WEEK 34 |
W HEN Heidi opened her eyes on her first morning in Frankfurt she could not think where she was. Then she rubbed them and looked about her. She was sitting up in a high white bed, on one side of a large, wide room, into which the light was falling through very, very long white curtains; near the window stood two chairs covered with large flowers, and then came a sofa with the same flowers, in front of which was a round table; in the corner was a washstand, with things upon it that Heidi had never seen in her life before. But now all at once she remembered that she was in Frankfurt; everything that had happened the day before came back to her, and finally she recalled clearly the instructions that had been given her by the lady-housekeeper, as far as she had heard them. Heidi jumped out of bed and dressed herself; then she ran first to one window and then another; she wanted to see the sky and country outside; she felt like a bird in a cage behind those great curtains. But they were too heavy for her to put aside, so she crept underneath them to get to the windows. But these again were so high that she could only just get her head above the sill to peer out. Even then she could not see what she longed for. In vain she went first to one and then the other of the windows—she could see nothing but walls and windows and again walls and windows. Heidi felt quite frightened. It was still early, for Heidi was accustomed to get up early and run out at once to see how everything was looking, if the sky was blue and if the sun was already above the mountains, or if the fir trees were waving and the flowers had opened their eyes. As a bird, when it first finds itself in its bright new cage, darts hither and thither, trying the bars in turn to see if it cannot get through them and fly again into the open, so Heidi continued to run backwards and forwards, trying to open first one and then the other of the windows, for she felt she could not bear to see nothing but walls and windows, and somewhere outside there must be the green grass, and the last unmelted snows on the mountain slopes, which Heidi so longed to see. But the windows remained immovable, try what Heidi would to open them, even endeavoring to push her little fingers under them to lift them up; but it was all no use. When after a while Heidi saw that her efforts were fruitless, she gave up trying, and began to think whether she would not go out and round the house till she came to the grass, but then she remembered that the night before she had only seen stones in front of the house. At that moment a knock came to the door, and immediately after Tinette put her head inside and said, "Breakfast is ready." Heidi had no idea what an invitation so worded meant, and Tinette's face did not encourage any questioning on Heidi's part, but rather the reverse. Heidi was sharp enough to read its expression, and acted accordingly. So she drew the little stool out from under the table, put it in the corner and sat down upon it, and there silently awaited what would happen next. Shortly after, with a good deal of rustling and bustling, Fraülein Rottenmeier appeared, who again seemed very much put out and called to Heidi, "What is the matter with you, Adelaide? Don't you understand what breakfast is? Come along at once!"
Heidi had no difficulty in understanding now and followed at once. Clara had been some time at the breakfast table and she gave Heidi a kindly greeting, her face looking considerably more cheerful than usual, for she looked forward to all kinds of new things happening again that day. Breakfast passed off quietly; Heidi ate her bread and butter in a perfectly correct manner, and when the meal was over and Clara wheeled back into the study, Fraülein Rottenmeier told her to follow and remain with Clara until the tutor should arrive and lessons begin.
As soon as the children were alone again, Heidi asked, "How can one see out from here, and look right down on to the ground?"
"You must open the window and look out," replied Clara amused.
"But the windows won't open," responded Heidi sadly.
"Yes, they will," Clara assured her. "You cannot open them, nor I either, but when you see Sebastian you can ask him to open one."
It was a great relief to Heidi to know that the windows could be opened and that one could look out, for she still felt as if she was shut up in prison. Clara now began to ask her questions about her home, and Heidi was delighted to tell her all about the mountain and the goats, and the flowery meadows which were so dear to her.
Meanwhile her tutor had arrived; Fraülein Rottenmeier, however, did not bring him straight into the study but drew him first aside into the dining-room, where she poured forth her troubles and explained to him the awkward position in which she was placed, and how it had all come about. It appeared that she had written some time back to Herr Sesemann to tell him that his daughter very much wished to have a companion, and had added how desirable she thought it herself, as it would be a spur to Clara at her lessons and an amusement for her in her playtime. Fraülein Rottenmeier had privately wished for this arrangement on her own behalf, as it would relieve her from having always to entertain the sick girl herself, which she felt at times was too much for her. The father had answered that he was quite willing to let his daughter have a companion, provided she was treated in every way like his own child, as he would not have any child tormented or put upon—"which was a very unnecessary remark," put in Fraülein Rottenmeier, "for who wants to torment children!" But now she went on to explain how dreadfully she had been taken in about the child, and related all the unimaginable things of which she had already been guilty, so that not only would he have to begin with teaching her the A B C, but would have to start with the most rudimentary instruction as regarded everything to do with daily life. She could see only one way out of this disastrous state of affairs, and that was for the tutor to declare that it was impossible for the two to learn together without detriment to Clara, who was so far ahead of the other; that would be a valid excuse for getting rid of the child, and Herr Sesemann would be sure to agree to the child being sent home again, but she dared not do this without his order, since he was aware that by this time the companion had arrived. But the tutor was a cautious man and not inclined to take a partial view of matters. He tried to calm Fraülein Rottenmeier, and gave it as his opinion that if the little girl was backward in some things she was probably advanced in others, and a little regular teaching would soon set the balance right. When Fraülein Rottenmeier saw that he was not ready to support her, and evidently quite ready to undertake teaching the alphabet, she opened the study door, which she quickly shut again as soon as he had gone through, remaining on the other side herself, for she had a perfect horror of the A B C. She walked up and down the dining-room, thinking over in her own mind how the servants were to be told to address Adelaide. The father had written that she was to be treated exactly like his own daughter, and this would especially refer, she imagined, to the servants. She was not allowed, however, a very long interval of time for consideration, for suddenly the sound of a frightful crash was heard in the study, followed by frantic cries for Sebastian. She rushed into the room. There on the floor lay in a confused heap books, exercise-books, inkstand, and other articles with the table-cloth on the top, while from beneath them a dark stream of ink was flowing all across the floor. Heidi had disappeared.
"Here's a state of things!" exclaimed Fraülein Rottenmeier, wringing her hands. "Table-cloth, books, work-basket, everything lying in the ink! It was that unfortunate child, I suppose!"
The tutor was standing looking down at the havoc in distress; there was certainly only one view to be taken of such a matter as this and that an unfavorable one. Clara meanwhile appeared to find pleasure in such an unusual event and in watching the results. "Yes, Heidi did it," she explained, "but quite by accident; she must on no account be punished; she jumped up in such violent haste to get away that she dragged the table-cloth along with her, and so everything went over. There were a number of vehicles passing, that is why she rushed off like that; perhaps she has never seen a carriage."
"Is it not as I said? She has not the smallest notion about anything! not the slightest idea that she ought to sit still and listen while her lessons are going on. But where is the child who has caused all this trouble? Surely she has not run away! What would Herr Sesemann say to me?" She ran out of the room and down the stairs. There, at the bottom, standing in the open doorway, was Heidi, looking in amazement up and down the street.
"What are you doing? What are you thinking of to run away like that?" called Fraülein Rottenmeier.
"I heard the sound of the fir trees, but I cannot see where they are, and now I cannot hear them any more," answered Heidi, looking disappointedly in the direction whence the noise of the passing carriages had reached her, and which to Heidi had seemed like the blowing of the south wind in the trees, so that in great joy of heart she had rushed out to look at them.
"Fir trees! do you suppose we are in a wood? What ridiculous ideas are these? Come upstairs and see the mischief you have done!"
Heidi turned and followed Fraülein Rottenmeier upstairs; she was quite astonished to see the disaster she had caused, for in her joy and haste to get to the fir trees she had been unaware of having dragged everything after her.
"I excuse you doing this as it is the first time, but do not let me know of you doing it a second time," said Fraülein Rottenmeier, pointing to the floor. "During your lesson time you are to sit still and attend. If you cannot do this I shall have to tie you to your chair. Do you understand?"
"Yes," replied Heidi, "but I will certainly not move again," for now she understood that it was a rule to sit still while she was being taught.
Sebastian and Tinette were now sent for to clear up the broken articles and put things in order again; the tutor said good-morning and left, as it was impossible to do any more lessons that day; there had been certainly no time for gaping this morning.
Clara had to rest for a certain time during the afternoon, and during this interval, as Fraülein Rottenmeier informed Heidi, the latter might amuse herself as she liked. When Clara had been placed on her couch after dinner, and the lady-housekeeper had retired to her room, Heidi knew that her time had come to choose her own occupation. It was just what she was longing for, as there was something she had made up her mind to do; but she would require some help for its accomplishment, and in view of this she took her stand in the hall in front of the dining-room door in order to intercept the person she wanted. In a few minutes up came Sebastian from the kitchen with a tray of silver tea-things, which he had to put away in the dining-room cupboard. As he reached the top stairs Heidi went up to him and addressed him in the formal manner she had been ordered to use by Fraülein Rottenmeier.
Sebastian looked surprised and said somewhat curtly, "What is it you want, miss?"
"I only wished to ask you something, but it is nothing bad like this morning," said Heidi, anxious to conciliate him, for she saw that Sebastian was rather in a cross temper, and quite thought that it was on account of the ink she had spilt on the floor.
"Indeed, and why, I should first like to know, do you address me like that?" replied Sebastian, evidently still put out.
"Fraülein Rottenmeier told me always to speak to you like that," said Heidi.
Then Sebastian laughed, which very much astonished Heidi, who had seen nothing amusing in the conversation, but Sebastian, now he understood that the child was only obeying orders, added in a friendly voice, "What is it then that miss wants?"
It was now Heidi's turn to be a little put out, and she said, "My name is not miss, it is Heidi."
"Quite so, but the same lady has ordered me to call you miss," explained Sebastian.
"Has she? Oh, then I must be called so," said Heidi submissively, for she had already noticed that whatever Fraülein Rottenmeier said was law. "Then now I have three names," she added with a sigh.
"What was it little miss wished to ask?" said Sebastian as he went on into the dining-room to put away his silver.
"How can a window be opened?"
"Why, like that!" and Sebastian flung up one of the large windows.
Heidi ran to it, but she was not tall enough to see out, for her head only reached the sill.
"There, now miss can look out and see what is going on below," said Sebastian as he brought her a high wooden stool to stand on.
Heidi climbed up, and at last, as she thought, was going to see what she had been longing for. But she drew back her head with a look of great disappointment on her face.
"Why, there is nothing outside but the stony streets," she said mournfully; "but if I went right round to the other side of the house what should I see there, Sebastian?"
"Nothing but what you see here," he told her.
"Then where can I go to see right away over the whole valley?"
"You would have to climb to the top of a high tower, a church tower, like that one over there with the gold ball above it. From there you can see right away ever so far."
Heidi climbed down quickly from her stool, ran to the door, down the steps and out into the street. Things were not, however, quite so easy as she thought. Looking from the window the tower had appeared so close that she imagined she had only to run over the road to reach it. But now, although she ran along the whole length of the street, she still did not get any nearer to it, and indeed soon lost sight of it altogether; she turned down another street, and went on and on, but still no tower. She passed a great many people, but they all seemed in such a hurry that Heidi thought they had not time to tell her which way to go. Then suddenly at one of the street corners she saw a boy standing, carrying a hand-organ on his back and a funny-looking animal on his arm. Heidi ran up to him and said, "Where is the tower with the gold ball on the top?"
"I don't know," was the answer.
"Who can I ask to show me?" she asked again.
"I don't know."
"Do you know any other church with a high tower?"
"Yes, I know one."
"Come then and show it me."
"Show me first what you will give me for it," and the boy held out his hand as he spoke. Heidi searched about in her pockets and presently drew out a card on which was painted a garland of beautiful red roses; she looked at it first for a moment or two, for she felt rather sorry to part with it; Clara had only that morning made her a present of it—but then, to look down into the valley and see all the lovely green slopes! "There," said Heidi, holding out the card, "would you like to have that?"
The boy drew back his hand and shook his head.
"What would you like then?" asked Heidi, not sorry to put the card back in her pocket.
"I have none, but Clara has; I am sure she will give me some; how much do you want?"
"Come along then."
They started off together along the street, and on the way Heidi asked her companion what he was carrying on his back; it was a hand-organ, he told her, which played beautiful music when he turned the handle. All at once they found themselves in front of an old church with a high tower; the boy stood still, and said, "There it is."
"But how shall I get inside?" asked Heidi, looking at the fast closed doors.
"I don't know," was the answer.
"Do you think that I can ring as they do for Sebastian?"
"I don't know."
Heidi had by this time caught sight of a bell in the wall which she now pulled with all her might. "If I go up you must stay down here, for I do not know the way back, and you will have to show me."
"What will you give me then for that?"
"What do you want me to give you?"
They heard the key turning inside, and then some one pulled open the heavy creaking door; an old man came out and at first looked with surprise and then in anger at the children, as he began scolding them: "What do you mean by ringing me down like this? Can't you read what is written over the bell, 'For those who wish to go up the tower'?"
The boy said nothing but pointed his finger at Heidi. The latter answered, "But I do want to go up the tower."
"What do you want up there?" said the old man. "Has somebody sent you?"
"No," replied Heidi, "I only wanted to go up that I might look down."
"Get along home with you and don't try this trick on me again, or you may not come off so easily a second time," and with that he turned and was about to shut the door. But Heidi took hold of his coat and said beseechingly, "Let me go up, just once."
He looked around, and his mood changed as he saw her pleading eyes; he took hold of her hand and said kindly, "Well, if you really wish it so much, I will take you."
The boy sat down on the church steps to show that he was content to wait where he was.
Hand in hand with the old man Heidi went up the many steps of the tower; they became smaller and smaller as they neared the top, and at last came one very narrow one, and there they were at the end of their climb. The old man lifted Heidi up that she might look out of the open window.
"There, now you can look down," he said.
Heidi saw beneath her a sea of roofs, towers, and chimney-pots; she quickly drew back her head and said in a sad, disappointed voice, "It is not at all what I thought."
"You see now, a child like you does not understand anything about a view! Come along down and don't go ringing at my bell again!"
He lifted her down and went on before her down the narrow stairway. To the left of the turn where it grew wider stood the door of the tower-keeper's room, and the landing ran out beside it to the edge of the steep, slanting roof. At the far end of this was a large basket, in front of which sat a big gray cat, that snarled as it saw them, for she wished to warn the passers-by that they were not to meddle with her family. Heidi stood still and looked at her in astonishment, for she had never seen such a monster cat before; there were whole armies of mice, however, in the old tower, so the cat had no difficulty in catching half a dozen for her dinner every day. The old man, seeing Heidi so struck with admiration, said, "She will not hurt you while I am near; come, you can have a peep at the kittens."
Heidi went up to the basket and broke out into expressions of delight.
"Oh, the sweet little things! the darling kittens," she kept on saying, as she jumped from side to side of the basket so as not to lose any of the droll gambols of the seven or eight little kittens that were scrambling and rolling and falling over one another.
"Would you like to have one?" said the old man, who enjoyed watching the child's pleasure.
"For myself to keep?" said Heidi excitedly, who could hardly believe such happiness was to be hers.
"Yes, of course, more than one if you like—in short, you can take away the whole lot if you have room for them," for the old man was only too glad to think he could get rid of his kittens without more trouble.
Heidi could hardly contain herself for joy. There would be plenty of room for them in the large house, and then how astonished and delighted Clara would be when she saw the sweet little kittens.
"But how can I take them with me?" asked Heidi, and was going quickly to see how many she could carry away in her hands, when the old cat sprang at her so fiercely that she shrank back in fear.
"I will take them for you if you will tell me where," said the old man, stroking the cat to quiet her, for she was an old friend of his that had lived with him in the tower for many years.
"To Herr Sesemann's, the big house where there is a gold dog's head on the door, with a ring in its mouth," explained Heidi.
Such full directions as these were not really needed by the old man, who had had charge of the tower for many a long year and knew every house far and near, and moreover Sebastian was an acquaintance of his.
"I know the house," he said, "but when shall I bring them, and who shall I ask for?—you are not one of the family, I am sure."
"No, but Clara will be so delighted when I take her the kittens."
The old man wished now to go downstairs, but Heidi did not know how to tear herself away from the amusing spectacle.
"If I could just take one or two away with me! one for myself and one for Clara, may I?"
"Well, wait a moment," said the man, and he drew the cat cautiously away into his room, and leaving her by a bowl of food came out again and shut the door. "Now take two of them."
Heidi's eyes shone with delight. She picked up a white kitten and another striped white and yellow, and put one in the right, the other in the left pocket. Then she went downstairs. The boy was still sitting outside on the steps, and as the old man shut the door of the church behind them, she said, "Which is our way to Herr Sesemann's house?"
"I don't know," was the answer.
Heidi began a description of the front door and the steps and the windows, but the boy only shook his head, and was not any the wiser.
"Well, look here," continued Heidi, "from one window you can see
a very, very large gray house, and the roof runs like
With this the boy jumped up, he was evidently in the habit of guiding himself by similar landmarks. He ran straight off with Heidi after him, and in a very short time they had reached the door with the large dog's head for the knocker. Heidi rang the bell. Sebastian opened it quickly, and when he saw it was Heidi, "Make haste! make haste," he cried in a hurried voice.
Heidi sprang hastily in and Sebastian shut the door after her, leaving the boy, whom he had not noticed, standing in wonder on the steps.
"Make haste, little miss," said Sebastian again; "go straight into the dining-room, they are already at table; Fraülein Rottenmeier looks like a loaded cannon. What could make the little miss run off like that?"
Heidi walked into the room. The lady housekeeper did not look up, Clara did not speak; there was an uncomfortable silence. Sebastian pushed her chair up for her, and when she was seated, Fraülein Rottenmeier, with a severe countenance, sternly and solemnly addressed her: "I will speak with you afterwards, Adelaide, only this much will I now say, that you behaved in a most unmannerly and reprehensible way by running out of the house as you did, without asking permission, without any one knowing a word about it; and then to go wandering about till this hour; I never heard of such behavior before."
"Miau!" came the answer back.
This was too much for the lady's temper; with raised voice she exclaimed, "You dare, Adelaide, after your bad behavior, to answer me as if it were a joke?"
Sebastian almost dropped his dish and rushed out of the room.
"That will do," Fraülein Rottenmeier tried to say, but her voice was almost stifled with anger. "Get up and leave the room."
Heidi stood up frightened, and again made an attempt to explain.
"I really did
"But, Heidi," now put in Clara, "when you see that it makes Fraülein Rottenmeier angry, why do you keep on saying miau?"
"It isn't I, it's the kittens," Heidi was at last given time to say.
"How! what! kittens!" shrieked Fraülein Rottenmeier. "Sebastian! Tinette! Find the horrid little things! take them away!" And she rose and fled into the study and locked the door, so as to make sure that she was safe from the kittens, which to her were the most horrible things in creation.
Sebastian was obliged to wait a few minutes outside the door to get over his laughter before he went into the room again. He had, while serving Heidi, caught sight of a little kitten's head peeping out of her pocket, and guessing the scene that would follow, had been so overcome with amusement at the first miaus that he had hardly been able to finish handing the dishes. The lady's distressed cries for help had ceased before he had sufficiently regained his composure to go back into the dining-room. It was all peace and quietness there now, Clara had the kittens on her lap, and Heidi was kneeling beside her, both laughing and playing with the tiny, graceful little animals.
"Sebastian," exclaimed Clara as he came in, "you must help us; you must find a bed for the kittens where Fraülein Rottenmeier will not spy them out, for she is so afraid of them that she will send them away at once; but we want to keep them, and have them out whenever we are alone. Where can you put them?"
"I will see to that," answered Sebastian willingly. "I will make a bed in a basket and put it in some place where the lady is not likely to go; you leave it to me." He set about the work at once, sniggling to himself the while, for he guessed there would be a further rumpus about this some day, and Sebastian was not without a certain pleasure in the thought of Fraülein Rottenmeier being a little disturbed.
Not until some time had elapsed, and it was nearing the hour for going to bed, did Fraülein Rottenmeier venture to open the door a crack and call through, "Have you taken those dreadful little animals away, Sebastian?"
He assured her twice that he had done so; he had been hanging about the room in anticipation of this question, and now quickly and quietly caught up the kittens from Clara's lap and disappeared with them.
The castigatory sermon which Fraülein Rottenmeier had held in reserve for Heidi was put off till the following day, as she felt too exhausted now after all the emotions she had gone through of irritation, anger, and fright, of which Heidi had unconsciously been the cause. She retired without speaking, Clara and Heidi following, happy in their minds at knowing that the kittens were lying in a comfortable bed.
HE man of whom I am now going to tell you was famous, not for his
wealth or his power or his deeds in war, but for his great gentleness.
He lived more than seven hundred years ago in a quaint little town of
His name was Francis, and because of his goodness, all men now
Very kind and loving was St. Francis—kind and loving not only to men but to all living things. He spoke of the birds as his little brothers of the air, and he could never bear to see them harmed.
At Christmas time he scattered crumbs of bread under the trees, so that the tiny creatures could feast and be happy.
Once when a boy gave him a pair of doves which he had snared,
By and by, the eggs hatched, and a nestful of young doves grew up.
They were so tame that they sat on the shoulders of
And many other stories are told of this man's great love and pity for the timid creatures which lived in the fields and woods.
One day as he was walking among the trees the birds saw him and flew down to greet him. They sang their sweetest songs to show how much they loved him. Then, when they saw that he was about to speak, they nestled softly in the grass and listened.
"O little birds," he said, "I love you, for you are my brothers and sisters of the air. Let me tell you something, my little brothers, my little sisters: You ought always to love God and praise Him.
"For think what He has given you. He has given you wings with which to fly through the air. He has given you clothing both warm and beautiful. He has given you the air in which to move and have homes.
"And think of this, O little brothers: you sow not, neither do you reap, for God feeds you. He gives you the rivers and the brooks from which to drink. He gives you the mountains and the valleys where you may rest. He gives you the trees in which to build your nests.
"You toil not, neither do you spin, yet God takes care of you and your little ones. It must be, then, that He loves you. So, do not be ungrateful, but sing His praises and thank Him for his goodness toward you."
Then the saint stopped speaking and looked around him. All the birds sprang up joyfully. They spread their wings and opened their mouths to show that they understood his words.
And when he had blessed them, all began to sing; and the whole forest was filled with sweetness and joy because of their wonderful melodies.
'Skeeters am a hummin' on de honeysuckle vine,—
Sleep, Kentucky Babe!
Sandman am a comin' to dis little coon of mine,—
Sleep, Kentucky Babe!
Silv'ry moon am shinin' in de heabens up above,
Bobolink am pinin' fo' his little lady love:
Yo' is mighty lucky, Babe of ol' Kentucky,—
Close yo' eyes in sleep.
Fly away, Kentucky Babe, fly away to rest,
Lay yo' kinky woolly head on yo' mammy's breast,
Close yo' eyes in sleep.
Daddy's in de cane brake wid his little dog and gun,—
Sleep, Kentucky Babe!
'Possum fo' yo' breakfast when yo' sleepin' time is done,—
Sleep, Kentucky Babe!
Bogie man 'll catch yo' sure unless yo' close yo' eyes,
Waitin' jes' outside de doo' to take yo' by surprise,
Bes' be keepin' shady, Little colored lady,—
Close yo' eyes in sleep.
WEEK 34 |
R ICHARD COEUR DE LION, who loved to be free, who loved to fight and ride and hunt, to do great deeds of strength and daring, hated to be shut up in a dark and narrow prison.
Yet he did not despair. He loved, too, to laugh and sing, and he made friends with his gaolers, wrestling and fighting with them, and astonishing them by his great strength. And when he was weary of that, he would sing to them or write poetry.
But sometimes he was sad.
Although nearly all the poetry which Richard wrote has been lost, one mournful little song which he made in prison is still left. It was written in French, for Richard, you remember, was almost French, and could speak very little English.
Here it is in English
No captive ever sings so sweet a strain
As he who weareth not the prisoner's chain,
Yet song may glad his days of weariness;
Friends fail me not, but shame for them I fear.
If I, for lack of gold, this vile duresse
Sustain another year.
Well know my knights and servants every one,
English, Poitevin, Norman, or Gascon,
That to no comrade would I help refuse,
But I would spend my wealth till he were free;
And this I say, yet them I not accuse
For my captivity.
True it is said, and I have learned it sore,
Dead folk no lovers have, nor captives more,
But if to save their wealth here I do lie,
Disgrace and scorn shall unto them be still,
And if I suffer, more they suffer will,
Though I be left to die.
Prince John felt that nothing now stood between him and the throne of England. He told the people that the King was dead and would never come back again. He seized the royal castles and what gold and jewels he could find belonging to the King in England. But the English would neither believe nor follow John.
Meanwhile Blondel, a minstrel or singer who loved King Richard, took his harp, and, wandering from castle to castle, sought his master through all Germany. For the Emperor kept secret where he had imprisoned Richard. Wherever Blondel heard of some unknown prisoner, there he stopped and sang a song which Richard and he had made and sung together.
Again and again Blondel sang this song, but no answering voice ever came from any of the grim castle walls. At last one evening, weary and almost hopeless, he began to sing beneath the walls of a castle called Trifels.
O Richard! O my king!
Thou art by all forgot,
Through the wide world I sadly sing,
Lamenting thy drear lot.
Alone, I pass through many lands
Alone, I sigh to break thy bands.
O Richard! O my king!
Thou art by all forgot,
Through the wide world I sadly sing,
Lamenting thy dread lot.
Blondel's voice was sad and broken, his heart was heavy, and
he could scarcely sing for tears. But hardly had he finished
the first verse when, from a window high above him, another
voice took up the tune and
The minstrel's song
Is Love alone,
Fidelity and Constancy,
Though recompense be none.
The voice rang out clear and full and strong. Blondel knew and loved it. It was the voice of Richard Cœur de Lion. Blondel leaned his head against the rough stone of the castle wall and wept for joy. He had found his King.
Back to England the minstrel went with his great news, and when the English people heard it, they were glad. But the Emperor would not set Richard free until the people paid a large sum of money called a ransom. The land had already been made very poor through the wars and robberies of John, but the English people wanted their king so much that they denied themselves almost everything in order to raise enough money. When they had gathered the money they sent it to the Emperor, and Richard was at last set free.
As soon as he was out of prison, Richard hurried to England. He must have been glad to see the white cliffs of his own land again. He had been away four years, and fourteen months of that time he had been shut up in a dark and lonely prison.
The people were so glad to see their King again that, poor though they were, they had such grand decorations and rejoicings that a German knight who came home with Richard was quite astonished. "Had my lord the Emperor known," said he, "how rich a country England still was, he would have demanded yet more money."
Richard set himself at once to bring order into the kingdom. Most of the people were on the side of the King, and Prince John soon submitted to him. Their mother, Queen Eleanor, begged Richard to forgive his brother.
"I forgive him," said Richard, "and I hope I shall as easily forget the wrong he has done me as I know he will forget my pardon." He knew that John was not really sorry, and would rebel again as soon as he had a chance.
Richard remained in England only a few months, and then he went to France. There he spent the rest of his life, chiefly fighting with the king of that country.
But Richard left a good and wise man to rule in England, and the people were happier, although they had to pay heavy taxes in order to help Richard in his French wars. This was very unfair, as these wars did England no good. But as long as the kings of England had possessions in France, the English had to pay for French wars. So it was a good thing for England when at last all the French possessions were lost.
Richard was killed in France in
The arrow hit Richard in the shoulder. The wound was not a bad one, but doctors in those days were not very clever, and the doctor who drew out the arrow-head did it so badly that the wound was made much worse.
In a day or two it became so bad that Richard felt he was going to die. But he swore that he would first take the castle and kill the archer who had caused his death.
The castle was taken, and Richard, in his terrible wrath, hanged all the soldiers except the archer. He was kept for some more dreadful death.
Richard was lying in great agony when the young archer was brought before him. "Villain," said the King, looking fiercely at him, "what have I done to you that you should kill me?"
The young man drew himself up, and looking proudly at the King, and not in the least afraid of his angry frown, replied, "With your own hand you killed my father and my two brothers. Kill me, torture me if you will. I am glad to die, having rid the world of one who has wrought so much ill in it."
Then there was silence between these two proud, brave men, as they looked each other in the eyes, the one a poor soldier, the other a dying king.
But Richard, although fierce and hasty, was generous, and, above all things, he loved courage. "Boy," he said, "I forgive you." Then turning to his captains, "Loose his chains," he added, "let him go free, and give him a hundred shillings to boot."
So Richard Cœur de Lion died. He was so brave that all Europe rang with his fame. The Saracens stood in such awe of him that when little children were naughty their mothers would say to them, "Be good now, or Richard of England will come to you," and the children would be good at once for fear of him. "Thinkest thou that Richard of England is in that bush?" a rider would say to his horse if it were startled, so great was the terror of his name.
Richard was a good knight and brave soldier, but he was not a good king. He reigned for ten years, yet only six months of that time did he spend in England. No doubt he thought it was a great and good thing to fight for Jerusalem, but how much better it would have been if he had tried to rule his own land peacefully, and bring happiness to his people.
L ITTLE Nim Fay had been drinking sap for forty-eight hours, and she did not seem to be thirsty for a while. She was only a few minutes more than two days old, and had taken a rather long drink for one so young. She had been standing all that time in one place on the stalk of a water plant, and she had been standing with her head down. She did that quite naturally, the first time she tried.
Nim Fay, of course, was an insect. No other kind of animal could have acted the way she did. The manners of insects, as you may have noticed, are apt to be queer.
Not being thirsty for the moment, Nim Fay pulled her beak out of the plant. There were three long bristles that she could push out from her mouth. She could suck juicy sap through her mouth parts somewhat as you can sip lemonade through a straw.
Perhaps the reason Nim Fay was not thirsty was that she could hold no more. Her skin was tight. Her plump little body was squeezed inside of it. She needed to molt.
This was the first time she had ever shed her skin. Her mother and more than forty older sisters and a great many aunts and a great many more cousins were on the same plant at the time, but not one of them helped her. Her mother and aunts were drinking sap. So were her sisters and cousins, except those who were busy shedding their own skins.
However, the little two-day-old insect did very well by herself. She shrugged and wriggled until the tight covering ripped at the back like an old, thin dress. Inside of the stiff, torn covering was Nim Fay in a fresh, new, stretchy skin. All she needed to do now was to pull herself free. So she jerked her head out of the old mask, and she tugged her six legs out of their leggins. Then she walked to a place on the plant not far from her mother and sisters and other relatives, and rested.
Nim Fay, the aphid, and her relatives, lived on an arrowhead plant that grew in the pond.
Before long she was thirsty again. Molting had been rather tiring and she needed food. So she stood on the stalk with her head down and pressed the tip of her beak into the plant. This time she drank for about four days before she stopped to molt and rest.
When Nim Fay was twelve or fourteen days old, she had molted four times. She was now full-grown and was about one-twelfth of an inch long. She had no wings. In this she was unlike most full-grown insects. However, her mother and grandmother were both wingless, and so were all her relatives in the summer colony about her.
As she could not fly, Nim Fay stayed at home on her water plant. She drank sap minute after minute, hour after hour, and day after day. This was rather a dull sort of life, but she did not mind. She did not even seem to notice what went on in the air around her or in the water underneath.
Once the stalk of her plant was pulled under water by a frog that sat on the leaves. Nim Fay did not drown. Her little body was covered with waxy powder, and the water did not harm her. She had tiny wax pores in her skin, and the wax came through the pores and kept her body powdered.
When the frog jumped off the leaves, the stalk went up with a jerk that threw Nim Fay on the water. She did not sink. The wax on her body was a help to her. She could not really swim, but she walked across the water a little way. Then she came to the plant and walked up the stalk. She was not even wet.
Some of the rest of the colony were not so fortunate. While the stalk was under water, a little turtle swam near and swallowed a few of the insects. A fish saw some of them in the water and ate several, wax and all. A nearly grown tadpole helped himself to as many as he wanted. At the time, a bird with a forked tail was flying low over the water. He saw a plump, juicy insect moving, and caught it as he flew. Accidents like that are likely to happen to insects living near a pond.
Nim Fay's oldest daughter, Fay, fed herself sap when she was very tiny, just as her mother had done. Like her mother, also, she molted when she became too plump for her skin. But in one way she was different. She had four tiny wing-pads on her shoulders. Inside each wing-pad a wing was growing. The last time she molted, she pulled her wings out of the pads. They were rather wrinkled at first, but in a few minutes they were smooth and flat. They were dainty little wings, and thin and clear.
It was while Fay was standing on the tip of a leaf waiting until she was ready to fly that some people came down to the pond from Holiday Farm. There were several boys and girls who were spending the summer in the country, and an uncle who often came to see them.
The children had a new game that summer. They were trying to find a plant or an animal that their uncle did not know. So they pointed to a plant with broad leaves and lovely wax-white blossoms, and asked to be told its name. This, their uncle explained, was named "arrowhead" because its large leaves are shaped like the head of an arrow. Among its roots are tubers which are good to eat. Sometimes they grow to be as large as the eggs of hens. Indians, who used to gather such tubers late in the fall, liked to broil or roast them for a feast.
In the northwestern part of our country the Indian name for the plant was "wapatoo." Wapatoo Island and Wapatoo Valley were so named because the arrowhead grew in abundance in those places.
Cows like to eat the leaves, and often wade into the water for them. Fishes, called carp, devour the tubers so greedily that arrowhead plants soon disappear from places where there are any carp.
Like many other water plants, the arrowhead has two kinds of leaves. Those that grow under water are long and narrow. The plant breathes by means of these narrow leaves until it grows tall enough to push its broad, arrow-shaped ones above the water.
An arrowhead leaf and blossoms.
The arrowhead has also two kinds of blossoms, as the children from the farm saw for themselves. While their uncle was telling them about the plant, they waded into the water to look at it.
Just then one of the boys saw Fay at the tip of her leaf.
"Here, Uncle Ned," he called, "is something too tiny to have a name. Why, it is not much bigger than nothing at all! You don't know what that is, do you, now?"
The boy grinned. He thought it would be a good joke if he could find an insect so small that even his uncle did not know what it was.
Uncle Ned looked at the colony of small, reddish brown and greenish, wingless insects feeding on the stalk of the plant. Then he looked at little Fay. Her tiny wings were trembling. He liked a joke as well as the youngsters, so he, too, grinned.
"Well," he said, "about one hundred and seventy-five
years ago a famous Swedish naturalist saw a colony of
insects like that feeding on a water lily, and he
Aphis nymphaeae, which is a Latin
name. If you like an
English name better, you may call your tiny insect a
At that very minute little Fay lifted her quivering wings and flew away.
Good-by to Arrowhead! Fay was ready to fly to a plum tree.
"Where is it going?" the children asked.
"To a plum tree at Holiday Farm," Uncle Ned told them.
"Then let's race and get there first," said one of the boys, and off they ran.
Of course little Fay, the water-lily aphid, did not know she was racing. But when she reached a plum tree, she stopped. She had not even noticed the oak trees or the elms or the maples or the pines. But there was something about a plum tree she could not resist. This seems rather strange, for she had never seen a plum tree before in her life. Neither had her mother. Neither had her grandmother.
They had spent all their lives on arrowheads.
But in the spring her great-grandmother, or perhaps it had been her great-great-grandmother, had grown up on a plum tree. She had drunk plum sap and thrived on it. When she molted the last time, she had thin, dainty wings. She was a spring migrant.
Now, as you know, migrants go on journeys. In the spring, swallows and humming birds and many other birds leave tropical countries and fly north. Alewives and shad and some other fishes swim out of the sea and into rivers and lakes. The migrant aphid on the plum tree had her spring journey, too. She flew to the pond and stopped on an arrowhead. A water lily would have done just as well, but she happened to find an arrowhead first.
Later in the season the swallows and humming birds fly south again. Alewives and shad swim back to sea. So perhaps it was natural for little Fay to stop when she came to a plum tree. Maybe the leaves smelled so good to her that she could not fly past them.
Nobody knows how Fay found her plum tree, but find it she did. There is no doubt about that. It suited her exactly. She plunged her beak into the tender part of a twig and drank plum juice. She felt no need of anything different. Having grown up on a water plant, she was quite content to pass the rest of her life on a plum tree. So it happened that Fay never took another flight. She had used her wings to carry her from the pond to the orchard, and that was far enough.
In the spring aphids of this kind live in colonies on plum leaves.
Fay's large family of daughter aphids liked plum juice, too. They thrived on it and grew and molted, as young aphids should. They never had any wings, not even after they had shed their skins for the last time. As they were all satisfied with the plum tree, they did not need to fly.
All of Fay's daughters looked alike, and they all acted the same way. Little Apter was the oldest, so of course she molted first and became a full-grown aphid before her sisters did. She was about twenty days old when she molted the last time.
One day, while wingless Apter was waiting on the plum tree, an aphid with wings came to meet her. It was Alate, her mate, and he had flown all the way from the arrowhead in the pond to the plum tree.
Apter and Alate were rather busy for several days. It was getting late in the season, and their eggs must be made ready for winter. There was no nest to make, or anything of that sort, but Apter needed to find the right places to tuck her eggs.
On the branches of the tree, there were some small, scale-like buds that would not grow until the next spring. There were some tiny nooks and corners around these buds just the right size for aphid eggs. Of course Apter found one of these chinks for each of her eggs. She put one egg in a place and poked it in with a bit of sticky glue.
At first Apter's eggs were shiny green, but in a few days they became black as jet and stayed that way all winter.
Little Apter really did something very important when she glued her eggs to the plum twig. The nights were getting colder. Frosts would come. Leaves would fall. Sap would stop running in the plum tree. The ice would be deep on Holiday Pond. Arrowhead plants would be buried under snow. There would be no sap in all the frozen north for an aphid to drink.
But it did not matter. Apter's eggs were high and dry on the plum twig. The winter winds would blow, but they could not loosen the glue that held the eggs. The winter nights would be cold, but not cold enough to kill the tiny bits of life in Apter's eggs.
When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;
When the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene;
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing "Ha ha hee!"
When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of "Ha ha hee!"
WEEK 34 |
A LL the way home from school Peter Rabbit did his best to think who it could be who ate flesh, yet wasn't a member of the order of flesh eaters. Every few hops he would stop to think, but all his stopping and all his thinking were in vain, and when he started for school the next morning he was as puzzled as ever. On his way through the Green Forest he passed a certain tree. He was just past and no more when a familiar voice hailed him.
"Morning, Bre'r Rabbit," said the voice. "What's yo' hurry?" Peter stopped abruptly and looked up in that tree. There, peering down at him from a hole high up in the trunk, was a sharp, whitish-gray face, with a pair of twinkling black eyes.
The Opossum is the only Marsupial in North America.
"Hello, Unc' Billy," cried Peter. "How are you and Ol' Mrs. Possum?"
"Po'ly, Peter, Po'ly.
A sudden thought popped into Peter's head.
Unc' poked his head a little farther out and put his hand behind his ear as if he were a little hard of hearing. "What's that, Bre'r Rabbit? Am I a what?" he demanded.
"Are you a Carnivora?" repeated Peter.
"Ah reckons Ah might be if Ah knew what it was, but as long as Ah
don't, Ah reckons I ain't," retorted
But Peter wasn't listening. The fact is, Peter had started
"What do you know?" asked Old Mother Nature.
"I know who it is who eats flesh, yet doesn't belong to the order
of flesh eaters. It's
"Right you are," replied Old Mother Nature. "However did you find it out?"
"I didn't exactly find it out; I guessed it,"
replied Peter. "On
my way here I saw
"It is because he belongs to a group which has something which
makes them entirely different from all other animals, and for
this reason they have been given an order of their own," explained
Old Mother Nature. "They belong to the order of Marsupials,
which means pouched animals. It is because the mothers have big
pockets in which they carry their babies. Old
"Of course," exclaimed Peter. "I've seen those babies poking their heads out of that pocket. They look too funny for anything."
"The Opossums are the only Marsupials in this country," continued
Old Mother Nature. "Now have I made it quite clear why, although
they eat flesh,
Everybody nodded. Just then Chatterer the Red Squirrel shouted,
Sure enough, down the Lone Little Path came the Possum family, and a funny looking sight they were. Unc' Billy was whitish-gray, his face whiter than the rest of him. He looked as if he had just gotten out of bed and forgotten to brush his hair; it pointed every which way. His legs were dark, his feet black and his toes white. His ears were without any hair at all, and were black for the lower half, the rest being white. He had a long whitish tail without any hair on it. Altogether, with his sharp face and naked tail, he looked a great deal as though he might be a giant Rat.
But if Unc' Billy was a funny-looking fellow, Ol' Mrs. Possum was
even more funny-looking. She seemed to have heads and tails all
over her. You see, she had brought along her family, and Ol' Mrs.
Possum is one of those who believe in large families. There were
twelve youngsters, and they were exactly like their parents, only
small. They were clinging all over
"We—all done thought we'd come to school," explained
"I'm glad you did," replied Old Mother Nature. "You see, the rest of your friends here are a little curious about the Possum family."
Meanwhile Ol' Mrs. Possum was climbing a tree, and when she had reached a comfortable crotch the little Possums left her and began to play about in the tree. It was then that it appeared what handy things those naked little tails were. When the little Possums crawled out where the branches were small, they simply wrapped their tails around the twigs to keep from falling.
"My!" exclaimed Peter. "Those certainly are handy tails."
"Handiest tails ever was," declared Unc' Billy. "Don't know what Ah ever would do without mah tail."
"Suppose you climb a tree, Unc' Billy, and show your friends here how you manage to get the eggs from a nest that you cannot reach by crawling along the branch on which it is placed," said Old Mother Nature.
Unc' Billy grinned, and good-naturedly started up a tree. He crept
out on a branch that overhung another branch. Way out where the
branch was small crept
Old Mother Nature shook her head reprovingly. "Unc' Billy," said she, "you are a bad old rascal to steal eggs. What's more, it doesn't matter to you much whether you find eggs or young birds in a nest. It is a wonder that between you and Chatterer the Red Squirrel any of the birds succeed in raising families around here. Have you visited Farmer Brown's hen house lately?"
Unc' Billy shook his head. "Not lately," said he; "Ah done got a dreadful scare the last time Ah was up there, and Ah reckons Ah'll stay away from there for a while."
"What else do you eat?" asked Old Mother Nature.
"Anything," replied Unc' Billy. "Ah reckons Ah ain't no ways particular—insects, roots, Frogs, Toads, small Snakes, Lizards, berries, fruits, nuts, young Rats and Mice, corn, any old meat that has been left lying around. Ah reckon Ah could find a meal most any time most anywhere."
"Do you always have as big a family as you have there?" asked Peter Rabbit.
"Not always," replied Unc' Billy. "But sometimes Mrs. Possum has to tote around a still bigger family. We believe in chillun and lots of them. We reckon on havin' two or three big families every year."
"Where is your home?" asked Johnny Chuck. "I know," said Peter Rabbit. "It's up in a big hollow tree."
Unc' Billy looked down at Peter.
"Are Possums found anywhere except around here?" inquired Happy Jack.
"Yes, indeed," replied Old Mother Nature. "They are found all down through the Sunny South, and in the warmer parts of the Middle West. Unc' Billy and his relatives are not fond of cold weather. They prefer to be where they can be reasonably warm all the year round.
"Some folks think Unc' Billy isn't smart, but those folks don't know Unc' Billy. He learned a long time ago that he can't run as fast as some others, so he has learned to depend on his wits in time of danger. What do you think he does?"
"I know," cried Peter; "I saw him do it once. Farmer Brown's boy surprised Unc' Billy, and Unc' Billy just fell right over dead."
"Pooh! That's a story, Peter Rabbit. How could Unc' Billy have fallen over dead and be alive up in that tree this very minute?" cried Happy Jack.
"I didn't mean he was really dead, but that he looked as if he
were dead," explained Peter. "And he did, too. He was the deadest
looking thing I ever saw. I thought he was dead myself. I was
watching from a bramble tangle where I was hiding, and I certainly
thought the life had been scared right out of
"Very good, Peter," said Old Mother Nature. "Some other smart
little people try that trick sometimes, but none of them can do
it as well as
"Splendid," cried all together and prepared to start for their homes.
The war with Spain took place in 1898. It was caused by two things. For many years there had been a rebellion against Spain in Cuba. Our people were very sorry for the Cuban people, who were treated cruelly. This made the Spaniard angry at the United States. One of our war ships, the Maine, was sent to the harbor of Havana [ha-van´-a], to protect Americans there. It was blown up in the night and two hundred and sixty-six men on board were killed. An examination showed that it was blown up by something placed against the outside of the ship. This aroused the American people. Congress demanded that Spain should take her armies away from Cuba. This she refused to do, and war was declared.
When war was declared, there was an American fleet in Chinese waters. There was a Spanish fleet at Manila [ma-nil´a] in the Philippine [fil´ip-in] Islands, which belonged to Spain. Commodore Dewey, who commanded the American fleet, sailed to Manila as soon as he heard of the beginning of the war.
Not finding the Spanish fleet outside of the harbor, he sailed into the great Bay of Manila very silently. This was about midnight before the morning of the first day of May. All the lights on the ships that could have been seen from the shore were put out, so that the last ship was passing the batteries at the entrance to the bay before the alarm was given. At daylight the ships gave battle to the Spanish fleet, which was protected by shore batteries. It seemed certain that some, if not all, of the American ships would be sunk by the heavy guns on shore, but the Spanish gunners were not equal to those of the American ships, who had given much attention to target practice. The Spaniards fought bravely, but their shore batteries were silenced and their fleet destroyed by the American fire. The American fleet did not lose a single man in the fight.
Battle of Manila Bay
A Spanish fleet sent from Spain to attack the American coast towns took refuge in the harbor of Santiago [sahn-te-ah´go] in Cuba. The harbor was so well protected that the American fleet could not enter it. An army was landed to the east of the city of Santiago to take it by land. One portion of this army was sent to take the little village of El Caney [ca-nay´] at the north, and another was sent to wait in front of the hill of San Juan [hoo-ahn´] and capture that after El Caney was taken. But the men in front of the batteries of San Juan found themselves under fire. Many of them were killed. They could not retreat, for the narrow road behind them was crowded. They were not willing to stay where they were and be slaughtered. So they resolved about noon to attack the Spaniards in the batteries ahead of them. "If you don't wish to go along," said the colonel of the regiment known as the Rough Riders, "let my men pass, please." But the men to whom he spoke did wish to go along. They fell into line and followed Roosevelt [rose´-velt], who led a desperate charge on horseback. In another part of the line a veteran general, Hawkins, rode at the head of his men, waving his hat. Slowly up the hill marched the Americans under a deadly fire, until at last they carried the trenches and blockhouse at the summit with a rush.
Three miles away, at El Caney, a yet more stubborn fight was raging. The Americans in the thick of it were commanded by General Chaffee, who made his men lie down but who stood erect himself. A button was shot off his coat, and one of his shoulder straps was torn by bullets. At last the works at El Caney were carried. These battles took place on the 1st of July.
Two days after the battles by which the Americans carried the Spanish trenches, the American ships were watching the mouth of the harbor as usual. To their surprise the Spanish fleet was seen coming out from Santiago. The Spanish ships tried to escape by running to the westward. But the American ships pursued and fought them until one after another of the Spanish vessels was sunk or set on fire. The American sailors rescued as many as possible of the drowning Spaniards, and treated them kindly. The city of Santiago was soon after surrendered. After these successes of the Americans it was impossible for Spain to continue her resistance long. Peace was made at last. As a result of the war Spain gave up her authority over Cuba, Porto Rico [re?co], and the Philippine Islands.
Over the hill the farm-boy goes,
His shadow lengthens along the land,
A giant staff in a giant hand;
In the poplar-tree, above the spring,
The katydid begins to sing;
The early dews are falling;—
Into the stone-heap darts the mink;
The swallows skim the river's brink;
And home to the woodland fly the crows,
When over the hill the farm-boy goes,
"Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'! co'!"
Farther, farther over the hill,
Faintly calling, calling still,—
"Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'!"
Into the yard the farmer goes,
With grateful heart, at the close of day;
Harness and chain are hung away;
In the wagon-shed stand yoke and plow;
The straw's in the stack, the hay in the mow;
The cooling dews are falling;—
The friendly sheep his welcome bleat,
The pigs come grunting to his feet,
The whinnying mare her master knows,
When into the yard the farmer goes,
His cattle calling,—
"Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'! co'!"
While still the cow-boy, far away,
Goes seeking those that have gone astray,—
"Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'!"
Now to her task the milkmaid goes.
The cattle come crowding through the gate,
Lowing, pushing, little and great;
About the trough, by the farm-yard pump,
The frolicsome yearlings frisk and jump,
While the pleasant dews are falling;—
The new-milch heifer is quick and shy,
But the old cow waits with tranquil eye;
And the white stream into the bright pail flows,
When to her task the milkmaid goes,
"So, boss! so, boss! so! so! so!"
The cheerful milkmaid takes her stool,
And sits and milks in the twilight cool,
Saying, "So! so, boss! so! so!"
To supper at last the farmer goes.
The apples are pared, the paper read,
The stories are told, then all to bed.
Without, the crickets' ceaseless song
Makes shrill the silence all night long;
The heavy dews are falling.
The housewife's hand has turned the lock;
Drowsily ticks the kitchen clock;
The household sinks to deep repose;
But still in sleep the farm-boy goes.
"Co', boss! co', boss! co'! co'! co'!"
And oft the milkmaid, in her dreams,
Drums in the pail with the flashing streams,
Murmuring, "So, boss! so!"
WEEK 34 |
K ING Marsil fled from the battlefield, and thus fleeing, at last he reached Saragossa. There in the shadow of an olive tree by his palace gateway, he lighted down. His servants crowded round him in sad astonishment to see their master return in such sorry plight. His broken sword, his shattered helmet and hauberk he gave to them. Then he flung himself down upon the grass, hiding his face.
When the Queen Bramimonde heard that her lord had returned, she hurried to him. Then as she listened to his woful tale, and saw his shattered wrist, from which the right hand was gone, she wept aloud and made great moan. With terrible curses she cursed Charlemagne and France, she cursed her own heathen gods and idols. Then she threw the image of Apollin down, taking from him his crown and sceptre and trampling him under foot. "Oh, wicked god," she cried, "why hast thou brought such shame upon us? Why hast thou allowed our king to be defeated? Thou rewardest but ill those who serve thee."
The images of Tervagan and Mahomet too she caused to be beaten and broken in pieces, and flung to the pigs and dogs. Never were idols treated with such scorn.
Then Queen Bramimonde beat upon her breast; she tore her hair and cried aloud to all the four corners of the earth. As for King Marsil, he went into his great vaulted room and lay upon his couch and would utter no word to any man, such was his grief.
But even as Queen Bramimonde cried aloud and King Marsil lay silent upon his couch, a mighty fleet came sailing up the Ebro.
Seven years before, when Charlemagne had first come to Spain, King Marsil had sent a message to the old Emir of Babylon, begging him for aid. But Babylon is far, and the Emir Baligant had to gather his knights and barons from forty kingdoms, so the years passed and no help came. But now at last, after long delay, he had reached the land of Spain, and was even now sailing up the Ebro with all his mighty men of war. By day the river for miles was gay with gilded prows and many-coloured pennons. By night thousands of lanterns glittered from the masts, and swung and flickered in the summer breeze, so that the country all around was lighted up with starry flame.
At length the Emir landed. A white silk carpet was thrown upon the ground, in the shade of a laurel tree an ivory chair was set and there the Emir took his seat. Around him stood seventeen kings together with knights and barons in such numbers that no man might count them.
"Listen, valiant warriors," cried Baligant. "I mean to bring this Charlemagne, of whom we hear such wondrous tales, so low that he shall not even dare to eat unless I give him leave. Too long hath he been making war in Spain, and I will carry battle and the sword into his fair France. I shall never cease from warring until I see him at my feet, or dead." And thus insolently boasting, Baligant struck his knee with his glove.
Then the Emir called two of his knights. "Go to Saragossa," he said, "and tell King Marsil that I have come to help him. And what battle there will be when I meet Charlemagne! Give Marsil this glove embroidered with gold; put it on his right hand. Give him, too, this golden mace, and say to him that so soon as he hath come to do me homage I will march against Charlemagne. And if the Emperor will not kneel at my feet asking mercy, if he will not deny the Christian faith, I will tear his crown from his head!"
" 'Tis well said!" cried the heathen.
"And now to horse, barons! to horse," cried Baligant. "One of ye shall carry the glove, the other the mace. Haste ye!"
"Thy will shall be done," answered the barons and, leaping upon their horses, they sped towards Saragossa.
But as they came near to the city they heard a great noise. It was the heathen folk who wept, and cried and made great moan, cursing their gods Tervagan and Apollin and Mahomet, who had done nought for them. "Miserable beings that we are," they cried, "what will become of us? Shame and misfortune have fallen upon us. We have lost our king, for Roland hath cut off his right hand. His fair son too is dead. All Spain is in the hands of the Franks."
In great astonishment the messengers of Baligant drew rein and lighted down at the steps of the palace. Then mounting the stairs, they entered the great vaulted room where the King lay silent and the Queen wept and mourned.
"May Apollin, and Tervagan and Mahomet our master save the King and guard the Queen," they said in greeting, bowing low.
"What folly do ye speak!" cried Bramimonde, "our gods are only cowards. At Roncesvalles they have done vile deeds. They have left all our warriors to die. They have forsaken mine own lord, the King Marsil, his right hand hath been cut from his arm, and soon all Spain will be in the power of Charlemagne. Oh, misery! Oh, sorrow! What will become of me. Oh, woe! woe! is there none to slay me?"
"Hush, lady, cease thy weeping and thy moan," said one of the messengers. "We have come from the Emir Baligant, and he will be the deliverer of Marsil. Here is the glove and mace which he hath sent. There on the Ebro we have four thousand vessels, barques and rapid galleys, and who shall count our ships of war? The Emir is rich, he is powerful. He will follow and attack Charlemagne even to the borders of France. He will do battle until the proud Emperor kneels at his feet craving mercy, or until he die."
But the Queen shook her head. "The task is not thus light as ye deem it," she said. "Charlemagne will die rather than flee or beg for mercy. All the kings of the earth are as children to him. He fears no living man."
"Cease thy wailing," said King Marsil to the Queen. Then turning to the messengers, "It is I who shall speak," he said. "You see me now in deepest grief. I have neither son nor daughter to inherit the kingdom. Yesterday I had an only son, but Roland hath slain him. Say to your lord that he shall come to me, and that I will yield to him the whole of Spain, and lay my hand in his, and be his vassal, so that he fight Charlemagne and conquer him."
"It is well," said the messengers.
Then King Marsil told them all that had befallen, from the time in which Blancandrin had set forth until the moment in which he spoke to them. "Now," he ended, "the Emperor is not seven leagues from here. Say to the Emir that he would do well to prepare at once for battle. The Franks are even now upon their homeward way, but they will not refuse to fight."
Then taking their farewell and bowing low, the messengers departed. Quickly they mounted upon their horses, and full of wonder at all that they had heard, they sped back to the Emir.
"Ah, well," said he, when he saw them return alone, "where is Marsil, whom I bade ye bring unto me?"
"He is wounded unto death," they replied. Then they told Baligant all the tale that they had heard. "And if thou help the King now," they ended, "he swears to give thee the whole of Spain, and he will put his hand within thy hands and be thy man."
The Emir bent his head in thought. Then rising from his
ivory chair he looked proudly round upon his barons. Joy was
in his heart and a smile of insolent pride upon his lips.
"Make no tarrying, my lords," he cried.
"Leave your ships,
mount your horses and ride forward. This old Charlemagne
shall not escape us. From
Then Baligant called one of his greatest barons. "I give thee command of all the army," he said, "until I return." And mounting upon his horse, with but four dukes beside him, he set out for Saragossa. There he lighted down at the marble steps of the palace and climbed to the chamber where Marsil lay.
When Bramimonde saw the Emir come she ran to meet him. "Oh, miserable, miserable one that I am!" she cried, and fell weeping at his feet.
The Emir raised her, and together they went to Marsil.
"Raise me up," said the King to two slaves, when he saw the Emir come. Then taking his glove in his left hand he gave it to the Emir. "My lord Baligant," he said, "with this I give you all my lands. I am henceforth thy vassal. I am lost! All my people are lost!"
"Thy grief is great," said Baligant, "and I cannot speak long with thee, for Charlemagne expects me not, and I must hasten to take him unawares. But I accept thy glove since thou givest it to me."
Then, glad at the thought of possessing all Spain, Baligant seized the glove. Quickly he ran down the steps, sprang upon his horse, and was soon spurring back to his army. "Forward, forward," he cried, "the Franks cannot now escape us."
And thus it was that as Charlemagne had made an end of
burying the dead heroes, and was ready to depart homeward, a
great noise of trumpets and of shouting, of clang and
clatter of armour and neighing of horses came to his ear.
Soon over the hills appeared the glitter of helmets, and two
messengers from the heathen army came spurring towards the
Emperor. "Proud King, thou canst no longer escape," they
cried. "Baligant the Emir is here, and with him is
Charlemagne tore his beard, looking darkly at the messengers. Then drawing himself up, he threw a proud look over his army. In a loud and strong voice he cried, "To horse, my barons, to horse and to arms."
Such was Charlemagne's answer to the prideful message of the Emir. The Emperor himself was the first to arm, and when the Franks saw him ride before them with his glittering helmet and shield, and his sword Joyeuse girt about him, they cried aloud, "Such a man was made indeed to wear a crown."
Then calling to him two of his best knights, Charlemagne gave to them, one the sword of Roland, the other his ivory horn. "Ye shall carry them," he said, "at the head of all the army." And when the trumpets sounded to battle, louder and sweeter than them all sounded the horn of Roland.
The day was bright, the sun shone dazzlingly upon both armies, glittering with gold, and gems and many colours. In the ranks of the heathen were many men fierce and terrible to look upon, Moors and Turks, Negroes black as ink, giants and monsters were there. But the hearts of the Franks were stout and strong, and they feared none of them.
Soon the battle waxed fierce and terrible. "Montjoie, Montjoie," the Emperor's war-cry, sounded once again to all the winds of Spain. "Precieuse, Precieuse," the cry of the Emir, answered it. The heathen, like the Christian cry, was taken from the name of their leader's sword. The Emir had heard of the fame of Charlemagne's sword, and he called his Precieuse, or precious, in imitation. And in imitation too of the Christian knights the heathen used this name as a battle-cry.
The fight was fierce and long, and marvellous deeds of skill and valour were done, until at length the field was once more strewn with dead and dying, with dinted shields and splintered spears, helmets and swords, and trodden, blood-stained banners and pennons.
In the thickest of the fight the Emperor and the Emir met. "Precieuse," cried the Emir. "Montjoie," replied the Emperor. Then a fearful fight took place. Blow upon blow fell, sparks flew. Again and again the two knights charged, and wheeled and charged anew. Such were the shocks, that at last their saddle-girths broke and both were thrown to the ground.
Quickly the Emperor and the Emir sprang up again, and renewed the fight on foot. "Think, Charlemagne," cried the Emir, as they fought, "ask pardon of me and promise to be my vassal, and I will give thee all Spain and the East."
"I owe neither peace nor love to a heathen," replied Charlemagne. "Become a Christian, and I will love thee henceforth."
"I will rather die," answered the Emir.
So they fought on. With a mighty blow the Emir broke Charlemagne's helmet and wounded him sorely on the head. The Emperor staggered and almost fell, and it seemed as if his strength went from him. But his guardian angel whispered to him, "Great King, what doest thou?"
And when Charlemagne heard the angel whisper, his strength came to him anew, and with one great blow he laid the Emir dead at his feet. Then the Emperor remembered his dream, and knew that the victory was to him, and that the Emir was the lion who attacked him in his dream. "Montjoie," he cried, and leapt upon his horse.
As to the heathen, when they saw their leader fall, they fled.
Terrible was the slaughter and the chase. Through the heat and dust of the day, the Franks pursued the fleeing heathen, even to the walls of Saragossa.
There in a high tower sat Queen Bramimonde, praying with her heathen priests for the victory of the Emir. But when she looked forth from her tower and saw the heathen ride in dire confusion, chased by the victorious Franks, she broke out again into loud wailing. Running to King Marsil she cried, "Oh, noble King, our men are beaten. We are undone."
Then Marsil, in utter grief, turned his face to the wall and died.
Now to the very gates of the palace the noise of battle came. The streets of the town were full of armed men, pursuing and pursued. And before night fell all the city was in the hands of Charlemagne.
The Franks entered every heathen temple and broke the images in pieces.
Then all the heathen were baptized, and those who would not become Christian were put to death. Such was the way in those fierce old times.
Leaving a garrison to guard the town, Charlemagne set forth for France once more, leading with him captive Queen Bramimonde.
At Blaye, upon the shores of the Gironde, the three heroes, Roland, Oliver, and Archbishop Turpin were buried with great pomp and ceremony, and after long journeying the Emperor arrived at last at his great city of Aix. Then from all the corners of his kingdom he gathered his wise men to judge the traitor Ganelon.
A little hungry Mouse found his way one day into a basket of corn. He had to squeeze himself a good deal to get through the narrow opening between the strips of the basket. But the corn was tempting and the Mouse was determined to get in. When at last he had succeeded, he gorged himself to bursting. Indeed he became about three times as big around the middle as he was when he went in.
At last he felt satisfied and dragged himself to the opening to get out again. But the best he could do was to get his head out. So there he sat groaning and moaning, both from the discomfort inside him and his anxiety to escape from the basket.
Just then a Weasel came by. He understood the situation quickly.
"My friend," he said, "I know what you've been doing. You've been stuffing. That's what you get. You will have to stay there till you feel just like you did when you went in. Good night, and good enough for you.
And that was all the sympathy the poor Mouse got.
Greediness leads to misfortune.
Small service is true service while it lasts.
Of humblest friends, bright creature! scorn not one:
The daisy, by the shadow that it casts,
Protects the lingering dewdrop from the sun.
WEEK 34 |
"Whosoever commands the sea, commands the trade;
whosoever commands the trade of the world,
commands the riches of the world,
and consequently the world itself."
F AR away in the Arctic regions, on a map of the world, may be seen the name Davis Straits, given to a wide sea between the western coast of Greenland and North America. This sea was discovered by John Davis, one of Elizabeth's most famous explorers, a man who not only did good work among the ice-bound regions of the north, but also piloted the first English ship sent by the East India Company to trade with those distant lands, henceforth to form so large a part of the British Empire.
John Davis was a Devonshire lad, like so many of the sixteenth-century sailors. Humphrey Gilbert and Walter Raleigh were his lifelong friends; Hawkins, Drake, and Frobisher, the inspirers of his boyish dreams.
Davis had been at sea some time himself when Frobisher sailed forth in the little Gabriel for the north-west passage, which attracted so many to that land of ice and peril. But it was not until Frobisher had given up his gallant work, to waste his efforts in the search after imaginary gold, that John Davis took up his work. To find a short cut to India by the north, by which English ships could sail to and fro without fear from the great Spanish vessels which haunted the Cape route—this was the dream of Davis.
Sailing early in January 1585 in two little ships, bearing the romantic names of Sunshine and Moonshine, he
reached the coast of Greenland. And it was Davis who gave the most southern point of that cold land the name
Cape Farewell, which it bears
Three times did he sail to the icy north, each time reaching a farther point and making fresh important
discoveries. To him is due the honour of having re-discovered Greenland, which had been lost sight of since the
days of the old Vikings, two centuries before. He also explored the sea known to us
But his last voyage to the north was not successful, and the owners of the ships under his charge turned their eyes to India by way of the Cape of Good Hope, instead of dreaming of a shorter way by the perilous and ice-bound north.
The destruction of the Spanish Armada had made the voyage for English ships by the Cape less hazardous than before. England had swept away for a time the fleets of Spain and Portugal, and could now undertake safely the long sea route by South Africa in order to bring back rich cargoes from India and the islands beyond.
These merchant ships had heretofore been fitted out by private people, who bought the ships, appointed the commander, and received the reward. Now the merchant-princes of England made up their minds to join together in a company, to fit out fleets and establish direct trade with India, sharing the profits.
The queen approved of the arrangement, and on the very last day of the sixteenth century the East India Company, as it was called, was started. Soon a little fleet of ships left England under direction of the Company; and the chief pilot of the fleet was our old friend of the Arctic Seas, John Davis, on board the Red Dragon.
He had but just returned from piloting two Dutch ships, the Lion and the Lioness, under Cornelius Houtman, to Malacca by the Cape of Good Hope, for which services he had been specially thanked.
"The Dutch had special assistance in their late navigations by the means of Master John Davis, and in return the Dutch do in ample manner requite us, acquainting us with their voyages, discoveries, and dangers, both outward and homeward."
His services were now required by his own countrymen, for this was a memorable voyage, inasmuch as it laid the foundation of the British Empire in the East.
The ships returned triumphantly from this first expedition under the Company, to be received by the news that Queen Elizabeth was dead, that James I. was on the English throne, and that a Dutch East India Company had been formed to rival English trade with India and the East.
NOW the Hydra was more formidable than the lion;—nobody in his senses would dream of attacking it with the least hope of succeeding. It was a huge water-snake which lived in Lake Lerna, whence it used to issue to seek for human food. It had a hundred heads, and from each of its hundred mouths darted a forked tongue of flame, dripping with deadly poison.
I said that nobody in his senses would attack the Hydra. But I was not quite right. There was just one sense which would lead a man to attack any evil, even without hope—of course I mean the sense of Duty. And it was in that sense that Hercules set forth for Lake Lerna. But he did not go to work without ample forethought, and taking all the precautions he could think of. He remembered the thickness and toughness of the Nemæan lion's skin; so he had it made into a sort of cloak, which served him for armor better than brass or steel. He also made the young oak-tree into a regular club, which thenceforth became his favorite weapon. And instead of going alone, he took with him his friend and kinsman Iolas, to act as his squire. You may always know Hercules in pictures and statues by his knotted club and his lion-skin.
It was easy enough to find the Hydra—only too easy. It had its nest in a foul stagnant swamp, the air of which its breath turned to poison. Giving Iolas his other arms to hold, Hercules attacked the Hydra with his club alone, trusting to his lion-skin to receive the strokes of the creature's fangs. With a tremendous blow he crushed one of the Hydra's hundred heads, leaving ninety-nine more to destroy if he could hold out so long. That was bad enough to think of—but, to his dismay, out of the crushed head sprang two new living heads: and out of each of these, when he beat them to pieces, sprang forth two more. And so it was with every head the Hydra had: so that, in truth, the more Hercules destroyed it, the stronger it grew—its hundred heads were rapidly becoming a thousand; and the thousand would become ten thousand; and so on, forever.
Just as Hercules realized the hopelessness of the labor, and was finding it work enough to ward off the innumerable fangs, a wretched crab crawled out of the ooze and seized him by the foot, so that he almost fainted with the sudden pain. It was too cruel, in the midst of such a battle as that, to feel himself at the mercy of the miserable vermin of the slime.
However, he crushed the crab under his heel, and, ceasing to multiply his enemies by killing them, contented himself with defense, while he thought what could possibly be done.
"No doubt those first hundred heads must all have come from some one head," thought he. "They could not grow like that without a root; so that if I could only destroy the root they would cease to grow. This is my mistake: I am fighting only with what I see, instead of going to the root of things, and attacking the evil there."
So he called out to Iolas to heat a piece of iron red-hot; and when this was ready, to stand by, and to scorch with it the place of every head which the club shattered. The plan answered wonderfully. Hercules crushed head after head; Iolas applied the red-hot iron; and so root after root was burned up and perished. And at last they came to the root of all the heads; and when this was reached and burned, the monster sputtered and died, just when Hercules felt that he, strong as he was, could scarce have struck another blow.
Hercules cut open the Hydra, and dipped his arrows in its gall, so that they should give deadly wounds. Wearily he returned to Mycenæ hoping for a little rest. But Eurystheus had hidden himself in his brazen pot again, whence he cried out:—
"Be off at once; and catch the stag of Œnoe alive!"
WEEK 34 |
HERE were three brothers left behind when the father died. The two elder, whose names were John and James, were as clever lads as ever ate pease with a fork.
As for the youngest, his name was Caspar, he had no more than enough sense to blow his potatoes when they were hot. Well, when they came to divide things up between themselves, John and James contrived to share all of the good things between them. As for Caspar, "why, the little black hen is enough for him," says John and James, and that was all the butter he got from that churn.
"I'll take the little black hen to the fair," says Caspar, "and there I'll sell her and buy me some eggs. I'll set the eggs under the minister's speckled hen, and then I'll have more chicks. Then I'll buy me more eggs and have more chicks, and then I'll buy me more eggs and have more chicks, and after that I'll be richer than Uncle Henry, who has two cows and a horse, and will marry my sweetheart into the bargain." So off he went to the fair with the black hen under his arm as he had promised himself to do.
"There goes a goose to the plucking," says John and James, and then they turned no hairs grey by thinking any more about the case.
As for him, why, he went on and on until he came to the inn over the hill not far from the town, the host of which was no better than he should be, and that was the long and the short of it.
"Where do you go with the little black hen, Caspar?" says he.
"Oh," says Caspar, "I take it to the fair to sell it and buy me some eggs. I'll set the eggs under the minister's speckled hen, and then I'll have more chicks. Then I'll buy me more eggs and have more chicks, and then I'll buy me more eggs and have more chicks, and after that I'll be richer than Uncle Henry, who has two cows and a horse, and will marry my sweetheart into the bargain."
Prut! And why should Caspar take his hen to the fair? That was what the landlord said. It was a silly thing to tramp to the river for water before the well was dry at home. Why, the landlord had a friend over yonder who would give ten pennies to one that he could get at the fair for his black hen. Now, had Caspar ever heard tell of the little old gentleman who lived in the old willow-tree yonder?
No, Caspar had never heard tell in all of his life. And there was no wonder in that, for no more had anybody else, and the landlord was only up to a bit of a trick to get the little black hen for himself.
But the landlord sucked in his lips—"tsch"—so! Well, that was a pity, for the little old gentleman had said, time and time again, that he would give a whole bagful of gold and silver money for just such a little black hen as the one that Caspar carried under his arm.
Dear, dear! How Caspar's eyes did open at this, to be sure. Off he started for the willow-tree. "Here's the little black hen," said he, "and I'll sell her for a bagful of gold and silver money." But nobody answered him; and you may be sure of that, for there was nobody there.
"Well," says Caspar, "I'll just tie the hen to the tree here, and you may pay me to-morrow." So he did as he had said, and off he marched. Then came the landlord and took the hen off home and had it for his supper; and there was an end of that business.
An end of that business? No, no; stop a bit, for we will not drive too fast down the hill. Listen: there was a wicked robber who had hidden a bag of gold and silver money in that very tree; but of that neither Caspar nor the landlord knew any more than the chick in the shell.
"Hi!" says Caspar, "it is the wise man who gets along in the world." But there he was wrong for once in his life, Tommy Pfouce tells me.
"And did you sell your hen?" says John and James.
Oh, yes; Caspar had done that.
And what had he got for it?
Oh, just a bag of gold and silver money, that was all. He would show it to them to-morrow, for he was to go and get it then from the old gentleman who lived in the willow-tree over yonder by the inn over the hill.
When John and James heard that they saw as plain as the nose on your face that Caspar had been bitten by the fool dog.
But Caspar never bothered his head about that; off he went the next day as grand as you please. Up he marched to the willow-tree, but never a soul did he find there; for why, there was nobody.
Rap! tap! tap! He knocked upon the tree as civil as a beggar at the kitchen door, but nobody said, "Come in!"
"Look," says he, "we will have no dilly-dallying; I want my money and I will have it," and he fetched a kick at the tree that made the bark fly. But he might as well have kicked my grandfather's bedpost for all the good he had of it. "Oh, very well!" says he, and off he marched and brought the axe that stood back of the stable door.
Hui! how the chips flew! for Caspar was bound to get to the bottom of the business. So by and by the tree lay on the ground, and there was the bag of gold and silver money that the wicked robber had hidden. "So!" says Caspar, "better late than never!" and off he marched with it.
By and by whom should he meet but John and James. Bless me, how they stared! And did Caspar get all of that money for one little black hen?
Oh, yes; that he had.
And where did he get it?
Oh! the little old man in the willow-tree had paid it to him.
So good! that was a fine thing, and it should be share and share alike among brothers; that was what John and James said, and Caspar did not say "No;" so down they all sat on the grass and began counting it out.
"This is mine," said John.
"And this is mine," said James.
"And this is mine," said John.
"And this is mine," said James.
"And where is mine?" says Caspar. But neither of the others thought of him because he was so simple.
Just then who should come along but the rogue of a landlord. "Hi! And where did you get all that?" says he.
"Oh," says Caspar, "the little old man in the willow-tree paid it to me for my little black hen."
Yes, yes the landlord knew how much of that cake to eat. He was not to have the wool pulled over his eyes so easily. See, now, he knew very well that thieving had been done, and he would have them all up before the master mayor for it. So the upshot of the matter was that they had to take him in to share with them.
"This is mine," says the landlord.
"And this is mine," says John.
"And this is mine," says James.
"And where do I come in?" says poor Caspar. But nobody thought of him because he was so simple.
Just then came along a company of soldiers—tramp! tramp! tramp!—and there they found them all sharing the money between them, except Caspar.
"Hi!" says the captain, "here are a lot of thieves, and no mistake!" and off he marched them to the king's house, which was finer than any in our town, and as big as a church into the bargain.
And how had they come by all that money? that was what the king would like to know.
As for the three rogues, they sang a different tune now than they had whistled before.
"It's none of mine, it's his," said the landlord, and he pointed to John.
"It's none of mine, it's his," said John, and he pointed to James.
"It's none of mine, it's his," said James and he pointed to Caspar.
"And how did you get it?" says the king.
"Oh!" says Caspar, "the little old man in the willow-tree gave it to me for my little black hen;" and then he told the whole story without missing a single grain.
Beside the king sat the princess, who was so serious and solemn that she had never laughed once in all her life. So the king had said, time and time again, that whoever should make her laugh should have her for his wife. Now, when she heard Caspar's story, and how he came in behind all the rest, so that he always had the pinching, like the tail of our cat in the crack of the door, she laughed like everything, for she could not help it. So there was the fat in the fire, for Caspar was not much to look at, and that was the truth. Dear, dear, what a stew the king was in, for he had no notion for Caspar as a son-in-law. So he began to think about striking a bargain. "Come," says he to Caspar, "how much will you take to give up the princess instead of marrying her?"
Well, Caspar did not know how much a princess was worth. So he scratched his head and scratched his head, and by and by he said that he would be willing to take ten dollars and let the princess go.
At this the king boiled over into a mighty fume, like water into the fire. What! did Caspar think that ten dollars was a fit price for a princess!
Oh, Caspar had never done any business of this kind before. He had a sweetheart of his own at home, and if ten dollars was too much for the princess he would be willing to take five.
Sakes alive! what a rage the king was in! Why, I would not have stood in Caspar's shoes just then—no, not for a hundred dollars. The king would have had him whipped right away, only just then he had some other business on hand. So he paid Caspar his five dollars, and told him that if he would come back the next day he should have all that his back could carry—meaning a whipping.
As for Caspar and his brothers and the rogue of a landlord, they thought that the king was talking about dollars. So when they had left the king's house and had come out into the road again, the three rogues began to talk as smooth and as soft as though their words were buttered.
See, now, what did Caspar want with all that the king had promised him; that was what they said. If he would let them have it, they would give him all of their share of the money he had found in the willow-tree.
"Ah, yes," says Caspar, "I am willing to do that. For," says he to himself, "an apple in the pocket is worth three on the tree." And there he was right for once in his life.
Well, the next day back they all tramped to the king's house again to get what had been promised to Caspar.
So! Caspar had come back for the rest, had he?
Oh, yes he had come back again but the lord king must know that he had sold all that had been promised to him to these three lads for their share of the money he had found in the willow-tree over yonder.
"Yes," says the landlord, "one part of what has been promised is mine."
"And one part of it is mine," says John.
"Stop a bit, brother," says James; "remember, one part of it is mine too."
At this the king could not help laughing, and that broke the back of his anger.
First of all he sent the landlord for his share, and if his back did not smart after he had it, why, it was not the fault of those who gave it to him. By and by he came back again, but he said nothing to the others of what had been given to him; but all the same he grinned as though he had been eating sour gooseberries. Then John went, and last of all James, and what they got satisfied them, I can tell you.
After that the king told Caspar that he might go into the other room and fill his pockets with money for what he had given up to the others; so he had the cool end of that bargain, and did not burn his fingers after all.
But the three rogues were not satisfied with this. No, indeed! Caspar should have his share of the smarting, see if he shouldn't! So back they went to the king's house one fine day, and said that Caspar had been talking about the lord king, and had said that he was no better than an old hunks. At this the king was awfully angry. And so off he sent the others to fetch Caspar along so that he might settle the score with him.
When the three came home, there was Caspar lying on a bench in the sun, for he could take the world easy now, because he was so rich.
"Come along, Caspar," said they, "the king wants to see you over at his house yonder."
Yes, yes, but there was too much hurrying in this business, for it was over-quick cooking that burned the broth. If Caspar was to go to the king's house he would go in fitting style, so they would just have to wait till he found a horse, for he was not going to jog it afoot; that was what Caspar said.
"Yes," says the landlord, "but sooner than you should lose time in the waiting, I will lend you my fine dapple-grey."
But where was the bridle to come from? Caspar would have them know that he was not going to ride a horse to the king's house without a good bridle over the nag's ears.
Oh, John would lend him the new bridle that he bought in the town last week; so that was soon settled.
But how about the saddle?—that was what Caspar wanted to know—yes, how about the saddle? Did they think that he was going to ride up to the king's house with his heels thumping against the horse's ribs as though he were no better than a ploughman?
Oh, James would lend him a saddle if that was all he wanted.
So off they went, all four of them, to the king's house.
There was the king, walking up and down, and fussing and fuming with anger till he was all of a heat.
"See now," says he, as soon as he saw Caspar, "what did you call me an old hunks for?"
"I didn't call you an old hunks," said Caspar.
"Yes, you did," said the king.
"No, I didn't," said Caspar.
"Yes, you did," said the king, "for these three lads told me so."
"Prut!" said Caspar, "who would believe what they say? Why, they would just as lief tell you that this horse and saddle and bridle belong to them."
"And so they do!" bawled the three rogues.
"See there, now," said Caspar.
The king scratched his head, for here was a tangled knot, for certain. "Yes, yes," said he, "these fellows are fooling either Caspar or me, and we are both in the same tub, for the matter of that. Take them away and whip them!" So it was done as he said, and that was all that they got for their trouble.
Wit and Luck are not always hatched in the same nest, says Tommy Pfouce, and maybe he is right about it, for Caspar married his sweetheart, and if she did not keep his money for him, and himself out of trouble, she would not have been worth speaking of, and I, for one, would never have told this story.
Y OU have heard of the spider which makes a den in the ground. You know that it puts a trap-door on its den, and plants ferns on the door to hide it.
The spider turns gardener in this way, and all his plants grow well. There is an ant that has a farm, or garden.
This ant lives in warm lands. In this country they are found in Texas, Florida, and in one or two other warm States.
These farmer ants raise grain to eat. The grain is a kind of grass with a large seed. It is called by some "ant-rice."
There is also a large ant which is fond of the seeds of the sunflower. It is said that the ants plant the sunflowers in a ring around their hill.
The Little Farmer
The ants have not been seen to carry the seed and plant it. So we may not be quite sure that they do so. Perhaps they build where they see young sunflower plants growing.
An Ant's Grain Field
It is possible that the ant plants seeds of some kinds. You see there are yet in the world many things left for you to find out. It will be well for you to keep your eyes open.
The farmer ants do not live in a small hill that you could cover with your hand. Their hill, or disk, is sometimes flat, and sometimes high. It is often as large as a large room. It is in the shape of a circle.
In this circle all weeds and all kinds of grasses are cut down, except the one kind which the ants like. The earth of the disk is kept clean and smooth. Only the seeds of the ant-rice are left to grow.
When the ant-rice is ripe, the ants pick up the seeds as they fall, and take them into the hill to their storerooms.
It is most likely that as the ants let this ant-rice, and nothing else, grow on their hills, it sows itself by its fallen seed.
Still the ants are real farmers, as they keep their land clean, tend and gather the crop, store it up, and eat it.
When the ant-rice is ripe, and the seeds have fallen, the ants cut down the old stems, and take them away. The disk is then clean for the next crop.
The ants will go a long way from their hill to find seeds to bring home. They like to go where horses have fed, for there they find scattered oats. In some lands they carry off much grain from the fields.
An ant in Florida climbs the stalk of the millet and cuts off the seeds. When ants take seeds to their hill, they husk and clean them. They throw bad seeds away.
The ants watch the seeds, and after rains carry them out to dry in the sun. This is because if left wet, they would sprout and grow.
Some ants also cut the seed, so that it will not sprout.
The ants eat the seeds that they gather. They also feed their young with them.
One ant in Florida rolls up into little balls the dust, or pollen, of pine cones, and stores that up to eat.
An ant in New Jersey cuts in pieces the little new pine trees, just as they get above the ground, and carries them to its nest.
Did you ever see the ant which likes sunflower seeds to eat? It is a large ant, and when it has climbed to the disk of the sunflower, it pulls out one of the ripe seeds and carries it away.
When people keep a nest of ants in order to watch their ways, they feed them with sugar, oats, apple-seeds, and wheat.
How does the ant eat the hard grain? Its tongue is like a file, or something like that of the little shellfish of which I told you. The ant can rasp, file, and press the grain, so it can get at and lick up the oil and juice.
Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live, and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
WEEK 34 |
LL that was left now of the people of Judah was a company of captives, carried away from their own land to the land of Babylon. Theirs was a long, sorrowful journey, with their wives and children, dragged by cruel soldiers over mountains and valleys almost a thousand miles. They could not go straight across the vast desert which lies between the land of Judah and the plains of Babylonia. They were led around this desert far to the north, through Syria, up to the Euphrates river, and then following the great river in all its windings down to the land of their captivity. There in the land of Babylonia or Chaldea they found rest at last.
The captives in Babylon.
When they were once in their new home the captives met with less trouble than they had feared; for the people of the land under Nebuchadnezzar, the great king, treated them kindly, and gave them fields to work in as their own. The soil was rich, and they could raise large crops of wheat, and barley, and other grains. They planted gardens and built for themselves houses. Some of them went to live in the cities, and became rich, and some were in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar, and rose to high places as nobles and princes, standing next to the king in rank and honor.
And the best of all was that these captives in a strange land did not worship idols. They saw the images of the Babylonian gods all around them, but they did not bow down to them. They worshipped the Lord God of their fathers, and the Lord only. The idol worshippers in Judah had been slain, and most of the captives were good men and women, who taught their children to love and serve the lord.
And these people did not forget the land from which they had come. They loved the land of Israel, and they taught their children to love it by singing songs about it. Some of these songs which the captive Jews sang in the land of Chaldea are in the Book of Psalms. Here is a part of one of these songs:
"By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down, yea, we wept,
When we remembered Zion.
Upon the willow-trees in the midst of that land
We hanged up our harps
For there they that led us captive asked us to sing;
And they that wanted us asked us to be glad, saying,
'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.'
How shall we sing the Lord's song
In a foreign land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget her skill,
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
If I do not remember thee
If I do not prefer Jerusalem
Above my chief joy."
From this time these people were called Jews, a name which means "people of Judah." And the Jews everywhere in the world belong to this people, for they have sprung or descended from the men who once lived in the land of Judah. And because they had once belonged to the twelve tribes of Israel, and ten of the tribes had been lost, and their kingdom had forever passed away, they were also spoken of as Israelites. So from this time "people of Judah," Jews, and Israelites, all mean the people who had come from the land of Judah, and their descendants after them.
God was good to his people in the land of Babylon, or Chaldea, another name by which this country was called. He sent to them prophets, who showed to them the way of the Lord. One of these prophets was Daniel, a young man who lived in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar. Another was a priest named Ezekiel, who lived among the captive people beside a river in Chaldea, called the river Cheban. God gave to Ezekiel wonderful visions. He saw the throne of the Lord, and the strange creatures with six wings, that the prophet Isaiah had seen long before. (See Story 94.) And he heard the voice of the Lord telling him of what should come to his people in the years to come.
At one time the Lord lifted up Ezekiel and brought him into the middle of a great valley. The prophet looked around, and saw that the valley was covered with the bones of men, as though a great battle had been fought upon it, and the bodies of the slain had been left there, and they had become a vast army of dry bones.
"Son of man," spoke the voice of the Lord to Ezekiel, "can these dry bones live again?"
And Ezekiel answered, "O Lord God, thou knowest whether these dry bones can live."
Then the Lord said to Ezekiel, "Preach to these dry
bones, O son of man, and say to them, 'O ye dry bones,
hear the voice of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord, I will
send breath into you, and you shall live, and I will
put flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and you
shall be alive again, and know that I am the
Then Ezekiel spoke to the army of dry bones spread over the valley, as the Lord bade him speak. And while he was speaking there sounded a noise of rolling thunder, and all through the field the different bones began to come together, one part to another part, until they were no more loose bones, but skeletons of bones fitted together. Then another change came. Suddenly the flesh grew over all the bones, and they lay on the ground like an army of dead men, a host of bodies without life.
Then the Lord said to Ezekiel, "Speak to the wind, O
son of man; speak, and say, 'Come from the four winds,
O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may
Then Ezekiel called upon the wind to come, and while he was speaking the dead bodies began to breathe. Then they stood up on their feet, a great army of living men, filling the whole valley. Then the Lord said to Ezekiel, "Son of man, these dry bones are the people of Israel. They seem to be lost, and dead, and without hope. But they shall live again, for I, the Lord, will put life into them; and they shall go back to their own land, and be a people once more. I, the Lord, have spoken to it, and I will do it."
When Ezekiel told the captive people this vision their hearts were lifted up with a new hope that they should see their own land again.
W HEN Toad found himself immured in a dank and noisome dungeon, and knew that all the grim darkness of a medieval fortress lay between him and the outer world of sunshine and well-metalled high roads where he had lately been so happy, disporting himself as if he had bought up every road in England, he flung himself at full length on the floor, and shed bitter tears, and abandoned himself to dark despair. "This is the end of everything" (he said), "at least it is the end of the career of Toad, which is the same thing; the popular and handsome Toad, the rich and hospitable Toad, the Toad so free and careless and debonair! How can I hope to be ever set at large again" (he said), "who have been imprisoned so justly for stealing so handsome a motor-car in such an audacious manner, and for such lurid and imaginative cheek, bestowed upon such a number of fat, red-faced policemen!" (Here his sobs choked him.) "Stupid animal that I was" (he said), "now I must languish in this dungeon, till people who were proud to say they knew me, have forgotten the very name of Toad! O wise old Badger!" (he said), "O clever, intelligent Rat and sensible Mole! What sound judgments, what a knowledge of men and matters you possess! O unhappy and forsaken Toad!" With lamentations such as these he passed his days and nights for several weeks, refusing his meals or intermediate light refreshments, though the grim and ancient gaoler, knowing that Toad's pockets were well lined, frequently pointed out that many comforts, and indeed luxuries, could by arrangement be sent in—at a price—from outside.
Now the gaoler had a daughter, a pleasant wench and good-hearted, who assisted her father in the lighter duties of his post. She was particularly fond of animals, and, besides her canary, whose cage hung on a nail in the massive wall of the keep by day, to the great annoyance of prisoners who relished an after-dinner nap, and was shrouded in an antimacassar on the parlour table at night, she kept several piebald mice and a restless revolving squirrel. This kind-hearted girl, pitying the misery of Toad, said to her father one day, "Father! I can't bear to see that poor beast so unhappy, and getting so thin! You let me have the managing of him. You know how fond of animals I am. I'll make him eat from my hand, and sit up, and do all sorts of things."
Her father replied that she could do what she liked with him. He was tired of Toad, and his sulks and his airs and his meanness. So that day she went on her errand of mercy, and knocked at the door of Toad's cell.
"Now, cheer up, Toad," she said, coaxingly, on entering, "and sit up and dry your eyes and be a sensible animal. And do try and eat a bit of dinner. See, I've brought you some of mine, hot from the oven!"
It was bubble-and-squeak, between two plates, and its fragrance filled the narrow cell. The penetrating smell of cabbage reached the nose of Toad as he lay prostrate in his misery on the floor, and gave him the idea for a moment that perhaps life was not such a blank and desperate thing as he had imagined. But still he wailed, and kicked with his legs, and refused to be comforted. So the wise girl retired for the time, but, of course, a good deal of the smell of hot cabbage remained behind, as it will do, and Toad, between his sobs, sniffed and reflected, and gradually began to think new and inspiring thoughts: of chivalry, and poetry, and deeds still to be done; of broad meadows, and cattle browsing in them, raked by sun and wind; of kitchen-gardens, and straight herb-borders, and warm snap-dragon beset by bees; and of the comforting clink of dishes set down on the table at Toad Hall, and the scrape of chair-legs on the floor as every one pulled himself close up to his work. The air of the narrow cell took a rosy tinge; he began to think of his friends, and how they would surely be able to do something; of lawyers, and how they would have enjoyed his case, and what an ass he had been not to get in a few; and lastly, he thought of his own great cleverness and resource, and all that he was capable of if he only gave his great mind to it; and the cure was almost complete.
He lay prostrate in his misery on the floor.
When the girl returned, some hours later, she carried a tray, with a cup of fragrant tea steaming on it; and a plate piled up with very hot buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both sides, with the butter running through the holes in it in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb. The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one's ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries. Toad sat up on end once more, dried his eyes, sipped his tea and munched his toast, and soon began talking freely about himself, and the house he lived in, and his doings there, and how important he was, and what a lot his friends thought of him.
The gaoler's daughter saw that the topic was doing him as much good as the tea, as indeed it was, and encouraged him to go on.
"Tell me about Toad Hall," said she. "It sounds beautiful."
"Toad Hall," said the Toad proudly, "is an eligible self-contained gentleman's
residence very unique; dating in part from the fourteenth century, but replete
with every modern convenience. Up-to-date sanitation. Five minutes from church,
post-office, and golf-links. Suitable
"Bless the animal," said the girl, laughing, "I don't want to take it. Tell me something real about it. But first wait till I fetch you some more tea and toast."
She tripped away, and presently returned with a fresh trayful; and Toad, pitching into the toast with avidity, his spirits quite restored to their usual level, told her about the boat-house, and the fish-pond, and the old walled kitchen-garden; and about the pig-styes and the stables, and the pigeon-house, and the hen-house; and about the dairy, and the wash-house, and the china-cupboards, and the linen-presses (she liked that bit especially); and about the banqueting-hall, and the fun they had there when the other animals were gathered round the table and Toad was at his best, singing songs, telling stories, carrying on generally. Then she wanted to know about his animal-friends, and was very interested in all he had to tell her about them and how they lived, and what they did to pass their time. Of course, she did not say she was fond of animals as pets, because she had the sense to see that Toad would be extremely offended. When she said good-night, having filled his water-jug and shaken up his straw for him, Toad was very much the same sanguine, self-satisfied animal that he had been of old. He sang a little song or two, of the sort he used to sing at his dinner-parties, curled himself up in the straw, and had an excellent night's rest and the pleasantest of dreams.
They had many interesting talks together, after that, as the dreary days went on; and the gaoler's daughter grew very sorry for Toad, and thought it a great shame that a poor little animal should be locked up in prison for what seemed to her a very trivial offence. Toad, of course, in his vanity, thought that her interest in him proceeded from a growing tenderness; and he could not help half-regretting that the social gulf between them was so very wide, for she was a comely lass, and evidently admired him very much.
One morning the girl was very thoughtful, and answered at random, and did not seem to Toad to be paying proper attention to his witty sayings and sparkling comments.
"Toad," she said presently, "just listen, please. I have an aunt who is a washerwoman."
"There, there," said Toad, graciously and affably, "never mind; think no more about it. I have several aunts who ought to be washerwomen."
"Do be quiet a minute, Toad," said the girl. "You talk too much, that's your chief fault, and I'm trying to think, and you hurt my head. As I said, I have an aunt who is a washerwoman; she does the washing for all the prisoners in this castle—we try to keep any paying business of that sort in the family, you understand. She takes out the washing on Monday morning, and brings it in on Friday evening. This is a Thursday. Now, this is what occurs to me: you're very rich—at least you're always telling me so—and she's very poor. A few pounds wouldn't make any difference to you, and it would mean a lot to her. Now, I think if she were properly approached—squared, I believe is the word you animals use—you could come to some arrangement by which she would let you have her dress and bonnet and so on, and you could escape from the castle as the official washerwoman. You're very alike in many respects—particularly about the figure."
"We're not," said the Toad in a huff. "I have a very elegant figure—for what I am."
"So has my aunt," replied the girl, "for what she is. But have it your own way. You horrid, proud, ungrateful animal, when I'm sorry for you, and trying to help you!"
"Yes, yes, that's all right; thank you very much indeed," said the Toad hurriedly. "But look here! you wouldn't surely have Mr. Toad, of Toad Hall, going about the country disguised as a washerwoman!"
"Then you can stop here as a Toad," replied the girl with much spirit. "I suppose you want to go off in a coach-and-four!"
Honest Toad was always ready to admit himself in the wrong. "You are a good, kind, clever girl," he said, "and I am indeed a proud and a stupid toad. Introduce me to your worthy aunt, if you will be so kind, and I have no doubt that the excellent lady and I will be able to arrange terms satisfactory to both parties."
Fly away, fly away, over the sea,
Sun-loving swallow, for summer is done.
Come again, come again, come back to me,
Bringing the summer, and bringing the sun.
When you come hurrying home o'er the sea,
Then we are certain that winter is past.
Cloudy and cold though your pathway may be,
Summer and sunshine will follow you fast.