with the other; but, as the years passed on, the Union armies, being the stronger, gradually gained one advantage after another. By means of troops and gunboats sent down from the North under Grant, and a fleet under Admiral Farragut, which was sent around by sea to capture New Orleans, the whole of the Mississippi River was secured. Between Washington and Richmond the Confederates won many victories, but they were at length compelled to fall back behind the fortifications of Richmond and Petersburg, where they were besieged by General Grant.
During the time of this siege General Sherman marched directly into the heart of the Confederacy, where he was for weeks without any communication with the North. He marched across the great and fertile State of Georgia, from Atlanta to Savannah, on the seacoast, and then from Savannah northward toward Richmond. By destroying the railroads and the food by which General Lee's army in Richmond was supplied, this march of Sherman's made it impossible for the Confederates to continue the war.
Lee was forced to retreat from Richmond, and he surrendered his army on the 9th of April, 1865. All the other Confederate forces soon after laid down their arms. The war had lasted four years. As a result of the long struggle, slavery was abolished in all the territory of the United States.
Through the deserted square he cries,
And babies put their rosy fists
Into their eyes.
There's nothing out of No-man's-land
So drowsy since the world began,
As, "Dustman, dustman,
He goes his village round at dusk
From door to door, from day to day;
And when the children hear his step
They stop their play.
Far up the street he is descried,
And soberly the twilight games
Are laid aside.
There, Drowsyhead, the old refrain,
It goes again.
Hurry by and let me sleep.
When most I wish for you to come,
You always creep.
And when I want to play some more,
You never then are farther off
Than the next door.
He beckles down the echoing curb,
A step that neither hopes nor hates
He never varies from one pace,
And the monotony of time
Is in his face.
And some day, with more potent dust,
Brought from his home beyond the deep,
And gently scattered on our eyes,
We, too, shall sleep,—
Hearing the call we know so well
Fade swiftly out as it began,
WEEK 33 |
R OLAND was dead and bright angels had already carried his soul to heaven, when Charlemagne and all his host at last rode into the valley of Roncesvalles. What a dreadful sight was there! Not a path nor track, not a yard nor foot of ground but was covered with slain Franks and heathen lying side by side in death.
Charlemagne gazed upon the scene with grief and horror. "Where art thou, Roland?" he called. "The archbishop, where is he? Oliver, where art thou?" All the twelve peers he called by name. But none answered. The wind moaned over the field, fluttering here and there a fallen banner, but voice to answer there was none.
"Alas," sighed Charlemagne, "what sorrow is mine that I was not here ere this battle was fought!"
In and out of his long white beard his fingers twisted, and tears of grief and anger stood in his eyes. Behind him, rank upon rank, crowded his knights and barons full of wrath and sorrow. Not one among them but had lost a son or brother, a friend or comrade. For a time they stood dumb with grief and horror.
Then spoke Duke Naimes. Wise in counsel, brave in battle was he. "Look, Sire," he cried, "look where two leagues from us the dust arises upon the great highway. There is gathered the army of the heathen. Ride, Sire, ride and avenge our wrongs."
And so it was, for those who had fled from the battle-field were gathered together and were now crowding onward to Saragossa.
"Alas!" said Charlemagne, "they are already far away. Yet they have taken from me the very flower of France, so for the sake of right and honour I will do as thou desirest."
Then the Emperor called to him four of his chief barons. "Rest here," he said, "guard the field, the valleys and the hills. Leave the dead lying as they are, but watch well that neither lion nor any other savage beast come nigh to them. Neither shall any servant or squire touch them. I forbid ye to let man lay hand upon them till we return."
"Sire, we will do thy will," answered the four.
Then, leaving a thousand knights to be with them, Charlemagne sounded his war-trumpets, and the army set forth upon the pursuit of the heathen. Furiously they rode and fast, but already the foe was far. Anxiously the Emperor looked to the sun as it slowly went down toward the west. Night was at hand and the enemy still afar.
Then, alighting from his horse, Charlemagne kneeled upon the green grass. "Oh Lord, I pray Thee," he cried, "make the sun to stop. Say Thou to the night, 'wait.' Say Thou to the day, 'remain.' " And as the Emperor prayed, his guardian angel stooped down and whispered to him, "Ride onward, Charlemagne! Light shall not fail thee. Thou hast lost the flower of France. The Lord knoweth it right well. But thou canst now avenge thee upon the wicked. Ride!"
Hearing these words, Charlemagne sprang once more to horse and rode onward.
And truly a miracle was done for him. The sun stood motionless in the sky, the heathen fled, the Franks pursued, until in the Valley of Darkness they fell upon them and beat them with great slaughter. The heathen still fled, but the Franks surrounded them, closing every path, and in front flowed the river Ebro wide and deep. Across it there was no bridge, upon it no boat, no barge. Calling upon their gods Tervagan and Apollin and upon Mahomet to save them, the heathen threw themselves into the water. But there no safety they found. Many, weighted with their heavy armour, sank beneath the waves. Others, carried by the tide, were swept away, and all were drowned, King Marsil alone fleeing towards Saragossa.
When Charlemagne saw that all his enemies were slain, he leapt from his horse, and, kneeling upon the ground, gave thanks to Heaven. And even as he rose from his knees the sun went down and all the land was dim in twilight.
"Now is the hour of rest," said the Emperor. "It is too late to return to Roncesvalles, for our steeds are weary and exhausted. Take off their saddles and their bridles, and let them refresh themselves upon the field."
"Sire, it is well said," replied the Franks.
So the knights, leaping from their horses, took saddle and bridle from them, and let them wander free upon the green meadows by the river side. Then, being very weary, the Franks lay down upon the grass, all dressed as they were in their armour, and with their swords girded to their sides, and slept. So worn were they with battle and with grief, that none that night kept watch, but all alike slept.
The Emperor too slept upon the ground among his knights and barons. Like them he lay in his armour. And his good sword Joyeuse was girt about him.
The night was clear and the moon shone brightly. And Charlemagne, lying on the grass, thought bitterly of Roland and of Oliver, and of all the twelve Peers of France who lay dead upon the field of Roncesvalles. But at last, overcome with grief and weariness, he fell asleep.
As the Emperor slept, he dreamed. He thought he saw the sky grow black with thunder-clouds, then jagged lightning flashed and flamed, hail fell and wild winds howled. Such a storm the earth had never seen, and suddenly in all its fury it burst upon his army. Their lances were wrapped in flame, their shields of gold were melted, hauberks and helmets were crushed to pieces. Then bears and wolves from out the forests sprang upon the dismayed knights, devouring them. Monsters untold, serpents, fiery fiends, and more than thirty thousand griffins, all rushed upon the Franks with greedy, gaping jaws.
"Arm! Arm! Sire," they cried to him. And Charlemagne, in his dream, struggled to reach his knights. But something, he knew not what, held him bound and helpless. Then from out the depths of the forest a lion rushed upon him. It was a fierce, terrible, and proud beast. It seized upon the Emperor, and together they struggled, he fighting with his naked hands. Who would win, who would be beaten, none knew, for the dream passed and the Emperor still slept.
Again Charlemagne dreamed. He stood, he thought, upon the marble steps of his great palace of Aix holding a bear by a double chain. Suddenly out of the forest there came thirty other bears to the foot of the steps where Charlemagne stood. They all had tongues and spoke like men. "Give him back to us, Sire," they said, "he is our kinsman, and we must help him. It is not right that thou shouldest keep him so long from us."
Then from out the palace there came a hound. Bounding among the savage beasts he threw himself upon the largest of them. Over and over upon the grass they rolled, fighting terribly. Who would be the victor, who the vanquished? Charlemagne could not tell. The vision passed, and he slept till daybreak.
As the first dim light of dawn crept across the sky, Charlemagne awoke. Soon all the camp was astir, and before the sun rose high the knights were riding back over the wide roads to Roncesvalles.
When once again they reached the dreadful field, Charlemagne wandered over all the plain until he came where Roland lay. Then taking him in his arms he made great moan. "My friend, my Roland, who shall now lead my army? My nephew, beautiful and brave, my pride, my glory, all are gone. Alas the day! alas!" Thus with tears and cries he mourned his loss.
Then said one, "Sire, grieve not overmuch. Command rather that we search the plain and gather together all our men who have been slain by the heathen. Then let us bury them with chant, and song and solemn ceremony, as befits such heroes."
"Yea," said Charlemagne, "it is well said. Sound your trumpets!"
So the trumpets were sounded, and over all the field the Franks searched, gathering their slain brothers and comrades.
With the army there were many bishops, abbots and monks, and so with chant and hymn, with prayer and incense, the Franks were laid to rest. With great honour they were buried. Then, for they could do no more, their comrades left them.
Only the bodies of Roland, Oliver and Archbishop Turpin, they did not lay in Spanish ground. In three white marble coffins covered with silken cloths they were placed on chariots, ready to be carried back to the fair land of France.
Two Bulls were fighting furiously in a field, at one side of which was a marsh. An old Frog living in the marsh, trembled as he watched the fierce battle. "What are you afraid of?" asked a young Frog.
"Do you not see," replied the old Frog, "that the Bull who is beaten, will be driven away from the good forage up there to the reeds of this marsh, and we shall all be trampled into the mud?"
It turned out as the Frog had said. The beaten Bull was driven to the marsh, where his great hoofs crushed the Frogs to death.
When the great fall out, the weak must suffer for it.
Alow and aloof,
Over the roof,
How the midnight tempests howl!
With a dreary voice, like the dismal tune
Of wolves that bay at the desert moon;—
Or whistle and shriek
Through limbs that creak,
They cry and flit,
"Tu-whit! tu-who!" like the solemn owl!
Alow and aloof,
Over the roof,
Sweep the moaning winds amain,
And wildly dash
The elm and ash,
Clattering on the window-sash,
With a clatter and patter,
Like hail and rain
That well nigh shatter
The dusky pane!
Alow and aloof
Over the roof,
How the tempests swell and roar!
Though no foot is astir,
Though the cat and the cur
Lie dozing along the kitchen floor,
There are feet of air
On every stair—
Through every hall,
Through every gusty door,
There's a jostle and bustle,
With a silken rustle,
Like the meeting of guests at a festival!
Alow and aloof,
Over the roof,
How the stormy tempests swell!
And make the vane
On the spire complain;
They heave at the steeple with might and main,
And burst and sweep
Into the belfry, on the bell!
They smite it so hard, and they smite it so well,
That the sexton tosses his arms in sleep,
And dreams he is ringing a funeral knell!
WEEK 33 |
"Upon this land a thousand, thousand blessings,
Which time shall bring to ripeness."
A ND what shall we say of this great queen, Elizabeth, in whose reign England first rose to be a world-power?
At the age of twenty-five she had mounted the throne, at a moment when the fortunes of the country were low and the mighty empire of Spain was growing ever more and more mighty. At the age of seventy she died, leaving her country united and prosperous, with the power of Spain broken.
"Though you have had and may have many princes more mighty and wise sitting in this seat," were her last words to the people, "yet you never had any one that will be more careful and loving."
This was true. She had many faults, but she cared for England, and Englishmen rallied round her. With scanty means at her command, she succeeded in guiding England safely through the dangers which threatened her on every side. Freed from the power of Spain, the country began to realise her position with regard to the sea power of Europe. Men awoke to a sense of the great possibilities before their country, and they all worked to make her greater. But it was Elizabeth herself who made it all possible, she who "gave to each his opportunity."
Thus she had Drake for her great sea-captain, Raleigh for her courtier and colonist, Spenser for her poet, and Shakspere for her dramatist. She herself had been brought up amid the new culture of her father's Court. She could shoot and ride, she could dance and play, she was a good Greek scholar and spoke two foreign tongues.
Fourteen years old when her father died, she had seen her little ten-year-old brother, Edward VI., ascend the throne. On his death, six years, later, she had ridden by the side of her sister Mary when she was proclaimed Queen of England. Mary's marriage with Philip of Spain had brought the country to the verge of war, and it was perhaps well for England that her death, five years later, set Elizabeth upon the throne.
The whole country, now at peace, broke out into wonderful new life. Into the Old World was poured the wealth of the New World. Spain could no longer keep secret the riches of America. English eyes were strained across the seas, English hands were eagerly grasping the treasure that had belonged to Spain and Portugal for years. For the first time since Vasco da Gama had sailed round the Cape to India, and Columbus had discovered America, Englishmen dashed aside the curtain drawn by Spain and Portugal across their conquests in the East and West.
Contact with the New World brought commerce, commerce brought money, money brought luxury. Personal comforts increased. Carpets replaced the dirty flooring of rushes used up to this time, pillows came into general use, wooden plates were replaced by metal or silver, glass windows adorned the new houses and manors which sprang up all over the country.
With new luxuries and comforts came a love of beauty and display. The queen herself boasted of having 3000 dresses in her wardrobe. Her courtiers vied with one another in the splendour of ruffs and velvet coats. The old ideas of thrift melted before the fortunes made by adventurers sailing to the East or West. Visions of ships laden with pearls, diamonds, and gold dazzled the humblest sailor, while dreams of an El Dorado where everything was made of gold tempted the most indolent beyond the seas.
This love of travel quickened men's minds. England was ready for her great awakening. Poets burst forth into song, writers into prose. The full glory arose with Spenser and his "Fairy Queen." For two hundred years no great poem had broken the silence of English song. It expressed the Elizabethan age as no other poem had done. It did for poetry what William Shakspere did for the drama, representing
"The very age and body of the time,
Its form and pressure."
So all these men—adventurers, explorers, poets, dramatists, philosophers, and statesmen—helped to make Elizabeth's England great, splendid, triumphant; fit to take her place in the world's history, and to play the great part for which she was destined.
With the queen's death in 1603 the golden days ended for a time. But she had fulfilled the prophecy of Shakspere at her birth. She had showered upon the land
"A thousand, thousand blessings,
Which time shall bring to ripeness."
Good had grown with her, man had sung the "merry songs of peace to all his neighbours." Peace, plenty, love, truth, strength—these were her servants. And Shakspere was but voicing the feelings of the queen when he speaks of—
"This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
. . . . . . . . . .
This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
. . . . . . . . . .
England, bound in with the triumphant sea."
Hercules, being arrived at Mycenæ, submitted himself to Eurystheus, who, to tell the truth, was a little alarmed at the sight of his cousin, and suspicious of what such sudden submission might mean. And he was all the more bewildered when he saw the humility with which his kinsman approached him. Hercules could not do anything by halves; and in Eurystheus he saw, not a mere insignificant, timid, mean-minded man, but only the master whom the gods had appointed to him.
"And now," asked Hercules, in his impatience to prove his obedience, what do you order me to do?"
One would think that Eurystheus would have acted generously. So far from that, however, he thought to himself, "I had better send him on the most dangerous adventure I can think of. If he succeeds, it will be the more glory for me to have such a man under my power; and besides, it will prove whether this submission is real or sham. And if he perishes—well, I shall be safe from danger at his hands." So he said:—
"You have proved yourself a good lion-hunter. Bring me the carcass of the Nemæan lion."
Now the lion of the forest of Nemæa was far more terrible than the lion of Mount Cithæron. However, Hercules set out at once for the forest, glad that his first service was one of honor.
Eurystheus was quite relieved when he was gone; and, sending for skilled workmen, bade them make for him a large brazen pot, big enough to hold him comfortably, and with an opening just large enough for him to get in and out by. For he thought to himself, "If Hercules ever gets angry or rebellious, I can creep into my brazen pot, and be safe there."
Hercules was not long in finding the lion—the largest, strongest, and fiercest ever seen in the world. He let fly an arrow, but it scarcely pricked the beast's tough hide; then another, and another; but the lion minded them no more than if they had been shot by a child from a toy bow. At last one, however, pricked him sharply enough to enrage him, and he came on with a rush and a roar. All Hercules had time to do was to pull up a young oak-tree by the roots, for a weapon to meet the charge. The next moment the lion sprang. But Hercules stood his ground, and so belabored the lion with his club that he fairly beat it back into its den, into which he followed it. Then was there a fearful wrestle between Hercules and the lion. But Hercules prevailed, by getting his arms round the lion and crushing its breath out of its body.
Throwing the corpse over his shoulders, and holding it by bringing the fore-legs round his neck, he returned to Mycenæ. Thus equipped, he himself looked like some monstrous lion; and so terrified was Eurystheus at the news that he crept into his brass pot, and in this manner received Hercules, to whom he talked through a speaking-tube in the side.
"Go and kill the Hydra!" he called out.
So Hercules set out on his second labor: and Eurystheus crept out of his pot again.
WEEK 33 |
O NCE on a time, long long ago, when there were more kings and queens in Ireland than O'Donnell's old castle has windows, and when witches and enchantments were as plentiful as blackthorn bushes, there was a king and a queen with three sons, and to every one of these sons the queen had given a hound, a hawk and a filly. The filly could overtake anything, the hound could catch anything it pursued on dry land, and the hawk could come up with anything in the air or in the water. In the course of time, when these three lads had grown up to be fine, able, strapping young men, the oldest said one day that he would go away to push his fortune. The king and the queen were vexed at this, and wrought him high up and low down to keep him from going, but it was all no use, he wouldn't be said by them, and so, asking their blessing, he mounts the filly, and, with the hawk on his shoulder, and the hound at his heels, sets out. And he told them as he was setting out, to watch, from day to day, the water that settled in the filly's hoof-tracks outside the gate, "for," says he, "as long as that water keeps clear I'm all right; but when you see it frothing, I'm fighting a hard battle; and if ever you see it turn bloody I'm either dead or under enchantment." So himself, the hound, the hawk and the filly, they started, and off with them, and they traveled away, and away, far further than I could tell you and twice further than you could tell me, till at last one evening late he comes in sight of a great castle. When he got sight of the castle he pulls up his filly, and, looking about him, he sees a small wee house convaynient and he drew on this house, and, going in, found only one old woman in it and saw that it was a neat, clean little house entirely. "God save ye, young gentleman," says the woman. "God save yerself, kindly, and thanky; and can I have lodging for the night for myself, my hound, my hawk, and my filly?" says he. "Well for yourself, you can," says the old woman, says she, "but I don't like them other animals, but sure you can house them outside," says she. Very well and good, he agreed to this. When the old woman was getting his supper for him she said she supposed he was for the big fight the morrow. He axed her, "What big fight?" "And och," says she, "is that all you know about it," commencing and telling to him how that the king's daughter of the castle beyond was to be killed by a great giant the next day unless there was a man there able to beat the giant, and to any man that would fight him and beat him the king was to give his daughter in marriage and the weight of herself three times over in goold. "Och," says he, "I'll find something better to do. I'll not go near it." So the next morning early he was up betimes and pretending he was going away to hunt; but doesn't he go instead to the king's castle, and there he saw no end of a crowd gathered together from the four winds of the world, some of them thinking to fight the giant and win the king's daughter, and more of them only come out of curiosity, just to look on. But when the giant made his appearance, and they saw the sight of him, not a man of all the warriors there, covered all over as they were in coats of iron mail from the crown of their heads to the soles of their feet—the sorra resaive the one of them, but went like that, trembling with fear, for the like of such a tar-riffic giant none of them ever saw or heerd tell of before. So, my brave king's son waited on till he saw there was none of them present would venture to fight the giant, and then out he steps himself; and the giant and him to it, and the like of their fight was never witnessed in Ireland before or since, and he gave the giant enough to do, and the giant gave him enough to do; till at last, when it was going hard with him, he gave one leap into the air, and coming down with his sword just right on the giant's neck, he cut off his head, clean off, and then when he had that done he disappeared in the crowd, and after killing some game on the hills came home and gave the old woman the game for supper. That night when the old woman was giving him his supper she told him about the great gentleman that had killed the giant that day, and then disappeared all of a suddint into the air. And then she said that giant's brother was to be there the morra to fight anyone that would fight for the king's daughter, and she told him he should go, for it would be well worth seeing. But, "Och," says he, "I'll find something better worth doing—I'll not go near it." So after his supper, to bed he went, and he was up again early betimes in the morning, and making pretend he was going to hunt, he went off to the castle again. This day the crowd was bigger than ever, and when the giant appeared, if the first giant was tar-riffic, this one was twice over double as tar-riffic, and he could get no man with the heart to venture to fight him, till at length my brave king's son had to step out this day again and encounter him. Well, if the fight was hard the first day, it was this day double as hard, and the giant gave him his fill of it, and he gave the giant his fill of it, till at long and at last when it was going hard on him he takes one spring right up into the air and landing down with his sword on the giant's neck he cuts the head right off from the body and then again disappeared in the crowd, and after a while's hunting on the hills he come home with plenty of game; and this night, just like the night afore, when the old woman was giving him his supper she made great wonders of telling him of the tar-riffic fight that day again between the strange gentleman and the giant, and how he killed the giant and then disappeared right up into the sky before all their eyes. And then she said that on the morra the third and last giant was to fight, and she said this would be a wonderful day entirely, and he should surely go to see it, and to see the wonderful gentleman that killed the other two giants. But "Och," says he, "I'll find something better to do—I'll not go near it, to look at him or it." And the third morning again he went to the castle, purtending that it was to hunt he was goin', and the third giant appeared, and him far more tar-riffic than the first two put together. And to make a long story short, my brave king's son and himself went at it, and the fighting was the most odious ever was witnessed before or since, and the short and the long of it was that he sprung up at length into the air, and coming down on the giant's neck cut off his head, and then again disappeared in the crowd and went home; but as he was disappearing, doesn't one of the king's men snap the shoe off his foot; so home he had to go that night wanting one shoe. Next day, and for eight days after, the king had all his men out scouring the country far and wide to see if they could find the owner of the shoe; but though they flocked to the castle in thousands not one of them would the shoe fit. And every one of these days the king's son was out with his filly, his hawk and his hound on the hills hunting. At last one day the old woman went to the castle and told how she had a lodger that come home the night the last giant was kilt with one boot wanting. And the next day the king came there himself with a carriage and four horses and took the king's son away to his castle, and there when they tried on him the boot, doesn't it fit him like as if it was made on his foot; and the king gave him his daughter, and the marriage was performed, and all the whole gentry and nobility of all the land was invited in to a big faist. But, lo and behould ye, on that very night when all the spree was going on, and the fun was at its heighth in the ballroom, and all were as busy as bees in the kitchen, what would ye have of it but at that very ins'ant doesn't there come to the kitchen window a hare, and puts in its head and commences licking a plate of some particular nice dainty that was cooling inside the window, and the cook was so enraged at one of her very best dishes being destroyed that she got up in a passion and put off her all sorts and said it was a nice how do ye do that, with a hairo in the house that had killed giants, a dirty hare would be allowed to come in and spoil her cooking. This word soon came to the groom's ears in the ball-room, and though the king and the queen and the bride and all the nobility and gentry tried to persuade him against it he wouldn't stop, and there was no holding of him. He said he wouldn't sleep two nights in the one bed, or eat two meals' meat in the one house, till he would catch that hare and bring it back dead or alive. So mounting his filly, and taking with him his hawk and his hound, he started off hot-foot in pursuit. He pursued the hare all that night and all the next day, and at evening late he drew on a little wee house he saw in a hollow, and he went in, for he was tired, and determined to rest that night. He wasn't long in, and he was warming himself at the fire, with his hound, his hawk and his filly, when he hears a noise at the wee window of the house, and there he sees a dirty wizened old hag of a woman, trembling and shaking, down to her very finger tips. "Och, och, och, it's cold, cold, cold," says she, and her teeth rattling in her head. "Why don't you come in and warm yourself?" says he. "Och, I can't, I can't," says she. "I'm afeerd of them wild animals of yours. But here," says she, pulling three long hairs out of her head, and handing them in by the window to him, "here," says she, "is three of the borochs we used to have in old times, and if you tie them wild beasts of yours with them then I'll go in." So he took the three hairs and tied the hawk, the hound and the filly with them, and then the old hag came in, but she was trembling no longer, and, says she, with her eyes flashing fire, "Do you know who I am?" says she. "They call me the Old Hag of the Forest, and it was my three sons you killed to win the king's daughter, but you'll pay dearly for it now," says she. With that he drew his sword, and the hag drew another, and both of them fell to it, and I couldn't be able to describe to you the terrible fight they had entirely. But at length the Old Hag of the Forest was getting too many for him, and he had to call on the help of the hound. "Hound, hound," says he, "where are you at my command?" And at this, "Hair, hair," says the old hag, says she, "hold tight." "O," says the hound, "it's hard for me to do anything and my throat a‑cutting." Then he called on the hawk. "Hawk, hawk," says he, "where are you at my command?" And, "Hair, hair," says the old hag, says she, "hold tight." "O," says the hawk, "sure it's hard for me to do anything and my throat a‑cutting. And then he called on the filly. "Filly, filly," says he, "where are you at my command?" "Hair, hair," says the old hag, says she, "hold tight." "O," says the filly, "sure it's hard for me to do anything and my throat a‑cutting." So the end of it all was that the hag overcome him, and then taking out of her pocket a little white rod she struck him with it, and turned him into a gray rock, just outside her door, and then striking the hound, the hawk and the filly with the rod she turned them into white rocks just beside him.
Now, at home, they watched the water in the filly's hoof tracks as regular as the sun rose every day, day after day, till at last they one day saw the water in the hoof tracks frothing, and they said he was fighting a hard battle; and so he was, for that was the very day himself and the first giant had the encounter. Next day it was frothing more than ever, for that was the day he was fighting the second giant, and on the third day the water frothed right up out of the tracks, and then they knew he was fighting a desperate big battle entirely; and sure enough himself and the third giant were at it hard and fast at the same ins'ant. But at length didn't they find the water turning to blood and they thought he must be killed. So the next morning the second brother set out and he said he wouldn't sleep two nights in the one bed nor eat two meals of meat in the one house till he'd find out what happened to his brother. He took his hound, his hawk and his filly with him and he traveled on and on, far further than I could tell you, and twice further than you could tell me, till at length one evening late doesn't he come to the very wee house near a great castle where his brother had put up before him. And when he comes in the old woman that was in the house flew at him and kissed him and welcomed him back with a hundred welcomes ten times over, for he was so like his brother she was sure it was him was in it. Then she told him that they were all waiting for him anxiously at the castle, expecting him back every day, and that he should lose no time in going to them, for that the bride in particular was down-hearted entirely since he had went away, thinking that she'd never see him no more. So off he starts at once for the castle to find it all out, and it's there was the welcome and the rejoicing, and the pretty king's daughter covered him all over with kisses, and there was a great spread, and all the gentry and nobility were asked in again, but that night again, what would you have of it, but the hare comes a second time, and spoiled the cook's best dish, and drove the cook into a frightful rage, and—"It's a nice how do ye do, indeed," says the cook, says she, "that with a hairo in the house that slew three giants a hare would be allowed to come in and spoil my very choicest dish, and then go off with itself scot free," says she. And this word come to the new groom in the ballroom, and "By this, and by that," says he, "I won't stop till I go after that hare, and I'll never stop two nights or eat two meals in the one house till I bring back that hare dead or alive." And so, off he starts, himself, the hound, the hawk, and the filly; and all that night and the next day he purshued after the hare, and late the next evening when he was feeling tired out and not able to follow any further doesn't he see in the hollow below him a little house, and drawing on the house, he went in and was warming himself by the fire with his hound, his hawk and his filly about him when he hears a noise at the window, and there he sees an old hag quaking and shaking all over. "Och, och, och, it's cold, cold, cold," says she, trembling all over. "Why don't you come in and warm yourself?" says he. "O," says she, "I couldn't go in, for I'm afeerd of them wild animals of yours. But here," says she, pulling three long hairs out of her head, "here's three of the kind of borochs we used to use long ago, and tie your animals with them, and then I'll go in." So he takes the hairs and ties the hound, the hawk and the filly with them, and then the old hag came in, and she not trembling at all now, but her eyes flashing fire, and, says she, "Your brother killed my three sons, and I made him pay dearly for it, and I'll make you pay dearly," says she, "too." So with that she drew a sword, and he drew a sword, and both of them to it, and they fought long and they fought hard, but the hag was too many for him, so at length he had to call on the hound. "Hound, hound," says he, "where are you at my command?" Says the old hag, says she, "Hair, hair, hold tight!" "O," says the hound, "how could I do anything and my throat a‑cutting?" Then he called on the hawk. "Hawk, hawk," says he, "where are you at my command?" "Hair, hair," says the old hag, says she, "hold tight!" "O," says the hawk, "how could I do anything and my throat a‑cutting?" Then he called on his filly. "Filly, filly," says he, "where are you at my command?" "Hair, hair," says the old hag, says she, "hold tight!" "O," says the filly, says he, "how could I do anything and my throat a‑cutting?" So the end of it all was again that the hag got the better of him, and, taking out a wee bit of white rod out of her pocket she struck him with it, and turned him into another gray stone outside the door, and then struck the hound, the hawk and the filly, and turned them into three white stones just beside him.
Now, at home as before, they were watching his filly's hoof tracks every day regular, and everything went well till at last one day they saw the water in them turn bloody and then they were afeerd he was kilt. Then the very next morning says the youngest son Jack, says he, "I'll start off with my hound, my hawk and my filly, and won't sleep two nights in one bed, or eat two meals in the one house till I find what has happened to my two older brothers." So off he starts—himself, his filly, his hawk, and his hound—and he traveled and traveled away, far further than you could tell me or I could tell you, till he come in sight of the very same castle his two brothers reached before him, and drawing on the wee hut he saw near it he went in, and the old woman jumped and threw her arms about his neck, and welcomed him home with a hundred thousand welcomes, and told him it was a poor thing to go away and leave his bride the way he did, twice, and that she was in a very bad way, down-hearted entirely, thinking and ruminating what had become of him, or happened to him at all, at all. And then she hurried my brave Jack off to the castle. And, och, it's there the welcome was for him and the rejoicements, bekase he had come back again. And this time, just as before, the great faist was given, and the gentry and nobility all asked in to it, and the play was at its heighth when the word come to the ball-room once more about the unmannerly hare spoiling the cook's best dish the third time, and how the cook said it was a purty how de ye do, entirely, that such a thing would be allowed, with a hairo in the house that slew three giants. And with that, without more ado, off my brave Jack insisted on starting, and there was no holding of him, good or bad, for he said he was bound to fetch back that hare, dead or alive. So off Jack starts himself, his hawk, his hound and his filly, and Jack had a sort of notion in his eye that this same hare was nothing good, and that 'twas it led his two brothers astray, whatever had happened to them. So he traveled on, and on, and on, for that night and all the next day, and never come up with the hare, till at length, late that evening, he saw from him the same wee hut in the hollow that his brothers drew on before, and on it my brave Jack drew, too. And after he had been in the cabin some time himself, his hound, his hawk and his filly, he hears the noise at the window, and there he sees the old hag, trembling and shaking and quaking, and "Och, och, och, but it's cold, cold, cold," says she: "And why," says he, "don't you come in and warm yourself?" "Och," says she, "I'm afeerd of them wild animals of yours. But here," says she, taking out of her head three hairs, "here's three of the kind of borochs we used to use in old times, and tie your animals with them, and then I'll go in." Jack took from her the three hairs, and, pretending to tie the hound, the hawk and the filly with them, he threw them instead into the fire. Then the old hag came in, her eyes blazing in her head, and, drawing a sword, she rushes at Jack to have his life. And Jack drew his sword and rushed at her, and both of them to it hard and fast, and they fought long and they fought hard, till at length Jack, finding the hag putting too sore on him, called on his hound. "Hound, hound, where are you at my command?" "Hair, hair," says the old hag, says she, "hold tight!" "O," says the hair, "it's hard for me to do good and me a‑burning in the fire." And then Jack called on his hawk. "Hawk, hawk," says he, "where are you at my command?" "Hair, hair," says the old hag, says she, "hold tight." "O," says the hair, "it's hard for me to do good and me a‑burning in the fire." Then Jack called on his filly. "Filly, filly," says he, "where are you at my command?" "Hair, hair," says the old hag, says she, "hold tight." "O," says the hair, "it's hard for me to do good and me a‑burning in the fire." So the hound, the hawk and the filly all rallied to my brave Jack's aid, and the hound got hold of the hag by the heel and wouldn't let her go all she could do; and with one fling the filly broke her leg, and the hawk picked out her two eyes, so she couldn't see what she was doing, or where she was striking. So then, she cried out, "Mercy, mercy, spare my life and I'll give you back your two brothers." "All right," says Jack, "tell me where they are, and how I'm to get them." "Do you see them two gray stones," says she, "outside the door, with three smaller white ones round each of them?" "I do," says Jack. "Well," says she, "the gray stones are your brothers, and the others are their hounds, their hawks, and their fillies; and if you take water from the well at the foot of that tree below the house, and sprinkle three drops of it on each of them stones, they'll all be disenchanted again." Jack, you may suppose, didn't lose much time doing this, and lo and behold you from the stones comes up his two brothers, every one of them with his hound, his hawk, and his filly, just the same as they were before they had been enchanted by the old Hag of the Forest, and that was the meeting and the greeting between Jack and his lost brothers, that he thought he'd never see again! But off they soon started, all of them, with their hounds, their hawks and their fillies, away back for the castle again, and the eldest brother got his bride and the faist was spread this time again and all the gentry and nobility of both that and the surrounding countries all come to attend it and do honor to the bride and groom; and such a time for eating, drinking, dancing, singing, fun and amusement was never seen before or after. Jack and the second brother started away off afterwards for home with their hounds, their hawks and their fillies with them and as much goold as they could carry. I got brogues of brocham and slippers of bread, a piece of a pie for telling a lie, and then come slithering home on my head.
T HE round hole in the ant-hill is called the gate. The ants can close it with a bit of stone. Often there are two, three, or even more, gates for one ant-hill. Once I saw a hill with six large gates.
Now I will tell you of a very queer ant-hill. It was made by big black ants, in a little valley between two hills of sand.
Into this valley had blown a very large sheet of thick paper. It had been around a ham and was very greasy. It had lain on the ground, crumpled up, in sun, and snow, and rain, for a year.
By that time it was hard and stiff, and weeds had grown up about it. One day, as I was going by, I saw ants running in and out of the folds of the paper. I took a stick and turned the top fold open like a lid.
It was full of ants and of white pupa-cases. The ants, I think, liked the folds of the paper for halls, and the larger wrinkles for rooms. They had found out how to have a house without much work in making it.
When I opened this paper-hill, they ran in swarms to pick up the white bundles. Poor things! They did not know where to go for safety. So I laid the lid of their house back in its place, and soon they were quiet again.
Now I will tell you how ants move from one house to another. One day I saw by my garden path a line of ants moving all one way. They were black ants.
They went two by two, or one and two, close to each other. Every one had in its jaws a white bundle. I found that they all came from an ant-hill. They came up out of the gate very fast, one by one, each with its bundle.
About two or three inches from this line of ants I saw another line. This line went to the hill, not from it. They went in good order.
They had no bundles when they went into the hill; when they came out, each had a bundle, and joined the other line of ants.
On the March
I went along with the stream of ants that had the white bundles. I found that they went to a new hill, about thirty feet from the old hill.
There they laid down their bundles, and went back to the old hill to bring more. The bundles lay heaped in a ring all about the gate of the new city.
Out of this gate ran other ants in haste. They caught up the bundles, one by one, and carried them in. In about half an hour they were nearly all taken in, and the ants brought no more. The moving was over.
On the March
With a long blade of grass, I gently took up a little bundle. I hid it behind a stone, some six inches off. I took three bundles and hid them, lifting them with the tip of the grass-blade.
When all the bundles left at the hill were carried in, the ants went down the gates. But in a minute out came three or four ants. They ran about wildly and searched the ground.
They went in circles and looked over the ground with much care. The circles grew wider. At last one came up behind the stone and found the bundles.
The ant picked up one bundle and ran. Then this ant met the other ants, and, I think, told them the news. For at once the other ants ran up to the stone, and each took up a bundle.
Then they all ran into the hill. Can ants count? That looked as if they knew how many bundles they had. It also looked as if they knew that two ants must go for two bundles.
A man who took bundles from a march in this way thinks that the ants smell the hidden bundles. He says they will not search for them if you hide them in the earth.
"Call back your odors, lonely flowers,
From the night-wind call them back,
And fold your leaves till the laughing hours
Come forth in the sunbeam's track.
"The lark lies couched in her grassy nest,
And the honey-bee is gone,
And all bright things are away to rest;
Why watch ye here alone?"
"Nay, let our shadowy beauty bloom
When the stars give quiet light,
And let us offer our faint perfume
On the silent shrine of night.
"Call it not wasted, the scent we lend
To the breeze when no step is nigh:
Oh! thus forever the earth should send
Her grateful breath on high!
"And love us as emblems, night's dewy flowers,
Of hopes unto sorrow given,
That spring through the gloom of the darkest hours,
Looking alone to heaven."
WEEK 33 |
Jehoiakim's young son Jehoiachin, who was also called Coniah or Jeconiah, was then made king by the people. But he reigned only three months, for Nebuchadnezzar, who was now the king of Babylon, and was conquering all the lands, came with his army and took the city of Jerusalem. He carried the young king a captive to Babylon, as Nechoh had carried Jehoahaz a captive to Egypt eleven years before. With King Jehoiachin were taken away many of the nobles and rulers, and the best people of the land. Most of these were worshippers of the Lord, who carried with them to the land of Babylonia a love for the Lord, and who served him there, for their trouble only drew them the closer to their God. After these captives had been taken away the Lord showed to Jeremiah in the temple a vision of what should come to pass. Jeremiah saw two baskets of figs. One basket was full of fresh, ripe figs, the best that could be found. The other basket was full of poor, decayed figs, not fit to be eaten. The Lord said, "Jeremiah, what do you see?"
And Jeremiah said, "Figs; the good figs very good; and the bad figs very bad, figs so bad that they cannot be eaten."
Then the Lord said to Jeremiah, "Like these good figs are the captives who have been taken away to the land of Babylon. I will care for them, and keep them, and will bring them again to this land. I will give them a heart to know me; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the bad figs are like those who are left in this land, the king who shall reign over them, and his princes, and his people. They shall suffer, and shall die by the sword, and by famine, and by plague, until they are destroyed."
God showed Jeremiah in this way that the captives in
Babylon were the hope of the nation. And afterward
Jeremiah sent a letter to these captives, saying, "Thus
saith the Lord to those who have been carried away
captive, 'Build houses and live in them; and plant
gardens, and eat the fruit of them; and have sons and
daughters, and let your children be married in that
land when they grow up. And pray the Lord to give peace
to the city and the land where you are living, for you
and your children shall stay there seventy years, and
after seventy years they shall come again to their own
land in peace. For my thoughts, saith the Lord, are
thoughts of peace and kindness toward you. You shall
call upon me, and I will hear you. You shall seek me
and find me, when you seek me with all your
Jeremiah warns the people of Judah
After Jehoiachin and the captives had been taken away, Nebuchadnezzar set up as king in Judah Zedekiah, the uncle of Jehoiachin and another son of Josiah. He was the twentieth and last king of the kingdom of Judah. He began by promising to be true and faithful to his over-lord, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, who had made him king. But very soon he was led by the nobles who stood around his throne to break his promise and to throw off the rule of Babylon; also he left the worship of the Lord, as did his people, and began to pray to the idols of wood and stone that could give him no help.
Jeremiah the prophet told King Zedekiah that he was doing wickedly in breaking his promises and in turning from the Lord to idols. He told Zedekiah that he would fail, and would bring his kingdom to ruin. He said, "It is better to obey the king of Babylon than to fight against him, for God will not bless you and your people in breaking your word. The king of Babylon will come and will destroy this city. You shall see him face to face, and he will take you away a captive to his own land, and this city shall be destroyed."
Jeremiah tells the king he shall be taken captive
This made the princes and nobles very angry against Jeremiah. They said, "This man Jeremiah is an enemy of his land and a friend to the king of Babylon. He is a traitor, and should be put to death." Zedekiah said to his nobles, "Jeremiah is in your hands; you can do with him what you choose. The king cannot help him against you."
Then these men seized Jeremiah, and took him to the prison, and threw him into a dungeon, down below the floor, and filled with mud and filth, into which the prophet sank; and there they left him to die. But in the court of the king there was one kind man, a negro named Ebedmelech. He found Jeremiah in the dungeon, and let down to him a rope and drew him up, and brought him to a safe and dry place, though still in the prison.
By this time Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and his army were again before the city of Jerusalem, laying siege to it. No one could go out or come in; no food could be found for the people, and many of them starved to death. The soldiers of Nebuchadnezzar built forts, and threw darts and stones, and broke down the gates, and made great openings in the walls of the city.
When King Zedekiah saw that the city must fall before its enemies he tried to escape. But the men of Babylon followed him and took him prisoner, and with him all his family, his wives and his sons. They were all brought before King Nebuchadnezzar, so that it came to pass as the prophet had said, Zedekiah saw the king of Babylon.
But he saw what was more terrible; he saw all his sons slain before him. Then Zedekiah's eyes were put out, and a blinded captive, he was dragged away to Babylon. The Babylonian soldiers killed all the leaders of the people who had led Zedekiah to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar; and the rest of the people, except the very poorest in the land, they took away to the land of Babylon. The king of Babylon was friendly to Jeremiah, the prophet, because of the advice that he had given to Zedekiah and his people. The ruler whom Nebuchadnezzar set over the city opened the door of Jeremiah's prison, and allowed him to choose between going to Babylon with the captives or staying with the poor people in the land. Jeremiah chose to stay; but not long after he was taken down to Egypt by enemies to the king of Babylon. And there in Egypt Jeremiah died; some think that he was slain. His life had been sad, for he had seen nothing but evil come upon his land; and his message from the Lord had been a message of woe and wrath. Because of his sorrow, Jeremiah has been called "the weeping prophet."
Nebuchadnezzar carried away all that was left of the valuable things in the Temple, and then he burned the buildings. He tore down the walls of Jerusalem and set the city on fire. So all that was left of the city of David and the Temple of Solomon was a heap of ashes and blackened stones. And thus the kingdom of Judah ended, nearly four hundred years after Rehoboam became its first king.
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.
Perhaps he would never have dared to raise his eyes, but that, though the piping was now hushed, the call and the summons seemed still dominant and imperious. He might not refuse, were Death himself waiting to strike him instantly, once he had looked with mortal eye on things rightly kept hidden. Trembling he obeyed, and raised his humble head; and then, in that utter clearness of the imminent dawn, while Nature, flushed with fullness of incredible colour, seemed to hold her breath for the event, he looked in the very eyes of the Friend and Helper; saw the backward sweep of the curved horns, gleaming in the growing daylight; saw the stern, hooked nose between the kindly eyes that were looking down on them humourously, while the bearded mouth broke into a half-smile at the corners; saw the rippling muscles on the arm that lay across the broad chest, the long supple hand still holding the pan-pipes only just fallen away from the parted lips; saw the splendid curves of the shaggy limbs disposed in majestic ease on the sward; saw, last of all, nestling between his very hooves, sleeping soundly in entire peace and contentment, the little, round, podgy, childish form of the baby otter. All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
"Rat!" he found breath to whisper, shaking. "Are you afraid?"
"Afraid?" murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love. "Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet—and yet—O, Mole, I am afraid!"
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
Sudden and magnificent, the sun's broad golden disc showed itself over the horizon facing them; and the first rays, shooting across the level water-meadows, took the animals full in the eyes and dazzled them. When they were able to look once more, the Vision had vanished, and the air was full of the carol of birds that hailed the dawn.
As they stared blankly, in dumb misery deepening as they slowly realised all they had seen and all they had lost, a capricious little breeze, dancing up from the surface of the water, tossed the aspens, shook the dewy roses, and blew lightly and caressingly in their faces; and with its soft touch came instant oblivion. For this is the last best gift that the kindly demi-god is careful to bestow on those to whom he has revealed himself in their helping: the gift of forgetfulness. Lest the awful remembrance should remain and grow, and overshadow mirth and pleasure, and the great haunting memory should spoil all the after-lives of little animals helped out of difficulties, in order that they should be happy and light-hearted as before.
Mole rubbed his eyes and stared at Rat, who was looking about him in a puzzled sort of way. "I beg your pardon; what did you say, Rat?" he asked.
"I think I was only remarking," said Rat slowly, "that this was the right sort of place, and that here, if anywhere, we should find him. And look! Why, there he is, the little fellow!" And with a cry of delight he ran towards the slumbering Portly.
But Mole stood still a moment, held in thought. As one wakened suddenly from a beautiful dream, who struggles to recall it, and can recapture nothing but a dim sense of the beauty of it, the beauty! Till that, too, fades away in its turn, and the dreamer bitterly accepts the hard, cold waking and all its penalties; so Mole, after struggling with his memory for a brief space, shook his head sadly and followed the Rat.
Portly woke up with a joyous squeak, and wriggled with pleasure at the sight of his father's friends, who had played with him so often in past days. In a moment, however, his face grew blank, and he fell to hunting round in a circle with pleading whine. As a child that has fallen happily asleep in its nurse's arms, and wakes to find itself alone and laid in a strange place, and searches corners and cupboards, and runs from room to room, despair growing silently in its heart, even so Portly searched the island and searched, dogged and unwearying, till at last the black moment came for giving it up, and sitting down and crying bitterly.
The Mole ran quickly to comfort the little animal; but Rat, lingering, looked long and doubtfully at certain hoof-marks deep in the sward.
"Some—great—animal—has been here," he murmured slowly and thoughtfully; and stood musing, musing; his mind strangely stirred.
"Come along, Rat!" called the Mole. "Think of poor Otter, waiting up there by the ford!"
Portly had soon been comforted by the promise of a treat—a jaunt on the river in Mr. Rat's real boat; and the two animals conducted him to the water's side, placed him securely between them in the bottom of the boat, and paddled off down the backwater. The sun was fully up by now, and hot on them, birds sang lustily and without restraint, and flowers smiled and nodded from either bank, but somehow—so thought the animals—with less of richness and blaze of colour than they seemed to remember seeing quite recently somewhere—they wondered where.
The main river reached again, they turned the boat's head upstream, towards the point where they knew their friend was keeping his lonely vigil. As they drew near the familiar ford, the Mole took the boat in to the bank, and they lifted Portly out and set him on his legs on the tow-path, gave him his marching orders and a friendly farewell pat on the back, and shoved out into mid-stream. They watched the little animal as he waddled along the path contentedly and with importance; watched him till they saw his muzzle suddenly lift and his waddle break into a clumsy amble as he quickened his pace with shrill whines and wriggles of recognition. Looking up the river, they could see Otter start up, tense and rigid, from out of the shallows where he crouched in dumb patience, and could hear his amazed and joyous bark as he bounded up through the osiers on to the path. Then the Mole, with a strong pull on one oar, swung the boat round and let the full stream bear them down again whither it would, their quest now happily ended.
"I feel strangely tired, Rat," said the Mole, leaning wearily over his oars as the boat drifted. "It's being up all night, you'll say, perhaps; but that's nothing. We do as much half the nights of the week, at this time of the year. No; I feel as if I had been through something very exciting and rather terrible, and it was just over; and yet nothing particular has happened."
"Or something very surprising and splendid and beautiful," murmured the Rat, leaning back and closing his eyes. "I feel just as you do, Mole; simply dead tired, though not body-tired. It's lucky we've got the stream with us, to take us home. Isn't it jolly to feel the sun again, soaking into one's bones! And hark to the wind playing in the reeds!"
"It's like music—far-away music," said the Mole nodding drowsily.
"So I was thinking," murmured the Rat, dreamful and languid. "Dance-music—the lilting sort that runs on without a stop—but with words in it, too—it passes into words and out of them again—I catch them at intervals—then it is dance-music once more, and then nothing but the reeds' soft thin whispering."
"You hear better than I," said the Mole sadly. "I cannot catch the words."
"Let me try and give you them," said the Rat softly, his eyes still closed. "Now
it is turning into words again—faint but
clear—Lest the awe should dwell—And
turn your frolic to fret—You shall look on my power
at the helping hour—But then
you shall forget! Now the reeds take it
up—forget, forget, they sigh, and it
dies away in a rustle and a whisper. Then the voice
"Lest limbs be reddened and rent—I spring the trap that is set—As I loose the snare you may glimpse me there—For surely you shall forget! Row nearer, Mole, nearer to the reeds! It is hard to catch, and grows each minute fainter.
"Helper and healer, I cheer—Small waifs in the woodland wet—Strays I find in it, wounds I bind in it—Bidding them all forget! Nearer, Mole, nearer! No, it is no good; the song has died away into reed-talk."
"But what do the words mean?" asked the wondering Mole.
"That I do not know," said the Rat simply. "I passed them on to you as they
reached me. Ah! now they return again, and this time full and clear! This time,
at last, it is the real, the unmistakable thing,
"Well, let's have it, then," said the Mole, after he had waited patiently for a few minutes, half-dozing in the hot sun.
But no answer came. He looked, and understood the silence. With a smile of much happiness on his face, and something of a listening look still lingering there, the weary Rat was fast asleep.
The coach is at the door at last;
The eager children, mounting fast
And kissing hands, in chorus sing:
Good-bye, good-bye, to everything!
To house and garden, field and lawn,
The meadow-gates we swang upon,
To pump and stable, tree and swing,
Good-bye, good-bye, to everything!
And fare you well for evermore,
O ladder at the hayloft door,
O hayloft where the cobwebs cling,
Good-bye, good-bye, to everything!
Crack goes the whip, and off we go;
The trees and houses smaller grow;
Last, round the woody turn we swing:
Good-bye, good-bye, to everything!