Text of Plan #981
  WEEK 49  

  Monday  


Heidi  by Johanna Spyri

Something Unexpected Happens

U NCLE went out early the next morning to see what kind of a day it was going to be. There was a reddish gold light over the higher peaks; a light breeze springing up and the branches of the fir trees moved gently to and fro—the sun was on its way.

The old man stood and watched the green slopes under the higher peaks gradually growing brighter with the coming day and the dark shadows lifting from the valley, until at first a rosy light filled its hollows, and then the morning gold flooded every height and depth—the sun had risen.

Uncle wheeled the chair out of the shed ready for the coming journey, and then went in to call the children and tell them what a lovely sunrise it was.

Peter came up at this moment. The goats did not gather round him so trustfully as usual, but seemed to avoid him timidly, for Peter had reached a high pitch of anger and bitterness, and was laying about him with his stick very unnecessarily, and where it fell the blow was no light one. For weeks now he had not had Heidi all to himself as formerly. When he came up in the morning the invalid child was always already in her chair and Heidi fully occupied with her. And it was the same thing over again when he came down in the evening. She had not come out with the goats once this summer, and now to-day she was only coming in company with her friend and the chair, and would stick by the latter's side the whole time. It was the thought of this which was making him particularly cross this morning. There stood the chair on its high wheels; Peter seemed to see something proud and disdainful about it, and he glared at it as at an enemy that had done him harm and was likely to do him more still to-day. He glanced round—there was no sound anywhere, no one to see him. He sprang forward like a wild creature, caught hold of it, and gave it a violent and angry push in the direction of the slope. The chair rolled swiftly forward and in another minute had disappeared.

Peter now sped up the mountain as if on wings, not pausing till he was well in shelter of a large blackberry bush, for he had no wish to be seen by Uncle. But he was anxious to see what had become of the chair, and his bush was well placed for that. Himself hidden, he could watch what happened below and see what Uncle did without being discovered himself. So he looked, and there he saw his enemy running faster and faster down hill, then it turned head over heels several times, and finally, after one great bound, rolled over and over to its complete destruction. The pieces flew in every direction—feet, arms, and torn fragments of the padded seat and bolster—and Peter experienced a feeling of such unbounded delight at the sight that he leapt in the air, laughing aloud and stamping for joy; then he took a run round, jumping over bushes on the way, only to return to the same spot and fall into fresh fits of laughter. He was beside himself with satisfaction, for he could see only good results for himself in this disaster to his enemy. Now Heidi's friend would be obliged to go away, for she would have no means of going about, and when Heidi was alone again she would come out with him as in the old days, and everything would go on in the proper way again. But Peter did not consider, or did not know, that when we do a wrong thing trouble is sure to follow.

Heidi now came running out of the hut and round to the shed. Grandfather was behind with Clara in his arms. The shed stood wide open, the two loose planks having been taken down, and it was quite light inside. Heidi looked into every corner and ran from one end to the other, and then stood still wondering what could have happened to the chair. Grandfather now came up.

"How is this, have you wheeled the chair away, Heidi?"

"I have been looking everywhere for it, grandfather; you said it was standing ready outside," and she again searched each corner of the shed with her eyes.

At that moment the wind, which had risen suddenly, blew open the shed door and sent it banging back against the wall.

"It must have been the wind, grandfather," exclaimed Heidi, and her eyes grew anxious at this sudden discovery. "Oh! if it has blown the chair all the way down to Dörfli we shall not get it back in time, and shall not be able to go."

"If it has rolled as far as that it will never come back, for it is in a hundred pieces by now," said the grandfather, going round the corner and looking down. "But it's a curious thing to have happened!" he added as he thought over the matter, for the chair would have had to turn a corner before starting down hill.

"Oh, I am sorry," lamented Clara, "for we shall not be able to go to-day, or perhaps any other day. I shall have to go home, I suppose, if I have no chair. Oh, I am so sorry, I am so sorry!"

But Heidi looked towards her grandfather with her usual expression of confidence.

"Grandfather, you will be able to do something, won't you, so that it need not be as Clara says, and so that she is not obliged to go home?"

"Well, for the present we will go up the mountain as we had arranged, and then later on we will see what can be done," he answered, much to the children's delight.

He went indoors, fetched out a pile of shawls, and laying them on the sunniest spot he could find set Clara down upon them. Then he fetched the children's morning milk and had out his two goats.

"Why is Peter not here yet?" thought Uncle to himself, for Peter's whistle had not been sounded that morning. The grandfather now took Clara up on one arm, and the shawls on the other.

"Now then we will start," he said; "the goats can come with us."

Heidi was pleased at this and walked on after her grandfather with an arm over either of the goats' necks, and the animals were so overjoyed to have her again that they nearly squeezed her flat between them out of sheer affection. When they reached the spot where the goats usually pastured they were surprised to find them already feeding there, climbing about the rocks, and Peter with them, lying his full length on the ground.

"I'll teach you another time to go by like that, you lazy rascal! What do you mean by it?" Uncle called to him.

Peter, recognising the voice, jumped up like a shot. "No one was up," he answered.

"Have you seen anything of the chair?" asked the grandfather.

"Of what chair?" called Peter back in answer in a morose tone of voice.

Uncle said no more. He spread the shawls on the sunny slope, and setting Clara upon them asked if she was comfortable.

"As comfortable as in my chair," she said, thanking him, "and this seems the most beautiful spot. O Heidi, it is lovely, it is lovely!" she cried, looking round her with delight.

The grandfather prepared to leave them. They would now be safe and happy together, he said, and when it was time for dinner Heidi was to go and fetch the bag from the shady hollow where he had put it; Peter was to bring them as much milk as they wanted, but Heidi was to see that it was Little Swan's milk. He would come and fetch them towards evening; he must now be off to see after the chair and ascertain what had become of it.

The sky was dark blue, and not a single cloud was to be seen from one horizon to the other. The great snowfield overhead sparkled as if set with thousands and thousands of gold and silver stars. The two gray mountains peaks lifted their lofty heads against the sky and looked solemnly down upon the valley as of old; the great bird was poised aloft in the clear blue air, and the mountain wind came over the heights and blew refreshingly around the children as they sat on the sunlit slope. It was all indescribably enjoyable to Clara and Heidi. Now and again a young goat came and lay down beside them; Snowflake came oftenest, putting her little head down near Heidi, and only moving because another goat came and drove her away. Clara had learned to know them all so well that she never mistook one for the other now, for each had an expression and ways of its own. And the goats had also grown familiar with Clara and would rub their heads against her shoulder, which was always a sign of acquaintanceship and goodwill.

Some hours went by, and Heidi began to think that she might just go over to the spot where all the flowers grew to see if they were fully blown and looking as lovely as the year before. Clara could not go until grandfather came back that evening, when the flowers probably would be already closed. The longing to go became stronger and stronger, till she felt she could not resist it.

"Would you think me unkind, Clara," she said rather hesitatingly, "if I left you for a few minutes? I should run there and back very quickly. I want so to see how the flowers are looking—but wait—" for an idea had come into Heidi's head. She ran and picked a bunch or two of green leaves, and then took hold of Snowflake and led her up to Clara.

"There, now you will not be alone," said Heidi, giving the goat a little push to show her she was to lie down near Clara, which the animal quite understood. Heidi threw the leaves into Clara's lap, and the latter told her friend to go at once to look at the flowers as she was quite happy to be left with the goat; she liked this new experience. Heidi ran off, and Clara began to hold out the leaves one by one to Snowflake, who snoozled up to her new friend in a confiding manner and slowly ate the leaves from her hand. It was easy to see that Snowflake enjoyed this peaceful and sheltered way of feeding, for when with the other goats she had much persecution to endure from the larger and stronger ones of the flock. And Clara found a strange new pleasure in sitting all alone like this on the mountain-side, her only companion a little goat that looked to her for protection. She suddenly felt a great desire to be her own mistress and to be able to help others, instead of herself being always dependent as she was now. Many thoughts, unknown to her before, came crowding into her mind, and a longing to go on living in the sunshine, and to be doing something that would bring happiness to another, as now she was helping to make the goat happy. An unaccustomed feeling of joy took possession of her, as if everything she had ever known or felt became all at once more beautiful, and she seemed to see all things in a new light, and so strong was the sense of this new beauty and happiness that she threw her arms round the little goat's neck, and exclaimed, "O Snowflake, how delightful it is up here! if only I could stay on for ever with you beside me!"

Heidi had meanwhile reached her field of flowers, and as she caught sight of it she uttered a cry of joy. The whole ground in front of her was a mass of shimmering gold, where the cistus flowers spread their yellow blossoms. Above them waved whole bushes of the deep blue bell-flowers; while the fragrance that arose from the whole sunlit expanse was as if the rarest balsam had been flung over it. The scent, however, came from the small brown flowers, the little round heads of which rose modestly here and there among the yellow blossoms. Heidi stood and gazed and drew in the delicious air. Suddenly she turned round and reached Clara's side out of breath with running and excitement. "Oh, you must come," she called out as soon as she came in sight, "it is more beautiful than you can imagine, and perhaps this evening it may not be so lovely. I believe I could carry you, don't you think I could?"

Clara looked at her and shook her head. "Why, Heidi, what can you be thinking of! you are smaller than I am. Oh, if only I could walk!"

Heidi looked round as if in search of something, some new idea had evidently come into her head. Peter was sitting up above looking down on the two children. He had been sitting and staring before him in the same way for hours, as if he could not make out what he saw. He had destroyed the chair so that the friend might not be able to move anywhere and that her visit might come to an end, and then a little while after she had appeared right up here under his very nose with Heidi beside her. He thought his eyes must deceive him, and yet there she was and no mistake about it.

Heidi now looked up to where he was sitting and called out in a peremptory voice, "Peter, come down here!"

"I don't wish to come," he called in reply.

"But you are to, you must; I cannot do it alone, and you must come here and help me; make haste and come down," she called again in an urgent voice.

"I shall do nothing of the kind," was the answer.

Heidi ran some way up the slope towards him, and then pausing called again, her eyes ablaze with anger, "If you don't come at once, Peter, I will do something to you that you won't like; I mean what I say."

Peter felt an inward throe at these words, and a great fear seized him. He had done something wicked which he wanted no one to know about, and so far he had thought himself safe. But now Heidi spoke exactly as if she knew everything, and whatever she did know she would tell her grandfather, and there was no one he feared so much as this latter person. Supposing he were to suspect what had happened about the chair! Peter's anguish of mind grew more acute. He stood up and went down to where Heidi was awaiting him.

"I am coming and you won't do what you said."

Peter appeared now so submissive with fear that Heidi felt quite sorry for him and answered assuringly, "No, no, of course not; come along with me, there is nothing to be afraid of in what I want you to do."

As soon as they got to Clara, Heidi gave her orders: Peter was to take hold of her under the arms on one side and she on the other, and together they were to lift her up. This first movement was successfully carried through, but then came the difficulty. As Clara could not even stand, how were they to support her and get her along? Heidi was too small for her arm to serve Clara to lean upon.

"You must put one arm well around my neck—so, and put the other through Peter's and lean firmly upon it, then we shall be able to carry you."

Peter, however, had never given his arm to any one in his life. Clara put hers in his, but he kept his own hanging down straight beside him like a stick.

"That's not the way, Peter," said Heidi in an authoritative voice. "You must put your arm out in the shape of a ring, and Clara must put hers through it and lean her weight upon you, and whatever you do, don't let your arm give way; like that I am sure we shall be able to manage."

Peter did as he was told, but still they did not get on very well. Clara was not such a light weight, and the team did not match very well in size; it was up one side and down the other, so that the supports were rather wobbly.

Clara tried to use her own feet a little, but each time drew them quickly back.

"Put your foot down firmly once," suggested Heidi, "I am sure it will hurt you less after that."


[Illustration]

"Put your foot down firmly once," suggested Heidi.

"Do you think so?" said Clara hesitatingly, but she followed Heidi's advice and ventured one firm step on the ground and then another; she called out a little as she did it; then she lifted her foot again and went on, "Oh, that was less painful already," she exclaimed joyfully.

"Try again," said Heidi encouragingly.

And Clara went on putting one foot out after another until all at once she called out, "I can do it, Heidi! look! look! I can make proper steps!"

And Heidi cried out with even greater delight, "Can you really make steps, can you really walk? really walk by yourself? Oh, if only grandfather were here!" and she continued gleefully to exclaim, "You can walk now, Clara, you can walk!"

Clara still held on firmly to her supports, but with every step she felt safer on her feet, as all three became aware, and Heidi was beside herself with joy.

"Now we shall be able to come up here together every day, and go just where we like; and you will be able all your life to walk about as I do, and not have to be pushed in a chair, and you will get quite strong and well. It is the greatest happiness we could have had!"

And Clara heartily agreed, for she could think of no greater joy in the world than to be strong and able to go about like other people, and no longer to have to lie from day to day in her invalid chair.

They had not far to go to reach the field of flowers, and could already catch sight of the cistus flowers glowing gold in the sun. As they came to the bushes of the blue bell-flowers, with sunny, inviting patches of warm ground between them, Clara said, "Mightn't we sit down here for a while?"

This was just what Heidi enjoyed, and so the children sat down in the midst of the flowers, Clara for the first time on the dry, warm mountain grass, and she found it indescribably delightful. Around her were the blue flowers softly waving to and fro, and beyond the gleaming patches of the cistus flowers and the red centaury, while the sweet scent of the brown blossoms and of the fragrant prunella enveloped her as she sat. Everything was so lovely! so lovely! And Heidi, who was beside her, thought she had never seen it so perfectly beautiful up here before, and she did not know herself why she felt so glad at heart that she longed to shout for joy. Then she suddenly remembered that Clara was cured; that was the crowning delight of all that made life so delightful in the midst of all this surrounding beauty. Clara sat silent, overcome with the enchantment of all that her eye rested upon, and with the anticipation of all the happiness that was now before her. There seemed hardly room in her heart for all her joyful emotions, and these and the ecstasy aroused by the sunlight and the scent of the flowers, held her dumb.

Peter also lay among the flowers without moving or speaking, for he was fast asleep. The breeze came blowing softly and caressingly from behind the sheltering rocks, and passed whisperingly through the bushes overhead. Heidi got up now and then to run about, for the flowers waving in the warm wind seemed to smell sweeter and to grow more thickly whichever way she went, and she felt she must sit down at each fresh spot to enjoy the sight and scent. So the hours went by.

It was long past noon when a small troop of goats advanced solemnly towards the plain of flowers. It was not a feeding place of theirs, for they did not care to graze on flowers. They looked like an embassy arriving, with Greenfinch as their leader. They had evidently come in search of their companions who had left them in the lurch, and who had, contrary to all custom, remained away so long, for the goats could tell the time without mistake. As soon as Greenfinch caught sight of the three missing friends amid the flowers she set up an extra loud bleat, whereupon all the others joined in a chorus of bleats, and the whole company came trotting towards the children. Peter woke up, rubbing his eyes, for he had been dreaming that he saw the chair again with its beautiful red padding standing whole and uninjured before the grandfather's door, and indeed just as he awoke he thought he was looking at the brass-headed nails that studded it all round, but it was only the bright yellow flowers beside him. He experienced again a dreadful fear of mind that he had lost in this dream of the uninjured chair. Even though Heidi had promised not to do anything, there still remained the lively dread that his deed might be found out in some other way. He allowed Heidi to do what she liked with him, for he was reduced to such a state of low spirits and meekness that he was ready to give his help to Clara without murmur or resistance.

When all three had got back to their old quarters Heidi ran and brought forward the bag, and proceeded to fulfil her promise, for her threat of the morning had been concerned with Peter's dinner. She had seen her grandfather putting in all sorts of good things, and had been pleased to think of Peter having a large share of them, and she had meant him to understand when he refused at first to help her that he would get nothing for his dinner, but Peter's conscience had put another interpretation upon her words. Heidi took the food out of the bag and divided it into three portions, and each was of such a goodly size that she thought to herself, "There will be plenty of ours left for him to have more still."

She gave the other two their dinners and sat down with her own beside Clara, and they all three ate with a good appetite after their great exertions.

It ended as Heidi had expected, and Peter got as much food again as his own share with what Clara and Heidi had over from theirs after they had both eaten as much as they wanted. Peter ate up every bit of food to the last crumb, but there was something wanting to his usual enjoyment of a good dinner, for every mouthful he swallowed seemed to choke him, and he felt something gnawing inside him.

They were so late at their dinner that they had not long to wait after they had finished before grandfather came up to fetch them. Heidi rushed forward to meet him as soon as he appeared, as she wanted to be the first to tell him the good news. She was so excited that she could hardly get her words out when she did get up to him, but he soon understood, and a look of extreme pleasure came into his face. He hastened up to where Clara was sitting and said with a cheerful smile, "So we've made the effort, have we, and won the day!"

Then he lifted her up, and putting his left arm behind her and giving her his right to lean upon, made her walk a little way, which she did with less trembling and hesitation than before now that she had such a strong arm round her.

Heidi skipped along beside her in triumphant glee, and the grandfather looked too as if some happiness had befallen him. But now he took Clara up in his arms. "We must not overdo it," he said, "and it is high time we went home," and he started off down the mountain path, for he was anxious to get her indoors that she might rest after her unusual fatigue.

When Peter got to Dörfli that evening he found a large group of people collected round a certain spot, pushing one another and looking over each other's shoulders in their eagerness to catch sight of something lying on the ground. Peter thought he should like to see too, and poked and elbowed till he made his way through.

There it lay, the thing he had wanted to see. Scattered about the grass were the remains of Clara's chair; part of the back and the middle bit, and enough of the red padding and the bright nails to show how magnificent the chair had been when it was entire.

"I was here when the men passed carrying it up," said the baker who was standing near Peter. "I'll bet any one that it was worth twenty-five pounds at least. I cannot think how such an accident could have happened."

"Uncle said the wind might perhaps have done it," remarked one of the women, who could not sufficiently admire the red upholstery.

"It's a good job that no one but the wind did it," said the baker again, "or he might smart for it! No doubt the gentleman in Frankfurt when he hears what has happened will make all inquiries about it. I am glad for myself that I have not been seen up the mountain for a good two years, as suspicion is likely to fall on any one who was about up there at the time."

Many more opinions were passed on the matter, but Peter had heard enough. He crept quietly away out of the crowd and then took to his heels and ran up home as fast as he could, as if he thought some one was after him. The baker's words had filled him with fear and trembling. He was sure now that any day a constable might come over from Frankfurt and inquire about the destruction of the chair, and then everything would come out, and he would be seized and carried off to Frankfurt and there put in prison. The whole picture of what was coming was clear before him, and his hair stood on end with terror.

He reached home in this disturbed state of mind. He would not open his mouth in reply to anything that was said to him; he would not eat his potatoes; all he did was to creep off to bed as quickly as possible and hide under the bedclothes and groan.

"Peter has been eating sorrel again, and is evidently in pain by the way he is groaning," said Brigitta.

"You must give him a little more bread to take with him; give him a bit of mine to-morrow," said the grandmother sympathizingly.

As the children lay that night in bed looking out at the stars Heidi said, "I have been thinking all day what a happy thing it is that God does not give us what we ask for, even when we pray and pray and pray, if He knows there is something better for us; have you felt like that?"

"Why do you ask me that to-night all of a sudden?" asked Clara.

"Because I prayed so hard when I was in Frankfurt that I might go home at once, and because I was not allowed to I thought God had forgotten me. And now you see, if I had come away at first when I wanted to, you would never have come here, and would never have got well."

Clara had in her turn become thoughtful. "But, Heidi," she began again, "in that case we ought never to pray for anything, as God always intends something better for us than we know or wish for."

"You must not think it is like that, Clara," replied Heidi eagerly. "We must go on praying for everything, for everything, so that God may know we do not forget that it all comes from Him. If we forget God, then He lets us go our own way and we get into trouble; grandmamma told me so. And if He does not give us what we ask for we must not think that He has not heard us and leave off praying, but we must still pray and say, I am sure, dear God, that Thou art keeping something better for me, and I will not be unhappy, for I know that Thou wilt make everything right in the end."

"How did you learn all that?" asked Clara.

"Grandmamma explained it to me first of all, and then when it all happened just as she said, I knew it myself, and I think, Clara," she went on, as she sat up in bed, "we ought certainly to thank God to-night that you can walk now, and that He has made us so happy."

"Yes, Heidi, I am sure you are right, and I am glad you reminded me; I almost forgot my prayers for very joy."

Both children said their prayers, and each thanked God in her own way for the blessing He had bestowed on Clara, who had for so long lain weak and ill.

The next morning the grandfather suggested that they should now write to the grandmamma and ask her if she would not come and pay them a visit, as they had something new to show her. But the children had another plan in their heads, for they wanted to prepare a great surprise for grandmamma. Clara was first to have more practice in walking so that she might be able to go a little way by herself; above all things grandmamma was not to have a hint of it. They asked the grandfather how long he thought this would take, and when he told them about a week or less, they immediately sat down and wrote a pressing invitation to grandmamma, asking her to come soon, but no word was said about there being anything new to see.

The following days were some of the most joyous that Clara had spent on the mountain. She awoke each morning with a happy voice within her crying, "I am well now! I am well now! I shan't have to go about in a chair, I can walk by myself like other people."

Then came the walking, and every day she found it easier and was able to go a longer distance. The movement gave her such an appetite that the grandfather cut his bread and butter a little thicker each day, and was well pleased to see it disappear. He now brought out with it a large jugful of the foaming milk and filled her little bowl over and over again. And so another week went by and the day came which was to bring grandmamma up the mountain for her second visit.


[Illustration]

 



Fifty Famous People  by James Baldwin

The Golden Tripod

I

O NE morning, long ago, a merchant of Miletus was walking along the seashore. Some fishermen were pulling in a large net, and he stopped to watch them.

"My good men," he said, "how many fish do you expect to draw in this time?"

"We cannot tell," they answered. "We never count our fish before they are caught."

The net seemed heavy. There was certainly something in it. The merchant felt sure that the fishermen were having a good haul.

"How much will you take for the fish that you are drawing in?" he asked.

"How much will you give?" said the fishermen.

"Well, I will give three pieces of silver for all that are in the net," answered the merchant.

The fishermen talked in low tones with one another for a little while, and then one said, "It's a bargain. Be they many or few, you may have all for three pieces of silver."


[Illustration]

In a few minutes the big net was pulled up out of the water. There was not a fish in it. But it held a beautiful golden tripod that was worth more than a thousand fishes.

The merchant was delighted. "Here is your money," he said. "Give me the tripod."

"No, indeed," said the fishermen. "You were to have all the fish that happened to be in the net and nothing else. We didn't sell you the tripod."

They began to quarrel. They talked and wrangled a long time and could not agree. Then one of the fishermen said, "Let us ask the governor about it and do as he shall bid us."

"Yes, let us ask the governor," said the merchant. "Let him decide the matter for us."

So they carried the tripod to the governor, and each told his story.

The governor listened, but could not make up his mind as to who was right.

"This is a very important question," he said. "We must send to Delphi and ask the oracle whether the tripod shall be given to the fishermen or to the merchant. Leave the tripod in my care until we get an answer."

Now the oracle at Delphi was supposed to be very wise. People from all parts of the world sent to it, to tell it their troubles and get its advice.

So the governor sent a messenger to Delphi to ask the oracle what should be done with the tripod. The merchant and the fishermen waited impatiently till the answer came. And this is what the oracle said:—

"Give not the merchant nor the fishermen the prize;

But give it to that one who is wisest of the wise."

The governor was much pleased with this answer.

"The prize shall go to the man who deserves it most," he said. "There is our neighbor, Thales, whom everybody knows and loves. He is famous all over the world. Men come from every country to see him and learn from him. We will give the prize to him."

So, with his own hands he carried the golden tripod to the little house where Thales lived. He knocked at the door and the wise man himself opened it.

Then the governor told him how the tripod had been found, and how the oracle had said that it must be given to the wisest of the wise.

"And so I have brought the prize to you, friend Thales."

"To me!" said the astonished Thales. "Why, there are many men who are wiser than I. There is my friend Bias of Priene. He excels all other men. Send the beautiful gift to him."

So the governor called two of his trusted officers and told them to carry the tripod to Priene and offer it to Bias.

"Tell the wise man why you bring it, and repeat to him the words of the oracle."


II

Now all the world had heard of the wisdom of Bias. He taught that men ought to be kind even to their enemies. He taught, also, that a friend is the greatest blessing that any one can have.

He was a poor man and had no wish to be rich. "It is better to be wise than wealthy," he said.

When the governor's messengers came to Priene with the tripod, they found Bias at work in his garden. They told him their errand and showed him the beautiful prize.

He would not take it.

"The oracle did not intend that I should have it," he said. "I am not the wisest of the wise."

"But what shall we do with it?" said the messengers. "Where shall we find the wisest man?"

"In Mitylene," answered Bias, "there is a very great man named Pittacus. He might now be the king of his country, but he prefers to give all of his time to the study of wisdom. He is the man whom the oracle meant."


III

The name of Pittacus was known all over the world. He was a brave soldier and a wise teacher. The people of his country had made him their king; but as soon as he had made good laws for them he gave up his crown.

One of his mottoes was this: "Whatever you do, do it well."

The messengers found him in his house talking to his friends and teaching them wisdom.

He looked at the tripod. "How beautiful it is!" he said.

Then the messengers told him how it had been taken from the sea, and they repeated the words of the oracle:—

"Give not the merchant nor the fishermen the prize;

But give it to that one who is wisest of the wise."

"It is well," said he, "that neither a merchant nor a fisherman shall have it; for such men think only of their business and care really nothing for beauty."

"We agree with you," said the messengers; "and we present the prize to you because you are the wisest of the wise."

"You are mistaken," answered Pittacus. "I should be delighted to own so beautiful a piece of workmanship, but I know I am not worthy."

"Then to whom shall we take it?" asked the messengers.

"Take it to Cleobulus, King of Rhodes," answered the wise man. "He is the handsomest and strongest of men, and I believe he is the wisest also."


IV

The messengers went on until they came at last to the island of Rhodes. There everybody was talking about King Cleobulus and his wonderful wisdom. He had studied in all the great schools of the world, and there was nothing that he did not know.

"Educate the children," he said; and for that reason his name is remembered to this day.

When the messengers showed him the tripod, he said, "That is indeed a beautiful piece of work. Will you sell it? What is the price?"

They told him that it was not for sale, but that it was to be given to the wisest of the wise.

"Well, you will not find that man in Rhodes," said he. "He lives in Corinth, and his name is Periander. Carry the precious gift to him."


V

Everybody had heard of Periander, king of Corinth. Some had heard of his great learning, and others had heard of his selfishness and cruelty.

Strangers admired him for his wisdom. His own people despised him for his wickedness.

When he heard that some men had come to Corinth with a very costly golden tripod, he had them brought before him.

"I have heard all about that tripod," he said, "and I know why you are carrying it from one place to another. Do you expect to find any man in Corinth who deserves so rich a gift?"

"We hope that you are the man," said the messengers.

"Ha! ha!" laughed Periander. "Do I look like the wisest of the wise? No, indeed. But in Lacedæmon there is a good and noble man named Chilon. He loves his country, he loves his fellow men, he loves learning. To my mind he deserves the golden prize. I bid you carry it to him."


VI

The messengers were surprised. They had never heard of Chilon, for his name was hardly known outside of his own country. But when they came into Lacedæmon, they heard his praises on every side.

They learned that Chilon was a very quiet man, that he never spoke about himself, and that he spent all his time in trying to make his country great and strong and happy.

Chilon was so busy that the messengers had to wait several days before they could see him. At last they were allowed to go before him and state their business.

"We have here a very beautiful tripod," they said. "The oracle at Delphi has ordered that it shall be given to the wisest of wise men, and for that reason we have brought it to you."

"You have made a mistake," said Chilon. "Over in Athens there is a very wise man whose name is Solon. He is a poet, a soldier, and a lawmaker. He is my worst enemy, and yet I admire him as the wisest man in the world. It is to him that you should have taken the tripod."


VII

The messengers made due haste to carry the golden prize to Athens. They had no trouble in finding Solon. He was the chief ruler of that great city.

All the people whom they saw spoke in praise of his wisdom.

When they told him their errand he was silent for a little while; then he said:—

"I have never thought of myself as a wise man, and therefore the prize is not for me. But I know of at least six men who are famous for their wisdom, and one of them must be the wisest of the wise."

"Who are they?" asked the messengers.

"Their names are Thales, Bias, Pittacus, Cleobulus, Periander, and Chilon," answered Solon.

"We have offered the prize to each one of them," said the messengers, "and each one has refused it."

"Then there is only one other thing to be done," said Solon. "Carry it to Delphi and leave it there in the Temple of Apollo; for Apollo is the fountain of wisdom, the wisest of the wise."

And this the messengers did.


The famous men of whom I have told you in this story are commonly called the Seven Wise Men of Greece. They lived more than two thousand years ago, and each one helped to make his country famous.

 

----- Seasonal Poem -----


  WEEK 49  

  Tuesday  


Our Island Story  by H. E. Marshall

Richard II of Bordeaux—Wat Tyler's Rebellion

W HEN Edward III. died in 1377 A.D., his grandson, Richard, the son of the Black Prince, became king. He was only a boy of eleven, but the people already loved him for the sake of his brave father, and there was great rejoicing when he was crowned.

Like so many other boy kings, Richard was too young to reign, and the power was really in the hands of his uncle, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. The people hoped that with a new king happier times would come for them, but they were soon disappointed, and John of Gaunt was hated as Edward had been hated in his last years.

The war with France still went on, although it became harder and harder to find money with which to pay the soldiers, and the people were taxed more and more heavily.

A new tax, called the poll-tax, had been first paid in the reign of Edward III. Poll means head, and it really was a tax upon the head of every one in the kingdom over the age of fourteen. Rich people had to pay more than poor people, still it was the poor who felt the burden most.

This tax was now made three times as heavy as it had been, and the poor were driven almost to despair. Rough, rude men were sent all over the country to gather the money. These men insulted and ill-treated the people, and at last one of them behaved so brutally to the daughter of a man called Wat, that Wat struck him on the head with his hammer and killed him.

This man Wat or Walter was a tiler of houses, and from that he was called "Wat the Tiler" or Tyler. In those days people very often took their names from the work they did.

As soon as it became known that Wat Tyler had killed a tax-collector, the people of the town flocked round him. They had been ready to rise in rebellion before, and now this action of Wat decided them. They armed themselves with any kind of weapon upon which they could lay hands—sticks, rusty swords, old bows and featherless arrows—and began to march to London. Everywhere, as they passed along through towns and villages, others joined them, and men, leaving their carts and ploughs in the fields, forsook their wives and children till, when they reached London, they were a great army of one hundred thousand men.

The chief leaders of this army were Wat Tyler, Jack Straw, and a priest called John Ball.

This priest had done a great deal towards stirring up the people against their masters. He had already been put into prison three times for preaching that all men should be equal, and that it was wicked for one man to have more money than another.

When Adam delved and Eve span,

Who was then the gentleman?

he asked.

Many of those who had joined Wat Tyler hardly knew what they wanted. They knew only that they were miserable and poor, and they hoped that if they saw the King he would do something to make them happy. They blamed John of Gaunt for the misery they suffered, and on the road to London they stopped all whom they met, and made them swear to be true to Richard II., and never to accept any one of the name of John as King.

When they came near London they camped upon Blackheath, and sent messengers to the King begging to be allowed to speak with him.

"You need not fear," they said, "we will do you no harm. We have always respected you, and will respect you as our King. But we have many things to say to you which you ought to hear."

"Tell them," said King Richard, "that to-morrow I will meet their leaders by the river." This answer gave the peasants great joy, and they camped for the night as best they could. They had no tents nor covering of any kind, and many of them had no supper, for they had eaten any food which they had brought with them, and had no money to buy more.

The next day the young King rowed down the river to talk to the people as he had promised. But when he saw what a great crowd there was he would not land. He sat in his boat and tried to talk to the leaders as they stood upon the bank. But they were angry because he would not land, and made such a noise that it was impossible to hear anything.

"Tell me what you want," shouted the King; "I have come to hear what you have to say."

"You must land first. Then we will tell you what we want," yelled the crowd in return.

But Richard was afraid to land, and indeed the barons and lords would not allow him to do so. So after rowing up and down the river for some time, trying in vain to make himself heard by the howling, yelling crowd on the bank, he returned to the Tower, where he was living.

When the people saw the King row away they were madly angry. They had been quiet and orderly. They were so no longer. "Let us march to London," they said, "and take it."

The Mayor of London shut the city gates, but the poor people within opened them to their friends, and the yelling crowd poured into the city.

They broke into all the shops where food was sold, eating and drinking as much as they wanted. They burned and wrecked John of Gaunt's house, called the Savoy, which was the most beautiful palace in London. Other houses and some churches were destroyed, and many people were killed. The prisons were broken open, and all the prisoners set free. Yet the rioters did not steal. They burned and threw into the river the beautiful furniture and jewels belonging to John of Gaunt, because they hated him and blamed him for their misery, but they would not allow anything to be taken away. One man who was seen to steal a piece of silver was thrown into the flames, and burned alive as a punishment by his companions. "We are not thieves and robbers," they said. "We are fighting only for truth and justice."

As the day went on, the noise grew greater and greater, and when night came the rioters collected in the square in front of the Tower. There they made a terrible noise, swearing that, if the King did not come out to them, they would burn the Tower.

The King and his friends held a council together, and Richard decided that next day he would again try to speak with the people. He sent a message to them telling them to go to an open space called Mile End, and that there he would come to speak with them in the morning.

A great many of the people, when they heard this, marched to Mile End, but others refused to go away from the Tower. Next morning, as soon as the gates were opened for the King to pass out, these rioters rushed in. They killed many of the people in the Tower, and nearly frightened the King's mother, the Princess of Wales, to death.

Meanwhile, Richard rode to Mile End, and found a great company of people awaiting him there. As soon as he was near enough he spoke to them kindly.

"My good people," he said, "I am your King. What is it you want? And what do you wish to say to me?"

"We want you to make us free for ever, both ourselves and our children. We will not be slaves any longer," they replied.

"You have your wish," answered Richard. "Now go home quietly. Leave behind you one or two men from each village. To them I will give letters signed and sealed with my seal, promising what you ask."

Then the people, who really did not know quite what they wanted, set up a great shout for the King, and went back to their homes.

Richard gave orders to about thirty secretaries, who wrote the letters as fast as they could. They sat up all night to write. These letters promised freedom to all the slaves and, as soon as they were written, they were signed and sealed with the King's seal, and given to the men who waited for them.

But Wat Tyler had not been with the rioters at Mile End, and he would not agree to go home. He wanted the King to promise much more than that there should no longer be slaves in England. Next day, while he and his followers were gathered at a place called Smithfield, the King came riding by, attended only by a few friends and soldiers.

"Here is the King," said Wat, "I will go to speak to him. You must not move until I give you a signal." He waved his hand and added, "When you see me make this sign, run forward and kill every man of them, except the King. Do not kill him, for he is young, and we can make him do what we like."

Then he set spurs to his horse, and galloped towards Richard, who was waiting to see what the rebels meant to do.

"King," said Wat, "do you see all those men there?"

"Yes," replied the King, "I do. Why do you ask?"

"Because they are all under my orders," said Wat, "and have sworn to do whatever I command them."

"I have no objection to that," replied the King, and he went on to speak quietly and peaceably to Wat Tyler, but Wat was too angry to listen. Finding that he could not quarrel with the King, he began to do so with one of the gentlemen beside him.

Hot words passed between them, till Richard growing angry turned to the Mayor of London, who was also there, and told him to seize Wat Tyler.

"Truly," said the Mayor, "it ill becomes such a rascal to use such words in the presence of the King. I will pay him for it," and raising his sword he struck Wat Tyler a blow on the head. Wat fell to the ground, the King's friends closed round him, and a minute later he was dead.

When Wat Tyler's men saw him fall, they called out, "They have killed our captain. Let us slay them all," and they ran towards the King with their bows bent ready to shoot.

Then Richard did a brave thing. Forbidding any of his men to follow him, he rode alone toward the rioters. "Friends," he said, "what are you doing? I am your King. Follow me. I myself shall be your leader."

At these words many of the rioters were ashamed. Some of them at once slipped quietly away, and Richard, putting himself at the head of the others, led them out into the country.

Meanwhile some of Richard's company had fled back into London, crying, "They are killing the King, they are killing the King."

When the people heard that, many of the King's soldiers came running together, and an army marched out to the fields to meet Richard and the rebels.

As soon as he saw them, the king left the rebels and put himself at the head of his own soldiers. Several of the nobles then wished to attack the rebels, but Richard forbade them to do so. But he ordered all the letters promising freedom, which the rioters had among them, to be given up at once on pain of instant death.

As soon as the King received the letters, he tore them up in sight of the rebels. These poor people now saw all their hopes of freedom gone. Their leader, too, was dead, so not waiting for more they broke and fled they hardly knew where. Many of them returned to their homes, but John Ball and Jack Straw were cruelly betrayed by the very men they had tried to help and free. They were beheaded by Richard's orders, along with many of their followers.

The King did not keep any of his promises to the people. "Slaves you are, and slaves you shall remain," he said savagely, when the danger to himself was over. It seemed as if the rising had been in vain. But that was not so. Many masters freed their slaves, and although years passed before all were free, Wat Tyler's rebellion was the beginning of freedom for the lower classes in England. Up to this time many of the labourers and workers who were free men had been treated almost as badly as slaves, but now their condition became better.

 

----- Seasonal Story -----

----- Seasonal Poem -----


  WEEK 49  

  Wednesday  

----- Seasonal Story -----

----- Seasonal Story -----



Thomas Noel

Old Winter

Old Winter sad, in snow yclad,

Is making a doleful din;

But let him howl till he crack his jowl,

We will not let him in.


Ay, let him lift from the billowy drift

His hoary, haggard form,

And scowling stand, with his wrinkled hand

Outstretching to the storm.


And let his weird and sleety beard

Stream loose upon the blast,

And, rustling, chime to the tinkling rime

From his bald head falling fast.


Let his baleful breath shed blight and death

On herb and flower and tree;

And brooks and ponds in crystal bonds

Bind fast, but what care we?


Let him push at the door,—in the chimney roar,

And rattle the windowpane;

Let him in at us spy with his icicle eye,

But he shall not entrance gain.


Let him gnaw, forsooth, with his freezing tooth,

On our roof tiles, till he tire;

But we care not a whit, as we jovial sit

Before the blazing fire.


Come, lads, let's sing, till the rafters ring;

Come, push the can about;—

From our snug fireside this Christmas-tide

We'll keep old Winter out.

 


  WEEK 49  

  Thursday  


The Beautiful Story of Joan of Arc  by Viola Ruth Lowe

The Coronation at Rheims

T HE warm days of June brought many triumphs to the Maid. Her plan was always to strike at the vital spot of the enemy, and she was always successful. The young Duke d'Alençon had joined her and together they fought in the thick of the battle. Before the walls of the town of Jargeau, the Pucelle shouted, "On, on, my friends. The Lord has given the English into our hands. Within this hour they shall be ours!" And in an instant the town was taken; the English fled to the bridges toward safety; over a thousand men were slain in the pursuit.


[Illustration]

The Taking of Jargeau

Two days later, Joan conquered a town called Meun, and another called Beaugency.

The next battle was in the open field at Pathay. The French were not at all willing to enter upon this battle. Heretofore they had always met with defeat when fighting in an open field but the Pucelle would hear of no delay.

In God's name, we must fight them; if they were hanging from the clouds we could still have them. This will be the most splendid victory ever gained for our King."

It was true; the English fled before the determined advance of the French and again the victory was theirs. The English lost many men in the fierce fray, and one of their wounded was struck so brutally that Joan's tender heart was touched at the sight and she leaped from her horse to help him. She raised the poor man's head to ease the pain as he lay dying. The Maid's heart was as full of sorrow for the English wounded as for her own loyal followers.

Everyone was astonished by the Maid's prudence and foresight in everything that concerned military matters. Joan was found to be the equal of any captain taught by twenty years' experience, and yet she had never been on a battlefield. She seemed indeed aided and inspired by God.

Immediately after the victory at Pathay, Joan lent increased energy to her plans of marching upon Rheims, and there to bring the Dauphin to be crowned as rightful King. But surrounded as he was by jealous advisers who were planning only for their own personal interests, Prince Charles hesitated, delayed, and put it off from day to day.

Finally, Joan could wait no longer. Advancing with her boyish stride, she knocked at the door of the Council-Chamber. Upon entering, she knelt before Charles and said, "Noble Prince, why do you hesitate so long? Come at once to Rheims and receive your worthy crown."

"Is this the command of your Voices?" asked one of the councillors.

"Yes; they strongly insist on it," replied Joan.

The Dauphin then promised that he would go to Rheims as soon as he was certain that the road was free from danger.

"I pity you because of the sufferings and hardships you have endured," said he, and suggested that Joan take a vacation and rest. But Joan was impatient and felt greatly vexed by his hesitation. She wisely desired to profit by her victories and by the disorder of the enemy.

At length, on the 29th of June, the army set out for Rheims. It was a glorious procession. Priests preceded the army carrying huge crosses and chanting hymns. The soldiers, because of their love and admiration for their beautiful young leader, also carried bright banners similar to hers, which looked like a swarm of white butterflies.


[Illustration]

The March upon Rheims

They marched for five days and arrived at the town of Troyes, which was strongly held by the hostile Burgundians. The French could not determine whether to attack Troyes or to retreat. They decided to consult Joan.

"Shall I be believed if I speak?" asked the Maid impatiently, knowing that they often doubted her word.

"If you have anything profitable and reasonable to tell us, you will be trusted," said Prince Charles kindly.

"Gentle Dauphin, if you will wait for two days, Troyes shall be yours," said Joan with earnest voice and mien.

All that night Joan labored and toiled, and by morning she had organized her men and given her commands. As the faintly glimmering light of daybreak appeared over the camp, Joan's clear, sweet voice was heard even within the gates of the town, as she cried, "To the Assault!"

That was all; when the people of Troyes heard her voice, they immediately opened the gates and expressed their submission to King Charles.

Joan led on the army, never carrying a sword or causing bloodshed herself, but always holding her banner aloft. At Chalons, at Tournai, the keys of the towns were at once presented to her. Her fame was indeed widespread.

On the 16th of July, 1429, Joan rode with the Dauphin triumphantly into Rheims; and the following day, in the bright light of the summer morning, the coronation of the Dauphin took place. It was a remarkable sight to witness, the beautiful and resplendent, yet most solemn, ceremony. First, all in armor, and with banners held high, the Marshal and the Admiral with great company, rode to meet the Abbot, who carried the vessel containing the sacred oil.

They rode into the great Cathedral and alighted at the entrance to the choir. The Archbishop of Rheims administered the Coronation Oath; he crowned and anointed the King, while the people stood and gazed upon the scene rejoicing. The trumpets sounded loud and clear. And the Maid stood beside the King, her banner in her hand, with bright eyes and flushed cheeks, a fair sight to behold.


[Illustration]

The Coronation at Rheims

When the Dauphin had been crowned and consecrated, the Maid knelt and embraced his knees, weeping for joy, and saying these words, "Gentle King, now is accomplished the Will of God, Who decreed that I should raise the siege of Orleans, and bring you to this city of Rheims to receive your solemn consecration, thereby showing that you are the true King, and that to you must belong the kingdom of France."

As the people gazed upon the fair young girl, they thought that she surely was a messenger from God.

Thus the difficult task of Joan of Arc, as laid upon her by her beautiful Voices and her Heavenly Visions, was finally accomplished.

At this time, Joan's father, Jacques d'Arc, came to Rheims to see for himself the truth of the reports of the fame and glory of his little daughter. There he saw her with his own eyes, in the company of princes, dukes, and nobles, and, greater still, a friend to the newly crowned King.

Charles VII gave Jacques d'Arc a gift of money in appreciation of the wonderful work of Joan, and the kindly old man was overjoyed at the honor bestowed upon him and the high position of his little daughter.

 

----- Seasonal Story -----



Robert Herrick

Ceremonies for Christmas

Come, bring with a noise,

My merry, merry boys,

The Christmas log to the firing,

While my good dame she

Bids ye all be free,

And drink to your heart's desiring.


With the last year's brand,

Light the new block, and

For good success in his spending,

On your psalteries play

That sweet luck may

Come while the log is a-tending.


Drink now the strong beer,

Cut the white loaf here.

The while the meat is a-shredding;

For the rare mince-pie,

And the plums stand by,

To fill the paste that's a-kneading.

 


  WEEK 49  

  Friday  
 

----- Seasonal Story -----

----- Seasonal Poem -----


  WEEK 49  

  Saturday  

----- Seasonal Story -----



Seaside and Wayside, Book Two  by Julia McNair Wright

Some Queer Flies

A LTHOUGH flies are of use, they also do evil to men in many ways. It is well to look at things on all sides.

The fly you have been reading about is the common house-fly. That fly, with its noise, dirt, and spoiling of food by laying eggs in it, is bad enough. But yet the house-fly makes the least trouble of any of its kind.

There are many kinds of flies. To the family of flies belong gnats, midges, mosquitoes, and the big daddy-long-legs with wings.

You know well how some of these things sting, you say "bite," you. Mr. Daddy-long-legs hurts the grass lands with his grubs, which spoil grass roots and the shoots of plants.

There is a fly called a "gall-fly" because it bites trees, and lays eggs in twigs. Then upon the twigs grow over the eggs round balls called "galls," and these injure the trees.

There is also the "bot-fly," which lays its eggs on the hide of the horse. The egg causes the skin of the horse to itch. He licks the place, and the egg goes into his stomach.

The egg of the bot-fly is apt to make the horse sick. The grub eats holes in the stomach of the horse. That makes the horse sick. The farmer will say that his horse is sick with "bots."

In Africa flies kill horses and oxen by biting them. The bite poisons the cattle and causes fever.

Farmers will tell you of a very bad fly that spoils wheat and other grain. It is called the "Hessian" fly.

Flies, as they flit from place to place, sometimes carry with them the poison of disease, as of sores and ulcers. Thus they spread these troubles among people.

But while I tell you of that, I must not fail to say that flies, as they go to flowers for honey, carry the dust of the flowers from one to another. This helps new flowers to grow.

There is a large and handsome bright green fly, very fine to look at, which bites horses and worries them. It is called the "horse-fly." In some lands a small sand-fly causes sore eyes.

Flies have been on the earth about as long as men have, or a little longer, and there are some dead flies worth a great deal of money.

How is that? These are flies in amber. Amber is clear, hard, and bright yellow. It is used for jewelry. Sometimes we see a perfect fly, held in a clear, light mass of amber.

How did it come there? The amber was once a soft gum and the fly lit on it. It stuck fast, and the amber flowed over it and grew hard, and so buried the fly in a clear, golden tomb. A piece of amber with a fly in it will bring a high price.

The "Spanish fly" is a large blue-green beetle. It is very handsome, and is most useful when it is dead. It is used in medicine. It makes blisters on the skin.

Do you say, "Oh, blisters are very bad!" Yes, they cause pain. But even pain can be of use in this world. The blister, though it pains us, is of use. It cures what might be a worse pain.

This Spanish fly is not a fly at all. It is a beetle which has been given a fly's name. It is put here at the end of the lessons on flies, because in the next lessons you are to read about beetles.

 



Nahum Tate

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night

While shepherds watched their flocks by night,

All seated on the ground,

The angel of the Lord came down,

And glory shone around.


"Fear not," said he, for mighty dread

Had seized their troubled mind;

"Glad tidings of great joy I bring

To you and all mankind.


"To you, in David's town, this day

Is born, of David's line,

The Savior, who is Christ the Lord,

And this shall be the sign:


"The heavenly babe you there shall find

To human view displayed,

All meanly wrapped in swaddling bands,

And in a manger laid."


Thus spake the seraph; and forthwith

Appeared a shining throng

Of angels, praising God, who thus

Addressed their joyful song:


"All glory be to God on high,

And to the earth be peace;

Good will henceforth from Heaven to men

Begin and never cease."

 


  WEEK 49  

  Sunday  

----- Seasonal Story -----

----- Seasonal Story -----



Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Christmas Bells

Written December 25, 1864

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men!


And thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along

The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good will to men!


Till ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime,

A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good will to men!


Then from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound

The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good will to men!


It was as if an earthquake rent

The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn

The households born

Of peace on earth, good will to men!


And in despair I bowed my head;

"There is no peace on earth," I said;

"For hate is strong,

And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men!"


Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!

The Wrong shall fail,

And Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good will to men!"