WEEK 1 |
W HEN Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It was true, too. She had a little thin face and a little thin body, thin light hair and a sour expression. Her hair was yellow, and her face was yellow because she had been born in India and had always been ill in one way or another. Her father had held a position under the English Government and had always been busy and ill himself, and her mother had been a great beauty who cared only to go to parties and amuse herself with gay people. She had not wanted a little girl at all, and when Mary was born she handed her over to the care of an Ayah, who was made to understand that if she wished to please the Mem Sahib she must keep the child out of sight as much as possible. So when she was a sickly, fretful, ugly little baby she was kept out of the way, and when she became a sickly, fretful, toddling thing she was kept out of the way also. She never remembered seeing familiarly anything but the dark faces of her Ayah and the other native servants, and as they always obeyed her and gave her her own way in everything, because the Mem Sahib would be angry if she was disturbed by her crying, by the time she was six years old she was as tyrannical and selfish a little pig as ever lived. The young English governess who came to teach her to read and write disliked her so much that she gave up her place in three months, and when other governesses came to try to fill it they always went away in a shorter time than the first one. So if Mary had not chosen to really want to know how to read books she would never have learned her letters at all.
One frightfully hot morning, when she was about nine years old, she awakened feeling very cross, and she became crosser still when she saw that the servant who stood by her bedside was not her Ayah.
"Why did you come?" she said to the strange woman. "I will not let you stay. Send my Ayah to me."
The woman looked frightened, but she only stammered that the Ayah could not come and when Mary threw herself into a passion and beat and kicked her, she looked only more frightened and repeated that it was not possible for the Ayah to come to Missie Sahib.
There was something mysterious in the air that morning. Nothing was done in its regular order and several of the native servants seemed missing, while those whom Mary saw slunk or hurried about with ashy and scared faces. But no one would tell her anything and her Ayah did not come. She was actually left alone as the morning went on, and at last she wandered out into the garden and began to play by herself under a tree near the veranda. She pretended that she was making a flower-bed, and she stuck big scarlet hibiscus blossoms into little heaps of earth, all the time growing more and more angry and muttering to herself the things she would say and the names she would call Saidie when she returned.
"Pig! Pig! Daughter of Pigs!" she said, because to call a native a pig is the worst insult of all.
She was grinding her teeth and saying this over and over again when she heard her mother come out on the veranda with some one. She was with a fair young man and they stood talking together in low strange voices. Mary knew the fair young man who looked like a boy. She had heard that he was a very young officer who had just come from England. The child stared at him, but she stared most at her mother. She always did this when she had a chance to see her, because the Mem Sahib—Mary used to call her that oftener than anything else—was such a tall, slim, pretty person and wore such lovely clothes. Her hair was like curly silk and she had a delicate little nose which seemed to be disdaining things, and she had large laughing eyes. All her clothes were thin and floating, and Mary said they were "full of lace." They looked fuller of lace than ever this morning, but her eyes were not laughing at all. They were large and scared and lifted imploringly to the fair boy officer's face.
"Is it so very bad? Oh, is it?" Mary heard her say.
"Awfully," the young man answered in a trembling voice. "Awfully, Mrs. Lennox. You ought to have gone to the hills two weeks ago."
The Mem Sahib wrung her hands.
"Oh, I know I ought!" she cried. "I only stayed to go to that silly dinner party. What a fool I was!"
At that very moment such a loud sound of wailing broke out from the servants' quarters that she clutched the young man's arm, and Mary stood shivering from head to foot. The wailing grew wilder and wilder.
"What is it? What is it?" Mrs. Lennox gasped.
"Some one has died," answered the boy officer. "You did not say it had broken out among your servants."
"I did not know!" the Mem Sahib cried. "Come with me! Come with me!" and she turned and ran into the house.
After that appalling things happened, and the mysteriousness of the morning was explained to Mary. The cholera had broken out in its most fatal form and people were dying like flies. The Ayah had been taken ill in the night, and it was because she had just died that the servants had wailed in the huts. Before the next day three other servants were dead and others had run away in terror. There was panic on every side, and dying people in all the bungalows.
During the confusion and bewilderment of the second day Mary hid herself in the nursery and was forgotten by every one. Nobody thought of her, nobody wanted her, and strange things happened of which she knew nothing. Mary alternately cried and slept through the hours. She only knew that people were ill and that she heard mysterious and frightening sounds. Once she crept into the dining-room and found it empty, though a partly finished meal was on the table and chairs and plates looked as if they had been hastily pushed back when the diners rose suddenly for some reason. The child ate some fruit and biscuits, and being thirsty she drank a glass of wine which stood nearly filled. It was sweet, and she did not know how strong it was. Very soon it made her intensely drowsy, and she went back to her nursery and shut herself in again, frightened by cries she heard in the huts and by the hurrying sound of feet. The wine made her so sleepy that she could scarcely keep her eyes open and she lay down on her bed and knew nothing more for a long time.
Many things happened during the hours in which she slept so heavily, but she was not disturbed by the wails and the sound of things being carried in and out of the bungalow.
When she awakened she lay and stared at the wall. The house was perfectly still. She had never known it to be so silent before. She heard neither voices nor footsteps, and wondered if everybody had got well of the cholera and all the trouble was over. She wondered also who would take care of her now her Ayah was dead. There would be a new Ayah, and perhaps she would know some new stories. Mary had been rather tired of the old ones. She did not cry because her nurse had died. She was not an affectionate child and had never cared much for any one. The noise and hurrying about and wailing over the cholera had frightened her, and she had been angry because no one seemed to remember that she was alive. Every one was too panic-stricken to think of a little girl no one was fond of. When people had the cholera it seemed that they remembered nothing but themselves. But if every one had got well again, surely some one would remember and come to look for her.
But no one came, and as she lay waiting the house seemed to grow more and more silent. She heard something rustling on the matting and when she looked down she saw a little snake gliding along and watching her with eyes like jewels. She was not frightened, because he was a harmless little thing who would not hurt her and he seemed in a hurry to get out of the room. He slipped under the door as she watched him.
"How queer and quiet it is," she said. "It sounds as if there was no one in the bungalow but me and the snake."
Almost the next minute she heard footsteps in the compound, and then on the veranda. They were men's footsteps, and the men entered the bungalow and talked in low voices. No one went to meet or speak to them and they seemed to open doors and look into rooms.
"What desolation!" she heard one voice say. "That pretty, pretty woman! I suppose the child, too. I heard there was a child, though no one ever saw her."
Mary was standing in the middle of the nursery when they opened the door a few minutes later. She looked an ugly, cross little thing and was frowning because she was beginning to be hungry and feel disgracefully neglected. The first man who came in was a large officer she had once seen talking to her father. He looked tired and troubled, but when he saw her he was so startled that he almost jumped back.
"Barney!" he cried out. "There is a child here! A child alone! In a place like this! Mercy on us, who is she!"
"I am Mary Lennox," the little girl said, drawing herself up stiffly. She thought the man was very rude to call her father's bungalow "A place like this!" "I fell asleep when every one had the cholera and I have only just wakened up. Why does nobody come?"
"It is the child no one ever saw!" exclaimed the man, turning to his companions. "She has actually been forgotten!"
"Why was I forgotten?" Mary said, stamping her foot. "Why does nobody come?"
The young man whose name was Barney looked at her very sadly. Mary even thought she saw him wink his eyes as if to wink tears away.
"Poor little kid!" he said. "There is nobody left to come."
It was in that strange and sudden way that Mary found out that she had neither father nor mother left; that they had died and been carried away in the night, and that the few native servants who had not died also had left the house as quickly as they could get out of it, none of them even remembering that there was a Missie Sahib. That was why the place was so quiet. It was true that there was no one in the bungalow but herself and the little rustling snake.
O NE day in spring four men were riding on horseback along a country road. These men were lawyers, and they were going to the next town to attend court.
There had been a rain, and the ground was very soft. Water was dripping from the trees, and the grass was wet.
The four lawyers rode along, one behind another; for the pathway was narrow, and the mud on each side of it was deep. They rode slowly, and talked and laughed and were very jolly.
As they were passing through a grove of small trees, they heard a great fluttering over their heads and a feeble chirping in the grass by the roadside.
"Stith! stith! stith!" came from the leafy branches above them.
"Cheep! cheep! cheep!" came from the wet grass.
"What is the matter here?" asked the first lawyer, whose name was Speed.
"Oh, it's only some old robins!" said the second lawyer, whose name was Hardin. "The storm has blown two of the little ones out of the nest. They are too young to fly, and the mother bird is making a great fuss about it."
"What a pity! They'll die down there in the grass," said the third lawyer, whose name I forget.
"Oh, well! They're nothing but birds," said Mr. Hardin. "Why should we bother?"
"Yes, why should we?" said Mr. Speed.
The three men, as they passed, looked down and saw the little birds fluttering in the cold, wet grass. They saw the mother robin flying about, and crying to her mate.
Then they rode on, talking and laughing as before. In a few minutes they had forgotten about the birds.
But the fourth lawyer, whose name was Abraham Lincoln, stopped. He got down from his horse and very gently took the little ones up in his big warm hands.
They did not seem frightened, but chirped softly, as if they knew they were safe.
"Never mind, my little fellows," said Mr. Lincoln. "I will put you in your own cozy little bed."
Then he looked up to find the nest from which they had fallen. It was high, much higher than he could reach.
But Mr. Lincoln could climb. He had climbed many a tree when he was a boy.
He put the birds softly, one by one, into their warm little home. Two other baby birds were there, that had not fallen out. All cuddled down together and were very happy.
Soon the three lawyers who had ridden ahead stopped at a spring to give their horses water.
"Where is Lincoln?" asked one.
All were surprised to find that he was not with them.
"Do you remember those birds?" said Mr. Speed. "Very likely he has stopped to take care of them."
In a few minutes Mr. Lincoln joined them. His shoes were covered with mud; he had torn his coat on the thorny tree.
"Hello, Abraham!" said Mr. Hardin. "Where have you been?"
"I stopped a minute to give those birds to their mother," he answered.
"Well, we always thought you were a hero," said Mr. Speed. "Now we know it."
Then all three of them laughed heartily. They thought it so foolish that a strong man should take so much trouble just for some worthless young birds.
"Gentlemen," said Mr. Lincoln, "I could not have slept
Abraham Lincoln afterwards became very famous as a lawyer and statesman. He was elected president. Next to Washington he was the greatest American.
Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one sleeps.
Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother's breast,
Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
Silver sails all out of the west
Under the silver moon:
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep.
WEEK 1 |
O NCE upon a time there was a giant called Neptune. When he was quite a tiny boy, Neptune loved the sea. All day long he played in it, swimming, diving, and laughing gleefully as the waves dashed over him.
As he grew older he came to know and love the sea so well that the sea and the waves loved him too, and acknowledged him to be their king. At last people said he was not only king of the waves, but god of the sea.
Neptune had a very beautiful wife who was called Amphitrite. He had also many sons. As each son became old enough to reign, Neptune made him king over an island.
Neptune's fourth son was called Albion. When it came to his turn to receive a kingdom, a great council was called to decide upon an island for him.
Now Neptune and Amphitrite loved Albion more than any of their other children. This made it very difficult to choose which island should be his.
The mermaids and mermen, as the wonderful people who live in the sea are called, came from all parts of the world with news of beautiful islands. But after hearing about them, Neptune and Amphitrite would shake their heads and say, "No, that is not good enough for Albion."
At last a little mermaid swam into the pink and white coral cave in which the council was held. She was more beautiful than any mermaid who had yet come to the council. Her eyes were merry and honest, and they were blue as the sky and the sea. Her hair was as yellow as fine gold, and in her cheeks a lovely pink came and went. When she spoke, her voice sounded as clear as a bell and as soft as the whisper of the waves, as they ripple upon the shore.
"O Father Neptune," she said, "let Albion come to my island. It is a beautiful little island. It lies like a gem in the bluest of waters. There the trees and the grass are green, the cliffs are white and the sands are golden. There the sun shines and the birds sing. It is a land of beauty. Mountains and valleys, broad lakes and swift-flowing rivers, all are there. Let Albion come to my island."
"Where is this island?" said Neptune and Amphitrite both at once. They thought it must indeed be a beautiful land if it were only half as lovely as the little mermaid said.
"Oh, come, and I will show it to you," replied she. Then she swam away in a great hurry to show her beautiful island, and Neptune, Amphitrite, and all the mermaids and mermen followed.
It was a wonderful sight to see them as they swam along.
Their white arms gleamed in the sunshine, and their golden
hair floated out over the water like fine seaweed. Never before
had so many of the
As soon as it came in sight, Neptune raised himself on a big wave, and when he saw the little island lying before him, like a beautiful gem in the blue water, just as the mermaid had said, he cried out in joy, "This is the island of my love. Albion shall rule it and Albion it shall be called."
So Albion took possession of the little island, which until then had been called Samothea, and he changed its name to Albion, as Neptune had said should be done.
For seven years Albion reigned over his little island. At the end of that time he was killed in a fight with the hero Hercules. This was a great grief to Neptune and Amphitrite. But because of the love they bore to their son Albion, they continued to love and watch over the little green island which was called by his name.
For many years after the death of Albion the little island
had no ruler. At last, one day there came sailing from the
Although after this the little island was no longer called
Albion, Neptune still loved it. When he grew old and had no
more strength to rule, he gave his sceptre to the islands
called Britannia, for we
Britannia rules the waves.
This is a story of many thousand years ago. Some people think it is only a fairy tale. But however that may be, the little island is still sometimes called Albion, although it is nearly always called Britain.
In this book you will find the story of the people of Britain. The story tells how they grew to be a great people, till the little green island set in the lonely sea was no longer large enough to contain them all. Then they sailed away over the blue waves to far-distant countries. Now the people of the little island possess lands all over the world. These lands form the empire of Greater Britain.
Many of these lands are far, far larger than the little island itself. Yet the people who live in them still look back lovingly to the little island, from which they or their fathers came, and call it "Home."
H AVE you ever spent a day or a summer at a place called Holiday Shore?
Probably not, for most shore places are named for towns, or people, or bays. Yet there are thousands of holiday shores on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. There are ways by which you can tell them at once, whatever their names may be on maps.
A really fine holiday shore lies at the end of a cove or bay. It will have cliffs of rocks on which gulls rest. There will be big stones sticking up through sand, or shingle, and round cobbles that rattle when the waves break.
Storm waves break into spray on the rocks of Holiday Point.
A good shore, too, must have a beach—with the shape of a half-moon of wet yellow sand when the tide is out. There you may wade or dig for clams. Or you may look for shells and seaweeds washed ashore when the waves are high. You may also see the tracks of gulls that come to find food.
In the shallow water, plants and animals live. One plant you are almost sure to see is called eel grass. Look in eel-grass tangles for the pink and brown bodies of jellyfish. You may take the pink ones up in your hands, but catch the brown ones with a pail or net. They have many special cells in their bodies that sting, and the stings hurt for a long time.
In the sand among the eel-grass roots are little lumps that move. Dig under one and you will find a snail that draws its soft body into its shell as you pull it out of the sand. Other snails crawl on the bottom, eating very tiny plants.
Perhaps you will find a larger lump, and will dig out a big, gray king crab with a long spine on his tail. This is Limulus. His race has lived in the sea for more than a hundred million years. You will wish to meet him again, and learn some of his strange habits.
When the tide is as low as it will go, you will hunt among the rocks that lie on Holiday Shore. Watch out for the barnacles! They could do nothing to hurt you if they tried; but if you slip on their rough shells, you may get some cuts.
As you climb about among the rocks, you will find bunches of brownish-green seaweed. Don't forget to lift them, for many things live under these weeds while the tide is out. There are snails, crabs, starfish, and even little fish called blennies. There are also many purple mussels that fasten their shells to the rocks with threads.
What is this—a snail with claws? No, it is a little hermit crab. His body has no shell of its own, so he lives in one left by a snail. He is a timid creature and will do his best to get away when you find him in a crack between rocks.
Of course you will look for fish that come and go in the water and for birds that come and go in the air. You will no doubt try to find all those mentioned in this book. Perhaps you will think it a good game to count all those whose names you do not find on these pages. One small book cannot tell about all the creatures on and near the shore. The shore itself is the place to study them.
Keep watch of the water beyond the rocks. It is higher than it was an hour ago. That means the tide is coming in. Twice each day of twenty-four hours it goes out and returns, sometimes very, very fast. For your own safety find out how fast the tide comes in when you plan a day at Holiday Shore.
As you walk back over the rocks, you find many green and purple snails. You also see pretty pools where pink and brown plants grow on the rocks, and bright red worms live in shell-like tubes.
While you watch, the water comes up to these pools and spreads over part of the sandy beach. The sea is covering Holiday Shore and you must go away for a time. But the plants and animals that live on the rocks remain and take their food, for their mealtime lasts as long as they are covered with water.
I have no name;
I am but two days old—
What shall I call thee?
I happy am,
Joy is my name.—
Sweet joy befall thee!
Sweet joy, but two days old.
Sweet joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile,
I sing the while;
Sweet joy befall thee!
WEEK 1 |
"A S sure as you're alive now, Peter Rabbit, some day I will catch you," snarled Reddy Fox, as he poked his black nose in the hole between the roots of the Big Hickory-tree which grows close to the Smiling Pool. "It is lucky for you that you were not one jump farther away from this hole."
Peter, safe inside that hole, didn't have a word to say, or, if he
did, he didn't have breath enough to say it. It was quite true
that if he had been one jump farther from that hole, Reddy Fox
would have caught him. As it was, the hairs on Peter's funny
white tail actually had tickled Reddy's back as Peter plunged
frantically through the
Reddy Fox was too shrewd to waste any time trying to dig it larger.
He knew there wasn't room enough for him to get between those roots.
So, after trying to make Peter as uncomfortable as possible by
telling him what he, Reddy, would do to him when he did catch him,
Reddy trotted off across the Green Meadows. Peter remained where
he was for a long time. When he was quite sure that it was safe to
do so, he crept out and hurried, lipperty-
When Peter reached the Old Orchard, who should he see but
Peter chuckled. "I didn't have much trouble with Reddy during the winter," said he, "but this very morning he so nearly caught me that it is a wonder that my hair is not snow white from fright." Then he told Jenny all about his narrow escape. "Had it not been for that handy hole of Grandfather Chuck, I couldn't possibly have escaped," concluded Peter.
Jenny Wren cocked her pert little head on one side, and her sharp
little eyes snapped. "Why don't you learn to swim, Peter, like
your cousin down in the Sunny South?" she demanded. "If he had
been in your place, he would simply have plunged into the Smiling
Pool and laughed at
Peter sat bolt upright with his eyes very wide open. In them was
a funny look of surprise as he stared up at
"Tut, tut, tut, tut, Peter!" exclaimed Jenny Wren in her sharp, scolding voice. "Tut, tut, tut, tut! For a fellow who has been so curious about the ways of his feathered neighbors, you know very little about your own family. If I were in your place I would learn about my own relatives before I became curious about my neighbors. How many relatives have you, Peter?"
"One," replied Peter promptly, "my big cousin, Jumper the Hare."
Jenny Wren threw back her head and laughed and laughed and laughed. It was a most irritating and provoking laugh. Finally Peter began to lose patience. "What are you laughing at?" he demanded crossly. "You know very well that Jumper the Hare is the only cousin I have."
Jenny Wren laughed harder that ever.
"Peter!" she gasped. "Peter, you will be the death of me. Why,
down in the Sunny South, where I spent the winter, you have a
cousin who is more closely related to you than Jumper the Hare.
And what is more, he is almost as fond of the water as Jerry
Muskrat. He is called the Marsh Rabbit or
"I don't believe it!" declared Peter angrily. "I don't believe a
word of it. You are simply trying to fool me,
Jenny Wren suddenly became sober. "Peter," said she very earnestly,
"take my advice and go to school to Old Mother Nature for awhile.
What I have told you is true, every word of it. You have a cousin
down in the Sunny South who spends half his time in the water.
What is more, I suspect that you and Jumper have other relatives
of whom you've never heard. Such ignorance would be laughable if
it were not to be pitied. This is what comes of never having
traveled. Go to school to Old Mother Nature for a while, Peter.
It will pay you." With this,
Peter tried to believe that what Jenny Wren had told him was nothing
but a story, but do what he would, he couldn't rid himself of a
little doubt. He tried to interest himself in the affairs of the
other little people of Old Orchard, but it was useless. That little
doubt kept growing and
growing. Could it be possible that
Finally that growing doubt, together with the curiosity which has led poor Peter to do so many queer things, proved too much for him and he started for the Green Forest to look for Old Mother Nature. It didn't take long to find her. She was very busy, for there is no time in all the year when Old Mother Nature has quite so much to do as in the spring.
"If you please, Old Mother Nature," said Peter timidly but very politely, "I've some questions I want to ask you."
Old Mother Nature's eyes twinkled in a kindly way. "All right, Peter," she replied. "I guess I can talk and work at the same time. What is it you want to know?"
"I want to know if it is true that there are any other members of the Rabbit and the Hare family besides my big cousin, Jumper, who lives here in the Green Forest, and myself."
Old Mother Nature's eyes twinkled more than ever. "Why, of course, Peter," she replied. "There are several other members. You ought to know that. But then, I suppose you don't because you never have traveled. It is surprising how little some folks know about the very things they ought to know most about."
Peter looked very humble and as if he felt a little bit foolish. "Is—is—is it true that way down in the Sunny South I have a cousin who loves to spend his time in the water?" stammered Peter.
"It certainly is, Peter," replied Old Mother Nature. "He is called the Marsh Rabbit, and he is more nearly your size, and looks more like you, than any of your other cousins."
Peter gulped as if he were swallowing something that went down
hard. "That is what
Old Mother Nature nodded. "Quite true. Quite true," said she. "He is quite as much at home in the water as on land, if anything a little more so. He is one member of the family who takes to the water, and he certainly does love it. Is there anything else you want to know, Peter?"
Peter shifted about uneasily and hesitated. "What is it, Peter?" asked Old Mother Nature kindly. "There is nothing in the Great World equal to knowledge, and if I can add to your store of it I will be very glad to."
Peter took heart. "If—if you please, Mother Nature, I would like to learn all about my family. May I come to school to you every day?"
Old Mother Nature laughed right out. "Certainly you may go to
school to me, old Mr. Curiosity," said she. "It is a good idea;
a very good idea. I'm very busy, as you can see, but I'm never
too busy to teach those who really want to learn. We'll have a
lesson here every morning just at
"May I bring my cousin, Jumper the Hare, if he wants to come?" asked Peter, as he prepared to obey Old Mother Nature.
"Bring him along and any one else who wants to learn," replied Old Mother Nature kindly.
Peter bade her
More than four hundred years ago there lived in the old city of Genoa [gen'-o-ah], in Italy, a workingman who had four sons. One of these was Christopher Columbus, who was born, probably about the year 1446, in that part of the city occupied by the weavers of woolen cloth. Learned men have lately taken much pains to find the very house. It is a narrow house, and dark inside. The city has bought it and put an inscription in Latin on the front, which says: "No house more worthy! Here, under his father's roof, Christopher Columbus passed his boyhood and youth." The father of little Christopher was a wool comber—that is, a man who prepared the wool for the spinners, or, as some say, a weaver. Christopher learned to work in wool, like his father.
At this time Genoa was a place of ships and sailors, going and coming to and from many parts of the world. On the beach he might have seen the fishermen launch their boats and spread their curious pointed sails, such as you see in the picture. From the wharves of Genoa he could watch the ships sailing out to trade in distant lands. I wonder if the wool-comber's little boy ever dreamed that he might one day come to be the most famous of all ship captains, and sail farther away into unknown seas than any man had ever sailed before.
Columbus was doubtless poor and had to work for his living. But he must have been studious, for he somehow got a pretty good education. He learned Latin, he wrote a good hand, and could draw maps and charts for the use of sailors, by which last calling he was able to support himself when he came to be a man. At twenty-four years of age Columbus made a voyage, but he was at least twenty-seven years of age when he finally became a seaman, and began to acquire that knowledge of sailing which prepared him to make discoveries. The seamen of that time did not sail very far. Their voyages were mostly in the Med-i-ter-ra'-ne-an, and they knew little of the Atlantic Ocean, which they called "The Sea of Darkness," because they did not know that was in it or on the other side of it. They believed that great monsters swam in the ocean, and that in one part it was so hot that the water boiled.
Columbus Learning to Draw Maps
Of course, they did not know that there was any such place as America, and they believed that Africa reached clear to the south pole. The only trade they had with Asia was by caravans, which brought silks, gums, spices, and precious stones from the far East on the backs of camels.
While Columbus was yet a little boy, there was living in Portugal [poar'-tu-gal] a prince named Henry, the son of the king of that country. Henry was a learned man, who thought he could find a way to get round Africa to the rich countries of Asia. He sent out ship after ship, until he had discovered much of the African coast.
It was probably the fame of these voyages that drew Columbus to Portugal. From Portugal Columbus himself sailed down the newly discovered coast of Africa. Then he went north beyond England, so that he was already a very great traveler for the time.
While the Portuguese [poar'-tu-gueze], in trying to get to India, were creeping timidly down the coast of Africa, with land always in sight, Christopher Columbus conceived a new a far bolder plan. As learned man believed the world round, he proposed to sail straight west to Asia, braving all the dangers of the known Atlantic. He thought the world much smaller than it is, and he supposed that he should find Asia about as far west of Europe as America is. He did not dream of finding a new world.
As Portugal was the leading country in making discoveries, Columbus first proposed to find this new way to Asia for the king of that country. If the good Prince Henry had been alive, he would probably have adopted the plan with joy. But "Henry the Navigator," as he was called, had died long before, and the advisers of the King of Portugal ridiculed the plan, and laughed at the large reward which Columbus demanded if he should succeed. However, the king secretly sent out one of his own vessels, which sailed westward a little way, and then came back and reported that there was no land there. When Columbus heard of this, he left Portugal, not liking to be cheated in this way.
He went to Spain and appeared at court, a poor and friendless stranger. Spain was ruled at this time by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. They were very busy in their war with the Moors, who then occupied a great part of Spain. Columbus followed the court from place to place for years. But the king and queen paid little heed to the projects of this foreigner. They were too much employed with battles and sieges to attend to plans for finding a new way to India.
A Moorish Soldier
Most of those who heard of Columbus ridiculed his plans. They did not believe that people could live on the other side of the world, and walk with their feet up and their heads down. The very children tapped their foreheads when Columbus passed, to signify their belief that the fellow was crazy.
In 1491 Columbus, whose plans were at last rejected, left the court, traveling on foot like the poor man that he was, and leading his little boy by the hand. He stopped one day at the convent of La Rabida [la rab'-ee-dah] to beg a little bread and water for the child. The good prior of the convent, happening to pass at that moment, was struck with the foreign accent of the stranger's speech. He began to talk with him, and soon learned of the project that had so long filled the mind of Columbus. The prior was deeply interested. He had once been the confessor, or religious adviser, of Isabella, and he now wrote the queen a letter in favor of the plan of Columbus. The queen sent for the prior, and he persuaded her to bring back Columbus. She sent the great navigator a mule and some decent clothes.
But Columbus, when he got back to court, still demanded such high rewards if he should succeed that he was again allowed to depart. He set out to offer his plan to the King of France; but now his friends again interceded with the queen, lamenting that Spain should lose his services. The queen sent a messenger after him, who overtook him in a pass of the mountains and brought him back, with the assurance that, at last, he would be sent forth on his voyage.
Monsters Supposed to Live in the Ocean as Drawn on Old Maps
In winter, when the wind I hear,
I know the clouds will disappear;
For 'tis the wind who sweeps the sky
And piles the snow in ridges high.
In spring, when stirs the wind, I know
That soon the crocus buds will show;
For 'tis the wind who bids them wake
And into pretty blossoms break.
In summer, when it softly blows,
Soon red I know will be the rose;
For 'tis the wind to her who speaks,
And brings the blushes to her cheeks.
In autumn, when the wind is up,
I know the acorn's out its cup;
For 'tis the wind who takes it out,
And plants an oak somewhere about.
WEEK 1 |
Siegfried was born a Prince and grew to be a hero, a hero with a heart of gold. Though he could fight, and was as strong as any lion, yet he could love too and be as gentle as a child.
The father and mother of the hero-boy lived in a strong castle near the banks of the great Rhine river. Siegmund, his father, was a rich king, Sieglinde, his mother, a beautiful queen, and dearly did they love their little son Siegfried.
The courtiers and the high-born maidens who dwelt in the castle honoured the little Prince, and thought him the fairest child in all the land, as indeed he was.
Sieglinde, his queen-mother, would ofttimes dress her little son in costly garments and lead him by the hand before the proud, strong men-at-arms who stood before the castle walls. Nought had they but smiles and gentle words for their little Prince.
When he grew older, Siegfried would ride into the country, yet always would he be attended by King Siegmund's most trusted warriors.
Then one day armed men entered the Netherlands, the country over which King Siegmund ruled, and the little Prince was sent away from the castle, lest by any evil chance he should fall into the hands of the foe.
Siegfried was hidden away safe in the thickets of a great forest, and dwelt there under the care of a blacksmith, named Mimer.
Mimer was a dwarf, belonging to a strange race of little folk called Nibelungs. The Nibelungs lived for the most part in a dark little town beneath the ground. Nibelheim was the name of this little town and many of the tiny men who dwelt there were smiths. All the livelong day they would hammer on their little anvils, but all through the long night they would dance and play with tiny little Nibelung women.
It was not in the little dark town of Nibelheim that Mimer had his forge, but under the trees of the great forest to which Siegfried had been sent.
As Mimer or his pupils wielded their tools the wild beasts would start from their lair, and the swift birds would wing their flight through the mazes of the wood, lest danger lay in those heavy, resounding strokes.
But Siegfried, the hero-boy, would laugh for glee, and seizing the heaviest hammer he could see he would swing it with such force upon the anvil that it would be splintered into a thousand pieces.
Then Mimer the blacksmith would scold the lad, who was now the strongest of all the lads under his care; but little heeding his rebukes, Siegfried would fling himself merrily out of the smithy and hasten with great strides into the gladsome wood. For now the Prince was growing a big lad, and his strength was even as the strength of ten.
To-day Siegfried was in a merry mood. He would repay Mimer's rebukes in right good fashion. He would frighten the little blacksmith dwarf until he was forced to cry for mercy.
Clad in his forest dress of deerskins, with his hair as burnished gold blowing around his shoulders, Siegfried wandered away into the depths of the woodland.
There he seized the silver horn which hung from his girdle and raised it to his lips. A long, clear note he blew, and ere the sound had died away the boy saw a sight which pleased him well. Here was good prey indeed! A bear, a great big shaggy bear was peering at him out of a bush, and as he gazed the beast opened its jaws and growled, a fierce and angry growl.
Not a whit afraid was Siegfried. Quick as lightning he had caught the great creature in his arms, and ere it could turn upon him, it was muzzled, and was being led quietly along toward the smithy.
Mimer was busy at his forge sharpening a sword when Siegfried reached the doorway.
At the sound of laughter the little dwarf raised his head. It was the Prince who laughed. Then Mimer saw the bear, and letting the sword he held drop to the ground with a clang, he ran to hide himself in the darkest corner of the smithy.
Then Mimer saw the bear
Then Siegfried laughed again. He was no hero-boy to-day, for next he made the big bear hunt the little Nibelung dwarf from corner to corner, nor could the frightened little man escape or hide himself in darkness. Again and again as he crouched in a shadowed corner, Siegfried would stir up the embers of the forge until all the smithy was lighted with a ruddy glow.
At length the Prince tired of his game, and unmuzzling the bear he chased the bewildered beast back into the shelter of the woodlands.
Mimer, poor little dwarf, all a-tremble with his fear, cried angrily, "Thou mayest go shoot if so it please thee, and bring home thy dead prey. Dead bears thou mayest bring hither if thou wilt, but live bears shalt thou leave to crouch in their lair or to roam through the forest." But Siegfried, the naughty Prince, only laughed at the little Nibelung's frightened face and harsh, croaking voice.
Now as the days passed, Mimer the blacksmith began to wish that Siegfried had never come to dwell with him in his smithy. The Prince was growing too strong, too brave to please the little dwarf, moreover many were the mischievous tricks his pupil played on him.
Prince though he was, Mimer would see if he could not get rid of his tormentor. For indeed though, as I have told you, Siegfried had a heart of gold, at this time the gold seemed to have grown dim and tarnished. Perhaps that was because the Prince had learned to distrust and to dislike, nay, more, to hate the little, cunning dwarf.
However that may be, it is certain that Siegfried played many pranks upon the little Nibelung, and he, Mimer, determined to get rid of the quick-tempered, strong-handed Prince.
One day, therefore, it happened that the little dwarf told Siegfried to go deep into the forest to bring home charcoal for the forge. And this Mimer did, though he knew that in the very part of the forest to which he was sending the lad there dwelt a terrible dragon, named Regin. Indeed Regin was a brother of the little blacksmith, and would be lying in wait for the Prince. It would be but the work of a moment for the monster to seize the lad and greedily to devour him.
To Siegfried it was always joy to wander afar through the woodland. Ofttimes had he thrown himself down on the soft, moss-covered ground and lain there hour after hour, listening to the wood-birds' song. Sometimes he would even find a reed and try to pipe a tune as sweet as did the birds, but that was all in vain, as the lad soon found. No tiny songster would linger to hearken to the shrill piping of his grassy reed, and the Prince himself was soon ready to fling it far away.
It was no hardship then to Siegfried to leave the forge and the hated little Nibelung, therefore it was that with right good-will he set out in search of charcoal for Mimer the blacksmith.
As he loitered there where the trees grew thickest, Siegfried took his horn and blew it lustily. If he could not pipe on a grassy reed, at least he could blow a rousing note on his silver horn.
Suddenly as Siegfried blew, the trees seemed to sway, the earth to give out fire. Regin, the dragon, had roused himself at the blast, and was even now drawing near to the Prince.
It was at the mighty strides of the monster that the trees had seemed to tremble, it was as he opened his terrible jaws that the earth had seemed to belch out fire.
For a little while Siegfried watched the dragon in silence. Then he laughed aloud, and a brave, gay laugh it was. Alone in the forest, with a sword buckled to his side, the hero was afraid of naught, not even of Regin. The ugly monster was sitting now on a little hillock, looking down upon the lad, his victim as he thought.
Then Siegfried called boldly to the dragon, "I will kill thee, for in truth thou art an ugly monster."
"I will kill thee, for in truth thou art an ugly monster"
At those words Regin opened his great jaws, and showed his terrible fangs. Yet still the boy Prince mocked at the hideous dragon.
And now Regin in his fury crept closer and closer to the lad, swinging his great tail, until he well-nigh swept Siegfried from his feet.
Swiftly then the Prince drew his sword, well tempered as he knew, for had not he himself wrought it in the forge of Mimer the blacksmith? Swiftly he drew his sword, and with one bound he sprang upon the dragon's back, and as he reared himself, down came the hero's shining sword and pierced into the very heart of the monster. Thus as Siegfried leaped nimbly to the ground, the dragon fell back dead. Regin was no longer to be feared.
Then Siegfried did a curious thing. He had heard the little Nibelung men who came to the smithy to talk with Mimer, he had heard them say that whoever should bathe in the blood of Regin the dragon would henceforth be safe from every foe. For his skin would grow so tough and horny that it would be to him as an armour through which no sword or spear could ever pierce.
Thinking of the little Nibelungs' harsh voices and wrinkled little faces, as they had sat talking thus around Mimer's glowing forge, Siegfried now flung aside his deerskin dress and bathed himself from top to toe in the dragon's blood.
But as he bathed, a leaf from off a linden tree was blown upon his shoulders, and on the spot where it rested Siegfried's skin was still soft and tender as when he was a little child. It was only a tiny spot which was covered by the linden leaf, but should a spear thrust, or an arrow pierce that tiny spot, Siegfried would be wounded as easily as any other man.
The dragon was dead, the bath was over, and clad once more in his deerskin, Siegfried set out for the smithy. He brought no charcoal for the forge; all that he carried with him was a heart afire with anger, a sword quivering to take the life of the Nibelung, Mimer.
For now Siegfried knew that the dwarf had wished to send him forth to death, when he bade him go seek charcoal in the depths of the forest.
Into the dusky glow of the smithy plunged the hero, and swiftly he slew the traitor Mimer. Then gaily, for he had but slain evil ones of whom the world was well rid, then gaily Siegfried fared through the forest in quest of adventure.
Two Travelers were walking along the seashore. Far out they saw something riding on the waves.
"Look," said one, "a great ship rides in from distant lands, bearing rich treasures!"
The object they saw came ever nearer the shore.
"No," said the other, "that is not a treasure ship. That is some fisherman's skiff, with the day's catch of savoury fish."
Still nearer came the object. The waves washed it up on shore.
"It is a chest of gold lost from some wreck," they cried. Both Travelers rushed to the beach, but there they found nothing but a water-soaked log.
Do not let your hopes carry you away from reality.
"Summer is coming, summer is coming,
I know it, I know it, I know it.
Light again, leaf again, love again."
Yes, my wild little Poet.
Sing the new year in under the blue.
Last year you sang it as gladly.
"New, new, new, new!" Is it then so new
That you should carol so madly?
"Love again, song again, nest again, young again."
Never a prophet so crazy!
And hardly a daisy as yet, little friend,
See, there is hardly a daisy.
"Here again, here, here, here, happy year!"
O warble, unchidden, unbidden!
Summer is coming, is coming, my dear,
And all the winters are hidden.
WEEK 1 |
"They were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea."
B EFORE relating how Magellan started off on his voyage round the world, let us turn back for a moment and see how former discoverers had prepared the way for this wonderful voyage.
It was just one hundred years since Prince Henry of Portugal had set up his watch-tower on the bleak southern coast of Spain, despatching ship after ship to explore the western coast of Africa. Forty-six years later the equator was passed; another forty years and Bartholomew Diaz had sighted the mysterious Cape at the south of Africa, which was discovered by Vasco da Gama eleven years later on his way to India.
So much for the Portuguese voyages to the East.
Meanwhile Columbus was sailing to the West in the service of Spain, discovering islands off the coast of North America, to be followed by Cabot to Newfoundland, Cabral to Brazil, and Amerigo Vespucci to the mouth of the great river La Plata, to the south of Brazil. All these explorers had touched the coast of America at different points, fondly dreaming that it was the coast of Asia.
Other ideas were, as we have seen, slowly taking shape, when Balboa discovered the great sea on the far side of America, thus enlarging the geography of the world.
There was a young Portuguese sailor called Magellan. He had sailed with Albuquerque in the expedition to Goa, after which he had accompanied him to the islands beyond India, now known as the East Indies, in the first European ships which had ventured beyond Ceylon.
Here is a story told of Magellan, which shows him to be made of the stern stuff of heroes. While the ships were preparing to take in a cargo of pepper and ginger from the city of Malacca, the king was plotting for their destruction. The commander of the expedition was sitting on the quarterdeck of his flag-ship, deep in a game of chess, which the dark faces of the natives watched intently. No one suspected them of treason. Ashore, the houses rose one above another on the hillside, while the tall tower of the citadel glistened in the September sunshine.
From time to time the natives on the shore and on board glanced to the top of the tower, expecting every moment to see the puff of smoke which would tell them to fall upon the foreigners and put them to death. But the secret had just leaked out. Information reached the nearest ships, and suddenly the Portuguese sailors began chasing the natives from their decks. Magellan sprang into a boat, and made for the flag-ship, shouting "Treason! treason!" He was just in time to save the chess-loving commander.
Meanwhile one Serrano, in charge of the cargo, was being pursued by the light skiffs of the Malay natives. He was struggling against fearful odds, when Magellan rowed up and joined battle with such strength and fury that he saved Serrano. The European guns soon did the rest, and the Malays attacked no more. This was the beginning of a devoted friendship between Magellan and Serrano, out of which grew perhaps the most wonderful voyage ever related in history.
Soon after this Magellan returned to Portugal. For seven long years and more he had fought with wind and wave,—he had suffered the hardships which belonged to the life of a sailor in those early days of navigation. He was longing to be off again, to explore farther among those islands beyond India. Dreams of finding his way to them by sailing westwards past the New World of Columbus never left him. There must be some strait through which he could reach the Indian Ocean and the Spice Islands, as some of these East India islands were called.
He laid his plan before the King of Portugal, but he refused to listen or help. Magellan then asked whether he might go and lay his scheme before some other master.
"You can do as you please," answered the king.
Upon this Magellan desired to kiss his hand at parting, but the king would not offer it.
As Columbus, Cabot, and Vespucci had done before him, Magellan now passed from Portugal into Spain. He soon found favour in the eyes of Charles V., the boy-king of Spain, who ordered an expedition to be fitted out under his command. Away into the great South Sea, discovered so lately by Balboa, Magellan was to sail. His scheme was not unlike that of Columbus: his dream was to be realised yet more fully than that of the famous discoverer of America.
"Sail to the West and the East will be found."
O NCE upon a time, the Sky married the Earth. The Sky's name was Cœlus, and, the Earth's was Terra. They had a great many children: one of these, the eldest, was called Titan, and another was called Saturn.
Terra, their mother Earth, was very good and kind; but their father, Cœlus, was very unkind and cruel. He hated his own children, and shut them all up under ground, so that he might get rid of them—all of them, that is to say, except Saturn, whom he allowed to have his freedom. Saturn grew up; and he thought of nothing but how to set his brothers free. At last one day he went to his mother, and asked her what he could do. Terra had come to hate her husband for his cruelty: so she gave Saturn all the iron she had in her veins—(you know that iron comes from what are called the Veins of the Earth)—and he made a great scythe with it. With this scythe he wounded and punished his father so terribly that old Cœlus was never good for anything again—in fact, we never hear of him any more, except when we turn his name into Cœlum, which is the Latin for "the sky," as you know.
Saturn instantly let all his brothers out from their underground prison. They were very grateful to him: and Titan, the eldest, said, "You shall be king of us all, and of all the world, if you will only promise me one thing." Saturn promised. "It is this," said Titan. "You know how our father treated us; and how you treated him. Children are plagues, and I don't want you to have anything to do with them. Therefore promise me to eat up all your children, if you ever have any, as soon as they are born. They'll be too young to mind and you'll be safe from them. I think so much of this, that if you don't eat them up, every one, I'll take the kingdom away from you. For I'm the eldest, and I might keep it if I pleased instead of giving it up to you."
Saturn had no children then, and he gave the promise. But sometime afterwards he married a goddess named Rhea, who was very good and very beautiful. They, too, had a great many children. But, alas! there was that terrible promise that poor Saturn had made to Titan. Saturn could not break his word, so he ate every child as soon as it was born. Of course Rhea was very unhappy and miserable: it was worse, thought she, than if he had only shut them underground. But there was the promise—and she did not know what to do.
But she thought and thought, and at last she hit on a plan. When her next child was born, she hid it away, and when Saturn asked for it to eat it, she gave him a big stone instead of the baby. Saturn must have had good teeth, for he ate it up, and only thought that the new baby's bones were uncommonly hard. The trick answered so well that when the next child was born she did it again,—and again she did it a third time. She named the three children that she saved in this way, Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto.
Jupiter, the eldest, was a very fine, strong child. He made such a noise with his crying that his mother Rhea was afraid Saturn would hear him. So she sent him away to the island of Crete where he was brought up on goat's milk; and she ordered his nurses to make all the noise they could with drums, trumpets, and cymbals all day and all night long, so that nobody could hear him cry and so find out that he was alive.
But unluckily her secret was found out by Titan. Titan thought Saturn had been breaking his word; so he made war on him, and very nearly conquered him and took his kingdom from him.
Jupiter, however, heard the noise of the battle through all the cymbals, trumpets, and drums. He was only a year old, but so big and strong that he rushed out of Crete, and fought a most desperate battle against his uncles, the Titans, to save his father, Saturn. The Titans were wonderful people. All were giants; and one of them had a hundred arms. They threw mountains instead of stones. But Jupiter conquered them at last, and set his father free.
But somehow Saturn was very much afraid of his son. I think I should have been afraid of you if you had been such a wonderful baby. In some way or other—I don't know how—he tried to get rid of Jupiter, and made himself so unpleasant that Jupiter had to take his kingdom away from him, and make himself king. That is how Jupiter became king of all the gods and goddesses.
Saturn, when he lost his kingdom, went to Italy, where a king named Janus received him very kindly. Saturn and Janus became such friends that Janus made him king with him; and Saturn ruled so well that he made his people the happiest in all the world. Everybody was perfectly good and perfectly happy. Saturn's reign on earth is called the Golden Age. His wife, Rhea, was with him, and was as good as he;—so he had peace at last after all his troubles, which had no doubt taught him to be wise.
The Greek name for Saturn means "Time"; and Saturn is called the god of Time, who swallows up all things and creatures. All creatures may be called "the Children of Time." And the kingdom of Time, we may say, must always come to an end. The whole story means a great deal more than this; but this is enough to show you that it is not nonsense, and means something. One of the planets is called Saturn.
In pictures Saturn is always made an old man, because Time is old; and he carries his scythe, because Time mows everything away, just as a mower does the grass; or like "The Reaper whose name is Death." Only Death, in the poem, is kinder than Saturn or Time.
Little green, green fir trees,
Trooping down the headlands
Where the old sea tugs and seethes
At the farthest
Little bristling fir trees,
No one trims your branches;
Woodsmen with their axes sharp
Always pass you by.
Never shall you tower
Like your inland neighbors;
You the wind and sea have kept
Small as gypsy children,
Shaggy-haired and shy,
Crowding close together
Wrapt in cloaks of tattered green
Your sharp brown arms poke
Little sea-dwarfed fir trees,
Luckier than your fellows,
Young as waves and fairies are,
And every wise small star.
WEEK 1 |
I T was so glorious out in the country; it was summer; the cornfields were yellow, the oats were green, the hay had been put in stacks in the green meadows, and the stork went about on his long red legs, and chattered Egyptian, for this was the language he had learned from his good mother. All around the fields and meadows were great forests, and in the midst of these forests lay deep lakes. Yes, it was right glorious out in the country. In the midst of the sunshine there lay an old farm, with deep canals in it, and from the wall down to the water grew great burdocks, so high that little children could stand upright under the loftiest of them. It was just as wild there as in the deepest woods, and here sat a Duck upon her nest; she had to hatch her ducklings; but she was almost tired out before the little ones came; and then she so seldom had visitors. The other ducks liked better to swim about in the canals than to run up to sit down under a burdock and cackle with her.
At last one egg-shell after another burst open. "Piep! Piep!" it cried, and in all the eggs there were little creatures that stuck out their heads.
"Quack! Quack!" they said; and they all came quacking out as fast as they could, looking all around them under the green leaves; and the mother let them look as much as they chose, for green is good for the eye.
"How wide the world is!" said all the young ones, for they certainly had much more room now than when they were in the eggs.
"D'ye think this is all the world?" said the mother. "That stretches far across the other side of the garden, quite into the parson's field; but I have never been there yet. I hope you are all together." And she stood up. "No, I have not all. The largest egg still lies there. How long is that to last? I am really tired of it." And she sat down again.
"Well, how goes it?" asked an old Duck who had come to pay her a visit.
"It lasts a long time with that one egg," said the Duck who sat there. "It will not burst. Now, only look at the others; are they not the prettiest little ducks one could possibly see? They are like their father: the rogue, he never comes to see me."
"Let me see the egg that will not burst," said the old visitor. "You may be sure it is a turkey's egg. I was once cheated in that way, and had much anxiety and trouble with the young ones, for they are afraid of the water. Must I say it to you, I could not get them to venture in. I quacked and I clacked, but it was no use. Let me see the egg. Yes, that's a turkey's egg. Let it lie there, and teach the other children to swim."
"I think I will sit on it a little longer," said the Duck; and she went away.
At last the great egg burst. "Piep! Piep!" said the little one, and crept forth. It was very large and very ugly. The Duck looked at it.
"It's a very large duckling," said she, "none of the others look like that: can it really be a turkey chick? Well, we shall soon find out. It must go into the water, even if I have to thrust it in myself."
The next day it was bright, beautiful weather; the sun shone on all the green trees. The Mother Duck went down to the canal with all her family. Splash! She jumped into the water. "Quack! Quack!" she said; and one duckling after another plunged in. The water closed over their heads, but they came up in an instant and swam capitally; their legs went of themselves, and they were all in the water. The ugly gray Duckling swam with them.
"No, it's not a turkey," said she, "look how well it can use its legs and how straight it holds itself. It is my own child! On the whole, it's quite pretty, if one looks at it rightly. Quack! quack! come with me, and I'll lead you out into the great world and present you in the duck-yard; but keep close to me, so that no one may tread on you, and take care of the cats!"
And so they came into the duck-yard. There was a terrible riot going on in there, for two families were quarreling about an eel's head, and the cat got it after all.
"See, that's how it goes in the world!" said the Mother Duck; and she whetted her beak, for she too wanted the eel's head. "Only use your legs," she said. "See that you can bustle about, and bow your heads before the old Duck yonder. She's the grandest of all here; she's of Spanish blood—that's why she's so fat; and—d'ye see?—she has a red rag round her leg; that's particularly fine, and the greatest distinction a duck can enjoy: it signifies that one does not want to lose her, and that she's to be known by the animals and by men too. Shake yourselves—don't turn in your toes; a well-brought-up duck turns its toes quite out, just like father and mother—so! Now bend your necks and say, "Quack!"
And they did so: but the other ducks round about looked at them and said quite boldly:
"Look there! Now we're to have these hanging on, as if there were not enough of us already! And—fie!—how that Duckling yonder looks! We won't stand that!" And one duck flew up at it and bit it in the neck.
"Let it alone," said the mother, "it does no harm to anyone."
"Yes, but it's too large and peculiar," said the Duck who had bitten it; "and therefore it must be put down."
"Those are pretty children that the mother has there," said the old Duck with the rag around her leg. "They're all pretty but that one; that was rather unlucky. I wish she could bear it over again."
"That cannot be done, my lady," replied the Mother Duck. "It is not pretty, but it has a really good disposition, and swims as well as any other; yes, I may even say it swims better. I think it will grow up pretty and become smaller in time; it has lain too long in the egg, and therefore it is not properly shaped." And then she pinched it in the neck and smoothed its feathers. "Moreover, it is a drake," she said, "and therefore it is not of so much consequence. I think he will be very strong: he makes his way already!"
"The other ducklings are graceful enough," said the old Duck. "Make yourself at home; and if you find an eel's head you may bring it me."
And now they were at home. But the poor Duckling which had crept last out of the egg, and looked so ugly, was bitten and pushed and jeered, as much by the ducks as by the chickens.
"It is too big!" they all said. And the turkey cock, who had been born with spurs, and therefore thought himself an emperor, blew himself up like a ship in full sail, and bore straight down upon it; then he gobbled and grew quite red in the face. The poor Duckling did not know where it should stand or walk; it was quite melancholy because it looked ugly and was the butt of the whole duck-yard.
So it went on the first day; and afterward it became worse and worse. The poor Duckling was hunted about by everyone; even its brothers and sisters were quite angry with it, and said, "If the cat would only catch you, you ugly creature!" And the mother said, "If you were only far away!" And the ducks bit it, and the chickens beat it, and the girl who had to feed the poultry kicked at it with her foot.
Then it ran and flew over the fence, and the little birds in the bushes flew up in fear.
"That is because I am so ugly!" thought the Duckling; and it shut its eyes, but flew on farther; and so it came out into the great moor, where the wild ducks lived. Here it lay the whole night long; and it was weary and downcast.
Toward morning the wild ducks flew up and looked at their new companion.
"What sort of a one are you?" they asked; and the Duckling turned in every direction and bowed as well as it could. "You are remarkably ugly!" said the wild ducks. "But that is nothing to us, so long as you do not marry into our family."
Poor thing! it certainly did not think of marrying, and only hoped to obtain leave to lie among the reeds and drink some of the swamp-water.
Thus it lay two whole days; then came thither two wild geese, or, properly speaking, two wild ganders. It was not long since each had crept out of an egg, and that's why they were so saucy.
"Listen, comrade," said one of them. "You're so ugly that I like you. Will you go with us and become a bird of passage? Near here, in another moor, there are a few sweet, lovely, wild geese, all unmarried, and all able to say 'Rap!' You've a chance of making your fortune, ugly as you are."
"Piff! paff!" resounded through the air; and the two ganders fell down dead in the swamp, and the water became blood-red. "Piff! paff!" it sounded again, and the whole flock of geese rose up from the reeds. And then there was another report. A great hunt was going on. The sportsmen were lying in wait all around the moor, and some were even sitting up in the branches of the trees, which spread far over the reeds. The blue smoke rose up like clouds among the dark trees, and was wafted far away across the water; and the hunting dogs came—splash, splash!—into the swamp, and the rushes and the reeds bent down on every side.
That was a fright for the poor Duckling! It turned its head and put it under its wing; but at that moment a frightful great dog stood close by the Duckling. His tongue hung far out of his mouth, and his eyes gleamed horrible and ugly; he thrust out his nose close against the Duckling, showed his sharp teeth, and—splash, splash!—on he went, without seizing it.
"O, Heaven be thanked!" sighed the Duckling. "I am so ugly that even the dog does not like to bite me!"
And so it lay quite quiet while the shots rattled through the reeds and gun after gun was fired. At last, late in the day, it was still; but the poor Duckling did not dare to rise up; it waited several hours before it looked round, and then hastened away out of the moor as fast as it could. It ran on over field and meadow; there was such a storm raging that it was difficult to get from one place to another.
Toward evening the Duck came to a miserable peasant's hut. This hut was so dilapidated that it did not itself know on which side it should fall; and that's why it remained standing. The storm whistled round the Duckling in such a way that the poor creature was obliged to sit down to stand against it; and the wind blew worse and worse. Then the Duckling noticed that one of the hinges of the door had given way, and the door hung so slanting that the Duckling could slip through the crack into the room; and that is what it did.
Here lived a woman with her Cat and her Hen. And the Cat, whom she called Sonnie, could arch his back and purr; he could even give out sparks; but for that one had to stroke his fur the wrong way. The Hen had quite little short legs, and therefore she was called Chickabiddy Shortshanks; she laid good eggs, and that woman loved her as her own child.
In the morning the strange Duckling was at once noticed, and the Cat began to purr and the Hen to cluck.
"What's this?" said the woman, and looked all round, but she could not see well, and therefore she thought the Duckling was a fat duck that strayed. "This is a rare prize!" she said. "Now I shall have duck's eggs. I hope it is not a drake. We must try that."
And so the Duckling was admitted on trial for three weeks; but no eggs came. And the Cat was master of the house, and the Hen was the lady, and always said, "We and the world!" for she thought they were half the world, and by far the better half. The Duckling thought one might have a different opinion, but the Hen would not allow it.
"Can you lay eggs?" she asked.
"Then will you hold your tongue!"
And the Cat said, "Can you curve your back and purr and give out sparks?"
"Then you will please have no opinion of your own when sensible folks are speaking."
And the Duckling sat in a corner and was melancholy; then the fresh air and the sunshine streamed in, and it was seized with such a strange longing to swim on the water that it could not help telling the Hen of it.
"What are you thinking of?" cried the Hen. "You have nothing to do, that's why you have these fancies. Lay eggs or purr, and they will pass over."
"But it is so charming to swim on the water," said the Duckling, "so refreshing to let it close above one's head and to dive down to the bottom!"
"Yes, that must be a mighty pleasure, truly," quoth the Hen. "I fancy you must have gone crazy. Ask the Cat about it—he's the cleverest animal I know—ask him if he likes to swim on the water or to dive down; I won't speak about myself. Ask our mistress, the old woman; no one in the world is cleverer than she. Do you think she has any desire to swim, and to let the water close above her head?"
"You don't understand me," said the Duckling.
"We don't understand you? Then pray who is to understand you? You surely don't pretend to be cleverer than the Cat and the woman—I won't say anything of myself. Don't be conceited, child, and thank your Maker for all the kindness you have received. Did you not get into a warm room, and have you not fallen into company from which you may learn something? But you are a chatterer, and it is not pleasant to associate with you. You may believe me, I speak for your good. I tell you disagreeable things, and by that one may always know one's true friends! Only take care that you learn to lay eggs, or to purr, and give out sparks!"
"I think I will go out into the wide world," said the Duckling.
"Yes, do go," replied the Hen.
And so the Duckling went away. It swam on the water, and dived, but it was slighted by every creature because of its ugliness.
Now came the Autumn. The leaves in the forest turned yellow and brown; the wind caught them so that they danced about, and up in the air it was very cold. The clouds hung low, heavy with hail and snowflakes, and on the fence stood the raven, crying, "Croak! Croak!" for mere cold; yes, it was enough to make one feel cold to think of this. The poor little Duckling certainly had not a good time. One evening—the sun was just setting in his beauty—there came a whole flock of great, handsome birds out of the bushes; they were dazzlingly white, with long, flexible necks; they were swans. They uttered a very peculiar cry, spread forth their glorious great wings, and flew away from that cold region to warmer lands, to fair open lakes. They mounted so high, so high! and the ugly Duckling felt quite strangely as it watched them. It turned round and round in the water like a wheel, stretched out its neck toward them, and uttered such a strange, loud cry as frightened itself. Oh, it could not forget those beautiful, happy birds; and so soon as it could see them no longer it dived down to the very bottom, and when it came up again it was quite beside itself. It knew not the name of those birds, and knew not whither they were flying; but it loved them more than it had ever loved any one. It was not at all envious of them. How could it think of wishing to possess such loveliness as they had? It would have been glad if only the ducks would have endured its company—the poor, ugly creature!
And the winter grew cold, very cold! The Duckling was forced to swim about in the water to prevent the surface from freezing entirely; but every night the hole in which it swam became smaller and smaller. It froze so hard that the icy covering crackled again; and the Duckling was obliged to use its legs continually to prevent the hole from freezing up. At last it became exhausted, and lay quite still, and thus froze fast into the ice.
Early in the morning a peasant came by, and when he saw what had happened he took his wooden shoe, broke the ice crust to pieces, and carried the Duckling home to his wife. Then it came to itself again. The children wanted to play with it; but the Duckling thought they wanted to hurt it, and in its terror fluttered up into the milk-pan, so that the milk spurted down into the room. The woman clasped her hands, at which the Duckling flew down into the butter-tub, and then into the meal-barrel and out again. How it looked then! The woman screamed and struck at it with the fire-tongs; the children tumbled over one another in their efforts to catch the Duckling; and they laughed and they screamed!—well it was that the door stood open, and the poor creature was able to slip out between the shrubs into the newly fallen snow—there it lay quite exhausted.
But it would be too melancholy if I were to tell all the misery and care which the Duckling had to endure in the hard winter. It lay out on the moor among the reeds, when the sun began to shine again and the larks to sing: it was a beautiful spring.
Then all at once the Duckling could flap its wings: they beat the air more strongly than before and bore it strongly away; and before it well knew how all this happened it found itself in a great garden, where the elder-trees smelt sweet and bent their long green branches down to the canal that wound through the region. Oh, here it was so beautiful, such a gladness of spring! and from the thicket came three glorious white swans; they rustled their wings, and swam lightly on the water. The Duckling knew the splendid creatures, and felt oppressed by a peculiar sadness.
"I will fly away to them, to the royal birds! and they will beat me because I, that am so ugly, dare to come near them. But it is all the same. Better to be killed by them than to be pursued by ducks and beaten by fowls and pushed about by the girl who takes care of the poultry-yard, and to suffer hunger in winter!" And it flew out into the water, and swam toward the beautiful swans: they looked at it and came sailing down upon it with outspread wings. "Kill me!" said the poor creature, and bent its head down upon the water, expecting nothing but death. But what was this that it saw in the clear water? It beheld its own image; and lo! it was no longer a clumsy dark-gray bird, ugly and hateful to look at, but—a swan!
It matters nothing if one is born in a duck-yard if one has only lain in a swan's egg.
It felt quite glad at all the need and misfortune it had suffered, now it realized its happiness in all the splendor that surrounded it. And the great swans swam round it and stroked it with their beaks.
Into the garden came little children who threw bread and corn into the water; and the youngest cried, "There is a new one!" and the other children shouted joyously, "Yes, a new one has arrived!" And they clapped their hands and danced about, and ran to their father and mother; and bread and cake were thrown into the water; and they all said, "The new one is the most beautiful of all! so young and handsome!" and the old swans bowed their heads before him.
Then he felt quite ashamed, and hid his head under his wings, for he did not know what to do; he was so happy, and yet not at all proud. He thought how he had been persecuted and despised; and now he heard them saying that he was the most beautiful of all birds. Even the elder-tree bent its branches straight down into the water before him, and the sun shone warm and mild. Then his wings rustled, he lifted his slender neck, and cried rejoicingly from the depths of his heart:
"I never dreamed of so much happiness when I was the ugly Duckling!"
H ERE is a round hole on the hill-side path. Is it a crab's hole?
No, it is too far from the sea for a crab. Mrs. Wasp made it for her baby to live in.
Her name is Vespa. In her house she has a hall, a room, and a bed. In the bed her baby lies asleep. It is now a soft, white egg.
When the baby wasp comes out of the egg, he will be all alone. When Mrs. Wasp has laid the egg safe in bed, she goes away.
A Wayside Home
She shuts her door with a lump of mud. She leaves her baby some food to eat. The food is a pile of little caterpillars. When she leaves her baby, she never comes back.
When he gets big, he digs his way out, and off he flies. If he meets his mother he does not know her.
Mrs. Wasp makes her bed of fine sawdust. She cuts the wood up soft and fine. She has two small, sharp saws with which to do this.
She can make paper out of wood. How does she do that? She saws the wood into a fine dust. Then she mixes it with glue from her mouth. When she takes it home, she spreads it out thin with her feet.
It dries into fine, gray paper. With it she papers her house, to keep her baby warm and dry.
Mrs. Wasp is cross, but she is wise. She has a long sting. She kills, or puts into a deep sleep, the caterpillars that she takes home. This keeps them from decay.
She is never idle, she has so much to do making and furnishing her house, and storing up food.
The wasp in the picture is called the Hermit Wasp, because she lives alone.
The rosy clouds float overhead,
The sun is going down;
And now the sandman's gentle tread,
Comes stealing through the town.
"White sand, white sand," he softly cries,
And, as he shakes his hand,
Straightway there lies on baby's eyes
His gift of shining sand.
Blue eyes, gray eyes, black eyes and brown,
As shuts the rose, they softly close,
When he goes through the town.
From sunny beaches far away—
Yes, in another land—
He gathers up at break of day
His store of shining sand.
No tempests beat that shore remote,
No ships may sail that way;
His little boat alone may float
Within that lovely bay.
Blue eyes, gray eyes, black eyes and brown,
As shuts the rose, they softly close,
When he goes through the town.
He smiles to see the eyelids close
Above the happy eyes,
And every child right well he knows,—
Oh! he is very wise!
But if, as he goes through the land,
A naughty baby cries,
His other hand takes dull gray sand
To close the wakeful eyes.
Blue eyes, gray eyes, black eyes and brown,
As shuts the rose, they softly close,
When he goes through the town.
So when you hear the sandman's song
Sound through the twilight sweet,
Be sure you do not keep him long
A-waiting on the street.
Lie softly down, dear little head,
Rest quiet, busy hands,
Till by your bed, his good-night said,
He strews the shining sands.
Blue eyes, gray eyes, black eyes and brown,
As shuts the rose, they softly close,
When he goes through the town.
WEEK 1 |
I Kings iii: 1, to iv: 34;
II Chronicles i: 1 to 13.
OLOMON was a very young man, not more than twenty years old, when he became king and bore the heavy care of a great land. For his kingdom was larger than the twelve tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba. On the north he ruled over all Syria, from Mount Hermon as far as the great river Euphrates. On the east, Ammon and Moab were under his power, and in the south all the land of Edom, far down into the desert where the Israelites had wandered long before. He had no wars, as David had before him, but at home and abroad his great realm was at peace as long as Solomon reigned.
Soon after Solomon became king he went to Gibeon, a few miles north of Jerusalem, where the altar of the Lord stood until the Temple was built. At Gibeon Solomon made offerings and worshipped the Lord God of Israel.
And that night the Lord God came to Solomon, and spoke to him. The Lord said, "Ask of me whatever you choose, and I will give it to you."
And Solomon said to the Lord, "O Lord, thou didst show great kindness to my father, David; and now thou hast made me king in my father's place. I am only a child, O Lord. I know not how to rule this great people, which is like the dust of the earth in number. Give me, O Lord, I pray thee, wisdom and knowledge, that I may judge this people, and may know how to rule them aright."
The Lord was pleased with Solomon's choice, and the Lord said to Solomon, "Since you have not asked of me long life, nor great riches for yourself, nor victory over your enemies, nor great power, but have asked wisdom and knowledge to judge this people, I have given you wisdom greater than that of any king before you, and greater than that of any king that shall come after you. And because you have asked this, I will give you not only wisdom, but also honor and riches. And if you will obey my words, as your father David obeyed, you shall have long life, and shall rule for many years."
Then Solomon awoke and found that it was a dream. But it was a dream that came true, for God gave to Solomon all that he had promised, wisdom, and riches, and honor, and power, and long life. Soon after this Solomon showed his wisdom. Two women came before him with two little babies, one dead and the other living. Each of the two women claimed the living child as her own, and said that the dead child belonged to the other woman. One of the women said, "O my lord, we two women were sleeping with our children in one bed. And this woman in her sleep lay upon her child, and it died. Then she placed her dead child beside me while I was asleep, and took my child. In the morning I saw that it was not my child; but she says it is mine, and the living child is hers. Now, O king, command this woman to give me my own child." Then the other woman said, "That is not true. The dead baby is her own, and the living one is mine, which she is trying to take from me."
The young king listened to both women. Then he said, "Bring me a sword."
They brought a sword, and then Solomon said, "Take this sword, and cut the living child in two, and give half of it to each one."
Then one of the women cried out, and said, "O my lord, do not kill my child! Let the other woman have it, but let the child live!"
But the other woman said, "No, cut the child in two, and divide it between us!"
Then Solomon said, "Give the living child to the woman who would not have it slain, for she is its mother."
The wise decision of the young King Solomon.
And all the people wondered at the wisdom of one so young; and they saw that God had gave him understanding.
Solomon chose some of the great men who had helped his father David, to stand beside his throne and do his will. Among those was a man named Benaiah, the son of Jehoioda. He was one of those who had come to David while he was hiding from Saul, as we read in Story 70. At that time Benaiah, while still a young man, did a very bold deed. He found a lion in a deep pit, leaped into the pit, and killed the lion. For this act, Benaiah became famous, for few people would dare to venture so near to a lion, with the weapons in use at that time. This brave man was old in Solomon's day, but he was still strong, and Solomon gave him a high place, at the head of his guards.
Benaiah, the brave commander of Solomon's guard.
H ERE is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it. And then he feels that perhaps there isn't. Anyhow, here he is at the bottom, and ready to be introduced to you. Winnie-the-Pooh.
When I first heard his name, I said, just as you are going to say, "But I thought he was a boy?"
"So did I," said Christopher Robin.
"Then you can't call him Winnie?"
"He's Winnie-ther-Pooh. Don't you know what 'ther' means?"
"Ah, yes, now I do," I said quickly; and I hope you do too, because it is all the explanation you are going to get.
Sometimes Winnie-the-Pooh likes a game of some sort
when he comes downstairs, and sometimes he likes to sit
quietly in front of the fire
and listen to a story. This
"What about a story?" said Christopher Robin.
"What about a story?" I said.
"Could you very sweetly tell Winnie-the-Pooh one?"
"I suppose I could," I said. "What sort of stories does he like?"
"About himself. Because he's that sort of Bear."
"Oh, I see."
"So could you very sweetly?"
"I'll try," I said.
So I tried.
Once upon a time, a very long time ago now, about last Friday, Winnie-the-Pooh lived in a forest all by himself under the name of Sanders.
("What does 'under the name' mean!" asked Christopher Robin.
"It means he had the name over the door in gold letters, and lived under it."
"Winnie-the-Pooh wasn't quite sure," said Christopher Robin.
"Now I am," said a growly voice.
"Then I will go on," said I.)
One day when he was out walking, he came to an open place in the middle of the forest, and in the middle of this place was a large oak-tree, and, from the top of the tree, there came a loud buzzing-noise.
Winnie-the-Pooh sat down at the foot of the tree, put his head between his paws and began to think.
First of all he said to himself: "That buzzing-noise means something. You don't get a buzzing-noise like that, just buzzing and buzzing, without its meaning something. If there's a buzzing-noise, somebody's making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you're a bee."
Then he thought another long time, and said: "And the only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey."
And then he got up, and said: "And the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it." So he began to climb the tree.
He climbed and he climbed and he climbed, and as he climbed he sang a little song to himself. It went like this:
Isn't it funny
How a bear likes honey?
Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!
I wonder why he does?
Then he climbed a little further . . . and a little further . . . and then just a little further. By that time he had thought of another song.
It's a very funny thought that, if Bears were Bees,
They'd build their nests at the bottom of trees.
And that being so (if the Bees were Bears),
We shouldn't have to climb up all these stairs.
He was getting rather tired by this time, so that is why he sang a Complaining Song. He was nearly there now, and if he just stood on that branch . . .
"Oh, help!" said Pooh, as he dropped ten feet on the branch below him.
"If only I
"You see, what I meant to do," he explained, as he turned head-over-heels, and crashed on to another branch thirty feet below, "what I meant to do—"
"Of course, it was rather—" he admitted, as he slithered very quickly through the next six branches.
"It all comes, I suppose," he decided, as he said good-bye to the last branch, spun round three times, and flew gracefully into a gorse-bush, "it all comes of liking honey so much. Oh, help!"
He crawled out of the gorse-bush, brushed the prickles from his nose, and began to think again. And the first person he thought of was Christopher Robin.
("Was that me?" said Christopher Robin in an awed voice, hardly daring to believe it.
"That was you."
Christopher Robin said nothing, but his eyes got larger and larger, and his face got pinker and pinker.)
I saw a ship a-sailing,
A-sailing on the sea;
And, oh! it was all laden
With pretty things for thee!
There were comfits in the cabin,
And apples in the hold;
The sails were made of silk,
And the masts were made of gold.
The four-and-twenty sailors
That stood between the decks,
Were four-and-twenty white mice
With chains about their necks.
The captain was a duck,
With a packet on his back;
And when the ship began to move,
The captain said, "Quack! Quack!"