WEEK 45 |
T HE snow was lying so high around the hut that the windows looked level with the ground, and the door had entirely disappeared from view. If Alm-Uncle had been up there he would have had to do what Peter did daily, for fresh snow fell every night. Peter had to get out of the window of the sitting-room every morning, and if the frost had not been very hard during the night, he immediately sank up to his shoulders almost in the snow and had to struggle with hands, feet, and head to extricate himself. Then his mother handed him the large broom, and with this he worked hard to make a way to the door. He had to be careful to dig the snow well away, or else as soon as the door was opened the whole soft mass would fall inside, or, if the frost was severe enough, it would have made such a wall of ice in front of the house that no one could have gone in or out, for the window was only big enough for Peter to creep through. The fresh snow froze like this in the night sometimes, and this was an enjoyable time for Peter, for he would get through the window on to the hard, smooth, frozen ground, and his mother would hand him out the little sleigh, and he could then make his descent to Dörfli along any route he chose, for the whole mountain was nothing but one wide, unbroken sleigh road.
Alm-Uncle had kept his word and was not spending the winter in his old home. As soon as the first snow began to fall, he had shut up the hut and the outside buildings and gone down to Dörfli with Heidi and the goats. Near the church was a straggling half-ruined building, which had once been the house of a person of consequence. A distinguished soldier had lived there at one time; he had taken service in Spain and had there performed many brave deeds and gathered much treasure. When he returned home to Dörfli he spent part of his booty in building a fine house, with the intention of living in it. But he had been too long accustomed to the noise and bustle of arms and the world to care for a quiet country life, and he soon went off again, and this time did not return. When after many long years it seemed certain that he was dead, a distant relative took possession of the house, but it had already fallen into disrepair, and he had no wish to rebuild it. So it was let to poor people, who paid but a small rent, and when any part of the building fell it was allowed to remain. This had now gone on for many years. As long ago as when his son Tobias was a child Alm-Uncle had rented the tumble-down old place. Since then it had stood empty, for no one could stay in it who had not some idea of how to stop up the holes and gaps and make it habitable. Otherwise the wind and rain and snow blew into the rooms, so that it was impossible even to keep a candle alight, and the indwellers would have been frozen to death during the long cold winters. Alm-Uncle, however, knew how to mend matters. As soon as he made up his mind to spend the winter in Dörfli, he rented the old place and worked during the autumn to get it sound and tight. In the middle of October he and Heidi took up their residence there.
On approaching the house from the back one came first into an open space with a wall on either side, of which one was half in ruins. Above this rose the arch of an old window thickly overgrown with ivy, which spread over the remains of a domed roof that had evidently been part of a chapel. A large hall came next, which lay open, without doors, to the square outside. Here also walls and roof only partially remained, and indeed what was left of the roof looked as if it might fall at any minute had it not been for two stout pillars that supported it. Alm-Uncle had here put up a wooden partition and covered the floor with straw, for this was to be the goats' house. Endless passages led from this, through the rents of which the sky, as well as the fields and the road outside, could be seen at intervals; but at last one came to a stout oak door that led into a room that still stood intact. Here the walls and the dark wainscoting remained as good as ever, and in the corner was an immense stove reaching nearly to the ceiling, on the white tiles of which were painted large pictures in blue. These represented old castles surrounded with trees, and huntsmen riding out with their hounds; or else a quiet lake scene, with broad oak trees and a man fishing. A seat ran all round the stove so that one could sit at one's ease and study the pictures. These attracted Heidi's attention at once, and she had no sooner arrived with her grandfather than she ran and seated herself and began to examine them. But when she had gradually worked herself round to the back, something else diverted her attention. In the large space between the stove and the wall four planks had been put together as if to make a large receptacle for apples; there were no apples, however, inside, but something Heidi had no difficulty in recognising, for it was her very own bed, with its hay mattress and sheets, and sack for a coverlid, just as she had it up at the hut. Heidi clapped her hands for joy and exclaimed, "O grandfather, this is my room, how nice! But where are you going to sleep?"
"Your room must be near the stove or you will freeze," he replied, "but you can come and see mine too."
Heidi got down and skipped across the large room after her grandfather, who opened a door at the farther end leading into a smaller one which was to be his bedroom. Then came another door. Heidi pushed it open and stood amazed, for here was an immense room like a kitchen, larger than anything of the kind that Heidi had seen before. There was still plenty of work for the grandfather before this room could be finished, for there were holes and cracks in the walls through which the wind whistled, and yet he had already nailed up so many new planks that it looked as if a lot of small cupboards had been set up round the room. He had, however, made the large old door safe with many screws and nails, as a protection against the outside air, and this was very necessary, for just beyond was a mass of ruined buildings overgrown with tall weeds, which made a dwelling-place for endless beetles and lizards.
Heidi was very delighted with her new home, and by the morning after their arrival she knew every nook and corner so thoroughly that she could take Peter over it and show him all that was to be seen; indeed she would not let him go till he had examined every single wonderful thing contained in it.
Heidi slept soundly in her corner by the stove; but every morning when she first awoke she still thought she was on the mountain, and that she must run outside at once to see if the fir trees were so quiet because their branches were weighed down with the thick snow. She had to look about her for some minutes before she felt quite sure where she was, and a certain sensation of trouble and oppression would come over her as she grew aware that she was not at home in the hut. But then she would hear her grandfather's voice outside, attending to the goats, and these would give one or two loud bleats, as if calling to her to make haste and go to them, and then Heidi was happy again, for she knew she was still at home, and she would jump gladly out of bed and run out to the animals as quickly as she could. On the fourth morning, as soon as she saw her grandfather, she said, "I must go up to see grandmother to-day; she ought not to be alone so long."
But the grandfather would not agree to this. "Neither to-day nor to-morrow can you go," he said; "the mountain is covered fathom-deep in snow, and the snow is still falling; the sturdy Peter can hardly get along. A little creature like you would soon be smothered by it, and we should not be able to find you again. Wait a bit till it freezes, then you will be able to walk over the hard snow."
Heidi did not like the thought of having to wait, but the days were so busy that she hardly knew how they went by.
Heidi now went to school in Dörfli every morning and afternoon, and eagerly set to work to learn all that was taught her. She hardly ever saw Peter there, for as a rule he was absent. The teacher was an easygoing man who merely remarked now and then, "Peter is not turning up to-day again, it seems, but there is a lot of snow up on the mountain and I daresay he cannot get along." Peter, however, always seemed able to make his way through the snow in the evening when school was over, and he then generally paid Heidi a visit.
At last, after some days, the sun again appeared and shone brightly over the white ground, but he went to bed again behind the mountains at a very early hour, as if he did not find such pleasure in looking down on the earth as when everything was green and flowery. But then the moon came out clear and large and lit up the great white snowfield all through the night, and the next morning the whole mountain glistened and sparkled like a huge crystal. When Peter got out of his window as usual, he was taken by surprise, for instead of sinking into the soft snow he fell on the hard ground and went sliding some way down the mountain-side like a sleigh before he could stop himself. He picked himself up and tested the hardness of the ground by stamping on it and trying with all his might to dig his heels into it, but even then he could not break off a single little splinter of ice; the Alm was frozen hard as iron. This was just what Peter had been hoping for, as he knew now that Heidi would be able to come up to them. He quickly got back into the house, swallowed the milk which his mother had put ready for him, thrust a piece of bread in his pocket, and said, "I must be off to school." "That's right, go and learn all you can," said the grandmother encouragingly. Peter crept through the window again—the door was quite blocked by the frozen snow outside—pulling his little sleigh after him, and in another minute was shooting down the mountain.
He went like lightning, and when he reached Dörfli, which stood on the direct road to Mayenfeld, he made up his mind to go on further, for he was sure he could not stop his rapid descent without hurting himself and the sleigh too. So down he still went till he reached the level ground, where the sleigh came to a pause of its own accord. Then he got out and looked round. The impetus with which he had made his journey down had carried him some little way beyond Mayenfeld. He bethought himself that it was too late to get to school now, as lessons would already have begun, and it would take him a good hour to walk back to Dörfli. So he might take his time about returning, which he did, and reached Dörfli just as Heidi had got home from school and was sitting at dinner with her grandfather. Peter walked in, and as on this occasion he had something particular to communicate, he began without a pause, exclaiming as he stood still in the middle of the room, "She's got it now."
"Got it? what?" asked the Uncle. "Your words sound quite warlike, general."
"The frost," explained Peter.
"Oh! then now I can go and see grandmother!" said Heidi joyfully, for she had understood Peter's words at once. "But why were you not at school then? You could have come down in the sleigh," she added reproachfully, for it did not agree with Heidi's ideas of good behavior to stay away when it was possible to be there.
"It carried me on too far and I was too late," Peter replied.
"I call that being a deserter," said the Uncle, "and deserters get their ears pulled, as you know."
Peter gave a tug to his cap in alarm, for there was no one of whom he stood in so much awe as Alm-Uncle.
"And an army leader like yourself ought to be doubly ashamed of running away," continued Alm-Uncle. "What would you think of your goats if one went off this way and another that, and refused to follow and do what was good for them? What would you do then?"
"I should beat them," said Peter promptly.
"And if a boy behaved like these unruly goats, and he got a beating for it, what would you say then?"
"Serve him right," was the answer.
"Good, then understand this: next time you let your sleigh carry you past the school when you ought to be inside at your lessons, come on to me afterwards and receive what you deserve."
Peter now understood the drift of the old man's questions and that he was the boy who behaved like the unruly goats, and he looked somewhat fearfully towards the corner to see if anything happened to be there such as he used himself on such occasions for the punishment of his animals.
But now the grandfather suddenly said in a cheerful voice, "Come and sit down and have something, and afterwards Heidi shall go with you. Bring her back this evening and you will find supper waiting for you here."
This unexpected turn of conversation set Peter grinning all over with delight. He obeyed without hesitation and took his seat beside Heidi. But the child could not eat any more in her excitement at the thought of going to see grandmother. She pushed the potatoes and toasted cheese which still stood on her plate towards him while Uncle was filling his plate from the other side, so that he had quite a pile of food in front of him, but he attacked it without any lack of courage. Heidi ran to the cupboard and brought out the warm cloak Clara had sent her; with this on and the hood drawn over her head, she was all ready for her journey. She stood waiting beside Peter, and as soon as his last mouthful had disappeared she said, "Come along now." As the two walked together Heidi had much to tell Peter of her two goats that had been so unhappy the first day in their new stall that they would not eat anything, but stood hanging their heads, not even rousing themselves to bleat. And when she asked her grandfather the reason of this, he told her it was with them as with her in Frankfurt, for it was the first time in their lives they had come down from the mountain. "And you don't know what that is, Peter, unless you have felt it yourself," added Heidi.
The children had nearly reached their destination before Peter opened his mouth; he appeared to be so sunk in thought that he hardly heard what was said to him. As they neared home, however, he stood still and said in a somewhat sullen voice, "I had rather go to school even than get what Uncle threatened."
Heidi was of the same mind, and encouraged him in his good intention. They found Brigitta sitting alone knitting, for the grandmother was not very well and had to stay the day in bed on account of the cold. Heidi had never before missed the old figure in her place in the corner, and she ran quickly into the next room. There lay grandmother on her little poorly covered bed, wrapped up in her warm gray shawl.
"Thank God," she exclaimed as Heidi came running in; the poor old woman had had a secret fear at heart all through the autumn, especially if Heidi was absent for any length of time, for Peter had told her of a strange gentleman who had come from Frankfurt, and who had gone out with them and always talked to Heidi, and she had felt sure he had come to take her away again. Even when she heard he had gone off alone, she still had an idea that a messenger would be sent over from Frankfurt to fetch the child. Heidi went up to the side of the bed and said, "Are you very ill, grandmother?"
"No, no, child," answered the old woman reassuringly, passing her hand lovingly over the child's head, "It's only the frost that has got into my bones a bit."
"Shall you be quite well then directly it turns warm again?"
"Yes, God willing, or even before that, for I want to get back to my spinning; I thought perhaps I should do a little to-day, but to-morrow I am sure to be all right again." The old woman had detected that Heidi was frightened and was anxious to set her mind at ease.
Her words comforted Heidi, who had in truth been greatly distressed, for she had never before seen the grandmother ill in bed. She now looked at the old woman seriously for a minute or two, and then said, "In Frankfurt everybody puts on a shawl to go out walking; did you think it was to be worn in bed, grandmother?"
"I put it on, dear child, to keep myself from freezing, and I am so pleased with it, for my bedclothes are not very thick," she answered.
"But, grandmother," continued Heidi, "your bed is not right, because it goes downhill at your head instead of uphill."
"I know it, child, I can feel it," and the grandmother put up her hand to the thin flat pillow, which was little more than a board under her head, to make herself more comfortable; "the pillow was never very thick, and I have lain on it now for so many years that it has grown quite flat."
"Oh, if only I had asked Clara to let me take away my Frankfurt bed," said Heidi. "I had three large pillows, one above the other, so that I could hardly sleep, and I used to slip down to try and find a flat place, and then I had to pull myself up again, because it was proper to sleep there like that. Could you sleep like that, grandmother?"
"Oh, yes! the pillows keep one warm, and it is easier to breathe when the head is high," answered the grandmother, wearily raising her head as she spoke as if trying to find a higher resting-place. "But we will not talk about that, for I have so much that other old sick people are without for which I thank God; there is the nice bread I get every day, and this warm wrap, and your visits, Heidi. Will you read me something to-day?"
Heidi ran into the next room to fetch the hymn book. Then she picked out the favorite hymns one after another, for she knew them all by heart now, as pleased as the grandmother to hear them again after so many days. The grandmother lay with folded hands, while a smile of peace stole over the worn, troubled face, like one to whom good news has been brought.
Suddenly Heidi paused. "Grandmother, are you feeling quite well again already?"
"Yes, child, I have grown better while listening to you; read it to the end."
The child read on, and when she came to the last words:
"As the eyes grow dim, and darkness
Closes round, the soul grows clearer,
Sees the goal to which it travels,
Gladly feels its home is nearer."
the grandmother repeated them once or twice to herself, with a look of happy expectation on her face. And Heidi took equal pleasure in them, for the picture of the beautiful sunny day of her return home rose before her eyes, and she exclaimed joyfully, "Grandmother, I know exactly what it is like to go home." The old woman did not answer, but she had heard Heidi's words, and the expression that had made the child think she was better remained on her face.
A little later Heidi said, "It is growing dark and I must go home; I am glad to think, that you are quite well again."
The grandmother took the child's hand in hers and held it closely. "Yes," she said, "I feel quite happy again; even if I have to go on lying here, I am content. No one knows what it is to lie here alone day after day, in silence and darkness, without hearing a voice or seeing a ray of light. Sad thoughts come over me, and I do not feel sometimes as if I could bear it any longer or as if it could ever be light again. But when you come and read those words to me, then I am comforted and my heart rejoices once more."
Then she let the child go, and Heidi ran into the next room, and bid Peter come quickly, for it had now grown quite dark. But when they got outside they found the moon shining down on the white snow and everything as clear as in the daylight. Peter got his sleigh, put Heidi at the back, he himself sitting in front to guide, and down the mountain they shot like two birds darting through the air.
Down the mountain they shot like two birds darting through the air.
When Heidi was lying that night on her high bed of hay she thought of the grandmother on her low pillow, and of all she had said about the light and comfort that awoke in her when she heard the hymns, and she thought: if I could read to her every day, then I should go on making her better. But she knew that it would be a week, if not two, before she would be able to go up the mountain again. This was a thought of great trouble to Heidi, and she tried hard to think of some way which would enable the grandmother to hear the words she loved every day. Suddenly an idea struck her, and she was so delighted with it that she could hardly bear to wait for morning, so eager was she to begin carrying out her plan. All at once she sat upright in her bed, for she had been so busy with her thoughts that she had forgotten to say her prayers, and she never now finished her day without saying them.
When she had prayed with all her heart for herself, her grandfather and grandmother, she lay back again on the warm soft hay and slept soundly and peacefully till morning broke.
I N England there was once a famous abbey, called Whitby. It was so close to the sea that those who lived in it could hear the waves forever beating against the shore. The land around it was rugged, with only a few fields in the midst of a vast forest.
In those far-off days, an abbey was half church, half castle. It was a place where good people, and timid, helpless people could find shelter in time of war. There they might live in peace and safety while all the country round was overrun by rude and barbarous men.
One cold night in winter the serving men of the abbey were gathered in the great kitchen. They were sitting around the fire and trying to keep themselves warm.
Out of doors the wind was blowing. The men heard it as it whistled through the trees and rattled the doors of the abbey. They drew up closer to the fire and felt thankful that they were safe from the raging storm.
"Who will sing us a song?" said the master woodman as he threw a fresh log upon the fire.
"Yes, a song! a song!" shouted some of the others. "Let us have a good old song that will help to keep us warm."
"We can all be minstrels
"Agreed! agreed!" cried the others. "And the cook shall begin."
The woodman stirred the fire until the flames leaped high and the sparks flew out of the roof hole. Then the chief cook began his song. He sang of war, and of bold rough deeds, and of love and sorrow.
After him the other men were called, one by one; and each in turn sang his favorite song. The woodman sang of the wild forest; the plowman sang of the fields; the shepherd sang of his sheep; and those who listened forgot about the storm and the cold weather.
But in the corner, almost hidden from his fellows, one poor man was sitting who did not enjoy the singing. It was Caedmon, the cowherd.
"What shall I do when it comes my turn?" he said to himself. "I do not know any song. My voice is harsh and I cannot sing."
So he sat there trembling and afraid; for he was a timid, bashful man and did not like to be noticed.
At last, just as the blacksmith was in the midst of a stirring song, he rose quietly and went out into the darkness. He went across the narrow yard to the sheds where the cattle were kept in stormy weather.
"The gentle cows will not ask a song of me," said the poor man. He soon found a warm corner, and there he lay down, covering himself with the straw.
Inside of the great kitchen, beside the fire, the men were shouting and laughing; for the blacksmith had finished his song, and it was very pleasing.
"Who is next?" asked the woodman.
"Caedmon, the keeper of the cows," answered the chief cook.
"Yes, Caedmon! Caedmon!" all shouted together. "A song from Caedmon!" But when they looked, they saw that his seat was vacant.
"The poor, timid fellow!" said the blacksmith. "He was afraid and has slipped away from us."
In his safe, warm place in the straw, Caedmon soon fell asleep. All around him were the cows of the abbey, some chewing their cuds, and others like their master quietly sleeping. The singing in the kitchen was ended, the fire had burned low, and each man had gone to his place.
Then Caedmon had a strange dream. He thought that a wonderful light
was shining around him. His eyes were dazzled by it. He rubbed them
with his hands, and when they were quite open he thought that he saw
a beautiful face looking down upon him, and that a gentle voice
"Caedmon, sing for me."
At first he was so bewildered that he could not answer. Then he heard the voice again.
"Caedmon, sing something."
"Oh, I cannot sing," answered the poor man." I do not know any song; and my voice is harsh and unpleasant. It was for this reason that I left my fellows in the abbey kitchen and came here to be alone."
"But you must sing," said the voice. "You must sing."
"What shall I sing?" he asked.
"Sing of the creation," was the answer.
Then Caedmon, with only the cows as his hearers, opened his mouth and began to sing. He sang of the beginning of things; how the world was made; how the sun and moon came into being; how the land rose from the water; how the birds and the beasts were given life.
All through the night he sat among the abbey cows, and sang his wonderful song. When the stable boys and shepherds came out in the morning, they heard him singing; and they were so amazed that they stood still in the drifted snow and listened with open mouths.
At length, others of the servants heard him, and were entranced by his wonderful song. And one ran quickly and told the good abbess, or mistress of the abbey, what strange thing had happened.
"Bring the cowherd hither, that I and those who are with me may hear him," said she.
So Caedmon was led into the great hall of the abbey. And all of the
"Surely," said the abbess, "this is a poem, most sweet, most true, most beautiful. It must be written down so that people in other places and in other times may hear it read and sung."
So she called her clerk, who was a scholar, and bade him write the song, word for word, as it came from Caedmon's lips. And this he did.
Such was the way in which the first true English poem was written. And Caedmon, the poor cowherd of the abbey, was the first great poet of England.
The splendor falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story:
The long light shakes across the lakes
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes dying, dying, dying.
O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going!
O sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes dying, dying, dying.
O love they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field, or river:
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow forever and forever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.
WEEK 45 |
HEN Edward III. was made king in
When Edward was eighteen he resolved that he would no longer be king in name only. He took the Earl of March prisoner, tried him for the wicked things he had done, and condemned him to death.
Queen Isabella he shut up in a castle, and would not allow her to rule the kingdom any more. But he gave her money to spend, and he went to visit her once every year.
King Edward then really began to reign. He made peace with France, and, I am sorry to say, war again with Scotland. But after fighting there for some time he left Scotland, and began to fight again with France.
The war which now began is called
the "Hundred Years' War," because it lasted,
with times of peace between, for a
hundred years. It began because Edward said that
he had a
right to be King of France as well as King of England. He
said this was so because his mother, Queen Isabella, was the
sister of King
The first great fight was at sea. Edward sailed from England with a fleet of about three hundred ships. As he came near to Sluys, a town in Flanders, he saw such a number of masts that it seemed as if a forest had come sailing out to sea.
"What ships are these?" said King Edward to the captain of his vessel.
"They are the ships of the King of France," replied the captain. "They have oftentime plundered your coasts. They lately burned the town of Southampton and took your good ship the Christopher."
"Ah, I have long wished to meet them," replied the King. "Now, please God and St. George, we will fight them; for in truth they have done me so much mischief, I will be revenged upon them if possible."
Edward's wife, Queen Philippa, was at Ghent, and Edward had many ladies on board who were going to join her there. So he arranged his vessels with great care, for he knew that the French had far more men and ships than he had. He put the ladies in the safest place, and guarded them carefully with a large body of archers and soldiers.
As the sun and wind were both against Edward, he lowered his sails and moved round so that the sun should be behind him. The French seeing this thought that he was afraid, and that he was running away. They had been waiting for the English in strong battle array. All their ships were fastened together with heavy chains so as to make it impossible for the English ships to break through their lines. Seeing the English flee, as they thought, the French unfastened the chains and made ready to pursue.
As the royal standard floated from the masthead the French knew that the King of England was with his fleet, and they hoped to take him prisoner. They filled the Christopher, the ship which they had taken from the English, with trumpeters and drummers and, to the sound of music and shouting, sent it to attack the English.
But the English won their own ship back again, and amid great cheering manned it with Englishmen once more.
The battle was fierce and terrible. The English were often in great danger, for the French were much the stronger, but when the battle was over there were very few Frenchmen left, and most of their ships were sunk or destroyed.
It was such a dreadful defeat that no one dared tell the King of France about it.
At last his court fool told him.
In those days great people always had some one near to amuse them by making jokes, and by laughing at everything. He was called a fool, although sometimes he was very wise and witty. But because he was called a fool he was allowed to say what he liked, and no one was angry with him.
"The English are great cowards," said the French king's fool to him one day.
"Why so?" asked the King.
"Because they have not the courage to jump into the sea and be drowned, like the French at Sluys," replied the fool.
In this way King Philip was told of the loss of all his ships, and his anger was so terrible that even his fool fled from him in fear.
T WO trees stood well up on one side of Holiday Hill. Because of their shapes, they were called the Vase and the Plume. They were both the kind of tree that is known as the American Elm.
Other kinds of elm trees grow in America, too; but the name "American" has been given to the largest and most beautiful species we have in this country.
Years ago these trees were favorites with the people who came from England to settle in New England. Perhaps the newcomers brought with them an affection for elms because of the lovely elms of a different sort that they had left behind them across the sea.
So, to-day the branches of American elms meet in shady arches over the streets in some of our oldest cities. And their tall, straight trunks stand like stately columns before many of the oldest homes that white men built in our land.
Old city streets and old dooryards are likely places to find such elm trees because they have been put there by the hands of men. But for countless centuries before men planted them, elm trees grew in rich soil near rivers. They grew, too, on hillsides, as they still do, in places where the ground is moistened by spring water. The wind scattered their seeds for them.
Elm seeds take fluttery journeys by air
An elm seed has a flat thin circular wrapper and a slender stem. The wrapper is green with a white fuzzy fringe around the edge. It is notched at one end.
Besides the brisk voyages which the breezes give the seeds, there are other ways in which the wind is helpful to elm trees. It even carries pollen for them.
As you know, pollen is needed by flowering plants. Their seeds cannot live without it. It forms on parts of the flowers that are called anthers. It is the duty of the dusty pollen to leave the anthers of one flower and find the sticky stigma in another flower. When a pollen grain reaches a ripe stigma, it grows like a tiny root and joins the seed to make it live.
Many kinds of plants have flowers with fragrance that insects can smell, colors that insects can see, and nectar that insects can drink. Such plants do not need wind to carry their pollen for them. Small messengers with wings attend to that ceremony.
Some kinds of plants, however, depend on wind at pollen times. Elms hang their anthers, like fringes, from their clustered blossoms. They swing in the air, and the breezes take the pollen and carry it away. Some of it is blown to other blossoming elm trees where the stigmas catch and use the grains of living dust.
Each spring the elm trees give their flowers the first right of way. The sap of growth rises and runs to the tip of every twig. But the leaves must all wait until the flowers have had their chance. If the leaves grew first, they would block the pollen traffic. Then the pollen grains would bump against the leaves and have accidents that would divert them from the direct air route from Station Anther to Station Stigma.
The trees cannot turn on red signal lights as warnings to the leaves that they must stop and wait before they cross the stage from brown buds to broad green bowers. But they have a strong law of nature that the leaves obey.
So it happened that the flowers on the Vase and the Plume had the branches and the breezes to themselves for a while. They were green and red and purple and they grew in pretty clusters. They gave the Vase the look of an enormous fountain with the branches and twigs for streams and sprays, and the flowers for mist. And they made the Plume seem very feathery indeed.
Flower clusters of an elm tree
The days of the blossoms passed; and the flat-rimmed seeds had their turn with the wind; and at last the leaves unfolded.
Among the spring guests of the Vase and the Plume, were certain insects that selected their house lots there.
When one of these tapped the growing leaf with its beak, mysterious changes took place. On the flat green leafy door-yard, a marvelous little castle appeared.
If you should ask a scientist about such a structure, he would tell you, "That is a gall caused by an aphid." But a poet has said, "There is never a leaf nor a blade too mean to be some happy creature's palace!"
An elm-leaf palace
One day in May a gorgeous bird came to the Vase. His colors were black and flaming orange with some white and yellow. His early morning song sounded like a loud clear musical call.
It may, indeed, have been a call. He had arrived in the North ahead of his mate. Perhaps she heard his voice as soon as she flew near Holiday Hill.
This much is certain—a pair of orioles had their nest fastened to a bough of the Vase that summer, and the wind rocked the baby birds while they were in their cradle.
The oriole's cradle
Of all the guests that came to the Vase or the Plume, none was lovelier than Violet Tip. Who she was and what she did are related in another chapter. There is not really room in this one to tell even the names of all the visitors who used these trees for their summer camps. Nor were their boughs deserted during the winter.
In the fall the ripe leaves turned yellow and fluttered away—near or far, according to the strength of the gusty winds that scattered them. But hundreds of thousands of infant leaf buds remained—all bundled in shiny brown scales that they wore for winter suits. And near the spots where the stems of the old yellow leaves had let go their hold on the twigs, were the buds of next spring's flowers tucked close and snug in similar brown scales.
At last the Vase and the Plume were ready for their long winter rest. No butterfly floated near. No aphids dwelt in leafy palaces. But here and there, in one or another sheltering crevice, an insect slept—as egg or pupa or hibernating larva.
The orioles, old and young, were far away in some warm southern place. But hardier birds visited the elms. Woodpeckers tapped hopefully against the bark. On many a frosty morning, too, a little black-capped bird came to hunt for insect eggs for breakfast. He tilted this way and that among the twigs, like a performing acrobat. And the Chick‑a‑dee Song of this small bird was the cheeriest sound that could be heard on Holiday Hill in winter.
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all Heaven in a rage.
A dove house fill'd with doves and pigeons
Shudders Hell thro' all its regions.
A dog starv'd at his master's gate
Predicts the ruin of the state.
A horse misus'd upon the road
Calls to Heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare
A fibre from the brain does tear.
A skylark wounded in the wing,
A Cherubim does cease to sing.
The game cock clipp'd and arm'd for fight
Does the rising Sun affright.
Every wolf's and lion's howl
Raises from Hell a human soul.
He who respects the infant's faith
Triumphs over Hell and Death.
The child's toys and the old man's reasons
Are the fruits of the two seasons.
The questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to reply.
He who replies to words of doubt
Doth put the light of Knowledge out.
WEEK 45 |
October, the superb month for one who loves the forest, found me again in the same woods, this time not to watch and, learn, but to follow the big buck to his death. Old Wally was ahead of me; but the falling leaves had done their work well. The deer had left the pond at his approach. Here and there on the ridges I found their tracks, and saw them at a distance, shy, wild, alert, ready to take care of themselves in any emergency. The big buck led them everywhere. Already his spirit, grown keen in long battle against his enemies, dominated them all. Even the fawns had learned fear, and followed it as their salvation.
Then began the most fascinating experience that comes to one who haunts the woods—the first, thrilling, glorious days of the still-hunter's schooling, with the frost-colored October woods for a schoolroom, and Nature herself for the all-wise teacher. Daylight found me far afield, while the heavy mists hung low and the night smells still clung to the first fallen leaves, moving swift and silent through the chill fragrant mistiness of the lowlands, eye and ear alert for every sign, and face set to the heights where the deer were waiting. Noon found me miles away on the hills, munching my crust thankfully in a sunny opening of the woods, with a brook's music tinkling among the mossy stones at my feet, and the gorgeous crimson and green and gold of the hillside stretching down and away, like a vast Oriental rug of a giant's weaving, to the flash and blue gleam of the distant sea. And everywhere—Nature's last subtle touches to her picture—the sense of a filmy veil let down ere the end was reached, a soft haze on the glowing hilltops, a sheen as of silver mist along the stream in the valley, a fleecy light-shot cloud on the sea, to suggest more, and more beautiful, beyond the veil.
Evening found me hurrying homeward through the short twilight, along silent wood roads from which the birds had departed, breathing deep of the pure air with its pungent tang of ripened leaves, sniffing the first night smells, listening now for the yap of a fox, now for the distant bay of a dog to guide me in a short cut over the hills to where my room in the old farmhouse was waiting.
It mattered little that, far behind me (though not so far from where the trail ended), the big buck began his twilight wandering along the ridges, sniffing alertly at the vanishing scent of the man on his feeding ground. The best things that a hunter brings home are in his heart, not in his game bag; and a free deer meant another long glorious day following him through the October woods, making the tyro's mistakes, to be sure, but feeling also the tyro's thrill and the tyro's wonder, and the consciousness of growing power and skill to read in a new language the secrets that the moss and leaves hide so innocently.
There was so much to note and learn and remember in those days! A bit of moss with that curiously measured angular cut in it, as if the wood folk had taken to studying Euclid,—how wonderful it was at first! The deer had been here; his foot drew that sharp triangle; and I must measure and feel it carefully, and press aside the moss, and study the leaves, to know whether it were my big buck or no, and how long since he had passed, and whether he were feeding or running or just nosing about and watching the valley below. And all that is much to learn from a tiny triangle in the moss, with imaginary a, b, c's clinging to the dried moss blossoms.
How careful one had to be! Every shift of wind, every cloud shadow had to be noted. The lesson of a dewdrop, splashed from a leaf in the early morning; the testimony of a crushed flower, or a broken brake, or a bending grass blade; the counsel of a bit of bark frayed from a birch tree, with a shred of deer-velvet clinging to it,—all these were vastly significant and interesting. Every copse and hiding place and cathedral aisle of the big woods in front must be searched with quiet eyes far ahead, as one glided silently from tree to tree. That depression in the gray moss of a fir thicket, with two others near it—three deer lay down there last night; no, this morning; no, scarcely an hour ago, and the dim traces along the ridge show no sign of hurry or alarm. So I move on, following surely the trail that, only a few days since, would have been invisible as the trail of a fish in the lake to my unschooled eyes, searching, searching everywhere for dim forms gliding among the trees, till—a scream, a whistle, a rush away! And I know that the bluejay, which has been gliding after me curiously the last ten minutes,—has fathomed my intentions and flown ahead to alarm the deer, which are now bounding away for denser cover.
I brush ahead heedlessly, knowing that caution here only wastes time, and study the fresh trail where the quarry jumped away in alarm. Straight down the wind it goes. Cunning old buck! He has no idea what Bluejay's alarm was about, but a warning, whether of crow or jay or tainted wind or snapping twig, is never lost on the wood folk. Now as he bounds along, cleaving the woods like a living bolt, yet stopping short every hundred yards or so to whirl and listen and sort the messages that the wood wires bring to him, he is perfectly sure of himself and his little flock, knowing that if danger follow down wind, his own nose will tell him all about it. I glance at the sun; only another hour of light, and I am six miles from home. I glance at the jay, flitting about restlessly in a mixture of mischief and curiosity, whistling his too-loo-loo loudly as a sign to the fleeing game that I am right here and that he sees me. Then I take up the back trail, planning another day.
So the days went by, one after another; the big buck, aided by his friends the birds, held his own against my craft and patience. He grew more wild and alert with every hunt, and kept so far ahead of me that only once, before the snow blew, did I have even the chance of stalking him, and then the cunning old fellow foiled me again masterfully.
Old Wally was afield too; but, so far as I could read from the woods' record, he fared no better than I on the trail of the buck. Once, when I knew my game was miles ahead, I heard the long-drawn whang of Wally's old gun across a little valley. Presently the brush began to crackle, and a small doe came jumping among the trees straight towards me. Within thirty feet she saw me, caught herself at the top of her jump, came straight down, and stood an instant as if turned to stone, with a spruce branch bending over to hide her from my eyes. Then, when I moved not, having no desire to kill a doe but only to watch the beautiful creature, she turned, glided a few steps, and went bounding away along the ridge.
Old Wally came in a little while, not following the trail,—he had no skill nor patience for that,—but with a woodsman's instinct following up the general direction of his game. Not far from where the doe had first appeared he stopped, looked all around keenly, then rested his hands on the end of his long gun barrel, and put his chin on his hands.
"Drat it all! Never tetched 'im again. That paowder o' mine hain't wuth a cent. You wait till snow blows,"—addressing the silent woods at large,—"then I'll get me some paowder as is paowder, and foller the critter, and I'll show ye"—
Old Wally said never a word, but all this was in his face and attitude as he leaned moodily on his long gun. And I watched him, chuckling, from my hiding among the rocks, till with curious instinct he vanished down the ridge behind the very thicket where I had seen the doe flash out of sight a moment before.
The leaves are fading and falling,
The winds are rough and wild,
The birds have ceased their calling,
But let me tell you, my child,
Though day by day, as it closes,
Doth darker and colder grow,
The roots of the bright red roses
Will keep alive in the snow.
And when the winter is over
The boughs will get new leaves,
The quail will come back to the clover,
And the swallow back to the eaves.
The robin will wear on his bosom
A vest that is bright and new,
And the loveliest wayside blossoms
Will shine with the sun and dew.
The leaves to-day are whirling,
The brooks are all dry and dumb,
But let me tell you, my darling,
The spring will be sure to come.
There must be rough, cold weather,
And winds and rains so wild;
Not all good things together,
Come to us here, my child.
So when some dear joy loses
Its beauteous summer glow,
Think how the roots of the roses
Are kept alive in the snow.
WEEK 45 |
A STATUE of pure white marble stands in the famous gallery of Versailles in France. It represents a fair young girl, in shining armor with sword clasped firmly in her strong eager hands.
It is the figure of Joan of Arc, the sweet simple maiden who rose from a small unknown village in France, and whose unconquerable faith aided her country when it had the most need of her courage.
Tinged with grey in a grey atmosphere, the village of Domremy is built on the side of a little hill which is crowned by a grove of oak and silver birch trees.
The Meuse river flows lazily through meadows where the peasant folk, who lived in this village in the fifteenth century, sent their cows and sheep to graze.
The humble villagers lived together happily close by the rivulet of Three-Fountains, a little stream rolling with a constant murmur over white pebbles and nourishing the large vineyards which grew so plentifully throughout the countryside.
Between the village church and the rivulet of Three-Fountains stood a rustic, weatherbeaten, ivy-covered cottage, with a garden all around it. It was situated in the Duchy of Lorraine and was a part of the province of Chaumont. Here, then, lived Jacques d'Arc, the worthy peasant-farmer, a quiet, unimaginative man, who loved his family, and who was heartily liked by all of his neighbors. It was here that the little peasant girl, the future Martyr and Saviour of France, Joan of Arc, was born on the sixth of January, 1412. She was really called Jeannette by all her friends and neighbors in her early years.
The child grew up there, under the care of God, whom she dearly loved. She delighted to hear the church bells ring, calling her to the daily Mass, and she learned the stories of the saints with simple homely faith, often remaining a long time in the little grey village church that stood so close by her cottage door.
Joan's father was a man of importance in the village, for he was the mayor of the community. He had charge of the prisoners; he was also in charge of collecting the taxes of the village.
This worthy farmer owned rich lands and gave goodly sums to charity, and never failed to offer hospitality to travellers. It was he, who, with six other villagers, took a lease on a curious old fortress called the "Castle of the Island," a strong place of defense, surrounded by ditches and fences, for the protection of families and cattle in times of war. Indeed, there was a great deal of battle and warfare at this time, and it was necessary to send out alarms very often to protect the people.
Joan sometimes led the animals to pasture, and often played with her brothers, Jacques, Jean, and Pierre, and her sister, Catherine, near the deserted old castle. Many times she was forced to run in haste to the "Castle of the Island" urging the cows and sheep before her, when the alarm was given warning her of the approach of enemy soldiers.
Driving their cattle before them, they hurried to the fortress.
In the evenings, Joan's mother, Isabella Romée, taught her to sew and embroider and to spin flax into linen for shirts for her father and brothers. She was indeed an industrious little girl, but when it was time for play Joan was often the first one to reach the flowery fields where she joined in games with her companions. During the Week of Fountains, at the festivities, on the last Sunday of Lent, the children delighted in hanging garlands of flowers on the branches of the trees, in the gloomy Oak Wood, a half-mile from Domremy, and here they told age-old traditions and strange stories of fairy folk.
Thus the little maid of Domremy lived until her thirteenth year, sharing the work and the play of her family and her friends. Nothing but sunshine crossed her path.
A Crab one day grew disgusted with the sands in which he lived. He decided to take a stroll to the meadow not far inland. There he would find better fare than briny water and sand mites. So off he crawled to the meadow. But there a hungry Fox spied him, and in a twinkling, ate him up, both shell and claw.
Be content with your lot.
WEEK 45 |
"Henceforth must all your fleets be free
On every coast from east to west."
T HE war with England was over. It had lasted two years, and Holland had suffered deeply, more even than in her eighty years of war with Spain; for during the war all trade had stopped, 1000 ships had been lost, and Admiral Tromp was dead.
Tromp was dead, but an abler man than Tromp had come forward during the war, and was now to save his country and make himself a name of undying fame. Michiel de Ruyter was born at Flushing in the year 1607. His grandfather was a trooper, and therefore called De Ruyter, "the rider." His boyhood was passed at Flushing. Here he could look out over the sea, where the Dutch ships returned laden with the wealth of the Indies. He would hear wondrous stories of adventure, until his eager mind grew restless. He was never much of a scholar.
There is a story told of him at ten years of age. Some workmen were repairing the steeple of Flushing, and young De Ruyter thought he would climb the scaffolding and mount the ladder, by which he could reach the dizzy pinnacle at the top. He arrived safely, but while he was perched at the very top the workmen removed the ladder, and nothing was left the boy but to slide down the steep pinnacle as best he might. Looking up, the burghers of the town saw a little figure waving his cap fearlessly from the top and then prepare for his perilous descent. With his nail-shod boots he kicked away a slate and placed his little foot on the wooden bar below the slate, then the other foot kicked away another, till slate after slate crashed into the street below, and the boy moved slowly downwards. At last he reached the scaffold and soon appeared in the street below.
Courage, cool-headedness, and resource,—these were to make a man out of the fearless boy. He was now apprenticed to a ropemaker at 1d. a-day; but as he was longing to be at sea, to sea he went at the age of eleven. At the age of fifteen he was fighting on shore with other Dutch sailors against Spain. His courage marked him out above his comrades, and when he was taken prisoner on the Spanish coast, he escaped and walked all the way home through Spain, France, and Belgium.
When war broke out with England, De Ruyter was given some ships and fought under Tromp with marked success. It was therefore to this man that Holland looked when war broke out again between the two countries in 1666.
Much had happened since the last war. The great English admiral, Blake, was dead. He had died on the sea, within sight of the home for which he had been yearning, just a year before the death of his master, Oliver Cromwell. An event of the greatest importance had taken place two years later, when Charles II. ascended the English throne and England had a king once more. The son of Charles I. had lived a great part of his life as an exile in Holland, and now, when he was called upon to return to England, he was given a magnificent feast at Amsterdam.
"My love for you is as great as that of all the other kings put together," he told the Dutch people when he left their hospitable shores.
He left his sister Mary amongst them, with her young son, William of Orange, and no one could foresee that a short four years was to make Charles II. the most active enemy of Holland.
Now Charles had married a Portuguese princess, and she had brought him as part of her dowry the possession of a port on the coast of India called Bombay, a little to the north of the famous Goa of Portuguese fame. This was not pleasing news for Holland, for it strengthened the English East India Company, and the Dutchmen trembled for their trade in the East.
Again Charles annoyed the Dutch by capturing their colony in America, New Amsterdam, as they had called it,
after their own capital. The English renamed it New York, and New York is the largest
city in America and the richest in the world
"The eyes of all the world are upon us," he cried to his officers and men. "Behave, then, as honest and brave men, bearing yourselves as you ought. We have no need to fear our enemies, nor to despise them, because they are soldiers and sailors. Be resolved, then, to conquer or to die."
The most memorable sea-fight of modern days was now to take place between the Dutch under De Ruyter on the one side and the English under Prince Rupert on the other. It began on June 11, 1666, and lasted for four days, till the English ships were disabled, powder and shot were spent, and they were obliged to retreat. Through a thick sea-mist the ships made their way home after the four days' contest for the ocean, which has not been equalled to this day.
"English sailors may be killed, but they cannot be conquered," a great Dutch leader had said. Holland had now proved as unconquerable as England herself. All Europe rang with praise of the brave De Ruyter. The little cabin-boy of forty-nine years ago had become one of the greatest men of his time. Humbly enough he took his great victory. "And De Ruyter gave thanks to God, then swept out his cabin and fed his fowls," says his historian.
A short time later the thunder of Dutch guns in the Thames awoke England to a sense of her weakness, and the great Dutch admiral, after burning ships in the river, sailed proudly along the English coast, master of the Channel.
WEEK 45 |
O NCE upon a time there was a man and a wife had too many children, and they could not get meat for them, so they took the three youngest and left them in a wood. They travelled and travelled and could never see a house. It began to be dark, and they were hungry. At last they saw a light and made for it; it turned out to be a house. They knocked at the door, and a woman came to it, who said: "What do you want?" They said: "Please let us in and give us something to eat." The woman said: "I can't do that, as my man is a giant, and he would kill you if he comes home." They begged hard. "Let us stop for a little while," said they, "and we will go away before he comes." So she took them in, and set them down before the fire, and gave them milk and bread; but just as they had begun to eat, a great knock came to the door, and a dreadful voice said:
"Fee, fie, fo, fum,
I smell the blood of some earthly one."
"Who have you there, wife?" "Eh," said the wife, "it's three poor lassies cold and hungry, and they will go away. Ye won't touch, 'em, man." He said nothing, but ate up a big supper, and ordered them to stay all night. Now he had three lassies of his own, and they were to sleep in the same bed with the three strangers. The youngest of the three strange lassies was called Molly Whuppie, and she was very clever. She noticed that before they went to bed the giant put straw ropes round her neck and her sisters', and round his own lassies' necks, he put gold chains. So Molly took care and did not fall asleep, but waited till she was sure everyone was sleeping sound. Then she slipped out of bed, and took the straw ropes off her own and her sisters' necks, and took the gold chains off the giant's lassies. She then put the straw ropes on the giant's lassies and the gold on herself and her sisters, and lay down. And in the middle of the night up rose the giant, armed with a great club, and felt for the necks with the straw. It was dark. He took his own lassies out of the bed on to the floor, and battered them until they were dead, and then lay down again, thinking he had managed finely. Molly thought it time she and her sisters were off and away, so she wakened them and told them to be quiet, and they slipped out of the house. They all got out safe, and they ran and ran, and never stopped until morning, when they saw a grand house before them. It turned out to be a king's house: so Molly went in, and told her story to the king.
He said: "Well, Molly, you are a clever girl, and you have managed well; but, if you would manage better, and go back, and steal the giant's sword that hangs on the back of his bed, I would give your eldest sister my eldest son to marry." Molly said she would try. So she went back, and managed to slip into the giant's house, and crept in below the bed. The giant came home, and ate up a great supper, and went to bed. Molly waited until he was snoring, and she crept out, and reached over the giant and got down the sword; but just as she got it out over the bed it gave a rattle, and up jumped the giant, and Molly ran out at the door and the sword with her; and she ran, and he ran, till they came to the "Bridge of one hair;" and she got over, but he couldn't and he says, "Woe worth ye, Molly Whuppie! never ye come again." And she says: "Twice yet, carle," quoth she, "I'll come to Spain." So Molly took the sword to the king, and her sister was married to his son.
Well, the king he says: "Ye've managed well, Molly; but if ye would manage better, and steal the purse that lies below the giant's pillow, I would marry your second sister to my second son." And Molly said she would try. So she set out for the giant's house, and slipped in, and hid again below the bed, and waited till the giant had eaten his supper, and was snoring sound asleep. She slipped out and slipped her hand below the pillow, and got out the purse; but just as she was going out the giant wakened, and ran after her; and she ran, and he ran, till they came to the "Bridge of one hair," and she got over, but he couldn't, and he said, "Woe worth ye, Molly Whuppie! never you come again." "Once yet, carle," quoth she, "I'll come to Spain." So Molly took the purse to the king, and her second sister was married to the king's second son.
After that the king says to Molly: "Molly, you are a clever girl, but if you would do better yet, and steal the giant's ring that he wears on his finger, I will give you my youngest son for yourself." Molly said she would try. So back she goes to the giant's house, and hides herself below the bed. The giant wasn't long ere he came home, and, after he had eaten a great big supper, he went to his bed, and shortly was snoring loud. Molly crept out and reached over the bed, and got hold of the giant's hand, and she pulled and she pulled until she got off the ring; but just as she got it off the giant got up, and gripped her by the hand and he says: "Now I have caught you, Molly Whuppie, and, if I done as much ill to you as ye have done to me, what would ye do to me?"
Molly says: "I would put you into a sack, and I'd put the cat inside wi' you, and the dog aside you, and a needle and thread and shears, and I'd hang you up upon the wall, and I'd go to the wood, and choose the thickest stick I could get, and I would come home, and take you down, and bang you till you were dead."
"Well, Molly," says the giant, "I'll just do that to you."
So he gets a sack, and puts Molly into it, and the cat and the dog beside her, and a needle and thread and shears, and hangs her up upon the wall, and goes to the wood to choose a stick.
Molly she sings out: "Oh, if ye saw what I see."
"Oh," says the giant's wife, "what do you see, Molly?"
But Molly never said a word but, "Oh, if ye saw what I see!"
The giant's wife begged that Molly would take her up into the sack till she would see what Molly saw. So Molly took the shears and cut a hole in the sack, and took out the needle and thread with her, and jumped down and helped the giant's wife up into the sack, and sewed up the hole.
The giant's wife saw nothing, and began to ask to get down again; but Molly never minded, but hid herself at the back of the door. Home came the giant, and a great big tree in his hand, and he took down the sack, and began to batter it. His wife cried, "It's me, man;" but the dog barked and the cat mewed, and he did not know his wife's voice. But Molly came out from the back of the door, and the giant saw her and he ran after her; and he ran, and she ran, till they came to the "Bridge of one hair," and she got over but he couldn't; and he said, "Woe worth you, Mollie Whuppie! never you come again." "Never more, carle," quoth she, "will I come again to Spain."
So Molly took the ring to the king, and she was married to his youngest son, and she never saw the giant again.
D O you think a fly is a very small and common thing? Is it not worth looking at? Let us see about that.
First, here is its head with two great eyes. We will soon look at the eyes. Then you will see how curious they are.
There are, besides the big eyes, three little eyes. These are set on the top of the head. Then, too, on the front of the head we find a trunk or tube. And here is a pair of feelers. Inside the head is the brain, very much like a worm's brain. It is only a tiny white dot.
Next behind the head is the chest. The head has the shape of half of an egg laid sidewise. The chest is nearly square. It is made of three rings.
On the first ring is a pair of legs. On the next ring is a pair of legs and a pair of wings. The fly has only one pair of wings.
On the last ring is a pair of legs. And near these legs are two little clubs covered with fine hair. It is by means of these clubs that the fly can halt or balance on the wing. They help the fly as the second pair of wings helps other insects.
On the Wing
The third part of a fly's body is the largest. It is egg-shaped, and joins the chest by the thick end. This part also is made of rings.
Now let us look at the head of a fly. The feelers are like two long, fine plumes made in joints. Most people think these feelers are made to touch with. Their full, true use is not yet known.
You see, even in a fly there is much left for some of you to find out.
Some people think that flies smell and hear with these "feelers." But then they are so fine that a breath can jar them, and the fly might seem to hear when it only feels.
I know of something else like that. It is this. In some schools for the deaf and dumb, the pupils are called to class or table by rapping on the floor. The deaf do not hear the noise; but they feel the jar, and come as if they could hear.
Let us look at the mouth of the fly. The lip of a fly runs out into a long, slim tube or pipe. With this it sucks up its food.
At the end of this tube is a little flat plate. Close by it are two sharp hairs. These are to prick the food, so that the tube can suck it more easily.
When the fly is not eating, it can shut up this tube like a telescope, to keep it safe. Did you ever see an elephant? Did you see his trunk? The fly's tube is his trunk. The elephant's trunk is his long upper lip. So is the fly's trunk a long lip.
The chief parts to notice in a fly's head are its eyes. These are so large that they make up nearly all the head.
These big bright eyes look as if they had varnish on them. Now each of these eyes is made up of a very great many small eyes. There are four thousand of these small eyes.
Between these two big eyes are three little single
eyes, set in this
Wise men have studied the eyes of flies for many years, and do not yet know all about them.
The wings of a fly have a fine, thin, clear covering. This is held out on a tiny frame, like a network. The fly moves these wings very quickly. The motion of the wings helps to make the sound or buzz of the fly.
Now we come to the legs and feet of our fly. The leg is made in five joints. The foot also has five joints. The last joint of the foot has two claws and a little pad. These are covered with fine hairs.
The hairs catch on little points or rough edges. Thus the fly can walk, as you would say, "upside down," and does not fall. Besides, the pad and hairs act like a sucker. They suck air from under the foot. So they hold the fly from falling as he runs up a pane of glass. All boys know what a "sucker" is and how to make one.
Tiger! tiger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb, make thee?
Tiger! tiger! burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
WEEK 45 |
HEN Darius, the great king, died, his son Xerxes, who is called in the Bible Ahasuerus, took his place upon the throne of Persia. Ahasuerus was not, like his father Darius, a wise man. He was hasty in his temper and did many foolish acts.
At that time the palace where the king of Persia lived was no longer at Babylon, but at a city named Shushan, among the mountains of a region called Elam. King Ahasuerus held at Shushan a great feast with his nobles. When the king and his company were all drunken with wine, he sent for his queen, Vashti, that he might let all the nobles see how beautiful she was. Among the Persians it was held to be very wrong for a woman ever to allow her face to be seen by any man except her husband. Queen Vashti refused to come to the feast that these drunken men might stare at her. This made the king very angry. He said that because Vashti would not obey him, she should not be queen any longer, and he put her away from him and from his house.
After this King Ahasuerus thought to choose another woman to be his queen instead of Vashti. He sent commands throughout all the kingdom that in every land and province they should find the most beautiful young women and bring them to the royal city of Shushan. There the king would see them all, and among them he would choose the one that pleased him best, and would take her as his queen. So from every land in the great empire of Persia the loveliest young women were brought to Shushan, and there they were left in the care of Hegai, the chief of the king's palace.
At that time many Jews were living in the cities of Persia, for we have seen that only a small part of the Jews went back to the land of Israel when King Cyrus allowed them to return. (See Story 104.) There was a Jew living in Shushan, named Mordecai. He belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, and came from the same family and line with Saul, the first of the kings of Israel. At the house of Mordecai lived his cousin, a young girl named Hadassah, or Esther, a name which means "Star." Her father and mother had died, and she had been left alone; so Mordecai took her to his own house, and brought her up as his own daughter. Esther was very beautiful, and was as lovely in her heart as she was in her face. Among the other beautiful young women she was taken to the palace as one of those who were to be brought before the king.
Queen Esther coming to the king
When King Ahasuerus saw Esther, the Jewish girl, he loved her, and chose her out of all the young women to be his queen, and set upon her head the royal crown of Persia. Esther was taken into the king's palace; rooms and servants were given to her, and she lived in the state of a queen. When the king wisher to see her he sent for her, and she came to his room. No one could go to the king or could see him unless sent for. And if any one, man or woman, came before the king without being called, that person was seized by the guards, and was led away to death, unless the king held out toward him his golden scepter, the rod which he held.
In the palace Mordecai could no longer meet his cousin Esther, for no man except the king could enter the rooms set apart for the women. But Esther from her window could see Mordecai as he walked by, and by her servants she could send word to him, and in the same way could hear word from him. Mordecai loved the lovely young queen who was to him as a daughter, and every day sat at the gate of the palace to hear from her.
While Mordecai was sitting by the gate he saw two men who were keepers of the gate often whispering together. He watched them closely, and found that they had made a plan to kill King Ahasuerus. He sent word of this to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king of it. The men were taken, and, as Mordecai's word was found to be true, they were both slain by being hanged on a tree. And an account or story of all their plan, of how they were found out by Mordecai the Jew, and how they were punished by death, was written in the book of records of the kingdom.
After this a man named Haman arose to great power in the kingdom. The king have him a seat above all the other princes, and asked his advice in all matters, and allowed Haman to do whatever he pleased. Of course everybody in the palace showed great respect to Haman, the man who stood next to the king. When he came near, all the men in the palace and in the city bowed down before him, and many fell on their faces, even in the very dust. But Mordecai was a worshipper of God, and he would not fall upon his face before any man. Haman noticed that there was one man who did not bow down, as did the others around him. He said to his servants, "Who is that man sitting by the gate, who does not bow down when I pass by?"
They answered Haman, "That is Mordecai the Jew."
But they did not tell Haman, for they did not know, that Mordecai was the cousin of Queen Esther, and that the queen of Persia herself was a Jewess.
When Haman found that Mordecai was a Jew he became very angry, not only at Mordecai, but at all his people. He hated the Jews, and he resolved to have revenge on Mordecai, and on his account to make all Mordecai's people suffer. Haman went in to the king, and said to him, "O King Ahasuerus, there is a certain people scattered abroad through your kingdom and apart from all other peoples. Their laws are different from those of every other nation, and they do not keep the king's laws. It is not well to allow such a people to live. If it is pleasing to the king, let a law be made that this strange people be destroyed. I will myself pay all the cost of putting them to death, and will place the money in the king's treasury."
The king, living in his palace and never going out among his people, knew nothing of the Jews, and believed Haman's words. He took from his hand the ring on which was the royal seal, and gave it to Haman, saying:
"Do as you please; write whatever law you wish, and stamp it with the king's seal. The money is yours, and I give this strange people to you. You can do with them as you please."
Then, by Haman's command, a law was written, and sealed with the king's seal, that on a certain day, which was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, all the Jews in every part of Persia might be slain. Any one who chose to kill them might do so; and those who kill them might take for their own all their money, the gold, and silver, and garments which they might find in the houses of the Jews.
The copies of this law were sent to every city of the empire of Persia, to be read everywhere, so that all might know that the Jews were to be destroyed. Everybody who heard of it was filled with wonder, for no one knew of any evil against the king that the Jews had done to deserve death. They could not understand why the law had been made; but everywhere the enemies of the Jews made ready to destroy them, that they might have the Jews' riches; for in those times, even as now, there was great wealth among the Jews.
"Come, cheer up, Toady!" said the Badger. "There are more ways of getting back a place than taking it by storm. I haven't said my last word yet. Now I'm going to tell you a great secret."
Toad sat up slowly and dried his eyes. Secrets had an immense attraction for him, because he never could keep one, and he enjoyed the sort of unhallowed thrill he experienced when he went and told another animal, after having faithfully promised not to.
"There—is—an—underground—passage," said the Badger, impressively, "that leads from the river-bank, quite near here, right up into the middle of Toad Hall."
"O, nonsense! Badger," said Toad, rather airily. "You've been listening to some of the yarns they spin in the public-houses about here. I know every inch of Toad Hall, inside and out. Nothing of the sort, I do assure you!"
"My young friend," said the Badger, with great severity, "your father, who was a
worthy animal—a lot worthier than some others I know—was
a particular friend of
mine, and told me a great deal he wouldn't have dreamt of telling you. He
passage—he didn't make it, of course; that was done hundreds of
years before he ever came to live there—and he repaired it and cleaned it out,
because he thought it might come in useful some day, in case of trouble or
danger; and he showed it to me. 'Don't let my son know about it,' he said. 'He's
a good boy, but very light and volatile in character, and simply cannot hold his
tongue. If he's ever in a real fix, and it would be of use to him, you may tell
him about the secret passage; but not
The other animals looked hard at Toad to see how he would take it. Toad was inclined to be sulky at first; but he brightened up immediately, like the good fellow he was.
"Well, well," he said; "perhaps I am a bit of a talker. A popular fellow such as I am—my friends get round me—we chaff, we sparkle, we tell witty stories—and somehow my tongue gets wagging. I have the gift of conversation. I've been told I ought to have a salon, whatever that may be. Never mind. Go on, Badger. How's this passage of yours going to help us?"
"I've found out a thing or two lately," continued the Badger. "I got Otter to disguise himself as a sweep and call at the back-door with brushes over his shoulder, asking for a job. There's going to be a big banquet to-morrow night. It's somebody's birthday—the Chief Weasel's, I believe—and all the weasels will be gathered together in the dining-hall, eating and drinking and laughing and carrying on, suspecting nothing. No guns, no swords, no sticks, no arms of any sort whatever!"
"But the sentinels will be posted as usual," remarked the Rat.
"Exactly," said the Badger; "that is my point. The weasels will trust entirely to their excellent sentinels. And that is where the passage comes in. That very useful tunnel leads right up under the butler's pantry, next to the dining-hall!"
"Aha! that squeaky board in the butler's pantry!" said Toad. "Now I understand it!"
"We shall creep out quietly into the butler's
"Very well, then," said the Badger, resuming his usual dry manner, "our plan is settled, and there's nothing more for you to argue and squabble about. So, as it's getting very late, all of you go right off to bed at once. We will make all the necessary arrangements in the course of the morning to-morrow."
Toad, of course, went off to bed dutifully with the rest—he knew better than to refuse—though he was feeling much too excited to sleep. But he had had a long day, with many events crowded into it; and sheets and blankets were very friendly and comforting things, after plain straw, and not too much of it, spread on the stone floor of a draughty cell; and his head had not been many seconds on his pillow before he was snoring happily. Naturally, he dreamt a good deal; about roads that ran away from him just when he wanted them, and canals that chased him and caught him, and a barge that sailed into the banqueting-hall with his week's washing, just as he was giving a dinner-party; and he was alone in the secret passage, pushing onwards, but it twisted and turned round and shook itself, and sat up on its end; yet somehow, at the last, he found himself back in Toad Hall, safe and triumphant, with all his friends gathered round about him, earnestly assuring him that he really was a clever Toad.
He slept till a late hour next morning, and by the time he got down he found
that the other animals had finished their breakfast some time before. The Mole
had slipped off somewhere by himself, without telling any one where he was going
to. The Badger sat in the arm-chair, reading the paper, and not concerning
himself in the slightest about what was going to happen that very evening. The
Rat, on the other hand, was running round the room busily, with his arms full of
weapons of every kind, distributing them in four little heaps on the floor, and
saying excitedly under his breath, as he ran,
"That's all very well, Rat," said the Badger presently, looking at the busy little animal over the edge of his newspaper; "I'm not blaming you. But just let us once get past the stoats, with those detestable guns of theirs, and I assure you we shan't want any swords or pistols. We four, with our sticks, once we're inside the dining-hall, why, we shall clear the floor of all the lot of them in five minutes. I'd have done the whole thing by myself, only I didn't want to deprive you fellows of the fun!"
"It's as well to be on the safe side," said the Rat reflectively, polishing a pistol-barrel on his sleeve and looking along it.
The Toad, having finished his breakfast, picked up a stout stick and swung it vigorously, belabouring imaginary animals. "I'll learn 'em to steal my house!" he cried. "I'll learn 'em, I'll learn 'em!"
"Don't say 'learn 'em,' Toad," said the Rat, greatly shocked. "It's not good English."
"What are you always nagging at Toad for?" inquired the Badger, rather peevishly. "What's the matter with his English? It's the same what I use myself, and if it's good enough for me, it ought to be good enough for you!"
"I'm very sorry," said the Rat humbly. "Only I think it ought to be 'teach 'em,'
"But we don't want to teach 'em," replied the Badger. "We want to learn 'em—learn 'em, learn 'em! And what's more, we're going to do it, too!"
"Oh, very well, have it your own way," said the Rat. He was getting rather muddled about it himself, and presently he retired into a corner, where he could be heard muttering, "Learn 'em, teach 'em, teach 'em, learn 'em!" till the Badger told him rather sharply to leave off.
Presently the Mole came tumbling into the room, evidently very pleased with himself. "I've been having such fun!" he began at once; "I've been getting a rise out of the stoats!"
"I hope you've been very careful, Mole?" said the Rat anxiously.
"I should hope so, too," said the Mole confidently. "I got the idea when I went into the kitchen, to see about Toad's breakfast being kept hot for him. I found that old washerwoman-dress that he came home in yesterday, hanging on a towel-horse before the fire. So I put it on, and the bonnet as well, and the shawl, and off I went to Toad Hall, as bold as you please. The sentries were on the look-out, of course, with their guns and their 'Who comes there?' and all the rest of their nonsense. 'Good morning, gentlemen!' says I, very respectful. 'Want any washing done to-day?' "They looked at me very proud and stiff and haughty, and said, 'Go away, washerwoman! We don't do any washing on duty.' 'Or any other time?' says I. Ho, ho, ho! Wasn't I funny, Toad?"
"Poor, frivolous animal!" said Toad, very loftily. The fact is, he felt exceedingly jealous of Mole for what he had just done. It was exactly what he would have liked to have done himself, if only he had thought of it first, and hadn't gone and overslept himself.
"Some of the stoats turned quite pink," continued the Mole, "and the Sergeant in
charge, he said to me, very short, he said, 'Now run away, my good woman, run
away! Don't keep my men idling and talking on their posts.' 'Run away?' says I;
'it won't be me that'll be running away, in a very short time from
"O Moly, how could you?" said the Rat, dismayed.
The Badger laid down his paper.
"I could see them pricking up their ears and looking at each other," went on the
Mole; "and the Sergeant said to them, 'Never mind her; she doesn't know what
"Oh, you silly ass, Mole!" cried Toad, "You've been and spoilt everything!"
"Mole," said the Badger, in his dry, quiet way, "I perceive you have more sense in your little finger than some other animals have in the whole of their fat bodies. You have managed excellently, and I begin to have great hopes of you. Good Mole! Clever Mole!"
The Toad was simply wild with jealousy, more especially as he couldn't make out for the life of him what the Mole had done that was so particularly clever; but, fortunately for him, before he could show temper or expose himself to the Badger's sarcasm, the bell rang for luncheon.
It was a simple but sustaining meal—bacon and broad beans, and a macaroni pudding; and when they had quite done, the Badger settled himself into an arm-chair, and said, "Well, we've got our work cut out for us to-night, and it will probably be pretty late before we're quite through with it; so I'm just going to take forty winks, while I can." And he drew a handkerchief over his face and was soon snoring.
The anxious and laborious Rat at once resumed his preparations, and started
running between his four little heaps, muttering,
The Frost looked forth, one still, clear night,
And whispered, "Now I shall be out of sight;
So through the valley and over the height,
In silence I'll take my way:
I will not go on with that blustering train,
The wind and the snow, the hail and the rain,
That make so much bustle and noise in vain,
But I'll be as busy as they."
So he flew to the mountain and powdered its crest;
He lit on the trees, and their boughs he dressed
With diamonds and pearls; and over the breast
Of the quivering lake he spread
A coat of mail, that it need not fear
The glittering point of many a spear
That hung on its margin, far and near,
Where a rock could rear its head.
He went to the window of those who slept,
And over each pane, like a fairy, crept;
Wherever he breathed, wherever he stepped,
By the morning light were seen
Most beautiful things!—there were flowers and trees;
There were bevies of birds and swarms of bees;
There were cities, and temples, and towers, and these
All pictured in silvery sheen!
But he did one thing that was hardly fair;
He peeped in the cupboard, and finding there
That all had forgotten for him to prepare—
"Now just to set them a-thinking,
I'll bite this basket of fruit," said he,
"This costly pitcher I'll burst in three,
And the glass of water they've left for me
Shall 'tchick!' to tell them I'm drinking."