WEEK 36 |
A FEW days after these events there was great commotion and much running up and down stairs in Herr Sesemann's house. The master had just returned, and Sebastian and Tinette were busy carrying up one package after another from the carriage, for Herr Sesemann always brought back a lot of pretty things for his home. He himself had not waited to do anything before going in to see his daughter. Heidi was sitting beside her, for it was late afternoon, when the two were always together. Father and daughter greeted each other with warm affection, for they were deeply attached to one another. Then he held out his hand to Heidi, who had stolen away into the corner, and said kindly to her, "And this is our little Swiss girl; come and shake hands with me! That's right! Now, tell me, are Clara and you good friends with one another, or do you get angry and quarrel, and then cry and make it up, and then start quarreling again on the next occasion?"
"No, Clara is always kind to me," answered Heidi.
"And Heidi," put in Clara quickly, "has not once tried to quarrel."
"That's all right, I am glad to hear it," said her father, as he rose from his chair. "But you must excuse me, Clara, for I want my dinner; I have had nothing to eat all day. Afterwards I will show you all the things I have brought home with me."
He found Fraülein Rottenmeier in the dining-room superintending the preparation for his meal, and when he had taken his place she sat down opposite to him, looking the very embodiment of bad news, so that he turned to her and said, "What am I to expect, Fraülein Rottenmeier? You greet me with an expression of countenance that quite frightens me. What is the matter? Clara seems cheerful enough."
"Herr Sesemann," began the lady in a solemn voice, "it is a matter which concerns Clara; we have been frightfully imposed upon."
"Indeed, in what way?" asked Herr Sesemann as he went on calmly drinking his wine.
"We had decided, as you remember, to get a companion for Clara, and as I knew how anxious you were to have only those who were well-behaved and nicely brought up about her, I thought I would look for a little Swiss girl, as I hoped to find such a one as I have often read about, who, born as it were of the mountain air, lives and moves without touching the earth."
"Still I think even a Swiss child would have to touch the earth if she wanted to go anywhere," remarked Herr Sesemann, "otherwise they would have been given wings instead of feet."
"Ah, Herr Sesemann, you know what I mean," continued Fraülein Rottenmeier. "I mean one so at home among the living creatures of the high, pure mountain regions, that she would be like some idealistic being from another world among us."
"And what could Clara do with such an idealistic being as you describe, Fraülein Rottenmeier."
"I am not joking, Herr Sesemann, the matter is a more serious one than you think; I have been shockingly, disgracefully imposed upon."
"But how? what is there shocking and disgraceful? I see nothing shocking in the child," remarked Herr Sesemann quietly.
"If you only knew of one thing she has done, if you only knew of the kind of people and animals she has brought into the house during your absence! The tutor can tell you more about that."
"Animals? what am I to understand by animals, Fraülein Rottenmeier?"
"It is past understanding; the whole behavior of the child would be past understanding, if it were not that at times she is evidently not in her right mind."
Herr Sesemann had attached very little importance to what was told him up till now—but not in her right mind! that was more serious and might be prejudicial to his own child. Herr Sesemann looked very narrowly at the lady opposite to assure himself that the mental aberration was not on her side. At that moment the door opened and the tutor was announced.
"Ah! here is some one," exclaimed Herr Sesemann, "who will help to clear up matters for me. Take a seat," he continued, as he held out his hand to the tutor. "You will drink a cup of coffee with me—no ceremony, I pray! And now tell me, what is the matter with this child that has come to be a companion to my daughter? What is this strange thing I hear about her bringing animals into the house, and is she in her right senses?"
The tutor felt he must begin with expressing his pleasure at
Herr Sesemann's return, and with explaining that he had come in
on purpose to give him welcome, but Herr Sesemann begged him to
explain without delay the meaning of all he had heard about
Heidi. The tutor started in his usual style. "If I must give my
opinion about this little girl, I should like first to state
that, if on one side, there is a lack of development which has
been caused by the more or less careless way in which she has
been brought up, or rather, by the neglect of her education
when young, and by the solitary life she has led on the mountain,
which is not wholly to be condemned; on the contrary, such a
life has undoubtedly some advantages in it, if not allowed to
overstep a certain limit of
"My good friend," interrupted Herr Sesemann, "you are giving yourself more trouble than you need. I only want to know if the child has caused you alarm by any animals she has brought into the house, and what your opinion is altogether as to her being a fit companion or not for my daughter?"
"I should not like in any way to prejudice you against her,"
began the tutor once more; "for if on the one hand there is a
certain inexperience of the ways of society, owing to the
uncivilised life she led up to the time of her removal to
Frankfurt, on the other hand she is endowed with certain good
qualities, and, taken on the
"Excuse me, my dear sir, do not disturb yourself, but I must—I think my daughter will be wanting me," and with that Herr Sesemann quickly left the room and took care not to return. He sat himself down beside his daughter in the study, and then turning to Heidi, who had risen, "Little one, will you fetch me," he began, and then paused, for he could not think what to ask for, but he wanted to get the child out of the room for a little while, "fetch me—fetch me a glass of water."
"Fresh water?" asked Heidi.
"Yes—yes—as fresh as you can get it," he answered. Heidi disappeared on the spot.
"And now, my dear little Clara," he said, drawing his chair nearer and laying her hand in his, "answer my questions clearly and intelligibly: what kind of animals has your little companion brought into the house, and why does Fraülein Rottenmeier think that she is not always in her right mind?"
Clara had no difficulty in answering. The alarmed lady had spoken to her also about Heidi's wild manner of talking, but Clara had not been able to put a meaning to it. She told her father everything about the tortoise and the kittens, and explained to him what Heidi had said the day Fraülein Rottenmeier had been put in such a fright. Herr Sesemann laughed heartily at her recital. "So you do not want me to send the child home again," he asked, "you are not tired of having her here?"
"Oh, no, no," Clara exclaimed, "please do not send her away. Time has passed much more quickly since Heidi was here, for something fresh happens every day, and it used to be so dull, and she has always so much to tell me."
"That's all right then—and here comes your little friend. Have you brought me some nice fresh water?" he asked as Heidi handed him a glass.
"Yes, fresh from the pump," answered Heidi.
"You did not go yourself to the pump?" said Clara.
"Yes I did; it is quite fresh. I had to go a long way, for there were such a lot of people at the first pump; so I went further down the street, but there were just as many at the second pump, but I was able to get some water at the one in the next street, and the gentleman with the white hair asked me to give his kind regards to Herr Sesemann."
"You have had quite a successful expedition," said Herr Sesemann laughing, "and who was the gentleman?"
"He was passing, and when he saw me he stood still and said, 'As you have a glass will you give me a drink? to whom are you taking the water?' and when I said, 'To Herr Sesemann,' he laughed very much, and then he gave me that message for you, and also said he hoped you would enjoy the water."
"Oh, and who was it, I wonder, who sent me such good wishes—tell me what he was like," said Herr Sesemann.
"He was kind and laughed, and he had a thick gold chain and a gold thing hanging from it with a large red stone, and a horse's head at the top of his stick."
"It's the doctor—my old friend the doctor," exclaimed Clara and her father at the same moment, and Herr Sesemann smiled to himself at the thought of what his friend's opinion must have been of this new way of satisfying his thirst for water.
That evening when Herr Sesemann and Fraülein Rottenmeier were alone, settling the household affairs, he informed her that he intended to keep Heidi; he found the child in a perfectly right state of mind, and his daughter liked her as a companion. "I desire, therefore," he continued, laying stress upon his words, "that the child shall be in every way kindly treated, and that her peculiarities shall not be looked upon as crimes. If you find her too much for you alone, I can hold out a prospect of help, for I am shortly expecting my mother here on a long visit, and she, as you know, can get on with anybody, whatever they may be like."
"O yes, I know," replied Fraülein Rottenmeier, but there was no tone of relief in her voice as she thought of the coming help.
Herr Sesemann was only home for a short time; he left for Paris again before the fortnight was over, comforting Clara, who could not bear that he should go from her again so soon, with the prospect of her grandmother's arrival, which was to take place in a few days' time. Herr Sesemann had indeed only just gone when a letter came from Frau Sesemann, announcing her arrival on the following day, and stating the hour when she might be expected, in order that a carriage should be sent to meet her at the station. Clara was overjoyed, and talked so much about her grandmother that evening, that Heidi began also to call her "grandmamma," which brought down on her a look of displeasure from Fraülein Rottenmeier; this, however, had no particular effect on Heidi, for she was accustomed now to being continually in that lady's black books. But as she was going to her room that night, Fraülein Rottenmeier waylaid her, and drawing her into her own, gave her strict injunctions as to how she was to address Frau Sesemann when she arrived; on no account was she to call her "grandmamma," but always to say "madam" to her. "Do you understand?" said the lady, as she saw a perplexed expression on Heidi's face. The latter had not understood, but seeing the severe expression of the lady's face she did not ask for more explanation.
L ISTEN, and I will tell you of the famous dark day in Connecticut. It was in the month of May, more than a hundred years ago.
The sun rose bright and fair, and the morning was without a cloud. The air was very still. There was not a breath of wind to stir the young leaves on the trees.
Then, about the middle of the day, it began to grow dark. The sun was hidden. A black cloud seemed to cover the earth.
The birds flew to their nests. The chickens went to roost. The cows came home from the pasture and stood mooing at the gate. It grew so dark that the people could not see their way along the streets.
Then everybody began to feel frightened. "What is the matter? What is going to happen?" each one asked of another. The children cried. The dogs howled. The women wept, and some of the men prayed.
"The end of the world has come!" cried some; and they ran about in the darkness.
"This is the last great day!" cried others; and they knelt down and waited.
In the old statehouse, the wise men of Connecticut were sitting. They were men who made the laws, and much depended upon their wisdom.
When the darkness came, they too began to be alarmed. The gloom was terrible.
"It is the day of the Lord." said one.
"No use to make laws," said another, "for they will never be needed."
"I move that we adjourn," said a third.
Then up from his seat rose Abraham Davenport. His voice was clear and strong, and all knew that he, at least, was not afraid.
"This may be the last great day," he said. "I do not know whether the end of the world has come or not. But I am sure that it is my duty to stand at my post as long as I live. So, let us go on with the work that is before us. Let the candles be lighted."
His words put courage into every heart. The candles were brought in. Then with his strong face aglow in their feeble light, he made a speech in favor of a law to help poor fishermen.
And as he spoke, the other lawmakers listened in silence till the darkness began to fade and the sky grew bright again.
The people of Connecticut still remember Abraham Davenport, because he was a wise judge and a brave lawmaker. The poet Whittier has written a poem about him, which you will like to hear.
To drum-beat and heart-beat,
A soldier marches by;
There is color in his cheek,
There is courage in his eye,
Yet to drum-beat and heart-beat
In a moment he must die.
By starlight and moonlight,
He seeks the Briton's camp;
He hears the rustling flag,
And the armed sentry's tramp;
And the starlight and moonlight
His silent wanderings lamp.
With slow tread and still tread,
He scans the tented line;
And he counts the battery guns
By the gaunt and shadowy pine;
And his slow tread and still tread
Gives no warning sign.
The dark wave, the plumed wave,
It meets his eager glance;
And it sparkles 'neath the stars,
Like the glimmer of a lance—
A dark wave, a plumed wave,
On an emerald expanse.
A sharp clang, a steel clang,
And terror in the sound!
For the sentry, falcon-eyed,
In the camp, a spy hath found;
With a sharp clang, a steel clang,
The patriot is bound.
With calm brow, steady brow,
He listens to his doom;
In his look there is no fear,
Nor a shadow-trace of gloom;
But with calm brow and steady brow
He robes him for the tomb.
In the long night, the still night,
He kneels upon the sod;
And the brutal guards withhold
E'en the solemn Word of God!
In the long night, the still night,
He walks where Christ hath trod.
'Neath the blue morn, the sunny morn,
He dies upon the tree;
And he mourns that he can lose
But one life for Liberty;
And in the blue morn, the sunny morn,
His spirit-wings are free.
But his last words, his message words,
They burn, lest friendly eye
Should read how proud and calm
A patriot could die,
With his last words, his dying words,
A soldier's battle-cry.
From the Fame-leaf and Angel-leaf
From monument and urn,
The sad of earth, the glad of heaven,
His tragic fate shall learn;
And on Fame-leaf and Angel-leaf
The name of Hale shall burn.
WEEK 36 |
T HE French barons soon grew weary of John and his misrule, and they all leagued against him. They fought and conquered him, and he had to fly from Normandy which, with all his other French possessions, was lost to him forever.
But although he was no longer Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou, Lord of Touraine and Maine, John was still King of England, and to England he returned to rob and oppress the people.
The wise man, called Hubert Walter, who had ruled England during the last years of Richard Cœur de Lion, now died. He had been Archbishop of Canterbury, and John was very glad when he died, as he was one of the few men who kept him from doing just as he liked.
John chose a friend of his own as the next archbishop, but
the monks of Canterbury chose some one else. Both these men
went to the Pope to ask him which of them ought to be the
The Pope said that neither of these men should be archbishop, and he chose another man altogether, called Stephen Langdon.
Stephen Langdon was a very good man. In fact no better archbishop could have been chosen. But John was furiously angry when he heard that his friend was not to be allowed to be archbishop, and he banished Stephen Langdon from the country.
Then the Pope was very angry with John and told him that, if he did not allow Stephen to come back at once, he would lay England under an Interdict.
Interdict comes from a Latin word which means "to forbid." The Pope meant that he would forbid any religious service of any kind to be held in England.
John did not care. He meant to have his own way. So did the Pope. John would not give in and the churches were closed. No bells were rung, no services were held. People could not be married, little babies could not be christened, dead people could not be buried. Cobwebs and dust filled the churches, weeds choked the graveyards.
It was a sad and gloomy land.
Still John did not care. Then the Pope excommunicated him. Excommunicate is another Latin word and means that John was put out of union or companionship, not only with the Church, but with every human being.
The Pope told the people that John was no longer king and that they need not now obey him. They were forbidden to eat or drink with him or to serve him. Whatever he did was wrong. In fact he had lost all rights as a man and as a Christian. He might be looked upon as a wild animal. Any one who chose might kill him.
Still John did not care. He laughed at the Pope.
Then the Pope told the King of France that he would be doing a good and Christian act if he conquered John and took possession of England.
The French king was only too pleased to have a good excuse for invading England, and he began at once to prepare to fight.
Then suddenly John grew frightened and gave way. He had found out that not only the Pope and the French were against him, but the Scotch, the Irish, the Welsh, and even the English were all ready to fight. He was alone in the world, hated and despised by all. So powerful was the Pope in those days.
From being insolent and scornful, John now became meanly humble and did a shameful thing. The Pope sent a messenger to England, and John, kneeling before this messenger, took the crown from his head and gave it to him.
The Pope's messenger kept the crown for five days and then he gave it back to John. But he did not give it to him as the free King of England. He gave it to him telling him that henceforth he could wear it only as the servant of the Pope, and that he must promise always to do as the Pope commanded.
The English people felt sad and ashamed that their King should be under the Pope like this, but John did not care, for the Pope was now his friend. And John knew that the Pope could be as powerful a friend as he had been an enemy.
One good thing at least followed. The Interdict was taken from the land. Once more church bells rang, hymns were sung, and the silent gloom passed away.
Another good man who had helped to protect the people from John now died. When John heard of it he was very glad. "At last I am really King of England," he cried, for he thought that there was no one else in all the land to hinder him from being as bad and cruel as he wished.
But he was mistaken. Stephen Langdon, the man whom the Pope had made Archbishop of Canterbury, turned out to be the people of England's best friend.
You remember that King
The charter is very long and some of it you would find difficult to understand, but I will tell you a few of the things in it, for the Magna Charta is the foundation of all our laws and liberty.
"No free man," it says, "or merchant or peasant shall be punished a great deal for a very little fault. However bad they may have been we will not take their tools or other things by which they earn their living, away from them."
"No free man shall be seized, or put in prison, or have his goods or lands taken from him, or be outlawed or exiled, or in any way brought to ruin, unless he has been properly judged and condemned by the law of the land."
"To no man will we sell, or deny, or delay right or justice."
These things seem to us now quite natural and right, so you can imagine what evil times these were when the King was unwilling to grant such liberty to his people.
But King John was very unwilling to grant it. When he first read this charter he was furiously angry. "Why do they not ask for my kingdom at once?" he cried. "I will never, never grant anything that will make me a slave of the people."
But the Church and the barons and the people were all against John. Agree he must. Yet he kept delaying, from Christmas till Easter, from Easter till midsummer. Friend after friend deserted him, till at last he found that the whole country had risen against him like one huge army, and he had only seven knights left who were still true to him.
The angry barons would no longer be put off. They forced the
King to meet them at a little place on the Thames called
Runnymede. The barons and their army camped on one side of
the river, the King and his friends on the other. On a
little island between, they met and talked, and there, on
The Great Charter was sealed with the King's seal.
The King was sullen and angry. At the last he would have refused to set his hand to the seal, but Stephen Langdon stood beside him and the stern barons around. Then he found that he had to bend his will to that of the people.
John not only sealed the charter, but he agreed that twenty-four barons should be appointed to see that he kept the promises which it contained. He agreed only because he was compelled, because the barons stood there in bright armour with sharp swords and fierce looks, because he knew he had no friend to stand by him and help him to resist.
When the meeting was over, and John went back to his palace,
his anger was terrible. He threw himself on the floor
foaming with passion. "They have given me four-and-twenty
Yet this charter, against which John fought so fiercely, was nothing new; the laws and promises it contained were the laws and promises of Edward the Confessor, of Alfred the Great. But they were also the laws and promises which the foreign kings of England had broken and trampled on ever since William the Conqueror had won the battle of Hastings.
Many copies of the great charter were made, and these copies were sent to cathedrals and other safe places to be taken care of. This was done so that the people throughout all the land should know of their liberties, and if one copy were lost or destroyed, there should still be others. It is nearly seven hundred years since Magna Charta was sealed, yet one copy still remains. It is yellow and stained, but we treasure it greatly for the memory of what it was and is to us. It is kept safely in London, in the British Museum. Some day you will go there and look at it.
John sealed the Magna Charta because he had no choice, but he never meant to keep the promises it contained. And he did not keep them. He sent to France for soldiers, and when they came he made war on his own people. He asked his friend the Pope for help, and the Pope helped him by excommunicating all the barons, by laying London under Interdict, and by telling him that he need not keep his promises.
But the people of England said that this was a matter with which the Pope had nothing to do, and so they paid no attention to him. The church bells rang; there was preaching, praying, and singing in the churches, and people were married, and buried, and christened as usual. The Pope was very angry, but he could do nothing.
Then, as John still went on his wicked way, the people sent to France and asked Louis, the son of the King of France, to come to fight against John, promising to help him and to make him King of England.
Louis came, but there was little need for him to fight, as very shortly John died. While crossing the Wash to meet Louis, he, his army and all his treasure were overtaken by the tide. John himself was nearly drowned, and his crown, his jewels and the baggage of the army were lost.
A few days later John died. Some say that he died of anger and grief, others that he was poisoned, others that his death was caused by eating a great many raw peaches and by drinking a quantity of new cider too greedily.
No king of England has ever been so bad as John. He was a bad son, a bad brother, a bad king, and a bad man. Yet out of his wicked reign great good came to the English nation.
The loss of Normandy, which was caused by John's cruelty, proved to be a blessing to England. Norman lords no longer came to England expecting to fill the best places in the land. French was spoken less and less, until only a few French words remained, which we still use, and which now form part of the English language. The hatred between Norman and English died out, because the differences disappeared, and the Norman barons became English barons.
In the reign of Stephen the barons, you remember, were fierce and wicked, and oppressed the people in terrible ways. In the reign of John, the barons had become the champions of the people, and took up arms for them against a wicked king.
When the barons forced John to grant the Magna Charta, they fought, not for themselves, as barons and Normans, but for the whole English people. For the first time since the Conquest the people of England acted as one people. The Norman had disappeared. England was England again. She had conquered the Conqueror.
This England never did (nor never shall)
Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror,
. . . . . . .
If England to itself do rest but true.
A DVENA lives in Holiday Pond. She is a yellow pond-lily. Some people call her "spatter-dock," and some call her "cow lily." One day a man who studies plants said her name is "Advena." You may take your choice. Advena herself does not care what she is called.
The first time I visited Advena, I followed a path down a little hill to the pond. The path was narrow and led from side to side like the graceful trail of a snake. At the foot of the hill the path was bordered by sweetgale bushes, and I could not see the pond until I was very near it.
There were two large birds, with long necks and legs like stilts, standing by the quiet lake. They were herons. When they saw me come out from among the bushes at the end of the path, they were startled and flew away.
Next a family of sandpipers flew low across the water, speaking their alarm in sweet, quick tones.
Then the green frogs performed. They leaped from the shore to the pond, yelping wildly as they went. Their voices sounded somewhat like squealing pigs and somewhat like hurt birds screaming. But those funny frogs were in no pain. Jumping high into the air and splashing into the water with war whoops were their ways of scaring animals that came too near. They did not go quite together. They went one after another, quickly, like a package of exploding firecrackers. There seemed to be one hundred of the shrieking little jumping jacks.
A minute later all was quiet. There was not a frog to be seen or heard. A lot of circles, growing wider and wider, on top of the water, showed where the little yelpers had disappeared.
Sometime afterwards I saw one of the frogs again. He was sitting on one of Advena's big, flat leaves. His body was heavy enough to push the leaf down a little way so that all of him except his nose was covered with water. This time the frog did not jump or yelp. He was as silent and motionless as the leaf on which he sat. The back of his head and shoulders were almost as green as the leaf, and I was near enough to touch him before I saw him.
Advena, the yellow pond‑lily.
Often a frog visits Advena in this way. It is as if a neighbor came to rest on the porch and enjoy the view. Sometimes he helps himself to a bit of lunch if he sees anything that he likes to eat. He is so quiet while he waits that flying insects alight near him and water insects swim close to the leaf.
A colony of tiny insects, called aphids, spend the summer with Advena. They camp on the upper side of a long, trailing leaf-stem if one happens to lie on top of the water. Another favorite camping place is the under side of a leaf when Advena grows tall enough to push her leaves into the air. They are the same kind of little sap-drinkers as Nim Fay, who lived on the arrowhead. So of course the winged ones fly to the plum trees when they are ready to leave their summer camp.
Don and Acia visit Advena every summer. They are dark-colored beetles with rather narrow bodies that glisten in the sunshine. On almost any summer day they may be seen resting on Advena's leaves, although they are quick to fly if any one comes near.
Don and Acia visit the yellow pond‑lily every summer. They are quick to fly if any one comes near.
Don does not do much except to rest and fly and eat. He does not have a busy summer. But Acia finds a good place for her eggs.
The place she chooses is the under side of one of Advena's leaves, but it must be a leaf that lies flat on top of the water. Acia glues her eggs on the wet under side of the leaf, but she does not go into the water to do so. She stands on top of the leaf and bites a hole in it. Then she pokes the tip of her body through the hole and places her eggs in a circle around the hole. She covers them with a substance that looks like gelatine.
The tiny white eggs stay in their nest of glue for about a week and a half before the young Dons and Acias hatch. The young ones do not find anything that satisfies them on Advena's leaf, so they go on a journey. They travel as far as the underground stem of the yellow pond-lily, the part that grows in the oozy bottom of the pond.
They look nothing whatever like their father and mother. They are little white grubs down in the soft black mud. They need food to eat and air to breathe, and where do you suppose they find it?
There is plenty of air in Advena's stems. She breathes with her leaves, and her stems have little cells filled with air. If her stems are broken under the water, bubbles of air come up to the top of the pond.
The little white grubs have sharp spines at the tips of their tails. With these spines they bore into the stem of the pond-lily and break some of the air-cells. When the air comes out of the stem, the little grubs take it into their breathing pores. In this way they can breathe while in the water even though they have no gills.
They find food, too, in the yellow pond-lily. They nibble round holes in the underground stems and eat all they need to make them grow.
After they are as large and plump as Don and Acia grubs ever grow to be, each one spins a silken cocoon. The silk comes from glands that open in the mouth, and with it the grub makes a cocoon that is tough and brown. This strong case is water-tight and air-tight. The water cannot soak into it, and the air cannot get out.
In such snug sleeping bags among Advena's roots, the young insects rest until they have changed from white water grubs to beetles with wings. Then they nibble holes in the cocoons and creep out into the water. But they do not stay there long. Their water days are over. They rise to the top of the pond and climb up Advena's blossom stalk or other handy ladder.
At last they look like their father and mother, all dark and shiny in the sunshine. When you come too near, away they go on wings as quick as were those of old Don and Acia.
To watch one of Advena's leaves on a quiet, sunny summer day is like looking at a moving picture. A slender damsel-fly, with wings held lengthwise along its body, rests lightly on the big, flat, heart-shaped leaf for a while. A long-legged water strider comes skimming and skipping over the surface of the water and takes several hops across the broad leaf. A lot of shiny whirligig-beetles dart around in quick circles in the water near by. A young frog rests its chin on the rim and looks and waits for some time before it swims away.
If you choose to watch an old yellow leaf, sunken a little so that one edge is covered with water, you are likely to see some tiny fishes poking against it and swimming across it.
A snail may come, too—a water snail with the coils of its shell so flat that both sides look almost alike. This snail comes to the surface to change the air in its air-sac. The used air comes bubbling out, and then the sac fills with fresh air. The snail can hold this air in the sac and use it while under water. Perhaps, during its visit to Advena, the snail may scrape off and eat a bit of the ripe and mellow leaf.
Snails that live in the water often visit the plants in the pond.
Many of Advena's guests do nothing whatever in return for the food and comfort they enjoy while visiting her. Others, however, help her very much. Indeed, the lives of her seeds depend on the visits of certain of her guests. Among these are bees and flies that come to her blossoms.
The outside green sepals that protect the bud of a yellow pond-lily do not stay green as the sepals of a rose do. They turn bright yellow and form the showy part of the flower. Inside of them are short, scale-like petals and rows and rows of short, flat, flap-like stamens. The petals and stamens are in a circle around the base of the big greenish box full of young seeds. The seeds cannot live and grow unless some pollen is sprinkled on the sticky top of the seed-box.
There is plenty of pollen on the stamens, but it does not ripen in time to do any good to the seeds in the same flower. So that is how the small bees help Advena. They go into yellow pond-lily blossoms that are old enough to have ripe pollen. They gather as much as they can. They need it for "bee bread" for their young bees to eat. While they are busy inside the flower, their bodies become dusty with pollen. Next they fly to a younger blossom which is open only a little way. They walk over the sticky top of the seed-box, and some of the yellow dust stays there, where Advena needs it for her seeds. After that they creep among the short petals and help themselves to a little sweet nectar they find there. They like to taste some of it, and some they carry away. They need nectar to mix with pollen when they make their "bee bread."
Certain large flower flies come to pond-lily blossoms to sip nectar and eat pollen, and they carry the golden, live dust from the older flowers to the younger ones as the bees do. They are the syrphus flies, and some of them are as large as the little bees that they meet in Advena's blossoms.
The bees and the syrphus flies never know that they help the plants they visit. They do not know when pollen shakes off their bodies and falls on the sticky tops of the seed-boxes in the blossoms. Advena herself does not know that the lives of her seeds depend on such flower insects.
People, however, can watch Advena and see how her guests behave. And is it not rather comforting to know that some of her visitors treat her well? So well, indeed, that yellow pond-lilies are abundant, and "spatter-docks" hold their golden globes above the quiet water in many places.
Once a dream did weave a shade
O'er my angel-guarded bed,
That an emmet lost its way
When on grass methought I lay.
Troubled, 'wildered, and forlorn,
Dark, benighted, travel-worn,
Over many a tangled spray,
All heart-broke, I heard her say:
"Oh, my children! do they cry?
Do they hear their father sigh?
Now they look abroad to see.
Now return and weep for me."
Pitying, I dropped a tear;
But I saw a glow-worm near,
Who replied, "What wailing wight
Calls the watchman of the night?
"I am set to light the ground
While the beetle goes his round.
Follow now the beetle's hum—
Little wanderer, hie thee home!"
WEEK 36 |
IGHTFOOT THE DEER was the first one on hand the next morning. In
fact, he arrived before
"The Deer family," began Old Mother Nature, "is divided into two
branches—the round-horned and the
To speak of him correctly you should call him Wapiti instead of Elk.
"Bugler is found only in the great mountains of the
"How big is he?" asked Lightfoot.
"So big that beside him you would look very small," replied Old Mother Nature. "Have you ever seen Farmer Brown's Horse?"
Lightfoot nodded. "Well, Bugler stands as high as that Horse," replied Old Mother Nature. "He isn't as heavy, for his body is of different shape, not so big around, but at that he weighs three times as much as you do. In summer his coat is a light yellowish-brown, becoming very dark on his neck and underneath. His legs are dark brown. The hair on his neck is long and coarse. His tail is very small, and around it is a large patch so light in color as to be almost whitish. In winter his coat becomes dark gray.
"Bugler's crowning glory are his antlers. They are very large and wide-spreading, sweeping backward and upward, the long prongs, or tines, curving upward from the front instead of from the back, as in the case of Lightfoot's antlers. Above each eye is a long sharp prong. So big are these antlers that Bugler looks almost as if he were carrying a small, bare tree on his head.
"Big as these antlers are, they are grown in a few months for
Bugler is like his smaller cousins
in that he loses his antlers at
the end of every winter and must grow a new pair. While they are
growing, he hides in the wildest places he can find, high up on
"In the fall, when his antlers have hardened, Bugler moves down to join his family. The bigger and stronger he is, the bigger his family is, for he has a number of wives and they all live together in a herd or band of which Bugler is lord and master. He is ready and eager to fight for them, and terrible battles take place when another disputes his leadership. At this season he has a habit of stretching his neck out and emitting a far-reaching trumpet-like sound from which he gets the name of Bugler. It is a warning that he is ready to fight.
"When the snows of winter come, many families get together and form great bands. Then they move down from the mountains in search of shelter and food. When a winter is very bad, many starve to death, for man has fenced in and made into farms much of the land where the elk once found ample food for winter.
"But big as is Bugler the Elk, there is a cousin who is bigger, the
biggest of all the Deer family.
It is Flathorns the Moose. As you
must guess by his name he is a member of the
He is the largest member of the Deer family.
"Flathorns, wearing his crown of great spreading antlers, is a
noble appearing animal because of his great size, but when his
antlers have dropped he is a homely fellow.
"From his throat hangs a hairy fold of skin called a bell. He has a very short tail, so short that it is hardly noticeable. His legs are very long and rather large. His hoofs are large and rounded, more like those of Bossy the Cow than like those of Lightfoot the Deer. Seen at a little distance in the woods, he looks to be almost black, but really is for the most part dark brown. His legs are gray on the inside.
"Flathorns lives in the great northern forests clear across the
country, and is especially fond of swampy places. He is fond of
the water and is a good swimmer. In summer he delights to feed
on the pads, stems and roots of water lilies, and his long legs
enable him to wade out to get them. For the most part his food
consists of leaves and tender twigs of young trees, such as
striped maple, aspen, birch, hemlock, alder and willow. His great
height enables him to reach the upper branches of young trees. When
they are too tall for this, he straddles them and bends or breaks
them down to get at the upper branches. His front teeth are big,
"Big as he is, he can steal through thick growth without making a
sound. He does not jump like other Deer, but travels at an awkward
trot which takes him over the ground very fast. In the
when snow is deep, the Moose family lives in a yard such as I told
you Lightfoot makes. The greatest enemy of Flathorns is the hunter,
and from being much hunted Flathorns has learned to make the most of
his ears, eyes and nose. He is very smart and not easily surprised.
When wounded he will sometimes attack man, and occasionally when not
wounded. Then he strikes with his
"In parts of these same northern forests lives another big member of the Deer family, Wanderhoof the Woodland Caribou. He is bigger than Lightfoot the Deer, but smaller than Bugler the Elk, rather an awkward-looking fellow. His legs are quite long but stout. His neck is rather short, and instead of carrying his head proudly as does Lightfoot, he carries it stretched out before him or hanging low. The hair on the lower part of his neck is long.
This is the Woodland Caribou, a member of the Deer family closely related to the Reindeer.
"Wanderhoof wears a coat of brown, his neck being much lighter or almost gray. He has an undercoat which is very thick and woolly. In winter his whole coat becomes grayish and his neck white. Above each hoof is a band of white. His tail is very short, and white on the under side. His antlers are wonderful, being very long and both round and flat. That is, parts of them are round and parts flattened. They have more prongs than those of any other Deer.
"His hoofs are very large, deeply slit, and
"He is very fond of the water and delights to splash about in it, and is a splendid swimmer. His hair floats him so that when swimming he is higher out of water than any other member of the family. In winter he lives in the thickest parts of the forest among the hemlocks and spruces, and feeds on the mosses and lichens which grow on the trees. In summer he moves to the open, boggy ground around shallow lakes where moss covers the ground, and on this he lives.
"He is a great wanderer, hence his name Wanderhoof.
"In the Far North beyond the great forests Wanderhoof has a cousin
who looks very much like him, called the Barren Ground Caribou.
The name comes from the fact that way up there little excepting
moss grows, and on this the Caribou lives. In summer this Caribou
is found almost up to the Arctic Ocean, moving southward in great
herds as the cold weather approaches. No other animals of
"All male members of the smaller Deer are called bucks, the female members are called does, and the young are called fawns. All male members of the big Deer, such as Bugler the Elk, Flathorns the Moose and Wanderhoof the Caribou, are called bulls. The females are called cows and the young are called calves. All members of the Deer family, with the exception of the Barren Ground Caribou, are forest-loving animals and are seldom seen far from the sheltering woods.
"This, I think, will do for the Deer family.
On this same page 195 you will also find a map of Florida. The peninsula of Florida was occupied by the Spaniards more than forty years before the first colony of English people landed at Jamestown. From the time the colonies were settled, there were many quarrels between the people of this country and the Spanish inhabitants of Florida. But in 1821 Florida was bough from Spain, and became a part of the United States.
Mexico, which was at first a Spanish colony, rebelled against Spain, and secured its independence. One of the States of the Mexican Republic was Texas. Americans who had settled in Texas got into a dispute with the government of Mexico. This took the form of a revolution, and Texas became an independent republic, under a president of its own. In 1845 this republic of Texas was annexed to the United States by its own consent, and has been from that time the largest State in the Union. By removing the blank part of page 195, you will connect the map of Texas, on page 197, with the rest, and this will show what our country was in 1845.
The Mexicans, though driven out of Texas, were quite unwilling to lose so large a territory. The annexation of Texas to the United States led to a war with Mexico, which lasted two years. During this war the United States troops took from Mexico California, on the Pacific coast, and a large region known as New Mexico, in the interior. At the close of the war, in 1847, this territory was retained by the United States, which paid to Mexico fifteen million dollars for it. Another small tract was bought from Mexico in 1851, which we may account part of the addition from Mexico in consequence of the war, and consider the two together. You will see, on this page, how large a region was added to the country by these annexations from Mexico. Cut out the blank space from page 197, and you will see how the country has been built up by additions of territory to its present size.
The only part of our continent governed by the United States which lies separate from the rest is Alaska. This was bought from Russia in 1867. You will get some notion of its position with reference to the rest of the country by looking at the map on page 190, in its relation to the sections on pages 191, 193, 195, 197, and 199. Our country also owns some outlying islands : the Hawaiian Islands, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which were annexed in 1898; and the islands taken from Spain at the close of the Spanish War. The territory of the United States is thus made up of ten parts. There is, first, the country as it was at the close of the Revolutionary War, and then nine additions made at different times.
My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.
Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,
The birthplace of valor, the country of worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands forever I love.
Farewell to the mountains high covered with snow;
Farewell to the straths and green valleys below;
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods;
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.
My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.
WEEK 36 |
Very many years ago there ruled over England a king, who was called Richard Cœur de Lion. Cœur de Lion is French and means lion-hearted. It seems strange that an English king should have a French name. But more than a hundred years before this king reigned, a French duke named William came to England, defeated the English in a great battle, and declared himself king of all that southern part of Britain called England.
He brought with him a great many Frenchmen, or Normans, as they were called from the name of the part of France over which this duke ruled. These Normans were all poor though they were very proud and haughty. They came with Duke William to help him fight because he promised to give them money and lands as a reward. Now Duke William had not a great deal of money nor many lands of his own. So when he had beaten the English, or Saxons, as they were called in those days, he stole lands and houses, money and cattle from the Saxon nobles and gave them to the Normans. The Saxon nobles themselves had very often become the servants of these proud Normans. Thus it came about that two races lived in England, each speaking their own language, and each hating the other.
This state of things lasted for a very long time. Even when Richard became king, more than a hundred years after the coming of Duke William, there was still a great deal of hatred between the two races.
Richard Cœur de Lion, as his name tells you, was a brave and noble man. He loved danger; he loved brave men and noble deeds. He hated all mean and cruel acts, and the cowards who did them. He was ever ready to help the weak against the strong, and had he stayed in England after he became king he might have done much good. He might have taught the proud Norman nobles that true nobility rests in being kind and gentle to those less strong and less fortunate than ourselves, and not in fierceness and cruelty.
Yet Richard himself was neither meek nor gentle. He was indeed very fierce and terrible in battle. He loved to fight with people who were stronger or better armed than himself. He would have been ashamed to hurt the weak and feeble.
But Richard did not stay in England. Far, far over the seas there is a country called Palestine. There our Lord was born, lived, and died. Christian people in all ages must think tenderly and gratefully of that far-off country. But at this time it had fallen into the hands of the heathen. It seemed to Christian people in those days that it would be a terrible sin to allow wicked heathen to live in the Holy Land. So they gathered together great armies of brave men from every country in the world and sent them to try to win it back. Many brave deeds were done, many terrible battles fought, but still the heathen kept possession.
Then brave King Richard of England said he too would fight for the city of our Lord. So he gathered together as much money as he could find, and as many brave men as would follow him, and set out for the Holy Land. Before he went away he called two bishops who he thought were good and wise men, and said to them: "Take care of England while I am gone. Rule my people wisely and well, and I will reward you when I return." The bishops promised to do as he asked. Then he said farewell and sailed away.
Now King Richard had a brother who was called Prince John. Prince John was quite different from King Richard in every way. He was not at all a nice man. He was jealous of Richard because he was king, and angry because he himself had not been chosen to rule while Richard was in Palestine. As soon as his brother had gone, John went to the bishops and said, "You must let me rule while the king is away." And the bishops allowed him to do so. Deep down in his wicked heart John meant to make himself king altogether, and never let Richard come back any more.
A sad time now began for the Saxons. John tried to please the haughty Normans because they were great and powerful, and he hoped they would help to make him king. He thought the best way to please them was to give them land and money. So as he had none of his own (he was indeed called John Lackland) he took it from the Saxons and gave it to the Normans. Thus many of the Saxons once more became homeless beggars, and lived a wild life in the forests, which covered a great part of England at this time.
Now among the few Saxon nobles who still remained, and who had not been robbed of their lands and money, there was one called Robert, Earl of Huntingdon. He had one son also named Robert, but people called him Robin. He was a favourite with every one. Tall, strong, handsome, and full of fun, he kept his father's house bright with songs and laughter. He was brave and fearless too, and there was no better archer in all the countryside. And with it all he was gentle and tender, never hurting the weak nor scorning the poor.
But Robert of Huntingdon had a bitter enemy. One day this enemy came with many soldiers behind him, determined to kill the earl and take all his goods and lands. There was a fierce and terrible fight, but in the end Robert and all his men were killed. His house was burned to the ground and all his money stolen. Only Robin was saved, because he was such a splendid archer that no soldier would go near him, either to kill him or take him prisoner. He fought bravely till the last, but when he saw that his father was dead and his home in flames, he had no heart to fight any longer. So taking his bow and arrows, he fled to the great forest of Sherwood.
Very fast he had to run, for Prince John's men were close behind him. Soon he reached the edge of the forest, but he did not stop there. On and on he went, plunging deeper and deeper under the shadow of the trees. At last he threw himself down beneath a great oak, burying his face in the cool, green grass.
His heart felt hot and bitter. He was full of rage and fierce thoughts of revenge. Cruel men in one day had robbed him of everything. His father, his home, servants, cattle, land, money, his name even, all were gone. He was bruised, hungry, and weary. Yet as he lay pressing his face against the cool, green grass, and clutching the soft, damp moss with his hands, it was not sorrow or pain he felt, but only a bitter longing for revenge.
The great, solemn trees waved gently overhead in the summer breeze, the setting sun sent shafts of golden light into the cool, blue shadows, birds sang their evening songs, deer rustled softly through the underwood, and bright-eyed squirrels leaped noiselessly from branch to branch. Everywhere there was calm and peace except in poor Robin's angry heart.
Robin loved the forest. He loved the sights and scents, and the sounds and deep silences of it. He felt as if it were a tender mother who opened her wide arms to him. Soon it comforted him, and at last the tears came hot and fast, and sobs shook him as he lay on the grass. The bitterness and anger had all melted out of his heart; only sorrow was left.
In the dim evening light Robin knelt
bareheaded on the green grass to say
his prayers. Then, still bareheaded, he
stood up and swore an oath. This
"I swear to honour God and the King,
To help the weak and fight the strong,
To take from the rich and give to the poor,
So God will help me with His power."
Then he lay down on the grass under the trees with his good long bow beside him, and fell fast asleep.
And this is how Robin Hood first came to live in the Green Wood and have all his wonderful adventures.
A Stag had fallen sick. He had just strength enough to gather some food and find a quiet clearing in the woods, where he lay down to wait until his strength should return. The Animals heard about the Stag's illness and came to ask after his health. Of course, they were all hungry, and helped themselves freely to the Stag's food; and as you would expect, the Stag soon starved to death.
Good will is worth nothing unless it is accompanied by good acts.
Across the lonely beach we flit,
One little sandpiper and I,
And fast I gather, bit by bit,
The scattered driftwood, bleached and dry.
The wild waves reach their hands for it,
The wild wind raves, the tide runs high,
As up and down the beach we flit,—
One little sandpiper and I.
Above our heads the sullen clouds
Scud, black and swift, across the sky;
Like silent ghosts in misty shrouds
Stand out the white lighthouses high.
Almost as far as eye can reach
I see the close-reefed vessels fly,
As fast we flit along the beach,—
One little sandpiper and I.
I watch him as he skims along,
Uttering his sweet and mournful cry;
He starts not at my fitful song,
Nor flash of fluttering drapery.
He has no thought of any wrong,
He scans me with a fearless eye;
Stanch friends are we, well tried and strong,
The little sandpiper and I.
Comrade, where wilt thou be to-night,
When the loosed storm breaks furiously?
My driftwood fire will burn so bright!
To what warm shelter canst thou fly?
I do not fear for thee, though wroth
The tempest rushes through the sky;
For are we not God's children both,
Thou, little sandpiper, and I?
WEEK 36 |
"To the West! To the West! To the land of the free,
Where the mighty Missouri rolls down to the sea,
Where a man is a man, if he's willing to toil,
And the humblest may gather the fruits of the soil."
F AILURE after failure had attended the early efforts of the English to plant colonies in the West. Still they would not give up.
"I shall yet live to see Virginia an English nation," the far-sighted Raleigh had said even when the news had reached him of the pathetic end of his little colony.
But it was not till the power of Spain had been destroyed that the English could hope to succeed in America. For an infant colony is like an army at the end of a long line of communications. If the line is cut, it must perish. Before England could plant thriving colonies in America she had to gain control of the ocean-paths leading across the Atlantic. Now this was done. The defeat of the Spanish Armada had made American colonisation possible to England.
And so in 1606 another infant colony, consisting of 105 persons, sailed from "merrie England" for Virginia, the "paradise of the world" as the poets loved to call it. Queen Elizabeth was dead, but James I. was ready enough for a chance of extending his dominions beyond the seas. The emigrants sailed in three small ships, which took four long months to reach the shores of America. They had intended to land on the coast of Virginia, but a great storm drove them out of their course, and they found themselves in a magnificent bay, called by the natives Chesapeake Bay. Landing on the banks of a river, which they called James river, after the king, they decided on a suitable site for a colony, which they called Jamestown. They began to build, but it was soon evident that the wrong stamp of colonist had come out. Out of the 105 emigrants there were but twelve labouring men; the others were gentlemen, unused to toil, unfit for hardships. Again and again the Indians attacked them.
Then came the old story—food ran short, disease followed, three or four died daily, and the survivors were too weak to bury them. At last half the little colony was dead.
Among the colonists was a young man called John Smith. He was strong and vigorous, and he saw something must be done. So he undertook to rule them. He first strengthened the town against attacks from the Indians, and, to get fresh supplies of food, he led parties to explore the neighbourhood. He cheered the few survivors, and all went well for a time, till one day Smith himself was attacked and taken prisoner by the Indians. He was led before the chief and doomed to death. For a time he warded off the evil moment by explaining the mariner's compass and telling the ignorant natives stories.
"And when I told them the wonders of the earth and sky and spheres, of the sun and moon and stars, and how the sun did chase the night round the world continually, they all stood amazed with admiration," said John Smith when he wrote of all his strange adventures with the Indians. But when his stories came to an end, all their fury burst forth again, and tying him to a tree, they prepared their arrows to shoot him. Another moment he would have been a dead man, when the chief stepped forward and bade them unbind the prisoner, who was to be taken before Powhatan, the king of the tribe.
From one village to another he was now led in triumph—the only white man among all the Indians—till at length he reached the king. The old chieftain was sitting before a fire on a bench. He was covered with skins of animals, whose tails hung around him like tassels. Near him sat a row of women, their faces and bare shoulders painted bright red. Smith thought he was well received, for the queen brought him water to wash his hands and a bunch of feathers to dry them instead of a towel.
But preparations to kill him now went forward. Two large stones were brought in, on which the unhappy Englishman was made to lay his head. Two dusky warriors stood, with clubs upraised, waiting the word to strike, when suddenly the king's little daughter of ten years old darted forward, laid her young head upon his, and thus saved his life. The king was deeply touched by this act of devotion on the part of his child Pocahontas. He at once set his prisoner free, and sent him back to Jamestown under escort.
He found the colonists reduced to forty now, and they were in the act of leaving when Smith arrived and once more saved the situation. Thanks to Pocahontas, there was now peace with the Indians, and food came in regularly. Moreover, they taught the colonists many things—how to grow maize and how to till the ground. Emigrants now poured over from England.
"When you send again, I entreat you send me thirty carpenters, husbandmen, gardeners, fishermen, and blacksmiths, rather than a thousand such as these," Smith wrote home pitifully. He made a rule that every one must work for six hours a-day at least.
"He who will not work, shall not eat," he said. But the axes blistered their tender hands till the sound of oaths drowned the echo of the blows. To put down this swearing Smith decreed that every oath should be punished by a can of cold water being poured down the swearer's sleeve, which was the cause of much merriment and fewer oaths.
So John Smith succeeded where others had failed. He was the first to show that the true interest of England was not to seek gold in Virginia, as the early colonists had done, but rather, by patient toil and unwearying industry, to establish trade and commerce.
"Nothing," he used to say—"nothing is to be expected from thence but by labour."
The sequel to this story is interesting. Pocahontas became a Christian and married one of the colonists, John Rolfe, at Jamestown, and in 1616 she went to England with her husband. She had been the first native in America to become a Christian, and her romantic story drew crowds to see her. "La Belle Sauvage" was taken to the Court of King James by John Smith himself, who was in England at the time. But she had not been in England long before she was taken very ill, and she died before she could be put on board ship to return to her native country.
THE chase of the stag—with the golden horns had taken so long that Eurystheus was beginning to give Hercules up for lost: and he was not sorry, for he was becoming more and more afraid of the man who only lived to do his bidding. He could not but think that his cousin must be playing some deep and underhand game. So when Hercules came back, with the stag following tamely at heel, he hid himself again, and by way of welcome bade Hercules capture and bring him, alive, a very different sort of wild beast—not a harmless stag, but the great and fierce wild boar which had its den in the mountains of Erymanthus, and ravaged the country round.
Hercules was getting weary of these labors, to which he saw no end. Not for a moment did he think of disobeying, but he set out with a heavy heart, and with some rising bitterness against his taskmaster. His way to the mountains of Erymanthus lay through the country of the Centaurs, and of his old teacher, Chiron.
Here he halted at the dwelling of one of the Centaurs, Pholus who received him kindly. But Hercules was feeling fairly worn out in spirit, and Pholus failed to cheer him.
"What is the use of it all?" he complained. "No doubt the gods are just, and ought to be obeyed; but they are not kind. Why did they send me into the world, and give me strength, only to go about after wild beasts at the bidding of a coward? Why did they give me passions, only to have the trouble of keeping them down? If I had been like other men—as weak and as cold-blooded as they are—I should have been happy, and perhaps done some real good, and at any rate lived my own life in my own way. It isn't as if I cared for glory, but I do want a little peace and pleasure. Come, Pholus let me have some wine: I want it, and let it be in plenty!"
"I am very sorry," said Pholus, "I have no wine."
"Why, what is that, then?" asked Hercules, pointing to a big barrel in the corner.
"That is wine," said Pholus; "but I can't give you any of it, because it is not my own. It belongs to all the Centaurs; and, as it is public property, nobody may take any of it without the leave of the whole tribe."
"Nonsense!" said Hercules. "Wine I want, and wine I'll have."
So saying, he stove in the head of the cask with a single blow of his fist, and, dipping and filling a goblet, began to drink eagerly.
The wine soon began to warm his blood and raise his heart. After the first cup or two, the cloud which had been falling over him rolled away, and life again seemed worth living for its own sake, and not only for duty's. But he did not stop at two cups, nor at three; nor even when it began to mount into his brain, and to bring back those wild instincts which he thought he had left behind him in the Temple of Apollo.
Meanwhile the news had spread among the Centaurs that Hercules was among them, and making free with the public wine. The odor of the broken cask brought a crowd of them at full gallop, and disturbed Hercules in the midst of his carouse.
"Do you call this hospitality, you savages?" he shouted, stumbling out of the house, and laying about him with his club freely among the crowd, while Pholus, vainly tried to prevent mischief. Down went Centaur after Centaur, till those who were uninjured galloped away panic-stricken, Pholus himself being among the slain.
"To Chiron!" cried the Centaurs; "he will know how to deal with this madman."
They rode as hard as they could to Chiron's dwelling, Hercules, furious with wine and anger, still pursuing. As they were outstripping him, he let fly his arrows among them; and, as evil luck would have it, at that very moment Chiron rode out from his gate to see what was happening, and to quiet the disorder, and one of the arrows struck him in the knee, and he fell.
Hercules became sober enough when he came up and found his old friend and teacher writhing in terrible agony; for the arrow was one which he had dipped in the deadly poison of the Hydra. He could only look on with remorse. Chiron knew him, and, when the agony passed away into death, gave him a look of forgiveness. What the wise Centaur's last word to his favorite pupil was, I know not; but I think it must have been something like: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
I will not try to think of what Hercules felt when he watched the burial of the friends whom he had slain in a fit of drunken passion, for no cause. However, his duty lay still before him, and it had become more clear. Never again would he complain of his fate, or question the justice of the gods, or think of the life which had been lent to him as if it were his own.
In due time, after a long and dangerous journey among the mountains, he came upon the den of the great wild boar which he was to capture alive. There was nothing to be done but to follow it as he had followed the stag, watching for a chance of trapping it unawares: and in the pursuit another whole year passed away. Then, in the middle of winter, there fell such a snow that the boar was unable to leave its den. Hercules forced his way through the snowed-up entrance, and tried to seize the brute as he had seized the Nemæan lion. The boar, however, rushed past him, and would have escaped again had not the snow hindered his running, and at last exhausted him. Hercules, though nearly exhausted himself, chose the right moment for closing with him, and, after a long struggle, bound him with a halter in such a manner that, in spite of its efforts, he could drag it by main strength down the mountain.
Once more Eurystheus had given Hercules up for lost: and the snow prevented him from hearing any news beforehand. So when, while he was standing at the city gate, there suddenly appeared before him, not only Hercules—all grim and rough from his year's hunting—but the largest and most savage wild boar in the world, looking ready to devour him, he was so terrified that he whisked like a frightened mouse into his pot, and did not dare come out again for seven days.
As for Chiron the Centaur, he became a constellation in heaven, where he is still to be seen. He was the teacher of nearly all the heroes and demi-gods: and after his death there seems to have been an end of them. There have been plenty of brave men since; but not like Castor and Pollux, Perseus, Theseus, and Hercules. Nor, since that fatal day, does one hear of the Centaurs any more. Thus did one passing fit of causeless anger, instantly repented of, destroy these wisest and most valiant creatures, and deprive the whole world of more than it has ever regained during thousands of years.
Hercules solemnly sacrificed the boar, and then took a little rest, meditating on all that had befallen. But his rest was not to be for long. For there was Eurystheus in his pot, trying to think of something that should keep him occupied forever.
And—"I have it!" he exclaimed at last, summoning Hercules by a stroke on his pot's brazen side.
WEEK 36 |
O NCE upon a time, long, long ago, there lived in the old imperial town of Aix a worthy tailor, Master Caspar by name, who had many apprentices working under him. He was exceedingly strict, and insisted that during work hours there should be diligent sewing and no playing, for he was no friend to pranks and nonsense, and whoever would not conform to his rules was shown to the door. Notwithstanding this rigorous discipline the young men were glad to be inmates of the household, for Master Caspar was so skilful with his needle that much could be learned from him; and his pretty daughter Rosa, who had charge of the house-keeping, was always kind, and moreover cooked excellent dinners. There was, however, one among them who did not trouble himself to obey any rules. This was the only son of Master Caspar's sister, who had been sent to learn the tailor's trade of his uncle. No jollier fellow than Philip could be found anywhere. To laugh and joke was his delight, and if he could only play some trick upon his fellow-workmen he was content. He knew how to sew and to cut excellently, but to sit still for any length of time was impossible for him. Every day Master Caspar showed himself more and more impatient, when Philip, in the midst of work hours, sang droll songs or played pranks which set the whole shop in an uproar. Neither kind words nor reproaches from his uncle mended matters, and at last the latter threatened to discharge Philip at the very next offence. Instead of improving, however, the foolish fellow only joked the more, worked carelessly, and spoiled many a garment intrusted to him to make. Rosa, who dearly loved her cousin, begged him every evening, when the other apprentices had gone away, not to behave so badly; but even her entreaties had no effect.
One day Philip made a black cloak for a respected alderman of the town, and out of pure mischief sewed some colored patches under the collar. These were not noticed until the garment was worn in a high wind which lifted the collar and exposed them to view, whereupon a crowd of little street urchins ran behind the good man and enraged him by their jeers and laughter.
The proverb, "The pitcher that goes too often to the well is broken at last," was now brought home to Philip, for when this escapade reached his uncle's ears, Master Caspar took a big piece of chalk and drew a significant line through Philip's name in his book. He then informed the young man that early the following morning he would have to leave the house; and as Master Caspar feared that he himself might yield to his nephew's entreaties and Rosa's tears, he uttered a great oath not to receive Philip back until the latter had turned over a new leaf, and could lay at least six well-earned gold guldens upon the table. In those days that was a large sum.
So Philip packed his knapsack, fastened his shears and smoothing-iron outside it, and went to bid farewell to Master Caspar and Rosa.
But it would have been better if he had not seen his little cousin again, for as he said good-bye he realized how dearly he loved her, and when he saw tears in her blue eyes, it distressed him more than ever to think how badly he had behaved. Rosa put into his hand a little purse containing all her spare money, and the poor fellow was so overcome that he hastened from the house in order to hide his tears.
Sadly Philip climbed the heights behind his native town of Aix, for he had not courage to enter the streets of the city, where everybody knew him. He paid little attention to the path, as his thoughts dwelt sorrowfully on his home, on Master Caspar, and, above all, on Rosa. Without noticing whither he was going, he entered a dark forest where the fir-trees grew so high and thick that presently he found he had lost his way. He ran in this direction and in that, vainly looking for the path, and his shouts for help were only answered by the echo, which sounded like a peal of scornful laughter. Finally he resigned himself to his fate, and made up his mind to spend the night in the forest. He picked out a spot which was sheltered from the wind, stretched himself on the moss, said his prayers, and was soon sound asleep.
Suddenly it seemed in his dreams that some one was calling him. He supposed it to be Rosa, who always woke him in the mornings to go to the shop, and answered, half asleep:
"All right, Rosa, all right."
But the only reply was a long, shrill laugh, which roused him at once from slumber. He opened his eyes, and could scarcely trust his senses when he perceived before him a little man who was barely a foot high.
The tiny fellow looked very good-natured, had a long, snow-white beard, and was leaning upon a staff. Philip, who thought he must still be dreaming, repeatedly rubbed his eyes, coughed, and called himself by name; the little man, however, did not disappear, but raised his hand and motioned Philip to follow him.
At first the youth felt a strong desire to run away, but the little creature looked by no means wicked and seemed too insignificant to do him any harm, so he shouldered his knapsack and followed the elf, for such it surely was.
A dim light, which came neither from the moon nor the stars, gleamed through the trees, and they pursued this deeper and deeper into the forest. It soon became evident that the light shone from a fire which was burning near some large rocks. Upon the ground around it were seated five other little elves, with sorrowful faces and dejected bearing. Philip's guide sat down beside them and motioned him to do the same.
As the night was chilly the warmth felt pleasant, and stretching himself out close to the blaze, Philip rubbed his benumbed hands. Before long, however, the silence seemed to him somewhat tedious, and he attempted to induce his little neighbors to speak. But when he turned to them with a question, or tried to rouse them to reply by a friendly poke in the ribs, the dwarfs gnashed their teeth and looked at him angrily. Indeed, as Philip continued to question and tease, the dwarf who had been his guide stirred up the fire vigorously with his stick, so that the glowing coals flew into Philip's face and burned him badly. Just as he was about to give the elf a blow over the head for such treatment, he remembered that his old nurse had warned him to beware of making such little people angry, and told him of a poor mortal who had roused their wrath and had had his head turned completely round by way of punishment. So Philip prudently kept quiet, and since all desire for sleep was gone, began to unpack his knapsack.
At this sight the dwarfs drew near and peeped curiously into the open wallet. Philip for his part remained perfectly indifferent and spread a cloth before him, upon which he placed needles, scissors, and thread, all in perfect order, and, close by, the smoothing-iron. The dwarfs drew still nearer and craned their necks in order to see exactly what he was about. Philip thought to himself:
"Aha, now you begin to look alive!"
He pretended not to notice the curiosity of the little creatures, and taking an old garment out of the knapsack, began to mend a large rent in it. At sight of this the faces of the dwarfs lighted up, and all stood on their tiptoes the better to watch every stitch. All at once the six began to sigh piteously, so that Philip looked up from his work and observed that the little men seemed even more sorrowful than before. This distressed him, and thinking they would certainly answer him now, he began again to question them. But scarcely had he uttered the first word when, with angry looks, all seated themselves, and at the same instant Philip received such a violent box on the ear that he was thrown head-foremost into the moss. At first he thought, in his bewilderment, it must be Master Caspar who had caught him asleep; but when he looked around, lo! it was only the branch of a tree which had struck him so roughly. Thoroughly provoked, Philip seated himself again and went on with his work. At every stitch the dwarfs drew nearer, uttering deep sighs the while. Philip, in his good-nature, wondered what could be the matter with the little fellows. At last his former guide stepped quite near, gave him a strange look, and began to stroke his little back with his hand. Philip thought:
"Aha, perhaps they want me to mend their jackets and trousers!"
The dwarf seemed to read what was passing through the youth's mind, for a friendly smile spread over his face. Encouraged by this, the tailor seized him by the nape of the neck and laid him on his knee, in order to examine his clothes. Sure enough, there was a large hole in the back of the jacket, and as Philip separated the tiny garments he found that the rent extended not only to the underclothes, but even to the little elfin body itself. Now this body was of a very extraordinary description. It was not of flesh, but was formed like an onion or a hyacinth bulb, and the scales, which overlapped each other, were composed of a fine material exactly like rose-leaves.
As Philip was a very skilful tailor, he wondered whether he could not mend the tiny body also. He threaded a fine needle with silk and began to work. In remembrance of the hot coals which the elf had caused to fly out of the fire into his face, he now and then took a deeper stitch than was necessary.
Consumed with curiosity, the other dwarfs drew nearer and nearer, and their countenances brightened when they saw how carefully the tailor sewed together the deep-lying edges of the rent in the body.
Philip now thought it would be no more than fair that the little fellows should answer questions, so, while rethreading his needle, he asked if they would kindly tell him exactly who they were. But, oh, misery! Scarcely had he spoken the words when the needle in his fingers became red-hot and gave him such a stab in the hand that he cried out with pain. At the same instant he received from the other side a box on the ear quite as violent as the first. Out of all patience, Philip seized his stick, and was on the point of throwing the little dwarf who was stretched out on his knee to the ground, when he observed that the elves suddenly began to increase in size. Therefore he merely sighed and returned to his work. But, alas! all the stitches which he had taken so carefully were ripped, and it was quite half an hour before he had made them good again.
It was Philip's private opinion that he had fallen into bad company, and he thought with longing of the workshop in Aix. There, it is true, he was scolded for laughing and joking, but there were no blows on his ears, nor red-hot needles to burn his fingers! However, he remained dumb as a fish, and his work progressed rapidly; but it struck him as odd that whenever he made a larger stitch than was necessary the needle pricked his finger.
In the meantime the other dwarfs collected dry branches and twigs, and kept up a roaring fire. When Philip had finished his work he smoothed the seam with his great shears, and then, taking the dwarf by the hand, looked sharply into his face, and was pleased to see that the expression of sadness had entirely disappeared. Thereupon he gave him such a vigorous slap on the back that the little creature was sent flying over the fire into the soft moss beyond. The dwarf, however, was not at all incensed, but picked himself up quickly and danced about for joy. Then, taking out of his pocket a large, gold gulden, he stepped up to Philip and laid it in his hand.
During this time the night had been passing and now day began to dawn. Philip packed his knapsack, took up his walking-stick, gave his hand to the dwarfs and bade them farewell. He was sorry to see that five of them still looked utterly dejected, although the one whom he had mended had a most joyous expression. This little fellow drew from his pocket a tiny golden cup, put it first to his own lips, and then handed it to the tailor, who drank the sweet mixture it contained to the last drop. But what was it that happened to him? At first it seemed to Philip as if he were falling from a high mountain; then he realized with horror that his body was rapidly shrinking, and at the end of a few seconds he found himself as diminutive as the six little men. That was a dreadful moment for poor Philip, and, with bitter tears, he reproached the dwarfs for their ingratitude; but they merely shrugged their shoulders and pointed upward, as if to indicate that he would again grow as large as before, if he would only have patience. Patience, indeed! But what could the poor tailor do? Sadly he followed the dwarfs, who beckoned him to accompany them.
How monstrous now appeared the fir-trees! He could scarcely see to the tops of them. The low bushes and thistles, which yesterday he had trodden under foot, were now far above his head, and beetles and spiders, awakened by the coming day, seemed to him terrible in their size.
After a short time they reached a huge rock, higher, so it seemed to Philip, than any he had ever beheld. In one side of it was imbedded a large shell, before which they paused. One of the dwarfs blew a golden whistle, and the shell slowly turned around, showing an opening, through which the little troop entered. Within was a spiral staircase, and splendor such as he had never imagined met Philip's gaze when they had mounted the stairs. For a moment he forgot his misery. First they entered a spacious vestibule built of the most precious stones, the vaulted ceiling of which was supported by columns of white and rose colored crystal. Out of this vestibule opened numberless halls, each one more beautiful than the other. Gold and silver dishes, some empty and some filled with the most tempting delicacies, were placed here and there on long tables, and half-burned candles hung in the chandeliers. Evidently a great banquet had just been held, but not a living being was to be seen.
Greatly astonished, Philip followed the dwarfs as they wandered silently and sadly through these festive halls. Finally they reached a number of winding corridors, when the six little men pressed each other's hands, and went each a different way. One of them signed to Philip to follow him, and they entered a vaulted passage, at the extreme end of which the dwarf opened a little door, motioned to the tailor to enter, and locked it behind him.
Philip was somewhat anxious, but when he looked around his tiny chamber he found nothing unusual about it except the bed, which was made of a large mussel-shell. The coverings and pillows were wonderfully soft and fine, and he was thoroughly weary, so he quickly undressed and lay down. Soft music sounded from the distance; and fondly thinking of Rosa, he soon fell into a deep sleep.
The next morning he felt something pulling at his sleeve, and opened his eyes to behold his little guide of the evening before, who motioned to him to get up. With a heavy heart the poor tailor put on his clothes and followed the dwarf out into the corridor, where he heard gay music resounding from the halls and apartments through which they had wandered the night before. At the end of the passage the five other dwarfs joined them, and all passed silently through the now brilliantly lighted rooms. His six companions cast down their eyes, but Philip could not refrain from looking about him. He saw little men and women, in beautifully embroidered garments, come out of the various doors; but at sight of the six dwarfs they all immediately drew back. When the mournful little troop reached the vestibule with the white and rose colored crystal columns, one of the dwarfs again blew a whistle, whereupon the large shell turned as before, and as they slowly passed down the winding stairs, the sound of the music became fainter and fainter, until it ceased altogether, as they stepped out into the forest.
It was again night, and to Philip it seemed much colder than before. The dwarfs at once made a fire, and while the tailor was warming his fingers he noticed that the little fellow who had roused him from sleep had placed his knapsack beside him. The company seated itself around the fire, silent as before. Even Philip, remembering the cuffs on his ears and the red-hot needle, did not now venture to open his lips. After some time he took from the knapsack needle and thread, and by means of signs asked the dwarfs if another of them would like to be mended.
The Tailor and the Dwarfs
Instantly five of them sprang up and eagerly pressed about him. Taking one by the sleeve, he examined his clothes and found that this one had a large rent in the left side. Having placed the little fellow on his knee, Philip began to stitch diligently, but his hands were now no larger than those of the dwarfs, and he could not hold the little creature as well as before. The work progressed slowly, and he did not finish his task until just as the sun was rising.
The dwarf whom he had made whole capered about merrily on the grass, as his companion had done, and then he, too, took from his pocket a gold gulden and gave it to the tailor. Thereupon they all returned to the dwarfs' palace, and Philip stretched himself out upon his mussel-shell bed again and went to sleep.
On the third, fourth, and fifth nights the same events were repeated. Each time Philip sewed up one of the little dwarfs, carefully mended all his clothes, and received in return a gold gulden. As there seemed no help for it, he resigned himself as cheerfully as he could to his fate of being the dwarfs' tailor.
Now there was one thing in these nightly expeditions to the forest which struck Philip as very strange. Winter advanced with such astonishing rapidity that even on the third night it was so bitter cold that his fingers would certainly have been frozen stiff had it not been for the dwarfs' fire, yet when he left Aix it was only the end of August. On the fourth night he could scarcely believe his eyes when he saw the branches of the fir-trees thickly covered with snow, and on the fifth night icicles hung from every twig.
When he came to the sixth and last dwarf, Philip sewed faster than ever, in order to keep warm in the cold, frosty air, and soon after midnight he had finished his task. He then dismissed the little fellow with a friendly slap, as he had done with the others, and saw to his amazement that all six arose, seized each other's hands, and danced around him with joyous gestures. After this performance had continued a few minutes the dwarfs stood still, and he who had at first been the tailor's guide stepped forward and addressed him thus:
"Accept our most heartfelt thanks for all you have done, and learn now what a great service you have rendered us. You have seen what a merry, happy life we dwarfs are accustomed to lead in our castle. During the time which men call day, when that great star known to them as the sun gives forth its blinding light, we sleep, and only when night falls do our people awake and spend delightful hours in dance and play.
"Now it so happened that one night, when we six were visiting in the neighboring castle of one of the dwarf kings, in the excitement of the dance we unfortunately forgot one of the most important laws of our race, namely, to be silent at the proper time. As a consequence of this we fell into a dispute with the other dwarfs, until, finally, we came to blows, which ended in a bloody combat. You have seen what injuries we sustained in the fray, and if we had not possessed the power of living, under no matter what circumstances, for a thousand years, we should assuredly have died of the wounds. Upon our return home, our king pronounced a severe sentence upon us. We were to be excluded from the feasts of our happy fellows, and to spend our nights outside in the dark forest. This punishment was to continue until a human being could be found who, unasked by us, and without speaking a word, should mend, as you have done, our clothes and wounds. To make our punishment more severe we were permitted to become visible to mortal eyes only at the changing of the moon, and we were obliged to implore help in silence. More than a hundred years had thus passed without bringing us release, so that you may well comprehend how indescribably grateful we are to you."
Philip knew not what to reply to the dwarf's speech, for he was dumb with astonishment. The little fellow then took from under his cloak the well-known golden cup and handed it to the tailor, who quickly drank the contents, and felt at once an irresistible desire to stretch his limbs. He began forthwith to grow in height and breadth, and in a few minutes found to his great joy that he had regained his former size.
The dwarf continued:
"Consider the six gold guldens which we have given you
as a reward for your services. Never let them go out of
your possession, but lock them in a chest, and whenever
money is needed you will find all that is requisite
beside them. Bequeath them to your children and your
children's children, for as the years go by their
mysterious power will increase! Now farewell, and bear
in mind our golden rule, the disregard of which has
brought us so much misfortune, and the value of which
you yourself do not seem to realize: 'Be silent at the
With these words all six dwarfs extended their hands to Philip, and in the twinkling of an eye vanished from sight.
The first beams of the morning sun appeared over the tops of the mountains and lighted up the snow which covered the ground. It was now clear to Philip why he had so suddenly found himself in the midst of winter; for as the dwarfs were permitted to become visible to mortal eye only at the changing of the moon, they had cast over him a magic spell which caused each sleep of his to last a whole month.
It was now February, and bitter cold. Through the leafless branches of the trees Philip could see the way more plainly than before, and he stepped briskly along. When from the hills he saw his beloved Aix lying before him he shouted aloud for joy. Soon he had descended the heights, had reached the city walls, and was hurrying along the streets to Master Caspar's house.
His uncle, in the meantime, had repented of his severity towards Philip, and Rosa had wept many bitter tears. You may imagine their surprise when Philip, in his shabby attire, suddenly burst into the room. How great was their joy when he triumphantly produced from his knapsack six gold guldens and declared they were his well-earned wages. Master Caspar welcomed him warmly, and finding that he had truly mended his ways, gave him Rosa for wife and took him into partnership.
Since that time no better nor more diligent workman than Philip could be found, and if ever he was tempted to look up from his labor and chatter, he would feel a tingling in his ears and a prick in his hand which recalled him to his task.
The dwarfs faithfully kept their promise; whenever a necessary expense was to be incurred, a sum sufficient to meet it was found in the chest where the six gold guldens were kept, and as the years went by they brought good luck and happiness to Philip's children and grandchildren after him.
N OW I must tell you about the slave ants and their owners. The chief family of the slave-making ants is called "The Shining," for its body shines with a gloss like varnish.
The slave-making ants and their slaves are found in many parts of the world. The masters are of a light or red color, with a bright gloss. The slave ants are dark or black.
In nests where slaves are held the masters never do any work. They make war and steal slaves, or slave babies. The slave ants do all the work. If a war rises, they also fight for the hill and their owners.
The army of the slave makers will march to the hill of a tribe of ants which they wish to seize for slaves. They carry off the pupa-cases, where the little new ants are getting legs and wings.
These baby ants are taken to the hill of the owners and brought up with their own young. No slave-ant eggs are laid in a hill, for the queens lay all the eggs, and the queens are not slaves. The slaves are stolen when they are eggs, or larvæ.
The owners seem to be very kind to their little slaves, and as the slaves grow up and fill the hill they seem to do very much as they please.
The slaves build new hills and take their owners to live in the new home. If a mistress ant wishes to wander off her hill, her slaves drag her back. If she does not wish to move to her new home, her slaves carry her off, all the same.
The slave-owning ants walk about their hill in an idle way. If war comes, then they fight bravely.
The owners do not build the house, nor nurse their babies, nor feed themselves. Often they do not even clean their own bodies. They leave all these duties to the slaves. The slaves feed their owners, and brush and clean them, as a servant cleans his master's coat. When the ants are to make a move, the slaves pick up their masters, and carry them away.
How can they do that? The ants carry all burdens in their jaws. The slave and the master lock their jaws, the owner curls up the back of her body, and the slave carries her off.
The grip of an ant's jaw is very strong. She can carry things much larger than her own body.
There is an ant which uses the pine needles for food. She carries the bits of pine laid over her back much as a man carries a gun. There is a little groove in this ant's head, where the bits of pine rest. I have seen very large hills covered with carefully cut bits of pine needles. I think they have been sucked dry and then cast out.
There is an ant called the "parasol ant," because it cuts off tiny bits of leaf, and carries them along. Each ant holds a piece of leaf over its head, like a parasol.
The Parasol Ants
An army of this kind on the march looks very funny. These ants line their nests with bits of leaf, to keep the dirt from falling in.
These parasol ants are very large. Their nests cover a large space. The bits of leaf are cut about the size of a dime. The ants carry them in their jaws, each piece by a little end left for a stem.
We have some parasol ants in this country, in Florida and Texas, and there are many of them in South America.
Waken, lords and ladies gay,
On the mountain dawns the day,
All the jolly chase is here,
With hawk, and horse, and hunting spear!
Hounds are in their couples yelling,
Hawks are whistling, horns are knelling,
Merrily, merrily, mingle they,
"Waken, lords and ladies gay."
Waken, lords and ladies gay,
The mist has left the mountain gray,
Springlets in the dawn are steaming,
Diamonds on the brake are gleaming;
And foresters have busy been,
To track the buck in thicket green;
Now we come to chant our lay,
"Waken, lords and ladies gay."
Waken, lords and ladies gay,
To the greenwood haste away;
We can show you where he lies,
Fleet of foot and tall of size;
We can show the marks he made,
When 'gainst the oak his antlers fray'd;
You shall see him brought to bay,
"Waken, lords and ladies gay."
Louder, louder chant the lay,
Waken, lords and ladies gay!
Tell them youth, and mirth, and glee
Run a course as well as we;
Time, stern huntsman! who can balk,
Stanch as hound, and fleet as hawk?
Think of this, and rise with day,
Gentle lords and ladies gay.
WEEK 36 |
Daniel i: 1, to ii: 49.
N Story 97, we read of Jehoiakim, the wicked son of the good King Josiah. While Jehoiakim was ruling over the land of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar, the great conqueror of the nations, came from Babylon with his army of Chaldean soldiers. He took the city of Jerusalem, and made Jehoiakim promise to submit to him as his master, a promise that Jehoiakim soon broke. And when Nebuchadnezzar went back to his own land he took with him all the gold and silver that he could find in the Temple; and he carried away as captives very many of the princes and nobles, the best people in the land of Judah.
When these Jews were brought to the land of Chaldea or Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar gave orders to the prince who had charge of his palace to choose among these Jewish captives some young men that were of noble rank, and beautiful in their looks, and also quick and bright in their minds, young men who would be able to learn readily. These young men were to be placed under the care of wise men, who should teach them all that they knew, and fit them to stand before the king of Babylon, so that they might be his helpers, to carry out his orders; and the king wished them to be wise, so that they might give him advice in ruling the people.
Among the young men thus chosen were four Jews, men who had been brought from Judah. By order of the king the names of these men were changed. One of them, named Daniel, was to be called Belteshazzar, the other three young men were called Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. These four young men were taught in all the knowledge of the Chaldeans; and after three years of training they were taken into the king's palace to stand before the king.
After they came to the palace the chief of the princes in the palace sent to these men as a special honor some of the dishes of food from the king's table, and some of the wine that was set apart for the king and his princes to drink. But both the meat and the wine of the king's table had been a part of the offerings to the idols of wood and stone that were worshipped by the Chaldeans. These young Jews felt that if they should take such food they, too, would be worshipping idols. Then, too, the laws of the Jews were very strict with regard to what kind of food might be eaten, and how it should be cooked. Food of certain kinds was called "unclean," and the Jews were forbidden to touch it.
These young Jews, far away from their own land and from their temple, felt that they must be very careful to do nothing forbidden by the laws which God had given to their people. They said to the chief of the nobles in the palace:
"We cannot eat this meat and drink this wine, for it is forbidden by our laws."
The chief of the nobles said to Daniel:
"If you do not eat the food that is given you, the king will see that you are not looking well. He will be angry with me for not giving you better care. What shall I do? I am afraid that the king may command me to be put to death."
"Give us vegetable food, and bread. Let us eat no meat, and drink no wine for ten days; and see if we do not look well-fed."
The chief of the nobles, to whose care these young men had been given, loved Daniel; as every one loved him who knew him. So he did as Daniel asked. He took away the meat and the wine, and gave to these young Jews only vegetables and bread. At the end of ten days the four young men were brought into the room where the great King Nebuchadnezzar sat; and they bowed low before him. King Nebuchadnezzar was pleased with these four young men, more than with any others who stood before him. He found them wise, and faithful in the work given to them, and able to rule over men under them. And these four men came to the highest places in the kingdom of the Chaldeans.
The four young men before the king.
And Daniel, one of these men, was more than a wise man. He was a prophet, like Elijah, and Elisha, and Jeremiah. God gave him to know many things that were coming to pass; and when God sent to any man a dream that had a deep meaning, like Joseph in Story 16, Daniel could tell what was the meaning of the dream.
At one time King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed a dream which troubled him greatly. When he awakened he knew that the dream had some deep meaning, but in the morning he had forgotten what the dream was. He sent for the wise men who had in times past given him the meaning of his dreams, and said to them:
"O ye wise men, I have dreamed a wonderful dream; but I have forgotten it. Now tell me what my dream was, and then tell me what it means; for I am sure that it has a meaning."
The wise men said:
"O king, may you live forever! If you will tell us your dream, we will tell you its meaning. But we have no power to tell both the dream and its meaning. That only the gods can know."
The king became very angry, for these men had claimed that their gods gave them all knowledge. He said:
"Tell me the dream, and its meaning; and I will give you rich reward and high honor. But if you cannot tell, I shall know that you are liars, and you shall be put to death."
The wise men could not do what the king asked; and in great fury he gave command that all of them should be slain. Among these men were Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; and these four Jews were to be slain with the rest of the wise men. Daniel said to the chief captain, who had been sent to kill the wise men:
"Give me a little time; and I will call upon my God. I know that he will help me to tell to the king his dream and its meaning."
So time was given; and Daniel and his three friends prayed to the Lord God. That night the Lord gave to Daniel the secret of the king's dream and its meaning. Then Daniel gave praise and thanks to the Lord; and in the morning he said to the king's captain:
"Do not kill the wise men. Take me before the king, and I will show him his dream and its meaning."
Then in haste Daniel was brought before King Nebuchadnezzar. The king said to him:
"Are you able to tell me the dream that I dreamed and the meaning of it?"
"The wise men of Babylon, who look to their idol-gods, cannot tell the king his dream. But there is a God in heaven who knows all things; and he has given me his servant to know your dream and the meaning of it. This is the dream, O king. You saw a great image, tall and noble-looking. The head of this image was of gold, his breast and his arms were of silver, his waist and his hips of brass, his legs of iron, and his feet and toes were of iron and clay mixed together. And while this great image was standing, you saw a stone cut out without hands; and the stone rolled and dashed against the feet of the image; and the whole image fell down; and was broken in pieces; and was crushed and ground into a powder so fine that the wind blew it away like chaff. And you saw the stone that struck the image grow until it became a mountain, and it filled the whole world. This was your dream, O king."
And Daniel went on, and said:
"And this, O king, is the meaning of the dream. God has shown to you what shall come to pass in the years that are to be. You are that head of gold, O king; for that head means your kingdom that now is. After your kingdom has passed away, another kingdom shall take its place; the shoulders and arms of silver. That kingdom shall be followed by another,—the waist and hips of brass; and after that shall come one more kingdom, that of iron. But as you saw a stone cut out without hands; so while the last of these kingdoms shall be standing, the Lord God of heaven shall set up his kingdom. And God's kingdom like that stone, shall be small at first, but it shall break down and destroy all those kingdoms. They shall pass away and perish before it. And as you saw the stone grow into a mountain, so God's kingdom shall become great, and shall rule all the lands. And that kingdom of God shall never pass away, but shall last forever."
When King Nebuchadnezzar heard this he was filled with wonder. He bowed down before Daniel, and worshipped him, as though Daniel were a god. Then he gave to him great presents, and made him ruler over the part of his kingdom where the city of Babylon was standing. He gave to Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, Daniel's friends, high offices; but Daniel himself he kept in his palace, to be near him all the time.
Next evening the girl ushered her aunt into Toad's cell, bearing his week's washing pinned up in a towel. The old lady had been prepared beforehand for the interview, and the sight of certain gold sovereigns that Toad had thoughtfully placed on the table in full view practically completed the matter and left little further to discuss. In return for his cash, Toad received a cotton print gown, an apron, a shawl, and a rusty black bonnet; the only stipulation the old lady made being that she should be gagged and bound and dumped down in a corner. By this not very convincing artifice, she explained, aided by picturesque fiction which she could supply herself, she hoped to retain her situation, in spite of the suspicious appearance of things.
Toad was delighted with the suggestion. It would enable him to leave the prison in some style, and with his reputation for being a desperate and dangerous fellow untarnished; and he readily helped the gaoler's daughter to make her aunt appear as much as possible the victim of circumstances over which she had no control.
"Now it's your turn, Toad," said the girl. "Take off that coat and waistcoat of yours; you're fat enough as it is."
Shaking with laughter, she proceeded to "hook-and-eye" him into the cotton print gown, arranged the shawl with a professional fold, and tied the strings of the rusty bonnet under his chin.
"You're the very image of her," she giggled, "only I'm sure you never looked half so respectable in all your life before. Now, good-bye, Toad, and good luck. Go straight down the way you came up; and if any one says anything to you, as they probably will, being but men, you can chaff back a bit, of course, but remember you're a widow woman, quite alone in the world, with a character to lose."
With a quaking heart, but as firm a footstep as he could command, Toad set forth cautiously on what seemed to be a most hare-brained and hazardous undertaking; but he was soon agreeably surprised to find how easy everything was made for him, and a little humbled at the thought that both his popularity, and the sex that seemed to inspire it, were really another's. The washerwoman's squat figure in its familiar cotton print seemed a passport for every barred door and grim gateway; even when he hesitated, uncertain as to the right turning to take, he found himself helped out of his difficulty by the warder at the next gate, anxious to be off to his tea, summoning him to come along sharp and not keep him waiting there all night. The chaff and the humourous sallies to which he was subjected, and to which, of course, he had to provide prompt and effective reply, formed, indeed, his chief danger; for Toad was an animal with a strong sense of his own dignity, and the chaff was mostly (he thought) poor and clumsy, and the humour of the sallies entirely lacking. However, he kept his temper, though with great difficulty, suited his retorts to his company and his supposed character, and did his best not to overstep the limits of good taste.
It seemed hours before he crossed the last courtyard, rejected the pressing invitations from the last guardroom, and dodged the outspread arms of the last warder, pleading with simulated passion for just one farewell embrace. But at last he heard the wicket-gate in the great outer door click behind him, felt the fresh air of the outer world upon his anxious brow, and knew that he was free!
Dizzy with the easy success of his daring exploit, he walked quickly towards the lights of the town, not knowing in the least what he should do next, only quite certain of one thing, that he must remove himself as quickly as possible from the neighbourhood where the lady he was forced to represent was so well-known and so popular a character.
As he walked along, considering, his attention was caught by some red and green lights a little way off, to one side of the town, and the sound of the puffing and snorting of engines and the banging of shunted trucks fell on his ear. "Aha!" he thought, "this is a piece of luck! A railway station is the thing I want most in the whole world at this moment; and what's more, I needn't go through the town to get it, and shan't have to support this humiliating character by repartees which, though thoroughly effective, do not assist one's sense of self-respect."
He made his way to the station accordingly, consulted a time-table, and found that a train, bound more or less in the direction of his home, was due to start in half-an-hour. "More luck!" said Toad, his spirits rising rapidly, and went off to the booking-office to buy his ticket.
He gave the name of the station that he knew to be nearest to the village of which Toad Hall was the principal feature, and mechanically put his fingers, in search of the necessary money, where his waistcoat pocket should have been. But here the cotton gown, which had nobly stood by him so far, and which he had basely forgotten, intervened, and frustrated his efforts. In a sort of nightmare he struggled with the strange uncanny thing that seemed to hold his hands, turn all muscular strivings to water, and laugh at him all the time; while other travellers, forming up in a line behind, waited with impatience, making suggestions of more or less value and comments of more or less stringency and point. At last—somehow—he never rightly understood how—he burst the barriers, attained the goal, arrived at where all waistcoat pockets are eternally situated, and found—not only no money, but no pocket to hold it, and no waistcoat to hold the pocket!
To his horror he recollected that he had left both coat and waistcoat behind him in his cell, and with them his pocket-book, money, keys, watch, matches, pencil-case—all that makes life worth living, all that distinguishes the many-pocketed animal, the lord of creation, from the inferior one-pocketed or no-pocketed productions that hop or trip about permissively, unequipped for the real contest.
In his misery he made one desperate effort to carry the thing off, and, with a return to his fine old manner—a blend of the Squire and the College Don—he said, "Look here! I find I've left my purse behind. Just give me that ticket, will you, and I'll send the money on to-morrow? I'm well-known in these parts."
The clerk stared at him and the rusty black bonnet a moment, and then laughed. "I should think you were pretty well known in these parts," he said, "if you've tried this game on often. Here, stand away from the window, please, madam; you're obstructing the other passengers!"
An old gentleman who had been prodding him in the back for some moments here thrust him away, and, what was worse, addressed him as his good woman, which angered Toad more than anything that had occurred that evening.
Baffled and full of despair, he wandered blindly down the platform where the train was standing, and tears trickled down each side of his nose. It was hard, he thought, to be within sight of safety and almost of home, and to be baulked by the want of a few wretched shillings and by the pettifogging mistrustfulness of paid officials. Very soon his escape would be discovered, the hunt would be up, he would be caught, reviled, loaded with chains, dragged back again to prison and bread-and-water and straw; his guards and penalties would be doubled; and O, what sarcastic remarks the girl would make! What was to be done? He was not swift of foot; his figure was unfortunately recognisable. Could he not squeeze under the seat of a carriage? He had seen this method adopted by schoolboys, when the journey-money provided by thoughtful parents had been diverted to other and better ends. As he pondered, he found himself opposite the engine, which was being oiled, wiped, and generally caressed by its affectionate driver, a burly man with an oil-can in one hand and a lump of cotton-waste in the other.
"Hullo, mother!" said the engine-driver, "what's the trouble? You don't look particularly cheerful."
"O, sir!" said Toad, crying afresh, "I am a poor unhappy washerwoman, and I've lost all my money, and can't pay for a ticket, and I must get home to-night somehow, and whatever I am to do I don't know. O dear, O dear!"
"That's a bad business, indeed," said the engine-driver reflectively. "Lost your money—and can't get home—and got some kids, too, waiting for you, I dare say?"
"Any amount of 'em," sobbed Toad. "And they'll be hungry—and playing with matches—and upsetting lamps, the little innocents!—and quarrelling, and going on generally. O dear, O dear!"
"Well, I'll tell you what I'll do," said the good engine-driver. "You're a washerwoman to your trade, says you. Very well, that's that. And I'm an engine-driver, as you well may see, and there's no denying it's terribly dirty work. Uses up a power of shirts, it does, till my missus is fair tired of washing of 'em. If you'll wash a few shirts for me when you get home, and send 'em along, I'll give you a ride on my engine. It's against the Company's regulations, but we're not so very particular in these out-of-the-way parts."
Good old Mother Fairie,
Sitting by your fire,
Have you any little folk
You would like to hire?
I want no chubby drudges
To milk, and churn, and spin,
Nor old and wrinkled Brownies,
With grisly beards, and thin
But patient little people,
With hands of busy care,
And gentle speech, and loving hearts,
Now, have you such to spare?