WEEK 10 |
HEN they first went to live at Three Chimneys, the children had talked a great deal about their Father, and had asked a great many questions about him, and what he was doing and where he was and when he would come home. Mother always answered their questions as well as she could. But as the time went on they grew to speak less of him. Bobbie had felt almost from the first that for some strange miserable reason these questions hurt Mother and made her sad. And little by little the others came to have this feeling, too, though they could not have put it into words.
One day, when Mother was working so hard that she could not leave off even for ten minutes, Bobbie carried up her tea to the big bare room that they called Mother's workshop. It had hardly any furniture. Just a table and a chair and a rug. But always big pots of flowers on the window-sills and on the mantelpiece. The children saw to that. And from the three long uncurtained windows the beautiful stretch of meadow and moorland, the far violet of the hills, and the unchanging changefulness of cloud and sky.
"Here's your tea, Mother-love," said Bobbie; "do drink it while it's hot."
Mother laid down her pen among the pages that were scattered all over the table, pages covered with her writing, which was almost as plain as print, and much prettier. She ran her hands into her hair, as if she were going to pull it out by handfuls.
"Poor dear head," said Bobbie, "does it ache?"
"No—yes—not much," said Mother. "Bobbie, do you think Peter and Phil are forgetting Father?"
"No," said Bobbie, indignantly. "Why?"
"You none of you ever speak of him now."
Bobbie stood first on one leg and then on the other.
"We often talk about him when we're by ourselves," she said.
"But not to me," said Mother. "Why?"
Bobbie did not find it easy to say why.
"Bobbie, come here," said her Mother, and Bobbie came.
"Now," said Mother, putting her arm round Bobbie and laying her ruffled head against Bobbie's shoulder, "try to tell me, dear."
"Well, then," said Bobbie, "I thought you were so unhappy about Daddy not being here, it made you worse when I talked about him. So I stopped doing it."
"And the others?"
"I don't know about the others," said Bobbie. "I never said anything about that to them. But I expect they felt the same about it as me."
"Bobbie dear," said Mother, still leaning her head against her, "I'll tell you. Besides parting from Father, he and I have had a great sorrow—oh, terrible—worse than anything you can think of, and at first it did hurt to hear you all talking of him as if everything were just the same. But it would be much more terrible if you were to forget him. That would be worse than anything."
"The trouble," said Bobbie, in a very little voice—"I promised I would never ask you any questions, and I never have, have I? But—the trouble—it won't last always?"
"No," said Mother, "the worst will be over when Father comes home to us."
"I wish I could comfort you," said Bobbie.
"Oh, my dear, do you suppose you don't? What should I do without you—you and the others? Do you think I haven't noticed how good you've all been, not quarrelling nearly as much as you used to—and all the little kind things you do for me—the flowers, and cleaning my shoes, and tearing up to make my bed before I get time to do it myself?"
Bobbie had sometimes wondered whether Mother noticed these things.
"That's nothing," she said, "to
"I must get on with my work," said Mother, giving Bobbie one last squeeze. "Don't say anything to the others."
That evening in the hour before bed-time instead of reading to the children Mother told them stories of the games she and Father used to have when they were children and lived near each other in the country—tales of the adventures of Father with Mother's brothers when they were all boys together. Very funny stories they were, and the children laughed as they listened.
"Uncle Edward died before he was grown up, didn't he?" said Phyllis, as Mother lighted the bedroom candles.
"Yes, dear," said Mother, "you would have loved him. He was such a brave boy, and so adventurous. Always in mischief, and yet friends with everybody in spite of it. And your Uncle Reggie's in Ceylon—yes, and Father's away, too. But I think they'd all like to think we'd enjoyed talking about the things they used to do. Don't you think so?"
"Not Uncle Edward," said Phyllis, in a shocked tone; "he's in Heaven."
"You don't suppose he's forgotten us and all the old times, because God has taken him, any more than I forget him. Oh, no, he remembers. He's only away for a little time. We shall see him some day."
"And Uncle Reggie—and Father, too?" said Peter.
"Yes," said Mother. "Uncle Reggie and Father, too. Good night, my darlings."
"Good night," said everyone. Bobbie hugged her mother more closely even
than usual, and whispered in her ear,
"Oh, I do love you so, Mummy—I
When Bobbie came to think it all over, she tried not to wonder what the great trouble was. But she could not always help it. Father was not dead—like poor Uncle Edward—Mother had said so. And he was not ill, or Mother would have been with him. Being poor wasn't the trouble. Bobbie knew it was something nearer the heart than money could be.
"I mustn't try to think what it is," she told herself; "no, I mustn't. I am glad Mother noticed about us not quarrelling so much. We'll keep that up."
And alas, that very afternoon she and Peter had what Peter called a first-class shindy.
They had not been a week at Three Chimneys before they had asked Mother to let them have a piece of garden each for their very own, and she had agreed, and the south border under the peach trees had been divided into three pieces and they were allowed to plant whatever they liked there.
Phyllis had planted mignonette and nasturtium and Virginia stock in hers. The seeds came up, and though they looked just like weeds, Phyllis believed that they would bear flowers some day. The Virginia stock justified her faith quite soon, and her garden was gay with a band of bright little flowers, pink and white and red and mauve.
"I can't weed for fear I pull up the wrong things," she used to say comfortably; "it saves such a lot of work."
Peter sowed vegetable seeds in his—carrots and onions and turnips. The seed was given to him by the farmer who lived in the nice black-and-white, wood-and-plaster house just beyond the bridge. He kept turkeys and guinea fowls, and was a most amiable man. But Peter's vegetables never had much of a chance, because he liked to use the earth of his garden for digging canals, and making forts and earthworks for his toy soldiers, and the seeds of vegetables rarely come to much in a soil that is constantly disturbed for the purposes of war and irrigation.
Bobbie planted rose-bushes in her garden, but all the little new leaves of the rose-bushes shrivelled and withered, perhaps because she moved them from the other part of the garden in May, which is not at all the right time of year for moving roses. But she would not own that they were dead, and hoped on against hope, until the day when Perks came up to see the garden, and told her quite plainly that all her roses were as dead as door nails.
"Only good for bonfires, Miss," he said. "You just dig 'em up and burn 'em, and I'll give you some nice fresh roots outer my garden; pansies, and stocks, and sweet willies, and forget-me-nots. I'll bring 'em along to-morrow if you get the ground ready."
So next day she set to work, and that happened to be the day when Mother had praised her and the others about not quarrelling. She moved the rose-bushes and carried them to the other end of the garden, where the rubbish heap was that they meant to make a bonfire of when Guy Fawkes' Day came.
Meanwhile Peter had decided to flatten out all his forts and earthworks, with a view to making a model of the railway tunnel, cutting, embankment, canal, aqueduct, bridges, and all.
So when Bobbie came back from her last thorny journey with the dead rose-bushes, he had got the rake and was using it busily.
"I was using the rake," said Bobbie.
"Well, I'm using it now," said Peter.
"But I had it first," said Bobbie.
"Then it's my turn now," said Peter. And that was how the quarrel began.
"You're always being disagreeable about nothing," said Peter, after some heated argument.
"I had the rake first," said Bobbie, flushed and defiant, holding on to its handle.
"Didn't I tell you this morning I meant to have it. Didn't I, Phil?"
Phyllis said she didn't want to be mixed up in their rows. And instantly, of course, she was.
"If you remember, you ought to say."
"Of course she doesn't remember—but she might say so."
"I wish I'd had a brother instead of two whiny little kiddy sisters," said Peter. This was always recognised as indicating the high-water mark of Peter's rage.
Bobbie made the reply she always made to it.
"I can't think why little boys were ever invented," and just as she said it she looked up, and saw the three long windows of Mother's workshop flashing in the red rays of the sun. The sight brought back those words of praise:
"You don't quarrel like you used to do."
"Oh!" cried Bobbie, just as if she had been hit, or had caught her finger in a door, or had felt the hideous sharp beginnings of toothache.
"What's the matter?" said Phyllis.
Bobbie wanted to say: "Don't let's quarrel. Mother hates it so," but though she tried hard, she couldn't. Peter was looking too disagreeable and insulting.
"Take the horrid rake, then," was the best she could manage. And she suddenly let go her hold on the handle. Peter had been holding on to it too firmly and pullingly, and now that the pull the other way was suddenly stopped, he staggered and fell over backwards, the teeth of the rake between his feet.
"Serve you right," said Bobbie, before she could stop herself.
Peter lay still for half a moment—long enough to frighten Bobbie a little. Then he frightened her a little more, for he sat up—screamed once—turned rather pale, and then lay back and began to shriek, faintly but steadily. It sounded exactly like a pig being killed a quarter of a mile off.
Mother put her head out of the window, and it wasn't half a minute after that she was in the garden kneeling by the side of Peter, who never for an instant ceased to squeal.
"What happened, Bobbie?" Mother asked.
"It was the rake," said Phyllis. "Peter was pulling at it, so was Bobbie, and she let go and he went over."
"Stop that noise, Peter," said Mother. "Come. Stop at once."
Peter used up what breath he had left in a last squeal and stopped.
"Now," said Mother, "are you hurt?"
"If he was really hurt, he wouldn't make such a fuss," said Bobbie, still trembling with fury; "he's not a coward!"
"I think my foot's broken off, that's all," said Peter, huffily, and sat up. Then he turned quite white. Mother put her arm round him.
"He is hurt," she said; "he's fainted. Here, Bobbie, sit down and take his head on your lap."
Then Mother undid Peter's boots. As she took the right one off, something dripped from his foot on to the ground. It was red blood. And when the stocking came off there were three red wounds in Peter's foot and ankle, where the teeth of the rake had bitten him, and his foot was covered with red smears.
"Run for water—a basinful," said Mother, and Phyllis ran. She upset most of the water out of the basin in her haste, and had to fetch more in a jug.
Peter did not open his eyes again till Mother had tied her handkerchief round his foot, and she and Bobbie had carried him in and laid him on the brown wooden settle in the dining-room. By this time Phyllis was halfway to the Doctor's.
Mother sat by Peter and bathed his foot and talked to him, and Bobbie went out and got tea ready, and put on the kettle.
"It's all I can do," she told herself. "Oh, suppose Peter should die, or be a helpless cripple for life, or have to walk with crutches, or wear a boot with a sole like a log of wood!"
She stood by the back door reflecting on these gloomy possibilities, her eyes fixed on the water-butt.
"I wish I'd never been born," she said, and she said it out loud.
"Why, lawk a mercy, what's that for?" asked a voice, and Perks stood before her with a wooden trug basket full of green-leaved things and soft, loose earth.
"Oh, it's you," she said. "Peter's hurt his foot with a rake—three great gaping wounds, like soldiers get. And it was partly my fault."
"That it wasn't, I'll go bail," said Perks. "Doctor seen him?"
"Phyllis has gone for the Doctor."
"He'll be all right; you see if he isn't," said Perks. "Why, my father's second cousin had a hay-fork run into him, right into his inside, and he was right as ever in a few weeks, all except his being a bit weak in the head afterwards, and they did say that it was along of his getting a touch of the sun in the hay-field, and not the fork at all. I remember him well. A kind-'earted chap, but soft, as you might say."
Bobbie tried to let herself be cheered by this heartening reminiscence.
"Well," said Perks, "you won't want to be bothered with gardening just this minute, I dare say. You show me where your garden is, and I'll pop the bits of stuff in for you. And I'll hang about, if I may make so free, to see the Doctor as he comes out and hear what he says. You cheer up, Missie. I lay a pound he ain't hurt, not to speak of."
But he was. The Doctor came and looked at the foot and bandaged it beautifully, and said that Peter must not put it to the ground for at least a week.
"He won't be lame, or have to wear crutches or a lump on his foot, will he?" whispered Bobbie, breathlessly, at the door.
"My aunt! No!" said Dr. Forrest; "he'll be as nimble as ever on his pins in a fortnight. Don't you worry, little Mother Goose."
It was when Mother had gone to the gate with the Doctor to take his last instructions and Phyllis was filling the kettle for tea, that Peter and Bobbie found themselves alone.
"He says you won't be lame or anything," said Bobbie.
"Oh, course I shan't, silly," said Peter, very much relieved all the same.
"Oh, Peter, I am so sorry," said Bobbie, after a pause.
"That's all right," said Peter, gruffly.
"It was all my fault," said Bobbie.
"Rot," said Peter.
"If we hadn't quarrelled, it wouldn't have happened. I knew it was wrong to quarrel. I wanted to say so, but somehow I couldn't."
"Don't drivel," said Peter. "I shouldn't have stopped if you had said it. Not likely. And besides, us rowing hadn't anything to do with it. I might have caught my foot in the hoe, or taken off my fingers in the chaff-cutting machine or blown my nose off with fireworks. It would have been hurt just the same whether we'd been rowing or not."
"But I knew it was wrong to quarrel," said Bobbie, in tears, "and now
"Now look here," said Peter, firmly, "you just dry up. If you're not careful, you'll turn into a beastly little Sunday-school prig, so I tell you."
"I don't mean to be a prig. But it's so hard not to be when you're really trying to be good."
(The Gentle Reader may perhaps have suffered from this difficulty.)
"Not it," said Peter; "it's a jolly good thing it wasn't you was hurt. I'm glad it was me. There! If it had been you, you'd have been lying on the sofa looking like a suffering angel and being the light of the anxious household and all that. And I couldn't have stood it."
"No, I shouldn't," said Bobbie.
"Yes, you would," said Peter.
"I tell you I shouldn't."
"I tell you you would."
"Oh, children," said Mother's voice at the door. "Quarrelling again? Already?"
"We aren't quarrelling—not really," said Peter. "I wish you wouldn't think it's rows every time we don't agree!" When Mother had gone out again, Bobbie broke out:
"Peter, I am sorry you're hurt. But you are a beast to say I'm a prig."
"Well," said Peter unexpectedly, "perhaps I am. You did say I wasn't a coward, even when you were in such a wax. The only thing is—don't you be a prig, that's all. You keep your eyes open and if you feel priggishness coming on just stop in time. See?"
"Yes," said Bobbie, "I see."
"Then let's call it Pax," said Peter, magnanimously: "bury the hatchet in the fathoms of the past. Shake hands on it. I say, Bobbie, old chap, I am tired."
He was tired for many days after that, and the settle seemed hard and uncomfortable in spite of all the pillows and bolsters and soft folded rugs. It was terrible not to be able to go out. They moved the settle to the window, and from there Peter could see the smoke of the trains winding along the valley. But he could not see the trains.
At first Bobbie found it quite hard to be as nice to him as she wanted to be, for fear he should think her priggish. But that soon wore off, and both she and Phyllis were, as he observed, jolly good sorts. Mother sat with him when his sisters were out. And the words, "he's not a coward," made Peter determined not to make any fuss about the pain in his foot, though it was rather bad, especially at night.
Praise helps people very much, sometimes.
There were visitors, too. Mrs. Perks came up to ask how he was, and so did the Station Master, and several of the village people. But the time went slowly, slowly.
"I do wish there was something to read," said Peter. "I've read all our books fifty times over."
"I'll go to the Doctor's," said Phyllis; "he's sure to have some."
"Only about how to be ill, and about people's nasty insides, I expect," said Peter.
"Perks has a whole heap of magazines that came out of trains when people are tired of them," said Bobbie. "I'll run down and ask him."
So the girls went their two ways.
Bobbie found Perks busy cleaning lamps.
"And how's the young gent?" said he.
"Better, thanks," said Bobbie, "but he's most frightfully bored. I came to ask if you'd got any magazines you could lend him."
"There, now," said Perks, regretfully, rubbing his ear with a black and oily lump of cotton waste, "why didn't I think of that, now? I was trying to think of something as 'ud amuse him only this morning, and I couldn't think of anything better than a guinea-pig. And a young chap I know's going to fetch that over for him this tea-time."
"How lovely! A real live guinea-pig! He will be pleased. But he'd like the magazines as well."
"That's just it," said Perks. "I've just sent the pick of 'em to Snigson's boy—him what's just getting over the pewmonia. But I've lots of illustrated papers left."
He turned to the pile of papers in the corner and took up a heap six inches thick.
"There!" he said. "I'll just slip a bit of string and a bit of paper round 'em."
He pulled an old newspaper from the pile and spread it on the table, and made a neat parcel of it.
"There," said he, "there's lots of pictures, and if he likes to mess 'em about with his paint-box, or coloured chalks or what not, why, let him. I don't want 'em."
"You're a dear," said Bobbie, took the parcel, and started. The papers were heavy, and when she had to wait at the level-crossing while a train went by, she rested the parcel on the top of the gate. And idly she looked at the printing on the paper that the parcel was wrapped in.
Suddenly she clutched the parcel tighter and bent her head over it. It seemed like some horrible dream. She read on—the bottom of the column was torn off—she could read no farther.
She never remembered how she got home. But she went on tiptoe to her room and locked the door. Then she undid the parcel and read that printed column again, sitting on the edge of her bed, her hands and feet icy cold and her face burning. When she had read all there was, she drew a long, uneven breath.
"So now I know," she said.
What she had read was headed, "End of the Trial. Verdict. Sentence."
The name of the man who had been tried was the name of her father. The verdict was "Guilty." And the sentence was "Five years' Penal Servitude."
"Oh, Daddy," she whispered, crushing the paper hard, "it's not true—I don't believe it. You never did it! Never, never, never!"
There was a hammering on the door.
"What is it?" said Bobbie.
"It's me," said the voice of Phyllis; "tea's ready, and a boy's brought Peter a guinea-pig. Come along down."
And Bobbie had to.
T he Celts, as has been said before, left their old home in Asia in very early times and moved slowly across Europe. At length they came to the ocean. The tribes behind were pressing upon them, and the Celts were not to be stopped by so narrow a body of water as the English Channel. Many of them crossed to Britain. There they lived in small huts made of poles fastened together at the top. They knew how to make boats with planks and nails, but oftener they made them by covering wicker frameworks with skins. Their priests were called Druids, and it is thought that the great stones at Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain, are the remains of rude temples in which sacrifices were offered. These Celts, or Britons, painted their bodies blue, for they thought this would make them seem more terrible to their enemies. Rough as they were, they were fond of pretty things, and they made themselves bracelets and necklaces of gold. Those who lived inland were savage, but those who dwelt nearest to the Continent were somewhat civilized. They raised wheat and barley and kept many cattle. They had no towns, but gathered in little villages.
This is the way the Britons lived when the Romans came upon them. The Romans were always ready to conquer a new country; and they meant to subdue Britain, or Albion, as it was then called. They obliged the Britons in the greater part of England to obey them; but they were unable to subdue the savage tribes of the northern part of the island; and finally, to keep them from raiding the land which they ruled, they built two great walls with watchtowers and strongholds across the country. Some of the Teutons on the Continent were also troublesome, and therefore the Romans erected a line of forts around the south-eastern shore of England. These Romans were famous road-makers, and they built excellent highways, some of which exist to this day. They made settlements; they erected handsome town houses and country houses with statues and vases and pavements of many-colored marble, and they built many of their famous baths. The Romans were the rulers, and the Britons had to obey. It is probable that many of the Britons were obliged to enter the Roman army, and that many of those who did not become soldiers were treated as slaves.
Landing of the Romans in Britain.
The Romans could have conquered the troublesome northern tribes, but as we have seen, the Goths were pressing upon the boundaries of their empire, and Alaric had invaded Italy and plundered Rome itself. Every soldier in the Roman army was now needed to help protect the empire, and so officers and men sailed away from the British shores and left the people to take care of themselves.
(At Bath, an English watering-place noted for its hot springs.)
The Britons were better able to do this before the coming of the Romans. They were excellent fighters, but they had become so used to being led by Roman officers that when left alone they were helpless. The savages were coming down upon them from the north, and the three tribes of Teutons, the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes, were threatening them from the region between the Baltic and the North Sea. The Britons could not protect themselves, and they sent a pitiful appeal to the Roman commander Aëtius to come and help them. "The barbarians," it said, "drive us to the sea, and the sea drives us back to the barbarians; and between them we are either slain or drowned." Aëtius, however, was too busy trying to keep other barbarians from Rome to help people so far away as England, and he could do nothing for them. The Britons believed that of all their enemies the Teutons were the strongest; and they decided to ask them to come to Britain and help drive away the others. They might have the island of Thanet for their home, the Britons promised.
Ancient Jutish Boat.
The Jutes came first, under the two brothers, Hengist and Horsa, it is said; and they were followed by the Angles and Saxons. These Teutons helped to drive away the other tribes, according to the bargain; but soon they found Thanet too small for them, and so, just as one tribe had been driving another to the westward for centuries, they drove the Britons to the westward. Some Britons were killed, some became slaves, and some hid away in the mountains of Western England. The Teutons called these Wealh, or Welsh, that is, strangers or foreigners; and it is from this that the country of Wales takes its name.
The Britons were not conquered all at once by any means, for they fought most courageously, and it was many years before the Teutons became masters of the entire country. The Angles scattered so widely throughout the land that it took its name from them and became known as the land of the Angles, or Angle-land, and finally England. The Saxons, however, were strongest of the three peoples, and therefore their name is generally given to all the invaders. Their descendants take both names and are known as Anglo-Saxons.
Saint Gregory and the English Slave Children.
The Britons had become Christians long before the coming of the Saxons, but the Saxons were heathen. After these savage invaders had been in England about a century, some young people of their race were sold in Rome as slaves. They had golden hair and blue eyes, and to a saintly monk named Gregory who was passing through the market-place they seemed exceedingly beautiful. "Who are they?" he asked. The answer was, "Angli," that is, Angles. He declared that they would be not Angles but angels, if they were Christians. Gregory never lost his interest in the Angles, and if he had been permitted, he would gladly have gone to England as a missionary. After some years he became Pope Gregory the Great, and then, although he himself could not go, he sent Saint Augustine to preach to them. The king of Kent had a Christian wife, and therefore Saint Augustine went first to him and asked if he might tell him about the religion of Christ. The king was willing to hear him, but not in a house, for if there was any magic about this new faith, he thought the evil spirits would have far less power in the open air. He listened closely, and then he went home to think over what he had heard. After a while he told Saint Augustine that he believed the Christian faith was true. This teaching spread over England, and soon the country was no longer heathen.
That come before the swallows dare, and take
The winds of March with beauty.
WEEK 10 |
ONG before Henry VII. died in
His son was also called Henry, and he was only eighteen years old when his father died. He was gay and handsome and the people believed him to be generous and good, so there was great rejoicing when he was crowned.
Henry's Chancellor was a man called Wolsey. He was a very
great man and for many years it was really he who ruled
England. Wolsey was the son of a butcher. Being a clever boy
he was sent to school, and afterwards to college at Oxford.
There he showed himself to be so clever that people soon
began to notice him, and he quickly rose from one post to
another until he became chaplain to
Wolsey himself dressed most gorgeously in bright red silk or satin, and he wore gilded shoes set with pearls and jewels. Whenever he went out there was a great procession. A man carrying a mace walked first, then came two gentlemen carrying silver wands, then two of the biggest and handsomest priests that could be found, each carrying a great silver cross, then came Wolsey mounted upon a mule. He rode upon a mule because he said, being a humble priest, it was more fitting for him than a horse. But the harness and saddle were of velvet and gold, and behind him came a long train of his servants and followers on splendid horses.
Henry VIII. was fond of magnificence and show, and it pleased him to have so fine a chancellor. Henry was gay and the Chancellor was gay. If Henry were sad Wolsey would joke and laugh until the King laughed too; if Henry were merry Wolsey would be merry with him. Soon people began to see that if they wanted anything from the King, it was best to make friends with the Chancellor.
Wolsey, on the whole, made good use of his power. He was fond of learning. He saw that without learning no country could be truly great, and he founded a school at Ipswich, which was his birthplace, and a college at Oxford. If he tried to make himself great, he also thought of England and how to make England great.
The first few years of Henry's reign were peaceful and
Henry pleased everyone by marrying a rich and
called Katherine of Arragon. She was a widow, having already
been married to Henry's elder brother, who was called
Arthur. Arthur would have been King had he lived, but he had
died a few months after his marriage with Katherine. After
However, as Henry thought it was a wise thing for him to marry Katherine, he asked the Pope to give him leave to do so. And the Pope, whom, you know, was a very powerful person, gave him leave.
In those days people were never long content to be at peace, and Henry soon began to fight with France and with Scotland. In a battle called Flodden, the Scots were defeated and their King killed, and Henry made peace with the Queen, who was his own sister. Soon afterwards he also made peace with France.
Henry then decided it would be wise not only to be at peace
with France, but to make friends with the French king. So
the great Chancellor, Wolsey, arranged a meeting between
A palace for the English king was built so quickly that it seemed like a magic thing. It was only made of wood, but it was so painted and gilded that it shone and glittered in the sunshine like a fairy palace. Great golden gates opened into a courtyard where a fountain, sparkling with gold and gems, flowed all day with red and white wine instead of water. This fountain bore the motto—"Make good cheer who will."
The palace walls were hung inside with cloth of gold and silver, everything was rich with embroidery and sparkling with gems. Wherever possible, gold and jewels shone, the Queen's footstools even being sewn with pearls.
When the French king saw Henry's splendid palace, he did not wish to be outdone. He set up a great tent, the center pole of which was a gilded mast. The tent was lined inside with blue velvet. The roof was spangled with golden stars, and a golden sun and moon shone night and day. The outside was covered with cloth of gold, and the ropes which held it up were of blue silk and gold.
The tent looked very grand, and glittered in the sunshine like a ball of fire. But when everything was ready, a terrible wind arose which snapped the ropes of silk and gold, broke the mast, and brought the blue velvet sky, the glittering stars, and golden walls to the ground. So Francis had to content himself with living in an old castle which stood not far away, and very likely he was far more comfortable there than he would have been in his golden and blue tent.
When all was ready, King Henry and Queen Katherine sailed from England, and with them a great company of nobles, each trying to be more splendid than the other.
The two kings met on the plain near Henry's palace. They were both dressed in gold and silver cloth, and rode beautiful horses with harness of gold and velvet. While still on horseback, they embraced and kissed each other. "My dear brother and cousin," said Francis, "I have come a long way to see you. I hope you will think that I am worthy of your love and help. My great possessions show how powerful I am."
"Dear cousin," replied Henry, "I never saw prince with my eyes that I could love better with my heart, and for your love I have crossed the seas to the furthest bounds of my kingdom in order to see you."
Then the kings got off their horses and, arm in arm, walked to a gorgeous tent near by, where a very fine dinner was prepared for them.
For three weeks there were gay times. Grand tournaments were held, in which the kings fought with the knights. And the kings always won. There were balls and feasts too. Sometimes the kings and queens and lords and ladies dressed up and disguised themselves so that no one could tell who was who. This they thought was the greatest fun of all.
The English people were very fond of wrestling, and the soldiers used to amuse themselves in this way. Henry was fond of all kinds of games and sport, and one day, while watching the soldiers, he proposed to King Francis that they, too, should try a wrestling match, and laughingly laid hold of his collar.
Francis was quite pleased, for although he did not look so strong as Henry, he was very quick and wiry. Soon the two kings were struggling together, and in a few minutes Henry was lying upon the ground. He sprang up with a laugh and wanted to try again. But the nobles who stood round persuaded him not to do so. They were afraid that what had begun in fun might end in a quarrel, if Francis should again throw Henry down, for Henry had a very fiery temper.
Francis felt, too, that in spite of all the show of friendship, there was no love between the French and the English. This was hardly to be wondered at, for they had been such bitter enemies for so long a time that it was hard to forget all at once. Francis himself, however, was really generous, and wished it really could be forgotten.
One morning, Francis rose early and, without telling any of his nobles, he rode quite alone to the English camp. Henry was still in bed when King Francis came into his room and said, laughing, "My dear cousin, I come to you of my own free will. I am now your prisoner."
Henry was very pleased to see that Francis trusted him so much that he was not afraid to come quite alone like this. He sprang out of bed and threw a chain of gold round the French king's neck.
In return Francis gave Henry a beautiful bracelet, and then, laughing and joking like a schoolboy, he insisted on helping Henry to dress. He warmed his shirt, helped him to tie and button his clothes, and then, mounting on his horse, rode gayly home.
When he came near his castle he was met by some of his nobles, who were anxiously looking for him. Francis laughingly told them what he had been doing. "Sire," said one of them, "I am very glad to see you back again. But let me tell you, master, you were a fool to do what you have done. Ill luck be to him who advised you to do it."
"Well, that was nobody," replied Francis. "The thought was all my own."
In spite of the fears and jealousy of the French and English, the meeting came to an end as peacefully as it had begun. Henry sailed home again with all his gay knights, but many of them were quite ruined and penniless. They had spent all their money on fine clothes and jewels, so anxious were they to make a great display and be grander than the French.
But all this splendour and show of friendliness meant nothing and came to nothing, for Henry, both immediately before and after this meeting with Francis, met and plotted with Charles, the Emperor of Germany, who was the enemy of Francis. When war again broke out the English fought against the French as they had always done.
O NE of the very interesting events in my out-of-door year is the February freshet. Perhaps you call it the February thaw. That is all it could be called this year; and, in fact, a thaw is all that it ever is for me, nowadays, living, as I do, high and dry here, on Mullein Hill, above a sputtering little trout brook that could not have a freshet if it tried.
But Maurice River could have a freshet without trying. Let the high south winds, the high tides, and the warm spring rains come on together, let them drive in hard for a day and a night, as I have known them to do, and the deep, dark river goes mad! The tossing tide sweeps over the wharves, swirls about the piles of the great bridge, leaps foaming into the air, and up and down its long high banks beats with all its wild might to break through into the fertile meadows below.
There are wider rivers, and other, more exciting things, than spring freshets; but there were not when I was a boy. Why, Maurice River was so wide that there was but a single boy in the town, as I remember, who could stand at one end of the drawbridge and skim an oyster-shell over to the opposite end! The best that I could do was to throw my voice across and hear it echo from the long, hollow barn on the other bank. It would seem to me to strike the barn in the middle, leap from end to end like a creature caged, and then bound back to me faint and frightened from across the dark tide.
I feared the river. Oh, but I loved it, too. Its tides were always rising or falling—going down to the Delaware Bay and on to the sea. And in from the bay, or out to the bay, with white sails set, the big boats were always moving. And when they had gone, out over the wide water the gulls or the fish hawks would sail, or a great blue heron, with wings like the fans of an old Dutch mill, would beat ponderously across.
I loved the river. I loved the sound of the calking-maul and the adze in the shipyard, and the smell of the chips and tarred oakum; the chatter of the wrens among the reeds and calamus; the pink of the mallow and wild roses along the high mud banks; the fishy ditches with their deep sluiceways through the bank into the river; and the vast, vast tide-marshes that, to this day, seem to me to stretch away to the very edge of the world.
What a world for a boy to drive cows into every morning, and drive them home from every night, as I used to help do! or to trap muskrats in during the winter; to go fishing in during the summer; to go splashing up and down in when the great February freshet came on!
For of all the events of the year, none had such fascination for me as the high winds and warm downpour that flooded the wharves, that drove the men of the village out to guard the river-banks, and that drowned out of their burrows and winter hiding-places all the wild things that lived within reach of the spreading tide.
The water would pour over the meadows and run far back into the swamps and farm lands, setting everything afloat that could float—rails, logs, branches; upon which, as chance offered, some struggling creature would crawl, and drift away to safety.
But not always to safety; for over the meadows the crows and fish hawks, gulls, herons, bitterns, and at night the owls, were constantly beating to pounce upon the helpless voyagers, even taking the muskrats, an easy prey, through their weakness from exposure and long swimming in the water.
There would be only two shores to this wild meadow-sea—the river-bank, a mere line of earth drawn through the water, and the distant shore of the upland. If the wind blew from the upland toward the bank, then the drift would all set that way, and before long a multitude of shipwrecked creatures would be tossed upon this narrow breakwater, that stood, a bare three feet of clay, against the wilder river-sea beyond.
To walk up and down the bank then was like entering a natural history museum where all the specimens were alive; or like going to a small menagerie. Sparrows, finches, robins, mice, moles, voles, shrews, snakes, turtles, squirrels, muskrats, with even a mink and an opossum now and then, would scurry from beneath your feet or dive back into the water as you passed along.
And by what strange craft they sometimes came! I once saw two muskrats and a gray squirrel floating along on the top of one of the muskrats' houses. And again a little bob-tailed meadow mouse came rocking along in a drifting catbird's nest which the waves had washed from its anchorage in the rose-bushes. And out on the top of some tall stake, or up among the limbs of a tree you would see little huddled bunches of fur, a muskrat perhaps that had never climbed before in his life, waiting, like a sailor lashed to the rigging, to be taken off.
But it was not the multitude of wild things—birds, beasts, insects—that fascinated me most, that led me out along the slippery, dangerous bank through the swirling storm; it was rather the fear and confusion of the animals, the wild giant-spirit raging over the face of the earth and sky, daunting and terrifying them, that drew me.
Many of the small creatures had been wakened by the flood out of their deep winter sleep, and, dazed and numbed and frightened, they seemed to know nothing, to care for nothing but the touch of the solid earth to their feet.
All of their natural desires and instincts, their hatreds, hungers, terrors, were sunk beneath the waters. They had lost their wits, like human creatures in a panic, and, struggling, fighting for a foothold, they did not notice me unless I made at them, and then only took to the water a moment to escape the instant peril.
The sight was strange, as if this were another planet and not our orderly, peaceful world at all. Nor, indeed, was it; for fear cowered everywhere, in all the things that were of the earth, as over the earth and everything upon it raged the fury of river and sky.
The frail mud bank trembled under the beating of the waves; the sunken sluices strangled and shook deep down through the whirlpools sucking at their mouths; the flocks of scattered sea-birds—ducks and brant—veered into sight, dashed down toward the white waters or drove over with mad speed, while the winds screamed and the sky hung black like a torn and flapping sail.
And I, too, would have to drop upon all fours, with the mice and muskrats, and cling to the bank for my life, as the snarling river, leaping at me, would plunge clear over into the meadow below.
A winter blizzard is more deadly, but not more fearful, nor so wild and tumultuous. For in such a storm as this the foundations of the deep seem to be broken up, the frame of the world shaken, and you, and the mice, and the muskrats, share alike the wild, fierce spirit and the fear.
To be out in such a storm, out where you can feel its full fury, as upon a strip of bank in the midst of the churning waters, is good for one. To experience a common peril with your fellow mortals, though they be only mice and muskrats, is good for one; for it is to share by so much in their humble lives, and by so much to live outside of one's own little self.
And then again, we are so accustomed to the order and fair weather of our part of the globe, that we get to feel as if the universe were being particularly managed for us; nay, that we, personally, are managing the universe. To flatten out on a quaking ridge of earth or be blown into the river; to hear no voice but the roar of the storm, and to have no part or power in the mighty tumult of such a storm, makes one feel about the size of a mouse, makes one feel how vast is the universe, and how fearful the vortex of its warring forces!
The shriek of those winds is still in my ears, the sting of the driving rains still on my face, the motion of that frail mud bank, swimming like a long sea-serpent in the swirling waters, I can still feel to my finger-tips. And the growl of the river, the streaming shreds of the sky, the confusion beneath and about me, the mice and muskrats clinging with me for a foothold—I live it all again at the first spatter of a February rain upon my face.
To be out in a February freshet, out in a big spring break-up, is to get a breaking up one's self, a preparation, like Nature's, for a new lease of life—for spring.
I know the song that the bluebird is singing,
Up in the apple tree, where he is swinging.
Brave little fellow! the skies may look dreary,
Nothing cares he while his heart is so cheery.
Hark! how the music leaps out from his throat!
Hark! was there ever so merry a note?
Listen awhile, and you'll hear what he's saying,
Up in the apple tree, swinging and swaying.
"Dear little blossoms, down under the snow,
You must be weary of winter, I know;
Hark! while I sing you a message of cheer,
Summer is coming and springtime is here!
"Little white snowdrop, I pray you arise;
Bright yellow crocus, come, open your eyes;
Sweet little violets hid from the cold,
Put on your mantle of purple and gold;
Daffodils, daffodils! Say, do you hear?
Summer is coming, and springtime is here!"
WEEK 10 |
J ULES and Claire could not get over the astonishment caused by their uncle's story of the old trees to which centuries are less than years are to us. Emile, with his usual restlessness, led the conversation to another subject:
"And animals, Uncle," asked he, "how long do they live?"
"Domestic animals," was the reply, "seldom attain the age that nature allows them. We grudge them their nourishment, overtire them, and do not give them proper shelter. And then, we take from them their milk, fleece, hide, flesh, in fact everything. How can you ever grow old when the butcher is waiting for you at the stable door with his knife? Useless to speak of these poor victims of our need: to give us long life, they do not live out their time. Supposing that an animal is well treated, that it suffers neither hunger nor cold, that it lives in peace without excessive fatigue, without fear of knacker or butcher; under these good conditions, how many years will it live?
"Let us begin with the ox. Here is a robust one, I hope. What chest and shoulders! And then that big square forehead, with its vigorous horns around which the strap of the yoke goes; those eyes shining with the serene majesty of strength. If old age is the portion of the strong, the ox ought to live for centuries."
"I should think so too," assented Jules.
"Quite wrong, my dear children; the ox, so big, strong, massive, is old, very old, at twenty or thirty years. What to us would be verdant youth is for it decrepit old age.
"Let us pass on to the horse. You see I do not take my
examples from among the weak; I choose the most vigorous.
Well, the horse, as well as its modest companion, the ass,
scarcely reaches more than thirty or
"How mistaken I was!" Jules exclaimed. "I thought the horse and ox strong enough to live at least a century. They are so big, they take up so much room!"
"I do not know, my little friend, whether you can understand me, but I want to inform you that to take up a great deal of room in this world is not the way to live in peace and to enjoy a long life. There are people who take up a lot of space, not in the body—they are no bigger than we—but in their pretensions and their ambitious manœuvers. Do they live in peace, are they preparing for themselves a venerable old age? It is very doubtful. Let us remain small; that is to say, let us content ourselves with the little that God has given us; let us beware of the temptations of envy, the foolish counsels of pride; let us be full of activity, of work, and not of ambition. That is the only way we are permitted to hope for length of days.
"Let us return without delay to our animals. Our other
domestic animals live a still shorter time. A dog, at twenty
"Would you like me to tell you about birds? Very well. The
pigeon may live from six to ten years; the guinea fowl, hen,
and turkey, twelve. A goose lives longer; it is true that in
its quality of goose it does not worry. The goose attains
"But here is something better. The goldfinch, sparrow, birds
free from care, always singing, always frisking, happy as
possible with a ray of sunlight in the foliage and a grain
"As to man, if he leads a regular life, he often lives to eighty or ninety. Sometimes he reaches a hundred or even more. But should he attain only the ordinary age, the average age, as they say, that is about forty, then he is to be considered a privileged creature as to length of life; the foregoing facts show it. And besides, for man, my dear children, length of life is not measured exactly according to the number of years. He lives most who works most. When God calls us to Him, let us take with us the sincere esteem of others and the consciousness of having done our duty to the end; and, whatever our age, we shall have lived long enough."
THE chances of sending letters from Plymouth to England were very few in the early days of that settlement. Still the Pilgrims occasionally found an opportunity to write to their friends who were left behind in England, telling of their new life in the new land.
They wrote about the hardships they had to endure, the dangers from Indians and wild beasts, and the risk of starvation. And yet one great blessing they never forgot to mention. That was their liberty to worship God as they saw fit.
Now the Pilgrims were not the only people who did not agree with all the forms of the Church of England. There were others, who, while not leaving the church, wished to have the service more simple. As they expressed it, they wanted "to purify" the church. They were called Puritans.
In the early days of the Pilgrim settlement, the Puritans in England were having much the same trouble in carrying out their religious ideas, that the Pilgrims had undergone. And it did not take them many years to decide to follow their Pilgrim friends to America, where they, too, could have freedom of worship.
The first little party of Puritans to leave England called their American settlement Salem, a name which means "peace." A charter was granted the Salem colonists, but under its conditions the settlement was really governed from England. There the governor stayed and sent his orders to a deputy governor, who lived in the colony.
Many difficulties would naturally arise from such an arrangement. Still the Puritans in England could not help being strongly tempted to follow the Salem settlers. Finally twelve leading Puritans met and determined to lead a great migration to America on the condition that the colonists could take their charter with them and be governed by a governor living in New England.
All this was agreed to, and John Winthrop was appointed governor of the Puritans already in New England and of those who should sail with him. Of these last, there were over seven hundred. Many of them were from families of education and rank; and all were earnest, courageous, and sincere. They had eleven good ships to carry them and their horses, cattle, and other supplies.
It was in March, 1630, that they bade farewell to England. In June they reached the Massachusetts coast.
A very different reception awaited the Puritans from
that which had greeted the Pilgrims. Even Nature was
doing her best. In place of the barren,
No friend or foe had broken the deep silence of the forests for the Pilgrims. The Puritans found the cordial, hearty welcome of a splendid dinner served by their old friends in Salem.
However, these Puritans were not well pleased with Salem and soon moved to Charlestown. Here, they had the same terrible misfortune which seems to have come to nearly all the young American colonies. A dreadful sickness broke out and caused the death of many who were not strong enough to stand the great change in conditions.
During all the suffering, Governor Winthrop proved himself most worthy of the trust the colonists had in him. He, himself, was not spared grief. His eldest son was drowned in an attempt to swim across a channel. The Governor hid his own sorrows and went among the people and cheered them by bright hopes of the future.
At last the settlers concluded that their troubles were
due to the impure water of Charlestown, and that they
must make another move. They found a new locality,
which they called
IT did not take the Puritans long to build a new town. They erected a church, divided their town into lots and streets, and laid in stores of grain for the coming winter. This town they named Boston.
When the Governor had built his new home, he sent to England for the rest of his family to join him. The future was full of promise.
Then the summer days grew shorter; and, as the autumn leaves were falling, the people realized that their food supply was nearly at an end. They had used all their corn and were forced to make flour of the acorn. Instead of fresh game, they had to be satisfied with clams and crabs. And with the cold, bleak winds of winter came still more suffering and famine.
A ship had long before been sent to England for fresh
supplies. In vain the men would go down to the shore
and strain their eyes, eagerly scanning the horizon.
But they could see no signs of the
A touching story is told of the Governor, which shows
how loving and kind he was to his people. One day a
And many other like acts were done by Governor Winthrop. When a man once came to him and complained that a certain neighbor was stealing his wood, Governor Winthrop appeared very angry and said, "Does he so? I'll take a course with him. Go call that man to me. I'll warrant you I'll cure him of stealing."
The poor thief came, trembling and frightened. The Governor looked him over, saw how poor he appeared, and said, "Friend this is a very hard winter. I doubt you were but meanly provided with wood, wherefore I would have you help yourself at my wood pile till this cold season be over." And there was no more complaint of the man's stealing wood.
In his home, too, Governor Winthrop did all he could to set a good example to the colonists. Heartily disapproving of intemperance, he would allow no wine to be served at his table and tried to dissuade others from serving it.
By this time Boston was growing to be a large town. At the end of a year a thousand immigrants had arrived from England.
As the colony grew, it was necessary to have laws by which to govern the people. These laws were very strict. So were the Puritan leaders who enforced them. They ruled the people in a religious rather than a political way and saw that they kept, not only the laws of the State, but also the laws of the church. Only church members were allowed to vote.
Even the daily life of the settlers was lived according
to rule. Sharply at nine every night a bell rang out
the curfew, and all had to go at once to bed. At
Twice each Sunday every one must attend church. During service the men sat on one side of the church, and the women on the other. The little girls sat on low stools at their mothers' feet. The boys sat together, either in a pew or on the pulpit steps.
And there was the tithingman, too, "to watch over youths of disorderly carriage and see they behave themselves comelie, and use such raps and blows as are in his discretion meet." This tithingman had a long stick with a hare's foot on one end and a hare's tail on the other. If a boy nodded during the long sermon, he was either tickled with the tail or rapped with the foot. His punishment depended on whether it was his first offense or a bad habit.
Many of the bad habits of the Puritans were severely punished in these early colonial days. A cross, scolding woman was made to stand outside her door with a stick tied in her mouth. A man who was caught telling an untruth had to stand in some public place with a large sign hung from his neck. On the sign was plainly printed the word "liar." The same kind of punishment was given a thief.
The settlers of Boston were a very busy people. There
were no stores where they could buy what they wanted,
No market supplied the town with fish and meat. Each man must hunt and catch what his family were to have. He must till the soil, raise crops, and make most of the furniture and even many of the dishes for his home. And all this, after he had built the house itself, with the help of his neighbors.
This helping of one's neighbors was a noted virtue
among the first colonists. When a new settler came to
the colony, the men had a
It was the same with the women. They helped one another
in house cleaning,
And yet with all their loving kindness, these good people had one big fault. Like the King from whom they had fled, they would allow no one to worship in any way but their way.
A young man by the name of Roger Williams soon found this out. Because of his religious opinions these hospitable, generous colonists forced him to leave their town in the dead of winter. Thanks to the help of Governor Winthrop, no serious harm befell him.
This wise and generous Governor served his colony until
1649, when he died. In the city of Boston there stands
I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea;
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be.
I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in heaven;
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were given.
WEEK 10 |
ANS found himself in a pretty pickle in the chimney, for the soot got into his one eye and set it to watering, and into his nose and set him to sneezing, and into his mouth and his ears and his hair. But still he struggled on, up and up; "for every chimney has a top," said Hans to himself "and I am sure to climb out somewhere or other." Suddenly he came to a place where another chimney joined the one he was climbing, and here he stopped to consider the matter at his leisure. "See now," he muttered, "if I still go upward I may come out at the top of some tall chimney-stack with no way of getting down outside. Now, below here there must be a fire-place somewhere, for a chimney does not start from nothing at all; yes, good! we will go down a while and see what we make of that."
It was a crooked, zigzag road that he had to travel, and rough and hard into the bargain. His one eye tingled and smarted, and his knees and elbows were rubbed to the quick; nevertheless One-eyed Hans had been in worse trouble than this in his life.
Down he went and down he went, further than he had climbed upward before. "Sure, I must be near some place or other," he thought.
As though in instant answer to his thoughts, he heard the sudden sound of a voice so close beneath him that he stopped short in his downward climbing and stood as still as a mouse, with his heart in his mouth. A few inches more and he would have been discovered;—what would have happened then would have been no hard matter to foretell.
Hans braced his back against one side of the chimney, his feet against the other and then, leaning forward, looked down between his knees. The gray light of the coming evening glimmered in a wide stone fireplace just below him. Within the fireplace two people were moving about upon the broad hearth, a great, fat woman and a shock-headed boy. The woman held a spit with two newly trussed fowls upon it, so that One-eyed Hans knew that she must be the cook.
"Thou ugly toad," said the woman.
"Thou ugly toad," said the woman to the boy, "did I not bid thee make a fire an hour ago? and now, here there is not so much as a spark to roast the fowls withall, and they to be basted for the lord Baron's supper. Where hast thou been for all this time?"
"No matter," said the boy, sullenly, as he laid the fagots ready for the lighting; "no matter, I was not running after Long Jacob, the bowman, to try to catch him for a sweetheart, as thou hast been doing."
The reply was instant and ready. The cook raised her hand; "smack!" she struck and a roar from the scullion followed.
"Yes, good," thought Hans, as he looked down upon them; "I am glad that the boy's ear was not on my head."
"Now give me no more of thy talk," said the woman, "but do the work that thou hast been bidden." Then—"How came all this black soot here, I should like to know?"
"How should I know?" snuffled the scullion, "mayhap thou wouldst blame that on me also?"
"That is my doing," whispered Hans to himself; "but if they light the fire, what then becomes of me?"
"See now," said the cook; "I go to make the cakes ready; if I come back and find that thou hast not built the fire, I will warm thy other ear for thee."
"So," thought Hans; "then will be my time to come down the chimney, for there will be but one of them."
The next moment he heard the door close and knew that the cook had gone to make the cakes ready as she said. And as he looked down he saw that the boy was bending over the bundle of fagots, blowing the spark that he had brought in upon the punk into a flame. The dry fagots began to crackle and blaze. "Now is my time," said Hans to himself. Bracing his elbows against each side of the chimney, he straightened his legs so that he might fall clear. His motions loosened a little shower of soot that fell rattling upon the fagots that were now beginning to blaze brightly, whereupon the boy raised his face and looked up. Hans loosened his hold upon the chimney; crash! he fell, lighting upon his feet in the midst of the burning fagots. The scullion boy tumbled backward upon the floor, where he lay upon the broad of his back with a face as white as dough and eyes and mouth agape, staring speechlessly at the frightful inky-black figure standing in the midst of the flames and smoke. Then his scattered wits came back to him. "It is the evil one," he roared. And thereupon, turning upon his side, he half rolled, half scrambled to the door. Then out he leaped and, banging it to behind him, flew down the passageway, yelling with fright and never daring once to look behind him.
All the time One-eyed Hans was brushing away the sparks that clung to his clothes. He was as black as ink from head to foot with the soot from the chimney.
"So far all is good," he muttered to himself, "but if I go wandering about in my sooty shoes I will leave black tracks to follow me, so there is nothing to do but e'en to go barefoot. He stooped and drawing the pointed soft leather shoes from his feet, he threw them upon the now blazing fagots, where they writhed and twisted and wrinkled, and at last burst into a flame. Meanwhile Hans lost no time; he must find a hiding-place, and quickly, if he would yet hope to escape. A great bread trough stood in the corner of the kitchen—a hopper-shaped chest with a flat lid. It was the best hiding place that the room afforded. Without further thought Hans ran to it, snatching up from the table as he passed a loaf of black bread and a bottle half full of stale wine, for he had had nothing to eat since that morning. Into the great bread trough he climbed, and drawing the lid down upon him, curled himself up as snugly as a mouse in its nest.
For a while the kitchen lay in silence, but at last the sound of voices was heard at the door, whispering together in low tones. Suddenly the door was flung open and a tall, lean, lantern-jawed fellow, clad in rough frieze, strode into the room and stood there glaring with half frightened boldness around about him; three or four women and the trembling scullion crowded together in a frightened group behind him.
The man was Long Jacob, the bowman; but, after all, his boldness was all wasted, for not a thread or a hair was to be seen, but only the crackling fire throwing its cheerful ruddy glow upon the wall of the room, now rapidly darkening in the falling gray of the twilight without.
The fat cook's fright began rapidly to turn into anger.
"Thou imp," she cried, "it is one of thy tricks," and she made a dive for the scullion, who ducked around the skirts of one of the other women and so escaped for the time; but Long Jacob wrinkled up his nose and sniffed. "Nay," said he, "me thinks that there lieth some truth in the tale that the boy hath told, for here is a vile smell of burned horn that the black one hath left behind him."
It was the smell from the soft leather shoes that Hans had burned.
The silence of night had fallen over the Castle of Trutz-Drachen; not a sound was heard but the squeaking of mice scurring behind the wainscoting, the dull dripping of moisture from the eaves, or the sighing of the night wind around the gables and through the naked windows of the castle.
The lid of the great dough trough was softly raised, and a face, black with soot, peeped cautiously out from under it. Then little by little arose a figure as black as the face; and One-eyed Hans stepped out upon the floor, stretching and rubbing himself.
"Methinks I must have slept," he muttered. "Hui, I am as stiff as a new leather doublet, and now, what next is to become of me? I hope my luck may yet stick to me, in spite of this foul black soot!"
The man was Long Jacob, the bowman.
Along the middle of the front of the great hall of the castle, ran a long stone gallery, opening at one end upon the court-yard by a high flight of stone steps. A man-at-arms in breast-plate and steel cap, and bearing a long pike, paced up and down the length of this gallery, now and then stopping, leaning over the edge, and gazing up into the starry sky above; then, with a long drawn yawn, lazily turning back to the monotonous watch again.
A dark figure crept out from an arched doorway at the lower part of the long straight building, and some little distance below the end gallery, but the sentry saw nothing of it, for his back was turned. As silently and as stealthily as a cat the figure crawled along by the dark shadowy wall, now and then stopping, and then again creeping slowly forward toward the gallery where the man-at-arms moved monotonously up and down. It was One-eyed Hans in his bare feet.
Inch by inch, foot by foot—the black figure crawled along in the angle of the wall; inch by inch and foot by foot, but ever nearer and nearer to the long straight row of stone steps that led to the covered gallery. At last it crouched at the lowest step of the flight. Just then the sentinel upon watch came to the very end of the gallery and stood there leaning upon his spear. Had he looked down below he could not have failed to have seen One-eyed Hans lying there motionlessly; but he was gazing far away over the steep black roofs beyond, and never saw the unsuspected presence. Minute after minute passed, and the one stood there looking out into the night and the other lay crouching by the wall; then with a weary sigh the sentry turned and began slowly pacing back again toward the farther end of the gallery.
Instantly the motionless figure below arose and glided noiselessly and swiftly up the flight of steps.
Two rude stone pillars flanked either side of the end of the gallery. Like a shadow the black figure slipped behind one of these, flattening itself up against the wall, where it stood straight and motionless as the shadows around it.
Down the long gallery came the watchman, his sword clinking loudly in the silence as he walked, tramp, tramp, tramp! clink, clank, jingle!
Within three feet of the motionless figure behind the pillar he turned, and began retracing his monotonous steps. Instantly the other left the shadow of the post and crept rapidly and stealthily after him. One step, two steps the sentinel took; for a moment the black figure behind him seemed to crouch and draw together, then like a flash it leaped forward upon its victim.
A shadowy cloth fell upon the man's face, and in an instant he was flung back and down with a muffled crash upon the stones. Then followed a fierce and silent struggle in the darkness, but strong and sturdy as the man was, he was no match for the almost superhuman strength of One-eyed Hans. The cloth which he had flung over his head was tied tightly and securely. Then the man was forced upon his face and, in spite of his fierce struggles, his arms were bound around and around with strong fine cord; next his feet were bound in the same way, and the task was done. Then Hans stood upon his feet, and wiped the sweat from his swarthy forehead. "Listen, brother," he whispered, and as he spoke he stooped and pressed something cold and hard against the neck of the other. "Dost thou know the feel of this? It is a broad dagger, and if thou dost contrive to loose that gag from thy mouth and makest any outcry, it shall be sheathed in thy weasand."
In an instant he was flung back and down.
So saying, he thrust the knife back again into its sheath, then stooping and picking up the other, he flung him across his shoulder like a sack, and running down the steps as lightly as though his load was nothing at all, he carried his burden to the arched doorway whence he had come a little while before. There, having first stripped his prisoner of all his weapons, Hans sat the man up in the angle of the wall. "So, brother;" said he, "now we can talk with more ease than we could up yonder. I will tell thee frankly why I am here; it is to find where the young Baron Otto of Drachenhausen is kept. If thou canst tell me, well and good; if not, I must e'en cut thy weasand and find me one who knoweth more. Now, canst thou tell me what I would learn, brother?"
The other nodded dimly in the darkness.
"That is good," said Hans, "then I will loose thy gag until thou hast told me; only bear in mind what I said concerning my dagger."
Thereupon, he unbound his prisoner, and the fellow slowly rose to his feet. He shook himself and looked all about him in a heavy, bewildered fashion, as though he had just awakened from a dream.
His right hand slid furtively down to his side, but the dagger-sheath was empty.
"Come, brother!" said Hans, impatiently, "time is passing, and once lost can never be found again. Show me the way to the young Baron Otto or —." And he whetted the shining blade of his dagger on his horny palm.
The fellow needed no further bidding; turning, he led the way, and together they were swallowed up in the yawning shadows, and again the hush of night-time lay upon the Castle of Trutz-Drachen.
T HERE was once a Deer the color of gold. His eyes were like round jewels, his horns were white as silver, his mouth was red like a flower, his hoofs were bright and hard. He had a large body and a fine tail.
He lived in a forest and was king of a herd of five hundred Banyan Deer. Near by lived another herd of Deer, called the Monkey Deer. They, too, had a king.
The king of that country was fond of hunting the Deer and eating deer meat. He did not like to go alone so he called the people of his town to go with him, day after day.
The townspeople did not like this for while they were gone no one did their work. So they decided to make a park and drive the Deer into it. Then the king could go into the park and hunt and they could go on with their daily work.
They made a park, planted grass in it and provided water for the Deer, built a fence all around it and drove the Deer into it.
Then they shut the gate and went to the king to tell him that in the park near by he could find all the Deer he wanted.
The king went at once to look at the Deer. First he saw there the two Deer kings, and granted them their lives. Then he looked at their great herds.
Some days the king would go to hunt the Deer, sometimes his cook would go. As soon as any of the Deer saw them they would shake with fear and run. But when they had been hit once or twice they would drop down dead.
The King of the Banyan Deer sent for the King of the Monkey Deer and said, "Friend, many of the Deer are being killed. Many are wounded besides those who are killed. After this suppose one from my herd goes up to be killed one day, and the next day let one from your herd go up. Fewer Deer will be lost this way."
The King of the Banyan Deer sent for the King of the Monkey Deer.
The Monkey Deer agreed. Each day the Deer whose turn it was would go and lie down, placing its head on the block. The cook would come and carry off the one he found lying there.
One day the lot fell to a mother Deer who had a young baby. She went to her king and said, "O King of the Monkey Deer, let the turn pass me by until my baby is old enough to get along without me. Then I will go and put my head on the block."
But the king did not help her. He told her that if the lot had fallen to her she must die.
Then she went to the King of the Banyan Deer and asked him to save her.
"Go back to your herd. I will go in your place," said he.
The next day the cook found the King of the Banyan Deer lying with his head on the block. The cook went to the king, who came himself to find out about this.
"King of the Banyan Deer! did I not grant you your life? Why are you lying here?"
"O great King!" said the King of the Banyan Deer, "a mother came with her young baby and told me that the lot had fallen to her. I could not ask any one else to take her place, so I came myself."
"King of the Banyan Deer! I never saw such kindness and mercy. Rise up. I grant your life and hers. Nor will I hunt any more the Deer in either park or forest."
Rise up. I grant your life and hers.
WEEK 10 |
"One of the greatest soldiers ever born."
T HE battle of Pultowa was over. Peter the Great, the Father of his country, Emperor of Russia, had raised his land to a higher rank in Europe.
Another king was now to arise, the king of a country bordering on Russia, who was to raise his country too, to play her part in the world's history. This was Frederick the Great of Prussia. He was born in 1712, five years after Pultowa, at the Palace of Berlin, capital of the kingdom of Prussia.
He was christened Frederick amid great rejoicings, for two little princes had already died—one killed by the noise of the cannon fired for joy over him, the other crushed to death by the weighty dress and metal crown in which he was arrayed for his christening. Little Fritz was brought up by his father with Spartan severity. His food was very plain, for his father meant to make a soldier of him.
"The Prince must from his youth upwards be trained as officer and general, and to seek all his glory in the soldier's profession," the king used to say. A company of 100 boy-soldiers was formed for him, and he was drilled to take command of them, dressed in the Prussian uniform of light blue and a cocked hat. But the boy did not take kindly to soldiering, and no one could guess at this time that he would one day be a great soldier. By the time he was ten years old every moment had been planned out for him by his father.
"Every day Fritz is to be called at six, and rise at once. You are to stand to him, that he do not loiter or turn in bed, but briskly and at once do get up and say his prayers. This done, he shall as rapidly as possible get on his shoes, wash his face and hands, put on a short dressing-gown, and have his hair combed out. Whilst getting combed, he shall at the same time take breakfast of tea, so that both jobs go on at once, and this shall be ended before half-past six. From seven to nine he learns history, from nine to eleven the Christian religion. Then Fritz rapidly washes his face with water, hands with soap and water, puts on clean shirt and coat, and comes to the king."
The rest of the day is mapped out in the same style. But under it Fritz grew self-willed. He refused to have his hair cut according to army regulations; he "combed it out like a cockatoo," which enraged his father,—until one day the Court surgeon was sent with comb and scissors and orders to crop the Prince's hair at once. Daily the little Prince grew more out of favour. In vain his mother pleaded for him.
"I cannot bear him," cried the angry king. "He is shy, he cannot ride or shoot, he is not clean in his person, frizzes his hair like a fool. All this I have reproved a thousand times, but in vain."
Still Fritz kept his own way. One day the king found him playing the flute in a gold-brocaded dressing-gown. After storming angrily for some time at the unhappy Prince, he ordered both dressing-gown and books to be burned.
"Fritz is a piper and a poet," he cried desperately. "He cares nothing for soldiering, and will undo all that I have been doing."
At last the day came when he could not meet Fritz without seizing him by the collar and beating him. The Prince was now eighteen, and his position was unbearable.
"I am in the uttermost despair," he wrote to his mother; "the king has entirely forgotten that I am his son. I am driven to extremity. No longer can I endure such treatment, my patience is at an end. I go and do not return. I shall get across to England. Farewell!"
His sister Wilhelmina urged him to give up his wild plans, but he would not. His escape, however, was badly planned; he was arrested and brought back.
"Why did you run away?" roared his father.
"Because you have not treated me as your son, but as a slave," was the answer.
Then the furious king drew his sword and would have made an end of his son, had he not been stopped by an old general.
"Stab me," he cried, "but spare your son."
The Prince was now sent away to a fortress some sixty miles from Berlin, and lodged in a bare, strong room alone. His sword was taken from him. He was dressed in brown prison clothes and fed on cheap food. His room was opened three times a-day for four minutes at a time. Lights were put out at seven. He had no books, no flute to pass the dreary hours away. He became melancholy and ill, and the king was besought to have pity on him lest he should die.
At the end of a year the king thought fit to visit him. The Prince fell at his father's feet in an agony of grief, which touched even the stony-hearted king.
He was received home again, put back into the army, and slowly won the love and affection of his father.
"I have always loved you," said the king as he lay dying, "though I have been strict with you. God is very good to give me so excellent and worthy a son."
Fritz, with falling tears, kissed his father's hand. The king clasped him in his arms, sobbing, "O my God, I die content since I have such a worthy son and successor."
This was in the year 1740. Much was to happen yet before Frederick the Great succeeded in making Prussia powerful enough to play her own part in the history of Europe.
ND so Odin, no longer riding on Sleipner, his eight-legged steed; no longer wearing his golden armor and his eagle helmet, and without even his spear in his hand, traveled through Midgard, the World of Men, and made his way toward Jötunheim, the Realm of the Giants.
No longer was he called Odin All-Father, but Vegtam the Wanderer. He wore a cloak of dark blue and he carried a traveler's staff in his hands. And now, as he went towards Mimir's Well, which was near to Jötunheim, he came upon a Giant riding on a great Stag.
Odin seemed a man to men and a giant to giants. He went beside the Giant on the great Stag and the two talked together. "Who art thou, O brother?" Odin asked the giant.
"I am Vafthrudner, the wisest of the Giants," said the one who was riding on the Stag. Odin knew him then. Vafthrudner was indeed the wisest of the Giants, and many went to strive to gain wisdom from him. But those who went to him had to answer the riddles Vafthrudner asked, and if they failed to answer the Giant took their heads off.
"I am Vegtam the Wanderer," Odin said, "and I know who thou art, O Vafthrudner. I would strive to learn something from thee."
The Giant laughed, showing his teeth. "Ho, ho," he said, "I am ready for a game with thee. Dost thou know the stakes? My head to thee if I cannot answer any question thou wilt ask. And if thou canst not answer any question that I may ask, then thy head goes to me. Ho, ho, ho. And now let us begin."
"I am ready," Odin said.
"Then tell me," said Vafthrudner, "tell me the name of the river that divides Asgard from Jötunheim?"
"Ifling is the name of that river," said Odin. "Ifling that is dead cold, yet never frozen."
"Thou hast answered rightly, O Wanderer," said the Giant. "But thou hast still to answer other questions. What are the names of the horses that Day and Night drive across the sky?"
"Skinfaxe and Hrimfaxe," Odin answered. Vafthrudner was startled to hear one say the names that were known only to the Gods and to the wisest of the Giants. There was only one question now that he might ask before it came to the stranger's turn to ask him questions.
"Tell me, said Vafthrudner, "what is the name of the plain on which the last battle will be fought?"
"The Plain of Vigard," said Odin, "the plain that is a hundred miles long and a hundred miles across."
It was now Odin's turn to ask Vafthrudner questions. "What will be the last words that Odin will whisper into the ear of Baldur, his dear son?" he asked.
Very startled was the Giant Vafthrudner at that question. He sprang to the ground and looked at the stranger keenly.
"Only Odin knows what his last words to Baldur will be," he said, "and only Odin would have asked that question. Thou art Odin, O Wanderer, and thy question I cannot answer."
"Then," said Odin, "if thou wouldst keep thy head, answer me this: what price will Mimir ask for a draught from the Well of Wisdom that he guards?"
"He will ask thy right eye as a price, O Odin," said Vafthrudner.
"Will he ask no less a price than that?" said Odin.
"He will ask no less a price. Many have come to him for a draught from the Well of Wisdom, but no one yet has given the price Mimir asks. I have answered thy question, O Odin. Now give up thy claim to my head and let me go on my way."
"I give up my claim to thy head," said Odin. Then Vafthrudner, the wisest of the Giants, went on his way, riding on his great stag.
T was a terrible price that Mimir would ask for a draught from the Well of Wisdom, and very troubled was Odin All-Father when it was revealed to him. His right eye! For all time to be without the sight of his right eye! Almost he would have turned back to Asgard, giving up his quest for wisdom.
He went on, turning neither to Asgard nor to Mimir's Well. And when he went toward the South he saw Muspelheim, where stood Surtur with the Flaming Sword, a terrible figure, who would one day join the Giants in their war against the Gods. And when he turned North he heard the roaring of the cauldron Hvergelmer as it poured itself out of Niflheim, the place of darkness and dread. And Odin knew that the world must not be left between Surtur, who would destroy it with fire, and Niflheim, that would gather it back to Darkness and Nothingness. He, the eldest of the Gods, would have to win the wisdom that would help to save the world.
And so, with his face stern in front of his loss and pain, Odin All-Father turned and went toward Mimir's Well. It was under the great root of Ygdrassil—the root that grew out of Jötunheim. And there sat Mimir, the Guardian of the Well of Wisdom, with his deep eyes bent upon the deep water. And Mimir, who had drunk every day from the Well of Wisdom, knew who it was that stood before him.
"Hail, Odin, Eldest of the Gods," he said.
Then Odin made reverence to Mimir, the wisest of the world's beings. "I would drink from your well, Mimir," he said.
"There is a price to be paid. All who have come here to drink have shrunk from paying that price. Will you, Eldest of the Gods, pay it?"
"I will not shrink from the price that has to be paid, Mimir," said Odin All-Father.
"Then drink," said Mimir. He filled up a great horn with water from the well and gave it to Odin.
Odin took the horn in both his hands and drank and drank. And as he drank all the future became clear to him. He saw all the sorrows and troubles that would fall upon Men and Gods. But he saw, too, why the sorrows and troubles had to fall, and he saw how they might be borne so that Gods and Men, by being noble in the days of sorrow and trouble, would leave in the world a force that one day, a day that was far off indeed, would destroy the evil that brought terror and sorrow and despair into the world.
Then when he had drunk out of the great horn that Mimir had given him, he put his hand to his face and he plucked out his right eye. Terrible was the pain that Odin All-Father endured. But he made no groan nor moan. He bowed his head and put his cloak before his face, as Mimir took the eye and let it sink deep, deep into the water of the Well of Wisdom. And there the Eye of Odin stayed, shining up through the water, a sign to all who came to that place of the price that the Father of the Gods had paid for his wisdom.
Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We dare n't go a-hunting,
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather!
Down along the rocky shore,
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain lake,
With frogs for their watchdogs,
All night awake.
High on the hill top
The old King sits;
He is now so old and gray
He 's nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music
On cold starry nights,
To sup with the queen
Of the gay Northern Lights.
They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back,
Between the night and morrow,
They thought that she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag leaves,
Watching till she wake.
By the craggy hillside,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn-trees
For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night.
Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We dare n't go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather!
WEEK 10 |
"H APPY as a king." How far kings are happy I cannot say, no more than could Prince Dolor, though he had once been a king himself. But he remembered nothing about it, and there was nobody to tell him, except his nurse, who had been forbidden upon pain of death to let him know anything about his dead parents, or the king his uncle, or indeed any part of his own history.
Sometimes he speculated about himself, whether he had had a father and mother as other little boys had, what they had been like, and why he had never seen them. But, knowing nothing about them, he did not miss them—only once or twice, reading pretty stories about little children and their mothers, who helped them when they were in difficulty, and comforted them when they were sick, he feeling ill and dull and lonely, wondered what had become of his mother, and why she never came to see him.
Then, in his history lessons, of course he read about kings and princes, and the governments of different countries, and the events that happened there. And though he but faintly took in all this, still he did take it in, a little, and worried his young brain about it, and perplexed his nurse with questions, to which she returned sharp and mysterious answers, which only set him thinking the more.
He had plenty of time for thinking. After his last journey in the travelling-cloak, the journey which had given him so much pain, his desire to see the world had somehow faded away. He contented himself with reading his books, and looking out of the tower windows, and listening to his beloved little lark, which had come home with him that day, and never left him again.
True, it kept out of the way; and though his nurse sometimes dimly heard it, and said, "What is that horrid noise outside?" she never got the faintest chance of making it into a lark pie. Prince Dolor had his pet all to himself, and though he seldom saw it, he knew it was near him, and he caught continually, at odd hours of the day, and even in the night, fragments of its delicious song.
All during the winter—so far as there ever was any difference between summer and winter in Hopeless Tower—the little bird cheered and amused him. He scarcely needed anything more—not even his travelling-cloak, which lay bundled up unnoticed in a corner, tied up in its innumerable knots.
Nor did his godmother come near him. It seemed as if she had given these treasures and left him alone—to use them, or lose them, apply them or misapply them, according to his own choice. That is all we can do with children, when they grow into big children, old enough to distinguish between right and wrong, and too old to be forced to do either.
Prince Dolor was now quite a big boy. Not tall—alas! he never could be that, with his poor little shrunken legs; which were of no use, only an encumbrance. But he was stout and strong, with great sturdy shoulders, and muscular arms, upon which he could swing himself about almost like a monkey. As if in compensation for his useless lower limbs, nature had given to these extra strength and activity. His face, too, was very handsome; thinner, firmer, more manly; but still the sweet face of his childhood—his mother's own face.
How his mother would have liked to look at him! Perhaps she did—who knows?
The boy was not a stupid boy either. He could learn almost anything he chose—and he did choose, which was more than half the battle. He never gave up his lessons till he had learnt them all—never thought it a punishment that he had to work at them, and that they cost him a deal of trouble sometimes.
"But," thought he, "men work, and it must be so grand to be a man;—a prince too; and I fancy princes work harder than anybody—except kings. The princes I read about generally turn into kings. I wonder"—the boy was always wondering—"Nurse"—and one day he startled her with a sudden question—"tell me—shall I ever be a king?"
The woman stood, perplexed beyond expression. So long a time had passed by since her crime—if it were a crime—and her sentence, that she now seldom thought of either. Even her punishment—to be shut up for life in Hopeless Tower—she had gradually got used to. Used also to the little lame prince, her charge—whom at first she had hated, though she carefully did everything to keep him alive, since upon him her own life hung. But latterly she had ceased to hate him, and, in a sort of way, almost loved him—at least, enough to be sorry for him—an innocent child, imprisoned here till he grew into an old man, and became a dull, worn-out creature like herself. Sometimes, watching him, she felt more sorry for him than even for herself; and then, seeing she looked a less miserable and ugly woman, he did not shrink from her as usual.
He did not now. "Nurse—dear nurse," said he, "I don't mean to vex you, but tell me—what is a king? shall I ever be one?"
When she began to think less of herself and more of the child, the woman's courage increased. The idea came to her—what harm would it be, even if he did know his own history? Perhaps he ought to know it—for there had been various ups and downs, usurpations, revolutions, and restorations in Nomansland, as in most other countries. Something might happen—who could tell? Changes might occur. Possibly a crown would even yet be set upon those pretty, fair curls—which she began to think prettier than ever when she saw the imaginary coronet upon them.
She sat down, considering whether her oath, never to "say a word" to Prince Dolor about himself, would be broken, if she were to take a pencil and write what was to be told. A mere quibble—a mean, miserable quibble. But then she was a miserable woman, more to be pitied than scorned.
After long doubt, and with great trepidation, she put her fingers to her lips, and taking the Prince's slate—with the sponge tied to it, ready to rub out the writing in a minute—she wrote:
"You are a king."
After long doubt . . . she put her finger to her lips, and taking the Prince's slate . . . she wrote—"You are a king."
Prince Dolor started. His face grew pale, and then flushed all over; he held himself erect. Lame as he was, anybody could see he was born to be a king.
"Hush!" said his nurse, as he was beginning to speak. And then, terribly frightened all the while—people who have done wrong always are frightened—she wrote down in a few hurried sentences his history. How his parents had died—his uncle had usurped his throne, and sent him to end his days in this lonely tower.
"I, too," added she, bursting into tears. "Unless, indeed, you could get out into the world, and fight for your rights like a man. And fight for me also, my prince, that I may not die in this desolate place."
"Poor old nurse!" said the boy compassionately. For somehow, boy as he was, when he heard he was born to be a king, he felt like a man—like a king—who could afford to be tender because he was strong.
He scarcely slept that night, and even though he heard his little lark singing in the sunrise, he barely listened to it. Things more serious and important had taken possession of his mind.
"Suppose," thought he, "I were to do as she says, and go out in the world, no matter how it hurts me—the world of people, active people, as active as that boy I saw. They might only laugh at me—poor helpless creature that I am; but still I might show them I could do something. At any rate, I might go and see if there were anything for me to do. Godmother, help me!"
It was so long since he had asked her help, that he was hardly surprised when he got no answer—only the little lark outside the window sang louder and louder, and the sun rose, flooding the room with light.
Prince Dolor sprang out of bed, and began dressing himself, which was hard work, for he was not used to it—he had always been accustomed to depend upon his nurse for everything.
"But I must now learn to be independent," thought he. "Fancy a king being dressed like a baby!"
So he did the best he could—awkwardly but cheerily—and then he leaped to the corner where lay his travelling-cloak, untied it as before, and watched it unrolling itself—which it did rapidly, with a hearty good-will, as if quite tired of idleness. So was Prince Dolor—or felt as if he was. He jumped into the middle of it, said his charm, and was out through the skylight immediately.
"Good-bye, pretty lark!" he shouted, as he passed it on the wing, still warbling its carol to the newly-risen sun. "You have been my pleasure, my delight; now I must go and work. Sing to old nurse till I come back again. Perhaps she'll hear you—perhaps she won't—but it will do her good all the same. Good-bye!"
But, as the cloak hung irresolute in air, he suddenly remembered that he had not determined where to go—indeed, he did not know, and there was nobody to tell him.
"Godmother," he cried, in much perplexity, "you know what I want—at least, I hope you do, for I hardly do myself—take me where I ought to go; show me whatever I ought to see—never mind what I like to see," as a sudden idea came into his mind that he might see many painful and disagreeable things. But this journey was not for pleasure—as before. He was not a baby now, to do nothing but play—big boys do not always play. Nor men neither—they work. Thus much Prince Dolor knew—though very little more. As the cloak started off, travelling faster than he had ever known it to do—through sky-land and cloud-land, over freezing mountain-tops, and desolate stretches of forest, and smiling cultivated plains, and great lakes that seemed to him almost as shoreless as the sea—he was often rather frightened. But he crouched down, silent and quiet; what was the use of making a fuss? and, wrapping himself up in his bear-skin, waited for what was to happen.
After some time he heard a murmur in the distance, increasing more and more till it grew like the hum of a gigantic hive of bees. And, stretching his chin over the rim of his cloak, Prince Dolor saw—far, far below him, yet, with his gold spectacles and silver ears on, he could distinctly hear and see—What?
Most of us have sometime or other visited a great metropolis—have wandered through its network of streets—lost ourselves in its crowds of people—looked up at its tall rows of houses, its grand public buildings, churches, and squares. Also, perhaps, we have peeped into its miserable little back alleys, where dirty children play in gutters all day and half the night—or where men reel tipsy and women fight—where even young boys go about picking pockets, with nobody to tell them it is wrong, except the policeman; and he simply takes them off to prison. And all this wretchedness is close behind the grandeur—like the two sides of the leaf of a book.
An awful sight is a large city, seen anyhow from anywhere. But, suppose you were to see it from the upper air, where, with your eyes and ears open, you could take in everything at once? What would it look like? How would you feel about it? I hardly know myself. Do you?
Prince Dolor had need to be a king—that is, a boy with a kingly nature—to be able to stand such a sight without being utterly overcome. But he was very much bewildered—as bewildered as a blind person who is suddenly made to see.
He gazed down on the city below him, and then put his hand over his eyes.
"I can't bear to look at it, it is so beautiful—so dreadful. And I don't understand it—not one bit. There is nobody to tell me about it. I wish I had somebody to speak to."
"Do you? Then pray speak to me. I was always considered good at conversation."
The voice that squeaked out this reply was an excellent imitation of the human one, though it came only from a bird. No lark this time, however, but a great black and white creature that flew into the cloak, and began walking round and round on the edge of it with a dignified stride, one foot before the other, like any unfeathered biped you could name.
"I haven't the honour of your acquaintance, sir," said the boy politely.
"Ma'am, if you please. I am a mother bird, and my name is Mag, and I shall be happy to tell you everything you want to know. For I know a great deal; and I enjoy talking. My family is of great antiquity; we have built in this palace for hundreds—that is to say, dozens of years. I am intimately acquainted with the King, the Queen, and the little princes and princesses—also the maids of honour, and all the inhabitants of the city. I talk a good deal, but I always talk sense, and I dare say I should be exceedingly useful to a poor little ignorant boy like you."
"I am a prince," said the other gently.
"All right. And I am a magpie. You will find me a most respectable bird."
"I have no doubt of it," was the polite answer—though he thought in his own mind that Mag must have a very good opinion of herself. But she was a lady and a stranger, so of course he was civil to her.
She settled herself at his elbow, and began to chatter away, pointing out with one skinny claw, while she balanced herself on the other, every object of interest,—evidently believing, as no doubt all its inhabitants did, that there was no capital in the world like the great metropolis of Nomansland.
One half the people seemed so happy and busy.
I have not seen it, and therefore cannot describe it, so we will just take it upon trust, and suppose it to be, like every other fine city, the finest city that ever was built. "Mag" said so—and of course she knew. Nevertheless, there were a few things in it which surprised Prince Dolor—and, as he had said, he could not understand them at all. One half the people seemed so happy and busy—hurrying up and down the full streets, or driving lazily along the parks in their grand carriages, while the other half were so wretched and miserable.
The other half were so wretched and miserable.
"Can't the world be made a little more level? I would try to do it if I were a king." "But you're not the king: only a little goose of a boy," returned the magpie loftily. "And I'm here not to explain things, only to show them. Shall I show you the royal palace?"
It had terraces and gardens, battlements and towers . . . and had in it rooms enough to accommodate half the city.
It was a very magnificent palace. It had terraces and gardens, battlements and towers. It extended over acres of ground, and had in it rooms enough to accommodate half the city. Its windows looked in all directions, but none of them had any particular view—except a small one, high up towards the roof, which looked out on the Beautiful Mountains. But since the Queen died there it had been closed, boarded up, indeed, the magpie said. It was so little and inconvenient that nobody cared to live in it. Besides, the lower apartments, which had no view, were magnificent—worthy of being inhabited by his Majesty the King.
Its windows looked in all directions . . . . except a small one, high up towards the roof, which looked out on the Beautiful Mountains.
"I should like to see the King," said Prince Dolor.
But what followed was so important that I must take another chapter to tell it in.
W HAT, I wonder, would be people's idea of a king? What was Prince Dolor's?
Perhaps a very splendid personage, with a crown on his head and a sceptre in his hand, sitting on a throne and judging the people. Always doing right, and never wrong—"The king can do no wrong" was a law laid down in olden times. Never cross, or tired, or sick, or suffering; perfectly handsome and well-dressed, calm and good-tempered, ready to see and hear everybody, and discourteous to nobody; all things always going well with him, and nothing unpleasant ever happening.
This, probably, was what Prince Dolor expected to see. And what did he see? But I must tell you how he saw it.
"Ah," said the magpie, "no levée to-day. The King is ill, though his Majesty does not wish it to be generally known—it would be so very inconvenient. He can't see you, but perhaps you might like to go and take a look at him, in a way I often do? It is so very amusing."
The Prince was just now too much excited to talk much. Was he not going to see the King his uncle, who had succeeded his father and dethroned himself; had stepped into all the pleasant things that he, Prince Dolor, ought to have had, and shut him up in a desolate tower? What was he like, this great, bad, clever man? Had he got all the things he wanted, which another ought to have had? And did he enjoy them?
"Nobody knows," answered the magpie, just as if she had been sitting inside the Prince's heart, instead of on the top of his shoulder. "He is a king, and that's enough. For the rest nobody knows."
As she spoke, Mag flew down on to the palace roof, where the cloak had rested, settling down between the great stacks of chimneys as comfortably as if on the ground. She pecked at the tiles with her beak—truly she was a wonderful bird—and immediately a little hole opened, a sort of door, through which could be seen distinctly the chamber below.
"Now look in, my prince. Make haste, for I must soon shut it up again."
She pecked at the tiles with her beak . . . a little hole opened. "Now look in, Prince. Make haste, for I must soon shut it up again."
But the boy hesitated. "Isn't it rude?—won't they think us intruding?"
"Oh, dear no! there's a hole like this in every palace; dozens of holes, indeed. Everybody knows it, but nobody speaks of it. Intrusion! Why, though the Royal family are supposed to live shut up behind stone walls ever so thick, all the world knows that they live in a glass house where everybody can see them, and throw a stone at them. Now, pop down on your knees, and take a peep at his Majesty."
The Prince gazed eagerly down, into a large room, the largest room he had ever beheld, with furniture and hangings grander than anything he could have ever imagined. A stray sunbeam, coming through a crevice of the darkened windows, struck across the carpet, and it was the loveliest carpet ever woven—just like a bed of flowers to walk over; only nobody walked over it, the room being perfectly empty and silent.
"Where is the King?" asked the puzzled boy.
"There," said Mag, pointing with one wrinkled claw to a magnificent bed, large enough to contain six people. In the centre of it, just visible under the silken counterpane—quite straight and still—with its head on the lace pillow lay a small figure, something like waxwork, fast asleep—very fast asleep! There were a quantity of sparkling rings on the tiny yellow hands, that were curled a little, helplessly, like a baby's, outside the coverlet; the eyes were shut, the nose looked sharp and thin, and the long grey beard hid the mouth and lay over the breast. A sight not ugly, nor frightening, only solemn and quiet. And so very silent—two little flies buzzing about the curtains of the bed being the only audible sound.
"Is that the King?" whispered Prince Dolor.
"Yes," replied the bird.
He had been angry—furiously angry; ever since he knew how his uncle had taken the crown, and sent him, a poor little helpless child, to be shut up for life, just as if he had been dead. Many times the boy had felt as if, king as he was, he should like to strike him, this great, strong, wicked man.
Why, you might as well have struck a baby! How helpless he lay! with his eyes shut, and his idle hands folded: they had no more work to do, bad or good.
"What is the matter with him?" asked the Prince.
"He is dead," said the Magpie, with a croak.
No, there was not the least use in being angry with him now. On the contrary, the Prince felt almost sorry for him, except that he looked so peaceful, with all his cares at rest. And this was being dead? So, even kings died?
"Well, well, he hadn't an easy life, folk say, for all his grandeur. Perhaps he is glad it is over. Good-bye, your Majesty."
With another cheerful tap of her beak, Mistress Mag shut down the little door in the tiles, and Prince Dolor's first and last sight of his uncle was ended.
He sat in the centre of his travelling-cloak, silent and thoughtful.
"What shall we do now?" said the Magpie. "There's nothing much more to be done with his Majesty, except a fine funeral, which I shall certainly go and see. All the world will. He interested the world exceedingly when he was alive, and he ought to do it now he's dead—just once more. And since he can't hear me, I may as well say that, on the whole, his majesty is much better dead than alive—if we can only get somebody in his place. There'll be such a row in the city presently. Suppose we float up again and see it all. At a safe distance, though. It will be such fun!"
"What will be fun?"
Whether anybody except a magpie would have called it "fun," I don't know, but it certainly was a remarkable scene.
As soon as the Cathedral bell began to toll and the minute guns to fire, announcing to the kingdom that it was without a king, the people gathered in crowds, stopping at street corners to talk together. The murmur now and then rose into a shout, and the shout into a roar. When Prince Dolor, quietly floating in upper air, caught the sound of their different and opposite cries, it seemed to him as if the whole city had gone mad together.
"Long live the King!" "The King is dead—down with the King!" "Down with the crown, and the King too!" "Hurrah for the Republic!" "Hurrah for no Government at all!"
Such were the shouts which travelled up to the travelling-cloak. And then began—oh, what a scene!
When you children are grown men and women—or before—you will hear and read in books about what are called revolutions—earnestly I trust that neither I nor you may ever see one. But they have happened, and may happen again, in other countries beside Nomansland, when wicked kings have helped to make their people wicked too, or out of an unrighteous nation have sprung rulers equally bad; or, without either of these causes, when a restless country has fancied any change better than no change at all.
For me, I don't like changes, unless pretty sure that they are for good. And how good can come out of absolute evil—the horrible evil that went on this night under Prince Dolor's very eyes—soldiers shooting people down by hundreds in the streets, scaffolds erected, and heads dropping off—houses burnt, and women and children murdered—this is more than I can understand.
But all these things you will find in history, my children, and must by-and-by judge for yourselves the right and wrong of them, as far as anybody ever can judge.
Prince Dolor saw it all. Things happened so fast one after another that they quite confused his faculties.
"Oh, let me go home," he cried at last, stopping his ears and shutting his eyes; "only let me go home!" for even his lonely tower seemed home, and its dreariness and silence absolute paradise after all this.
"Good-bye, then," said the magpie, flapping her wings. She had been chatting incessantly all day and all night, for it was actually thus long that Prince Dolor had been hovering over the city, neither eating nor sleeping, with all these terrible things happening under his very eyes. "You've had enough, I suppose, of seeing the world?"
"Oh, I have—I have!" cried the Prince, with a shudder.
"That is, till next time. All right, your Royal Highness. You don't know me, but I know you. We may meet again some time."
She looked at him with her clear, piercing eyes, sharp enough to see through everything, and it seemed as if they changed from bird's eyes to human eyes, the very eyes of his godmother, whom he had not seen for ever so long. But the minute afterwards she became only a bird, and with a screech and a chatter spread her wings and flew away.
Prince Dolor fell into a kind of swoon of utter misery, bewilderment, and exhaustion, and when he awoke he found himself in his own room—alone and quiet—with the dawn just breaking, and the long rim of yellow light in the horizon glimmering through the window panes.
W HAT do you suppose becomes of the nectar Miss Apis gathers with her hairy tongue? She swallows it, you say, and that is true. She does swallow it, but that is not the end of the story. When it is swallowed, it passes into a little honey-sac which is not as large as a sweet-pea seed, and which is so delicate that it looks like a little soap bubble.
This honey-sac is in the big end of the abdomen, and in the picture it is shown by a dotted circle. It holds less than a drop of nectar, and we may call it the jug or bottle in which Miss Apis carries the blossom nectar home; for she does not swallow it for her own use, but that she may bear it to the hive for the baby bees to eat.
You can see this honey-sac by feeding a hive bee as much as she wants, and then letting her fly to the window. The light shining through the delicate body makes the clear honey in her little "bottle" plainly visible. The Italian honey-bees, whose abdomens are a light tan color, at the upper end, show the honey-drop better than the common brown bees.
Some of the honey passes on into the true stomach of the bee, which is just beyond the honey-sac, and is digested; but the most of it Miss Apis carries to the hive in her honey-sac.
It is curious that everything Miss Apis eats has to be swallowed into the honey-sac before it can get into the stomach, and yet the honey is always clear and pure. Honey and pollen go together into the honey-sac, yet the honey in the comb contains almost no pollen.
The reason is, Miss Apis strains her honey before she puts it into the comb.
In her honey-sac is a little strainer which is very wonderful and very beautiful.
It looks, as you can see in the picture, something like a flower-bud. Honey and pollen grains go together into the honey-sac, but they do not stay together, for the pollen grains are gathered up by the action of muscles in the walls of the honey-sac, and passed through the strainer into the stomach. The strainer opens its mouth to let them pass, but as soon as they have done so, it closes. Of course a good deal of nectar passes through with the pollen, but this is squeezed back by the muscles of the stomach into the honey-sac through the closed mouth of the strainer. The mouth of the strainer is fringed with hairs that point backwards and cross each other when the strainer mouth is closed. So, though the nectar can squeeze through, the pollen grains cannot. They are kept back in the stomach by this clever little strainer, and only pure nectar or honey can get back into the honey-sac.
When Miss Apis gets to the hive, she makes the muscles of her honey-sac squeeze the honey into her mouth, and she then puts it into the honey-comb.
Miss Apis swallows nectar, as the sweet juice of the flowers is called, but when we take honey from the honey-comb, it has undergone a change and is no longer nectar, but honey. In some way the nectar has been changed and made into honey.
The Crankadox leaned o'er the edge of the moon
And wistfully gazed on the sea
Where the Gryxabodill madly whistled a tune
To the air of "Ti-fol-de-ding-dee."
The quavering shriek of the Fly-up-the-creek
Was fitfully wafted afar
To the Queen of the Wunks as she powdered her cheek
With the pulverized rays of a star.
The Gool closed his ear on the voice of the Grig,
And his heart it grew heavy as lead
As he marked the Baldekin adjusting his wing
On the opposite side of his head,
And the air it grew chill as the Gryxabodill
Raised his dank, dripping fins to the skies,
And plead with the Plunk for the use of her bill
To pick the tears out of his eyes.
The ghost of the Zhack flitted by in a trance,
And the Squidjum hid under a tub
As he heard the loud hooves of the Hooken advance
With a rub-a-dub—dub-a-dub—dub!
And the Crankadox cried, as he lay down and died,
"My fate there is none to bewail,"
While the Queen of the Wunks drifted over the tide
With a long piece of crape to her tail.
WEEK 10 |
It was a dark night of storm and wind, but the people in the little farm on the western coast of Scotland were accustomed to stormy winds and the sound of breakers dashing upon the rocky shore, and they paid little heed to the wintry weather. They were all tired out with their day's work, and thankful, when the darkness closed in, to bar the doors and shut out the wild night as they gathered round the fire within. A rough set of people they looked in the light of the great peat fire that burned on the hearth. Only one, a boy of sixteen, seemed different to the rest, and had a gentler, more civilised look, while he held himself as if accustomed to command.
This boy was Patrick, son of the master Calponius, who belonged to the Roman colony at Dumbarton, and he had been brought up with care and taught all that a young Roman citizen should know. His gentle mother, niece of the holy Saint Martin of Tours, had brought with her many a cherished memory of courtly manners from the sunny land of her birth, and she had taught the boy to be courteous and knightly in his bearing. So it was that Patrick learned many things which were as yet unknown in the savage northern land where he dwelt, but chiefest among all was the faith of Christ, taught to him by his father and mother, who were both Christians.
But all these lessons seemed very dull and uninteresting to the restless boy. It was such a waste of the golden hours to sit indoors and learn those endless psalms. Prayers, too, took such a weary time, when he might be out on the hillside, as free as the happy birds and all the wild creatures that lived under the open sky. Sometimes in his heart he almost wondered whether it might not be pleasanter to be a heathen rather than a Christian. The heathen had no psalms to learn and could do just as they pleased.
"Some day thou wilt grow wiser," said his mother, "and what is but a dull lesson to thee now will be like apples of gold in pictures of silver."
But Patrick could not understand what she meant, and he was only too glad when lesson-time was over and he was allowed to go off to the little farm close to the sea, where he could work with his hands and not with his head. How he loved the rough free life there; the days spent in the fields and woods, the evenings when the peat was heaped high on the glowing hearth, and he listened to the stories of brave deeds and wild adventures which were told or sung in the flickering firelight! What cared he for shrieking winds and the roar of the breakers outside? It was fitting music to echo around the splendid tales that made his heart beat like a drum and his eyes glow like the fire.
"It is a wild night," said one of the men, "and black as the pit. We must needs have a wild song to match the night and chase away the blackness."
So the rude chant of savage deeds and wild adventures was taken up one by one, until the roar of the storm was drowned in their ears and the wail of the wind became part of the mournful music.
But outside in the blackness the wind had sterner work to do than to act as chorus to idle tales. What were those mysterious long black boats that fought their way so stubbornly through the angry waves? They seemed like phantoms of the night, so silently they moved, showing never a glimmer of light from stem to stern. In vain the icy wind swept down upon them and strove to beat them back. Slowly but surely they crept on until they reached a sheltered bay where sand was smooth and it was safe to land.
Black and silent as their boats the pirate crew landed one by one, and, like the ghosts of sea-monsters, crawled stealthily over the rocks and up the hill towards the farm that nestled in a hollow there. The light from the peat fire shone through the little window; a burst of wild song came floating out into the dark night: there was no thought of lurking danger or surprise.
Closer and closer crept the black figures until they too could listen to the story that was chanted by the fireside, and they laughed aloud to hear such brave words coming from the lips of men who sat safe and warm within, little dreaming of the real danger that beset them without.
"Hark!" cried one of the singers suddenly, "surely the wind hath a strange voice to-night. To me it soundeth like the laughter of demons."
With one accord the company started to their feet, for the sound they heard was no voice of the storm. The door was burst inwards with a tremendous crash, and well might the little company think for a moment that demons were abroad. Fearlessly and bravely they fought, but one by one they were overpowered, and either killed outright or bound hand and foot. The captain stood and looked at the row of sullen captives.
"Away with them to the boats," he cried. Then, pointing to Patrick, he added, "See that ye handle that one carefully, for he is a strong lad and will fetch a good price when we land on the other side."
There was nothing to be done, no rescue to hope for, and resistance only made matters worse. Patrick lay stunned and despairing in the bottom of the boat which was to carry him away from his home and his friends. It was all like a bad dream, the tossing of that stormy sea, the long dark night, the landing in a strange country, and the knowledge that he was now a slave to be sold to the highest bidder.
So Patrick came to Ireland, and was sold to a man whom they called Michu, and sent out into the fields to feed his master's swine.
Strong and hardy as the boy was, the life which he had now to lead taxed his endurance to the uttermost. There was little rest or leisure, for a slave's work is never finished, and he was often so hungry and so bitterly cold that he felt half stunned with misery. Even when the snow was on the ground he had to drive out his herd of pigs to find food for them, and often he was out all night upon the hillside, sheltering in some rocky corner as best he could from the biting wind that swept over the mountains.
In those long dark nights there was plenty of time for thinking, and the boy's thoughts were always of the far-off home and all that he had lost. Strangely enough it was not of the happy careless hours that he dreamed, but rather of the times that had once seemed so tiresome and so long. He loved to think of his mother, and those dull lessons which had once made him so impatient. Little by little all that he had learned came back to him, but instead of being only tiresome lessons, the psalms and prayers held a curious comforting message, as if a friend were speaking to him. Then their meaning became clearer and clearer until he realised that they were indeed a message from a real Friend. Though he was alone, homeless and utterly friendless, God was still there.
"Our Father," said the boy to himself, and the very words seemed to change everything around. God was here in this terrible unknown country, and God was his Father. To be a slave lost half its bitterness when he could stand upright and know himself to be God's servant as well.
For six long years Patrick served his master, Michu, diligently and well, for all this time he was learning also to serve God. With that love in his heart, he learned to care for all helpless things, and to see what was beautiful in common things around. Years afterwards, when he was a great teacher and the heathen priests scoffed at his teaching, and asked how he could explain the Trinity "Three Persons in One God," Patrick stooped down and plucked a leaf of the little green shamrock, which had taught him one of his lessons on the lonely hillside, and, showing its three leaves in one, gave a simple illustration of the great Mystery.
It was at the end of his sixth year of slavery, that one night Patrick drove his pigs to a distant hill overlooking his master's farm, and there, under the stars, in the shelter of a rock, he lay down to rest. It was not long before he fell asleep; but in his sleep he heard a voice close at hand speaking to him.
"Thy fasting is well," said the voice; "thou shalt soon return to thy country. Behold a ship is ready for thee, but thou must journey many miles."
Patrick started up, never doubting for a moment but that this was the message of an angel. He had lived so close to God that he was ever ready to receive His commands. In the story of his life, which he has written himself, he says, "I went in the power of the Lord, who directed my way for good, and I feared nothing until I arrived at that ship."
Weary, footsore, and worn after the long journey on foot, Patrick presented himself before the ship's captain, and prayed that he might be taken aboard and carried over to Britain. It was perhaps small wonder that the captain looked with suspicion at the wild figure of the runaway slave, and bade him angrily begone.
It was a bitter ending to Patrick's hopes, and he turned very sorrowfully away. The journey had been so long, and he had felt so sure that all would be well at the end. Then, as ever, his first thought was to turn to his One Friend, and so he knelt down on the shore and prayed for help and guidance. The answer came even as he prayed, and he heard a shout from one of the sailors, who had followed him.
"Come along," he cried, "they are asking for thee."
Back went Patrick in all haste, and found that meanwhile the captain had changed his mind.
"Come, we will take thee on trust," he said, meaning that Patrick should work out his own passage, or repay him when they landed. "We are about to sail, and hope to reach land in three days."
Those were three days of great happiness to Patrick, as he saw Ireland growing fainter and fainter in the distance, and knew that before him lay freedom and home, and all that he had lost.
But although the ship reached land in three days, it was not the land he knew, and he was still far off from home. The crew of the ship landed somewhere on the coast of Brittany, and tried to find their way to some town, having to travel across a strange, desolate country where there were no inhabitants and nothing to guide them. Day by day their store of food grew less, until they had nothing left to eat, and it seemed as if they must die of starvation.
Now the captain had found that Patrick was to be trusted, and had watched him often at his prayers, and came to think there must be some truth in a religion that made a man so honest and ready to do his duty. So now he called Patrick to him to ask his advice.
"Christian," he said, "thy God is powerful; pray for us, for we are starving."
"I will pray," answered Patrick, "but thou too must have faith in the Lord."
So just as a hungry child turns to his father and asks for bread, Patrick knelt and prayed to God, and suddenly there was a sound of rushing and tearing through the wood, and a herd of wild boars came sweeping along. The men gave chase, and soon captured and killed enough to provide food for many days.
After many adventures Patrick at last reached home, and for a while forgot all the hardships he had endured in the joy and happiness of that wonderful home-coming.
But the careless happy days of boyhood were over now, and a man's work was waiting for him.
"Only let the work be here," prayed his mother. "O my son, promise that thou wilt never leave us again, now that we have so wonderfully found thee."
For a while that too was Patrick's only wish, never to leave the dear home and those he loved so well.
But, as he lay asleep one night, the heavenly messenger came once more to him and pointed out the path which God would have him tread. It seemed to Patrick that the angel held in his hand a bundle of letters, and on one was written "the voice of the Irish." This he gave to Patrick, who, as he read, seemed to hear the call of many voices echoing from the land where he had been a slave. Even the voices of little children rang in his ears, and all of them were calling to him and saying, "We entreat thee, come and walk still in the midst of us."
The thought of those poor untaught people who had never heard of God had often made him long to help them, and this call decided him. He would enter God's service as a priest, and then go back to the country of his captivity to carry the torch of God's love in his hand, and spread abroad the glorious light in every corner of the dark land.
After a long time of preparation and study, Patrick was at last consecrated bishop, and then set out at once to return to the country where he had suffered so much.
It was a very different coming this time to the arrival of the boy-slave many years before. With his train of clergy and helpers, the bishop, pastoral staff in hand, landed on the sandy shore of Strangford Lough, and he bore himself as a conqueror marching to victory.
Strangely enough, the first person to greet the band of strangers was a swineherd guarding his pigs, just as Patrick had done in those long years of slavery. The lad was terrified when he saw these strange men, and although Patrick spoke kindly to him in his own tongue, the swineherd fled away to the woods. With all haste he returned to his master, Dichu, and told his news.
"There are pirates landing at the bay," he cried, "strange men who come to rob and kill."
Dichu in alarm immediately armed himself and his followers and set out to meet the enemy. But instead of the savage pirates he expected, he found a band of peaceful unarmed men, with one at their head whom it was easy to see was no robber.
Patrick came forward then to meet the chief, and the two men talked a while earnestly together.
"Put up your weapons," cried Dichu, turning to his followers, "these men are friends and not enemies."
As friends, then, Dichu led them to his house and made them welcome. The fearless bravery of Patrick and his strong kind face had won the chieftain's heart, and he prepared to entertain him royally. But Patrick could neither rest nor eat until his message was delivered, and as Dichu listened to his burning words, they seemed to seize him with a strange power and made him long to hear more. Gladly would he have kept Patrick with him, but there was much work to be done, and the bishop wished first of all to seek out his old master Michu, and pay the money due to him as the price of the runaway slave.
How well he knew every step of the way to the old farm! It seemed as if he must be walking in a dream, that he must be still the barefooted, hungry, ill-clad boy of long ago. There were the woods through which he had so often driven his pigs, the banks where he had found the first spring flowers, the rocks which had so often sheltered him, the little green friendly shamrock which he had loved so dearly. Up the steep hillside he climbed, and at the top he paused and knelt in prayer, remembering the vision he had seen there and the message of the angel. Then, rising up, he looked eagerly towards the spot where his master's farm nestled in the hollow beneath.
Alas! he had come too late; nothing but a thin grey curl of smoke marked the place where the smouldering ashes of the farm lay, and, saddest of all, his master too had perished in the fire.
So there was naught to do but turn back and carry the message to others. But Patrick's heart was sad for his old master.
P ROBABLY the day would have been a greater success if Cyril had not been reading The Last of the Mohicans. The story was running in his head at breakfast, and as he took his third cup of tea he said dreamily, "I wish there were Red Indians in England—not big ones, you know, but little ones, just about the right size for us to fight."
Everyone disagreed with him at the time and no one attached any
importance to the incident. But when they went down to the sand-pit to
ask for a hundred pounds in two-shilling pieces with Queen Victoria's
head on, to prevent mistakes—which they had always felt to be a really
reasonable wish that must turn out well—they found out that they had
done it again! For the Psammead, which was very cross and sleepy,
"Oh, don't bother me. You've had your wish."
"I didn't know it," said Cyril.
"Don't you remember yesterday?" said the Sand-fairy, still more disagreeably. "You asked me to let you have your wishes wherever you happened to be, and you wished this morning, and you've got it."
"Oh, have we?" said Robert. "What is it?"
"So you've forgotten?" said the Psammead, beginning to burrow. "Never mind; you'll know soon enough. And I wish you joy of it! A nice thing you've let yourselves in for!"
"We always do somehow," said Jane sadly.
And now the odd thing was that no one could remember anyone's having wished for anything that morning. The wish about the Red Indians had not stuck in anyone's head. It was a most anxious morning. Everyone was trying to remember what had been wished for, and no one could, and everyone kept expecting something awful to happen every minute. It was most agitating; they knew from what the Psammead had said, that they must have wished for something more than usually undesirable, and they spent several hours in most agonizing uncertainty. It was not till nearly dinner-time that Jane tumbled over The Last of the Mohicans,— which had of course, been left face downwards on the floor,—and when Anthea had picked her and the book up she suddenly said, "I know!" and sat down flat on the carpet.
"Oh, Pussy, how awful! It was Indians he wished for—Cyril—at breakfast, don't you remember? He said, 'I wish there were Red Indians in England,'—and now there are, and they're going about scalping people all over the country, as likely as not."
"Perhaps they're only in Northumberland and Durham," said Jane soothingly. It was almost impossible to believe that it could really hurt people much to be scalped so far away as that.
"Don't you believe it!" said Anthea. "The Sammyadd said we'd let ourselves in for a nice thing. That means they'll come here. And suppose they scalped the Lamb!"
"Perhaps the scalping would come right again at sunset," said Jane; but she did not speak so hopefully as usual.
"Not it!" said Anthea. "The things that grow out of the wishes don't go. Look at the fifteen shillings! Pussy, I'm going to break something, and you must let me have every penny of money you've got. The Indians will come here, don't you see? That Spiteful Psammead as good as said so. You see what my plan is? Come on!"
Jane did not see at all. But she followed her sister meekly into mother's bedroom.
Anthea lifted down the heavy water-jug—it had a pattern of storks and long grasses on it, which Anthea never forgot. She carried it into the dressing-room, and carefully emptied the water out of it into the bath. Then she took the jug back into the bedroom and dropped it on the floor. You know how a jug always breaks if you happen to drop it by accident. If you happen to drop it on purpose, it is quite different. Anthea dropped that jug three times, and it was as unbroken as ever. So at last she had to take her father's boot-tree and break the jug with that in cold blood. It was heartless work.
Next she broke open the missionary-box with the poker. Jane told her
that it was wrong, of course, but Anthea shut her lips very tight and
She broke open the missionary-box with the poker.
"Don't be silly—it's a matter of life and death."
There was not very much in the missionary-box,—only seven-and-fourpence,—but the girls between them had nearly four shillings. This made over eleven shillings, as you will easily see.
Anthea tied up the money in a corner of her pocket-handkerchief. "Come on, Jane!" she said, and ran down to the farm. She knew that the farmer was going into Rochester that afternoon. In fact it had been arranged that he was to take the four children with him. They had planned this in the happy hour when they believed that they were going to get that hundred pounds, in two-shilling pieces, out of the Psammead. They had arranged to pay the farmer two shillings each for the ride. Now Anthea hastily explained to him that they could not go, but would he take Martha and the Baby instead? He agreed, but he was not pleased to get only half-a-crown instead of eight shillings.
Then the girls ran home again. Anthea was agitated, but not flurried. When she came to think it over afterwards, she could not help seeing that she had acted with the most far-seeing promptitude, just like a born general. She fetched a little box from her corner drawer, and went to find Martha, who was laying the cloth and not in the best of tempers.
"Look here," said Anthea. "I've broken the water jug in mother's room."
"Just like you—always up to some mischief," said Martha, dumping down a salt-cellar with a bang.
"Don't be cross, Martha dear," said Anthea. "I've got enough money to pay for a new one—if only you'll be a dear and go and buy it for us. Your cousins keep a china-shop, don't they? And I would like you to get it to-day, in case mother comes home to-morrow. You know she said she might perhaps."
"But you're all going into town yourselves," said Martha.
"We can't afford to, if we get the new jug," said Anthea; "but we'll pay for you to go, if you'll take the Lamb. And I say, Martha, look here—I'll give you my Liberty box, if you'll go. Look, it's most awfully pretty—all inlaid with real silver and ivory and ebony, like King Solomon's temple."
"I see," said Martha,—"no, I don't want your box, miss. What you want is to get the precious Lamb off your hands for the afternoon. Don't you go for to think I don't see through you!"
This was so true that Anthea longed to deny it at once. Martha had no business to know so much. But she held her tongue.
Martha set down the bread with a bang that made it jump off its trencher.
"I do want the jug got," said Anthea softly. "You will go, won't you?"
"Well, just for this once, I don't mind; but mind you don't get into none of your outrageous mischief while I'm gone—that's all!"
"He's going earlier than he thought," said Anthea eagerly. "You'd better hurry and get dressed. Do put on that lovely purple frock, Martha, and the hat with the pink cornflowers, and the yellow-lace collar. Jane'll finish laying the cloth, and I'll wash the Lamb and get him ready."
As she washed the unwilling Lamb and hurried him into his best clothes, Anthea peeped out of the window from time to time; so far all was well—she could see no Red Indians. When with a rush and a scurry and some deepening of the damask of Martha's complexion she and the Lamb had been got off, Anthea drew a deep breath.
"He's safe!" she said, and, to Jane's horror, flung herself down on the floor and burst into floods of tears. Jane did not understand at all how a person could be so brave and like a general, and then suddenly give way and go flat like an air-balloon when you prick it. It is better not to go flat, of course, but you will observe that Anthea did not give way till her aim was accomplished. She had got the dear Lamb out of danger—she felt certain that the Red Indians would be round the White House or nowhere—the farmer's cart would not come back till after sunset, so she could afford to cry a little. It was partly with joy that she cried, because she had done what she meant to do. She cried for about three minutes, while Jane hugged her miserably and said at five-second intervals, "Don't cry, Panther dear!"
Then she jumped up, rubbed her eyes hard with the corner of her pinafore, so that they kept red for the rest of the day, and started to tell the boys. But just at that moment cook rang the dinner-bell, and nothing could be said till they had been helped to minced beef. Then cook left the room, and Anthea told her tale. But it is a mistake to tell a thrilling tale when people are eating minced beef and boiled potatoes. There seemed somehow to be something about the food that made the idea of Red Indians seem flat and unbelievable. The boys actually laughed, and called Anthea a little silly.
"Why," said Cyril, "I'm almost sure it was before I said that, that Jane said she wished it would be a fine day."
"It wasn't," said Jane briefly.
"Why, if it was Indians," Cyril went on,—"salt, please, and mustard—I must have something to make this mush go down,—if it was Indians, they'd have been infesting the place long before this—you know they would. I believe it's the fine day."
"Then why did the Sammyadd say we'd let ourselves in for a nice thing?" asked Anthea. She was feeling very cross. She knew she had acted with nobility and discretion, and after that it was very hard to be called a little silly, especially when she had the weight of a burglared missionary-box and about seven-and-fourpence, mostly in coppers, lying like lead upon her conscience.
There was a silence, during which cook took away the mincy plates and brought in the pudding. As soon as she had retired, Cyril began again.
"Of course I don't mean to say," he admitted, "that it wasn't a good thing to get Martha and the Lamb out of the way for the afternoon; but as for Red Indians—why, you know jolly well the wishes always come that very minute. If there was going to be Red Indians, they'd be here now."
"I expect they are," said Anthea; "they're lurking amid the undergrowth, for anything you know. I do think you're most unkind."
"Indians almost always do lurk, really, though, don't they?" put in Jane, anxious for peace.
"No, they don't," said Cyril tartly. "And I'm not unkind, I'm only
truthful. And I say it was utter rot breaking the water-jug; and as for
the missionary-box, I believe it's a
treason-crime, and I shouldn't
wonder if you could be hanged for it, if any of us was to
"Shut up, can't you?" said Robert; but Cyril couldn't. You see, he felt in his heart that if there should be Indians they would be entirely his own fault, so he did not wish to believe in them. And trying not to believe things when in your heart you are almost sure they are true, is as bad for the temper as anything I know.
"It's simply idiotic," he said, "talking about Indians, when you can see
for yourself that it's Jane who's got her wish. Look what a fine day it
He had turned towards the window to point out the fineness of the day—the others turned too—and a frozen silence caught at Cyril, and none of the others felt at all like breaking it. For there, peering round the corner of the window, among the red leaves of the Virginia creeper, was a face—a brown face, with a long nose and a tight mouth and very bright eyes. And the face was painted in coloured patches. It had long black hair, and in the hair were feathers!
Every child's mouth in the room opened, and stayed open. The pudding was growing white and cold on their plates. No one could move.
Suddenly the feathered head was cautiously withdrawn, and the spell was broken. I am sorry to say that Anthea's first words were very like a girl.
"There, now!" she said. "I told you so!"
The pudding had now definitely ceased to charm. Hastily wrapping their portions in a Spectator of the week before the week before last, they hid them behind the crinkled paper stove-ornament, and fled upstairs to reconnoitre and to hold a hurried council.
"Pax," said Cyril handsomely when they reached their mother's bedroom. "Panther, I'm sorry if I was a brute."
"All right," said Anthea; "but you see now!"
No further trace of Indians, however, could be discerned from the windows.
"Well," said Robert, "what are we to do?"
"The only thing I can think of," said Anthea, who was now generally admitted to be the heroine of the day, "is—if we dressed up as like Indians as we can, and looked out of the windows, or even went out. They might think we were the powerful leaders of a large neighbouring tribe, and—and not do anything to us, you know, for fear of awful vengeance."
"But Eliza, and the cook?" said Jane.
"You forget—they can't notice anything," said Robert. "They wouldn't notice anything out of the way, even if they were scalped or roasted at a slow fire."
"But would they come right at sunset?"
"Of course. You can't be really scalped or burned to death without noticing it, and you'd be sure to notice it next day, even if it escaped your attention at the time," said Cyril. "I think Anthea's right, but we shall want a most awful lot of feathers."
"I'll go down to the hen-house," said Robert. "There's one of the turkeys in there—it's not very well. I could cut its feathers without it minding much. It's very bad—doesn't seem to care what happens to it. Get me the cutting-out scissors."
Earnest reconnoitring convinced them all that no Indians were in the poultry-yard. Robert went. In five minutes he came back—pale, but with many feathers.
"Look here," he said, "this is jolly serious. I cut off the feathers, and when I turned to come out there was an Indian squinting at me from under the old hen-coop. I just brandished the feathers and yelled, and got away before he could get the coop off top of himself. Panther, get the coloured blankets off our beds, and look slippy, can't you?"
It is wonderful how like an Indian you can make yourself with blankets and feathers and coloured scarves. Of course none of the children happened to have long black hair, but there was a lot of black calico that had been bought to cover school-books with. They cut strips of this into a sort of fine fringe, and fastened it round their heads with the amber-coloured ribbons off the girls' Sunday dresses. Then they stuck turkeys' feathers in the ribbons. The calico looked very like long black hair, especially when the strips began to curl up a bit.
"But our faces," said Anthea, "they're not at all the right colour. We're all rather pale, and I'm sure I don't know why, but Cyril is the colour of putty."
"I'm not," said Cyril.
"The real Indians outside seem to be brownish," said Robert hastily. "I think we ought to be really red—it's sort of superior to have a red skin, if you are one."
The red ochre cook uses for the kitchen bricks seemed to be about the reddest thing in the house. The children mixed some in a saucer with milk, as they had seen cook do for the kitchen floor. Then they carefully painted each other's faces and hands with it, till they were quite as red as any Red Indian need be—if not redder.
They knew at once that they must look very terrible when they met Eliza in the passage, and she screamed aloud. This unsolicited testimonial pleased them very much. Hastily telling her not to be a goose, and that it was only a game, the four blanketed, feathered, really and truly Redskins went boldly out to meet the foe. I say boldly. That is because I wish to be polite. At any rate, they went.
Along the hedge dividing the wilderness from the garden was a row of dark heads, all highly feathered.
"It's our only chance," whispered Anthea. "Much better than to wait for their blood-freezing attack. We must pretend like mad. Like that game of cards where you pretend you've got aces when you haven't. Fluffing they call it, I think. Now then. Whoop!"
With four wild war-whoops—or as near them as white children could be expected to go without any previous practice—they rushed through the gate and struck four war-like attitudes in face of the line of Red Indians. These were all about the same height, and that height was Cyril's.
"I hope to goodness they can talk English," said Cyril through his attitude.
Anthea knew they could, though she never knew how she came to know it. She had a white towel tied to a walking-stick. This was a flag of truce, and she waved it, in the hope that the Indians would know what it was. Apparently they did—for one who was browner than the others stepped forward.
"Ye seek a pow-wow?" he said in excellent English. "I am Golden Eagle, of the mighty tribe of Rock-dwellers."
"Ye seek a pow-wow?" he said.
"And I," said Anthea, with a sudden inspiration, "am the Black Panther—chief of the—the—the—Mazawattee tribe. My brothers—I don't mean—yes, I do—the tribe—I mean the Mazawattees—are in ambush below the brow of yonder hill."
"And what mighty warriors be these?" asked Golden Eagle, turning to the others.
Cyril said he was the great chief Squirrel, of the Moning Congo tribe, and, seeing that Jane was sucking her thumb and could evidently think of no name for herself, he added, "This great warrior is Wild Cat—Pussy Ferox we call it in this land—leader of the vast Phiteezi tribe."
"And thou, valorous Redskin?" Golden Eagle inquired suddenly of Robert, who, taken unawares, could only reply that he was Bobs—leader of the Cape Mounted Police.
"And now," said Black Panther, "our tribes, if we just whistle them up, will far outnumber your puny forces; so resistance is useless. Return, therefore, to your land, O brother, and smoke pipes of peace in your wampums with your squaws and your medicine-men, and dress yourselves in the gayest wigwams, and eat happily of the juicy fresh-caught moccasins."
"You've got it all wrong," murmured Cyril angrily. But Golden Eagle only looked inquiringly at her.
"Thy customs are other than ours, O Black Panther," he said. "Bring up thy tribe, that we may hold pow-wow in state before them, as becomes great chiefs."
"We'll bring them up right enough," said Anthea, "with their bows and arrows, and tomahawks and scalping-knives, and everything you can think of, if you don't look sharp and go."
She spoke bravely enough, but the hearts of all the children were beating furiously, and their breath came in shorter and shorter gasps. For the little real Red Indians were closing up round them—coming nearer and nearer with angry murmurs—so that they were the centre of a crowd of dark cruel faces.
"It's no go," whispered Robert. "I knew it wouldn't be. We must make a bolt for the Psammead. It might help us. If it doesn't—well, I suppose we shall come alive again at sunset. I wonder if scalping hurts as much as they say."
"I'll wave the flag again," said Anthea. "If they stand back, we'll run for it."
She waved the towel, and the chief commanded his followers to stand back. Then, charging wildly at the place where the line of Indians was thinnest, the four children started to run. Their first rush knocked down some half-dozen Indians, over whose blanketed bodies the children leaped, and made straight for the sand-pit. This was no time for the safe easy way by which carts go down—right over the edge of the sand-pit they went, among the yellow and pale purple flowers and dried grasses, past the little bank martins' little front doors, skipping, clinging, bounding, stumbling, sprawling, and finally rolling.
Yellow Eagle and his followers came up with them just at the very spot where they had seen the Psammead that morning.
Breathless and beaten, the wretched children now awaited their fate. Sharp knives and axes gleamed round them, but worse than these was the cruel light in the eyes of Golden Eagle and his followers.
"Ye have lied to us, O Black Panther of the Mazawattees—and thou, too, Squirrel of the Moning Congos. These also, Pussy Ferox of the Phiteezi, and Bobs of the Cape Mounted Police,—these also have lied to us, if not with their tongues, yet by their silence. Ye have lied under the cover of the Truce-flag of the Pale-face. Ye have no followers. Your tribes are far away—following the hunting trail. What shall be their doom?" he concluded, turning with a bitter smile to the other Red Indians.
"Build we the fire!" shouted his followers; and at once a dozen ready volunteers started to look for fuel. The four children, each held between two strong little Indians, cast despairing glances round them. Oh, if they could only see the Psammead!
"Do you mean to scalp us first and then roast us?" asked Anthea desperately.
"Of course!" Redskin opened his eyes at her. "It's always done."
The Indians had formed a ring round the children, and now sat on the ground gazing at their captives. There was a threatening silence.
Then slowly, by twos and threes, the Indians who had gone to look for firewood came back, and they came back empty-handed. They had not been able to find a single stick of wood for a fire! No one ever can, as a matter of fact, in that part of Kent.
The children drew a deep breath of relief, but it ended in a moan of terror. For bright knives were being brandished all about them. Next moment each child was seized by an Indian; each closed its eyes and tried not to scream. They waited for the sharp agony of the knife. It did not come. Next moment they were released, and fell in a trembling heap. Their heads did not hurt at all. They only felt strangely cool! Wild war-whoops rang in their ears. When they ventured to open their eyes they saw four of their foes dancing round them with wild leaps and screams, and each of the four brandished in his hand a scalp of long flowing black hair. They put their hands to their heads—their own scalps were safe! The poor untutored savages had indeed scalped the children. But they had only, so to speak, scalped them of the black calico ringlets!
Bright knives were being brandished all about them.
The children fell into each other's arms, sobbing and laughing.
"Their scalps are ours," chanted the chief; "ill-rooted were their ill-fated hairs! They came off in the hands of the victors—without struggle, without resistance, they yielded their scalps to the conquering Rock-dwellers! Oh, how little a thing is a scalp so lightly won!"
"They'll take our real ones in a minute; you see if they don't," said Robert, trying to rub some of the red ochre off his face and hands on to his hair.
"Cheated of our just and fiery revenge are we," the chant went on,—"but there are other torments than the scalping-knife and the flames. Yet is the slow fire the correct thing. O strange unnatural country, wherein a man may find no wood to burn his enemy!—Ah for the boundless forests of my native land, where the great trees for thousands of miles grow but to furnish firewood wherewithal to burn our foes. Ah, would we were but in our native forest once more!"
Suddenly like a flash of lightning, the golden gravel shone all round the four children instead of the dusky figures. For every single Indian had vanished on the instant at their leader's word. The Psammead must have been there all the time. And it had given the Indian chief his wish.
Martha brought home a jug with a pattern of storks and long grasses on it. Also she brought back all Anthea's money.
"My cousin, she gave me the jug for luck; she said it was an odd one what the basin of had got smashed."
"Oh, Martha, you are a dear!" sighed Anthea, throwing her arms round her.
"Yes," giggled Martha, "you'd better make the most of me while you've got me. I shall give your ma notice directly minute she comes back."
"Oh, Martha, we haven't been so very horrid to you, have we?" asked Anthea, aghast.
"Oh, it isn't that, miss." Martha giggled more than ever. "I'm a-goin' to be married. It's Beale the gamekeeper. He's been a-proposin' to me off and on ever since you come home from the clergyman's where you got locked up on the church-tower. And to-day I said the word an' made him a happy man."
Anthea put the seven-and-fourpence back in the missionary-box, and pasted paper over the place where the poker had broken it. She was very glad to be able to do this, and she does not know to this day whether breaking open a missionary-box is or is not a hanging matter!