WEEK 46 |
P ETER arrived punctually at school the following day. He had brought his dinner with him, for all the children who lived at a distance regularly seated themselves at mid-day on the tables, and resting their feet firmly on the benches, spread out their meal on their knees and so ate their dinner, while those living in Dörfli went home for theirs. Till one o'clock they might all do as they liked, and then school began again. When Peter had finished his lessons on the days he attended school, he went over to Uncle's to see Heidi.
When he walked into the large room at Uncle's to-day, Heidi immediately rushed forward and took hold of him, for it was for Peter she had been waiting. "I've thought of something, Peter," she said hastily.
"What is it?" he asked.
"You must learn to read," she informed him.
"I have learnt," was the answer.
"Yes, yes, but I mean so that you can really make use of it," continued Heidi eagerly.
"I never shall," was the prompt reply.
"Nobody believes that you cannot learn, nor I either now," said Heidi in a very decided tone of voice. "Grandmamma in Frankfurt said long ago that it was not true, and she told me not to believe you."
Peter looked rather taken aback at this piece of intelligence.
"I will soon teach you to read, for I know how," continued Heidi. "You must learn at once, and then you can read one or two hymns every day to grandmother."
"Oh, I don't care about that," he grumbled in reply.
This hard-hearted way of refusing to agree to what was right and
kind, and to what Heidi had so much at heart, aroused her anger.
With flashing eyes she stood facing the boy and said
threateningly, "If you won't learn as I want you to, I will tell
you what will happen; you know your mother has often spoken of
sending you to Frankfurt, that you may learn a lot of things,
and I know where the boys there have to go to school; Clara
pointed out the great house to me when we were driving together.
And they don't only go when they are boys, but have more lessons
still when they are grown men. I have seen them myself, and you
mustn't think they have only one kind teacher like we have. There
are ever so many of them, all in the school at the same time, and
they are all dressed in black, as if they were going to church,
and have black hats on their heads as high as
Peter felt a cold shudder run down his back.
"And you will have to go in among all those gentlemen," continued Heidi with increasing animation, "and when it comes to your turn you won't be able to read and will make mistakes in your spelling. Then you'll see how they'll make fun of you; even worse than Tinette, and you ought to have seen what she was like when she was scornful."
"Well, I'll learn then," said Peter, half sorrowfully and half angrily.
Heidi was instantly mollified. "That's right, then we'll begin at once," she said cheerfully, and went busily to work on the spot, dragging Peter to the table and fetching her books.
Among other presents Clara had sent Heidi a book which the latter had decided, in bed the night before, would serve capitally for teaching Peter, for it was an A B C book with rhyming lines. And now the two sat together at the table with their heads bent over the book, for the lesson had begun.
Peter was made to spell out the first sentence two or three
times over, for Heidi wished him to get it correct and fluent. At
last she said, "You don't seem able to get it right, but I will
read it aloud to you once; when you know what it ought to be you
will find it easier." And she read
A B C must be learnt to-day
Or the judge will call you up to pay.
"I shan't go," said Peter obstinately.
"Go where?" asked Heidi.
"Before the judge," he answered.
"Well then make haste and learn these three letters, then you won't have to go."
Peter went at his task again and repeated the three letters so
many times and with such determination that she
"You must know those three now."
Seeing what an effect the first two lines of verse had had upon him, she thought she would prepare the ground a little for the following lessons.
"Wait, and I will read you some of the next sentences," she continued, "then you will see what else there is to expect."
And she began in a clear, slow
D E F G must run with ease
Or something will follow that does not please.
Should H I J K be now forgot
Disgrace is yours upon the spot.
And then L M must follow at once
Or punished you'll be for a sorry dunce.
If you knew what next awaited you
You'd haste to learn N O P Q.
Now R S T be quick about
Or worse will follow there's little doubt.
Heidi paused, for Peter was so quiet that she looked to see what he was doing. These many secret threats and hints of dreadful punishments had so affected him that he sat as if petrified and stared at Heidi with horror-stricken eyes. Her kind heart was moved at once, and she said, wishing to reassure him, "You need not be afraid, Peter; come here to me every evening, and if you learn as you have to-day you will at last know all your letters, and the other things won't come. But you must come regularly, not now and then as you do to school; even if it snows it won't hurt you."
Peter promised, for the trepidation he had been in had made him quite tame and docile. Lessons being finished for this day he now went home.
Peter obeyed Heidi's instructions punctually, and every evening went diligently to work to learn the following letters, taking the sentences thoroughly to heart. The grandfather was frequently in the room smoking his pipe comfortably while the lesson was going on, and his face twitched occasionally as if he was overtaken with a sudden fit of merriment. Peter was often invited to stay to supper after the great exertion he had gone through, which richly compensated him for the anguish of mind he had suffered with the sentence for the day.
So the winter went by, and Peter really made progress with his letters; but he went through a terrible fight each day with the sentences.
He had got at last to U. Heidi read
And if you put the U for V,
You'll go where you would not like to be.
Peter growled, "Yes, but I shan't go!" But he was very diligent
that day, as if under the impression that some one would seize
him suddenly by the collar and drag him where he would rather
not go. The next evening Heidi
If you falter at W, worst of all,
Look at the stick against the wall.
Peter looked at the wall and said scornfully, "There isn't one."
"Yes, but do you know what grandfather has in his box?" asked Heidi. "A stick as thick almost as your arm, and if he took that out, you might well say, look at the stick on the wall."
Peter knew that thick hazel stick, and immediately bent his head
over the W and struggled to master it. Another day
Then comes the X for you to say
Or be sure you'll get no food to-day.
Peter looked towards the cupboard where the bread and cheese were kept and said crossly, "I never said that I should forget the X."
"That's all right; if you don't forget it we can go on to learn the next, and then you will only have one more," replied Heidi, anxious to encourage him.
Peter did not quite understand, but when Heidi went
And should you make a stop at Y,
They'll point at you and cry, Fie, fie.
All the gentlemen in Frankfurt with tall black hats on their heads, and scorn and mockery in their faces rose up before his mind's eye, and he threw himself with energy on the Y, not letting it go till at last he knew it so thoroughly that he could see what it was like even when he shut his eyes.
He arrived on the following day in a somewhat lofty frame of
mind, for there was now only one letter to struggle over, and
when Heidi began the lesson with reading
Make haste with Z, if you're too slow
Off to the Hottentots you'll go.
Peter remarked scornfully, "I dare say, when no one knows even where such people live."
"I assure you, Peter," replied Heidi, "grandfather knows all
about them. Wait a second and I will run and ask him, for he is
only over the way with the pastor." And she rose and ran to the
door to put her words into action, but Peter cried out in a
"Stop!" for he already saw himself being carried off by Alm-Uncle and the pastor and sent straight away to the Hottentots, since as yet he did not know his last letter. His cry of fear brought Heidi back.
"What is the matter?" she asked in astonishment.
"Nothing! come back! I am going to learn my letter," he said, stammering with fear. Heidi, however, herself wished to know where the Hottentots lived and persisted that she should ask her grandfather, but she gave in at last to Peter's despairing entreaties. She insisted on his doing something in return, and so not only had he to repeat his Z until it was so fixed in his memory that he could never forget it again, but she began teaching him to spell, and Peter really made a good start that evening. So it went on from day to day.
The frost had gone and the snow was soft again, and moreover fresh snow continually fell, so that it was quite three weeks before Heidi could go to the grandmother again. So much the more eagerly did she pursue her teaching so that Peter might compensate for her absence by reading hymns to the old woman. One evening he walked in home after leaving Heidi, and as he entered he said, "I can do it now."
"Do what, Peter?" asked his mother.
"Read," he answered.
"Do you really mean it? Did you hear that, grandmother?" she called out.
The grandmother had heard, and was already wondering how such a thing could have come to pass.
"I must read one of the hymns now; Heidi told me to," he went on to inform them. His mother hastily fetched the book, and the grandmother lay in joyful expectation, for it was so long since she had heard the good words. Peter sat down to the table and began to read. His mother sat beside him listening with surprise and exclaiming at the close of each verse, "Who would have thought it possible!"
The grandmother did not speak though she followed the words he read with strained attention.
It happened on the day following this that there was a reading
lesson in Peter's class. When it came to his turn, the teacher
"We must pass over Peter as usual, or will you try again once more—I will not say to read, but to stammer through a sentence."
Peter took the book and read off three lines without the slightest hesitation.
The teacher put down his book and stared at Peter as at some
out-of-the-way and marvellous thing unseen before. At last he
"Peter, some miracle has been performed upon you! Here have I been striving with unheard-of patience to teach you and you have not hitherto been able to say your letters even. And now, just as I had made up my mind not to waste any more trouble upon you, you suddenly are able to read a consecutive sentence properly and distinctly. How has such a miracle come to pass in our days?"
"It was Heidi," answered Peter.
The teacher looked in astonishment towards Heidi, who was sitting innocently on her bench with no appearance of anything supernatural about her. He continued, "I have noticed a change in you altogether, Peter. Whereas formerly you often missed coming to school for a week, or even weeks at a time, you have lately not stayed away a single day. Who has wrought this change for good in you?"
"It was Uncle," answered Peter.
With increasing surprise the teacher looked from Peter to Heidi and back again at Peter.
"We will try once more," he said cautiously, and Peter had again to show off his accomplishment by reading another three lines. There was no mistake about it—Peter could read. As soon as school was over the teacher went over to the pastor to tell him this piece of news, and to inform him of the happy result of Heidi's and the grandfather's combined efforts.
Every evening Peter read one hymn aloud; so far he obeyed Heidi. Nothing would induce him to read a second, and indeed the grandmother never asked for it. His mother Brigitta could not get over her surprise at her son's attainment, and when the reader was in bed would often express her pleasure at it. "Now he has learnt to read there is no knowing what may be made of him yet."
On one of these occasions the grandmother answered, "Yes, it is good for him to have learnt something, but I shall indeed be thankful when spring is here again and Heidi can come; they are not like the same hymns when Peter reads them. So many words seem missing, and I try to think what they ought to be and then I lose the sense, and so the hymns do not come home to my heart as when Heidi reads them."
The truth was that Peter arranged to make his reading as little troublesome for himself as possible. When he came upon a word that he thought was too long or difficult in any other way, he left it out, for he decided that a word or two less in a verse, where there were so many of them, could make no difference to his grandmother. And so it came about that most of the principal words were missing in the hymns that Peter read aloud.
I N the Far East there was once a prince whose name was Gautama. He lived in a splendid palace where there was everything that could give delight. It was the wish of his father and mother that every day of his life should be a day of perfect happiness.
So this prince grew up to be a young man, tall and fair and graceful. He had never gone beyond the beautiful gardens that surrounded his father's palace. He had never seen nor heard of sorrow or sickness or poverty. Everything that was evil or disagreeable had been carefully kept out of his sight. He knew only of those things that give joy and health and peace.
But one day after he had become a man, he said: "Tell me about the great world which, you say, lies outside of these palace walls. It must be a beautiful and happy place; and I wish to know all about it."
"Yes, it is a beautiful place," was the answer. "In it there are numberless trees and flowers and rivers and waterfalls, and other things to make the heart glad."
His parents and friends begged him not to go. They told him that there were beautiful things at home—why go away to see other things less beautiful? But when they saw that his mind was set on going, they said no more.
The next morning, Gautama sat in his carriage and rode out from the palace into one of the streets of the city. He looked with wonder at the houses on either side, and at the faces of the children who stood in the doorways as he passed. At first he did not see anything that disturbed him; for word had gone before him to remove from sight everything that might be displeasing or painful.
Soon the carriage turned into another street—a street less carefully guarded. Here there were no children at the doors. But suddenly, at a narrow place, they met a very old man, hobbling slowly along over the stony way.
"Who is that man?" asked Gautama, "and why is his face so pinched and his hair so white? Why do his legs tremble under him as he walks, leaning upon a stick? He seems weak, and his eyes are dull. Is he some new kind of man?"
"Sir," answered the coachman, "that is an old man. He has lived more than eighty years. All who reach old age must lose their strength and become like him, feeble and gray."
"Alas!" said the prince. "Is this the condition to which I must come?"
"If you live long enough," was the answer.
"What do you mean by that? Do not all persons live eighty years—yes, many times eighty years?"
The coachman made no answer, but drove onward.
They passed out into the open country and saw the cottages of the poor people. By the door of one of these a sick man was lying upon a couch, helpless and pale.
"Why is that man lying there at this time of day?" asked the prince. "His face is white, and he seems very weak. Is he also an old man?"
"Oh, no! He is sick," answered the coachman. "Poor people are often sick."
"What does that mean?" asked the prince. "Why are they sick?"
The coachman explained as well as he was able; and they rode onward.
Soon they saw a company of men toiling by the roadside. Their faces were browned by the sun; their hands were hard and gnarly; their backs were bent by much heavy lifting; their clothing was in tatters.
"Who are those men, and why do their faces look so joyless?" asked the prince. "What are they doing by the roadside?"
"They are poor men, and they are working to improve the king's highway," was the answer.
"Poor men? What does that mean?"
"Most of the people in the world are poor," said the coachman. "Their lives are spent in toiling for the rich. Their joys are few; their sorrows are many."
"And is this the great, beautiful, happy world that I have been told about?" cried the prince. "How weak and foolish I have been to live in idleness and ease while there is so much sadness and trouble around me. Turn the carriage quickly, coachman, and drive home. Henceforth, I will never again seek my own pleasure. I will spend all my life, and give all that I have, to lessen the distress and sorrow with which this world seems filled."
This the prince did. One night he left the beautiful palace which his father had given to him and went out into the world to do good and to help his fellow men. And to this day, millions of people remember and honor the name of Gautama, as that of the great lover of men.
I live for those who love me,
For those who know me true,
For the heavens that bend above me
And the good that I can do;
For the cause that needs assistance,
For the wrongs that lack resistance,
For the future in the distance
And the good that I can do.
WEEK 46 |
S IX years after the battle of Sluys another great battle was fought between the French and English at a place called Crecy. Edward had been marching through France for some time, when he heard that King Philip was close behind him with an army of one hundred and twenty thousand men. He himself had only twenty thousand men, but he resolved to camp where he was, on a rising ground near the little French village of Crecy, and there conquer or be conquered.
On Saturday, 26th August
Having divided his army, King Edward, carrying a white wand in his hand and mounted upon a pony, rode slowly through the ranks, talking to the soldiers and encouraging them. He looked so cheerful and spoke so bravely, that the soldiers cheered him as he passed among them, and if any of them had felt afraid, they took heart again.
Then Edward gave orders that the men should have breakfast sitting on the ground where they were, each man in his place. So the men took off their helmets and, laying their weapons down, ate and drank as they sat upon the ground.
The King himself went to a windmill near by, and there waited and watched for the French to arrive.
When at last the French came in sight, it was about three o'clock in the afternoon. Then each man of the English rose, put on his helmet, took his weapon in his hand, and stood waiting.
King Philip meanwhile told four knights to ride quickly forward and bring back news of the English army. The English saw these knights, and saw, too, that they had come to spy, but they took no notice of them, and let them return to King Philip.
"My lords, what news?" said he, as they rode back to him.
The knights looked at each other in silence, each waiting for the other to speak first.
"Come, my lords, what news?" said the King again.
Then the bravest of the knights said, "I speak, my lord
King, as you desire, and I hope that my companions will tell
you if they think that I say wrong. The English are encamped
in a strong place. They are
"I thank you, my lord," replied Philip, "it is good advice and shall be followed." Then turning to his generals, "Go," he said, "command a halt."
Two generals rode off, one to the front, the other to the rear, calling out as they went, "Halt banners, in the name of God and St. Denis."
The soldiers in front halted as they were commanded, but those behind would not do so. "We shall not halt until we are as far forward as the others," they said, and they marched on. When they overtook the soldiers in front, these, feeling themselves being pushed forward from behind, moved on too, and neither the King nor the generals could stop them.
They marched on until they came close to the English. When the soldiers in front saw that they were near the English they fell back, but those behind still pressed forward so that the confusion was great. The roads behind the French army were filled with peasants and country people armed with sticks and stones. These peasants made a great noise, and shouting "kill, kill," were eager to be at the English. They mixed with the army, and made the confusion worse still.
In a few minutes all order was lost, and King Philip, seeing that there was no help for it, decided to begin the battle at once. Beside, as soon as he saw the English, his anger against them rose so that he longed to be fighting them.
"Forward, archers, and begin the battle, in the name of God
The archers advanced, shouting fiercely, in order to frighten the English.
But the English stood still. Not a man moved so much as a finger.
Again the French archers shouted.
Still the English never moved.
With a third fierce yell the French archers shot.
Then the English archers made one step forward, raised their bows, and shot arrow after arrow till it seemed as if it snowed.
When the French archers felt these terrible arrows pierce their arms, breast, head, and legs, even through the armour which they wore, they threw down their bows and fled.
These archers were not Frenchmen, but Italians, whom Philip had hired to help him in his war with the English, and when he saw them throw down their bows and run away he was dreadfully angry. "Kill these cowards," he shouted, "they do but stop the way and are of no use." So the French horsemen dashed upon the flying archers, who, having thrown down their bows, had no other weapon, and killed as many as they could, while the English poured arrows upon archers and horsemen alike.
It was a terrible battle, and to make it seem still worse,
there was an eclipse of the sun and a thunderstorm while it
was going on. The sky became black, thunder roared,
lightning flashed, and rain fell in torrents. Great flocks
of crows flew over the field
At this battle, too, cannon were used for the first time. Gunpowder had been invented only a short time before, and people did not yet know what a terrible thing it would become in battle. The English had four cannon. They were made of wood bound round with iron, and although perhaps they did not kill many people, they at least frightened the French, who already had so much else to make them afraid.
Meanwhile the Black Prince was fighting gallantly with his part of the army. But the French about him were so fierce that his knights began to fear for his safety. So a messenger was sent to the King, who was watching the battle from the windmill.
"Sire," said the messenger, "we entreat you to send help to the Prince, your son."
"Is my son dead?" asked the King.
"No, sire, thank God."
"Is he wounded?"
"No, sire, but he is in danger. The French are fierce about him and he is in need of help."
"Then, sir," replied the King, "if my son is neither dead nor wounded, go back to those who sent you. Tell them not to send again to me this day. Tell them that if they do I shall neither come nor send help so long as my son is living. Tell them that I command them to let the boy win his spurs, for I wish the glory of the day to be his. God will guard him."
The knight returned and told the others what the King had said, and they were sorry that they had sent any such message, and resolved to fight to the last.
Edward said that he wanted the Prince to win his spurs. By that he meant that he hoped he would do such brave deeds that he might be made a knight. When any one was made a knight he received a pair of golden spurs. So when a man did a great deed worthy of a knight he was said to have "won his spurs."
The King of Bohemia was with the French army, and his son Charles was fighting for Philip. The King himself could not fight because he was blind. When he heard that the day was going against the French, he asked where his son was.
"We know not," replied the knights who were round him. "Doubtless he is in the thickest of the fight."
Really he had fled from the field, but these gallant knights would not grieve their brave old king by telling him so.
"I, too, would strike a blow," said the blind king, "Lead me into the battle." The knights fastened their horses together with the King of Bohemia in the middle, so that they might not lose him in the crowd of soldiers, and dashed into the fight. When the day was over they were all found dead together, the King still in the middle of them, and their horses still bound to each other.
In those days a knight always had a crest and motto, called a device, painted upon his shield. The crest of the King of Bohemia was three feathers and his motto was Ich dien, which is German and means "I serve." The arms of a fallen foe belonged to the conqueror. So when after the battle the Black Prince was made a knight, he took the motto and the crest of the King of Bohemia for his own. It has been borne ever since by the eldest son of the King of England. And that is why the Prince of Wales has a German motto.
When night fell and the terrible noise and clamour of fighting ceased, the French were beaten, and their king had fled from the field. The King of England came down from the windmill where he had remained watching the fight. He had not struck a blow, nor put on his helmet all day; not because he was a coward, but because he wanted the Black Prince to have all the praise of the victory. There, on the battle-field, he took his son in his arms and kissed him. "Dear son," he said, "God give you strength to go on as you have begun. Bravely and nobly have you fought, and you are worthy to be a king. The honour of the day is yours."
The prince bowed before his father. "I do not deserve any praise," he said, "I have only done my duty." But he had shown himself so brave that his father made him a knight. He was one of the first knights of the Order of the Garter, a new Order which Edward III. founded, and the King can bestow upon any one. You shall hear why it was called by this name.
The King made the Black Prince a Knight of the Order of the Garter.
I F you were to take a journey through the waves of the summer wind far out into the sea of sunshine, what sort of sails would you choose?
Would you like the colors of one side to change, tint by tint, from creamy white to dark, rich brown—with a purple mist thrown over it and glistening silver marks in the middle? Would you like the other side to be bright brown, dappled with darker shades and tipped with dainty violet?
The wings of Violet Tip were like that, when she came sailing over Holiday Meadow one warm sunshiny day.
In that pleasant field were many plants that held sweet drops of nectar in their bright flower-cups. Violet Tip had often paused to sip from them on other voyages. The colors seemed to attract her, and she certainly liked the taste of nectar.
But this time she did not linger among the fragrant blossoms. She was sailing for another port. She was, indeed, taking the most important journey in the life of a butterfly.
As Violet Tip drifted past the hedgerow that bordered the meadow, something caused her to change her course. She steered up the side of Holiday Hill.
Why should that little voyager turn away from the blossoms where she had often feasted? What was there in the air, that warm summer day, that seemed better to her than the fragrance of flowers? Who knows?
Perhaps, for once, an odor of leaves appealed to her more than the sweetness of flowers. It may be, for a time, that the scent of a plant belonging to the Nettle Family drew her. She, herself, had eaten many a green salad of such leaves. That, of course, was when she was young enough to have strong jaws instead of the long slender tongue that she now held coiled like a watch spring.
But what could she care about them now—nettles or hop or other leaves of that plant family? For on she went, straight up the hillside to a big elm tree, and there she stopped! And elms, as you may know, are closely related to nettles and hop—so closely, indeed, that many botanists say they belong to the Nettle Family.
What botanists say about elm trees did not concern Violet Tip. She had never seen a book about plants in her life. She did not need any person's advice about such matters. She had a surer guide to the plants than a book. Just what led her to an elm tree I cannot tell you. I think it was some odor; but, of course, I do not really know, because I have no way of learning how hop and nettles and elms smell to a butterfly.
This much, however, is certain. Violet Tip did steer straight for that tall tree, shaped like a great plume. She entered the Port of Elm, and there she stopped. While in that harbor, she anchored her eggs on some good fresh leaves, using a special sort of glue to hold them fast which would not melt in sunshine or dissolve in rain.
Two of Violet Tip's eggs—much enlarged
As soon as that important ceremony was over, Violet Tip lost her interest in elms or other members of the Nettle Family. She fluttered away in the sunshine; and, when she came to a gay fragrant blossom, she paused for refreshments. She uncoiled her tongue, and, dipping it into the tube of a flower, she sipped nectar as easily as you can suck lemonade through a straw.
One of Violet Tip's names was Grapta. So that is what we may as well call the daughter-caterpillar that was in one of the eggs that had been put on the elm leaves. The egg was lovely as a tiny green jewel. It was almost barrel-shaped, and it had ridges and delicate white creases.
The weather was warm and baby Grapta stayed inside the pretty eggshell for only four days. Then she nibbled a hole in the top of her thin barrel and poked out her shiny bald head. She had a droll way of nodding it as she crept over the ragged edge.
Grapta hatched from one of Violet Tip's eggs and grew to be a spiny caterpillar
A taste of eggshell seemed all right for part of her breakfast; but very soon the baby caterpillar was ready for something more nourishing. There was nothing anywhere near Grapta except elm leaves—elm leaves beneath her, elm leaves above her, elm leaves on every side of her. However, that was just the food Grapta needed for the present. Such a diet agreed with her quite as well as a menu of hop or nettle or other closely related plants.
Violet Tip and her brothers and sisters had eaten elm‑leaf salads
Like all growing caterpillars, Grapta molted her skin several times. The outer covering of her head came off and she got rid of even the lining of her breathing tubes. Of course new ones grew. She could not eat for a few hours before she molted. Her jaws would not work. And I suppose she had no appetite. But each time she shed her skin her mouth became larger than before and she could eat faster.
Her last caterpillar-suit was quite different from her first one. Its color was brown with many fine white markings. It was covered with rows of branched spines.
After Grapta grew to be as large as a caterpillar of her kind can be, she spun some silk. Most caterpillar silk is white or cream-colored or gray or brown. But Grapta's silk was pink—rather a bright pink, too.
She did not make a cocoon with her silk fibers. She spun and wove a thin pad on the underside of an elm twig. She put a tuft of silk near the center of the pad.
Grapta was a natural acrobat. She took hold of this silk tuft with her hind feet and then swung head down. She did this the first time she tried.
Grapta and one of her sisters when they were chrysalises
While she was hanging in this position a change was going on inside her spiny coat. Several hours later this old garment ripped; and quite a different Grapta wriggled out of it. There was no longer a caterpillar hanging from the silk tuft. The object that was there was a chrysalis.
Grapta certainly had a queer shape while she was in this stage. One end of her body looked like a head with two stiff horns and a big Roman nose. The other part had bright spots that looked like gold and silver and rows of little spikes.
After staying inside her chrysalis case for nearly two weeks, Grapta broke this thin covering and crept out of it. Of course this time she was a butterfly. She felt no interest at all in elm leaves. A new world lay before her. She faced a flood of sunshine through which breezes brought the fragrance of flowers. Gradually her wings stretched out like lovely brown sails with violet tips.
You will not be surprised by what Grapta did next. She left the bough of that great elm which had been her safe harbor (through egg-days and larva-days and pupa-days); and drifted away to the glorious goldenrod islands where she drank the first nectar she had ever tasted.
When the autumn days grew cool, Grapta sought a nook where she might rest long and quietly.
Like Rana the yelping frog, and Lotor the raccoon, and Whistling Wejack the woodchuck, and Sir Talis the serpent, Grapta, the frail violet-tipped butterfly, passed the cold winter weeks in that strange sleep that is called hibernation.
The sunshine of springtime wakened her before the plants had their nectar ready to serve. But Grapta did not go hungry. Sap, leaking from bruised bark on oaks and other trees, had a savory tang. And before many days some early spring blossoms held their cups of nectar for her and other thirsty insects.
But at last there came a day, as there had come to her mother, when her own hunger and thirst were forgotten. She turned away from the fragrance of flowers and their sweet juices. A most important journey lay before her. She needed no map or compass to show her the way. As thousands of generations of violet-tipped butterflies had done before her, Grapta set sail for the good old Port of Elm.
The street-lamps shine in a yellow line
Down the splashy, gleaming street,
And the rain is heard, now loud, now blurred
By the tread of homing feet.
WEEK 46 |
When I saw him again he was deep in less creditable business. It was a perfect autumn day,—the air full of light and color, the fragrant woods resting under the soft haze like a great bouquet of Nature's own culling, birds, bees and squirrels frolicking all day long amidst the trees, yet doing an astonishing amount of work in gathering each one his harvest for the cold dark days that were coming.
At daylight, from the top of a hill, I looked down on a little clearing and saw the first signs of the game I was seeking. There had been what old people call a duck-frost. In the meadows and along the fringes of the woods the white rime lay thick and powdery on grass and dead leaves; every foot that touched it left a black mark, as if seared with a hot iron, when the sun came up and shone upon it. Across the field three black trails meandered away from the brook; but alas! under the fringe of evergreen was another trail, that of a man, which crept and halted and hid, yet drew nearer and nearer the point where the three deer trails vanished into the wood. Then I found powder marks, and some brush that was torn by buck shot, and three trails that bounded away, and a tiny splash of deeper red on a crimson maple leaf. So I left the deer to the early hunter and wandered away up the hill for a long, lazy, satisfying day in the woods alone.
Presently I came to a low brush fence running zigzag through the woods, with snares set every few yards in the partridge and rabbit runs. At the third opening a fine cock partridge swung limp and lifeless from a twitch-up. The cruel wire had torn his neck under his beautiful ruff; the broken wing quills showed how terrible had been his struggle. Hung by the neck till dead!—an atrocious fate to mete out to a noble bird. I followed the hedge of snares for a couple of hundred yards, finding three more strangled grouse and a brown rabbit. Then I sat down in a beautiful spot to watch the life about me, and to catch the snarer at his abominable work.
The sun climbed higher and blotted out the four trails in the field below. Red squirrels came down close to my head to chatter and scold and drive me out of the solitude. A beautiful gray squirrel went tearing by among the branches, pursued by one of the savage little reds that nipped and snarled at his heels. The two cannot live together, and the gray must always go. Jays stopped spying on the squirrels—to see and remember where their winter stores were hidden—and lingered near me, whistling their curiosity at the silent man below. None but jays gave any heed to the five grim corpses swinging by their necks over the deadly hedge, and to them it was only a new sensation.
Then a cruel thing happened,—one of the many tragedies that pass unnoticed in the woods. There was a scurry in the underbrush, and strange cries like those of an agonized child, only tiny and distant, as if heard in a phonograph. Over the sounds a crow hovered and rose and fell, in his intense absorption seeing nothing but the creature below. Suddenly he swooped like a hawk into a thicket, and out of the cover sprang a leveret (young hare), only to crouch shivering in the open space under a hemlock's drooping branches. There the crow headed him, struck once, twice, three times, straight hard blows with his powerful beak; and when I ran to the spot the leveret lay quite dead with his skull split, while the crow went flapping wildly to the tree tops, giving the danger cry to the flock that was gossiping in the sunshine on the ridge across the valley.
The woods were all still after that; jays and squirrels seemed appalled at the tragedy, and avoided me as if I were responsible for the still little body under the hemlock tips. An hour passed; then, a quarter-mile away, in the direction that the deer had taken in the early morning, a single jay set up his cry, the cry of something new passing in the woods. Two or three others joined him; the cry came nearer. A flock of crossbills went whistling overhead, coming from the same direction. Then, as I slipped away into an evergreen thicket, a partridge came whirring up, and darted by me like a brown arrow driven by the bending branches behind him, flicking the twigs sharply with his wings as he drove along. And then, on the path of his last forerunner, Old Wally appeared, his keen eyes searching his murderous gibbet-line expectantly.
Now Old Wally was held in great reputation by the Nimrods of the village, because he hunted partridges, not with "scatter-gun" and dog,—such amateurish bungling he disdained and swore against,—but in the good old-fashioned way of stalking with a rifle. And when he brought his bunch of birds to market, his admirers pointed with pride to the marks of his wondrous skill. Here was a bird with the head hanging by a thread of skin; there one with its neck broken; there a furrow along the top of the head; and here—perfect work!—a partridge with both eyes gone, showing the course of his unerring bullet.
Not ten yards from my hiding place he took down a partridge from its gallows, fumbled a pointed stick out of his pocket, ran it through the bird's neck, and stowed the creature that had died miserably, without a chance for its life, away in one of his big pockets, a self-satisfied grin on his face as he glanced down the hedge and saw another bird swinging. So he followed his hangman's hedge, treating each bird to his pointed stick, carefully resetting the snares after him and clearing away the fallen leaves from the fatal pathways. When he came to the rabbit he harled him dexterously, slipped him over his long gun barrel, took his bearings in a quick look, and struck over the ridge for another southern hillside.
Here, at last, was the secret of Wally's boasted skill in partridge hunting with a rifle. Spite of my indignation at the snare line, the cruel death which gaped day and night for the game as it ran about heedlessly in the fancied security of its own coverts, a humorous, half shame-faced feeling of admiration would creep in as I thought of the old sinner's cunning, and remembered his look of disdain when he met me one day, with a "scatter-gun" in my hands and old Don following obediently at heel. Thinking that in his long life he must have learned many things in the woods that I would be glad to know, I had invited him cordially to join me. But he only withered me with the contempt in his hawk eyes, and wiggled his toe as if holding back a kick from my honest dog with difficulty.
"Go hunting with ye? Not much, Mister. Scarin' a pa'tridge to death with a dum dog, and then turnin' a handful o' shot loose on the critter, an' call it huntin'! That's the way to kill a pa'tridge, the on'y decent way"—and he pulled a bird out of his pocket, pointing to a clean hole through the head where the eyes had been.
When he had gone I kicked the hedge to pieces quickly, cut the twitch-ups at the butts and threw them with their wire nooses far into the thickets, and posted a warning in a cleft stick on the site of the last gibbet. Then I followed Wally to a second and third line of snares, which were treated in the same rough way, and watched him with curiously mingled feelings of detestation and amusement as he sneaked down the dense hillside with tread light as Leatherstocking, the old gun over his shoulder, his pockets bulging enormously, and a string of hanged rabbits swinging to and fro on his gun barrel, as if in death they had caught the dizzy motion and could not quit it while the woods they had loved and lived in threw their long sad shadows over them. So they came to the meadow, into which they had so often come limping down to play or feed among the twilight shadows, and crossed it for the last time on Wally's gun barrel, swinging, swinging.
The leaves were falling thickly now; they formed a dry, hard carpet over which it was impossible to follow game accurately, and they rustled a sharp warning underfoot if but a wood mouse ran over them. It was of little use to still-hunt the wary old buck till the rains should soften the carpet, or a snowfall make tracking like boys' play. But I tried it once more; found the quarry on a ridge deep in the woods, and followed—more by good-luck than by good management—till, late in the afternoon, I saw the buck with two smaller deer standing far away on a half-cleared hillside, quietly watching a wide stretch of country below. Beyond them the ridge narrowed gradually to a long neck, ending in a high open bluff above the river.
There I tried my last hunter's dodge—manœuvered craftily till near the deer, which were hidden by dense thickets, and rushed straight at them, thinking they would either break away down the open hillside, and so give me a running shot, or else rush straightaway at the sudden alarm and be caught on the bluff beyond.
Was it simple instinct, I wonder, or did the buck that had grown old in hunter's wiles feel what was passing in my mind, and like a flash take the chance that would save, not only his own life, but the lives of the two that followed him? At the first alarm they separated; the two smaller deer broke away down the hillside, giving me as pretty a shot as one could wish. But I scarcely noticed them; my eyes were following eagerly a swift waving of brush tops, which told me that the big buck was jumping away, straight into the natural trap ahead.
I followed on the run till the ridge narrowed so that I could see across it on either side, then slowly, carefully, steadying my nerves for the shot. The river was all about him now, too wide to jump, too steep-banked to climb down; the only way out was past me. I gripped the rifle hard, holding it at a ready as I moved forward, watching either side for a slinking form among the scattered coverts. At last, at last! and how easy, how perfectly I had trapped him! My heart was singing as I stole along.
The tracks moved straight on; first an easy run, then a swift, hard rush as they approached the river. But what was this? The whole end of the bluff was under my eye, and no buck standing at bay or running wildly along the bank to escape. The tracks moved straight on to the edge in great leaps; my heart quickened its beat as if I were nerving myself for a supreme effort. Would he do it? would he dare?
A foot this side the brink the lichens were torn away where the sharp hoofs had cut down to solid earth. Thirty feet away, well over the farther bank and ten feet below the level where I stood, the fresh earth showed clearly among the hoof-torn moss. Far below, the river fretted and roared in a white rush of rapids. He had taken the jump, a jump that made one's nostrils spread and his breath come hard as he measured it with his eye. Somewhere, over in the spruces' shadow there, he was hiding, watching me no doubt to see if I would dare follow.
That was the last of the autumn woods for me. If I had only seen him—just one splendid glimpse as he shot over and poised in mid-air, turning for the down plunge! That was my only regret as I turned slowly away, the river singing beside me and the shadows lengthening along the home trail.
The pig and the hen,
They both got in one pen,
And the hen said she wouldn't go out.
"Mistress Hen," says the pig,
"Don't you be quite so big!"
And he gave her a push with his snout.
"You're rough and you're fat,
But who cares for all that;
I will stay if I choose," says the hen,
"No, mistress, no longer!"
Says pig: "I'm the stronger,
And mean to be boss of my pen!"
Then the hen cackled out
Just as close to his snout
As she dare: "You're an ill-natured brute;
And if I had the corn,
Just as sure as I'm born,
I would send you to starve or to root!"
"But you don't own the cribs;
So I think that my ribs
Will never the leaner for you:
This trough is my trough,
And the sooner you're off,"
Says the pig, "Why, the better you'll do!"
"You're not a bit fair,
And you're cross as a bear:
What harm do I do in your pen?
But a pig is a pig,
And I don't care a fig
For the worst you can say," says the hen.
Says the pig, "You will care
If I act like a bear
And tear your two wings from your neck."
"What a nice little pen
You have got!" says the hen,
Beginning to scratch and to peck.
Now the pig stood amazed,
And the bristles, upraised
A moment past, fell down so sleek.
"Neighbor Biddy," says he,
"If you'll just allow me,
I will show you a nice place to pick!"
So she followed him off,
And they ate from one trough—
They had quarrelled for nothing, they saw;
And when they had fed,
"Neighbor Hen," the pig said,
"Won't you stay here and roost in my straw?"
"No, I thank you; you see
That I sleep in a tree,"
Says the hen; "but I must go away;
So a grateful good-bye."
"Make your home in my sty."
Says the pig, "and come in every day."
Now my child will not miss
The true moral of this
Little story of anger and strife;
For a word spoken soft
Will turn enemies oft
Into friends that will stay friends for life.
WEEK 46 |
O NE warm and bright morning in June, about the mid-day hour, Joan was sitting in the garden of her father's house, busily sewing on her needlework. She paused a moment to listen to the ever-beautiful chimes of the Angelus bell, sounding from the nearby church steeple. Sometimes the young bell-ringer was lazy. Whenever he was slow, little Joan was sure to notice it. She scolded him sweetly and promised the boy a large basketful of the fleecy white wool from her father's sheep, if he would be more prompt in ringing the chimes. How Joan loved the song of the bells!
The carols of the birds chirping merrily in the branches overhead now mingled with the melody of the bells and sounded like a harmonious song to the little girl.
Suddenly a bright gleam of light shone upon Joan and a sweet mysterious Voice sent down from Heaven spoke to the frightened little maid. None of Joan's playmates were near the place from which the sound came; therefore the little girl was seized with terror.
The Voice was sweet and tender and spoke but a few simple words. It said to her, "Joan, to be a wise and good child, go often to church." She heard the Voice three times, and she knew it was the Voice of an Angel. Joan's fear grew less and less as she listened. The Angel also told Joan to prepare herself to go to the aid of France, for she had been chosen by God to save her country.
Joan heard other Voices and the air was filled with fragrance. She soon understood their meaning more clearly. The Voices were those of Saint Michael the Archangel, who was the protector of France, and of Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret, under whose statues in the little church Joan always placed wreaths of flowers.
These Voices of the Saints spoke to Joan until she was sixteen years old, when they became more urgent. They told her that her native land, the beautiful country of France, was in grave danger. They told Joan that she must go to help her King and save her nation.
"I am but a poor girl," said Joan, "who cannot ride or be a leader in war."
But the Voices reassured the little peasant girl, and when another year had passed, the clear Voices were heard again, accompanied by divine apparitions which appeared before the enraptured eyes of the Maid. They were figures of a supernatural beauty, wearing crowns of gold.
St. Michael the Archangel and the Young Maid of France
Upon their arrival, Joan bowed humbly to them; she drew near to hear their words. The sweet Voices murmured:
"Most happy little maiden,
You have nought to fear.
The Heavenly Father up above
Sends us to tell you of His love.
He wishes us to comfort you
Who are to Him so dear."
The Voices told Joan that it was the wish of God that she seek out the Sire of Baudricourt, captain of a town called Vaucouleurs, and ask his aid. He would give her a group of armed soldiers to escort her to the Dauphin, as the Prince of France was called.
Indeed, there was good cause for Joan to come to the aid of her country at this time. England, a powerful nation, was waging war with France. There was great distress in the kingdom; the English were destroying fields; and even churches were left in ruins. The terror was so great in Domremy that the farmers were afraid to leave their cattle in the fields to graze, and at the slightest alarm, they led their animals to the "Castle of the Island" and took refuge there. While these smaller villages were being ravaged and plundered, the larger cities were as yet untouched. The Lords and Ladies were still arrayed in satins and laces and were living in great luxury. The Ladies also wore extravagant headdresses and were bedecked in jewels, all unmindful of their native land. As if that were not enough, there was also civil strife in France. Many of the French, under the Duke of Burgundy, had allied themselves to the English, and were warring against their own people.
Gayly Dressed, Despite the Sorrows of Their Native Land
This group was trying to prevent the young Prince, called the Dauphin, from occupying the throne of France. He was the rightful King, but the English and their wicked allies, the Burgundians, hoped to conquer him.
The town of Vaucouleurs was about twelve miles away and Joan wondered how she would be able to reach her destination. This was arranged more easily than the Maid expected, for she soon visited her uncle, Durand Laxart, who lived quite near this town. Joan told him her mission and begged him to take her to the Sire of Baudricourt. How astonished he was at her request! At first he did not want to grant it.
"Uncle," said Joan, "don't you remember the old saying that France shall be made desolate by a woman and restored by a maiden from the Marches of Lorraine?"
Uncle Laxart was thoughtful, for the saying was indeed well-known to all the countryside. Joan quickly added, "I am that maiden." Then her uncle protested no longer but promised to speak to the Sire of Baudricourt in her behalf.
The jovial Robert de Baudricourt listened tolerantly to the request of Uncle Laxart. Nevertheless he refused to supply men and horses for a little peasant girl whom he knew nothing about.
Joan then decided to see Robert de Baudricourt on her own behalf, and on Ascension Day, May 13th, of the year 1428, she appeared before the nobleman to ask his aid. There were crowds of knights, archers, and soldiers gathered in the castle to catch a glimpse of this strange girl.
Everyone who saw Joan was pleased by the bright and happy expression on her countenance, and by her courteous behavior. Wearing a simple frock of red wool, she arrived at the castle, her head held high, and an expression of great earnestness on her fair young face.
Joan told Baudricourt how she had been sent by God to advise him that he should send word to the young Dauphin to stand firm. God had given His word that He would send help to the Dauphin before the middle of Lent. She also added that it was the will of God that the Dauphin should be crowned in spite of his enemies, and that she herself was appointed to lead him to his coronation.
Baudricourt listened to the Maid with scorn. And because her uncle was listening, he added, "As for the one who brought you here, box his ears soundly when you get home again."
With high hopes, Joan left Vaucouleurs.
Joan returned home, but she was not disheartened by the rebuff of Baudricourt and resolved to reach the young Dauphin with the help of God. Her own little village of Domremy had already been wrecked and plundered by the enemy, the roofs were ripped off, the walls blackened by fire, and the church where Joan had spent so many pleasant hours was now a sad ruin.
As she left Domremy again, with the hope of another interview with Baudricourt in the nearby town of Vaucouleurs, Joan said farewell to her playmates for the last time. It was a sad parting, for Joan was loved by everyone in the friendly little village.
"Good-bye, Mengette," she called to one of her companions. "May the Lord bless you!" But to her bosom friend, little Hauviette, Joan could not bear to say farewell. When Hauviette heard of Joan's departure, she wept bitterly because she loved her so much for her goodness, and because Joan was her dearest friend.
And so Joan of Arc looked for the last time with loving eyes on the village of Domremy and the little brook of Three-Fountains, the big Meuse River, the "Castle of the Island" with its grey old garden, the familiar meadows where she had run races and led her cows to pasture, the giant trees in the gloomy Oak Wood, and the dear home of her childhood.
A Serpent had succeeded in surprising an Eagle and had wrapped himself around the Eagle's neck. The Eagle could not reach the Serpent, neither with beak nor claws. Far into the sky he soared trying to shake off his enemy. But the Serpent's hold only tightened, and slowly the Eagle sank back to earth, gasping for breath.
A Countryman chanced to see the unequal combat. In pity for the noble Eagle he rushed up and soon had loosened the coiling Serpent and freed the Eagle.
The Serpent was furious. He had no chance to bite the watchful Countryman. Instead he struck at the drinking horn, hanging at the Countryman's belt, and into it let fly the poison of his fangs.
The Countryman now went on toward home. Becoming thirsty on the way, he filled his horn at a spring, and was about to drink. There was a sudden rush of great wings. Sweeping down, the Eagle seized the poisoned horn from out his savior's hands, and flew away with it to hide it where it could never be found.
An act of kindness is well repaid.
When cats run home and light is come,
And dew is cold upon the ground,
And the far-off stream is dumb,
And the whirring sail goes round,
And the whirring sail goes round;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.
When merry milkmaids click the latch,
And rarely smells the new-mown hay,
And the cock hath sung beneath the thatch
Twice or thrice his roundelay,
Twice or thrice his roundelay;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.
WEEK 46 |
"And they whose firm endurance gained
The freedom of the souls of men,
Whose hands, unstained with blood, maintained
The swordless commonwealth of Penn."
N OW, as in the reign of James I. of England the Pilgrim Fathers had sailed to America to escape persecution, so now under Charles II. another persecuted band of men turned their eyes towards a home beyond the Atlantic. These men were known as Friends or Quakers. They were very strict, and thought it wrong to serve as soldiers. The king wanted men to fight in his Dutch wars, but these men refused: so they were fined, imprisoned, and whipped. At last one of the Quaker leaders, William Penn, asked the king to give him some land in America, where he might take his band of Quakers, that they might live in peace on the far side of the great Atlantic. The king consented, and gave him a large tract of country in the neighbourhood of New York, which had just been taken from the Dutch.
"Let us call the new land Sylvania," said Penn, "on account of the woods abounding there."
"We will add the honoured name of Penn," said the king. So the country became Pennsylvania, by which name it is
For this land Penn was to pay the king two beaver-skins a-year, as well as a fifth of all the gold and silver found in the country. An expedition was at once sent out to take formal possession of the new country, while Penn himself prepared to follow.
"You are our brothers," said the new settlers when the Indians appeared, "and we will live like brothers with you. There shall be one broad path for you and us to walk in."
William Penn left England on the last day of August 1682, with a hundred Quakers in the ship Welcome. Like the little Mayflower, sixty years before, the Welcome had a terrible time on the sea. Smallpox broke out and raged so fiercely that thirty emigrants died before the ship reached America. After a two months' voyage—a fast passage for those days—the Welcome arrived, and Penn landed on the banks of the Delaware river with his sadly thinned band. About 100 miles up the great river the beginnings of an infant city had already been marked out. In an open boat Penn started up the river. The scenery was wholly enchanting. The thickly wooded shores shone with the red and golden tints of autumn, wildfowl abounded, and the charm of the new country must have impressed its owner not a little. Penn was received joyfully by the Quaker party who had arrived before him, while the old Dutch and Swedish settlers were anxious to catch a glimpse of their new governor.
The building of the great city went gaily forward, while Penn arranged a great meeting with the Indians at a given spot on the shores of the Delaware river. The natives arrived in great numbers, fully armed, and sat down in a circle under a spreading elm-tree, round a great fire. In the front were the chiefs and aged men, while behind were the young men, women, and children. It was November now, and the autumn leaves had fallen to the ground. As Penn drew near, unarmed, the Indians laid down their weapons of war and prepared to listen to him. A sky-blue sash distinguished the leader from his friends. He began solemnly:
"The great God who made you and me, who rules the heavens and the earth, knows that I and my friends have a hearty desire to live in peace and friendship with you, and serve you to the uttermost of our power. It is not our custom to use hostile weapons against our fellow-creatures, so we have come unarmed. We wish not to do harm, but to do good."
Penn then unrolled the document he carried in his hands, and read aloud the treaty to which he wanted them to agree.
All William Penn's Christians and all Indians should be brothers, as the children of one Father, joined together in head and heart. All paths should be open and free to both Christians and Indians. All Indians should teach their children of this firm chain of friendship, that it might become stronger and stronger and be kept bright and clean, without rust or spot. And the Indians declared, "while the rivers and creeks should run, while the sun, moon, and stars should endure," they would live in peace with the English.
In token of this Penn called the new city Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. It grew very rapidly. Hardly a month passed that did not bring shiploads of emigrants, attracted thither by Penn's great humanity and his peaceful relations with the Indians.
Having made a success of his colony, Penn returned to England, where he died some time later. And the Indians of Pennsylvania, who had loved him as a brother, sent some beautiful skins to make a cloak for his widow, as they said, "to protect her while passing through the thorny wilderness without her guide."
WEEK 46 |
HERE was a soldier marching along the road—left, right! left, right! He had been to the wars for five years, so that he was very brave, and now he was coming home again. In his knapsack were two farthings, and that was everything that he had in the world. All the same, he had a rich brother at home, and that was something to say.
So on he tramped until he had come to his rich brother's house.
"Good-day, brother," said he, "and how does the old world treat you."
But the rich brother screwed up his face and rubbed his nose, for he was none too glad to see the other. "What!" said he, "and is the Pewter Penny back again?" That was the way that he welcomed the other to his house.
"Tut! tut!" says the brave soldier, "and is not this a pretty way to welcome a brother home to be sure! All that I want is just a crust of bread and a chance to rest the soles of my feet back of the stove a little while."
Oh, well! if that was all that he wanted, he might have his supper and a bed for the night, but he must not ask for any more, and he must jog on in the morning and never come that way again.
Well, as no more broth was to be had from that dish, the soldier said that he would be satisfied with what he could get; so into the house he came.
Over by the fire was a bench, and on the bench was a basket, and in the basket were seven young ducks that waited where it was warm until the rest were hatched. The soldier saw nothing of these; down he sat, and the little young ducks said "peep!" and died all at once. Up jumped the soldier and over went the beer mug that sat by the fire so that the beer ran all around and put out the blaze.
At this the rich brother fell into a mighty rage. "See!" said he, "you never go anywhere but you bring Trouble with you. Out of the house before I make this broom rattle about your ears!"
And so the brave soldier had to go out under the blessed sky again. "Well! well!" said he, "the cream is all sour over yonder for sure and certain! All the same it will better nothing to be in the dumps, so we'll just sing a bit of a song to keep our spirits up." So the soldier began to sing, and by and by he heard that somebody was singing along with him.
"Halloa, comrade!" said he, "who is there?"
"Oh!" said a voice beside him, "it is only Trouble."
"And what are you doing there, Trouble?" said the soldier.
Oh! Trouble was only jogging along with him. They had been friends and comrades for this many a bright day, for when had the soldier ever gone anywhere that Trouble had not gone along with him?
The brave soldier scratched his head. "Yes, yes," says he; "that is all very fine; but there must be an end of the business. See! yonder is one road and here is another; you may go that road and I will go this, for I want no Trouble for a comrade."
"Oh, no!" says Trouble, "I will never leave you now; you and I have been comrades too long for that!"
Very well! the soldier would see about that. They should go to the king, for things had come to a pretty pass if one could not choose one's own comrades in this broad world, but must, willy-nilly, have Trouble always jogging at one's heels.
So off they went—the soldier and Trouble—and by and by they came to the great town and there they found the king.
"Well, and what is the trouble now?" said the king.
Trouble indeed! Why, it was thus and so; here was that same Trouble tramping around at the soldier's heels and would go wherever he went. Now, the soldier would like to know whether one had no right to choose one's own comrades—that was the business that had brought him to the king!
Well, the king thought and thought and puzzled and puzzled, but that nut was too hard for him to crack, so he sent off for all of his wise councillors to see what they had to say about the matter.
So, when they had all come together the king told them that things were thus and so, and thus and so, and now he would like to know what they all thought about it.
Then the wise councillors began to talk and talk, and one said one thing and another another. After a while they fell to arguing with loud voices, and then they grew angry and began talking all at once, and last of all they came to fisticuffs. Then you should have heard what a racket they made! for they buffeted and cuffed one another until the hair flew as thick as dust in the mill.
That was the kind of prank that Trouble played them.
Now the king had a daughter, and the princess was as pretty a lass as one could find were he to hunt for seven summer days. When she heard all the hubbub she came to see what it was about, for that is the way with all of us, and of women folk more than any. And the king told her all about it; how the soldier had come to that town to get rid of Trouble, and how he had done nothing but bring it with him.
"Perhaps," said she, "Trouble might leave him if he were married."
At this the king fell into a mighty fume, for no man likes to have a woman tell him to do thus and so when things are in a pickle. He should like to know what the princess meant by coming and pouring her broth into their pot! If that was her notion she might help the soldier herself. Married he should be, and she should be his wife—that was what the king said.
So the soldier and the princess were married, and then the king had them both put into a great chest and thrown into the sea—but there was room in the chest for Trouble, and he went along with them.
Well, they floated on and on and on for a great long time, until, at last, the chest came ashore at a place where three giants lived.
The three giants were sitting on the shore fishing. "See, brothers," said the first of them, "yonder is a great chest washed up on the shore." So they went over to where it was, and then the second giant took it on his shoulder and carried it home. After that they all three sat down to supper.
Just then the soldier's nose began to itch and tickle, so that, for the life of him, he could not help sneezing.
"At-tchew!"—and there it was.
"Hark, brothers!" said the third giant, "yonder is somebody in the chest!"
So the three giants came and opened the chest, and there were the soldier and the princess. Trouble was there too, but the giants saw nothing of him.
They bound the soldier with strong cords so that they might have him to eat for breakfast in the morning.
And now what was to be done with the princess?
"See, brothers," said the first giant, "I am thinking that a wife will about fit my needs. This lass will do as well as any, and, as I found her I will just keep her."
"Prut! how you talk!" said the second giant, "do you think that nobody is to marry in the wide world but you? Who was it brought the lass to the house I should like to know! No; I will marry her myself."
"Stop!" said the third giant. "You are both going too fast on that road. I thought of a wife long before either of you. Who was it found that the lass was in the house, I should like to know!"
And so they talked and talked until they fell to quarrelling, and then to blows. Over they rolled, cuffing and slapping, until each one killed the other two, so that they all lay as dead as fishes. And that was an end of them.
"See, now," said Trouble to the soldier, "who can say that I have done nothing for you? I tell you, comrade, that I am a good friend of yours, and love you as though you were my born brother. Listen! over yonder in the field is a great stone under which the giants have hidden stacks and stacks of money. Go and borrow a cart and two horses, and I will go with you and show you where it is."
Well, you may guess that that was a song that pleased the soldier. Off he went and borrowed a cart and two horses. Then he and Trouble went into the field together, and Trouble showed him where the stone was where the treasure lay.
The soldier rolled the stone over, and there, sure enough, lay bags and bags, all full of gold and silver money.
Down he went into the pit and began bringing up the money and loading it into the cart. After a while he had brought it all but one bag full.
"See, Trouble," said he, "my back is nearly broken with carrying the money. There is still one bag down there yet; go down like a good lad and bring it up for me."
Oh, yes! Trouble would do that much for the soldier, for had they not been comrades for many and one bright, blessed days? Down he went into the pit, and then you may believe that the soldier was not long in rolling the stone into its place. So there was Trouble as tight as a fly in a bottle.
After that the soldier went back home again with great contentment—as I would have done had I ridden home upon a cart full of gold and silver, all of which belonged to me. He had left one bag of money, but then it was worth that much to be rid of Trouble.
After that the soldier built a ship and loaded it with the money. Then he and the princess sailed away to the king's house, for they thought that maybe the king would like them better now that Trouble had left them and money had come.
When the king saw what a great boatload of gold and silver the soldier had brought home with him he was as pleased as pleased could be. He could not make enough of the brave soldier; he called him son, and walked about the streets with him arm in arm, so that the folks might see how fond he was of his son-in-law. Besides that he gave him half of the kingdom to rule over, so that the soldier and the princess lived together as snugly as a couple of mice in the barn when threshing is going on.
Well, one day a neighbor came to the rich brother and said, "Dear! dear! but the world is easy with your brother, the soldier!"
At this the rich brother pricked up his ears. "How is that?" said he—"My brother, the soldier? How comes the world to be easy with him, I should like to know?"
Oh, the neighbor could not tell him that; all that he knew was that the soldier was living over yonder with a princess for his wife, and more gold and silver money than a body could count in a week.
Well, well, this would never do! The rich brother must pick up acquaintance with the soldier again, now that he was rising in the world. So he put on his blue Sunday coat and his best hat, and away he went to the soldier's house.
Well, the soldier was a good-natured fellow, and bore grudges against nobody, so he shook hands with his brother, and they sat down together by the stove. Then the rich brother wanted to know all about everything—how came it that the other was so well off in the world?
Oh, there was no secret about that; it happened thus and so. And then the soldier told all about it. After that the other went home, but there was a great buzzing in his head, I can tell you!
"Now," says he to himself, "I will go over yonder to the giants' house, and will let Trouble out from under the stone. Then he will come here to my brother and will turn things topsy-turvy, and I will get the bag of money that was left there."
So, off he went until he came to the place where Trouble lay under the stone. He rolled the stone over, and—whisk! clip!—out popped Trouble from the hole. "And so you were leaving me here to be starved, were you?" said he.
"Oh, dear friend Trouble! it was not I, it was my brother, the soldier!"
Oh, well, that was all one to Trouble; now that he was out he would stay with the man who let him out, and there was an end of it. "So bring along the bag of gold," says he, "for it is high time that we were going home."
So the rich brother took the bag of gold over his shoulder, and the two went home together; and if anybody was down in the mouth, it was the rich brother.
And now everything went wrong for him, for Trouble dogged his heels wherever he went. At last his patience could hold out no longer, and he began to cudgel his brains to find some way to get rid of the other. So one day he says,
"Come, Trouble, we will go out into the forest this morning and cut some wood."
Well, that suited Trouble as well as anything else, so off they went together, arm in arm. By and by they came to the forest, and there the man cut down a great tree. Then he split open the stump, and drove a wedge into it. So it came dinner-time, and then Trouble and he ate together.
"See now, Trouble," said the man, "they tell me that you can go anywhere in all of the world."
"Yes," said Trouble, "that is so."
"And could you go into that tree that I have split yonder?"
Oh yes; Trouble could do that well enough.
If that was so the man would like to see him do it, that he would.
Oh, Trouble would do that and more, too, for a friend's asking. So he made himself small and smaller, and so crept into the cleft in the log as easily as though he had been a mouse. But, no sooner was he snugly there than the man seized his axe and knocked out the wedge, and there was Trouble as safe as safe could be. He might beg and beg, but no, the man was deaf in that ear. He shouldered his axe and off he went, leaving Trouble where he was.
Dear me! that was a long time ago; or else some busybody must have let Trouble out of that log, for I know very well that he is stumping about the world nowadays.
I SUPPOSE you have heard your mother wish there were not so many flies. The fact is, flies make us much trouble. Their noise tires and vexes people. They lay eggs in and on the food, and so spoil it. They cover our clean walls and glass with small black spots.
Will you wonder that there are so many flies when I tell you that one fly can in one season be the mother of two million others!
Many insects die soon after laying eggs. Bees and wasps do not, nor do flies. Bees and wasps take care of their eggs and their young, but the fly mother does not.
Mrs. Fly has more than a hundred eggs to lay at once. It is quite plain she could not take care of so many babies. She must let them all look out for themselves.
Still Mrs. Fly shows much sense as to where she puts her eggs. She finds a place where they will be likely to live and get food and grow.
If the place is too wet the baby flies would drown when they leave the egg. If the place is too dry, they would wither up and die. Then, too, they must have soft food.
The fly does not lay her eggs on a stone or a piece of wood. She lays them in some kind of food.
The fly can live all summer if it has a fair chance. Cold kills flies. A frosty day will kill them. Some few flies, like a few of the wasps, hide, and live over winter in a torpid state, and in the spring they come out to rear new swarms.
Birds, spiders, wasps, cats, dogs, and some other animals eat flies. These creatures kill flies by millions. People kill flies with poison and flytraps. If so many were not killed, we should be overrun with them. In the South is a plant with a leaf like a jug. On the seam of this leaf hang drops of honey. Its juice can make the flies drunk.
Flies like this juice. But as soon as they get it they turn dizzy and act just like drunken men. They fall into the jug-like space of the leaf and soon die. One of these plants will kill many flies in one day.
A Tavern by the Way
Many of our best birds live on flies, and if our birds were all dead we should have much greater trouble with the flies.
In the autumn you will see flies sitting about as if they feel dull and ill. If you look carefully you will see that the back part of the body is white. It seems to be covered with meal or mould.
Soon the fly dies. This white dust is a disease of the fly. It does not curl up its legs when it dies from this cause. They are stiff and spread out. The fly looks like a live fly. If you touch it, it crumbles to dust.
All around such a dead fly you will see a ring of white mould. This is perhaps a real mould, or tiny plant, that seizes on the body of the fly. It uses up all the soft parts, and so kills it, leaving only the dry shell.
There is another strange thing about this. The body of a fly that dies in this way is rent or burst open. The fly looks as if this dust or mould had grown large in the body and so torn it open.
When Phoebus had melted the sickles of ice,
And likewise the mountains of snow,
Bold Robin Hood he would ramble to see,
To frolic abroad with his bow.
He left all his merry men waiting behind,
Whilst through the green valleys he passed;
There did he behold a forester bold,
Who cried out, "Friend, whither so fast?"
"I'm going," quoth Robin, "to kill a fat buck,
For me and my merry men all;
Besides, e'er I go, I'll have a fat doe,
Or else it shall cost me a fall."
"You'd best have a care," said the forester then,
"For these are his majesty's deer;
Before you shall shoot the thing I'll dispute,
For I am head-forester here."
"These thirteen long summers," quoth Robin, "I'm sure,
My arrows I here have let fly,
Where freely I range; methinks it is strange,
You should have more power than I."
"This forest," quoth Robin, "I think is my own,
And so are the nimble deer, too;
Therefore I declare, and solemnly swear,
I won't be affronted by you."
The forester he had a long quarter-staff,
Likewise a broad sword by his side;
Without more ado, he presently drew,
Declaring the truth should be tried.
Bold Robin Hood had a sword of the best,
Thus, e'er he would take any wrong,
His courage was flush, he'd venture a brush,
And thus they fell to it
The very first blow that the forester gave,
He made his broad weapon cry twang;
'Twas over the head, he fell down for dead,
O, that was a terrible bang!
But Robin he soon did recover himself,
And bravely fell to it again;
The very next stroke their weapons were broke,
Yet never a man there was slain.
At quarter-staff then they resolved to play,
Because they would have t'other bout;
And brave Robin Hood right valiantly stood,
Unwilling he was to give out.
Bold Robin he gave him very hard blows,
The other returned them as fast;
At every stroke their jackets did smoke,
Three hours the combat did last.
At length in a rage the bold forester grew,
And cudgeled bold Robin so sore
That he could not stand, so shaking his hand,
He said, "Let us freely give o'er."
"Thou art a brave fellow, I needs must confess
I never knew any so good;
Thou'rt fitting to be a yeoman for me,
And range in the merry green wood.
"I'll give thee this ring as a token of love,
For bravely thou'st acted thy part;
That man that can fight, in him I delight,
And love him with all my whole heart."
Then Robin Hood setting his horn to his mouth,
A blast he merrily blows;
His yeomen did hear and straight did appear,
A hundred with trusty long bows.
Now Little John came at the head of them all,
Clothed in a rich mantle of green;
And likewise the rest were gloriously drest,
A right gallant sight to be seen.
"Lo, these are my yeomen," said Robin Hood,
"And thou shalt be one of the train;
A mantle and bow, a quiver also,
I give them whom I entertain."
The forester willingly entered the list,
They were such a beautiful sight;
Then with a long bow they shot a fat doe,
And made a rich supper that night.
What singing and dancing was in the green wood,
For joy of another new mate!
With mirth and delight they spent the long night,
And lived at a plentiful rate.
Then Robin Hood gave him a mantle of green,
Broad arrows and a very long bow;
This done, the next day, so gallant and gay,
He marched them all in a row.
Quoth he, "My brave yeomen, be true to your trust,
And then we may range the woods wide";
They all did declare and solemnly swear,
They'd conquer, or die by his side.
WEEK 46 |
The news of this terrible law came to Mordecai, as it came to all the Jews in Shushan. Mordecai tore his clothes, as was the manner of those in deep grief; he put on garments of sackcloth; he covered his head with ashes, and he went forth in front of the palace, crying a loud and bitter cry. Queen Esther saw him and heard his voice. She sent one of her servants, named Hatach, to Mordecai, to find why he was in such deep trouble. Hatach came to Mordecai, and Mordecai told him of the law for killing the Jews on a certain day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, and gave him a copy of it to show to Queen Esther; and he told Hatach to ask the queen, in his name, to go in to King Ahasuerus and beg him to spare the lives of her people. Queen Esther heard Hatach's words, and sent this message to Mordecai:
"It is the rule of the palace that if any man or woman shall go in to the king in his own room, without being sent for by the king, he shall be slain unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter. But I have not been called to meet the king for thirty days."
When Mordecai heard this message he sent word again by Hatach to Queen Esther:
"Do not think that in the king's palace you are safe, and shall escape the fate of your people. If you keep still, and do nothing to save your people, God will surely save them in some other way; and you and your father's family shall be destroyed. Who can tell whether God has not raised you up and given you your royal place for such a time as this?"
Then Esther sent this answer to Mordecai, "Go, and bring together all the Jews in Shushan, and let them all pray for me, eating and drinking nothing, for three days. I and my maids in the palace will pray and fast also at the same time. And then I will go in to the king, even though it is against the law; and if it be God's will that I should die in trying to save my people, then I will die."
When Mordecai heard these words he was glad, for he felt sure that God would save his people through Queen Esther. For three days all the Jews in Shushan met together, praying; and in the palace Esther and her servants were praying at the same time.
The third day came, and Esther dressed herself in all her robes as queen. She went out of her own rooms, and across the open court, and entered the door in front of the throne where the king was sitting. The king saw her standing before him, in all her beauty, and his heart was touched with love for her. He held out toward her the golden rod or scepter that was in his hand. Esther came near, and touched the top of the scepter. The king said to her:
"What do you wish, Queen Esther? It shall be given to you, even to the half of my kingdom."
But Esther did not at once ask for all that was in her heart. She was very wise, and she said, "If it pleases the king, I have come to ask that the king and Haman, the prince, shall come this day to a dinner that I have made ready for them."
The king said, "Send word to Haman that he haste, and come to dine with the king and queen."
So that day King Ahasuerus and Haman sat at the table with the queen. She was covered with a veil, for even Haman was not allowed to look upon her face. While they were sitting together, the king said, "Queen Esther, is there anything that you wish? It shall be be given to you, whatever it is, even to half of the kingdom."
"My wish," answered the queen, "is that the king and Haman shall come again to a dinner with me to-morrow."
Haman walked out of the palace that day happy at the honor that had come to him, but when he saw Mordecai sitting by the gate, and not rising up to bow before him, all his gladness passed away, and he was angry in his heart. When he came to his own house he told his wife Zeresh, and his friends, how the king and the queen had honored him, and then he said, "But all this is as nothing to me when I see that man, Mordecai the Jew, sitting at the king's gate."
Mordecai does not kneel before Haman
But his wife said to him, "That is nothing. Before you go to the feast to-morrow, have a gallows made, and then ask the king to command that Mordecai be hanged upon it. The king will do whatever you wish, and then, when you have sent Mordecai to death, you can be happy at your feast with the king and the queen."
This was very pleasing to Haman; and on that very day he caused the gallows to be set up, ready for hanging Mordecai on the next day.
It so happened that on that night the king could not sleep. He told them to read in the book of records of the kingdom, hoping that the reading might put him to sleep. They read in the book how Mordecai had told of the two men who had sought to murder the king. The king stopped the reading, and said, "What reward has been given to Mordecai for saving the life of the king from these men?"
"O king," they answered, "nothing has been done for Mordecai."
Then said the king, "Is any one of the princes standing outside in the court?"
"Yes, O king," was answered; "the noble Haman is in the court."
Haman had come in at that very moment to ask the king that Mordecai might be put to death. The king sent word to Haman to come in, and as soon as he entered said to him, "What shall be done to any man whom the king wishes especially to honor?"
Now Haman thought within himself, "There is no man whom
the king will wish to honor more than myself." Then he
said, "The man whom the king wishes especially to
honor, let him be dressed in the garments of the king,
and let him sit on the horse that the king rides upon,
and let the royal crown be set upon his head; let him
ride through the main street of the city, and let one of
the nobles call out before him, 'This is the man whom
the king delights to
Then the king said to Haman, "Make haste, and do all this that you have said to Mordecai the Jew, who sits in the king's gate. See that nothing is left out of what you have spoken."
Haman was astonished, and was cut to the heart, but he did not dare speak as he felt. He obeyed the king's command, sent for the king's horse, his robes, and his crown; dressed Mordecai like a king, mounted him on the horse, and went before him through the street of Shushan, calling aloud, "This is the man whom the king delights to honor!" And after that Haman hid his anger and his sorrow of heart, and sat down to the feast in the queen's palace. He had not said a word to the king of having Mordecai hanged upon the gallows which he had set up the day before.
King Ahasuerus knew very well that his queen had still some favor to ask; and at the feast he said to her, "What do you wish, Queen Esther? Tell me, and I will give it to you, even though it be half of my kingdom."
Then Esther saw that her time had come. She said to the king:
"If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please you, let my life be given me, and the lives of my people. For we have been sold, I and all my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. If only we had been sold as slaves, I would have said nothing; but we are to be slain, in order to please our enemy."
Then said the king, "Who is the man, and where is he, that has dared to do this thing?"
"The enemy," said Queen Esther, "is this wicked Haman!"
Esther points to Haman as her enemy
As the king heard this he was so angry that he rose up from the table, and walked out into the garden. In a moment he came back and saw Haman fallen down upon his face, begging the queen to spare his life. The king looked at him in anger, and the servants at once covered Haman's face, as of one doomed to death. One of the officers standing near said, "There stands the gallows, seventy-five feet high, which Haman set up yesterday for Mordecai to be hanged upon it."
Haman begs for his life from Esther
"Hang Haman himself on it," commanded the king. So Haman died upon the very gallows that he had made for Mordecai.
And on that day the king gave Haman's place to Mordecai, and set him over the princes. He gave to Mordecai his own ring, with its seal. And all the family of Haman, his sons, were put to death for their father's evil-doing, according to the cruel usage of those times.
The law for killing the Jews on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month had been made and sent abroad; and no law of the Persians could be changed. But though this law could not be taken back, another law was made that the Jews could defend themselves against any who might try to do them harm. When the day came most of their enemies feared to harm the Jews, for now they were under the care of the king, and Mordecai, a Jew, stood next to the king; and such of their enemies as tried to kill them on that day were soon destroyed.
So everywhere, instead of sorrow and death, on the thirteenth day of the twelth month, the Jews had joy and gladness. And on the day following, the fourteenth day of the twelfth month, the Jews kept a feast of thanksgiving to God for his mercy in saving them from their enemies. The same feast was kept on that day, every year afterward, and it is still kept among the Jews in all lands, and is called the feast of Purim. On that feast the story of Esther, the beautiful queen, is read by all the Jewish people.
W HEN it began to grow dark, the Rat, with an air of excitement and mystery, summoned them back into the parlour, stood each of them up alongside of his little heap, and proceeded to dress them up for the coming expedition. He was very earnest and thorough-going about it, and the affair took quite a long time. First, there was a belt to go round each animal, and then a sword to be stuck into each belt, and then a cutlass on the other side to balance it. Then a pair of pistols, a policeman's truncheon, several sets of handcuffs, some bandages and sticking-plaster, and a flask and a sandwich-case. The Badger laughed good-humouredly and said, "All right, Ratty! It amuses you and it doesn't hurt me. I'm going to do all I've got to do with this here stick." But the Rat only said, "Please, Badger. You know I shouldn't like you to blame me afterwards and say I had forgotten anything!"
When all was quite ready, the Badger took a dark lantern in one paw, grasped his great stick with the other, and said, "Now then, follow me! Mole first, 'cos I'm very pleased with him; Rat next; Toad last. And look here, Toady! Don't you chatter so much as usual, or you'll be sent back, as sure as fate!"
The Toad was so anxious not to be left out that he took up the inferior position assigned to him without a murmur, and the animals set off. The Badger led them along by the river for a little way, and then suddenly swung himself over the edge into a hole in the riverbank, a little above the water. The Mole and the Rat followed silently, swinging themselves successfully into the hole as they had seen the Badger do; but when it came to Toad's turn, of course he managed to slip and fall into the water with a loud splash and a squeal of alarm. He was hauled out by his friends, rubbed down and wrung out hastily, comforted, and set on his legs; but the Badger was seriously angry, and told him that the very next time he made a fool of himself he would most certainly be left behind.
So at last they were in the secret passage, and the cutting-out expedition had really begun!
It was cold, and dark, and damp, and low, and narrow, and poor Toad began to shiver, partly from dread of what might be before him, partly because he was wet through. The lantern was far ahead, and he could not help lagging behind a little in the darkness. Then he heard the Rat call out warningly, "Come on, Toad!" and a terror seized him of being left behind, alone in the darkness, and he "came on" with such a rush that he upset the Rat into the Mole and the Mole into the Badger, and for a moment all was confusion. The Badger thought they were being attacked from behind, and, as there was no room to use a stick or a cutlass, drew a pistol, and was on the point of putting a bullet into Toad. When he found out what had really happened he was very angry indeed, and said, "Now this time that tiresome Toad shall be left behind!"
But Toad whimpered, and the other two promised that they would be answerable for his good conduct, and at last the Badger was pacified, and the procession moved on; only this time the Rat brought up the rear, with a firm grip on the shoulder of Toad.
So they groped and shuffled along, with their ears pricked up and their paws on their pistols, till at last the Badger said, "We ought by now to be pretty nearly under the Hall."
Then suddenly they heard, far away as it might be, and yet apparently nearly over their heads, a confused murmur of sound, as if people were shouting and cheering and stamping on the floor and hammering on tables. The Toad's nervous terrors all returned, but the Badger only remarked placidly, "They are going it, the weasels!"
The passage now began to slope upwards; they groped onward a little further, and then the noise broke out again, quite distinct this time, and very close above them. "Ooo-ray-ooray-oo-ray-ooray!" they heard, and the stamping of little feet on the floor, and the clinking of glasses as little fists pounded on the table. "What a time they're having!" said the Badger. "Come on!" They hurried along the passage till it came to a full stop, and they found themselves standing under the trap-door that led up into the butler's pantry.
Such a tremendous noise was going on in the banqueting-hall that there was little danger of their being overheard. The Badger said, "Now, boys, all together!" and the four of them put their shoulders to the trap-door and heaved it back. Hoisting each other up, they found themselves standing in the pantry, with only a door between them and the banqueting-hall, where their unconscious enemies were carousing.
The noise, as they emerged from the passage, was simply deafening. At last, as the cheering and hammering slowly subsided, a voice could be made out saying, "Well, I do not propose to detain you much longer"—(great applause)—"but before I resume my seat"—(renewed cheering)—"I should like to say one word about our kind host, Mr. Toad. We all know Toad!"—(great laughter)—"Good Toad, modest Toad, honest Toad!" (shrieks of merriment).
"Only just let me get at him!" muttered Toad, grinding his teeth.
"Hold hard a minute!" said the Badger, restraining him with difficulty. "Get ready, all of you!"
Then the Chief Weasel—for it was he—began in a high,
"Toad he went a-pleasuring
Gaily down the
The Badger drew himself up, took a firm grip of his stick with both paws,
glanced round at his comrades, and
"The hour is come! Follow me!"
And flung the door open wide.
What a squealing and a squeaking and a screeching filled the air!
Well might the terrified weasels dive under the tables and spring madly up at the windows! Well might the ferrets rush wildly for the fireplace and get hopelessly jammed in the chimney! Well might tables and chairs be upset, and glass and china be sent crashing on the floor, in the panic of that terrible moment when the four Heroes strode wrathfully into the room! The mighty Badger, his whiskers bristling, his great cudgel whistling through the air; Mole, black and grim, brandishing his stick and shouting his awful war-cry, "A Mole! A Mole!" Rat, desperate and determined, his belt bulging with weapons of every age and every variety; Toad, frenzied with excitement and injured pride, swollen to twice his ordinary size, leaping into the air and emitting Toad-whoops that chilled them to the marrow! "Toad he went a-pleasuring!" he yelled. "I'll pleasure 'em!" and he went straight for the Chief Weasel. They were but four in all, but to the panic-stricken weasels the hall seemed full of monstrous animals, grey, black, brown and yellow, whooping and flourishing enormous cudgels; and they broke and fled with squeals of terror and dismay, this way and that, through the windows, up the chimney, anywhere to get out of reach of those terrible sticks.
The affair was soon over. Up and down, the whole length of the hall, strode the four Friends, whacking with their sticks at every head that showed itself; and in five minutes the room was cleared. Through the broken windows the shrieks of terrified weasels escaping across the lawn were borne faintly to their ears; on the floor lay prostrate some dozen or so of the enemy, on whom the Mole was busily engaged in fitting handcuffs. The Badger, resting from his labours, leant on his stick and wiped his honest brow.
"Mole," he said, "you're the best of fellows! Just cut along outside and look after those stoat-sentries of yours, and see what they're doing. I've an idea that, thanks to you, we shan't have much trouble from them to-night!"
The Mole vanished promptly through a window; and the Badger bade the other two set a table on its legs again, pick up knives and forks and plates and glasses from the débris on the floor, and see if they could find materials for a supper. "I want some grub, I do," he said, in that rather common way he had of speaking. "Stir your stumps, Toad, and look lively! We've got your house back for you, and you don't offer us so much as a sandwich."
"Come, little leaves," said the wind one day,
"Come o'er the meadows with me and play;
Put on your dresses of red and gold,
For summer is gone and the days grow cold."
Soon as the leaves heard the wind's loud call,
Down they came fluttering, one and all;
Over the brown fields they danced and flew,
Singing the glad little songs they knew.
"Cricket, good-by, we've been friends so long,
Little brook, sing us your farewell song;
Say you are sorry to see us go;
Ah, you will miss us, right well we know.
"Dear little lambs in your fleecy fold,
Mother will keep you from harm and cold;
Fondly we watched you in vale and glade,
Say, will you dream of our loving shade?"
Dancing and whirling, the little leaves went,
Winter had called them, and they were content;
Soon, fast asleep in their earthy beds,
The snow laid a coverlid over their heads.