WEEK 38 |
E VERY afternoon during her visit the grandmother went and sat down for a few minutes beside Clara after dinner, when the latter was resting, and Fraülein Rottenmeier, probably for the same reason, had disappeared inside her room; but five minutes sufficed her, and then she was up again, and Heidi was sent for to her room, and there she would talk to the child and employ and amuse her in all sorts of ways. The grandmother had a lot of pretty dolls, and she showed Heidi how to make dresses and pinafores for them, so that Heidi learnt how to sew and to make all sorts of beautiful clothes for the little people out of a wonderful collection of pieces that grandmother had by her of every describable and lovely color. And then grandmother liked to hear her read aloud, and the oftener Heidi read her tales the fonder she grew of them. She entered into the lives of all the people she read about so that they became like dear friends to her, and it delighted her more and more to be with them. But still Heidi never looked really happy, and her bright eyes were no longer to be seen. It was the last week of the grandmother's visit. She called Heidi into her room as usual one day after dinner, and the child came with her book under her arm. The grandmother called her to come close, and then laying the book aside, said, "Now, child, tell me why you are not happy? Have you still the same trouble at heart?"
Heidi nodded in reply.
"Have you told God about it?"
"And do you pray every day that He will make things right and that you may be happy again?"
"No, I have left off praying."
"Do not tell me that, Heidi! Why have you left off praying?"
"It is of no use, God does not listen," Heidi went on in an agitated voice, "and I can understand that when there are so many, many people in Frankfurt praying to Him every evening that He cannot attend to them all, and He certainly has not heard what I said to Him."
"And why are you so sure of that, Heidi?"
"Because I have prayed for the same thing every day for weeks, and yet God has not done what I asked."
"You are wrong, Heidi; you must not think of Him like that. God is a good father to us all, and knows better than we do what is good for us. If we ask Him for something that is not good for us, He does not give it, but something better still, if only we will continue to pray earnestly and do not run away and lose our trust in Him. God did not think what you have been praying for was good for you just now; but be sure He heard you, for He can hear and see every one at the same time, because He is a God and not a human being like you and me. And because He thought it was better for you not to have at once what you wanted, He said to Himself: Yes, Heidi shall have what she asks for, but not until the right time comes, so that she may be quite happy. If I do what she wants now, and then one day she sees that it would have been better for her not to have had her own way, she will cry and say, 'If only God had not given me what I asked for! it is not so good as I expected!' And while God is watching over you, and looking to see if you will trust Him and go on praying to Him every day, and turn to Him for everything you want, you run away and leave off saying your prayers, and forget all about Him. And when God no longer hears the voice of one He knew among those who pray to Him, He lets that person go his own way, that he may learn how foolish he is. And then this one gets into trouble, and cries, 'Save me, God, for there is none other to help me,' and God says, 'Why did you go from Me; I could not help you when you ran away.' And you would not like to grieve God, would you Heidi, when He only wants to be kind to you? So will you not go and ask Him to forgive you, and continue to pray and to trust Him, for you may be sure that He will make everything right and happy for you, and then you will be glad and light-hearted again."
Heidi had perfect confidence in the grandmother, and every word she said sunk into her heart.
"I will go at once and ask God to forgive me, and I will never forget Him again," she replied repentantly.
"That is right, dear child," and anxious to cheer her, added, "Don't be unhappy, for He will do everything you wish in good time."
And Heidi ran away and prayed that she might always remember God, and that He would go on thinking about her.
The day came for grandmother's departure—a sad one for Clara and Heidi. But the grandmother was determined to make it as much like a holiday as possible and not to let them mope, and she kept them so lively and amused that they had no time to think about their sorrow at her going until she really drove away. Then the house seemed so silent and empty that Heidi and Clara did not know what to do with themselves, and sat during the remainder of the day like two lost children.
The next day, when the hour came for Clara and Heidi to be together, the latter walked in with her book and proposed that she should go on reading aloud every afternoon to Clara, if the latter liked it. Clara agreed, and thought anyhow it would be nice for that day, so Heidi began with her usual enthusiasm. But the reading did not last long, for Heidi had hardly begun a tale about a dying grandmother before she cried out, "O! then grandmother is dead!" and burst into tears; for everything she read was so real to her that she quite thought it was the grandmother at home who had died, and she kept on exclaiming as her sobs increased, "She is dead, and I shall never see her again, and she never had one of the white rolls!"
Clara did all she could to explain to Heidi that the story was about quite a different grandmother; but even when at last she had been able to convince Heidi of this, the latter continued to weep inconsolably, for now she had awakened to the thought that perhaps the grandmother, and even the grandfather also, might die while she was so far away, and that if she did not go home for a long time she would find everything there all silent and dead, and there she would be all alone, and would never be able to see the dear ones she loved any more.
Fraülein Rottenmeier had meanwhile come into the room, and Clara explained to her what had happened. As Heidi continued her weeping, the lady, who was evidently getting impatient with her, went up to Heidi and said with decision, "Now, Adelaide, that is enough of all this causeless lamentation. I will tell you once for all, if there are any more scenes like this while you are reading, I shall take the book away from you and shall not let you have it again."
Her words had immediate effect on Heidi, who turned pale with fear. The book was her one great treasure. She quickly dried her tears and swallowed her sobs as best she could, so that no further sound of them should be heard. The threat did its work, for Heidi never cried aloud again whatever she might be reading, but she had often to struggle hard to keep back her tears, so that Clara would look at her and say,
"What faces you are making, Heidi, I never saw anything like it!" But the faces made no noise and did not offend Fraülein Rottenmeier, and Heidi, having overcome her fit of despairing misery, would go quietly on for a while, and no one perceived her sorrow. But she lost all her appetite, and looked so pale and thin that Sebastian was quite unhappy when he looked at her, and could not bear to see her refusing all the nice dishes he handed her. He would whisper to her sometimes, in quite a kind, fatherly manner, "Take a little; you don't know how nice it is! There, a good spoonful, now another." But it was of no use, Heidi hardly ate anything at all, and as soon as she laid her head down at night the picture of home would rise before her eyes, and she would weep, burying her face in the pillow that her crying might not be heard.
And so many weeks passed away. Heidi did not know if it was winter or summer, for the walls and windows she looked out upon showed no change, and she never went beyond the house except on rare occasions when Clara was well enough to drive out, and then they only went a very little way, as Clara could not bear the movement for long. So that on these occasions they generally only saw more fine streets and large houses and crowds of people; they seldom got anywhere beyond them, and grass and flowers, fir trees and mountains, were still far away. Heidi's longing for the old familiar and beautiful things grew daily stronger, so that now only to read a word that recalled them to her remembrance brought her to the verge of tears, which with difficulty she suppressed. So the autumn and winter passed, and again the sun came shining down on the white walls of the opposite houses, and Heidi would think to herself that now the time had come for Peter to go out again with the goats, to where the golden flowers of the cistus were glowing in the sunlight, and all the rocks around turned to fire at sunset. Heidi would go and sit in a corner of her lonely room and put her hands up to her eyes that she might not see the sun shining on the opposite wall; and then she would remain without moving, battling silently with her terrible home-sickness until Clara sent for her again.
T WO hundred years ago there lived in Scotland a young man whose name was Alexander Selkirk. He was quarrelsome and unruly. He was often making trouble among his neighbors.
For this reason many people were glad when he ran away from home and went to sea. "We hope that he will get what he deserves," they said.
He was big and strong and soon became a fine sailor. But he was still headstrong and ill-tempered; and he was often in trouble with the other sailors.
Once his ship was sailing in the great Pacific Ocean. It was four hundred miles from the coast of South America. Then something happened which Selkirk did not like. He became very disagreeable. He quarreled with the other sailors, and even with the captain.
"I would rather live alone on a desert island than be a sailor on this ship," he said.
"Very well," answered the captain. "We shall put you ashore on the first island that we see."
"Do so," said Selkirk. "You cannot please me better."
The very next day they came in sight of a little green island. There were groves of trees near the shore, and high hills beyond them.
"What is the name of this island?" asked Selkirk.
"Juan Fernandez," said the captain.
"Set me on shore and leave me there. Give me a few common tools and some food, and I will do well enough," said the sailor.
"It shall be done," answered the captain.
So they filled a small boat with the things that he would need the most—an ax, a hoe, a kettle, and some other things. They also put in some bread and meat and other food, enough for several weeks.
Then four of the sailors rowed him to the shore and left him there.
Alexander Selkirk was all alone on the island. He began to see how foolish he had been; he thought how terrible it would be to live there without one friend, without one person to whom he could speak.
He called loudly to the sailors and to the captain. "Oh, do not leave me here. Take me back, and I will give you no more trouble."
But they would not listen to him. The ship sailed away and was soon lost to sight.
Then Selkirk set to work to make the best of things. He built him a little hut for shelter at night and in stormy weather. He planted a small garden.
There were pigs and goats on the island, and plenty of fish could be caught from the shore. So there was always plenty of food.
Sometimes Selkirk saw ships sailing in the distance. He tried to make signals to them; he called as loudly as he could; but he was neither seen nor heard, and the ships came no nearer.
"If I ever have the good fortune to escape from this island," he said, "I will be kind and obliging to every one. I will try to make friends instead of enemies."
For four years and four months he lived alone on the island. Then, to his great joy, a ship came near and anchored in the little harbor.
He made himself known, and the captain willingly agreed to carry him back to his own country. When he reached Scotland everybody was eager to hear him tell of his adventures, and he soon found himself famous.
In England there was then living a man whose name was Daniel Defoe. He was a writer of books. He had written many stories which people at that time liked to read.
When Daniel Defoe heard how Selkirk had lived alone on the island of Juan Fernandez, he said to himself: "Here is something worth telling about. The story of Alexander Selkirk is very pleasing."
So he sat down and wrote a wonderful story, which he called "The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe."
Every boy has heard of Robinson Crusoe. Many boys and indeed many girls have read his story.
When only a child he liked to stand by the river and see the ships sailing past. He wondered where they had come from and where they were going.
He talked with some of the sailors. They told him about the strange lands they had visited far over the sea. They told him about the wonderful things they had seen there. He was delighted.
"Oh, I wish I could be a sailor!" he said.
He could not think of anything else. He thought how grand it would be to sail and sail on the wide blue sea. He thought how pleasant it would be to visit strange countries and see strange peoples.
As he grew up, his father wished him to learn a trade.
"No, no, I am going to be a sailor; I am going to see the world," he said.
His mother said to him: "A sailor's life is a hard life. There are great storms on the sea. Many ships are wrecked and the sailors are drowned."
"I am not afraid," said Robinson Crusoe. "I am going to be a sailor and nothing else."
So, when he was eighteen years old, he ran away from his pleasant home and went to sea.
He soon found that his mother's words were true. A sailor's life is indeed a hard life. There is no time to play. Every day there is much work to be done. Sometimes there is great danger.
Robinson Crusoe sailed first on one ship and then on another. He visited many lands and saw many wonderful things.
One day there was a great storm. The ship was driven about by the winds; it was wrecked. All the sailors were drowned but Robinson Crusoe.
He swam to an island that was not far away. It was a small island, and there was no one living on it. But there were birds in the woods and some wild goats on the hills.
For a long time Robinson Crusoe was all alone. He had only a dog and some cats to keep him company. Then he tamed a parrot and some goats.
He built a house of some sticks and vines. He sowed grain and baked bread. He made a boat for himself. He did a great many things. He was busy every day.
At last a ship happened to pass that way and Robinson was taken on board. He was glad to go back to England to see his home and his friends once more.
This is the story which Mr. Defoe wrote. Perhaps he would not have thought of it, had he not first heard the true story of Alexander Selkirk.
De massa ob de sheepfol',
Dat guards de' sheepfol' bin,
Look out in de gloomerin' meadows,
Wha'r de long night rain begin—
So he call to de hirelin' shepa'd,
"Is my sheep, is dey all come in?—
My sheep, is dey all come in?"
Oh, den says de hirelin' shepa'd:
"Dey 's some, dey 's black and thin,
And some, dey 's po' ol' wedda's,
Dat can't come home agin.
Dey 's some black sheep an' ol' wedda's,
But de res', dey 's all brung in,
De res', dey 's all brung in."
Den de massa ob de sheepfol',
Dat guards de sheepfol' bin,
Goes down in de gloomerin' meadows,
Wha'r de long night rain begin—
So he le' down de ba's ob de sheepfol',
Callin' sof' "Come in. Come in."
Callin' sof "Come in. Come in."
Den up t'ro' de gloomerin' meadows,
T'ro' de col' night rain and win',
And up t'ro' de gloomerin' rain paf',
Wha'r de sleet fa' pie'cin' thin,
De po' los' sheep ob de sheepfol',
Dey all comes gadderin' in.
De po' los' sheep ob de sheepfol',
Dey all comes gadderin' in.
WEEK 38 |
K ING HENRY III. married a French lady called Eleanor. She brought a great many friends and relatives from France with her. Soon all the best places at court were given to these French people, just as they had been in the time of Edward the Confessor and of William the Conqueror.
These strangers did very much as they liked. They set aside the Great Charter and, when the English barons complained, the French nobles sneered at them. "What are your English laws to us?" they said. "We are far greater and more important than you. Such laws are made for English boors. We will not keep them unless we choose."
This treatment was not to be borne, and at last the English rose in rebellion and forced the King to send away His French favourites.
It would take too long to tell of all the quarrelling and fighting there was in this reign. Henry broke the Great Charter over and over again. No fewer than ten times did he sign it and each time, as soon as he had got what he wanted, he broke the promises he had made. But in spite of this, the power of the people was growing stronger.
Henry spent a great deal of money, far more indeed than he ought to have done. But he could not wring gold from the people as William the Conqueror had been able to do. He had to ask the barons to give it to him, and they would not grant it until he promised something in return.
Henry did indeed wring money from the Jews. They were the richest and the most despised people in the country, and Henry, although he was not usually cruel, was very cruel to them. One Jew who refused to give Henry money was put into prison. Every morning his gaoler came and pulled out one of his teeth, till at last the poor man could bear the pain no longer and he gave the King what money he wanted.
The bishops and barons grew tired of broken promises and such unkingly acts, so, when next Henry asked for money, a great council was called, to which all the barons and bishops in England came.
There was a great deal of talking and it seemed as if nothing would come of it. But the barons told Henry very sternly that he had not acted as a king ought. He had constantly broken his promises and only if he now solemnly swore to the Charter would they give him money.
Then Henry answered, "It is true. I am sadly grieved that I have acted as I have done. I will try to do better." But when he tried to blame some of the bishops and barons, they sternly said, "Our lord King, we will not talk of what is now past, but of what is to come."
Then all the bishops and the archbishops, dressed in their splendid robes and carrying lighted candles in their hands, walked in solemn procession to the great royal hall at Westminster. There, in presence of the King and all the barons, they solemnly excommunicated every one who should in the future take away in any degree the freedom of England. The words they used were very grand and terrible. The King as he listened held his hand over his heart. His face was calm and cheerful and he looked as if he never had tried, and never would try, to take away his people's liberty.
When the solemn sentence was finished and the deep voice of the archbishop died away in silence, all the bishops and the archbishops threw down their lighted candles, crying, "May all those who take away our liberties perish, even as these lights perish."
The bells were then rung joyfully, the candles were again lighted, and King Henry, standing among his people, spoke,—"So help me God, all these promises will I faithfully keep, as I am a man, a Christian, a knight and a crowned and anointed king."
Thus once more the Great Charter was solemnly signed and sealed. But in spite of this ceremony, Henry did not keep his promises. He listened to evil friends, who told him that if he did, he would not be king, nor even lord in England, but the subject of his people.
Now there arose a great man called Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester. For many years he had been the faithful friend of King Henry, whose sister he had married. Henry sometimes heaped favours upon him, sometimes quarrelled with him, just as he was pulled this way or that by his friends.
When Simon de Montfort first came to England the barons did not like him. "Here is another Frenchman," they said, "who comes to eat our bread and take away what belongs to us." But Simon soon showed that, if he was French in name, he was English at heart.
As Henry continually broke his promises, Simon took the side of the barons and the people, and Henry feared him as he feared no other man.
One day Henry went for a picnic on the Thames. He had rowed from his palace at Westminster some way down the river, when a thunderstorm came on, and he was obliged to take refuge in Simon's house, near which he was passing. As he arrived there the thunderstorm began to clear.
"There is nothing to fear now, my lord," said Simon, as he ran to meet the King.
"I fear the thunder and lightning," replied the king, "but I fear thee more than all the thunder and lightning in the world."
"My lord King," replied the earl sadly, "it is unjust that you should fear me who am your faithful friend. I have ever been true to you and yours and to the kingdom of England. Your flatterers are your enemies. Them you ought to fear."
Led by Simon, the barons forced Henry to hold a council at Oxford to draw up new laws for the better ruling of the kingdom. The wonderful thing about these laws was that they were written in English. Ever since the Conquest, the laws had been written in French or Latin, but at last English laws, for English people, were again written in their own language.
But Henry did not keep these new laws any better than he had kept the old ones. The patience of the people came to an end and there was war, the King's army fighting against Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, and his followers. This was called the Barons' war, and it ended in a great battle at Lewes in which the King was defeated.
After this battle it was really Simon de Montfort who ruled the country. Henry was indeed still king in name, but both he and his son, Prince Edward, were Simon de Montfort's prisoners.
It was Simon de Montfort who laid the foundation of what is now our Parliament. Up to this time only bishops and barons had been allowed to come to the meetings of the council. Simon, however, now chose two knights from every shire or county, and two citizens from every city, and sent them also to the council to speak for the people and to tell of their wants. Now, too, the great council began to be called Parliament, which means "talking-place," for it is there that the people come to talk of all the affairs of the kingdom.
Unfortunately the barons could not long agree among themselves. Prince Edward escaped from Simon and joined the discontented barons, and there was another battle between the prince's men and Simon's men, in which Simon was killed.
The people had loved Simon, and now they sorrowed for his death, and called him a saint, and Sir Simon the Righteous. He is also called the Father of the English Parliament.
Although Prince Edward fought against Simon de Montfort, he had been his pupil, and had learned much from him, and he was growing into a wise prince. He now helped to make peace, and when peace again came to the land Prince Edward, like so many other princes and kings, joined a crusade and went to fight in the Holy Land.
In 1272 A.D., while his son was still in that
D ID you ever see a signpost with a mark pointing to a place called "Holiday Hill"? Perhaps not. Yet a holiday hill is not very hard to find. It has certain signs of its own and so it does not need guideboards.
There may be a stream of water running down its steep side. A very little brook will do, if it makes a jolly sound when it splashes against the mossy rocks.
For, of course, there must be rocks on a really satisfying hill. The rocks will have rounded ends and sides, looking as if their corners had been rubbed off. And many of them will have cracks through which bushes are pushing their stems.
If it is really the right sort of hill on which to spend a holiday, it should have berries, don't you think? Of all the berries in the world, those that grow on plants belonging to the Heath Family seem best for a hill.
The stems and leaves of mountain cranberries will lie like a flat mat on the very top of the hill. Their berries will be crimson and as sour as those other cranberries that grow on taller plants in bogs.
Blueberry bushes will cover part of the slope. Their blossoms will hang like tiny pink and cream-colored bells. Little bees will be going here and there on humming wings, carrying pollen from flower to flower. Because of the visits of these insects during blossom time, there will be berries on the bushes later—beautiful blue berries powdered with wax, sweet in the summer sunshine.
Blueberry bells waiting for bees
For the third kind of heath plant we might choose to find the checkerberry with leaves that stay green all winter and with red spicy berries that cling to the stems all winter, too, unless they happen to be picked and eaten by some hillside wanderer.
As you climb the slope of Holiday Hill, you may meet Chickaree among a clump of arbor vitae trees. If you do, he will probably scold you, and his voice will sound like his name. But Chickaree will not frighten you for he is only a little red squirrel trying to tell you that he wishes to have all the cones that grow on the evergreen branches for his own.
Sir Talis will not frighten you, either, if you are a sensible person. For Sir Talis is a harmless creature, gliding out of sight among the rocks in a quiet well-mannered way.
The small being in a strange cloak, who sits on a sweet fern bush and munches its fragrant leaves, will fill you with curiosity, I think. He did me, the first time I met him.
If you hear a springtime song like a soft tinkling of gentle bells, you may suspect that Junco is near. When he flies, he will show you the white outer feathers of his spread tail.
During the fall of the year, you may take the colors of Holiday Hill for a sign that you have reached the right place. For then there will be gay leaves of crimson shades and some of gleaming gold.
But if you wait until winter, what will the hillside be, then, except a pleasant slope for coasting? Well, if you are lucky enough, you may chance to see the tracks that Little Snowshoes made when he passed that way. And, if you are much more fortunate still, you may even have a glimpse of the little fellow himself—all snug in his white winter furs.
So, springtime or summer or autumn or winter, you may know "Holiday Hill" when you climb it, even though there is no guidepost to tell you its name.
Come hither my sparrows
My little arrows
If a tear or a smile
Will a man beguile
If an amorous delay
Clouds a sunshiny day
If the step of a foot
Smites the heart to its root
'Tis the marriage ring
Makes each fairy a king.
So a fairy sung
From the leaves I sprung
He leapd from the spray
To flee away
But in my hat caught
He soon shall be taught
Let him laugh let him cry
He's my butterfly
For I've pulled out the Sting
Of the marriage ring.
WEEK 38 |
"P ETER, you have been up in the Old Pasture many times, so you must have seen the Sheep there," said Old Mother Nature, turning to Peter Rabbit.
"Certainly. Of course," replied Peter. "They seem to me rather stupid creatures. Anyway they look stupid."
"Then you know the leader of the flock, the big ram with curling horns," continued Old Mother Nature.
Peter nodded, and Old Mother Nature went on. "Just imagine him with a smooth coat of grayish-brown instead of a white woolly one, and immense curling horns many times larger than those he now has. Give him a large whitish or very light-yellowish patch around a very short tail. Then you will have a very good idea of one of those mountain climbers I promised to tell you about, one of the greatest mountain climbers in all the Great World—Bighorn the Mountain Sheep, also called Rocky Mountain Bighorn and Rocky Mountain Sheep.
"Bighorn is a true Sheep and lives high up among the rocks of the
highest mountains of the
His sure‑footedness is the marvel of all who have seen him in his mountain home.
"The mountains where he makes his home are so high that the tops of many of them are in the clouds and covered with snow even in summer. Above the line where trees can no longer grow Bighorn spends his summers, coming down to the lower hills only when the snow becomes so deep that he cannot paw down through it to get food. His eyesight is wonderful and from his high lookout he watches for enemies below, and small chance have they of approaching him from that direction.
"When alarmed he bounds away gracefully as if there were great springs in his legs, and his great curled horns are carried as easily as if they were nothing at all. Down rock slopes, so steep that a single misstep would mean a fall hundreds of feet, he bounds as swiftly and easily as Lightfoot the Deer bounds through the woods, leaping from one little jutting point of rock to another and landing securely as if he were on level ground. He climbs with equal ease where man would have to crawl and cling with fingers and toes, or give up altogether.
"Mrs. Bighorn does not have the great curling horns. Instead she
is armed with short, sharp-pointed horns, like spikes. Her young
are born in the highest, most inaccessible place she can find, and
there they have little to fear save one enemy,
"Only when driven to the lower slopes and hills by storms and snow
does Bighorn have cause to fear
"Some people believe that Bighorn leaps from cliffs and alights on those great horns, but this is not true. Whenever he leaps he alights on those sure feet of his, not on his head.
"Way up in the extreme northwest corner of this country, in a place called Alaska, is a close cousin whose coat is all white and whose horns are yellow and more slender and wider spreading. He is called the Dall Mountain Sheep. Farther south, but not as far south as the home of Bighorn, is another cousin whose coat is so dark that he is sometimes called the Black Mountain Sheep. His proper name is Stone's Mountain Sheep. In the mountains between these two is another cousin with a white head and dark body called Fannin's sheep. All these cousins are closely related and in their habits are much alike. Of them all, Bighorn the Rocky Mountain Sheep is the best known."
"I should think," said Peter Rabbit, "that way up there on those high mountains Bighorn would be very lonesome."
Old Mother Nature laughed. "Bighorn doesn't care for neighbors as
you do, Peter," said she. "But even up in those high rocky retreats
among the clouds he has a neighbor as
"Billy is as awkward-looking as he moves about as Bighorn is graceful,
but he will go where even Bighorn will hesitate to follow. His hoofs
are small and especially planned for walking in safety on smooth rock
His home is high in the great mountains of the Pacific coast.
"In the first place he has a hump on his shoulders much like the
humps of Thunderfoot the Bison and Longcoat the
"Often he spends the summer where the snow remains all the year through and his white coat is a protection from the keenest eyes. You see, when not moving, he looks in the distance for all the world like a patch of snow on the rocks.
"Not having a handsome head or wonderful horns he has not been
hunted by man quite so much as has Bighorn, and therefore is not so
alert and wary. Both he and Bighorn are more easily approached from
above than from below, because they do not expect danger from above
and so do not keep so sharp a watch in that direction. The young
are sometimes taken by
"I have now told you of the members of the Cattle and Sheep family, what they look like and where they live and how. There is still one more member of the order Ungulata and this one is in a way related to another member of Farmer Brown's barnyard. I will leave you to guess which one. What is it, Peter?"
"If you please, in just what part of the
"Chiefly in the northern part," replied Old Mother Nature. "In the Northwest these mountains are very close to the ocean and Billy does not appear to mind in the least the fogs that roll in, and seems to enjoy the salt air. Sometimes there he comes down almost to the shore. Are there any more questions?"
There were none, so school was dismissed for the day. Peter didn't go straight home. Instead he went up to the Old Pasture for another look at the old ram there and tried to picture to himself just what Bighorn must look like. Especially he looked at the hoofs of the old ram.
"It is queer," muttered Peter, "how feet like those can be so safe up on those slippery rocks Old Mother Nature told us about. Anyway, it seems queer to me. But it must be so if she says it is. My, my, my, what a lot of strange people there are in this world! And what a lot there is to learn!"
I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong
That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.
WEEK 38 |
One day when Robin was walking through the wood, he met a gay young knight. The knight was dressed in scarlet satin, and wore a hat decked with feathers. He held his head erect and walked with a light and joyous step. As he walked he sang a merry song.
Robin wondered who the knight could be, but he did not stop him as he had other business that morning.
The next day Little John and Much, the tallest and the shortest of Robin Hood's band, went for a walk. It was very funny to see these two together. Little John was seven feet high and very straight and strong. Much was scarcely five and very broad and dumpy.
As they walked along they met the very knight that Robin had seen the day before. But how different he looked! It was difficult to believe that he was the same man.
"The scarlet he wore the day before
It was clean cast away,
And ev'ry step he fetched a sigh,
Alack, and well a day."
He was dressed all in dull grey. His head hung down, and he moved his feet as if they were made of lead. So sad was he that he did not see Little John and Much until they were close upon him. Then he would have drawn his bow and arrows to shoot at them, but they were too quick for him. Seizing him by the arms they led him before Robin Hood, who was sitting under his great oak-tree.
Robin rose politely, bowed to him, and bade him welcome to the Green Wood. Then still very politely (for being a real earl, Robin was always very polite to people, though he did rob them) he asked if the stranger had any money to spare for Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
"I have no money, the young man said,
But five shillings, and a ring;
And that I have kept, this seven long years,
To have at my wedding."
When Robin heard that the knight was so poor, he was very sorry for him, and asked him to sit down and tell him how that was, and why he was so sad. So with many a sigh the poor young man told his tale.
"My name is Allan-a-Dale," he said. "Seven years ago I fell in love with the most beautiful lady in all the world. She loved me too and we were very happy. But her father was very angry. I was poor, and he said we were too young to marry. He promised, however, that if we would wait seven years and a day we should then be married. The seven years are over, and yesterday should have been our wedding day. I went to claim my bride. But alas! the old knight would scarcely speak to me. He said his daughter was not for such a poor man as I. To-morrow she is to be married to another. He is old and ugly, but he has a great deal of money. So I have lost my love, and my heart is broken."
Then poor Allan-a-Dale dropped his head in his hands and groaned aloud.
"Nay," said Robin, "do not grieve so. A maiden who thus changes her mind is not worth so much sorrow."
But Allan-a-Dale shook his head. "Alas!" he sighed, "she loves me still. It is the old knight, her father, who forces her to do this thing."
"Then what wilt thou give to me, said Robin Hood,
In ready gold or fee,
To help thee to thy true love again.
And deliver her unto thee?"
"Why," said Allan, "I have no gold. But if you bring my true love back to me, I swear to serve you faithfully for ever and a day. I cannot shoot so far or so straight as your good men, but I can make and sing sweet songs and play upon the harp."
Robin was very glad when he heard that. He clapped Allan on the shoulder and told him to cheer up, for, said he, "to-morrow is your wedding day." Then he asked how far it was to the church where this wedding was to take place. Allan told him it was to be at Dale Abbey, not much more than five miles distant.
Very early next morning Robin Hood rose. He dressed himself like an old harper, and taking a harp, set off for Dale Abbey. He left orders with Little John that he was to follow with twenty-four good men all dressed in Lincoln green. Also he was to bring with him Friar Tuck and Allan-a-dale.
When Robin Hood arrived at the door of the Abbey, whom should he meet but the Bishop of Hereford, all dressed in his fine robes and all ready to marry poor Lady Christabel to the old knight.
"What do you here, my good man?" said the Bishop.
"Why," replied Robin, "I am a minstrel. Hearing there was to be a great wedding to-day, I have come to see it. Afterwards I can make a song about it."
"That is well," said the Bishop, "I love the sound of the harp and you can play some sweet music to us."
"I should like to see the bride and bridegroom first, before I play any music," replied Robin. Then he went into the church, and sat down behind a big pillar not far from the altar.
Soon the wedding guests began to arrive. There were a great many lovely ladies in beautiful dresses. They came in, rustling in silk and laces, nodding and smiling to each other, fluttering and flitting about the aisles of the great, dimly-lit church, like pretty painted butterflies. Robin watched them beckoning and whispering to each other. Sometimes he could hear what they said.
"Poor girl," said one, "so young and pretty."
"And he so old and ugly."
"Not to say wicked."
"And she loves some one else, I hear."
"What! the handsome young man who sings so beautifully?"
"Then why does he not carry her off?"
"Oh, he is too poor."
"Oh, the pity of it!"
Robin was glad. From all he heard, he learned that every one in the church was sorry for poor Christabel.
At last the bridegroom came. Silence fell upon the church as he entered. Nothing was heard except the ring of his gold-headed cane on the flagstones, as he hobbled up the aisle. So old and ugly he was. Older and uglier even than Robin had expected. He was tricked out, too, in a suit of white satin which helped to make him look more aged and withered.
Suddenly there was a little stir at the great west door. All heads turned. The bride had arrived. A sigh of admiration passed through the crowd.
She was so beautiful. With slow and stately steps she came, leaning on her father's arm. Her face was sad, her eyes cast down. Pale as any lily, she came robed in shimmering white satin. Round her white throat and in her golden hair, wonderful pearls gleamed in the dim light. If the bridegroom was more ugly than Robin had expected, the bride was far more beautiful. Behind her came the little choir boys, dressed in red and white, singing a sweet bridal song.
They reached the altar rails, and the Bishop opened his book to begin the service.
At that moment Robin sprang from behind the pillar and stood beside the bride.
"Stop!" he cried, "I do not like this wedding. The bridegroom is too old and ugly for such a lovely bride."
The ladies screamed, and at once the whole church was in commotion.
"Who are you who thus disturbs the peace of our holy service?" asked the Bishop.
"I am Robin Hood," replied he, throwing off his disguise, and putting his horn to his lips.
"I am Robin Hood," replied he, throwing off his disguise and putting his horn to his lips
When they heard that, every one stopped screaming, and pressed forward, trying to catch sight of the wonderful man of whom they had heard so much.
"Then four-and-twenty bowmen bold
Came leaping o'er the lea.
And when they came to the churchyard,
Marching all in a row,
The first man was Allan-a-Dale
To give bold Robin his bow."
"Now," said Robin, "seeing we have all come to church it is a pity there should be no wedding. Let the lady choose of all these fine men which she will have."
The Lady Christabel's face was no longer pale, but dainty pink like the inside of a shell. She raised her eyes and saw that Allan-a-Dale was standing beside her. She put out her hand timidly and slipped it into his. He clasped it and bent to kiss it tenderly. Then it was as if two red rose petals had fluttered to her cheeks. She was no longer like a lily, but a queen with head erect, and shining, happy eyes.
"Now," said Robin, "the lady has chosen. We can have the wedding. Sir Bishop, do thy duty."
"Nay, but I will not," said the Bishop. "It is the law that every one must be asked in church three times before they can be married. Therefore I will not."
"If you will not we must get some one else," said Robin. "Come along, Friar Tuck."
So Friar Tuck put on the Bishop's fine gown and took his big book, and every one laughed as he stepped to the rails of the altar, he looked so fat and jolly.
"When Friar Tuck went to the quire
The people began to laugh,
He asked them seven times in the church
Lest three times should not be enough."
Then when he had finished asking them seven times, he told the people gravely that they really must not laugh any more, that it was not at all the proper thing to do in church. But the people were all so glad for Christabel they really could not help it.
Then he began the marriage service. "Who gives this maiden to be married?"
"That do I," said Robin.
Christabel's father would have liked to cry out and stop the wedding, but he could not. Two of Robin's men held him tight and kept their hands over his mouth so that he could not make a sound. No one else in all the church wanted to stop it except the Bishop and the old knight. They were both so angry that they could not speak. Besides they were both so old and feeble that they could do nothing.
So Christabel and Allan-a-Dale were married and went to live with Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest.
The wedding was long talked about. The people who were there said it was the prettiest and the merriest wedding they had ever seen. And to this day, if you go to Derbyshire, you can still see the ruins of the great abbey in which it took place.
A young fellow, who was very popular among his boon companions as a good spender, quickly wasted his fortune trying to live up to his reputation. Then one fine day in early spring he found himself with not a penny left, and no property save the clothes he wore.
He was to meet some jolly young men that morning, and he was at his wits' end how to get enough money to keep up appearances. Just then a Swallow flew by, twittering merrily, and the young man, thinking summer had come, hastened off to a clothes dealer, to whom he sold all the clothes he wore down to his very tunic.
A few days later a change in weather brought a severe frost, and the poor swallow and that foolish young man in his light tunic, and with his arms and knees bare, could scarcely keep life in their shivering bodies.
One swallow does not make a summer.
Out of a pellucid brook
Pebbles round and smooth I took:
Like a jewel every one
Caught a color from the sun,—
Ruby red and sapphire blue,
Emerald and onyx too,
Diamond and amethyst,—
Not a precious stone I missed:
Gems I held from every land
In the hollow of my hand.
Workman Water these had made
Patiently through sun and shade,
With the ripples of the rill
He had polished them until,
Smooth, symmetrical, and bright,
Each one sparkling in the light
Showered within its burning heart
All the lapidary's art;
And the brook seemed thus to sing:
Patience conquers everything!
WEEK 38 |
"Go, and in regions far such heroes bring ye forth
As those from whom we came; and plant our name
Under that star not known unto our north."
U NDER James I., King of England, there was a little sect of Protestants, known as Puritans, who were sorely persecuted. They were very strict in their ideas of worship. They wished everything to be more Lutheran. They thought it wrong to amuse themselves. It, was, in their eyes, a sin to hunt, a sin to put starch into a ruff, to play at chess.
At last a little band of these Puritans made up their minds to sail over to Holland, "where," they heard, "was freedom of religion for all men." They hoped in a new land, among new people, to spread their views, and, at any rate, to be left in peace. So across the sea to Holland they went, arriving at Amsterdam in the year 1608. For twelve years they lived at Leyden among the Dutch; but they lived as exiles in a strange land, and Puritanism did not spread as they had hoped. So they turned their eyes across the seas to the New World, where colonisation was now going on apace. There they might preach their Puritan gospel; there, on the shores of the New World, they might start life afresh.
Now the Dutch people had grown very fond of the English Puritans.
"These English," they said, "have lived among us for twelve years, and yet we have not anything to say against one of them."
It was the summer of 1620 when the Puritans left Leyden for the New World. A crowd was waiting by the shore to see these Pilgrim Fathers off. In floods of tears the Dutch bade farewell to these people they had learnt to love, and they were not able to speak for their sorrow.
"But the tide, which stays for no man," bore the Pilgrim Fathers away, and with a fair wind the little ship reached Southampton, where two larger ships, the Mayflower and the Speedwell, awaited them. Here there were many delays, and it was late in the summer before the ships left the shores of England. The Speedwell soon put back, and only the little Mayflower, with forty-one emigrants and their families, was left to face the perils of the great Atlantic Ocean. It was not long before great gales set in, and the long swell of the Atlantic almost washed over the little ship. Still the Mayflower went forward, struggling gallantly with wind and weather. Once or twice the poor Pilgrims were tempted to turn and go home, so great was the misery of those on board. They were terribly crowded together, sea-sick, and frightened at the high waves which broke over the little ship, but still they went forward. So sixty-four days passed away on a voyage which now takes about a week, when early one November morning the Pilgrims first caught sight of America. Together they rejoiced and praised God, "that had given them once again to see the land."
The low sandhills of Cape Cod seemed a very haven of rest to the poor storm-beaten Pilgrims. Their voyage, indeed, was at an end, but the prospect before them was dreary enough. The wintry wind howled through the battered little ship, and its icy blasts went through the thin frames of the old Pilgrims, worn by hardship and sickness.
Sixteen of them were put ashore to find a suitable place to settle. These landed and marched wearily about, through sandy woods, sleeping amid forests; but, finding no place for a settlement, they returned sadly to the ship. Then they explored the coast. The weather grew very cold, the salt spray of the sea froze upon their clothes, so that they seemed cased all over as in coats of iron.
At last they left Cape Cod and landed in Plymouth Bay, so called from the last place they had left in England. There was plenty of fish here, springs of water and good harbours. So, leaving the women and children on board, they began to lay out streets and houses. But the winter was on them, and they had already borne all they could.
One by one they sickened, one by one they died, till only half the little band was left.
At last the warm spring days followed the bitter winter weather, and the Pilgrims, under their stout-hearted leader Miles Standish, took fresh hope. They made friends with the Indians, they tilled the soil and planted seeds from England.
Then there came a day, nearly four months after their landing, when the Mayflower must go back to England. She had been riding at anchor in the bay, "battered and blackened and worn by all the storms of the winter."
Here is the heroism of the story. Not one of the Pilgrims went home in her.
"O strong hearts and true, not one went back in the Mayflower;
No, not one looked back who set his hand to the ploughing."
With overflowing eyes they stood on the sea-shore watching with heavy hearts the homeward-bound ship as she bounded over the waters, leaving them alone in the desert.
"Lost in the sound of the oars was the last farewell of the Pilgrims."
Months and years of hardships followed, but resolutely they worked and toiled, and slowly things grew better. A shipful of friends followed them from England. In ten years there were 300 settlers; every year the numbers grew until, forty-two years later, it became part of that State now known as Massachusetts. In that Plymouth across the seas a statue now stands marking the spot where the Pilgrim Fathers landed all these long years ago. Their heroism and perseverance were never forgotten.
"Let it not grieve you that you have broken the ice for others who come after," said their English friends. "The honour shall be yours to the world's end."
E URYSTHEUS was getting to his wits' end for work which should keep his cousin employed. He sent him to kill the man-eating birds of Lake Stymphalus; to catch, and bring to Mycenæ alive, a wild bull which was devastating Crete; to obtain for Eurystheus the famous mares which fed on human flesh, and belonged to the Thracian King Diomēdes who used to throw men and women alive into their manger. In three years' time Hercules destroyed all the birds, and brought to Mycenæ both the bull and the mares, to whom he had given the body of their master.
These were the sixth, seventh, and eighth labors, which had taken eight years. The ninth was of a different kind. There lived in the country of Cappadocia, which is in Asia, a nation of women, without any men among them. They were called the Amazons, and were famous for their skill in hunting, and for their fierceness and courage in war, conquering the neighboring nations far and wide. Their queen at this time was Hippolyta; and Eurystheus bade Hercules bring him Queen Hippolyta's girdle. Perhaps he thought that a strong man would be ashamed to put out his strength against a woman. If so, however, he reckoned wrongly. Hercules had to do his work, whether man or woman stood in the way; and he won the queen's girdle in fair fight, without harming the queen.
"I must send Hercules to the very end of the earth," thought poor Eurystheus, who grew more and more frightened by every new success of his cousin. So he inquired diligently of every traveler who came to Mycenæ, and in time had the good luck to hear of a suitable monster named Geryon, who lived in a cave at Gades, now called Cadiz, on the coast of Spain; very near indeed to what the Greeks then thought to be the end of the world. Geryon, so the travelers reported, had three bodies and three heads, and kept large and valuable flocks and herds. "That will be just the thing for Hercules!" thought Eurystheus. So he called from his brazen pot—
"Go to Gades, and get me the cattle and the sheep of Geryon."
So Hercules set off for Spain by way of Egypt and that great Libyan desert through which Perseus had passed on his adventure against the Gorgons. It was an unfortunate way to take, for there reigned over Egypt at that time King Busiris, who had made a law that every foreigner entering the country should be sacrificed to Jupiter. Hercules, knowing nothing of this law, was taken by surprise as soon as he landed, overpowered by numbers, bound in iron chains, and laid upon the altar to be slain. But scarcely had the sacrificing priest raised his knife when Hercules burst the chains, and, being no longer taken at disadvantage, made a sacrifice of Busiris and his ministers, thus freeing the land of Egypt from a foolish and cruel law.
Thence he passed into the great desert, and traveled on until one day he reached a pile of human skulls, nearly as big as a mountain. While wondering at the sight, a shadow fell over him, and a big voice said—
"Yes, you may well look at that! I have nearly enough now."
It was a giant, nearly as high as the heap of skulls. "And who are you?" asked Hercules; "and what are these?"
"I am Antæus," answered the giant; "and the Sea is my father and the Earth is my mother. I am collecting skulls in order to build a temple with them upon my mother the Earth to my father the Sea."
"And how," asked Hercules, "have you managed to get so many?"
"By killing everybody I see, and adding his skull to the heap—as I am going to add yours."
So saying, he seized Hercules to make an end of him. And amazed enough the giant was when he himself was dashed to the ground with force enough to break any ordinary bones.
Antæus, however, though astonished, was not in the least hurt; so that it was the turn of Hercules to be surprised. Again they closed, and again Hercules threw him, with still greater strength; and they closed again.
And again and again Hercules threw him, but every time with greater difficulty. The more he was thrown, the stronger the giant became; he rose from every fall fresher than before. Plainly, if this went on, Antæus would be beaten until he became stronger than Hercules, and would end by winning.
It seemed very strange that the more a man was dashed to the ground the fresher and stronger he should grow. But—
"I see!" thought Hercules to himself. "This giant is the son of the Earth; so whenever he falls, it is upon the bosom of his own mother, who strengthens and refreshes her son. So I must take another way."
So thinking, he put out all his strength, and again lifted Antæus in his arms. But this time he did not dash him to the Earth; he held him in the air, and crushed him to death between his hands.
After this he traveled on, without further adventure, until he reached the far western end of the Mediterranean Sea, which was thought to be the end of the world. If you happen to look at a map you will easily find the exact place—it is where the south of Spain very nearly touches Africa. When Hercules arrived there, Spain quite touched Africa, so that one might walk from one into the other. It is said that Hercules himself opened out the narrow passage which lets the Mediterranean Sea out into the great ocean, so that ships could afterwards sail to Britain and all over the world. That passage is now called the Strait of Gibraltar. But the rock of Gibraltar in Spain, and the opposite rock in Africa, between which the Strait flows, are still often called the "Pillars of Hercules."
To get from there to Gades was no great distance; and to kill the monstrous ogre Geryon and to seize his flocks and herds for Eurystheus was no great feat after what he had already done. But to drive such a number of sheep and cattle all the way from Gades in Spain to Mycenæ in Greece was not an easy matter. There was only one way of doing so without being stopped somewhere by the sea, and this, as a map will show at once, is by crossing those two great mountain-ranges, the Pyrenees and the Alps—and for one man to drive thousands of sheep and thousands of horned cattle over such mountains as those was the most tiresome and troublesome labor that Hercules had ever undergone.
He got as far as Italy without the loss of a single sheep or cow, and was thinking that he saw the end of his trouble. One morning, however, having counted the cattle as usual, and having gone some miles upon his day's journey, he became aware that there was something wrong. The sheep began to bleat and the cattle to bellow in an odd and excited way. And frequently, from behind him, he heard an answering sound which at first he took for an echo. But no, it could not be that, for an echo would have repeated the bleating as well as the bellowing, and what he heard behind him was the sound of bellowing only—precisely like that of Geryon's cows. He counted the herd over again, and, though he was convinced that it was all right at starting, he found a full dozen missing.
Now a dozen was not much to lose out of thousands. But he had been ordered to bring back the whole herd, and he would have felt that he would not have done his duty if he, by any neglect or laziness of his own, lost even one lamb by the way. So, following the distant sound, he, with infinite labor, drove his cattle back across the hills, league after league, till he reached a huge black cavern, the mouth of which was strewn and heaped with human bones. His cattle became more excited and more restive, for the sound he was following evidently came from within the cave.
He was about to enter and search when a three-headed ogre issued, whose three mouths, when he opened them to speak, breathed smoke and flames.
"This is my cave," said he, with all three mouths at once; "and no man shall enter it but I."
"I only want my cattle," said Hercules. "Bring them out to me."
"Cattle?" asked the ogre. "There are no cattle here. I swear it by the head of my mother."
"And who was she," asked Hercules, "that her head is an oath to swear by?"
"I am Cacus, the son of the Gorgon Medusa," answered the ogre, "and I swear—"
But before he could finish his oath, there came such a bellowing from within the cave that the very cattle seemed as if they could not endure such falsehood, and were proclaiming that Cacus lied.
"I am sorry," said Hercules. "I am weary of traveling, and of monsters, and of giants, and of ogres, and of liars, and of thieves. I really do not want to kill any more. You are not one of my labors, and I have had enough trouble. Still, if you had as many heads as the Hydra and as many arms as Briareus, I should have to fight you rather than lose one of the cattle I was bidden to bring."
Cacus laughed. "Do you see those bones?" he asked. "They are all that is left of people who have looked for what they have lost in my cave."
"Then," said Hercules, "either you shall add mine to the heap, or I will add yours."
And presently the bones of Cacus the Robber were added to the heap, and Hercules, having got his cattle back, at last reached Mycenæ.
Eurystheus almost forgot to be frightened in his joy at becoming the owner of such flocks and herds. He listened with interest to the story of his cousin's travels, and, having heard it to an end, said—
"So you crossed the great Libyan desert until you reached the ocean which surrounds the world? Why, then, you must have found the way to the gardens of the Hesperides—the gardens of golden fruit which the great sleepless dragon guards, and which our forefather Perseus saw when he turned Atlas into stone. Did you also see those gardens?"
"No," said Hercules.
"Then," said Eurystheus, "go and see them at once. Go and bring me some of the Golden Apples—as many as you can."
WEEK 38 |
T HERE was once a rich farmer who was as grasping and unscrupulous as he was rich. He was always driving a hard bargain and always getting the better of his poor neighbors. One of these neighbors was a humble shepherd who in return for service was to receive from the farmer a heifer. When the time of payment came the farmer refused to give the shepherd the heifer and the shepherd was forced to lay the matter before the burgomaster.
The burgomaster, who was a young man and as yet not very experienced, listened to both sides and when he had deliberated he said:
"Instead of deciding this case, I will put a riddle to you both and the man who makes the best answer shall have the heifer. Are you agreed?"
The farmer and the shepherd accepted this proposal and the burgomaster said:
"Well then, here is my riddle: What is the swiftest thing in the world? What is the sweetest thing? What is the richest? Think out your answers and bring them to me at this same hour tomorrow."
The farmer went home in a temper.
"What kind of a burgomaster is this young fellow!" he growled. "If he had let me keep the heifer I'd have sent him a bushel of pears. But now I'm in a fair way of losing the heifer for I can't think of any answer to his foolish riddle."
"What is the matter, husband?" his wife asked.
"It's that new burgomaster. The old one would have given me the heifer without any argument, but this young man thinks to decide the case by asking us riddles."
When he told his wife what the riddle was, she cheered him greatly by telling him that she knew the answers at once.
"Why, husband," said she, "our gray mare must be the swiftest thing in the world. You know yourself nothing ever passes us on the road. As for the sweetest, did you ever taste honey any sweeter than ours? And I'm sure there's nothing richer than our chest of golden ducats that we've been laying by these forty years."
The farmer was delighted.
"You're right, wife, you're right! That heifer remains ours!"
The shepherd when he got home was downcast and sad. He had a daughter, a clever girl named Manka, who met him at the door of his cottage and asked:
"What is it, father? What did the burgomaster say?"
The shepherd sighed.
"I'm afraid I've lost the heifer. The burgomaster set us a riddle and I know I shall never guess it."
"Perhaps I can help you," Manka said. "What is it?"
So the shepherd gave her the riddle and the next day as he was setting out for the burgomaster's, Manka told him what answers to make.
When he reached the burgomaster's house, the farmer was already there rubbing his hands and beaming with self-importance.
The burgomaster again propounded the riddle and then asked the farmer his answers.
The farmer cleared his throat and with a pompous air began:
"The swiftest thing in the world? Why, my dear sir, that's my gray mare, of course, for no other horse ever passes us on the road. The sweetest? Honey from my beehives, to be sure. The richest? What can be richer than my chest of golden ducats!"
And the farmer squared his shoulders and smiled triumphantly.
"H'm," said the young burgomaster, dryly. Then he asked:
"What answers does the shepherd make?"
The shepherd bowed politely and said:
"The swiftest thing in the world is thought for thought can run any distance in the twinkling of an eye. The sweetest thing of all is sleep for when a man is tired and sad what can be sweeter? The richest thing is the earth for out of the earth come all the riches of the world."
"Good!" the burgomaster cried. "Good! The heifer goes to the shepherd!"
Later the burgomaster said to the shepherd:
"Tell me, now, who gave you those answers? I'm sure they never came out of your own head."
At first the shepherd tried not to tell, but when the burgomaster pressed him he confessed that they came from his daughter, Manka. The burgomaster, who thought he would like to make another test of Manka's cleverness, sent for ten eggs. He gave them to the shepherd and said:
"Take these eggs to Manka and tell her to have them hatched out by tomorrow and to bring me the chicks."
When the shepherd reached home and gave Manka the burgomaster's message,
Manka laughed and said: "Take a handful of millet and go right back to
the burgomaster. Say to him: 'My daughter sends you this millet. She
says that if you plant it, grow it, and have it harvested by tomorrow,
she'll bring you the ten chicks and you can feed them the
When the burgomaster heard this, he laughed heartily.
"That's a clever girl of yours," he told the shepherd. "If she's as comely as she is clever, I think I'd like to marry her. Tell her to come to see me, but she must come neither by day nor by night, neither riding nor walking, neither dressed nor undressed."
When Manka received this message she waited until the next dawn when night was gone and day not yet arrived. Then she wrapped herself in a fishnet and, throwing one leg over a goat's back and keeping one foot on the ground, she went to the burgomaster's house.
Now I ask you: did she go dressed? No, she wasn't dressed. A fishnet isn't clothing. Did she go undressed? Of course not, for wasn't she covered with a fishnet? Did she walk to the burgomaster's? No, she didn't walk for she went with one leg thrown over a goat. Then did she ride? Of course she didn't ride for wasn't she walking on one foot?
When she reached the burgomaster's house she called out:
"Here I am, Mr. Burgomaster, and I've come neither by day nor by night, neither riding nor walking, neither dressed nor undressed."
The young burgomaster was so delighted with Manka's cleverness and so pleased with her comely looks that he proposed to her at once and in a short time married her.
"But understand, my dear Manka," he said, "you are not to use that cleverness of yours at my expense. I won't have you interfering in any of my cases. In fact if ever you give advice to any one who comes to me for judgment, I'll turn you out of my house at once and send you home to your father."
All went well for a time. Manka busied herself in her house-keeping and was careful not to interfere in any of the burgomaster's cases.
Then one day two farmers came to the burgomaster to have a dispute settled. One of the farmers owned a mare which had foaled in the marketplace. The colt had run under the wagon of the other farmer and thereupon the owner of the wagon claimed the colt as his property.
The burgomaster, who was thinking of something else while the case was being presented, said carelessly:
"The man who found the colt under his wagon is, of course, the owner of the colt."
As the owner of the mare was leaving the burgomaster's house, he met Manka and stopped to tell her about the case. Manka was ashamed of her husband for making so foolish a decision and she said to the farmer:
"Come back this afternoon with a fishing net and stretch it across the dusty road. When the burgomaster sees you he will come out and ask you what you are doing. Say to him that you're catching fish. When he asks you how you can expect to catch fish in a dusty road, tell him it's just as easy for you to catch fish in a dusty road as it is for a wagon to foal. Then he'll see the injustice of his decision and have the colt returned to you. But remember one thing: you mustn't let him find out that it was I who told you to do this."
That afternoon when the burgomaster chanced to look out the window he saw a man stretching a fishnet across the dusty road. He went out to him and asked:
"What are you doing?"
"Fishing in a dusty road? Are you daft?"
"Well," the man said, "it's just as easy for me to catch fish in a dusty road as it is for a wagon to foal."
Then the burgomaster recognized the man as the owner of the mare and he had to confess that what he said was true.
"Of course the colt belongs to your mare and must be returned to you. But tell me," he said, "who put you up to this? You didn't think of it yourself."
The farmer tried not to tell but the burgomaster questioned him until he found out that Manka was at the bottom of it. This made him very angry. He went into the house and called his wife.
"Manka," he said, "do you forget what I told you would happen if you went interfering in any of my cases? Home you go this very day. I don't care to hear any excuses. The matter is settled. You may take with you the one thing you like best in my house for I won't have people saying that I treated you shabbily."
Manka made no outcry.
"Very well, my dear husband, I shall do as you say: I shall go home to my father's cottage and take with me the one thing I like best in your house. But don't make me go until after supper. We have been very happy together and I should like to eat one last meal with you. Let us have no more words but be kind to each other as we've always been and then part as friends."
The burgomaster agreed to this and Manka prepared a fine supper of all the dishes of which her husband was particularly fond. The burgomaster opened his choicest wine and pledged Manka's health. Then he set to, and the supper was so good that he ate and ate and ate. And the more he ate, the more he drank until at last he grew drowsy and fell sound asleep in his chair. Then without awakening him Manka had him carried out to the wagon that was waiting to take her home to her father.
The next morning when the burgomaster opened his eyes, he found himself lying in the shepherd's cottage.
"What does this mean?" he roared out.
"Nothing, dear husband, nothing!" Manka said. "You know you told me I might take with me the one thing I liked best in your house, so of course I took you! That's all."
For a moment the burgomaster rubbed his eyes in amazement. Then he laughed loud and heartily to think how Manka had outwitted him.
"Manka," he said, "you're too clever for me. Come on, my dear, let's go home."
So they climbed back into the wagon and drove home.
The burgomaster never again scolded his wife but thereafter whenever a very difficult case came up he always said:
"I think we had better consult my wife. You know she's a very clever woman."
I HAVE told you that ants like honey and sweets. They will also suck the juices and soft parts of many other kinds of food. Some ants eat nearly everything that can be eaten.
Almost all ants will eat other insects, and suck the eggs or pupæ of other insects. This habit makes ants very useful. Certain worms and bugs that destroy orange trees and cotton plants are killed by ants.
Ants also eat other insects that injure men. If a coat that has these on it is laid near an ant-hill, in an hour or two the ants will have made it quite clean.
You have seen a fly sit and clean her body and wings. She does this by drawing her feet over her head and body. So you have seen the cat clean her fur coat with her paws and tongue. The ant washes or brushes herself in just such a way.
The ant is very neat and clean in her habits. She takes many naps in a day, and after each nap she brushes herself. She brushes herself tidy after work and after taking food.
The action of the ant in cleansing herself is much like that of the cat. The ant has on her fore-leg a little comb, shaped like your thumb. With this she strokes and combs all dust and dirt from her body.
If you watch an ant as she dresses herself, you will see that she draws her fore-foot through her mouth. This is to clean the comb and to make it moist, so that it will do its work well.
The ant has also little brushes on her other feet; so you see there is no reason why she should not keep herself very trim and tidy.
Ants are very neat about their nests. They carry out all husks of grain and seeds and all dead bodies. They carry these quite off their hill.
I knew of an ant's nest that had been set on a post in water. It was kept clean by the ants. They soon learned to drop all refuse over into the water. That is as the sailor does, when he tidies his ship.
Ants bury their dead. When an ant dies, some of the other ants pick up the body to carry it off and bury it. They do not like to put dead bodies near their hill. The ants will carry the dead ones round and round, till they find a good place for them.
A lady who spent much time in the study of ants said that the slave-owning ants do not bury the slaves with the masters. They put the dead slaves in one place and the owners in another.
Ants will now and then change their home. They leave an old hill and make a new one. When they do this, if some of the ants do not seem ready to leave the old hill, the others drag them off by force.
Most ants have very good eyes, and can see above ground and under ground. But there is one kind of ant that is blind.
Ants can bite with their sharp jaws. They also have a sting. They seldom use it if they are let alone. Some ants have quite a sharp sting. The sting is on the hind part of the ant's body. Their sting is made in three parts. There is the sack for poison, the needle which gives the prick, and the case to keep the needle or prickle in. This needle, of a light color, is like a little thorn.
The ant seizes with its jaws the part which it wishes to sting. Then it lifts its body up on the hind legs, and swings its sting part under, so that it can drive the sting into the place held by the jaws. The sting does not do much harm to people, but will no doubt kill ants and other insects.
Ants make also a kind of juice called "ant acid." They can throw this about when the hill is disturbed. This acid must be pretty strong. It will make a dog sneeze and rub his nose. The ant uses it to keep dogs, mice, beetles, and such things, away from the ant-hill.
I have told you that some ants harm trees and plants by gnawing or cutting them. It is only fair now to tell you that ants help plants to grow. As they creep into flowers for honey, they carry about from flower to flower the dust or pollen which makes new seeds grow. This dust sticks to the ant's body, and what is taken from one flower is carried to another. Bees also carry pollen.
Thus, you see that the ants help the flowers, which in their turn give food to the ants. But, of course, the ants do not know what they are doing for the flowers. Nor do the bees know that they help the flowers. The bees and ants do not know that pollen sticks to them, to be carried about.
These lessons about the ant contain only a few of the many things that can be said of this insect. I hope you will like the ants well enough to get other books about them, and study and watch the ants for yourselves.
Behold! a giant am I!
Aloft here in my tower,
With my granite jaws I devour
The maize, and the wheat, and the rye,
And grind them into flour.
I look down over the farms;
In the fields of grain I see
The harvest that is to be,
And I fling to the air my arms,
For I know it is all for me.
I hear the sound of flails
Far off, from the threshing floors
In barns, with their open doors;
And the wind, the wind in my sails,
Louder and louder roars.
I stand here in my place,
With my foot on the rock below;
And whichever way it may blow,
I meet it face to face
As a brave man meets his foe.
And while we wrestle and strive,
My master, the miller, stands
And feeds me with his hands;
For he knows who makes him thrive,
Who makes him lord of lands.
On Sundays I take my rest;
Church-going bells begin
Their low, melodious din;
I cross my arms on my breast,
And all is peace within.
WEEK 38 |
Daniel iv: 1 to 37.
HIS is the story that King Nebuchadnezzar himself told to all the people in his great kingdom, of a strange dream that came to him, the meaning of the dream, as it was given by Daniel, and how the dream came true. He said, "Nebuchadnezzar the king sends this message to all the people, and nations, that live in all the world. May peace be given to you! It has seemed good to me to show you the signs and wonders that the Most High God has sent to me. His kingdom is without end, and his rule is from age to age forever!
"I, King Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, and was living at peace in my palace. One night a dream came to me which made me afraid, and my thoughts and my visions made me troubled in heart. I sent for all the wise men of Babylon to come before me, and to tell me the meaning of my dream. But they did not tell me what the meaning was because they could not. At last came Daniel, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and to him I said:
"O Daniel, master of the wise men, I know that in you is the spirit of the holy gods, and that no secret is hidden from you; now tell me what is the meaning of the dream that has come to me. This was the dream:
"I saw a tree standing upon the earth. It grew until the top of it reached up to heaven; and it was so great that it could be seen over all the earth. The leaves of it were beautiful, and its fruit was in plenty, and gave food for all. The beasts in the field stood in its shadow, and the birds of the heaven lived on its branches, and many people ate of its fruit.
"I saw in my dream that a Holy One came down from heaven. He cried aloud, and said:
"Then Daniel said to me, 'My lord, O king, may the dream be to those who hate you, and the meaning to your enemies! The tree which you saw, with green leaves, and rich fruit, and height reaching to heaven, and in sight of all the earth; that tree is yourself. You have become great; your power reaches up to heaven, and your rule is over all the lands.
"All this Daniel said to me, King Nebuchadnezzar; and it came to pass. Twelve months afterward I was walking in my kingly palace. I looked over the city, and said, 'Is not this great Babylon that I have built for my own royal home, by my power, and for my own glory?'
"While the word was in my mouth a voice fell from heaven, saying, 'O King Nebuchadnezzar, the word has been spoken, and your kingdom is gone from you!'
"And in that hour my reason left me, and another heart was given to me, the heart of a beast instead of the heart of a man. I was driven out of my palace, and lived among the beasts, and ate grass as oxen eat it; and my body was wet with the dew of heaven, until my hair was grown like eagles' feathers, and my nails like birds' claws.
Nebuchadnezzar's reason leaves him.
"And at the end of seven years my mind came back to me, and my reason returned. I blessed the king of heaven, and praised him that lives forever. My kingdom was given to me once more, my princes and rulers came to me again, and I was again the king over all the lands.
"Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and honor the king of heaven. His words are truth and his works are right; and those who walk in pride he is able to make humble."
This was the story of the seven years' madness of King Nebuchadnezzar, and of his reason and his power coming back to him again.
Restlessly the Rat wandered off once more, climbed the slope that rose gently from the north bank of the river, and lay looking out towards the great ring of Downs that barred his vision further southwards—his simple horizon hitherto, his Mountains of the Moon, his limit behind which lay nothing he had cared to see or to know. To-day, to him gazing South with a new-born need stirring in his heart, the clear sky over their long low outline seemed to pulsate with promise; to-day, the unseen was everything, the unknown the only real fact of life. On this side of the hills was now the real blank, on the other lay the crowded and coloured panorama that his inner eye was seeing so clearly. What seas lay beyond, green, leaping, and crested! What sun-bathed coasts, along which the white villas glittered against the olive woods! What quiet harbours, thronged with gallant shipping bound for purple islands of wine and spice, islands set low in languorous waters!
He rose and descended river-wards once more; then changed his mind and sought the side of the dusty lane. There, lying half-buried in the thick, cool under-hedge tangle that bordered it, he could muse on the metalled road and all the wondrous world that it led to; on all the wayfarers, too, that might have trodden it, and the fortunes and adventures they had gone to seek or found unseeking—out there, beyond—beyond!
Footsteps fell on his ear, and the figure of one that walked somewhat wearily came into view; and he saw that it was a Rat, and a very dusty one. The wayfarer, as he reached him, saluted with a gesture of courtesy that had something foreign about it—hesitated a moment—then with a pleasant smile turned from the track and sat down by his side in the cool herbage. He seemed tired, and the Rat let him rest unquestioned, understanding something of what was in his thoughts; knowing, too, the value all animals attach at times to mere silent companionship, when the weary muscles slacken and the mind marks time.
The wayfarer was lean and keen-featured, and somewhat bowed at the shoulders; his paws were thin and long, his eyes much wrinkled at the corners, and he wore small gold ear rings in his neatly-set well-shaped ears. His knitted jersey was of a faded blue, his breeches, patched and stained, were based on a blue foundation, and his small belongings that he carried were tied up in a blue cotton handkerchief.
When he had rested awhile the stranger sighed, snuffed the air, and looked about him.
"That was clover, that warm whiff on the breeze," he remarked; "and those are cows we hear cropping the grass behind us and blowing softly between mouthfuls. There is a sound of distant reapers, and yonder rises a blue line of cottage smoke against the woodland. The river runs somewhere close by, for I hear the call of a moorhen, and I see by your build that you're a freshwater mariner. Everything seems asleep, and yet going on all the time. It is a goodly life that you lead, friend; no doubt the best in the world, if only you are strong enough to lead it!"
"Yes, it's the life, the only life, to live," responded the Water Rat dreamily, and without his usual whole-hearted conviction.
"I did not say exactly that," replied the stranger cautiously; "but no doubt it's the best. I've tried it, and I know. And because I've just tried it—six months of it—and know it's the best, here am I, footsore and hungry, tramping away from it, tramping southward, following the old call, back to the old life, the life which is mine and which will not let me go."
"Is this, then, yet another of them?" mused the Rat. "And where have you just come from?" he asked. He hardly dared to ask where he was bound for; he seemed to know the answer only too well.
"Nice little farm," replied the wayfarer, briefly. "Upalong in that direction"—he nodded northwards. "Never mind about it. I had everything I could want—everything I had any right to expect of life, and more; and here I am! Glad to be here all the same, though, glad to be here! So many miles further on the road, so many hours nearer to my heart's desire!"
His shining eyes held fast to the horizon, and he seemed to be listening for some sound that was wanting from that inland acreage, vocal as it was with the cheerful music of pasturage and farmyard.
"You are not one of us," said the Water Rat, "nor yet a farmer; nor even, I should judge, of this country."
"Right," replied the stranger. "I'm a seafaring rat, I am, and the port I originally hail from is Constantinople, though I'm a sort of a foreigner there too, in a manner of speaking. You will have heard of Constantinople, friend? A fair city, and an ancient and glorious one. And you may have heard, too, of Sigurd, King of Norway, and how he sailed thither with sixty ships, and how he and his men rode up through streets all canopied in their honour with purple and gold; and how the Emperor and Empress came down and banqueted with him on board his ship. When Sigurd returned home, many of his Northmen remained behind and entered the Emperor's body-guard, and my ancestor, a Norwegian born, stayed behind too, with the ships that Sigurd gave the Emperor. Seafarers we have ever been, and no wonder; as for me, the city of my birth is no more my home than any pleasant port between there and the London River. I know them all, and they know me. Set me down on any of their quays or foreshores, and I am home again."
"I suppose you go great voyages," said the Water Rat with growing interest. "Months and months out of sight of land, and provisions running short, and allowanced as to water, and your mind communing with the mighty ocean, and all that sort of thing?"
"By no means," said the Sea Rat frankly. "Such a life as you describe would not suit me at all. I'm in the coasting trade, and rarely out of sight of land. It's the jolly times on shore that appeal to me, as much as any seafaring. O, those southern seaports! The smell of them, the riding-lights at night, the glamour!"
"Well, perhaps you have chosen the better way," said the Water Rat, but rather doubtfully. "Tell me something of your coasting, then, if you have a mind to, and what sort of harvest an animal of spirit might hope to bring home from it to warm his latter days with gallant memories by the fireside; for my life, I confess to you, feels to me to-day somewhat narrow and circumscribed."
"My last voyage," began the Sea Rat, "that landed me eventually in this country, bound with high hopes for my inland farm, will serve as a good example of any of them, and, indeed, as an epitome of my highly-coloured life. Family troubles, as usual, began it. The domestic storm-cone was hoisted, and I shipped myself on board a small trading vessel bound from Constantinople, by classic seas whose every wave throbs with a deathless memory, to the Grecian Islands and the Levant. Those were golden days and balmy nights! In and out of harbour all the time—old friends everywhere—sleeping in some cool temple or ruined cistern during the heat of the day—feasting and song after sundown, under great stars set in a velvet sky! Thence we turned and coasted up the Adriatic, its shores swimming in an atmosphere of amber, rose, and aquamarine; we lay in wide land-locked harbours, we roamed through ancient and noble cities, until at last one morning, as the sun rose royally behind us, we rode into Venice down a path of gold. O, Venice is a fine city, wherein a rat can wander at his ease and take his pleasure! Or, when weary of wandering, can sit at the edge of the Grand Canal at night, feasting with his friends, when the air is full of music and the sky full of stars, and the lights flash and shimmer on the polished steel prows of the swaying gondolas, packed so that you could walk across the canal on them from side to side! And then the food—do you like shell-fish? Well, well, we won't linger over that now."
He was silent for a time; and the Water Rat, silent too and enthralled, floated on dream-canals and heard a phantom song pealing high between vaporous grey wave-lapped walls.
"Southwards we sailed again at last," continued the Sea Rat, "coasting down the Italian shore, till finally we made Palermo, and there I quitted for a long, happy spell on shore. I never stick too long to one ship; one gets narrow-minded and prejudiced. Besides, Sicily is one of my happy hunting-grounds. I know everybody there, and their ways just suit me. I spent many jolly weeks in the island, staying with friends upcountry. When I grew restless again I took advantage of a ship that was trading to Sardinia and Corsica; and very glad I was to feel the fresh breeze and the sea-spray in my face once more."
"But isn't it very hot and stuffy, down in the—hold, I think you call it?" asked the Water Rat.
The seafarer looked at him with the suspicion of a wink. "I'm an old hand," he remarked with much simplicity. "The captain's cabin's good enough for me."
"It's a hard life, by all accounts," murmured the Rat, sunk in deep thought.
"It's a hard life, by all accounts," murmured the Rat.
"For the crew it is," replied the seafarer gravely, again with the ghost of a wink.
"From Corsica," he went on, "I made use of a ship that was taking wine to the mainland. We made Alassio in the evening, lay to, hauled up our wine-casks, and hove them overboard, tied one to the other by a long line. Then the crew took to the boats and rowed shorewards, singing as they went, and drawing after them the long bobbing procession of casks, like a mile of porpoises. On the sands they had horses waiting, which dragged the casks up the steep street of the little town with a fine rush and clatter and scramble. When the last cask was in, we went and refreshed and rested, and sat late into the night, drinking with our friends, and next morning I took to the great olive-woods for a spell and a rest. For now I had done with islands for the time, and ports and shipping were plentiful; so I led a lazy life among the peasants, lying and watching them work, or stretched high on the hillside with the blue Mediterranean far below me. And so at length, by easy stages, and partly on foot, partly by sea, to Marseilles, and the meeting of old shipmates, and the visiting of great ocean-bound vessels, and feasting once more. Talk of shell-fish! Why, sometimes I dream of the shell-fish of Marseilles, and wake up crying!"
"I love you, mother," said little John.
Then, forgetting his work, his cap went on,
And he was off to the garden swing,
And left her the water and wood to bring.
"I love you, mother," said rosy Nell—
"I love you more than tongue can tell."
But she teased and pouted full half the day
Till her mother was glad when she went to play.
"I love you, mother," said little Fan;
"To-day I'll help you all I can;
How glad I am that school doesn't keep."
So she rocked the baby till it fell asleep.
Then slipping softly she took the broom
And swept the floor and dusted the room.
Busy and happy all the day was she,
Helpful and cheerful as a child should be.
"I love you, mother," again they said,
Three little children going to bed.
How do you think that mother guessed
Which of them really loved her best?